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When you could not freely express your opinion

IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card 429 with Model Answer:

Describe a time when you could not freely express your opinion.

You should say:
  • when it was
  • what opinion you had in mind
  • who were there
and explain why you could not express your opinion freely.

[You will have to talk about the topic for one to two minutes. You have one minute to think about what you are going to say. You can make some notes to help you if you wish.]


Model Answer 1:
I am not exactly much of an opinionated person except on some very rare occasions. Of course, there were some occasions when I was given the opportunity to express my opinion, but unfortunately, I don’t think that I was able to express them as freely as I would have preferred. Sometimes, even after my best efforts, I was not allowed to express my opinion freely. Here I would like to talk about one of those occasions when I was not allowed to express my opinion freely.

It happened about a few years ago when I was called to attend a meeting where I had to express my opinion about how we were going to manage a local football club which I have been a part of for  the last 10 years or so. The meeting was attended by a number of other senior people from my neighbourhood who also had played a great role in running and managing that football club.

By the way, I was called to offer my opinion in that meeting, even though I was relatively much younger than the remaining attending members there, mainly because I somehow, in the past, had managed to find some sponsors to cooperate with the club financially. So, they thought, and very much rightly so, I also should have been given a voice in that meeting. But, anyway, after going to that meeting, I noticed that I was asked a lot of irrelevant questions when I told them that we needed to hold some kind of annual election to create a formal club committee instead of just randomly selecting some people to run the club. After all, I wanted our club to be managed and run in a bit more professional manner since we all were aiming for big.  

Anyway, I thought that I wasn’t allowed to or I could not express my opinion freely, mainly because they thought that my proposal would complicate things for everybody. Besides, I thought that I couldn’t freely express my opinion because I was interrupted by many unnecessary questions which had very little or almost nothing to do with the subject of our meeting.


Model Answer 2:
Thank you very much for this interesting topic that asks me to talk about a time when I could not freely express my opinion. Well, one instance where I found myself unable to freely express my opinion was during a team meeting at my previous workplace. It was about two years ago when the company was discussing a proposed change in the project management approach.

I had reservations about the proposed change and believed that sticking to our current approach would yield better results. However, the meeting was attended by senior management, including the project lead and department heads, along with other team members.

Despite having a well-thought-out opinion and valid reasons to support it, I hesitated to speak up during the meeting. The atmosphere was tense, and there seemed to be a consensus forming in favour of the proposed change. Additionally, I was relatively new to the team and felt apprehensive about challenging the established hierarchy and authority figures.

Moreover, there was a prevailing culture in the organization where dissenting opinions were not always encouraged, and those who expressed them risked being seen as disruptive or uncooperative. This further deterred me from voicing my concerns openly.

As a result, I chose to remain silent during the meeting, feeling frustrated and somewhat disheartened by my inability to contribute my perspective. In hindsight, I realized that my silence might have deprived the team of valuable insights and perspectives that could have influenced the decision-making process positively.

This experience taught me the importance of fostering a culture of open communication and encouraging diverse viewpoints within teams and organizations. It also highlighted the need for individuals to cultivate the confidence to speak up respectfully, even in challenging or hierarchical environments, to ensure that all voices are heard and considered.

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