IELTS Podcast (Ep. 15) | Vocabulary Lesson 10: Hometown

Magoosh IELTS Podcast

Vocabulary Lesson 10: Hometown

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In this episode of the Magoosh IELTS podcast, your teacher Eliot Friesen explains how to use four words all related to hometowns: Downtown, Rural, Outskirts, and Suburb.

These words will be useful in IELTS Listening conversations, as well as in some IELTS Listening solo speeches.

If you like this lesson, please subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher for more IELTS Vocabulary lessons, and check out all of our IELTS Podcast episodes here!

Download the complete list of IELTS Vocabulary words.

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IELTS Podcast: Episode 15 Transcript

(Translations: Tiếng Việt, فارسی, عربى, नेपाली, русский, македонски)

Welcome to the Magoosh IELTS Vocabulary Podcast. This is Lesson 15. In this episode, we will cover 4 words all related to the theme of hometown: downtown, rural, outskirts, and suburb.

Don’t forget to check out our show notes for a link to your free IELTS vocabulary list containing these words and others, and visit us at for more great resources to improve your IELTS band score. Use coupon code “ieltspodcast” to save 20% off your IELTS test prep!

Okay! Let’s get started.

I’d like to introduce you to your teacher, Eliot. He is the Magoosh IELTS expert and, here’s a fun fact about Eliot: his family home was located alongside the river that cut through his hometown.

Eliot Intro

Hello Magoosh IELTS podcast listeners, welcome to today’s show. I’m Eliot, the IELTS expert from Magoosh, and when I was a child I loved kayaking on that river next to my house. So today, we’re going to look at four words that are going to help you during the speaking portion of your IELTS exam.

Make sure to go to the link in the show notes to get the full list of vocabulary words.

The theme for the words in today’s episode is hometown, and words we might use to describe the places where we grew up.


Okay, downtown is the first word on the list. So let’s start with that one.

Downtown, what does it mean?

Well, the word “downtown” is the name for the traditional center of a city or town. Usually the downtown area contains the city’s business district. So a city’s downtown is its main commercial area.

Most cities and towns have a center, so we can use the word downtown to describe that area, regardless of how large or small the city is. A city of 800,000 people and a town a town of 800 could both have a downtown.

When cities are extremely large they may have more than one downtown. For example, New York City is so big that is has many different downtowns: downtown Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn, downtown Harlem…the list keeps going.

There are also some towns that are too small or spread out to have a downtown. For example Tonopah, Nevada is such a small town that there is no central business district or commercial area.

However, most mid-sized towns and cities do have a downtown, where business and activity is concentrated.

So that’s downtown.


The next word is rural.

The word rural describes an area that contains mostly farmland and countryside. A rural area is the area located outside of towns and cities.

When people use the word rural they often use it to mean “not urban” — that is, not cities or towns. While there may still be people living in rural areas, these areas have fewer people than in cities, and the people are typically living farther apart from each other than the people in cities. So if you grew up in an urban area, like London, you might live in an apartment with fifty people all living in the same building. But if you grew up in rural Alaska, your closest neighbor might be many miles away.

Okay? So that’s rural.


The next word is outskirts.

So what does outskirts mean? Well, the outskirts of a city or town are the areas at the outer edges of that city or town. The outskirts of a city are the parts farthest away from the city’s center.

So if you live in the outskirts of a city, you still live in that city, but you’re right on its edge. If you lived any farther away from the city’s central area, you would be far enough out that you’re no longer even in the city at all. But if you’re in the outskirts you’re right on the edge.

So outskirts are the area between the city and whatever is outside the city.

As an example, we can look at the location of two different schools in Portland, Oregon. Portland State University is located in Portland, right in the center of the city. We would say that Portland State University is in downtown Portland. But Lewis and Clark College is a ten minute drive west from downtown Portland, in a residential area away from the business and commerce — and if you drive any farther you’ll leave the city of Portland and enter the city of Beaverton. So Lewis and Clark College is still in Portland, but it’s on the outskirts or Portland.

So that’s outskirts.


The final word today is to suburb.

So a suburb is a town or city that is very close to a much bigger city; people who live in the suburbs often travel to the big city for work, shopping, events, or gatherings. A suburb a residential area that is nearby a city.

Suburbs are typically less densely populated than cities — so that means that the people in the suburbs aren’t living as close together as the people in the cities. For example, many people in cities live in apartment buildings, while people in suburbs are often in single-family houses with yards and open space. Some people move from the city to the suburbs because they want to have more space to live in.

However, suburbs are still more densely populated than rural areas, where most of the land is open countryside or agricultural fields. So someone in a city might live in an apartment building on a street with hundreds of other people and share walls with their neighbors. And someone in the suburbs is more likely to live on a street with ten or twenty other houses that have yards and that don’t share walls with each other. And someone in the rural countryside might live in a farmhouse that is miles away from any of their neighbors.

So suburbs are in between the cities and the countryside, both in terms of location, and in terms of how close together people are living.

So that’s suburbs.


Great! In this episode you learned 4 words related to hometowns–for more vocabulary, download the full list of vocabulary in the show notes and tune in to the next episode.

If you like our show, help us out by leaving a rating and review in iTunes and don’t forget to hit the subscribe button. Until next time! This is Naomi at Magoosh wishing you happy studying.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • Molly Kiefer

    Molly is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She designs Magoosh’s graphic assets, manages our YouTube channels and podcasts, and contributes to the Magoosh High School Blog.

    Since 2014, Molly has tutored high school and college students preparing for the SAT, GRE, and LSAT. She began her tutoring journey while in undergrad, helping her fellow students master math, computer programming, Spanish, English, and Philosophy.

    Molly graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a B.A. in Philosophy, and she continues to study ethics to this day. An artist at heart, Molly loves blogging, making art, taking long walks and serving as personal agent to her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.


4 Responses to IELTS Podcast (Ep. 15) | Vocabulary Lesson 10: Hometown

  1. shan June 20, 2018 at 4:33 pm #

    after reading this superb article, i will daily visit to learn more about vocabulary. I have really learnt these 5 words for the hometown. Thanks for writing this, i hope more are coming in the future

  2. Nadia June 29, 2018 at 1:36 am #

    Hi, guys!

    Thank you so much for what you’re doing! That’s really great! I love listening to your podcast and always find it useful.

    Just have one question about outskirts. I’m not sure about the preposition because you used both on and in. So should I say I live in or on the outskirts of the city?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 4, 2018 at 2:05 pm #

      Hi Nadia,

      The correct way to say it is “in the outskirts.” If you check out the transcript, below the podcast, you will see that we only use “in the outskirts.” 🙂

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