Speaking: Lost & Found

I came across this intriguing article on BBC News the other day. 

It’s popped up on a number of other sites including the Independent and CNBC.  

It’s certainly an unusual situation to find oneself in and it makes for an interesting lesson. I also wanted to look at the different ways the same story has been covered by the press.

We began by looking at the three headlines:

  • “S Korean cleaner may lose out after finding gold in bin” (BBC)
  • “Cleaner may get to keep solid gold bars worth £240,000 he found in bin in South Korean airport” (Independent) 
  • “A Korean janitor who found seven gold bars worth $325,000 in the trash could be allowed to keep them” (CNBC)

We discussed the language used in the headlines – the use of may and could, the word choice and word order, and whether they sound more optimistic or pessimistic. 

We then read and compared each of the articles – students highlighted unfamiliar language, and we looked at differences between British English and American English. 

  • bullion – gold or silver bars
  • cache – a hidden store of things
  • cleaner, janitor 
  • rubbish, trash

We also thought more about the idea of “finders, keepers” and students shared their views on this. 

This lent itself well to an activity on imagined situations – what would you do if you were in the cleaner’s situation?

Activity: imagined situations

To talk about this we need to use a conditional statement. 

Think about finding 7 gold bars in a rubbish bin. It’s not an everyday occurrence and if it’s actually happened to you, congratulations! For most of us, however, it’s unlikely and therefore an imagined situation – you’re thinking about what you would do were this to take place. For this we can use the second conditional.

If I found gold in a rubbish bin, I would hand it into the police…”

There are two clauses here:

  • a conditional clause – If I found gold in a rubbish bin
  • a main clause – I would hand it into the police.

The structure we use for these improbable situations is:

If + past tense, would + infinitive

Questions: What would you do…?

  1. What would you do it you found gold bars in a bin? 
  2. What would you do if you won the lottery? 
  3. What would you do if it was raining and you didn’t have an umbrella? 
  4. What would you do if you lost your phone?
  5. What would you do if you were president of your country? 

Some suggestions:

  • If I found gold bars in a bin, I would sell them and donate the money to charity. 
  • If I won the lottery, I would go on a world tour in my brand new private jet!
  • If it was raining and I didn’t have an umbrella, I would run very fast from the bus stop to my house.
  • If I lost my phone, I would initially panic and then I’d use the “find my phone” feature to locate it.
  • If I were president, I would invest in our nation’s public transport to improve air quality and reduce congestion

Speaking, Part 1: Dictionaries📖

  1. If someone gave you a dictionary as a gift, how would you feel?

Sample answer:

That’s a great question – I’d never given it much though! I think it would depend. If it was a special edition, perhaps related to my work or my studies or even bound in leather, then I’d be very grateful for such a thoughtful gift. If not, I’d be slightly more suspicious – perhaps it would be someone trying to drop a subtle hint about my language skills or spelling!

Speaking, Part 1: Is Sunshine Useful?🌞

  1. Do you think sunshine is useful?

Sample answer:

Sunshine is useful for many things, for example with solar power we can convert sunlight into electricity. It’s a clean, renewable energy source and it allows us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. I think it’s also important for our well-being, not only in terms of vitamin D for healthy bones but also helping to lift our mood and making us feel energised.

Speaking, Part 1: Robots🤖🤖

Sample answers

  1. What do you think of robots?

I think robots can be very useful – they can carry out boring or repetitive tasks that humans do not want to do. If we had a robot to clean our home, then we could have more free time to indulge our hobbies or spend time with friends and family. We can also send robots to places where it’s inhospitable or dangerous for humans to go, for example deep in the ocean or into conflict zones.  

  1. Do you think robots will be developed further?

Robots have already replaced humans in many sectors, and I think we will see this further expanding, for example in hospitality and medical care. Technology will continue to develop, specifically there will be significant developments in artificial intelligence. I believe that robots will become more intuitive but I don’t believe they will become more lifelike. Actually, I think they will be intentionally designed to keep them from resembling human beings, although I do still wonder if at some point they will rise up and try to take over!

Speaking, Part 1: Popstar👨‍🎤🤩🎤

  1. Do you want to be a popstar?

Sample answer:

I wouldn’t want to be a popstar. While at first it might be fun to have fame and fortune, I think this would soon wear off. I think there is too much pressure on performers in the music industry and living under the constant scrutiny of the media would be incredibly stressful. I value my privacy, and I’d rather have a quiet life.

Speaking, Part 1: Zoos 🦁🐨🐼

  1. Do you often go to the zoo?

Sample answer:

I go to the zoo once in a blue moon. I don’t really enjoy the zoo in my hometown becuase it’s quite small and the animals look depressed. However, when I am overseas, I sometimes go to see exotic species up close. I went on a night safari at Singapore Zoo and saw some incredible creatures in their spacious enclosures.

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 1: First Day At School

  1. Tell me about your first day at school?

Sample answer

I only have vague memories – it’s such a long time ago!

My primary school was an imposing, old building and I remember being quite intimidated by it. I also remember my teacher was strict and scary – she certainly frightened the life out of me. I remember crying because I didn’t want to stay there and I wanted to go home with my mum.