PART 1 – 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. ]
Q. What would you suggest a visitor should see and do in your country?
A. I am from Singapore and my country is not only famous for high-end shopping malls, fine dining and luxury hotels but also for vibrant history and diverse ethnic quarters, lovely public places and many tourist attractions. For a visitor, I would suggest Marina Bay Sands, Chinatown, Changi Chapel and Museum, Sentosa Island and Singapore Flyer. Those are already very famous tourist spots in Singapore and a visitor would definitely enjoy the lovely sights and attractive landscapes there. If the visitor loves shopping, Singapore is the place to be.
A rich collection of antiques, local products, electronic gadgets and other necessary things make the Singaporean shopping malls hot favourite among visiting tourists. Dining is another great experience a tourist can have from here and the museums and botanical gardens would be exquisite places for any tourist to explore and learn about true Asian traditions and customs.
Q. Are there any traditional arts or music you would recommend?
A. We have comparatively a young history as a nation and we went through rapid modernization. Due to this, genuine arts, cultural heritage and music are not as diverse as it should have been. However, in terms of rich ethnic markup, without any doubt, we have the best Western-style performing arts such as opera or ballet as well as plenty of indigenous Malay, Indian and Chinese arts. Each of the ethnic group here maintains their traditional music, art and artistic heritage. We have vibrant art galleries and exhibition works across the country.
There is no better place than the “Singapore Art Museum” to get a thorough grounding in Singaporean visual art. “Singapore Symphony Orchestra at Esplanade” is a place I would highly recommend. Apart from these, ‘Mosaic Music Festivals’, ‘Singapore Dance Theatre’, ‘Indian Bhaskar Academy of Arts’ are some other recommended places to get a thorough glimpse of our traditional arts and music.
Q. Tell me about the kind of foreign visitors or tourists who go to your country.
A. Tourism in Singapore is very famous and it is indeed a major industry to our economy and GDP. We get more than double tourists each year than our own population. A majority of the tourists who visit Singapore come from Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Australia and India. Other countries from where a significant number of tourists visit Singapore each year are the Philippines, Japan, the UK, Thailand and the United States.
The visiting tourists come from different age groups and among them, 20-40 years old could be seen more frequently. Some tourists come to enjoy their holidays, some come for shopping and business needs and some of them are adventure seekers and explorers.
Q. In what ways has tourism changed your country?
A. Tourism is one of the most significant contributors to our national economy. The number of tourists who visit Singapore each year is much higher than our own population. Because of the substantial growth in tourism in Singapore, both seasonal and full-time job opportunities have increased tremendously. Cross-cultural and intercultural communications have developed and many extensive infrastructural developments have been done by the Government. For example, the creation of ‘SembCorp NEWater plant’ has been established in Singapore which is one of the world’s largest water recycling facilities now. Because of the tourists from different countries, our own heritage has been greatly enriched and it has become a lively place.
Among the negative impacts, I would say air pollution has increased from all the carbon emissions from planes and land transports. Some loss of authenticity of culture and traditions was obvious too.
PART 2 – Cue Card/Candidate Task Card
Describe a wedding/marriage ceremony you have attended.
You should say:
- where it took place
- who was getting married
- why you attended this wedding ceremony
and explain what was special about this wedding/marriage ceremony.
[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?]
Model Answer 1:
In my “not-so” long life, I have had the opportunity to attend many wedding ceremonies of many cultures and traditions, and it just makes me feel really happy when I get an opportunity to talk about them. While none of those ceremonies was any better or more special than the others, as far as I am concerned, I guess it is ok to remember some a bit more than the others. So thank you for offering me the opportunity to talk about one such special wedding ceremony.
It was the wedding ceremony of Alex, one of my best university friends, who I hadn’t seen for at least about a few years after our graduation from the university because we were living in different cities, which were far apart from each other. Besides, we were also very busy with our professional lives. So, when I received an invitation from Alex to attend his marriage, I felt really happy and excited, not only because it would allow me to witness one of the happiest days of my friend’s life, but also because I could finally meet him after a long time.
Anyway, the wedding took place at a local church in the home town of Alex, which was magnificently decorated with a great colour scheme by matching it with the bride’s wedding dress and flowers. However, the marriage ceremony was rather brief which was conducted according to the Christian religious practices. Then came the wedding reception which was rather elaborate and eventful with the couple cutting the wedding cake, wedding party mingling with drinks and snack in their hands, and brief dancing by the newly-wedded couples.
Anyway, it was a special wedding ceremony for me because I was made to be “the best man” on that day. Besides, I also contributed a little in the decoration ideas of the overall wedding ceremony, which was really appreciated by the guests there. The wedding was special to me also because it allowed me to meet many of my old day friends and catch up with them during a very happy event.
