Updated Aug. 8, 2013 


Notes about some Questions (Page 5)


If some of the notes on this page are possible as a complete answer to the question, be very careful about speaking those exact same words in the test. If many people speak the same sentences in the test, the examiners will eventually know that these sentences are not your original words. This will seriously damage your score! Some examiners might even read this website. Examiners don't like answers that candidates learn, word for word, from a book or from the blackboard in a class because such answers are not real, natural communication. The best idea is to adapt the ideas below (if you want to) by making your own sentences and speaking naturally in the test. (Memorized answers are usually not spoken in a very natural way.) Try to avoid letting the examiner know that you have read this website!


Topic 234 Note 1

In order to make something, what qualities (and skills) does a person need to have?

Make sure you expand your answer with examples.

Caution! 小心!


Topic 234 Note 2

What are some differences between hand-made things and things made by machine?

Caution! 小心!


Topic 240, Part 3

Are there any problems that could result from keeping (old) things from the past?

Caution! 小心!


Topic 242 A Journey With Your Friends


Part 3 Topic 242

What benefits do people of different ages get from travelling (overseas)?

In answer to this question or similar questions, many candidates in China just say something like, "Traveling broadens people's horizon(s)" (or "extends people's horizon(s)"). This expression is perfectly good English and it is not easy to think of another expression that expresses this meaning so succinctly ("succinct" = 简明). The problem is, this expression is overused in China and I'm sure many examiners are getting sick of hearing it. It's usually a sign of a candidate who is at the Band 4.5 to 5.5 (or maybe 6.0) level and is usually used as a substitute for making your own sentences. If you want to get 6.0 or more for speaking, you should at least follow that expression with some examples of how people's horizons are broadened.

I think some candidates (in China) are afraid to use more "everyday language" to express the idea of "broaden one's horizon" because they think they will get more points for vocabulary by showing knowledge of this expression. Yes, in general you do get points for vocabulary by showing knowledge of expressions (词语) but in this particular case, you won't get as many points as you might think (in China) simply because of the fact that it is overused here. (Possibly this expression is taught in all high school English textbooks in China, as part of a "standard list of English vocabulary". Certainly, it is overused in IELTS "model answers" textbooks.)

I think many candidates (in China) at Band 7 level and above would avoid this expression and go straight to giving the examples, such as: "It introduces people to facts and ideas that they would not normally learn in their home countries"; "It opens people's minds to the great variety that exists in humanity"; "It gives people first-hand knowledge of what life is like in other places"; "It exposes people to different cultures, different ideas and different ways of doing things"; "It allows people to experience different cultures, food and lifestyles"; "It gives people more understanding of the world"; and, "It creates more tolerance in people towards others who are different."

Don't misunderstand me – you can still get a high score (6.5 or above) for speaking (and writing) by using this expression. The most important thing is to give examples and not use the expression as a substitute for making your own sentences that explain the meaning of this expression.


Part 3 Topic 243 A Modern Building

What are some of the main differences between modern buildings and buildings from the past (or, "of the past" or, "in the past").

If you get a question like this, most likely the words, "from the past" are used. This means, buildings we still have today that were built any any time before about 1980, even buildings built a thousand years ago.

But if the words used are "of the past" or "in the past", you can interpret this as meaning "buildings that were built in the past, even 5,000 years ago, which may or may not still be in existence today." Your answer for this interpretation is based on your theoretical and general knowledge, things that you know from reading about history or archaeology.

In this group of similar questions, you might get one of the questions but not two or more of them - they are all varieties of the same basic question.

Which do you prefer, traditional architecture or modern architecture?

If the question is worded like this, it is not necessarily asking you if you prefer everything about old buildings or new buildings. This question can be interpreted as asking you which style of building design you prefer. Although most buildings that are built today are designed in modern styles, a few new buildings have been designed in traditional styles. For example, certain buildings for tourists are sometimes built in traditional styles.

The word, "architecture" refers to the design or style of a building. In the question above, "architecture" is mostly referring to what we can see, although, in theory, it can also refer to the inner structure of a building.

