Part One – Introduction
[This part of the test begins with the examiner introducing himself or herself and checking the candidate’s identification. It then continues as an interview. In the interview, the examiner asks the candidate about his/her home, work or studies and other familiar topics.]
Food and cooking:
Q. What sorts of food do you like eating most? [Why?]
A. I mostly like to eat traditional food and anything that is healthy. From this regard, I prefer homemade food over fast food items. Some of my favourite food items are dates, fruits, fish, Kabsa, Maqluba, Shuwaa, vegetables and Khabees.
Homemade food, our traditional food, fish, vegetables and fruits that I prefer are far better than the street food and fast food in terms of their food value and nutritional aspects. I believe eating habit takes time to grow and for a long, I have tried to follow a good diet.
Q. Who normally does the cooking in your home?
A. Well, my mother is in charge to prepare food and look after the menu. We have a housemaid who helps my mother in that. Sometimes my elder sister assists my mom in cooking but this is a very rare occasion as she is quite busy with her studies.
Q. Do you watch cookery programmes on TV? [Why/Why not?]
A. Cooking is not my passion and I rarely try to cook in real-life. However, watching cookery programmes on TV is very interesting, at least to me. I often watch cookery TV shows like Baking With Julia, Daisy Cooks!, MasterChef, and World Class Cuisine and like the way they present new menus and their excellent way of cooking. They have taken cooking into the next level and it seems like cooking is an art whenever I watch such a programme.
Q. In general, do you prefer eating out or eating at home? [Why?]
A. I usually avoid eating outside and prefer to eat homemade food. Homemade food items have better taste, superior food values and I enjoy my dinner with my family members more than eating in a restaurant or a bistro. Furthermore, restaurant foods are quite expensive in my country.
Part 2 – Cue Card
[The topic for your talk will be written on a card which the examiner will hand you. Read it carefully and then make some brief notes.]
Describe a house/apartment that someone you know lives in.
You should say:
- whose house/apartment this is
- where the house/apartment is
- what it looks like inside
and explain what you like or dislike about this person’s house/apartment.
[ You will have to talk about the topic for one to two minutes. You have one minute to think about what you are going to say. You can make some notes to help you if you wish.]
[Examiner: All right? Remember you have one to two minutes for this, so don’t worry if I stop you. I’ll tell you when the time is up. Can you start speaking now, please?]
Sample Answer 1: (House in Sheffield, England)
Well, at first, I was a bit flummoxed by this topic. I suppose that’s because it is easy to take for granted the sorts of accommodation people live in, and not really pause to think about it all that much. I have moved around a lot for work and so try not to get too attached to houses or flats I’ve rented as I am never sure how long I might be in them. The location of the accommodation is usually the most important thing for me when I’m choosing where I live, and so I don’t really tend to judge other people’s living situations as they too can be precarious. However, now you have given me the topic to talk about, I can think of one example of where a friend lives that immediately comes to mind. I’m going to tell you all about her house, where it is, what it’s like (as best I can) and the pros and cons of her choice of home.
So, this friend of mine is someone who I’ve known for years. She is married, and shares her home with her husband and two almost grown up children. They are quite a sporty household, interested in lots of activities like walking, cycling, running and music. Both her sons play in student bands. My friend also runs her own business (mail-order cookies) from the basement of her home, so it’s quite a busy household!
The house is in Nether Edge, which is an established residential suburb in the south-west of the City of Sheffield, England. This is in colloquial terms quite a ‘posh’ area of Sheffield! It is a relatively affluent area with wide tree-lined streets and lots of little boutique shops, delicatessens and even its own well-established amateur theatre in the area. It has a real community feel, everyone there seems to know their neighbours and take an interest in what is going on on their doorstep. The houses tend to be Victorian, built of solid stone. The grandest houses have their own walled gardens and are packed with ‘original features’ like large windows, beautiful old fire-places, picture rails and wooden floorboards. Some of the houses have now been sub-divided into flats, and there are a few newer properties tucked away within the region. Generally, though, it’s a very pretty area of the city, with a mix of attractive terraced houses and some larger detached properties. It is certainly a very ‘desirable’ place to live, particularly for people with families, as it is safe, with a community feel and properties large enough to accommodate the biggest of families.
