IELTS Speaking topics -

IELTS Speaking topic – Modern problems #3

IELTS Speaking topic - modern problems 3 with sample questions, answers and vocabulary

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Describe a modern environmental issue that concerns you.
You should say:

  • what the issue is
  • what causes it
  • how it affects the environment

and explain what you think could be done to address this problem.

Model answer

It goes without saying that the world of today faces a great number of environmental problems of varying magnitude. The one that I see needing immediate attention is ever-increasing industrialisation of high-population countries. China and India are prime example, with their emission control not always up to international standards.

While industrialisation itself is not a big concern – if anything, it should be welcomed as a natural part of development – the associated drastic increase of industrial waste makes me feel very uneasy. Such waste is an inevitable by-product of industrial processes. To dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner one has to dedicate a lump part of their budget to that. This inevitably cuts into the profit margins. Sadly, not many business owners pay the price as long as the regulating bodies turn a blind eye to it.

One of the biggest negative impacts of the situation described above is ground water pollution. Ironically, it primarily affects the people living on the land, the people that should be held accountable for the situation in the first place. And to speak of the possible solution for the situation, I hold it that one could be effectively solve it by imposing fines onto the company responsible for inadequate handling of industrial waste. 

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Modern technologies

In what ways does modern technology cause problems for people today, and how can these problems be addressed?

Okay, well I guess that growing affordability of private cars is one thing that both directly and indirectly creates certain issues. While cars have been around for well over a century now and it is not a big issue in itself, the increase in financial well-being and population growth in general have lead to exponential number of private vehicles. I believe that forcing carpooling and restricting car ownership could be an effective, if not a bit draconian way to tackle the issue in a resolute manner.

Another tech-related problem that stands out today is excessive reliance on said modern technologies. The majority of teenagers nowadays doesn’t know how to read a map – and why would they need this skill if they have GPS navigation readily available? Paper-based medium in general is going out of fashion as a part of the natural path of least resistance. Growing too dependent on technology can potentially backfire, the problem manifesting themselves in an event of a total blackout cause by a solar flare or similar global event.

How has social media contributed to modern communication problems? What are the consequences of this for society?

I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a problem, really. I believe it to be a paradigm shift – somewhat similar to moving from carts and horses to bicycles, motorcycles and cars. People choose the easiest and the most convenient way, whether it is getting around the city, buying something or communicating. The truth is the dynamic world of today is not conducive to face to face meetings – people are simply too busy to see each other whenever they feel like talking. That’s when social media and messengers step in as facilitators.

Another competitive advantage such approach has is asynchronous approach to communication. To put it simply – a telephone conversation is not always the best way because the person you are calling to might be too busy at this very moment, so they have to call you back and there’s no telling you will be available then. Text-based interaction solves this problem – you can reply to the message at your own convenience, whenever. I think this simple fact really gives it an edge over the more conventional approaches. Therefore, the consequences are only positive.

In your opinion, what are the main challenges faced by modern healthcare systems today? How can governments and healthcare professionals tackle these problems?

One challenge that the healthcare system has to deal with nowadays is the medical career might have lost its allure to some young professionals. In the past a doctor was seen as a respectable, even a somewhat glamorous occupation so naturally students aspired to become one. The money has always been a factor too, of course, even today doctor’s financial compensation is impressive, but the glamour seems to have gone. Maybe the reason is that many feel that in twenty something years the lion’s share of the work will be performed by robotic counterparts of today’s medical staff. To make the profession attractive again the state could run a promotional campaign on popular social media sites, show how essential nurses, physicians and others really are to our society.

Another serious obstacle for the industry is the ever-evolving viruses. Pharmaceutical companies struggle to come up with remedies and vaccines for the rapidly increasing and mutating variants of said viruses and in turn doctors end up with no means of battling with those. An obvious solution is to increase funding for research and development by any means possible, even fully subsidizing those by the government.

Environmental Issues

What are the most pressing environmental issues facing the world today? How can individuals and governments work together to find solutions to these problems?

They say that one of the most urgent thing that needs tackling is the glaciers slowly but steadily thawing. The cause is well-known: growing mean temperatures. They climb to the thawing point even in the colder parts of the globe such as the poles. The problem is two-sided: on one hand we have indigenous species losing it habitat and on the other the rising sea level that at this rate will submerge as much as 20% of lowland territories by the turn of next century. I believe this is as urgent as it gets if we talk about global scale.

Even though individual contribution to CO emission is lower compared to industrial, it is still worth raising awareness regarding this issue and cultivate a culture of conscious consumption, recycling and reusing old things. As for the industries, as main contributors they should make up for the damage by financing preservation efforts.

