Speaking, Part 1: Maps & Directions 🗺

Do you use maps?

I have a terrible sense of direction and I’m always getting lost! I try to use the map on my smartphone to locate myself and find my way but even then I’m not always able to read it. When I’m driving somewhere that I’ve never been before I rely heavily on the satellite navigation in my car to get me from A to B.

Do you ever ask for directions?

I know my hometown like the back of my hand, but if I was lost in a place I’d never been before I wouldn’t usually ask a stranger in the street. Instead, I’d ask someone in a store how to get there – I think that’s safer than standing out like a sore thumb with a map and looking confused. 

Speaking: Communication

Warmer

I began this class by looking at some pictures.

In pairs, students had to think about what the photos were of (the clue letters helped to focus their answers), and they also needed to discuss when they may have been used.  

We discussed each form of communication, thinking about when they were used, what the advantages may have been, and why they may no longer be used today. 

  • Homing (carrier) pigeon
  • Morse code
  • Yodelling (yodeling) 
  • Semaphore

Brainstorm

We then brainstormed forms of communication the students themselves use – messenger apps on their smartphones, telephone, email and so on.

We thought about other forms that may not be so common these days such as faxes & telegrams. 

Forms of communication

Part 1 

1. How do you usually keep in touch with members of your family? 

Sample answer

I tend to use messenger apps like Whatsapp on my smartphone. I’m not living in the same country as my family – it’s a great way to keep in contact with them because not only can I send text messages instantly but also photos and video. It also allows me to make voice and video calls, however I prefer to use Skype for this because I find the quality is better. The only thing I have to remember is the time difference – I’ve called my mum at 3am a few times by mistake! 

2. Do you prefer to contact people by phone or by writing emails?

Sample answer

It depends on the situation but I usually prefer to write emails. 

If I’m contacting a company to complain, I prefer to email their customer service department as I’m able to express myself more effectively this way. I can clearly state what the issue is and how I’d like it resolved – I’m not as assertive when I do this over the phone.

If I’m at work, I also prefer to fire off an email. I like to have a written record, so I know exactly what has been said or agreed to and it is there for all to see in black and white. 

3. Do you ever write letters by hand?

Sample answer

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a letter – it can be hard for others to decipher my scrawl! If I have to write a letter, I’ll type it up, print it out and sign it. I think the last time I wrote an entire letter by hand must have been when I was at primary school and I wrote a letter to Santa asking him for a Christmas gift. I do still write cards for special occasions, but the greeting is usually short and succinct.   

4. Is there anything you dislike about mobile phones?

Sample answer

They are a great portable form of communication, and while that can be advantageous in some circumstances, it also means workers can be contacted out with office hours by their colleagues and superiors. I personally believe that work-life balance is crucial, and that there is a clear divide between professional and private life. My company actively enforces a policy that supports this and I always keep my work phone turned off once I clock off for the day.   

Speaking, Part 3: Travel 🌏

Why do people like to travel?

Sample answer

I believe that there are a variety of reasons why people enjoy travelling.

Firstly, the workplace environment is competitive and stressful and workers need some time away from this, allowing themselves the opportunity to relax and recharge their batteries. If they did not take this break, the pressure could have a detrimental effect on their health.  

Secondly, I think we’re curious about the world around us and travel helps to broaden our horizons. When we visit somewhere new, we can learn about the culture of that place, enjoy enriching experiences first-hand and try the local cuisine. For example, when I went to Japan I took part in a tea ceremony and tried some authentic dishes – regional specialities – that I’d never had before. It was truly memorable.  

So those are some ideas.  

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, 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.