5 words for Friday: Technology


technophile (noun)

a person who is interested in modern technology and enjoys using it.

technophobe (noun)

someone who dislikes new technology, especially computers, and is not able to use it with confidence.

digital native (noun)

a person who is very familiar with digital technology, computers, etc. because they have grown up with them.

digital nomad (noun)

someone who uses technology, especially a laptop and a wireless network, to work remotely from anywhere in the world.

digital divide (noun, singular)

the problem of some members of society not having the opportunity or knowledge to use computers and the internet that others have.

Cambridge 11, Speaking Test 1

I’m working my way through the Cambridge 11 textbook in class (it’s available to buy online from Amazon, check with your local retailer too.)

The part 1 questions for speaking test 1 tie in well with an earlier food lesson

Tip: Remember, in Part 1 answers shouldn’t be too long, but allow the examiner to assess your speaking ability.  

  • Aim for 2 or 3 sentences (approx. 20 seconds)
  • Use a range of quality language and grammatical structures

Sample answers:

  1. What sorts* of food do you like eating most?

*sorts = types

Hint: This question is quite general – sorts of food can relate to a specific country’s food (Japanese, Mexican) or it could be something more specific – pizza, chicken etc. Maybe you also like all sorts of food?

I’m a bit of a foodie so it’s fair to say I like all sorts of food. I like to try different dishes from all over the world but I’m really not a fan of spicy food.  If I had to choose just one type of food I’d opt for Japanese food – I’ve travelled there quite often and I always enjoy trying the diverse regional dishes – a steaming bowl of ramen on a cold winter’s day is absolutely perfect!

2. Who normally does the cooking in your home?

Hint: Think about who usually does the cooking in your household? Is it one of your family members? Do you live alone and cook for yourself?

That’s an interesting question! Usually, it’s the mother in the house who prepares the meals, but my family doesn’t conform to that stereotype. My father is a chef – he trained in France and makes the most delicious food. He taught me to cook from a young age so when he’s out at work I usually cook for my family – I love it!

3. Do you watch cookery programmes on TV?


  • Yes? Talk about the types of show you watch. Is it with a famous chef presenting? Is it a show with regular members of the public?
  • No? Did you used to watch these show? Do you watch something else on the internet instead? 

I like to watch cookery shows – my favourite ones are when the presenters travel to other countries and learn about the food from that country. It’s a fascinating way to learn about the local cuisine.  I particularly like shows with celebrity chefs – Jamie Oliver for example – as his style is very relaxed and he takes real joy in food. I’ve replicated many of his recipes in my own kitchen.

4. In general, do you prefer eating out or eating at home?

Hint: Is there one you like more than the other? Do you eat with friends/family or alone? Eating in a restaurant means you don’t have to cook and you can try many different types of food. Eating at home might be cheaper, and is more relaxed.

As I said before, I love to cook but I also really enjoy trying new restaurants and revisiting my favourites too. For me, eating is very much a social activity and I enjoy catching up with friends over a leisurely meal. Seoul has a wealth of eateries and every week exciting new venues seem to open up so I’m more than spoilt for choice!

Speaking Test 1, Part 2 

Speaking Test 2, Part 3


Speaking, Part 1: Where Are You From?

where are you from?

I was looking at some common part 1 exam questions with my students today.

This one – “Where are you from?” – comes up all the time. 

We could, of course, answer the examiner in a few short words, but this is a speaking exam so let’s offer just a little bit more.

Think about the following:

  • Which country are you from?
  • Which city/town/village are you from? 
  • Where is that place located within your country?
  • Where are you living now? 
  • Is your hometown famous for anything?Also think about the facilities your hometown has – shops, museums, restaurants, for example

Sample answer:

Continue reading “Speaking, Part 1: Where Are You From?”

Speaking, Part 2: Describe An Old Object

Describe an old object which your family has kept for a long time. 

You should say:

  • what the object is
  • where it came from
  • how long it has been in your family

and explain why your family has kept it.

How old is old? How long is a long time? It’s a matter of opinion, perhaps!

