NOTE: The model answers below are a Band 9.0 response, but this is not the only way these questions could have been answered.
“What is your favourite kind of weather?”
Hmmm… I’m quite happy when the weather is warm, but I can’t say that I love temperatures that are too hot. Anything around 20 to 25 degrees is nice for me. I recently came back from a holiday in Australia, and although it’s a beautiful place to visit, the temperature reached over 35 degrees most days and it was too much for me – I had no energy! On the other hand, though, I’d rather be too hot that too cold – I really don’t like the winter.
“What weather is typical in your country?”
There are four distinct seasons, so there is a clear change every 3 months or so. In the winter it can fall below zero, sometimes for weeks on end – I really don’t like that time of year at all. Then in spring the rains starts, and pretty much carries on through to the beginning of summer. It can get quite annoying, but then that’s why it’s such a green country so I shouldn’t really complain. Summer can be a little changeable, with a good day followed by a bad day, and it’s not very predictable, but when it is a good day, it’s just the right temperature for me. The temperature dips a little in the autumn, especially in the evening. It’s a lovely time of year for the colours though, with all the tress turning all kinds of orange, yellow and red.
“Do you usually listen to the weather forecast on television or on the radio? “
To be honest, I don’t make any great effort to listen to the predictions for the coming days because I find that they are often wrong. The only time I make an effort to find out what the weather may be like is if I’m doing something outside, like organising a barbecue. In that case though, I wouldn’t watch TV or the radio – I’d go straight to the internet. I think it’s actually a little more accurate because it’s updated more often.
“How well do you know the people who live next door to you?”
Actually, not very well at all, even though I have been living in my current house for nearly a year. I say hello to them if they are in the garden or walking out of the house, but that’s about all really. In the house I was living in last year, though, I had a very good relationship with one of my neighbours. We used to walk into each other’s houses without evening knocking, and we’d often meet up for a coffee or even go to one of our houses to watch a film.
“Do you think neighbours can help each other?”
Oh, definitely! I think they can help with simple things, like when you run out of something and you just need a little milk or sugar. But more importantly, they are the best security you can have. Many little communities have a scheme called neighbourhood watch, where if a neighbour sees something strange or hears a noise in someone’s property when they’re not at home, they’ll contact the police. They can also be very useful as you get older, even if it’s just to drop by once in a while to make sure everything is OK. The grandmother and her neighbours always call in to see each other every day just to check everything is alright, which I think is really good.
“What kinds of problems do people sometimes have with their neighbours?”
Well, I guess the most common problem with your neighbour would be noise. A few years ago, I lived next door to a family that often had late night parties, and would have loud music blaring out until late into the night. The problem is even worse in a terraced or semidetached house, when the noise just travels straight through the walls. Other problems can be when your neighbours are nosy, always watching to see what you are doing, or if they are not very tidy. One of my neighbours at the moment has an overgrown garden with old piece of different cars on the lawn, and it looks a bit of a mess.
“Do you prefer watching films at the cinema or at home?”
That really depends on what type of film it is and why I’m watching it. If it’s a special effects blockbuster, then watching it in the cinema is better because of the size of the screen and the quality of the sound. I don’t have a home theatre system at home, so the sound from my television is quite poor in comparison. If I’m meeting some friends and we are watching a film as a social occasion, then I’d much prefer to watch it at home because we can talk, it’s more comfortable and we have everything we need – we can also pause the film if we need to. On the other hand, if I’m watching a film with my spouse, it can be a pleasant change to actually go out, and combine watching a movie with going out to dinner or something else.
“What kind of films do you like?”
I really like action movies, where there are a lot of special effects, even though the storyline might not actually be very good. I can find, though, that if there has been a lot of hype about a movie, it can end up being disappointing simply because you had such high hopes for it. I like science fiction movies to, especially if they are well written – I think some of them are really clever. I suppose my favourite films in this genre would be the Star Wars series. I think there are 5 or 6 of them, and I like them all!
“Are there any kinds of films you don’t like?”
I think romantic comedies are awful. The basic story is so similar between all of them, and they often have really bad scripts. I also detest musicals, with singing and dancing. I can’t watch those. Apart from that, I’ll try most genres. Some of the best films I’ve seen are actually those that I had heard nothing about in a genre I wouldn’t normally think about. For example, I recently saw a documentary film about penguins, and I thought that was excellent.
|Describe a favourite book you read when you were a child
You should say:
You should also say why it was your favourite
I’m going to tell you about a book that I read when I was probably only about 5 or 6. I don’t actually remember the title, but it was an adventure story with a group of friends and their dog. I don’t remember all of the story, but they were looking for some money that had been stolen. The local police had blamed a homeless man and arrested him, but the children knew he was innocent so they started their own investigation. After a lot of twists and turns that I don’t really recall clearly, they found that it was actually one of the policemen that had stolen the money, but before they could tell anyone, they were all kidnapped and imprisoned in old house. The rest of the story was about how they escaped using their ingenuity and how they managed to trick the dishonest policemen. The end of the book was that they managed to tell the story to the right people and the homeless man was freed, only for it to be discovered that he wasn’t actually homeless – he was an undercover officer investigating the actions of the policeman that had stolen the money.