How can governments encourage individuals and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to combating climate change?

As I have already mentioned this previously, awareness is key. We simply can’t know how many people are oblivious to the current state of global warming and the general trajectory of climate. Things of such grand scale take time, so maybe the state should appeal to the feelings of selflessness. Tt is our kids and grandkids who will have to reap the consequences of our irresponsible attitude to nature. People have to care about posteriority. If they don’t, then nothing can save humanity and no amount of convincing can help it.

What role can technology play in mitigating environmental problems such as pollution and waste management?

Technological advancements look quite promising. One example is the recently developed artificial substance that feeds on oil. These synthesized bacteria that see oil as food and they aid in getting rid of oil spills. This is a terrible man-made phenomenon when oil gets dumped into a body of water and spreads over huge distances in a thin layer that blocks oxygen. This technology has been successfully used to rectify such unfortunate situations.

Another case when technology comes to environmental rescue is the progress in electric propulsion that aims to oust conventional engines. There are several billion vehicles around the globe, many of them in rather poor compliance with the current strict eco restrictions. If electric vehicle take off and get traction with the modern consumer, they could greatly offset CO emission volume.

IELTS Speaking topic – Friends and family #2

IELTS Speaking topic - friends and family 2

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Talk about a relative that you respect
You should say:

  • who the relative is
  • what they do
  • why you respect them

and say if you have always respected them

Model answer

There is one member of my extended family I have always looked up to – my grandfather from my mother’s side. He’s a stocky man in his late eighties now, but he is as bright as any young fellow. There are no signs of senile dementia or anything like that. That’s probably because of his occupation – you see, he used to be a chief accountant at a major law firm. He would run numbers in his head all the time.

My uncle doesn’t do much nowadays, he has been retired for more than a decade. He goes fishing quite often, he is no stranger to exercising in general and cycling in particular. All in all, he tends to stay quite active both physically and mentally. I hold him in high regard for two reasons – he is quite level-headed even in times of stress and he has a great sense of humour. His occupation shaped him into the hardy but sensible man that he is today.

I have to say that it took me a while to see the real character of my grandfather. He would always be there for me when I was a child but I paid little attention to that. Nowadays I am much more appreciative of what he is and how much he has done for me.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Family and career

Does having a family help or harm your career opportunities?
When one starts a family they should be ready to face the simple fact – having one requires attention and dedication. Your spouse is not just a co-tenant that you share expenses with. They are an integral part of your life now and this means they will take up a major fraction of your time, possibly hindering your professional success. The time that you could otherwise spend to achieve greater career heights. Naturally this takes a toll on your career opportunities.

On the other hand, a person with a family shows that they are able to commit and are therefore more dependable. According to publicly available data, people in senior managerial positions are almost always married. Therefore a married person is not necessarily torn between their work and family. The two spheres can organically coexist and contribute to your success. Family can provide you with strong emotional support in the times of need.

In the past husbands used to work while the wives would stay at home. Has the situation changed? Why?
The situation today is drastically different from the past for two reasons. The first one is a rather negative one – inflation. Single-income household has mostly become the thing of the past because the increasing inflation has led to lower purchasing power. One hundred Euros today can’t buy you nearly as much groceries as they would a decade ago. Real estate prices and mortgage rates have skyrocketed as well while the salaries simply couldn’t keep up with this surge.

Another reason is on the more positive side – women have finally become equally paid, no longer reduced to the demeaning ‘fairer sex’ stigma. Employers are becoming increasingly more aware of women’s contribution and the workplace. This reflected in more adequate compensation and HR more willing to interview and hire female professionals.

Friends and friendship

Do you agree that childhood friendship lasts the longest? Why?
That’s definitely true. The simple fact of life is that bonding is easier when we are young. You are more open to things, changes and people in your younger years. As you mature you grow more skeptical, cautious, even cynical. This can stand in the way of meeting new people. Terms like “networking” and “mingling” show the artificial, inorganic nature of forcing oneself to find new connections and acquaintances for the sake of social or professional growth. When you are young, you just meet people because you like them.

Is friendship always a good thing? Can there be situations when friendship can affect you negatively?
Friendship comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes friendship can be of a very unnatural kind. For instance, if you come from a wealthy family people will naturally want to be on good terms with you – a rich friend is always great to have. This can lead to you being taken advantage of because you can pay for them or might want to buy them expensive gifts as they see you as a friend. This can also be true for people holding any kind of power, like government officials. Sometimes this fake friendship goes both ways and people just choose to stay well-connected to make use of their acquaintances for personal gain. This can be covered by the façade of friendship, which it isn’t of course.