To answer this question, you should prepare yourself with some language to describe the style of traditional Chinese buildings, as well as some general descriptions of modern buildings, and your feelings about them.

Note that the word, "architecture" is non-count. You cannot say, "many different architectures". The words, "design" and "style" are countable and you can say, "many different designs" and "many different styles".

Similarly, the word, "construction" is non-count. "Construction" is an activity. You can say, "There's a lot of new construction going on in my city" but not, "many constructions". The word, "structure" is countable. A structure is something that is built, such as a building, a bridge, a wall, a windmill etc.


Part 3, Topic 243

Old and Modern Buildings

For questions under this topic, listen carefully to the words of the examiner – the words, "old buildings", "historic (or historical) buildings" and "traditional buildings" all have slightly different meanings. For example, just because a building is "old" (how old?) does not always mean that it is worth preserving. But a "historic building" is worth preserving because the meaning of "historic building" is "a building that has historic value." For example, maybe a building is "historic" because a famous person once lived there but that building itself might not be outstanding in terms of it's beauty or design.


Notes on Urbanization


Part 3 Topic 244 A Wild Animal

How would you feel if you had a talking monkey that could teach you English?

Someone reported they got this question on May 9, 2010. Almost certainly it is not in the examiners' question book but was a question created by the examiner. Besides adding a bit of humour to the test, the examiner was testing to see if the candidate would use "will" in his or her answer. If a candidate uses "will", the examiner knows that this candidate is most probably not worth a 6 for the grammar sub-score. If the candidate uses "would" or "could", the examiner knows that the candidate very possibly is worth a 6 (or more) for grammar but this one answer is not the only basis on which a 6 would be given.

As well as that, this question allows the candidate to give any variety of imaginative answer, all with a smile on his or her face.


Part 2 Topic 245 A Famous Foreign Person

(In English, for the pronunciation of people's names from non-English speaking countries, we usually use the pronunciation that is used in the country of origin. For example, Japanese people's names are more or less pronounced the same as in Japan.)

Part 3 Topic 245

How do people become famous?

There are two different ways to interpret this question:

a) What things do people do that make them famous?

b) What methods are used to publicize these people, so that they become famous (i.e., so that they become well-known to others)?

Of course, your answer could (or, should) include both of these points.


If you get this question, it is very suitable for you to introduce the fact that the answer to both a and b (above), can be different today, compared to many years ago, especially compared to hundreds of years ago. After you introduce this fact, you should also give details of these differences, such as the fact that many people become famous through the internet today but this was not possible more than ten years ago. Basically, your answer about how certain people are publicized should involve a detailed explanation of the different forms of mass media at different periods of recent history. Hundreds of years ago, people became famous through other means because the "mass media", as we know them today, did not exist. Probably the main way people became famous hundreds of years ago was "by word of mouth" (by people talking to each other). In ancient times, some people also probably became famous because their names were used in poems and songs.


If the wording is "Why do people become famous?", the word, "why" is asking you either or both of the following:

a) Why does the general public remember a certain person's name and deeds?

Of course, the answer is because this person is unique or different to most people in some way and people are interested in this uniqueness or difference.

b) What is the reason (or, the motivation) for someone deciding to publicize another person's existence or another person's actions (deeds)?

In China, think about who promoted Lei Feng (雷锋), and why. (Hint: a positive role model).

This interpretation is also focusing on the idea that some people are promoted for commercial reasons. For example, certain people are promoted as personalities in the entertainment and professional sports industries in order to create a marketable "product".


The word, "famous" is mostly used to describe people who are "celebrated", which means people who did something that is worthy of praise. Therefore, it is not suitable to say that some people became famous because they did something bad. Yes, some people become very "well-known" when they do something bad, but not, "famous". Those people who are very well-known for doing very bad things (especially, "evil" things) are described as "infamous".

Caution! 小心!


Topic 249


Some people seem to have very little knowledge about this topic. Examiners (Westerners) believe you should at least have a basic understanding of recycling if you call yourself "an educated person". This is an important topic in modern society, especially in countries such as China.

