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 learning English. When did you first start learning English?”
Well, in my country it is quite common to start at quite a young age – I think I was probably about 7 when I had my first formal class. Of course, we also learn some English before that, from songs or watching television, and there are even a few words that we commonly use in my native language that are taken directly from English. I was also quite lucky in that both of my parents speak English, and we used to travel a lot to English speaking countries so I had chance to practice.
“Why did you choose to learn English and not another language?”
I didn’t make a conscious decision about that – it’s just that English was the only foreign language we were offered at school! But I would probably have chosen it anyway, because it’s the most useful international language to know. I’m not sure if it’s the most widely spoken language in the world, but it definitely helps when travelling. I also use English a lot for my job, and although I could speak French or even Chinese at work, it isn’t as widely spoken around the office.
“Has learning English been difficult for you?”
I suppose that really depends on the situation. My social, conversational English was easy to learn because it’s normally in a relaxed atmosphere, with friends just relaxing. More formal English is much harder though, especially when I need to write. I find that I have problems thinking of the most appropriate vocabulary, and some of the emails I send to clients or even within the office can sometimes be a little too informal. I enjoy reading in English though, so I wouldn’t say that has ever been really difficult.
“Let’s move on to talk about names. How was your name chosen for you?”
Actually, it was given to me because of my grandfather, who had the same name. I think it was my mum that decided that, but it was my paternal grandfather. It’s quite common in my culture to use the names of someone else in the family, but normally not your parents’ names. I think they do that in America sometimes, adding ‘Junior’ to the person who is named after their father.
“Do you like your name?”
I’ve never really thought about it! It’s not a bad name and is easy for people to spell, so that’s an advantage, but one problem is that it’s so common. Most people already know at least one other person with the same name as me, so I often use a nickname instead. It is possible to change your name if you really don’t like it, but I’ve never really thought about it either way.
“Are names important in your country?”
Not really. As I said, it’s quite usual for people to use a name that has already been used in the family, but they don’t have any special relevance. I know that in some countries, people’s names actually have a direct meaning – I have a friend from Japan who says that his name actually means ‘great’ or ‘large’, but that doesn’t really happen in my country unless you are a celebrity and give your baby a strange name like ‘Moonbeam’.
“Let’s talk about weddings. How important are weddings in your country?”
For many people, it’s a very significant event and often costs an exorbitant amount of money. Lots of couples getting married are still looking for a fairy tale wedding, with flowers, bridesmaids, limousines, lavish catering and so on, and for those people, it is an important day. However, there are an increasing number of people who are happy to have a low key event that doesn’t cost so much, and sometimes only with family and close friends. I think the traditional ‘white wedding’ is slowly losing popularity because of the price. I know I don’t want a big bill after I get married!
“Which people are usually invited to a wedding?”
Well, as I said, it depends on the type of event that the couple are having. In the last 6 months, I have been to two weddings – the first had over 200 people, including friends, family, acquaintances, guests of friends and a whole lot more. The other wedding I went to couldn’t have been more different – there were the bride’s parents and the groom’s father, along with two friends and me, and that was it. Personally, I think inviting only the people that really matter is a much better wedding!
“What do people usually do at weddings?”
In some cases, people are actively involved in the wedding – maybe reading something, or holding the rings or the flowers, but in other cases they are there just to be present at the event and don’t really do anything as such. These days, people are trying to keep the cost of weddings down by asking guests to take photographs of the event and therefore not needing a professional photographer.
|Describe a team, club or group you have belonged to.
You should say:
You should also explain how important this team, club or group was in your life.
I’m not in any kind of club these days, but I’m going to tell you about a club I used to be very involved in about 5 years ago. It’s was only a small group of people, but we used to meet up every Sunday and ride around on our motorbikes, then stop at a cafe and spend the afternoon talking about our machines. It was very relaxed – there wasn’t any paperwork or formal aspect to our club, but we all wore jackets with the same insignia.
I joined this club when I had just moved into the local area – I have always had a motorbike, and I thought it would be a good way to meet some new people and know a little more about the local area, and we all used to help each other with maintaining or repairing our bikes, which made it a lot cheaper than using a mechanic all the time, especially because I didn’t know a lot about fixing engines back then!
As well as our regular run on Sundays, we’d sometimes meet up during the week, often at somebody’s house, and just play a few games or listen to some music. As I said, it was all very relaxed so there was never a definite plan of what we were going to do. If there was ever a large event in our home town, like a concert or sports match, we would all go together to see it. That was good because you could always find someone who wanted to go, so you didn’t have to go alone.
This club really suited me at the time because, being new to the area, it was a great way to meet new people. I am still close friends with most of the members of our old club, but we don’t meet every Sunday anymore. Too many members couldn’t make it because of work or family commitments, but we do meet a couple of times a year. I also managed to learn a lot about taking care of my own motorbike – I learned how to take it apart and rebuild it, and how to do some of the more complex repair work, and even though I have a different bike now, the skills I learned still come in handy.
“What types of groups or clubs are popular these days?”
Well, I think these days technology in the home, as well as mobile technology, has led to online communities. This can be groups on social network sites like Facebook, or online games where players from around the world can compete against or cooperate with each other. However, there are still local sports clubs that organize games and events in the local and national arena. Arguably the most significant change though is that recently after-school clubs and groups, which always used to be a part of the education system, seem to be disappearing.
“Why do you think some parents encourage their children to join a club?”
In many cases, people are working longer hours and may be travelling further to and from their place of work, so in some situations, clubs can offer children a place to interact with friends rather than returning to an empty house. There are also some parents who suggest joining a club to give the child the opportunity to do something active, to meet other people and learn valuable social skills that in many situations are being lost as youngsters spend longer online and in solitary pursuits.
“Should the government support local clubs?”
To a degree, there should be some funding available, especially if the group or club is focused on an active sport as this has positive effects on the health of the nation. However, money spent supporting these clubs could be spent in other areas such as education and infrastructure, so it is important that local clubs also make some effort to find their own funding. Sponsorship from nearby businesses in exchange for advertising, for example, could be one way of the club at least part way supporting itself.
“Is there any value for older people in joining a club or group?”
Definitely, especially these days where traditional roles and responsibilities towards older people are changing. It is now common for older people to live very isolated lives rather than moving in to live with a child, meaning that for many people, loneliness and a lack of support are common. By joining a club and meeting other people, a social network can be established and offer the elderly a place to go rather than remaining at home. Many of the traditional forms of entertainment, like parties or trips to the cinema, are not events that older people traditionally enjoy as much as younger or middle aged people, so finding a club or group of like-minded people can be very important.
“Why do you think people in teams often wear uniforms?”
I think it allows for members of the team to feel a sense of identify and community with one another, and can act as way of uniting the people that are involved. Of course, there is also the functional element, as a uniform can help players on a team to quickly identify their teammates. Take football, for example – without wearing matching clothes, the game would become far more difficult as it would take longer to identify whether a player was in the same team or was an opponent. There are also some people who simply enjoy wearing a uniform as this can make them feel more connected to other people, so it very much depends on the type of team.
“What values can be learned from being part of a team?”
The most obvious answer to that would be team work – the ability to work towards a goal with other people. This can teach important skills such as the ability to work with different personalities and to be able to rely on others to perform parts of the task. As well as achieving goals, working as part of a larger group can also help with skills like communication – it is essential that team players can talk to one another effectively. This can be in the language used, but also in the manner of speaking. The best results are achieved by supportive teamwork, not aggressive pressure, which is a very important value.