Is it possible to stay friends with a person who has moved away?
It makes sense for distance to stand in the way of friendship. People who have been friend for years will eventually grow apart if they don’t see each other for a prolonged period. Keeping in touch via email can help, but nothing substitutes face-to-face communication. I an convinced that any friendship, no matter how strong, will fizzle if you don’t see the person for over a year. It will turn into a lukewarm friendliness first and they you won’t be interested in one another at all.

Friends and family vocabulary

Extended family – your uncles and aunts, cousins and other relatives that are not included in your immediate family
Hold somebody in high regard – to respect somebody, to have high opinion of them
Appreciative (adj) – to value and treasure something or somebody
Spouse (n) – one’s wife or husband, i.e. somebody you are officially married to
Commit (v) – to promise and keep your promise of being a part of something, i.e. commit to do a job or be a part of a family
Single-income household – a family where only one of the spouses works while the other usually does household chores, mind the kids and so on
Bonding (n) – the process of becoming friend or understanding each other better
Mingling (n) – connecting and engaging with other people at some social gathering
Be on good terms with somebody – to be in good relationship with them
To take advantage of something or somebody – to use smb or smth in an abusive way, i.e. for personal gain. Used negatively
Grow apart – to gradually become less interested and connected with somebody
Fizzle – very similar to growing apart, it also implies a rather disappointing ending

General vocabulary

Look up to somebody – to think of somebody highly and to try to be like them
Senile dementia – a condition that elderly people are prone to. Characterised by forgetfulness and generally worsening cognitive function
No stranger to – to know something well or to have experience with it. Charles was no stranger to street fighting so he felt confident even at the more seedy parts of town
Level-headed – composed, not impulsive, rational
Hinder (v) – to slow down, to prevent from developing fully
Purchasing power – an economic term. The ability to buy and afford goods and services
Keep up with – not to fall back, to stay at the same pace as something or somebody else
Reduce smth/smb to smth/smb – (here) to think poorly of somebody because you fail to see their real potential
Façade (n) – fake front that usually hides something else, either worse or illegal. Her seemingly happy life was only a façade that hid her financial problems.
Substitute (v) – to be an alternative to something. Nothing substitutes a good two weeks of rest at the seaside.

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IELTS Speaking topic – Modern problems #2

IELTS Speaking topic - modern problems 2

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Talk about a time you wasted at a public office
You should say:

  • what the place was
  • why you had to spend a lot of time
  • how much time you wasted

and say if it was your fault

Model answer

Two months ago I had to go to a delivery company to pick up a shipment that I had ordered. I came to the place well in advance, picked a number from the queueing machine and sat down to wait for my turn. Foolishly, I thought it would only take a minute or two, but little did I know that there were only two people working on that day. I ended up having to sit there for more than an hour. Eventually, my number came up.

When I approached the official to pay for the delivery, it turned out that I had to have an ID to get the shipped item. Being lucky as I was on that day I didn’t have it. Swearing under my breath I went all the way back to my place to grab the ID. When I returned, the officials were kind enough to spare me the waiting part and I finally received my package.

It’s hard to tell who was at fault in this situation. On one hand it makes perfect sense that you need to prove who you are so that the shipment doesn’t get in the wrong hands. On the other they could have mentioned that on their website or the shipment form. I guess I could have avoided all of it if I had done due diligence and took my passport with me

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Spending time efficiently

Why are some people better than others at managing their time?
This is probably a habit or even a trait of character we take from our parents. Like most formative things, the ability to truly value your time is something that comes with experience. It is no secret that learning happens much faster and easier in our younger years, so we tend to observe and imitate things that senior members of society do. It does not matter whether it’s our parents, grandparents or teachers – they make an example for us, unknowingly so in some cases. So, to sum things up, I believe the environment we are brought in is the dominating factor when it comes whether we known how to manage our time well.

What helps people stay productive?
I’d say ambition is one of the prime things that drive people to stay productive. People who aspire to achieve greater things tend to have more energy and enthusiasm. They keep on trying if they encounter a seemingly impossible problem. They endure and persevere – all because of their desire to prove to others and to themselves how much they are capable of. It also helps if one has a dream – and it doesn’t matter whether it’s an upmarket apartment, a fancy car or a trip to an exotic location. With an aim you can feel your effort contributing to your ultimate goal. This thought helps the person focus on the task at hand.

Are there any habits that make usage of time more efficient?
Well, it goes without saying that having a stable sleeping pattern ensures that you wake up early enough to make the best use of the day. I’ve heard things about the morning hours offering most benefits to people who aim to accomplish something. It is because brain is in its most acute state during the early hours. Another logical routine one might have to ensure productivity is to have a timer that helps you measure the time you spend on each activity. It often comes as a rough awakening to the reality – we end up using most of our life on mobile phone games and chatting!