To "recycle" means to "reuse" (= "to use again"). But there are two ways to use the word, "recycle": one way means to "reuse the thing" and the other way means to "reuse the material that the thing is made of". An example of reusing a thing is this: In China and other parts of the world, beer bottles are recycled, meaning that the same bottles are reused several times. Customers pay a deposit (definition 2) when they buy a bottle of beer and later, they can return the empty bottle to the shop and receive a small payment from the shopkeeper in exchange for the bottle, which is actually "a return of the deposit".

On the other hand, we see people collecting empty plastic drink bottles. People collect them because they can sell them at a recycling centre (stress on the first word). These bottles themselves are not reused – it is the plastic that is reused. So, if you say "plastic drink bottles are recycled", (which is a correct thing to say), your meaning is that "the plastic is recycled". The plastic is recycled for two reasons: i) Plastic is produced as one of the many products from oil (petroleum) but this not only requires buying oil, the production process also uses a lot of energy. It is cheaper to melt old plastic bottles to get plastic for making new bottles than to produce new plastic from oil; ii) Garbage disposal is a big problem all over the world, especially for big cities, which produce millions of tonnes of garbage every year. This garbage is usually used as "landfill" but big cities are having trouble finding enough landfill sites. If the amount of garbage can be reduced by recycling, there will be less need to find landfill sites. Not only that, garbage disposal itself involves a cost, mainly the cost of transporting the garbage to the landfill sites, which might be a long way from the city. In the case of plastic bottles and stryofoam, this problem is made even worse by the fact that the plastic takes many years to decompose, unlike other garbage such as kitchen waste and paper. If plastic bottles and styrofoam are not disposed of properly, for example, if they are simply dumped into a river or into the ocean, they continue to pollute the river or ocean for many years because they take so long to decompose.

In addition to plastic, other materials that are also recycled are paper, wood, glass, metal (including tin cans) and styrofoam (保丽龙). (Article about recycling styrofoam)

Some people erroneously say that batteries are recycled. This is incorrect because neither the batteries themselves nor the materials are reused. Batteries and certain electronic parts are collected separately to other garbage and not used in landfill because they contain toxic chemicals. If these items are used in landfill, the toxic chemicals both pollute the soil and seep into the ground water, which eventually flows into rivers and other sources of drinking water.

"garbage" = "rubbish" = "trash"

See this video (both English and Chinese used).


Part 3 Topic 250

Some people say that those who play music on the street are tacky (很俗气). What do you think?

This question is probably referring to, a) beggars who play music for money and, b) people who play music in public because they like to practice playing in front of others and who usually also hope people will give them a little money. In Beijing, you sometimes see this second type of person in the underpasses that go under a street. These underpasses are like "echo chambers", enhancing the sound. Quite often they are young men who are aspiring to be rock musicians. (And some of them are quite talented!) This second type of person is not really a beggar, like the blind man playing the erhu on the street.

The word "tacky" is a translation of what someone originally wrote in Chinese on a bulletin board. It's a good word, not formal, not a rare word and very suitable for the meaning of this question. However, if the examiner asks this question but does not use the word, "tacky" in the question, I suggest you do not use it in your answer (unless you are Band 8 or above). The reason is that some examiners might find out that I have used the word "tacky" here on this website and if you use it, it might alert the examiner that you have read this website. I don't think it is a good idea to let the examiner know you have read this website! The examiner might be alerted this way because, even though the word is not rare (i.e., most native English speakers know it), it is also not frequently used. On the other hand, if the examiner first uses the word "tacky", then, of course, it is ok for you to use it in your answer.

A more educated way to say, "tacky" is, "in poor taste", or, "not very stylish". You could use the words, "low class" instead of "tacky" but the meaning is not exactly the same. If you get this question, just use the same word or words the examiner used in the question and speak about what you think and why you feel that way.

Caution! 小心!


Part 2 Topic 251

Someone You Have Lived With

Part 3, Topic 251

Living alone

Don't confuse the two words, "alone" and "lonely". "Loneliness" is a feeling that nobody enjoys feeling and nobody chooses to be lonely. You can even feel lonely when you are in a crowd of people.