You could think of an antique (older than 100 years) or a family heirloom, if you have one. Maybe you inherited an item from a grandparent – a watch, earrings, or a piece of jewellery for example.   

Sample answer:

Continue reading “Speaking, Part 2: Describe An Old Object”

Convenient or Comfortable?

This might be specific to my current students, but they often confuse these two adjectives, possibly because in their mother tongue there’s one word which means both.

  • convenient – something that fits in well with your needs, suitable for you needs
  • comfortable – something which makes you feel relaxed, physical ease

My new smart phone is very convenient for me to use – I can use it for many things including making calls, surfing the internet and taking photos.

My new smart phone is very comfortable for me to useit’s lightweight and fits comfortably in the palm of my hand.

The convenience store is very convenient because it’s open 24 hours and stocks all the essentials. The temperature is always comfortable because they have air conditioning. 

Describing Objects

In this lesson we began by looking at a slideshow of various different objects:

Then, in pairs, students brainstormed words, thinking about the following:

  • shape
  • size
  • texture
  • weight
  • colour
  • material

They wrote down their ideas on this handout and we shared our ideas together as a class.


There was some interesting language that came out of this lesson:


  • This is a luxury watch, luxury timepiece
  • Rolex is a Swiss luxury watchmaker 
  • stainless steel – this watch has a stainless steel bracelet


  • This is an iconic handbag from world-renowned fashion house Chanel
  • It is a designer handbag
  • It is made from leather > aged calfskin
  • It has a metal buckle and chain > gold metal


  • This is an antique Chinese vase > ceramic, porcelain
  • blue and white – “vivid shades of cobalt-blue”
  • pear shaped body


  • wood > hardwoodrosewood 
  • doors with elaborate carvings of dragons
  • brass locks and hinges


  • This phone has curved edges
  • razor-thin
  • fits comfortably in the palm of your hand
  • cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art

Take a look at the language that is used on each of the websites – they use some interesting language in their descriptions – take note of any words or phrases you think are of use.


Adverbs of Frequency

Saying how often you do something is very common in the speaking exam, especially in part one. 

Think about the gym – how often do you go there?

Are you addicted to the gym and go there everyday, without fail? Maybe you work out regularly and go 2 or 3 times a week. Or just once a week. Perhaps you’re not quite as motivated so you go less often – twice a month, twice a year. Or maybe never…

Whatever your answer, we can use adverbs of frequency.

Let’s look at a couple of ways we can express this:

  • adverbs of definite frequency
  • adverbs of indefinite frequency

Continue reading “Adverbs of Frequency”

Enhancing Your Listening Skills

There are numerous resources available online to help you hone your listening skills.

BBC World Service is an excellent choice, and one of my favourite things is the short new bulletins they have on their website.

Listen as you commute on the bus to and from work, during your lunch break, or whenever you have a spare 5 – 10 minutes. The newsreaders have a variety of accents so you can also practice tuning in to that too.

Try making it part of your daily routine and see what improvement you make.

Building Your Vocabulary

In IELTS it’s important to demonstrate a range of language.

I’ve banned discouraged my students from using the following:

  • Good ❌
  • Bad ❌
  • Things ❌
  • Stuff ❌
  • Nice ❌

Of course native speakers use these all the time. I’m guilty of this too – I had a nice weekend, my lunch was good, and I need to pick up some things from the supermarket later…

Try, instead, to find a topic specific word or a high quality synonym.

Be aware of your usage of these words as you prepare for the exam.

As you build your vocabulary you’ll be able to find suitable alternatives.

Tip: Remember to review vocabulary regularly, and, of course, use it in your speaking and writing practice.no_stuff_etc

The IELTS Exam

If you haven’t already done so, the first thing I’d suggest is familiarising yourself with IELTS – this will help you to understand exactly what is expected of you and will help you to prepare.

Check out the IELTS website here – it’s an excellent resource and contains a wealth of information. There’s also this handy PDF.

I’d also recommend reviewing exactly how your score will be calculated – you’ll also find this on the IELTS website. This is particularly useful if you must achieve a certain band – what is the difference between Band 6 and Band 7, for example?