Meaning of time

Why is it important to keep track of time?
They say that time is the most precious resource we have in life, but many do not fully understand the meaning of that simple idea. The concept lies on the surface – the time that we have in life is a finite resource and its value fluctuates all the time. If you have neither a job nor any professional competence, your time is unlikely to cost much. A highly-acclaimed doctor, on the contrary, will definitely value their time much more and this in turn will affect most aspects of their life – the way they work and how they relax. We should therefore be careful with time to become worthy of it. We also have to keep a close eye on this personal and highly valuable resource that dwindles with every second, quite literally.

Who should value their time more – younger or older people? Why?
The overall consensus seems that while younger people feel the life to a greater extent they do not yet have the experience to fully appreciate it. Older people – wise, in-the-know, sometimes even jaded – might not care because they have already seen it all. Therefore, while biologically older people naturally have much less time left, they probably don’t worry about it too much. This might sound like a rough take, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

Modern problems vocabulary

At fault – to be guilty of something. When it comes to kitchen management Manny is always at fault
Do due diligence – to do what you can to make sure that there are no problems and if there are any – to correct them
Prime (adj) – (here) most important, essential
Aspire (v) – to have the ambition to achieve something and to actively try to achieve it
Routine (n) – a set or an order of actions that you do regularly. My morning routine consists of exercising, having a breakfast and reading a newspaper
Finite (adj) – existing in a limited number, not endless. Both oil and gas are finite resources that will run out at some point
Take (n) – (here, informal) an opinion on something that you express

General vocabulary

Shipment (n) – a package from another town, city or country
Little did I know – not a vocab entry. I just wanted to emphasise the importance of such grammar to get higher score. In this case we are using inversion.
Under your breath – to say something either to yourself or very quietly so others won’t hear you
Spare (v) – (here) to save somebody from something unpleasant by not including them in it. Spare me your old stories, I’ve heard them too many times!
Take from (phr v) – to inherit some physical or mental trait from your older relatives. She takes her beauty from her grandmother
Formative (adj) – happening in early years and having great influence on you because of that. I spent my formative years in the country so I learned a lot about nature and farming
Fluctuate (v) – to change unpredictably. Grain prices have been fluctuating for several months now
Dwindle (v) – to fall down slowly, to reduce in number. Like the previous word we mostly use it to talk about numbers, i.e. in statistics
Jaded (adj) – not easily impressed because they have seen too much in their life.

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IELTS Speaking topic – Art (Movies)

IELTS Speaking topic - arts 2

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Talk about a movie or a cartoon popular in your country
You should say:

  • what it is called
  • how long is it
  • what happens in it

and say why you think it is popular

Model answer

Viewers in my country are in love with action-packed flicks, however there is one particular type of these that has a special place in their hearts – war films. Perhaps the most recognized one is the award-winning ‘The Boat’, depicting harrowing reality of war.

In this four-and-a-half hour movie we are taken on a mission with the crew of a German U-boat during World War II. The director explores an array of different themes – camaraderie during hardship, the importance of duty, the dark parts of human psyche and many others. The plot might seem uneventful to an average viewer, some might even get bored as the majority of the story happens on the same set – inside the boat.

I think the movie owes its popularity to the gruesome and gritty portrayal of life in war times. It creates stark contrast with the seemingly slow and bleak, but fairly safe working life in peace time that people might not seem to appreciate enough. It serves as a reminder to be grateful for what we have now and how it can be taken away from us at a moment’s notice.

IELTS Speaking Part 3


Why people choose to go to cinemas instead of watching movies at home?
Watching a movie, or any show for that matter, is a collective experience. They say that when you watch something live with millions of others all over the planet you can somewhat feel other people’s emotions of it. Going to the cinema rather than watching something on your own has to be similar. Another reason to go to the movies is a social one. It’s a great excuse to take your nearest and dearest with you, catch up on the latest news and gossip. Finally, picture and sounds quality at the movie theater are unmatched, this is especially important for action-packed titles.

Some people like feature films while others prefer documentaries. Why is that?
It all comes down to entertainment and education – and how big a part each plays in every person’s life. We can draw parallels with books, for instance there are people who outright refuse to read non-fiction as they deem it a huge waste of time. Others claim that real life is much more interesting than any author’s figment of imagination, so there is no need for made-up stories. Hence, documentaries are as interesting for them while also giving them important information on history or any other subject.

Do you think that movies with fighting and shooting can make people more violent?
I don’t believe that is the case, no. Normally the trope of shooting and other overt aggression is a pretext for the struggle between the abstract forces of good and evil. Rarely do we see fighting just for fighting’s sake – now that would be more likely to send the wrong message. Of course, nowadays we get all sorts of movies with most bizarre plots, so it is likely that some of them can give rise to the idea of meaningless violence.