"Alone" means there is no-one else there but you. People sometimes choose to be alone, for different reasons, such as needing a quite environment for study or wanting to have some privacy.


Notes for Part 2 Topic 252 A Childhood School


What influence do famous people have on the lives of ordinary people?

Of course, the question is mostly referring to people who are famous in popular culture, such as pop singers, movie stars and sports stars. To some extent, these people act as role models for young people and children. Some young people and children learn what is "fashionable" in lifestyle, dress and manner of speech from these role models.

Also, think about this: If a famous movie star, pop singer or sportsperson expresses an opinion about politics or other social issues, a) many people hear this opinion and, b) many people might decide to agree with this opinion. But these famous people are not experts about politics or social issues! So, think about why their words carry weight.

Caution! 小心!


Part 2 Topic 254

A TV Program You Didn't Like

Of course, you can also watch an episode of a program that you have never seen before, not like it because of some basic characteristics of  the program (characteristics that don't change), and never watch it again.

The students who make this mistake don't know that, in English, the words "a program" can mean either a program known by its name or a particular episode of a program. If the Part 2 question wording is similar to what I have on this website, talking about a program that you watched several times in the past is possibly acceptable (!), but only barely acceptable. However, if you think about it, it's rather illogical to repeatedly watch a program that you didn't like after you saw it the first time and giving that kind of answer will show that you don't know about the second usage of the word, "program". If the program is always more or less the same and you don't like it, you will impress the examiner much more if you speak about watching this program once in the past, and describe that particular episode. Not only that, if you talk about a program you watched a few times in the past but always didn't like, you are really answering the topic: "Describe a TV program you used to watch but didn't like". The words, "used to" are used to talk about a past habit. But the words, "used to" are not written on this Part 2 card!


Part 3 Topic 254 Note 1

There are different varieties of "TV stars".

There are even some TV celebrities who seem to be "famous" simply because they are so frequently used as guests on talk shows. In the case of these guests, most viewers have no idea why this person was first chosen to be a guest, i.e., what is so special about this person. This kind of person, best described as a  "TV personality" then becomes a "fixture" in the lives of frequent viewers of the program.

The word, "celebrity" is usually used to describe a person who is famous in the fields of entertainment, sports and the arts and who we know about as a real person. We don't usually refer to famous scientists, business people, politicians or other serious leaders in society as "celebrities", even when we know about their real lives. However, if someone such as Bill Gates gives many interviews in which he talks about himself, appears on several talk-shows and has magazine articles written about him as a person, not just as a business leader, we could then describe him as a "celebrity" because we get to see the real personality of Bill Gates. Another example of this is Henry Kissinger, who was (is) a very serious politician in the U.S. in the 1970's and 80's. He was shown in magazines several times going out with and attending parties with beautiful actresses. When we focus on this side of him, we can call him a "celebrity" but when we focus on his political life, we would not describe him as a "celebrity".

As well as that, when talking about a celebrity who has died, we don't say, "He is a celebrity". Instead, we say, "He was a celebrity". On the other hand, it is possible to say that a person "is famous" after he or she has died. That more or less means that his or her name or story is very well-known today. For example, "Kangxi is famous in China" (or, in Chinese history). To say, "He was famous" means he was very well-known when he was alive.


Part 3 Topic 254 Note 2

In your opinion, how does watching TV influence people?

[and, What impact (or, influence) do films have on the people who watch them?]

People's emotions can also be influenced, for example, a tendency to be easily scared can be instilled in people by frequent exposure to horror, terror etc. Those who are easily scared then become more easily manipulated and controlled. A tendency towards optimism or pessimism can also be instilled by the nature of what is shown on television, and the nature of the information we receive via the television.

