IELTS Cue Card: Describe an experience when you were with someone else but felt bored | by IELTS Matthew | Pass Your IELTS Speaking Test
IELTS Matthew

Describe an experience when you were with someone else but felt bored.

You should say:

  • When it was
  • Who you were with
  • What you did

And explain why you were bored.

Part 3:

  • Why do people get bored?
  • Why are some people less interested in reading books nowadays?
  • Why do some people choose boring jobs?
  • Are all the boring jobs going to be done by robots in the future?

It’s rare for me to feel bored when I’m around other people, but there’s one experience that sticks out in my mind.

I was taking an international bus between London and Prague. It was due to be a 19 hour trip in total, one of the longest I’ve ever taken. I’d usually fly, but my luggage was too heavy to fly with and the bus was the only option.

I imagined that if the journey was so long, not many people would want to buy a ticket, but I was wrong. The bus was packed and every seat was taken.

Most of the time when I want to keep myself occupied I’ll wear headphones, especially if I don’t want to talk to my seatmate. Most people understand it as a clear signal and don’t disturb me, but this elderly gentleman completely disregarded it and struck up a conversation with me. I wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of talking to anyone, but I humored him for a while out of politeness.

He droned on about his personal pet peeves, the conspiracy theories he believed in, and the medical discoveries he claimed to have made. I felt bored to death but he kept on going no matter what. I looked at the clock and I calculated that there was going to be another 12 hours of sitting next to him.

I started to think of strategies to get away from this man. Everything I’d tried so far had failed. The bus finally made its first stop. Passengers disembarked and some more arrived. I had a quick look around the bus and spotted a handful of seats that appeared to be free. I double checked and asked the bus attendant if any of those seats were going to be free for the remainder of the journey. She nodded and said they were all going to be free.

I felt a breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I didn’t have listen to him. I put my headphones in, gazed out of the window, and fell asleep for the remainder of the journey.

I vowed on that day never to take such a long bus ride ever again.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Sticks out (phrasal verb)
Something that’s very noticeable because it’s different is said to stick out.

Example: If you dye your hair purple and blue, you’ll really stick out at work.

Packed (adjective)
Something that’s packed is extremely crowded.

Example: The movie theater was packed on Friday.

Seatmate (noun)
Someone you sit next to on an airplane, train, bus, etc.

Example: My seatmate was incredibly fat and made the whole journey unpleasant.

Strike up (phrasal verb)

It means to start something with someone else, such as a friendship, conversation, or a relationship.

Example: She will often strike up a conversation with complete strangers.

Humored (verb)
If you humor someone you do what they want or pretend to agree with them so they don’t get upset or angry.

Example: The boss seems a bit upset today, so just humor him.

Drone on (phrasal verb)
To talk about something for a very long time in a very boring way.

Example: He was droning on about his operation for hours.

Pet peeves (noun)
Something that really annoys you.

Example: Weak coffee is one of my pet peeves.

Conspiracy theories (noun)
The idea that a group of people are secretly trying to harm someone or achieve something. Usually it’s an idea that doesn’t have any evidence to support it.

Example: There were a lot of conspiracy theories after Kennedy’s assignation.

Bored to death (idiom)
It’s a phrase that means you’re extremely bored to the point of frustration or irritation. There are other variations too: bored to tears, bored silly, bored stiff, and bored to distraction.

Example: I was bored to death at the meeting. I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

Keep on going (phrase)
To continue doing something.

Example: They forced themselves to keep on going even though they felt exhausted.

No matter what (idiom)
It’s a phrase that’s used to emphasize that something is always true, or that someone must always do something.

Example: We’ve got to get to the airport on time, no matter what.

Get away (phrasal verb)
If you get away from something or someone, you’re leaving or escaping, often when it’s difficult to do this.

Example: We walked to the next beach to get away from the crowds.

Disembarked (verb)
To leave a ship, aircraft, bus, etc after a journey.

Example: We disembarked in Seattle.

Look around (phrasal verb)
To briefly examine a place or location visually, often done by walking around and looking at various places.

Example: The tour guide gave us a few moments to look around before leaving.

Spotted (verb)
To see something that you’re looking for.

Example: She spotted him in the very back of the room.

Handful (noun)
A handful is a small number of people or things.

Example: She invited all her friends to the party, but only a handful of them turned up.

Double check (verb)
To check something for a second time to make sure it’s right.

Example: I think the figure is €900, but I’ll double check.

Breath a sigh of relief (idiom)
A feeling of comfort after something stressful, unpleasant, or undesirable has been avoided or completed.

Example: Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when she turned up.

Gaze out (phrasal verb)
To look at something, usually through a window.

Example: I sipped my coffee and gazed out of the window.

I think it’s because they’re not intellectually stimulated or they’re forced to do something they’re uninterested in.

Most people get bored when they have to do something repetitive, for example, running on a treadmill, but oftentimes people find themselves bored beyond belief at work. Sometimes this is because they’ve been doing the same task over and over, and every day looks the same. This is possibly why some jobs have a really high turnover of staff.

