NOTE: The model answers below are a Band 9.0 response, but this is not the only way these questions could have been answered.
“Who cooks in your house?”
Well, I share a flat with three other people, so it depends. We have quite a good system in that I will cook for all of us one night, and then the others will take turns too. But sometimes we just eat out or have a snack instead. I’m not really a very good cook – I don’t have much patience for it, and I tend to stick to the four or five things I know how to prepare. If I had more time, I suppose I might be a little more adventurous, but I much prefer it when someone cooks for me.
“Do you prefer home cooked food or eating out?”
I think that changes for me on what type of day it is and where we would go out to eat. If it’s been a really busy day at work, for example, I might just pick up a take away on my way home, or if we are going out to the cinema or to meet friends, I might just grab some fast food on the way. Sometime, though, it’s a pleasant change to get dressed up and go to a good restaurant for nice meal – it’s much more of an event than just eating at home.
“What is a traditional meal in your country?”
Hmm.. well, we have a lot of different types of food really, but I guess one of the traditional dishes from where I come from is paella. It’s a rice dish with seafood and sometimes some meat, and it’s beautiful if it’s made well. The problem is it has to be made carefully or it can taste quite bland or at the other extreme it can be overpowering. I can’t cook it very well, but my friend makes a lovely paella. Although it’s a national dish, there are regional variations, and the way they make it where my friend is from is the best I have ever had.
“What occasions are considered special in your country?”
I guess we’re typical in many ways to most countries – weddings, birthdays, births and funerals are probably the most common. Then there are the holiday occasions, like Easter and Christmas, but not everyone celebrates those dates. Then there are the more personal special occasions, of course. For me, that would be my graduation when I finished my university studies, but it could also be an anniversary with a partner or something like that.
“What do you typically do for special occasions? “
That changes according to different family customs and also what special occasion it is, but there are some more common ways to celebrate. At a wedding, for example, there is often a reception after the wedding ceremony, where people all sit down together to eat, and then some people will make speeches. It’s quite traditional for the father of the bride, the best man and the groom to make speeches, and then invite anyone else at the reception to say a few words.
“Has there been a change in the way people celebrate special occasions?”
Yes, I think there has. The emphasis now is on what people would like to do, rather than rigidly following the traditions of the past. For example, in my country most people used to get married in a church, with a priest reading and the bride and groom adding a few words. These days, however, people get married wherever they feel most suitable – it could be on a beach in another country, or just at home. I think people are generally taking the elements of a special occasion that they like, for example reading their wedding vows, but changing those parts that they feel no longer suit.
“How often do you use the internet?”
Oh, every day! I think I would be lost if I didn’t. I used it both socially and professionally. At home, I might check my personal emails and look at my Facebook page and reply to any friends that have posted a message for me. When I get to work, the first thing I do is reply to any emails I have received, and then spend at least an hour sending emails out to people. I’ve also started to use the internet to do a lot of my shopping, especially for items like flight tickets or concert tickets. In many cases you get the best deal by shopping around online. In fact, in some situations, online is the only way to buy some things as more and more companies no longer have a physical shop to visit.
“How did you learn to use the internet?”
Like most people my age I guess – I picked it up by simply playing around. A friend made me my first email account years ago, and at the time I had no idea how to use it, but over the years I have got quite good. I have even built a website for a friend recently, an achievement I was really proud of. Having said that, though, I can still get a little nervous on the internet, especially when using my credit card. I think it’s important to check that the site has good security and that there is a physical address and telephone number for the company before I put in my credit card details.
“Which groups of people use the internet in your country?”
Well, I guess like most countries it is more common among younger people, up to about the age of 40, I suppose. Children these days are very familiar with getting around online, and I think an increasing amount of school homework requires some use of the ‘net. My parents, on the other hand, really don’t have anything more than a very basic understanding of how the whole thing works, and don’t even have email accounts. Professionally, of course, a lot of people in their 40s and 50s, even their 60s, have been trained to use the internet for work related purposes.
|Describe an object you find useful
You should say
You should also say why you find it useful.
I would say the one item that I find incredibly useful would be my iPod. It has all my music on, but it is also useful for storing photos and videos, and of course it is so compact and easy to take with me wherever I go – it’s a lot more convenient than taking CDs and a CD player! I spend a fair amount of time travelling overseas, so I’m in airports and hotels a lot, so it really gets used a lot when I’m on these business trips. I also use it when I’m just commuting to and from work – I take the train, so it’s a good way of passing the journey, although I used to use this time checking my work for the coming day, so I guess I’m not as efficient an employee as I used to be!