Examples of what is influenced: Political and ideological opinions; Belief in what is scientific fact; Belief in what is historical fact; Belief in what is fashionable in lifestyle, dress, spoken language etc. (especially influential on teenagers); Belief in what constitutes "success" in society and is therefore a valid aim to have in life (e.g., great wealth, power); How one behaves when one is in love; Gender roles (gender stereotypes) – how a "real man" or a "real woman" behaves and how an ideal parent behaves; The formation of other stereotypes (= view of other groups of people) – racial, cultural, national and religious stereotypes; The value (importance) of spectator sport; The value (importance) of intelligence, education, study and reading; The value (importance) of  popular entertainment figures (especially influential on teenagers); The degree to which one accepts violence (including war) as a "normal" part of life; The degree to which one accepts cheating and dishonesty as a means to reaching "success"; What is good advice concerning such issues as good health, parenting, interpersonal-relationships etc.  ....

The "how" part of this question can be answered by thinking about: a)  The belief that what the media (including the entertainment media) tells us has authority and validity, especially when the person in the television program is widely accepted as a "model" or a respected person to be followed or listened to; b) the brain-washing or hypnotic aspect of watching television, especially the use of repetition; c) Peer pressure (i.e., the belief that what is shown on television is what most other people accept as normal).

Caution! 小心!


Part 2 Topic 255 A Well-known Story from your Country.

          And, of course, it is impossible for "everybody" to know a story.


Note on the topic of "global warming"

The notes on the topic of "global warming" have been moved to a separate page:     


Part 3 Topic 256

Do you think there is too much information in our lives today?

"Too much" means "an excessive amount" ("too" here = 过度.) You need to talk about any problems caused by an excessive amount of information.


How do you think recent changes in communication technology have changed people's communication?

One point (there are others): Compared to before, there is less communication between family members at home as people spend more time on the internet


Part 2 Topic 264.  A Place Where You Learned about the Past (Jan. 30, 2010)

Describe a place you visited where you learned something about the past.

You should say:

where you went

why you went there

what you saw (and did) there *

and explain what you learned from (visiting) this place.



In English, we do not use the expression, "history stories". It would be better to say, "stories from history" or, even better, "historical anecdotes". (An "anecdote" is a story about a real person or event.) In fact, it would be best to avoid using the word "story" because history is supposed to be true, while many or most "stories" are fictional.

Although some history does include historical anecdotes, most history involves events so the term, "historical event" is very suitable to use.


Part 3 Topic 264 History

The two questions above are referring to the method of teaching history by having students simply memorize certain events and the dates of these events, without having much understanding of the significance of these events. Such rote learning is easy to forget because the ideas are not associated with other knowledge.

If you have a discussion about war with the examiner, and if the examiner asks you why you think wars take place, try to say something deeper than simply, "Because some countries have bad leaders like Hitler."


Part 2 Topic 266 Recent Changes to Your Hometown

But if you just say "recently" or, "in the past 20 years", it is better to use the present perfect tense or the present perfect passive voice (现在完成被动). Expressions such as "recently" and "in the past twenty years" are not considered to be "set times". For example: "In the past twenty years, many freeways have been built all over the city" or, "In the past twenty years, many old apartment buildings have been demolished and many high-rise apartment buildings have taken their place."


Part 2 Topic 268.  A Piece of Equipment (2)  (May, 2010)

Describe a useful piece of equipment (besides the computer) that you use at home *

              You should say

                               how you got it

                               what you use it for 

                               how often you use it                                                    

               and explain why you think this thing is useful.    



Part 3 Topic 268

Are there any disadvantages from using modern equipment so much in the home?

Most modern equipment is powered by electricity. The disadvantages are:

I suggest you do not talk about the fact that electricity needs to be generated in power stations, which, as they say, leaves a "carbon footprint" on the environment. I believe this idea of "global warming created by mankind's production of carbon dioxide" is fake (fraudulent) science! See here. (But this is just my personal opinion.)

Caution! 小心!


Part 3, Topic 274

Do you think a news commentator can ever use humour as an effective tool (to influence the audience)?

In the West, there are people (comedians) who host TV comedy programs that mostly make jokes about current affairs, especially political affairs and politicians. Usually, the humour has a basis in a particular political opinion and is often a criticism of a particular political policy or politician. This kind of program has the benefit of making people who don't normally pay much attention to the news think about political topics, or think about these topics in a different way.