The house my friend lives in is a beautiful rambling Victorian home. It has many original fireplaces with black hearthstones and attractive tiles along the sides of the open fire grates. There are wooden floors a-plenty, high ceilings and the house goes up three floors high as well as down into the basement. She has converted this area into a lovely kitchen for her business on one side of the basement, the other side has racks of bikes carefully stored away in the dry. In the walled garden, she can keep a few chickens – which is a relatively rare privilege in what is almost a city location. Because the house is usually a hive of activity, the kitchen is always a warm and friendly place where you can sit at the large kitchen table and catch up on gossip over a cup of coffee. From the hallway, there is a large reception room where in winter you can snuggle up in front of a roaring open fire on one of the two squidgy sofas placed in their for guests. The house has great character, a little bit of faded grandeur perhaps, but it is really impressive.
What do I like about the property! Well, it’s gorgeous, I love the quirkiness of the Victorian property, the luxury of a real fire and the original features are stunning. It is a busy household where there is always something going on and a warm welcome too, it isn’t just the architecture of the building and the possessions within it that make it an attractive property, it is the family within it! In my dreams, I’d love to live in a property like this, however, the reality could be a bit different. The tall ceilings and large rooms are indeed gorgeous, but they aren’t very practical in an English winter. The property is hard to heat and the electricity bills must be huge. All those open-fires and so many stairs and rooms make it hard to keep clean. Old houses don’t tend to have much in the way of storage, so there is a constant battle to find ‘homes’ for the clutter of living. Still, I reckon that would be a small price to pay for such a lovely home, one day perhaps… In the meantime, I feel very lucky that my friend is so willing to welcome me and others to come and visit her there and enjoy it too. I’ve had some very happy times in that lovely home, but you know what, if she had to move I’m sure as she is so hospitable, I’d find I quickly became just as attached to her new home even if it was a complete contrast and a small, modern flat in a high rise block. It is people that make a home, not the bricks used to construct the walls that surround them!
Part 3 – Two-way Discussion:
Discussion topics – Different types of home:
Q. What kinds of home are most popular in your country? Why is this?
A. In urban areas, high-rising buildings are the most common accommodation type for people in my country. Even though many of them like an independent two-storied bungalow, this is not affordable for all. Only rich people have such houses.
The villages have mud houses, and tent houses which look quite different and have a great traditional value in my country. With the modernisation and increasing population, the traditional houses are being replaced by high-rising modern buildings.
Q. What do you think are the advantages of living in a house rather than an apartment?
A. Houses are usually capacious, have spaces in front of it and offer better views than the apartments. A house owner can design the house the way he/she likes, expand it and can change the architect on his/her wish. Moreover, a homeowner enjoys great freedom and have access to fresh air and enough sunlight that the apartment dwellers often miss.
Q. Do you think that everyone would like to live in a larger home? Why is that?
A. I believe so. If people have had a choice, almost everyone would love to live in a large house rather than an apartment.
An apartment is a minimum arrangement for a family to have some rooms to live in. It does not offer open space, facilities to have gardens, flower plants and yard. The homeowners, on the contrary, can enjoy these facilities and have greater freedom which is unimaginable in an apartment.
Finding a place to live:
Q. How easy is it to find a place to live in your country?
A. Well, it is moderately easier in a small town but quite difficult in a large city. Big cities are already struggling to accommodate a large number of population and proper housing is a problem for many. If someone does not have a large sum of money to spend on his accommodation per month, he will surely find it hard to arrange a nice place to live in.
Q. Do you think it’s better to rent or to buy a place to live in? Why?
A. I think owning a house is far better than renting one. However, this varies from person to person and if the person wants to permanently settle in a place, he/she should think about purchasing a place rather than renting one. However, for a brief staying, renting is a better option in my opinion.
Q. Do you agree that there is a right age for young adults to stop living with their parents? Why is that?
A. I do not think that someone should ever leave his/her parents permanently, at least I would never do that. However, it is quite logical that someone needs to leave his/her house for better education and job opportunities but this does not mean that someone has to decide it at a certain age.
But, if someone decides that he has lived with his parents for a long period of time and now the time has come for him to start living with his fiance or friends, that would be a different case. In my country, a boy or a girl leaves the house for higher studies and reunite with the family after she/he has a job.