Speaking, Part 1: Museums

1. Did you go to any museums where you were a child?

Sample answer

Yes – my parents used to drag me around museums all the time! Whenever we travelled to a new city or a new country we would go to a museum.

When I was young, museums bored me to tears and were rarely exciting or inspirational. I remember one particular visit to the natural history gallery at a museum with my father and being  petrified of the stuffed animals – I had nightmares for days afterwards and he never took me back! However, it turns out I’ve become just like my parents – I absolutely love going to museums!

Speaking, Part 1: Music

1. Do you like music?

Sample answer

I have an eclectic taste in music and enjoy may different genres, from K-pop to heavy metal and everything in between!

At the moment I’m listening to a lot of opera. I was in Verona last summer on holiday and I saw some open air concerts – it really piqued my interest. I’m fascinated by the vocal ability of the singers and their incredible range so I’ve been watching performances on YouTube.

2. Do you think music is important?

Sample answer

I think so, yes. I’ve read that it positively affects our mental wellbeing and I think listening to music is a good way to help deal with stress and anxiety. It’s also good to listen to while exercising as it can provide the extra motivation we might need.

I think life would be very boring without music – imagine all the times we hear music throughout the day on TV, on the internet and while we’re out and about. The world would be a much quieter place!

3. How long do you listen to music for every day?

Sample answer

I tend to listen to music at various different points throughout the day, but in terms of hours per day, I’m not sure exactly.

When I wake up, I turn on my local radio station. I like listening to the music they play, and I have it on in the background while I’m getting ready – if it’s a song I know I’ll sing along too!

On my commute to and from work I’ll listen to classical music because I find it helps me to concentrate and stay focused while I’m driving.

In the evening, before I go to bed, I’ll listen to something soothing which will help me to drift off and get a good night’s sleep.   

Speaking, Part 1: Food

I started this lesson with a quick survey activity, getting students to ask each other about their favourite food. They also had to ask a follow-up question – for example why it’s their favourite, do they have a favourite restaurant, when did they last eat this food etc. 

Following this, we shared the results of the survey – it’s safe to say the class enjoy a variety of different dishes (some of which I don’t think I ever want to try!).

We then looked at some part 1 questions for this topic.

1. What food do people in your country usually eat?

Sample answer

There are so many different types of food people enjoy in my country but Italian, Indian and Chinese cuisine is very popular. You can find these restaurants all over – even the smallest town has at least one of them.

Potatoes are a staple so many meals involve those in some form – mashed, boiled or fried, for example. They are of course an important part of fish and chips, one of our most popular dishes.

2. What food do you like?

Sample answer

I like lots of different types of food, but it depends on the season.

In winter, I enjoy something filling and hearty – a stew on a bitterly cold winter’s day is very comforting.

In summer, when the weather is warmer, I don’t have as much of an appetite so I’ll eat something lighter – for example I’ll grill some chicken or seafood and enjoy that with a crisp salad.

3. Do you like cooking?

Sample answer

I love it! I learned a lot of culinary skills from my grandmother who herself was a talented cook – maybe it runs in my blood. I have access to many ingredients from around the world that she didn’t have in her day. I use some of her recipes as inspiration but I like to experiment using different flavours and influences to create something new –  sometimes the end result is delicious, sometimes it’s more of an acquired taste!

This lesson ties in well with part 1 of Cambridge 11, Speaking Test 1 – have a look at these sample answers.

Speaking, Part 1: Space

In class last week we had a whole lesson on space, looking at questions for all parts of the speaking exam relating to this topic.

We’d previously looked at this part 1 question on space travel, but here are some further questions: 

  1. What do you think about the International Space Station?

Sample answer

To be honest, I don’t know a huge amount about it! It’s a multinational research project and the astronauts who work there carryout various different experiments. In my opinion working in space must be very challenging – living in such confined quarters for extended periods of time without being able to go outside or get time away from colleagues. I guess it’s the only office in the world that has a view of the Earth so it’s a pretty unique place to be.   

  1. Would you like to work in the space industry?

Sample answer

Going into space was a childhood dream for me, but these days I’m much more realistic. I’m currently working as a chef in a hotel so I’m not sure what opportunities would exist for me in the space industry, at least not in the short to medium term. The food on space missions has to last a long time so it’s freeze dried and I’m sure it’s tasteless. Perhaps in the future I’ll help develop and prepare meals which are more appetizing. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up working in one of the first space hotels!

  1. What is your opinion on space tourism?

Sample answer

Companies like Virgin Galactic are developing commercial programmes to take paying passengers into space and they’re already taking reservations, but at the moment it’s only limited to the super-wealthy who can afford the astronomically expensive ticket price. As far as I know, they are still at a testing phase and haven’t even launched service. One day however I believe the prices will become more affordable and it will no longer cost an arm and a leg. There is certainly enormous potential – science fiction is slowly becoming reality!

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.