On the other hand, such comedy programs, if skillfully done, can give the audience the false feeling that they are thinking critically and independently. This happens when the humour is based on on assumed truth which is, in fact, untrue.

Humour can also have the effect of decreasing the importance of some important issues, causing people not to think about the possibility of taking action towards real change.

See "satire".


"Professional" here means "having expertise". This implies education and training. The meaning of the question seems to be, "Which of those two do you think does his or her job in the more professional way?" Of course, it is possible to say that are both expert in their own particular areas of expertise, which are really quite different. The discussion is trying to lead you to talk about the suitability of TV news anchors giving their personal opinions or interpretation of news events. How qualified are they to do that?


Topic 276 A Hobby

Often, but not always, a hobby involves using your hands, for example, collecting something, making something, painting pictures, taking photographs, writing short stories, flying a kite, playing chess, restoring old furniture or playing a musical instrument. But other examples could be: watching movies; reading about history; reading novels; researching your family history; touring interesting locations in your country; learning and practicing wushu or ballet dancing; browsing the internet; singing karaoke songs .... And, yes, I think playing computer games could be called a "hobby".

However, most English speakers would not describe, "walking around the park every evening", "playing basketball several times a week" or "swimming every morning" as "hobbies". [But if you emphasized that you actively study the game of basketball and work on improving your skills, it might be suitable.] These are more like "forms of exercise" or "playing a sport" and because they don't involve much thinking, most people wouldn't call them "hobbies". Even "watching TV" or "listening to music" could, in theory, be called "hobbies" but these are rather weak answers because these activities are more passive than active and don't involve much thinking or practicing any skills – you're not really doing much. In contrast, most people who frequently watch movies actively and critically think about the movies, compare them with other movies and think about the actors. So, "watching movies" could be called "a hobby" if you take an active interest in the movies.


Part 2 Topic 277 An Interesting Job

Describe an (interesting) job you would like to try.

You should say:

what job it is

what people do in that job

where you heard or read about it

and explain why you think it would be interesting work to do. *    


and explain why you would like to try that work. *  


The word, "interesting" means that the brain is being used in some way, especially arousing or satisfying one's curiosity and, related to this idea, providing opportunities or experiences for learning new things. Any creative activity can also be called "interesting" because you use your brain when you create. In addition to that, you need to respect or value the new knowledge that you gain – if you just learn new things that you feel have little value, your curiosity will not be strong. (This is where personal preferences enter into this question.) To answer this Part 2 topic, you should think about how the job does these things.

Any job that provides challenges or problems to be solved is a job that requires you to learn new ways to overcome these challenges. But if this is the only thing you do in the job, and if the challenges or problems are very great, then the feeling of stress could overwhelm your feeling of interest.

Alternatively, you could describe a job by saying, "working as a ____"; for example, "working as a teacher", "working as a doctor", "working as a lawyer", "working as a businessman", "working as a businesswoman", "working as an accountant" etc.

Another way to name a job is to say, "to work as". For example, "A job I would like to have (or, do) is to work as an accountant".

When you speak (or write) hypothetically, you should not use the present tense form of verbs when talking about yourself but it is possible to use the present tense when speaking in general. For example, let's say you choose working as a doctor as your answer. It is suitable to say, "Doctors are well respected in the community and they are well-paid." And it is correct to say, "I would like to be a doctor because it is a respected line of work and is well-paid." But it is incorrect to say, "I would like to be a doctor because I am respected in the community and I am well-paid." And it is incorrect to say, "I would like to be a doctor because I can help people." Those two sentences should be: "I would like to be a doctor because I would be respected and I would be well-paid" and, "I would like to be a doctor because I could help people." In other words, use "would + the base form of the verb", such as "would be" or "would meet many interesting people." For "can", use "could" or "would be able to" and for "must" use "would have to". Basically, the present tense is used for situations that are real, now. For example, "I am a doctor now and I like my work because I can help many people." For you, when answering this Part 2, you should say, "If I were a doctor I would like that work because I would be able to (or, I could) help many people." I suggest you show the examiner, once or twice, that you can make that kind of full sentence.