Meaning of art

Is it better to try and understand art yourself or with the help of a guide?
If you have a person in the know who could break everything down for you – whether a guide or a well-informed friend – you are more likely to get to the bottom of author’s idea. Art connoisseurs will point out the importance of colour and composition of a picture, the intricate folds and creases of a sculpture, the interposition of objects in an art installation. Without a competent helping hand to guide you through the nooks and crannies of the mystic world of art most people are more than likely to get lost. To a lay person art rarely goes beyond looking pretty at best. This gets even more true when we talk about modern art, where form can be the opposite of the actual message the art might have.

Does meaning of an art object change as time passes?
It seems that while the original intention of the creator naturally remains the same, the context of current time might alter the way people perceive it. In order to understand the message intended by the author, we have to be aware of the historical and cultural environment of the period. Trying to interpret any symbolism without closely associating it with the period that spawned it is a surefire way to misunderstand it. Some artists like the infamous Banksy intentionally alter the meaning of art with time. The story when his latest creation after it had been sold on the auction practically self-destroyed sent a clear message – it was meant to inspire and to bring beauty into this world, not to be an investment instrument.

Art vocabulary

Flick (n) – an informal word for a movie
Plot (n) – the story of a film, book, play etc.
Set (n) – the place where a scene of a movie is shot, e.g. a house, a street, an airplane
Gritty (adj) – (here) with many unpleasant details that people might not want to see
Portrayal (v) – the act of showing something in a book, movie etc. ‘The movie had a very accurate portrayal of the way the Emperor dealt with his enemies’
Title (n) – (here) the name of a movie or series of movies
Figment of imagination – something that has been made up, not existing in reality
Trope (n) – an artistic attribute that is often used in a work of fiction. ‘A classic trope of love between two young people from different social stratas’
Break smth down (phr. v) – to explain something in detailed and easy to understand way
Connoisseur (n) – a person that likes and understand something. ‘Wine connoisseurs from all over the world came to the annual wine fair in Paris’
Perceive (n) – to see, understand or believe something in a particular way.

General vocabulary

Harrowing (adj) – arousing negative emotions because it is connected with pain and suffering
Array (n) – a number, a list or a selection of something. “The exhibition presented the viewers with an array of landscape paintings”
Hardship (n) – struggle or difficulty
Bleak (adj) – lacking colour or emotion
Nearest and dearest – your friends, family and other people you care about and are in close relationship with
Draw parallels – to compare
Deem (v) – to think, to believe or to consider. “The press deem her to be the favourite in this competition”
Overt (adj) – open, not hidden, easily seen
In the know – knowing, informed, knowledgeable. “People in the know say that another economic recession is inevitable”
Nooks and crannies – (used figuratively here) all the nuances and small details of something
Surefire (adj) – guaranteed to succeed

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IELTS Speaking topic – Studying #2

IELTS Speaking topic - studying 2

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Talk about a school subject or activity you didn’t enjoy
You should say:

  • what it was
  • the reason you didn’t enjoy it
  • how you felt about taking part in it

and say if you think you would have enjoyed it now

Model answer

Whenever I look back to my school years, my PE classes are one of the memories I can’t help but wince at. We would have those on Fridays, right after the lunch recess. I dreaded Fridays for that reason because PE meant doing the impossible tasks like chin-ups or relay races. Young me was really hopeless at that, but the PE teacher insisted on me trying over and over again without giving any feedback. I think he only succeeded in making me loathe each and every form of physical activity.

Needless to say, I never looked forward to attending these classes. The truth is, I would skip these classes with and without reason. I would often feign illness at the nurse’s office and she would let me go home. If that didn’t work, I’d outright play truant – wait the class out either in the library or the school yard.

I think I would have liked to have these classes nowadays. I’m in better shape now, running and chin-ups wouldn’t be much of a problem today.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Studying and career

Is is better to spend your twenties studying or working?
According to widely-available data, people with college degrees have a staggering 70% higher salaries than those who only have high-school education. This data is fairly consistent across most employment spheres. Moreover, highly-qualified graduates report higher job satisfaction levels, which in turn lead to lower stress and psychological fatigue at the workplace. Therefore, unless your circumstances require you to start earning as soon as you can, dedicating several years to ensure higher professional skills and employability is likely to be the better choice.

Many prestigious employment spheres like engineering and finance get more and more competitive nowadays. Is it a positive or a negative development?
On one hand, this situation seems to guarantee that only the best professionals find their way into the industry. However, before they even get there they naturally have to get the degree first. This is where the trouble begins.

