NOTE: The model answers below are a Band 9.0 response, but this is not the only way these questions could have been answered.
“Do you drive a car? Why? / Why not?”
Yes, I drive a small car. I passed my driving test about 3 years ago, and for the first year I used to drive a lot, but these days I don’t really use my car. I work within walking distance of my house, you see. In my country, you need to pass quite a difficult driving test before they you can get a driving license, and I failed the test twice before I eventually passed! I have had the same car since I passed my test – it’s old and cheap, but it runs well and I very rarely have any mechanical problems with it – which is just as well, because I know nothing about repairing cars!
“Is public transport good in your country?”
Well, I am sure there are some countries that are better, but in general I would say it’s quite good. There are buses and trains from most of the suburbs if you want to get into the city, and they are quite reasonably priced, but they are often late. The main problem, though, is that public transport only really helps people that live in or near the city. If you live out in the countryside, there are very few services – in fact, in some of the outlying villages, you would be stuck for days if you didn’t have a car!
“What other forms of transport do people use?”
As I’ve mentioned, a lot of people that live in the country have their own car, but to get around in the city centre, almost everyone uses bicycles. We have cycle lanes all through the city, so it’s quite easy to get around – except if it’s raining of course! I have one of those small bicycles that you can fold away and put in the back of the car, so that can be very convenient. We also have a tram service, but that’s not really popular with locals because it’s slow and quite expensive – it’s mostly used by tourists that want a city tour.
“Do you often have visitors in your home? “
Hmmm… I wouldn’t say often – I guess about once a week one of my friends will come over for a coffee or for lunch, but they won’t stay long. I live in an apartment building and it’s not particularly large, so we don’t really have much room for socializing at home. It can be good sometimes, though, because I live so close to the city that some people call in when they are on their way to or from going to a concert or event. A few of my friends will also stay over if it’s late, but that’s not often – as I said, my apartment really isn’t big enough to do that.
“Do you prefer to meet people at home or in a public place?”
Oh, I much prefer to go out! I get quite bored staying in my own place too long – that’s why I like to live near the city, because there’s always something going on! I meet friends in one of the many coffee shops in town, or sometimes we meet for lunch. Apart from the social events, one of the main reasons I love living where I do is that it is so easy to find something new to try when going out for something to eat. There are restaurants and cafes serving all kinds of food, and they’re only about 10 minutes from where I live.
“Is it common for visitors to your home to bring a gift?”
Hmm… no, it’s not common. Most of the people that come to my house are old friends, so it would be strange if they brought a gift each time they came. The only people that really bring a gift are my parents – and it’s not really a gift, it’s often just something that they had at home but no longer used, like extra cooking utensils or glasses, something like that. In my culture, it is quite common to take a gift to someone’s house if it’s the first time you have been invited to their house. It shouldn’t be anything expensive – maybe just some flowers or a bottle of wine.
“Let’s move on talk about sports now. Are there good sports facilities where you live? “
Actually, I don’t do any sport myself, so I couldn’t really tell you if they are particularly good. I know that there is a basketball course at the bottom of my apartment building, and it always seems quite busy so I guess it must be quite good. There’s also a large field about 10 minutes from where I live. I have seen people playing football and rugby there, but I don’t know if it’s what you would describe as a ‘good’ facility because it’s often very wet and muddy – I don’t think the water drains very well from there.
“Do children do sport at school where you come from?”
I think they still do, yes. I know when I was at school that I had to do quite a wide variety of sports. I was never particularly good at anything, so I never joined any teams, but we used to play football and rugby, as well as tennis, badminton and a lot of running – both on a track and cross-country. My brother has a child I think he does a lot of sport at school. They sometimes travel to another school to play in competitions, so I guess he must be better than I was!
“Which sport would you like to learn?”
Well, as I said I was never particularly good at sports when I was at school, but I would be interested in learning how to play golf. It looks like one of those games that is a combination of skills and exercise – at least when you are walking to find where your ball went! I have never played ‘proper’ golf, but I have played mini-golf a few times, and that was quite fun.
|Describe something you did that was good for your health
You should say
You should also say why it was good for you
Well, to be honest I don’t do many things that are good for my health these days. I go to the gym occasionally, but not for very long and not as often as I could, and I tend to drive the car even on short journeys rather than walk. But I suppose the one thing that I have done that was particularly good for my health was stop smoking. I used to smoke quite heavily – sometimes 20 or more cigarettes a day – but when it turned 30, my friend and I both decided that it was time to quit, so we did it together. The first week was very hard, and we both wanted to have a cigarette, but we managed to support each other, and after that first week, it did get quite a lot easier.