Similarly, you should not use "will + the base form of verb" because "will" is used to talk about the real future, not a hypothetical situation.


Part 3, Topic 277

How do schools (in your country) prepare students to enter the work force?

It is not clear what words the examiners are using for this question. (Anyway, examiners are free to change or adapt the wording in the question book.) But the question is probably quite general, such as in the wording above, where "prepare students to enter the work force" can have several aspects. This gives the candidates an opportunity to choose various ways to give an expansive answer. For example, "prepare students to enter the work force" can include: a) choosing a career; b) learning skills, attitudes and in other ways developing the qualities that employees need to have and, c) learning how to "job hunt" and apply for a job.

Do schools (in your country) help students find jobs?

In some countries, there might be special programs whereby some high schools help to supply certain companies or government departments with new employees. It is much more common for universities to do this kind of co-operation between companies and government.

[If the examiner uses the word, "schools", he or she does not mean "universities" (if the examiner is not a North American) because, in British English, "school" only means high school and primary school. However, you can develop your answer to mention how universities do this. In American English, "school" is sometimes loosely used to include "university".]

The question could also be interpreted to mean, "Do schools give students information and skills to help them find jobs?" For examples, teaching students how to use different private and government employment agencies; teaching students how to search for jobs in the classified sections of newspapers or on the internet; and teaching students how to write a résumé  (= a CV = a curriculum vitae) and how to write job application letters.

If your examiner is from North America, it would be better to use the word, résumé because North Americans might not be familiar with the term, "CV", which is British English. Similarly, if your examiner is from Britain, Australia or  another British Commonwealth country, "CV" would be better to use than "résumé", although most examiners who speak British English would have heard of the word, "résumé". Saying the full words, "curriculum vitae" sounds a bit formal – most people just say "CV" – but if your pronunciation of "CV" is not clear, it might be better to say "curriculum vitae". ["Résumé" is actually French and is written and pronounced the way French people write and pronounce it. "Curriculum vitae" is Latin.]


"Boss" and "Employee"

Try to find out the real meaning and the most suitable usage of these two words. (I don't have time to write a lot about this now.)

The word, "boss" is rather informal. That does not mean you should avoid using it in the speaking (or writing tests) but sometimes it is too informal to use and the words, "manager" or "employer" are better choices. Basically, "boss" has the meaning of "manager" or "supervisor". A boss tells people what to do; he or she has people working under him or her. If a man has his own, one-man company (i.e., he works for himself and there are no employees), you cannot call him "the boss" because no-one works under him. He is the "owner" of his business, not "the boss".

Nowadays, the word, "employer" often means "the company that gives you a job", not really a person. If the company is small and is managed by the owner of that company, then it would be equally suitable to say that this person is your employer or his/her company is your employer because basically the the person represents the company.


Would you ever consider doing an internship?

The word "internship" means a kind of "traineeship + employment". The interns do work for the organization that gives them the internship and they also receive valuable training from the organization. This word is usually used for the more professional, higher-level types. Usually the pay is relatively low or, in rare cases, there is no pay at all. Some internships are very good and people feel lucky to get an internship in a very reputable organization that will give them good training and also good contacts in the industry that they are working in. Often an internship leads to full-time employment in that organization. However, there are some so-called internships where the employer just uses the word "internship" in order to get people to work for him for low pay (or even no pay at all) and the training that the interns receive is not very useful or they receive little real training.

Caution! 小心!


Part 3, Topic 279

How do (people in) families help each other?

Although most Westerners would think that "family" refers to the nuclear family of parents and children, it could also refer to the extended family, which includes grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts.


Part 3, Topic 281

Several people have reported that these questions are about "old people". These questions might be accurate they might really be about "old people". Remember, "old people" are people over the age of about 60 (or 65). It's true that old people sometimes have to (or want to) learn a new skill but generally speaking, I think most old people are content to live their lives without learning any major new skills that they didn't know before.