As the ever-increasing number students apply for the select, highly-desirable degrees with limited admission numbers, the costs of getting said degrees rises accordingly. The results of this development can be witnessed already – sky-rocketing tuition costs for these sough-after degrees. This creates unfair advantage for the more financially comfortable families, effectively preventing possibly more talented individuals from enrolling if they lack the necessary funds. Such bias in the field is impossible to make right unless the government steps in with a scholarship-like programme that would allow high-scoring students to have their tuition costs paid by state.

Do you agree that studying while you are young is much more effective?
Well, yes and no. Experts in the field believe that while it is much easier for younger learners to take in and process new information, they tend to be more forgetful. It mostly comes down to the ability to focus on the matter at hand – learning, in this case. Youngers’ mind is more prone to wandering, they say. Conversely, while older students, say in their thirties are not as swift at remembering and mastering something new, they are much more intent and focused on it, and are less likely to forget things they set out to learn.

Teaching and studying

Some parents insist on their kids learning a foreign language from a very young age. Is this always a good idea?
It is common knowledge that learning a foreign language offers a plethora of benefits. Without mentioning the immediate practical advantages of being able to communicate in said language, there are many others. Learning a language develops your mind, broadens your horizons, it even offsets senile dementia. So one should start learning it as soon as possible, right? Not necessarily.

I believe there is such a thing as starting to learn a foreign language too soon. And before we get into this, I want to point out that it only applies to learning in the traditional meaning – attending classes with a teacher. Learning as a part of being in the natural environment is another story as it happens organically.

The main concern I would have when exposing a very young child to foreign language is that it might interfere with mastering their native language. If we talk about really young age, we probably mean a toddler that has only started speaking. This is why I have doubts about some parents’ fervent desire to expose their offspring to other languages as soon as possible.

Teaching is often seen as a female profession. Why?
I have to say that personally I disagree with this assumption – I believe this commonly held misconception has several underlying reasons. First of all, female teachers constitute a majority of academic force in primary and secondary schools. As a result of this overrepresentation people get the mentioned idea.

Secondly, a more constructive reason is that women in general are seen as more empathetic. In other words, they find it easier to put themselves in other people’s skin to understand their needs. This is an essential skill for anyone aiming to teach, instruct, impart knowledge or information in any other way.

Finally, women are traditionally seen as child minders, and indeed this has been the case in the past. Centuries of looking after kids and the resulting experience has certainly seeped into the teaching practices. Hence, women might find it easier to keep a large group of underage students disciplined.

Studying vocabulary

Recess (n) – chiefly an American English word, here it means a long lunch break at school
Chin-up (n) – a kind of exercise performed on a horizontal bar where you have to lift your chin over the bar using your hands
Relay races – a team running exercise where participants run a part of a course with a baton that they hand from one runner to the next one
Feedback (n) – a useful information that you get in response to your question or actions
Play truant – to skip classes on purpose
Admission numbers – the amount of student admitted (accepted) to a school, college or university
Enroll (v) – (here) to apply and get officially registered as a student at a school or university
Mind is more prone to wandering – if someone is prone to something, they are more likely to be affected by it. If your mind wanders it means that you are not focused on anything in particular
Overrepresentation (n) – when a certain group of people (of particular gender, nationality or background) makes up a much larger share than the rest in a business, a school or any other institution
Constructive (adj) – consisting of suggestions on how to make something different rather than criticizing
Empathetic (adj) – able to relate to other person’s feeling, to put yourself in their shoes
Child minder (n) – a person who looks after kids, especially other people’s kids

General vocabulary

Wince (v) – to twist your face or to grimace without meaning to do so, either out of pain or shock
Loathe (v) – pretty much the opposite of “to love”
Each and every – just a fancy replacement for “all”
Feign illness – if you feign something it means you pretend to do it or have it while in reality you don’t
Outright (adv) – completely, openly or instantly
Staggering (adj) – astonishing, impressive or shocking, often used with numbers
Fatigue (n) – accumulated tiredness, either mental or physical
Select (adj) – chosen carefully as the best
Sought-after (adj) – very desirable because of rarity, quality or other reasons
Step in (phr v) – take part in a difficult situation to help
Process (v) – to analyse in order to understand
Matter at hand – something that one needs to deal with right now rather than later
Plethora (n) – a range or a big number of
Senile dementia – a condition affecting the elderly that affect memory as well as mind function in general
Organically (adv) – naturally, fittingly
Interfere (v) – to get involved without being asked, often to a bad effect
Fervent (adj) – passionately involved in something
Misconception (n) – long-held misunderstanding of something
Seep into (phr v) – to find its way into other spheres. “Mark’s attention to detail really seeps into his work as an accountant – he will not let a single mistake in his documentation”

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IELTS Speaking topic – Job and career #2

IELTS Speaking topic - job and career 2

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Talk about a career opportunity you had
You should say:

  • what the opportunity was
  • how you felt about it
  • if you used the opportunity

and say if you are happy with your decision

Model answer

About a decade ago when I had just started working for a local air company as an accountant, upper management approached me with a rather lucrative offer. They were offering company-paid pilot training for people under 30 who had good command of English. The company would later guarantee employment with good career prospects.

