NOTE: The model answers below are a Band 9.0 response, but this is not the only way these questions could have been answered.
“Let’s talk about bicycles. Have you ever owned a bicycle?”
Yes – actually I still have one, but I don’t really use it much. When I was younger we’d spend most of the summer riding on our bikes. We used to travel quite a long way each day, but I’m not sure it’s the same now as there is so much traffic and the roads have become more dangerous. In those days we never even used to wear a helmet! I bought the bike I have now a few years ago – I thought it would be a good way to keep fit, you know – get a little exercise – but it’s been sitting in the garage for months now. I should get it out and start riding, but it’s so much more convenient to use the car!
“Do you think bicycles are as popular now as they were in the past?”
No, definitely not. As I said, we used to spend most of the good weather riding on our bikes, but I think kids these days tend to play inside of closer to their house than we did. I’m not sure if that is because parents think that it is too dangerous to let their child too far from their sight, or just because children are less interested in anything that isn’t electronic. Having said that, though, there are still a lot of people my age or older that still use their bikes to get to work or to go shopping. My brother doesn’t have a car – he uses his bike to get around no matter what the weather is like.
“What are the facilities like for bicycles were you live?”
They’re quite good really – around my hometown we have bicycle lanes so that makes it easier. Of course, now it’s compulsory to wear helmets so that makes it better too. One of the main problems is that bicycles are often stolen, which is very annoying – I have had two of my bikes stolen and never got them back. There are places by the train stations and bus stations where you can lock your bike, but there’s nobody watching these areas so it can be quite easier for a thief to cut the lock, and some of the bikes are very expensive.
“Let’s move on to talk about parties. Do you enjoy going to parties?”
Yes, I do – I don’t go to as many as I used to, but I still enjoy them. It’s always good to meet old friends and make some new ones, and parties are very social events. I went to a party last month – an old friend of mine was retiring – and met some really interesting people. In my country, we don’t really drink much alcohol at a party – it’s mostly about conversation, games and food. We always eat so much at parties!
“Is it common for people in your country to have parties at home?”
Oh yes, but mostly in the summer when the weather is good so we can be outside. The best parties are normally held in the garden, so there’s plenty of room to walk around and talk to different people. Occasionally people will have a party inside in the winter, but they’re never quite as good. I really like barbecue parties, and that doesn’t happen during the colder weather.
“On what type of occasions would you have a party?”
Well I mentioned my friend who had a retirement party, but we also have parties for significant events like birthdays, weddings and wedding anniversaries. The biggest party time in my country is in the new year – new year’s parties are very important, and can take a week or more to prepare for if you are the host. In most places, the entire street is decorated and it’s a great time – we all eat too much and stay up late! We have traditional songs for the new year party, and everyone sings along. A good new year party actually lasts two days, so by the end of it you can be quite exhausted, but it’s such a good time it’s always worth it.
“I’d like to talk about swimming now. Do you often go swimming?”
No, not really. I haven’t been swimming for at least a few years. I had a bad experience when I was on holiday about 5 years ago. I cut my foot when I was swimming in the sea and had to go to the local hospital to get treatment. I never know what it was that cut me, but the doctor said that it was probably a piece of glass or something like that, but since then I haven’t really been very keen to get back in the water. Swimming pools aren’t so bad because you can see the floor, but swimming in the sea, at least where I live, isn’t so clear so I don’t do that anymore.
“Do you think it’s important to be able to swim?”
Yes, I think so. I think it’s one of those important skills that you never know when you will need. A friend of mine who couldn’t swim nearly drown when he was younger because he didn’t know how to swim – he got pulled out to sea when he was at the beach and had to be rescued by a lifeguard! It’s also an important ability because it’s a very good way to keep fit – I think I heard that swimming is the best exercises you can do for your heart, but I’m not sure if that’s true.
“Do you think children should be taught to swim when they are school?”
Well, yes, I suppose so, but actually I think it should be the parents that teach their children, not the school. It’s a skill that you can learn when you’re very young, so I think the earlier you start the better. My parents took me when I was only about a year old – of course I couldn’t actually swim then, but I got used to the water and over the next year or so I built up the confidence to be able to swim on my own. I guess if the parents haven’t taught their children to swim by the time the kids get to school, then yes, it would be a good idea to teach them, but ideally I think school should be more for learning other skills and knowledge.
|Describe a movie you have seen that you enjoyed
You should say
You should also say why you enjoyed it
Well, I’d like to talk about a movie I saw recently, but I can’t actually remember the title! I’m not very good at remembering that kind of thing. It was a comedy set in America – Texas, I think – and it involved a group of people taking a road trip after they left college. The whole film was based around them travelling to see their favourite band perform at a venue a couple of hundred kilometres from where they lived. By the end of the film, they still don’t make it to the concert, but they meet the band afterwards, so it had a good ending. I thought it was really entertaining, mostly because I hadn’t heard anything about the film beforehand so there was no big build up or hype – I often find that blockbuster films that everyone is talking about are actually not as good as I’d hoped, so it’s much better to see a film you know nothing about. Anyway, none of the actors where famous – I think it was the first time in a film for any of them – but the script and directing were great. It was clearly quite a low budget production – there were no special effects or expensive sets – so that made a pleasant change from all the films these days that seem to rely on computer animation rather than good acting and good dialogue.
