IELTS – Describing people – Extraversion

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Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. You can find a transcript of this podcast on There’s a page for this podcast with the transcript, an activity and a task for you to do in the comments section.

I recently had a message from a listener asking for a podcast on language that would be useful in an IELTS exam. In case anybody doesn’t know what an IELTS exam is, it’s the main English exam for people who want to go to an English speaking University in the UK and Australia or New Zealand. There is another exam for Universities in the USA called a TOEFL. 

The IELTS test is a good test of English – it’s not easy to focus on specific language that will be useful in an IELTS test. The best way to improve your chances of getting the score you need in the exam is to focus on developing your general English by reading and listening to a wide range of materials. 

There are two IELTS tests; the general test and the academic test. For the listening and speaking papers, they are the same, but the reading and writing papers are different. If you do the academic test, the topics of these papers are suitable for someone entering a university. Academic language is still a very broad topic. I have an academic phrasebook which has over 100 pages of phrases that can be used to refer and introduce topics and so on, but I think I’d have to start a whole new podcast to talk about academic language. If anyone thinks an academic vocabulary podcast would be useful, please let me know.

I looked at some practice speaking tests to try to see if there were any common topics and and. You always have to start by talking about yourself. The examiner might ask you about what you do in your free time or about where you live or work or go to school, but the focus is on you. In part 2, you normally have to describe something. It might be a place or a person, but it could be something else. In part 3, you are invited to have a discussion about something. 

It’s really hard to pick out a useful selection of words and phrases that will be useful for an IELTS exam, so I’m going to do my best and suggest a set of words and phrases that are useful for describing people at a more advanced level. I’ve selected these because you can use them in part 1 to describe yourself or in part 2 if you’re asked to describe someone else. 

So … Describing people … According to some psychologists, there are 5 big personality types. I’m not sure if this is true, but it’s a useful way to start to build some sets of vocabulary that you can use in your speaking tests. I’m going to go through these in turn over the course of five podcasts and suggest a few adjectives and other things you can say. I’m basing this on an article on wikipedia that I’ll share the link to on the Learn English Vocabulary website.

The first personality trait on the list is extraversion. That’s the noun, the adjective form is extraverted. This means outgoing and confident. If you are outgoing, you are generally friendly and have lots of energy. Extraverted people often like dancing … I mean, dancing in public, like in discos and nightclubs. Extraverted people are spontaneous. This means they do things when opportunities present themselves, without planning. Spontaneous people are the sorts of people who say yes a lot. They are good fun to be around. 

Some phrases you can use to describe extroverted people are:

He’s the life of the party or he’s the life and soul of the party. You know, some people are very sociable, they love to be around big groups of people and they want to talk to everyone. They tell funny stories, introduce people to each other, get everyone laughing and singing, they are the life and soul of the party. 

You might also say that they like being the centre of attention. The centre of attention is the person that everyone is watching or listening to. I had a friend at university called Chris who loved being the centre of attention. He was a great storyteller and always had a new anecdote up his sleeve whenever we met. He was also a complete liar, but he never pretended to be otherwise. One of his mottos was ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story’. 

This personality trait also includes the opposite of extraverted which is introverted. Someone who is introverted is less social and generally a lot quieter. An introverted person will often be happier on their own. They might still like dancing, but only when they are at home with nobody watching. To be on your own means to be alone, but I think alone sounds a bit sad, a bit lonely. I quite like being on my own. It feels more independent, I’m on my own because I want to be .. not because I have no friends.

Another adjective you can use is reserved. This mean s they hold their emotion back. The Queen of England is very reserved. You never see her getting angry or … well, expressing much emotion. If you are reserved you might say things like: I prefer to keep myself to myself. This is a strange expression. He keeps himself to himself. English people generally approve it when people ‘keep themselves to themselves’. Such people are good neighbours and are not nosey and don’t stop you in the street for a chat. 

Another phrase you could use is: I don’t like to draw attention to myself. This is an interesting collocation: to draw attention to myself. I think we only really use it in this negative form. She doesn’t like to draw attention to herself. 

OK there are a lot of adjectives and phrases you can use to talk about yourself or describe someone you know in the first and second part of a speaking test that are related to extraversion. On the Learn English Vocabulary website, you can find the transcript and some activities to test yourself so please check it out. It’s you will find this podcast on the homepage or in the C1 section.

Thank you to all of the visitors to the website who leave me comments and thanks to everyone who leaves me a review on Apple Podcasts. I do love to read them and enjoy reading your ideas and the responses to the questions I put there. I’m going to keep working through these IELTS speaking task sets of vocabulary for the next few podcasts and then I’ve got some song lyrics to look at that have been requested by Kiam – I will get there eventually. 

I hope you have enjoyed this podcast. If there are any topics or songs or scenes from a film that you would like me to talk about or anything else you would like to hear, I would be delighted to make a podcast for you. So please visit and say hello.

Thanks for listening.

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  • Ngoc
    Posted 03/09/2021 at 7:45 am

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  • Jennie
    Posted 13/03/2022 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks alot for all the information. I really appreciate the tips and tutorials you shared in your podcast. Hope to see your update.

  • Rana
    Posted 10/08/2022 at 1:41 am

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