I was very tempted to take the offer, but something clicked in me and I turned it down at the last second. First and foremost, a life of a pilot is very nomadic by nature – you are always on the move, you are everywhere – and nowhere. Secondly, it is a lot of responsibility – piloting a ship with over two hundred people onboard would be too much for me. Finally, I kind of enjoyed my accounting position at the time. Although it wasn’t the most glamorous of occupations, it paid well and I knew the trade like no one else.

Looking back at that day I kind of regret not going for it. I wonder how my life would have turned out if I had taken the offer. Would I make a good pilot? It is hard to tell now, as I have been doing finance consultancy for quite some time, maybe this is my real calling after all.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Work today and tomorrow

What skills should a person have to have more chances of getting a job in the future?
It would be unwise to deny that our world is getting more automated. As we grow more reliant on machines, we will respectively make many jobs obsolete as they can be effectively performed by robots. This is likely to create a whole class of unemployable – people who failed to learn a skill a machine is unable to have. Cashiers, taxi drivers and many others might end up without any prospects of employment. Therefore, something that a human can do and a machine cannot is the skill to have in the future. 

What workplace of the future might look like?
I doubt that the workplace that exists now is going to be transformed much. It will probably be a computer with a folder or a stack of documents next to it. If we try really hard to be imaginative we can think of a holographic projector that the user controls by voice or hand gestures. It doesn’t sound too practical though. What might change is the definition of the workplace. By that I mean that employees might get relocated to their own flats to cut down on overheads. We have already seen that happening and it will probably happen again, this time staying for good.

Jobs and careers

Is it better to change your job frequently or work at the same place as long as possible?
Gurus of career advice believe that changing your place of employment every five years or so is the best practice. It looks good on your CV as it shows ambition and flexibility on one hand while being able to commit on the other. It also broadens your professional horizons and gives a better understanding of the industry you work in. But we all do have a mind of our own, and the decision doesn’t have to be made out of future employment prospects alone. If you like your job there is no reason not to keep it. Growing professionally and focusing on the matter at hand instead of flustering about trying to find the best job possible.

How can schools help young people choose their careers?
This is an aspect of education that state schools have been largely ignoring recently. Students get all kinds of abstract knowledge, most of which is largely inapplicable in working life. As a result, 18-year-olds leave schools with no idea of purpose or direction in life. Some go through the motions of higher educations, others choose an occupation which doesn’t require any special qualifications.

Schools should introduce a subject of professional orientation, where they would give students understanding of what it’s like to work full-time, what kind of positions they can realistically expect to get with and without degree or experience. This would drastically reduce the number of youngsters who feel lost in the modern ruthless job market.

Job and career vocabulary

Upper management – high-ranked employees in charge of making important decisions in the company
Lucrative (adj) – interesting or attractive financially
Trade (n) – a job that requires special training, used figuratively here. Normally it would mean a manual job such as a carpenter or an electrician
Calling (n) – one’s real purpose, something that they should really do. ‘She has always believed that teaching is her real calling’
Folder (n) – a thick cardboard or plastic book-like container that is used to store and catalogue documents
Relocate (v) – to move to another city or country, usually because of your work
Cut down on overheads – to try and reduce operational costs such as renting a place of work or office supplies
Commit (v) – to promise to do something, e.g. work at a company for a certain period of time
Go through the motions – to do something mechanically, without enthusiasm or emotional engagement

General vocabulary

Decade (n) – ten years
Good command of English – good knowledge and understanding of the language
Prospects (n) – possibility of something happening in the future
Click (v) – (here) – to suddenly become clear or obvious
Nomadic (adj) – characterised by constant movement, not staying at the same place for long
Glamorous (adj) – attractive, exciting and desirable
I wonder how … – more of a grammar note rather than vocab. It’s a good idea to introduce a conditional clause in your answer. This particular one is Third Conditional which shows unreal results of an unreal action.
Grow reliant on smth – to become more and more dependent on something
Obsolete (adj) – outdated, not modern
For good – forever
Fluster about – to move frantically, in a state of confusion, without accomplishing much. ‘When the doorbell rang she started flustering about the flat trying to get dressed’
Inapplicable (adj) – useless or impossible to be used

