A Skill that Was Difficult to Learn: IELTS Cue Card

If you are feeling nervous about the IELTS speaking exam, using cue cards can be a helpful way to prepare. Although you cannot bring cue cards into the actual exam, they can be a useful tool for getting familiar all of the topics that might come up, learning new vocabulary, and practicing speaking by reading…

IELTS Band Nine Cue Card

Describe a skill that was difficult for you to learn.
You should say:
What you learned
Why you learned it
What you did to learn it 
And say how learning it made you feel.

I’d like to tell you about learning to cook Chinese food. I made a New Year’s resolution to myself that I would learn to cook a new dish every month for a year. I learned some of my favourites including hotpot, hand-pulled noodles and laziji, a type of chicken served in a heap of chili peppers. The skills needed to cook Chinese food are quite different from Western food. For instance, things are often cooked very quickly and it’s important to be well prepared. This made it difficult for me to learn. 

The reason I decided to pursue this skill was that I was living in China and knew I would be leaving soon. I wanted to keep eating some of my favourite dishes. When I eat Chinese food in the UK, it’s often been adapted for British tastes, so I wanted to learn to cook these dishes the authentic way. 

To learn this skill, I mostly studied online. There are plenty of videos you can use, but sometimes you will need to tweak the recipe to make it perfect. I also took some in-person classes at a cultural centre. While these classes weren’t free, I never had to change a recipe and the things I learned ended up being my signature dishes today. 

Although it was quite challenging to learn to cook these dishes, I found it very satisfying. It always fulfilling to do something you couldn’t do before, especially when you can share that with your friends and family by inviting them for a meal. 

Learning skills: Part three IELTS questions

What skills are important for students to learn? 

At the university level, the most important skills are being able to express yourself clearly and think critically. If you can’t write and speak clearly, it does not matter how good your ideas are, people won’t understand them. It’s also important to be able to think critically so you can make your own mind up about things. In terms of extracurricular skills, university is a great place to improve your emotional intelligence. You have the opportunity to interact with a wide range of people and learn what makes them tick. 

What makes people learn a skill successfully? 

There are many factors that can lead to someone becoming proficient at something. For me, the biggest one is motivation. Whatever you want to learn, it’s important to develop a routine of regular practice. However, if you’re not motivated, you won’t stick to it your schedule

How have the skills people need changed over time? 

These days, it’s more important than ever to be computer literate. So many workplaces have gone online that it is essential to be able to navigate this environment. Even if you have a more hands-on job, typically you will need to use computers to advertise and organise your services.

Learning a skill vocabulary

The following vocabulary is all taken from the answers above. They appear in the same order they do above.

New Year’s resolution

A promise you make to yourself at the start of the year, typically something related to improving oneself, in the coming year.


When you have a dish to describe that doesn’t have an English equivalent, the best thing to do is just say the name in another language and then explain what you mean.

To pursue a skill

To actively work towards mastering or improving a particular skill. This is a common collocation but you might also pursue a certain degree, hobby, interest or career.

In-person class

A course or lesson that is attended in person, rather than online or through distance learning.

Signature dish

A dish that a cook is particularly known for.


Providing a feeling of contentment or fulfillment.


A feeling you have achieving or realizing one’s goals or potential.

Express oneself

To clearly and effectively communicate one’s thoughts, feelings, or ideas.

Think critically

To analyze and evaluate things in a logical way and form your own ideas about them.

A wide range of people

A diverse group of people with different backgrounds, experiences, and characteristics.

A personal routine

A regular pattern of things to do that an individual follows.

Stick to a schedule

To successfully follow a set plan or timetable.

Computer literate

Having the knowledge and skills to use computers, and other similar devices, effectively.

A hands-on job

A job that involves practical, hands-on work rather than desk-based tasks or theoretical work.

Related posts