It’s not the first time I had tried to smoke – in fact, I think I had tried at least 5 times before, but the longest I stopped for was 4 weeks. It definitely helped to try and kick the habit with someone else who knew what it was like, although there were a few occasions when we got quite irritated with each other just because of nicotine withdrawal. I haven’t smoked again since then – it was so hard giving up that I thought I’m not going through that again, so I have stayed away from cigarettes. I still occasionally think it would be nice to have one, but I know that I can’t give in because I would get addicted again in no time.
The reasons why not smoking is good for you are well known – there’s the cost and the health aspect, but for me, the best part is the social side. I used to go to parties and stand outside to have a cigarette while everyone else was inside having a good time, so it’s a great feeling not to have feel like that anymore!
“Do you think the government has a responsibility for the health of its citizens?”
In a limited way, I would say yes. I think the state should ensure that all items on sale are not directly dangerous to your health and that they have passed any required health testing, and that education should be available at school level regarding healthy eating and the benefits of exercise. However, I would argue that for the most part, health is a personal choice which should not have any government involvement. For example, I know that fast food is not as nutritionally good as other more wholesome foods, so I limit my intake of such types of food, but I would not be happy to have any government representative telling me that I was not allowed to eat whatever food I have chosen. Equally, most people are aware of the benefits of exercise, yet many of us chose not to do so, and again, I feel that this should be a personal choice, not something that is overseen by the government.
“Do you think people who suffer from illnesses based on their lifestyle should be entitled to free healthcare?”
Hmm – that’s a good point. I would say that it’s not really possible to fairly estimate the impact on health of particular lifestyle choices, and also that anyone who has contributed fairly to the social system should be able to benefit. To illustrate, if I smoked for 40 years then needed healthcare for lung problems, I would expect free healthcare because I had paid my taxes the last 40 years and I know that additional tax is added to cigarettes, so I would perhaps be more entitled than someone who had not purchased cigarettes. There is also the fact that in a civilized society, it is not ethical to withhold medical assistance from someone in need, regardless of cause.
“Should cosmetic surgery be offered for free?”
Well that would definitely depend on the reasons for the surgery itself. If you were thinking of reconstructive surgery following an accident or injury, I would say yes, but if it was for personal reasons, such as someone who is unhappy with their features, I would say that this should probably not be available for free. I think there is an increasing number of people of who would opt for medical procedures for aesthetic reasons that are not really necessary to live a full life, and in some cases, the people that feel they need plastic surgery may in fact be better helped with counselling and therapy rather than any kind of surgery.
“Are there any ways you could suggest to encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle?”
Well, I think the first step would be to get people on their feet more often, rather than relying on their car. Banning cars in city centres, especially in shopping areas, could be a good start, as this might get more people to walk at least some distance between shops. In my country, many people would actually choose to get back in their car to drive to the next shop if it was anything more than a few hundred metres away. In turn, this would lead to a reduction in the amount of air pollution as there would be fewer cars in urban areas, and this would also help people become a little healthier.
“Do you think there has been a change in the level of health now compared to 50 years ago?”
I would say that people are probably not as healthy overall these days. A lot of our diet, especially in western countries, is composed of refined, sugary food with a large number of additives, and home cooked meals with fresh ingredients is definitely in decline. Although there have been some significant improvements in science and medicine, we are also becoming much lazier – most people walk far less and spend a lot more time sitting, either in front of a computer or in front of a television. However, we have become aware of a number of important factors about health. For example, it is now clear that there is a link between smoking and cancer which perhaps wasn’t apparent some 50 years ago.
“What’s your opinion on extreme or dangerous sports?”
Hmmm…well, I’m not a particular sporty person myself, so I wouldn’t be interested in these types of sports. However, there is a large number of people who do find it stimulating, and I see no reason why those who enjoy should not be allowed to do so. Although there is perhaps a higher percentage of fatalities with sports like rock climbing or free diving, this does not mean that such sports should be banned as they only put at risk those that engage in them. I have heard that some extreme sports have been banned, however, because they pose an unfair risk to the general public who have not made a conscious decision to put themselves in the path of potential danger.