I also enjoyed it because I went with a couple of friends and saw it at the cinema, and that’s not somewhere I go much these days. I think it would have been at least three or four years since I was last in the cinema. I really like the atmosphere of a cinema, and you can really get into the movie because of the size of the screen and the quality of the sound. The chairs aren’t particularly comfortable, but that’s OK – the film was so funny I didn’t really think about.
I have heard since that they are planning on making a sequel to this film, but I’m not sure if that’s something I’ll watch – most sequels are quite disappointing if the original film is good, and I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience.
“Do you think that Hollywood makes the best movies?”
No, not at all. I think Hollywood makes very good action movies, but there are many other genres that they don’t do very well in. For example, it’s hard to find a good Hollywood comedy – they tend to be more romantic comedy films with some famous actors, but the script is weak and there is no real progression to the story. I think that mainstream Hollywood movies stick too close to a formula and this can get very boring very quickly. In my country, for example, we make excellent thrillers and police dramas, but they are not translated into English so most people haven’t heard of them.
“What’s your opinion on the government supporting the local film industry?”
I think it’s important to support local film making, as in many cases the content of local films is closely connected to the culture of the country. If there was no support, it would be too easy for American films to dominate the local market, and I think that has the potential for a negative effect overall. Even now in my country, most younger people would rather watch an American movie with subtitles rather than a movie made locally and in their language. I think a lot of that comes down to budget for special effects – even with government support, most countries simply don’t have the finances to compete with the multi-million dollar films created in America. Of course, with some government support, movies made locally can actually be quite profitable – look at New Zealand, for example. They made Lord of the Rings over there, and it earned millions of dollars for the country, not just from the film itself but from all the resulting tourism as well.
“Do you think that children spend too much time watching television?”
That depends. In my family, I would say no, not really. We did watch television and it wasn’t because our parents told us we had to stop watching, but we just had other interests. I think the problem today is that children have fewer interests, and are happier to stay inside watching TV or playing computer games. I think that’s a shame, because we used to have so much fun entertaining ourselves and using our imagination, but I suppose that’s just the way things change. I do think that some parents, either because they are too lazy, too tired or too busy,. Use the TV as a substitute for spending time with their child. It’s quite common these days for a child to get up in the morning, put the TV on and sit there for most of the day watching. That also adds an additional risk that parents aren’t sure what their children are even watching these days. When I was young, our parents would sit with us while we watched TV, so they could monitor the content and also spend time with us.
“Do you think TV programmes can be used in education?”
Yes, if the programmes are selected carefully and used sparingly. I personally watch quite a few documentaries and current affairs programmes, so in that way I am still using the TV for education, and I don’t see any reason why that can’t be the case in schools. However, I think I would object if I found out that my child was watching a TV programme every week, or that the teacher didn’t discuss what the students had seen afterwards. I think it can be used as a tool, but shouldn’t be replacing the teacher’s role. I think they have a great value in classes such as language learning, for example – I remember our teacher used to show us short excerpts from English speaking TV programmes and we had to answer questions about them – I thought that was good because it was authentic, much better than the normal textbooks where the situations didn’t really seem that relevant.
“What are the differences between watching a movie about a true event or a fictional movie?”
Of course, the main difference is that the writers and directors are more limited by what they can do when it is a true story, and in cases where the story is common knowledge, it can be quite difficult to build the tension and excitement in the film. For example, I remember seeing a film about the Apollo spacecraft years ago – I knew at the time that the crew members got back to earth safely, so it was hard to get into the drama of the film. Of course, from the other side, it can be very interesting to watch a film about a true story if you didn’t know what happened, or you’d only heard a little about it. Personally, I would prefer to watch a fictional movie because I believe that the actors and the director can be more creative.
“How do you think the way films are made will change in the future?”
Well, I think that the use of computer animation and special effects will continue and there is even the potential, given the quality of graphics that is currently possible, that entire films will be made without actors. I’m not referring to animated films that are currently on the market, but films that look and feel real but have actually been made by computer. You can see from the quality of video games these days that the line between video footage and computer generated images is getting closer and closer. However, I think that the voices will always be real people unless a significant advance is made with voice technology. At this point, the range of emotions that a real person can convey in their voice is not matched by any computer. I also think that films will continue to get shorter. 20 or 30 years ago, a film would last two hours or more, but these days, the common film length is about 90 minutes. This might have something to do with our shorter attention spans or cost of production, but I think this trend will continue until the common film is only about 60 minutes long.