I’ve had the iPod for just over a year now. It was a birthday present from a close friend, and to be honest at the time I didn’t know much about them. It took me weeks to get all my music onto the computer, and then quite a lot longer to work out how to get videos onto it, but now I can navigate around it, add and delete files and download new games and other applications no problem. I have about 10 games on it at the moment, although I don’t play them very often -my cousin does though, whenever he comes over he always picks up my iPod to start playing.
I guess the main reason I find it useful, apart from the things I have just said, is that I have managed to collect thousands of songs on hundreds of CDs over the years, but often forget what I have or where it is. With the iPod I can access any song I want whenever I want it in a matter of seconds. With its compact size, it’s also really easy to take it anywhere I want – it fits neatly inside my pocket. I also bought a rubber sleeve for it, so it’s a little more protected in case I drop it or if there’s too much dust around.
“Do you think that possessions make people happy?”
Well, I think that’s a little too much of a simple conclusion to complicated issue, but I think some things that people own can bring a measure of happiness, yes. For example, I have just described my iPod, and that brings me some happiness. Of course, it’s not a substitute for other, more important points that make me happy, like the people around me, my health, that kind of thing. Having said that, I think there are definitely occasions when people make the mistake of thinking possessions are the way to happiness. In many families these days, both parents are busy working, and although this means that money may not be an issue, it does mean that a child can sometimes be neglected. Extravagant toys and expensive gifts, although they may temporarily entertain the child, are unlikely to make a child as happy as spending some time with his or her parents.
“Why do people buy things?”
Well, erm… there are many reasons to buy things. I suppose there are items that you need, like food and clothing, and there are things that you would like, like televisions or computers. But then I think that some people buy things without either needing or necessarily wanting them. I have a friend who is very much an impulse buyer – she’ll go out with no real need or intention of buying anything and then come back with items that she never went out for. I think other people might buy things simply to keep up with their neighbours or friends. They might choose to buy a bigger, more expensive car just because someone on their street has one, that kind of thing. I think that this kind of purchasing is something of a waste of money, and ends up with perfectly usable items being thrown out simply because they are last year’s model or no longer match the new furniture.
“Are people in your country wise consumers?”
That’s a difficult question…. I don’t really know the answer to that. I would say that on the whole, the people I know are quite careful with what they buy, but there are definitely people who get into a lot of debt, and then have to meet high interest rates as well as paying off the original debt. This is quite common over Christmas, when loan companies offer attractive short term rates for borrowers. People then overextend, spending money they cannot repay in the loan period so then fees and rates are increased, leaving them stuck in a vicious circle of debt. To be honest, I think it’s too easy to get a loan – there should be more safeguards making sure that lower income applicants can only borrow what they can reasonably repay without getting caught in massive debts.
“Do you think that shopping online will replace shopping in a physical location?”
No, not fully replace – at least not in all industries. Service industries like hairdressing for example, will almost certainly always require a physical location of some sort. There’s also the kind of shops that you might not think of buying from until you go in and browse, seeing their products – antique shops, for example. On the other hand, there are many shops that really don’t need a physical location, and both the seller and buyer could benefit from the lower cost of an online store. DVD rental stores would be an example of this – you don’t really need to go into the store because all you do is look at the cover images and read the back of the box before deciding what you would like to watch.
“Should the government control how much people spend?”
Hmm… well I don’t think a government should really be involving itself in the private lives of its citizens, but as for this….I think that depends on whether you are looking at spending what you have or what you can borrow. I definitely think that it’s too easy to get credit – money that’s not yours but can be borrowed at high rates of interest. In my country, and I believe in many countries, it’s relatively easy to borrow a significant amount of money on your credit card, and I think that has the potential to cause problems. I think in this case, the government should limit what people can borrow. Of course, the problem is that most people borrow many thousands of pounds to buy a house, so mortgage debt is quite common and shouldn’t be regulated.
“What are the advantages of saving?”
Well, as a child I was always taught that saving means your money can work for you – I remember my Dad told me that if I managed to save 5 pounds, he would give me another pound, so it was a good incentive not to waste my money. I think that for children this can have a useful lesson, and also means that when you decide you want to buy something, you think carefully before purchasing it because you have saved so hard for the money. Of course, for adults, the benefits are a little different, but I think the main advantage for me is that I don’t feel guilty about buying things I would like if I’m using my own money, so saving can actually make me feel more comfortable. And of course, it’s a lot cheaper to use money you have saved than borrowing it and paying the interest.