Part 1 – Introduction and Interview
Q. Good afternoon. My name is Christopher Ron. Could you tell me your name, please?
A. Good afternoon. My name is Leon Frederic and you can call me simply “Leon”.
Q. Tell me something about your family.
A. Well, I live in a nuclear family which is quite different than the family my grandparents had. I, in fact, can compare the changes because I have observed both of these two types of family. My father is a researcher and professor in a university and he teaches physics while my mother works as a part-time consultant at a local law firm. My mother was, in fact, a full-time lawyer, but had sacrificed her career to some extent when she became a mother. I have got two sisters and a brother and I am the youngest member of the family. I am very close to my family and I admire all of them for their love, dedication, help and support for me.
Q. What do you do in your spare time?
A. I mostly hang out with my friends during my leisure time. I have some really good friends and we have many common interests and playing the guitar is one of them. I often read books or browse the internet in my free time when I am at home. If I get a long vacation, I love to visit different places with my family or friends. Last month we went on a tour and stayed near a beach for 3 days.
Q. What places would you recommend a visitor to go to in your hometown?
A. I am from Aalst, Belgium. This city has many beautiful places to visit. Belfry of Aalst and Saint Martin’s Church are two places I would highly recommend to a new visitor. A visitor should spend a considerable amount of time visiting ‘T Gasthuys – Stedelijk Museum Aalst’ which is an interesting museum in my opinion.
Q. What places in your country should a foreigner visit?
A. I am from Belgium and our country has many attractive tourist spots. Brussels, for example, is the centre location, the heart of Europe and an international metropolis that attracts a lot of tourists every day. This is a highly recommended place for tourists and foreigners.
Apart from that, Bruges is another attractive destination which was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage sites. SPA, which is also called ‘Pearl of the Ardennes’ is another tourist spot I would recommend to international tourists. Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent is one of my favourite places in Belgium and I think this is a worth visiting place for any foreigner.
Part 2 – Cue Card /Candidate Task Card
Describe the best present/gift you have received in your life.
You should say:
- what the present/gift was
- who gave it to you
- when you received it
and explain why this is the best present you have ever received.
[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.]
Model Answer 1:
I have heard many times that ‘money just can’t buy everything’, but it certainly can buy some exceptional “gifts”, and I figured it out when I took a vacation to Europe (courtesy to the unexpected tax refunds in a check, which I received from the US government last year. Now, you may wonder what kind of gift I am talking about.
Well, I am jealous of Europe and its people for two reasons. First, they work fewer hours and enjoy more vacation time than us “American” people. Secondly (I know, if I say this, many of my American compatriot citizens are going to “hate” me), they are arguably more “smart” than American people in general, and Sean Jeffry, my long-time British friend, has proved it by offering me such a gift which has put an American like me to shame. It’s a collection of some of the “American all-time movie hits”, a gift idea, I think that only a very few American people could come up with, even on the best of the occasions. At least, I have never heard of any of my own American friends or family members offering this kind of gifts to anybody. After receiving such a gift, which also included some of my favourite movies, I felt like I couldn’t possibly receive any better gifts than this from a “foreigner friend” who lives in a different continent in another part of the world.
Anyway, I feel like this was the best gift I have ever received because my friend used a lot of his time and efforts to actually be able in order to find and make the list of all the movies in Hollywood movie history. Besides, it also takes a special friend and person to learn and remember about the preference, whatever that may be, of his friend, and my friend Sean proved that he is just that kind of friend and person. Finally, I consider this to be the best gift I have ever received because I received it when I expected it in the least.
Sample Answer 2:
I have received numerous gifts in my life and among them, the most exciting one was the Laptop my father gave to me when I was 14 years old. When I was 10, I found that many of my friends had their own computers and I was profoundly fascinated by this wonderful machine and dreamt about owning one someday. I would like to thank you for the chance to let me talk about the best gift that I have ever received – luckily it was a gift that came from the person I really admire.
After being promoted to grade six in my school, I got admitted to a computer training centre and learned some basic computing. Whenever I visited a friend or a classmate who had a computer, I felt fascinated being there- especially when I could play games, learn how to operate a new software, browse the Internet, edit a picture and so on. I sometimes visited some of my friends’ houses more often than usual only because they had computers. Thus this phenomenon machine became the only dream of my life. As I knew my father was not in a financial condition to buy me a brand new computer, I did not ask for one. I made a dummy computer using papers, boards and other materials and played with it- something unusual for a boy at my age! One day I bought a piggy bank and started saving coins and notes with the sole intention to buy a computer someday. After one month or so, I found that I saved only ten dollars in total and that was somewhat frustrating!
