Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today you’ll learn why IELTS wants you to watch soap operas!

What is a soap opera? And where does this fit in IELTS?

There are questions about these on the IELTS Speaking Exam.

This is an American term, but these TV shows are hugely popular in other countries, like Mexico and Korea.

The term “soap opera” was invented in the 1950’s, when soap companies were looking for new ways to advertise. So, these companies started producing daytime dramas to market their products to housewives, the people who were buying soap for the home.

Examples of the traditional soap opera are General Hospital and All My Children.

However, there are new soap operas today.

These TV shows tend to be quite dramatic, with characters’ stories resonating with the audience somehow. Also, these series have plot lines that continue from episode to episode.

In the 1990’s, there were teenage soap operas like Beverly Hills 90210 and Dawson’s Creek. These shows are about high school.

Jessica really likes shows created by Joss Whedon, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. These series are on the sci-fi / supernatural side of things.


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Lindsay recommends Orange is the New Black, on Netflix. It’s about a group of women in minimum-security prison.

This concept was groundbreaking when it came out, as it was created by a woman, with all the principal characters being female.

On your IELTS Speaking Exam, if you are asked about a soap opera in Part 2, it would be fantastic and impressive if you could describe the origins of the term soap opera, and then discuss one of the more contemporary examples that we talked about today.

Do you watch soap operas?

Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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