Alternatively, it is possible that the people reporting that the questions are about "old people" are inaccurate maybe most of these questions were about "older people" after the examiner had just asked a question about "children". Remember, "children" are between the ages of about 4 and 12. So, if the examiner says "older people" after just asking about children, the examiner probably means "people who are older than children", which is that group of people that includes teenagers 13 to 19 and adults (people over the age of about 18).

So, listen closely to what word the examiner really uses, "old" or "older".


Do you think it's useful for children to learn to draw or paint?

Although there are a lot of good reasons for children to learn these skills, pay attention to whether or not the examiner is specifically talking about practical skills. Drawing and painting are generally considered to be artistic skills, not practical skills, although there are times when these skills can be applied for practical purposes.

[I would define a "practical skill" as a skill that allows a person to carry out a practical task. What is "a practical task"? It's a task that is useful or even necessary for achieving the more everyday or basic needs of living, such as eating, moving from place to place, washing clothes etc.]

Caution! 小心!


Part 3, Topic 283

Are people in your country today concerned about any particular consumer issues?

In China:

a) Inflation, especially the rising cost of food

b) Food safety - food additives/ pesticides / illegally added chemicals such as malamine in dairy products


Part 2, Topic 285, A Childhood Teacher


Part 3, Topic 287

Do you think it's important to celebrate the New Year? 

Do young people in China celebrate New Year the same as older people?

These two questions are probably referring to January 1 each year, not the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). However, Chinese students (and other Asians who celebrate the Spring festival) could expand their answers to include the Spring Festival.


Do you think a lot of money should be spent on celebrations?

Someone has reported that this wording was used. This is a good example of a Part 3 question because it is very general and allow you (the candidate) to give an expansive answer. Can you see this in the wording?

The questions does not specifically say, "Do you think people should spend a lot of money on celebrations?" That is, the question does not specify who should or should not spend a lot of money on celebrations. Don't forget, the government can, and often does spend a lot of money on certain celebrations. For example, the 60th birthday celebration of the "new China" was a big event at Tiananmen Square, which included planes and helicopters from the Air Force. So, general and non-specific wording such as in this question allows you to give an expansive answer that can include talking about both the government and individual people, and giving you the opportunity to show your knowledge of connection language to connect several different points. (But try not to speak too much like written English for questions such as this.)


Topic 288 - An Old Friend

From,  2010年12月11日-12日雅思口语回忆, Page 4 #70


武汉  601 考官超帅,人超nice,一个20几岁的年轻人,感觉蛮有耐心的

part1  job or student?(student)     


          why you choose your major?

           do you think this major is important in your country?

          do you meet other people you don't know


         part2   describle a person you know for long

          悲剧,我跑题了,我说成my best friend 了,我都还没说什么重点就被告知time is out,然后考官很nice 的告诉我 a person you know for long,but you said your best friend!

           之后part 3  where do people meet new friend?我说的online,之后都是围绕网上交友说的

        我在说part2 的时候,那个考官在给我打分,没怎么听我说,虽然跑题了,应该不会太要紧吧!part3 感觉跟他聊的很high,最后走的时候还跟我握手,笑的很high。上午的笔试很悲剧,听力漏了很多,写作时得到一次警告,还记下我考号了,郁闷,我根本就没写,只是有要写的趋势,给了我一个警告,伤心了!下午抱着破罐子破摔的心态去的,就把它完全当聊天了,根本没管考试不考试了,感觉整体很放松,虽然跑题了,但那个考官真的超好!考完后,我问他我笔试时得到一次警告要不要紧,他最后来了一句中文“我不知道”太可爱了!哈哈……

这次考得真的很糟,太悲剧了!攒人品,希望明天要考口语的鸭友们加油!best wishes for you !


Part 3 Topic 288

Do you think it's important for friends to have common interests?

(Similar to above) Do you think it's important for friends to have things in common?

The question might be either one of those two, so listen carefully to the exact words of the question. The second question is broader - it allows you to talk about common interests and also to talk about other things in common. For example, people sometimes form friendships with others who have the following things in common, even when these things might not come under the category of "interests":

cultural background; socio-economic background; life experiences; type of job; political outlook; religion ...