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 prefer writing by hand or by computer?”
“Well, my spelling isn’t very good, so I like to use a computer with a spelling check programme to help me. I’m also becoming quite a fast typist, which makes me even keener to use a computer. I can type about 45 words a minute, which I think is quite good. I got into the habit of using a computer when I was at university because we had to hand our assignments in typed, not handwritten. If I was the tutor, I really wouldn’t want to read all those assignments if they all had different types of handwriting!”
“What kind of things do you write or type?”
“As I mentioned, I completed a lot of my university assignments by computer, but I think things like letters to friends and family are more personal if they are handwritten. And of course simple, shorter pieces of writing like a shopping list or a note to remind myself to do something would always be done by hand. Any formal correspondence, though, like a letter to the bank, I would type because then I have a copy safe on my computer. I actually work in an office, so I would type anything that was going to be publicly displayed, like a notice or an information sign.”
“Do you think that good handwriting is important?”
“Hmmm…that depends very much on what the person is writing for. If you are writing a short note for yourself, then it doesn’t really make any difference, but if you’re writing something down that other people may have to follow, like instructions or directions, then it becomes very important. Working in an office, I often have to process forms that people have completed by hand and it’s amazing the number of people who write essential details like their name, address or email in such bad handwriting that I can’t even read it. Then on the other side there are some people who have absolutely beautiful handwriting, although that tends to be older people. My grandfather, for example, had lovely handwriting.”
“Are you interested in fashion?”
“If you mean fashion in clothes, then on the whole, I would probably say no. I don’t like to dress in very old clothes, but I certainly don’t spend a lot of money on the latest trends modelled by some sports star or singer! Having said that, there are some fashions that I follow quite closely – I recently bought a new laptop, for example. It’s one of those ultra thin and light ones. There was nothing wrong with my other laptop, so I guess in that case I do follow fashion quite closely.”
“Do you enjoy shopping for clothes? “
“Well, as I said, I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, but I guess there are times when it can be quite fun to go clothes shopping and come back with a handful of new things. My main problem, I think, is that I have certain clothes that I feel most comfortable in so I don’t often feel like I need or want new things. I have a pair of jeans, for example, that I bought years ago. They have a few holes in them and the bottom part of each leg is getting worn away, but I really like them.”
“On what occasions would you dress formally in your country?”
“Most people dress in formal clothes for office based jobs – I need to dress in smart clothes for my job except on Fridays when more relaxed clothing is allowed. In my culture, we tend to dress smartly for ceremonial events, often using traditional clothing that you wouldn’t otherwise wear. Examples of these kinds of occasions would be weddings and funerals. A lot of people also used to dress in formal wear if they were going out for the evening to a show or to dinner, although people are increasingly less concerned about that these days and often wear jeans and a shirt to that kind of event.”
“Which magazines or newspaper do you read and why?”
“Well, I don’t really read magazines very often, except maybe the television guide, but I read the National Herald when I get the chance. The office I work in buys a copy each day, so I skim the articles during my coffee or lunch break, and perhaps read a few that interest me. When I’m not at work, I don’t really bother reading a newspaper at all. I might read the headlines if I go into a shop, but otherwise I would get my information from one of the many news websites in the internet – I find it easier to find articles I like and it’s free.”
“What kind of articles are you most interested in?”
I love science and technology, so anything relating to that would always be the article I read first. I’m not really interested in the gossip column side of reporting – you know, what the stars are doing and which actor or singer has been seen with whom. I think a lot of that kind of journalism is very invasive and doesn’t respect privacy, so I avoid that kind of thing on principle. I suppose I would also read any articles that refer to local news, to whatever it happening in my area. Just this morning, for example, I read that there has been a fire in the school just down the road. Fortunately it happened at night, so no-one was hurt.
“Do you think reading a newspaper or magazine in a foreign language is a good way to learn a language?”
Definitely! Well, I suppose that depends on which type of magazine or newspaper, really, but on the whole, I think it is a very valuable tool for improving grammar and vocabulary, as well as learning common idioms and expressions that you wouldn’t learn from most textbooks. When I was learning English, I would choose an article a day from the English newspaper and try to read it. To being with I would need my dictionary for almost every second word, but with practice I found that a lot of the language is used again and again, so it only took a few months before I only needed the dictionary a few times. Even now, though, I still have the dictionary at hand when I’m reading, because if I don’t look the word up immediately then I know I’ll forget it.
|Describe a person you have lived with
You should say:
You should also explain how you felt about living together
Well, I am going to tell you about one of the people I lived with when I was at university. His name was Mark, and we ended up living in the same house more by accident than anything else. In the first year, we were on the same floor in the university accommodation. I didn’t really get to know him then, just enough to say hello to, but by the end of the first year we needed to organise somewhere to live. A friend of mine who was studying the same course suggested that 5 of us rent a house, which I thought was a good idea as it would cut down on expenses having so many of us. Well, it turned out that one of the people we had asked to live with us decided not to, and that’s when Mark asked if he could join us. Over the second year I got to know him quite well, and by the end of that year, just three of the five of us decided that we would find somewhere a little smaller and cheaper, so in the third year we spent a lot of time together.
