I have included some links in this post to help you talk in English about changes to the traditional family structure that are happening around the world. If you’re preparing for the IELTS, then this could be an especially useful topic to familiarise yourself with and think about because it’s one of the possible topics for speaking. Even if you’re not doing IELTS, everyone has a family and it’s obviously very common to talk about family in English.

One possible IELTS Speaking Part 2 question is as follows:


Describe the person in your family who you most admire.

You should say:

what their relationship is to you
what they have done in their life
what they do now

and explain why you admire them so much.


And for Part 3, which requires to speak more philosophically about families in general, some questions include:


In what ways have families in your country changed in recent years?

Should husbands and wives have different roles within the family? Why (not)?

How will families change in the future?

What role do grandparents play in the family in your country?

Who do you think should be responsible for the care of the elderly, the family or the government?



I hope the links below will get you thinking about these part 3 questions in particular, and help you to equip yourself with some important vocabulary and ideas to discuss these themes comfortably. The first reading link is about changes to the family structure in Ireland; compared to the past, there are now far more divorces and separations in Ireland and people tend to have less children. In addition, more and more people are remarrying and cohabiting (living together with their boyfriend or girlfriend unmarried).

The second link is more challenging to read in terms of vocabulary. It’s about social and economic change in South Korea and how this has affected the family there. Parents normally invest huge amounts in their children and in Confucian culture, there is an expectation that the children will look after their parents when they get older. However, people think less and less about the family in their competitive society and elderly people are often left with no money and adult children who do not care for them (they are busy working hard and investing in their own children). With the lack of social welfare, there has been an increasing number of suicides among elderly South Koreans because they are put under too much pressure.


In the video (with subtitles available), some representatives of Irish family NGOs (non-governmental organisations) talk about changes to the family structure in Ireland and how they pressured the government to change how Irish law recognises the family. The blonde woman focuses on saying that women’s role in the home needs to treated differently by the Irish government, and same-sex marriage should be recognised (this was filmed before Ireland legalised same-sex marriage in 2015). The brunette woman talks about the need for women to have extra support from their family and the government because of the increase in divorce and separation.

What do you think?

Regarding the questions above about changes to the family in recent years and how families are likely to change in the future, there are some interesting ideas from these links. It seems like the traditional family is becoming less important and things are quickly changing because of economic and cultural changes. There are also big questions about what governments should due because of such changes. What do you think?



The changing Irish family

Families changing in South Korea





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