In the final chapter, the real thief was in jail and the children had been rewarded with some money. I think one of the reasons it sticks in my mind is that it was a good story, but also had a good moral – that eventually you will be held accountable for your actions. Thinking back, it was also a good story because there was no serious fighting, no guns and no car chases. It managed to be a good story without resorting to over-the-top storylines or actions, and that’s quite rare these days.
I guess in some ways, many people now have grown up reading the Harry Potter books, and I guess that has a similar message and also avoids guns and excessive violence, even though some people do die. In general, though, I think it’s a shame that fewer children are reading these days – I remember my parents rewarding to me when I was very small, and I think that’s why I still enjoy reading now. My ideal holiday would be a warm beach with a good book!
“What is the best age for children to learn to read?”
Well, I don’t really know about that as I don’t have any children, but I think they should have some exposure to reading from being an infant, initially with the parents reading to them and then as they become more capable, parents should help them to read. I think it’s such an important skill for life that sooner would be much better than later. Of course, having said that, there are some parents who push their children too hard, who seem to want them to have a reading ability far beyond their years, and I personally think this has long term drawbacks as it can make children lose the joy of reading, and also means they are frequently bored at school for the first few years as other children catch up to their level, and this can be a bad start to a child’s academic career.
“What are the benefits of learning to read for young children?”
Well, as I mentioned, it’s a very important skills for life, primarily because it accelerates the learning process. If a child aged 5 can read, he will learn far more, even if the material he or she is reading may not be particularly academic. A higher level of vocabulary, the ability to express ideas and opinions, to follow a storyline or description – these are all the basic academic skills that follow us through life and definitely have an impact on whether we pursue further education after obligatory school leaving age has come. It is also in many ways a healthy option to many of the ways children spend time these days. Although it doesn’t keep you physically fit, it is arguably far more mental exercise than would be gained from playing computer games or staring at the television.
“In what ways can learning to read be made more enjoyable for children?”
Well, I think the involvement of the parents and making reading a family occasion, at least to begin with, is vitally important. Helping a child learn to read can be a fun way to spend some time in a productive manner. When the child is reading on his or her own, I think then it becomes the parents’ job to encourage this by visiting libraries and bookshops and motivating the child to find stories or material that interests them. I also think it can be valuable to offer a child an incentive for reading – maybe a special treat once the child has read the book, something like that. Having said that, I think it is very important that parents don’t go too far, that there are times when a child might temporarily lose interest, and this should be respected. I think that forcing a child to read will be counterproductive in that they may lose all joy in reading.
“What influence do you think the internet has had on reading?”
Well, I think that there are so many diversions on the internet – games, chatting and other such things – that it can offer a more varied entertainment. On the other hand, though, I think the internet and read and what is traditionally classed as ‘reading’ don’t have to be exclusive. There are many short stories and other interesting things to read available online -just because it is not printed in a book doesn’t necessarily mean that the internet user is not reading, it’s just that it is likely to be shorter. There are many eBooks which can be downloaded and read on an iPod for example. Of course, one major downside of the internet is that reading speed is reduced. I think the average reading speed falls by about 20% when using a computer.
“What changes do you think will happen in the future in the way people read?”
Well, as I mentioned, I think that technology will change the way we can access reading material with eBooks and similar things, but I also think that there will be an increase in audiobooks, where a novel is actually read, meaning that we no longer read as such, but listen. I don’t think that will necessarily have a negative impact on people writing the books, but I think it will have a significant part to play in general levels of literacy as most people learn spelling simply through reading, and this may get lost if we are only listening to audio.
“Do you think the government should provide free library services?”
Absolutely. For many lower income families, or even people who simply don’t want to spend money on books, libraries offer the chance to find something that will interest without a cost. And of course libraries commonly offer much more than just books these days. I actually enrolled in a night class a few years ago that was run and funded by the local library, and I know a lot of people who borrow films and CDs. There are also local information services, the internet and many other advantages. Also, with generally declining feelings of community, the library is a traditional part of most villages and towns and can offer a social side for older people, who may choose to meet friends there.