It’s difficult to say about the kinds of things we did, because although we were friends and lived in the same house, we actually had different courses, so I guess it was more just sitting around the house or going out some evenings. During the holidays, we would both head back to our hometowns. I really enjoyed living with Mark – and the other students – because it was a very friendly atmosphere. We spent most of our time in the house studying, but when we did have a break, there would always be someone to talk to. Mark was easy to get along with and good fun – he also had a car, which was quite rare at the time, so it was really good to have someone with transport in the house. We would all borrow the car to go shopping or to quickly visit the library, and Mark was always very generous – he never minded, so long as we put some petrol back in to make up for what we had used.
The only time I remember him getting angry the whole time we shared accommodation was when one of the flatmates had a party that went on all night, the night before Mark’s end of semester exams. I think that was unfair of the flatmate, really.
“What do you think are the important factors in getting along well with someone you live with?”
I suppose the most important thing is that you need to be tolerant, and understand that although you might be the best of friends, sometimes living in the same house can be quite stressful after a while. I think it’s also very important to respect each other’s sense of space – it’s a lot easier to live with someone if you can also spend some time alone if you want to. There will inevitably be frictions from time to time, often about small things that are not really important and are easily forgotten. I remember having an argument with my flatmate about who used the last of the milk, that kind of thing. The important thing is to make sure that these little disagreements are kept in proportion. I would also say that to maintain a healthy, workable relationship with someone you live with, it is also important that you have outside interests, something that doesn’t necessarily involve the other person.
“Why do you think some people choose to live alone?”
“I believe that there are some people who are simply more comfortable with their own company, and prefer to have their own space they can retreat to. I know a couple of people who live alone that are very friendly – they love parties and meeting new people, but they also like the ability to have a quiet night at home without being disturbed. Personally, I couldn’t do it – I think I would be lonely. I guess it might suit people at certain times in their lives. Just after leaving home, for example, it offers a good degree of freedom, but then later you might find someone you want to live with, and this can be helpful if you have issues with your health. I’ve actually hear that people who live alone don’t generally live as long as people who live in a relationship. Then of course, there is the financial side – it’s much cheaper when you are sharing the bills, many of which are not significantly increased when there is more than one person using the service. The internet is a good example, where there is a set fee each month regardless of the number of users.”
“Why do you think some people leave home at a younger age than others?”
I think that would probably depend on what there circumstances are. Some younger people might not be happy at home and want some freedom, especially if they are from a large family. Other people still stay at home until they get married or are in a relationship. Some younger people stay at home because they can’t get the money to live alone, either because they can’t find a suitable job or they are pursuing further education and may choose to live at home. A lot of jobs that you can get at a younger age don’t pay enough to afford to leave home. In my culture, a lot of younger people leave home early and may spend some travelling around before settling in a country. I also think that children generally have to grow up a lot faster these days, so it’s inevitable that they would also want to leave home and see the world for themselves.
“What are the advantages and disadvantages of renting rather than buying a house or flat?”
“Well, the biggest disadvantage is that you are not making any progress towards getting a place of your own – you are basically paying for the landlord to own the house. The good side of renting is that you know how much you have to pay each month, whereas home owners may have unexpected costs like a new roof or problems with the plumbing or electrics. In rented accommodation, this is taken care of. Also, when you buy a house you often get involved in a mortgage that may take up to 30 years to fully pay. For me, a significant part of owning my own home is that I can make my own choices about what to change. I mean, if I wanted to paint a wall or put a new window in, I don’t need to get anyone’s permission.”
“Do you think the government should be responsible for ensuring that everyone has a place to live?”
“Well, I think that a government should make sure that everyone has shelter, but I don’t think that people who could work but choose not to should be supported in a home of their own. In some countries, the government will support you for a few months, but after that it becomes your responsibility, and I think in the majority of cases that’s a reasonable solution. However, I think in some situations, being homeless is actually a choice – there are often government agencies that will help find somewhere to live. In the city I live in, there are quite a few homeless people, but there are also homeless shelters run either by the government or by charitable organisations, I’m not sure which. These places will help people to find somewhere to live.”
“What changes do you think there will be in the size of households in the future?”
“Well, people are having fewer children these days, so I think families are naturally getting smaller. In addition, older people that would previously have lived with their children are now either living alone or being moved into a retirement home, so this is also having an effect on the number of people in a house. In many respects, this is not a positive development as there is a vast amount of knowledge and experience that used to be handed down through the generations that is now being lost. I believe that the decline of close knit families and communities is largely responsible for the increase in crime in many places. However, there are still some cultures that tend to have larger families. Pacific Island families, for example, are still quite large.”