With time, and I would say with a little maturity, I got busy with other stuff and could hardly find time to visit friends’ houses to use their computers, but at a hidden corner of my heart, I felt the same fascination for owning a computer. On my 14th birthday, my father told me that he wants to take me to the computer shop and purchase a brand new computer for me. I could not believe what I heard! That night it was tough for me to sleep. In the morning I wake up earlier than usual and went to a computer shop with my father. He bought a Dell Laptop that was a Pentium 4 machine. While returning home, I found myself on cloud nine. I opened the box after returning home and showed it to my mother and other relatives.
As a young child, that was a long-expected gift that my father gave to me, and till now it’s the best present -materialistically speaking, someone gave to me. You know how passionate we can sometimes become, especially in our childhood, when we long for something. I know it was not easy for my father to buy me this computer from his financial condition but still, he sacrificed his other joys to make me happy. That was something truly special.
Part 3 – Details Discussion:
Q. Do you think that present giving will play an important role in our daily life in the future? Why?
A. Yes, the present giving and exchanging gifts is already an important part in our daily life and it will continue for a long period of time in the future. We give gifts to people we care about and this is a way to show that we care. People, in fact, expect gifts in many parts of the world on special occasions. For instance, most of the children and young people in my country expect that their family members, relatives and friends would be present on their birthday and give them gifts.
Moreover, exchanging gifts is a part of the culture in many countries and I can think of several occasions when people love to do that. For instance, during the Christmas seasons, New Year and other occasions, it is quite customary to exchange gifts. This is an important part of our life as it brings us closer to each other, represents our good wishes and blessings. As society will evolve, the custom of gift exchanging might also change but its main role – which is to show our love and good wishes for others we care about will remain the same.
Q. How has the internet changed the way people exchange gifts?
A. The internet plays a big role in the way we exchange gifts these days. It has made choosing and sending gifts easier for all of us. Nowadays people don’t necessarily have to visit gift shops to purchase something. They can rather browse through numerous gifts items, compare their prices and place an order online while the product is delivered to the doorstep of the recipient. I think this is a very convenient way of purchasing and sending gifts and the internet will change the way of exchanging gifts even more in the coming days.
Q. Do you think that the brand name is very important for sales?
A. Yes, I think so. From my personal experience, I can say that good brands ensure product quality and that is why people are ready to pay more to purchase products from renowned brands – be it a pair of jeans, a laptop or a household appliance.
Brand names guarantee more sales for companies and retailers as they give a positive impression, customer satisfaction and ensure product quality. The after-sales service of a reputed brand is comparatively better than that of brandless products, and that is why many people do not take the risk of purchasing brandless products. Due to the lack of customer service and a decent guarantee, non-branded products can’t beat the branded products. This is even more prevalent in this modern era when replica products are quite common in the market. Upsurging sale volumes of branded mobile phones, despite the presence of brandless mobiles at a very lower price, indicates that people still rely on branded products.
Q. In terms of media, which one do you think will play the main role in present/gift-giving: television, newspaper or the internet?
A. I am quite positive that the internet already plays a greater role in our present-giving trend, and in the future, the internet will be the hub to send or receive gifts with the booming of the e-commerce and related technology in almost all around the world.
I believe, the internet is a more powerful media that will connect more people in the future than the television and newspaper would. This is why the main role of choosing, purchasing, sending or receiving gifts would all be done with the help of this technology. The television and newspaper fail to connect people all around the world as they are not reciprocal and interactive technology. The rich and interactive internet features like price-comparison, wishlist, dropshipping, product customisation, global e-commerce giants like Amazon and worldwide express delivery systems would, in fact, change the way we purchase and give gifts.
Q. Compare the gifts which people used to receive 10 years ago to the gifts that people nowadays are receiving? What’s the difference between them?
A. Well, that’s a nice question. I believe I can answer this from my own experience. Ten years ago, people used to receive gifts mostly from their relatives, friends and family members and household appliances, storybooks, pens, diary, money, dresses and showpieces were the main gift items at that time.
These days, people get gifts from a wider circle including people they do not know very well. For instance, in my last job, I was given a wristwatch by a person who joined the company just three months before I left the company and that was quite a surprise to me. In terms of the gift items people receive these days, technological devices, electronic gadgets and household electronic appliances are more frequent than the storybooks, pens and dresses. I believe the number of occasions when people exchange gifts has increased as well.
Q. Do you think the custom of gift-giving changes over time? Why?
A. Well, the custom of gift-giving varies widely across the world and the trend also changes over time. This custom has changed than that of the past, still evolving and will change in the future, I believe.
Though the main objective of exchanging gifts remains the same, “the occasions” and “the types of gifts we give or receive” change to a great extent. Changes in the local custom, people’s socio-economic condition, and the influence of technology change the way people celebrate different occasions and how they pick a gift for others. Cultural changes of a location also have something to do with it, I presume.
[I think that’s all I want to ask you today. Thank you very much. It was very interesting talking to you and I wish you all the best. Goodbye.]