Sample Answer 2:
Recently my younger sister got married and this was an exceptional wedding ceremony in my life. I was both exhilarated and sad at the same time and this would make me remember this ceremony for the rest of my life. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to let me talk about it.
The marriage reception took place at our home, (…mention your city and country name here…) and almost two hundred guests including many relatives, neighbours and my parents’ colleagues, were present at the ceremony.
My younger sister, Bella, who is my only sister was getting wedded to his boyfriend- James. They had a 3 years’ relationship and after they got their parents’ blessings, they decided to tie the knot. In our country, it is almost a ritual that brothers would act as one of the main hosts when their sisters get married and I had no reason to be absent from my only sister’s marriage ceremony. I was a university student at that time and the ceremony was arranged during my semester break. I was looking forward to being a part of the ceremony as I wanted a memorable wedding reminiscence for my loving sister. I had to look after many aspects of this programme and I happily did everything.
This was a special wedding to me as one of my most beloved persons was starting a new phase in her life. On the one hand, it gave me an immense joy that my sister was very happy to have a life partner she loved and on the other hand, the thought of her departure from our house almost brought tears to my eyes. I cannot remember any other event so touchy for me and this is a day I will always remember.
PART 3 – Detailed Discussion
The role of ceremony in our lives:
Q. How important are ceremonies in our lives?
A. Ceremonies are our expressions of joy, passion, devotion and bonding. We celebrate through the different ceremonies we have in our life. Some ceremonies have religious, patriotic, cultural and traditional significance. They are filled with ritual and it helps us acknowledge the true meaning of our life and presence.
Many ceremonies strengthen our family and social bonding. We celebrate to welcome a newborn into this world, to cherish our memory, to congratulate someone – in graduation, marriage and anniversary ceremonies and so on. Many ceremonies show that we care, and we are true friends, which simply help to heal the wound we bear.
Moreover, ceremonies motivate us, inspire us and refresh us to work in a new spirit and some ceremonies let us forget our woes and depression. Some ceremonies like New Year Eve, Christmas, and Eid are celebrated worldwide and remind us who we are and what course of actions define us. Finally, ceremonies can bring enemies together and help them forget their hostility while they give us excellent opportunities to know new people and make friends.
Q. Do you see the role of private and public ceremonies changing in the future?
A. I think I have already observed some changes in the role of both private and public ceremonies in our life. That’s why I believe that the ceremonies, as well as their roles in our personal and social life, will also change in the future. For example, some ceremonies are not as widely celebrates as they were used to be in the past. Many public ceremonies have political relations and they would surely change over time.
In terms of the role of private ceremonies- their role will change in terms of their influences on our personal and social life. Since people in different eras have different doctrines and ways of living, the roles of private festivals thus change over time. The public ceremonies changes based on a country’s economic and political situations, and so do their roles in our lives.
Attitudes to marriage in your country:
Q. Have attitudes toward marriage changed in recent years?
A. Yes, in my opinion, it has changed significantly. While “arranged marriage” was the norm in the past decade, people no longer follow this trend nowadays. The average age of marriage for both male and female is around 25 years, while it was far less than that just in the last decade. Parents, in the past, prepared their daughter to get married to an established man. This attitude has changed and they are now making sure that their daughters have their own identity and establishment before getting married.
While the number of single fathers or single mothers in our country was very few, this has increased nowadays and seems like this is because of an increased divorce rate in the last ten years.
Q. In what ways do men and women feel differently about marriage, in your opinion?
A. I think the fundamental feelings towards marriage are the same both for men and women which include excitement, joy, some anxiety, dream, hope, uncertain new lifestyle, responsibilities etc.
But it’s also true that in our society marriage means bonding between a man and a woman. In a traditional arrangement, the bride would leave her house and start living in the groom’s house. From this context, the girl’s feeling would be different from the boy. The boy would be responsible for earning the money and that’s something the bride would not feel anxious about.
Events of national/global significance:
Q. What sort of national events make headlines in your country?
A. Any big political movement, a big success or failure by our national sports team, a natural disaster, a new law, any brutal crime, national festivals or misconduct by any renowned politician would usually make headlines in our newspapers.
Any big success by our scientists, engineers, researchers would also make headlines. Sometimes news editors pick some interesting and comical events to presents at the headlines of their newspapers as well.
Q. Does the media in your country pay more attention to global or national events?
A. We have more than 20 daily newspapers and more than 15 TV channels that mainly focus on our nationals events. But that does not mean that they ignore the important global events to be reported. In fact, they maintain a balance between national and international news and events. Some programs and sections of newspapers are dedicated to national events while others are for international news and events. I would say that would be a 60, 40 rations in terms of national and international news and events in our media.