I think some people are able to stave off boredom by listening to music or an audiobook while they do something boring. These things can take their mind off the boring activity and make it more palatable.

Personally I get extremely bored any time I have to do the same thing over and over again with no end in sight. In spite of this, I’m usually able to keep going, but there have been moments when I’ve needed a complete change of pace because it’s become intolerable.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Beyond belief (idiom)
It’s a phrase used to emphasize how bad something is.

Example: The conditions they are living in are beyond belief.

Turnover (noun)
The rate at which people leave a place and new people arrive.

Example: The hotel has a high turnover of staff.

Stave off (phrasal verb)
If you stave off something, you stop it from happening particularly if it’s a bad situation. It’s usually only temporary.

Example: We’re hoping to stave off all these difficult decisions until November.

Take your mind off something (idiom)
If you take your mind off something, you stop thinking about something, typically something that’s been worrying you.

Example: Playing video games after work helps me take my mind off it for a while.

Palatable (adjective)
Something that’s palatable is acceptable.

Example: The city council has tried to make property taxes more palatable by giving homeowners more time to pay them.

No end in sight (idiom)
If there’s no end in sight, there’s no foreseeable end or conclusion to something. The phrase indicates that someone expects something to continue for a very long time.

Example: She felt like she’d been writing the report for weeks and there was no end in sight.

Change of pace (idiom)
A change of pace is a variation in a routine or activity.

Example: After working in sales for so long, I needed a change of pace so I requested a transfer to the customer service department.

I think people typically have a shorter attention spans nowadays and don’t want to sit quietly reading page after page when they could watch a movie or do something more stimulating instead.

I think in the past, people had fewer options for entertainment. Books were one of the best choices and so there was more of a reading culture in society. This started to diminish as TVs began to appear in people’s homes. Instead of reading a book, families would gather around the TV and eat dinner together.

Reading is also seen by some as an asocial activity. People want to connect with others, and it’s not as easy to do that if your nose is in a book.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Attention span (noun)
The length of time that you can pay attention to something without becoming bored or thinking about something else.

Example: Kids nowadays have short attention spans.

Diminish (verb)
If something diminishes, it reduces in size or importance.

Example: We’ve seen the value of our house greatly diminish over the last six months.

Gather around (idiom)
If you gather around someone or something, you all crowd around that person or thing.

Example: All the kids eagerly gathered around the presents at Christmas.

Asocial (asocial)
Someone that’s not interested in being social.

Example: Bears are asocial, secretive animals.

I’d imagine there are three main reasons. Firstly, there might be a scarcity of jobs in the region where someone lives. They simply may have no other choice but to accept a monotonous job in order to survive.

Secondly, they may not have the skills necessary to qualify for a better, more interesting job. These jobs are sometimes chosen by students who are working towards an advanced degree that will allow them to find a better job.

Thirdly, there are some horrendously boring jobs that are very well paid. Some people find this tradeoff to be worth it and may stick at such a job for a long period of time because they like being paid well.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Scarcity (noun)
A situation in which something is not easy to find or get.

Example: There’s a scarcity of skilled workers in the town.

No other choice (phrase)
If you have no other choice, there’s nothing else that you can do but that one thing.

Example: All the other stores are closed; we have no other choice.

Monotonous (adjective)
Something that’s monotonous doesn’t change at all and is therefore boring.

Example: My job is really monotonous and I want to get a new, more interesting one.

Horrendous (adjective)
Something that’s horrendous is really extremely bad or unpleasant.

Example: Property in this part of town is horrendously expensive.

Tradeoff (noun)
A tradeoff is a situation in which the achievement of one thing involves the loss of something else which is also desirable, but less so.

Example: They both had successful careers, but the tradeoff was that they rarely saw each other.

Maybe! We’re already seeing a lot of automation that’s replacing low-skilled work. For example, many fast food restaurants have replaced order-taking employees with automated kiosks. I’m sure these restaurants are saving quite a bit of money by not having to pay as many employees.

I think automation is a good thing, and those low-skilled workers could be retrained to do something else that may contribute more value to society. However, there are a lot of people that fear such automation and worry that there will be a period of significant unemployment that may harm the economy.

I think only time will tell whether this is true.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Kiosks (noun)
A small machine in a public place that you can use to get information or buy something.

Example: McDonalds has replaced many of its workers with self-serve kiosks.

Only time will tell (idiom)
A phrase used to say that something will only really be known in the future after something has happened.

Example: Only time will tell whether we made the right decision.

At least until the end of April 2020.

Three times a year the British Council changes many of the topics and questions they ask. Sometimes they decide to keep a topic for another four months, but oftentimes they decide to replace it. This one is very likely to be replaced with a new topic at the beginning of May 2020, but it won’t be known for sure until then.

Just to let you know, there are 49 possible part 2/3 topics on the current exam. Sometimes there are more, sometimes there are less, and this number changes when the British Council updates the questions.

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