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IELTS Speaking topic – Hobbies and free time #2

IELTS Speaking topic - hobbies and free time 2

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Talk about a hobby a member of your family has
You should say:

  • who the family member is
  • what hobby they have
  • how they got interested in it

and say what other family members think of it

Model answer

My mother is really into embroidering. It is basically taking a piece of cloth, a needle and some thread and then sewing a certain pattern or a picture on it. It is quite engaging but also time-consuming. I guess the latter is fine for my mother since she does seem to have plenty of free time on her hands as she has been retired for some years now. Sometimes she takes orders and creates beautiful pieces for her friends and acquaintances.

She got into embroidering after watching a Youtube video she had in her recommended feed. It didn’t take her long to take it up, buy all the necessary kits and start sewing away. My father sometimes jokes about her hobby being more important than her grandchildren, but he is only joking I’m sure.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Hobbies and free time

What hobbies are popular in your country?
Fishing is quite big where I live. Favoured by mostly older male population, this activity is all year round – even with our snowy winters! People mostly do it as a social thing rather than to procure food. Some even go on fishing trips with their friend that go for several days.

Youngster mostly spend time on their phones and I’m pretty sure we are no different to any other country in this respect. I think calling it a hobby is a bit of a stretch, but that’s what they do with most of their free time, so it has to be brought up.

Is having too much free time a good or a bad thing?
It entirely depends on your situation in life. If you are financially comfortable enough to pay your bills and yet don’t have to spend much time working then you are probably doing something right. I mean the free time you end up with is well-deserved, so it has to be a positive situation. Naturally, you could try and fill these free hours with some undertaking like volunteering or doing something else that is meaningful.

On the contrary, if you find yourself idling your life away without contributing to society or even unable to afford basic necessities, then your situation ought to be improved. Surely any job is better in such a situation, at least to put the food on the table. Therefore, ultimately the meaning of free time and financial situation are closely intertwined.

Work-life balance

Is it morally wrong not to work if you can afford it?
I believe nowadays having a job and working is first and foremost associated with earning money rather than being a part of a bigger picture. If we look at work as means to be paid at the end of the month, then not working does not bear any ethical or moral ramifications. It probably means that the person’s needs are covered out of somebody else’s pocket, they have a sort of passive income or they burn through their savings.

However, one should understand that working is often a contribution to a greater cause – helping people, manufacturing, researching and developing – the list goes on. From this angle, choosing not to work indicates certain aloofness and even disdain for the common good of society. If this is the case, then the answer is a resounding “yes”.

Which is more important – job satisfaction or salary?
This is a simple one – job satisfaction should take precedence unless the person is in dire need of money in the short-term. If one is not content with their job then it will steadily begin to take an emotional toll on them, and no amount of money will fix that.

Is it a good idea to work from home?
This is decided by whether the person is self-organised or not. The problem is we associate our homes with rest rather than activity. Other than household chores, we rarely take it upon ourselves to do something productive there. Such associations can stand in the way of fruitful working process at home. A focused, well-organised person will on the other hand will not heavily depend on their surroundings to motivate them and put them in the working mood.

Hobbies and free time vocabulary

Embroidering (n) – as explained in the answer it is an activity of sewing a pattern, a picture or a text on a piece of cloth canvas
Engaging (adj) – interesting and exciting, making you want to do more of it
To get into smth (phr v) – to start doing some activity such as a hobby or a business.
To take something up (phr v) – very similar to the previous phrasal verb, it means that you have become interested or engaged in a certain activity
Big (adj) – if something is big somewhere (or with someone) it means it is popular or has influence there
Idle your life away – to spend your life without meaning or purpose, to do nothing with your life
Content (adj) – happy or satisfied. Second syllable is stressed: content.
Take a toll on somebody – to cause harm to somebody, usually in a gradual way

General vocabulary

To have something on one’s hands – to have something available or in possession. We have about two months on our hands before the project will be shown to upper management.
Recommended feed – a section on a website where the algorithm suggests news, tracks or videos similar to ones you have already watched.
Procure (v) – to get something from somewhere by buying or other means
In this respect – in this way, relating to this. Sarah is a physicist and in this respect she is one of the best employees
Bring something up (phr v) – to mention a topic or a point.
Undertaking (n) – an activity, an action that aims to achieve something
Intertwined (adj) – closely and mutually connected to one another. The state and religion are usually intertwined.
Ramifications (n) – strong negative consequences of an action
To burn through savings – to use the money you have in your bank account to cover financial deficit
Aloofness (n) – deliberately showing uninvolvement and lack of interest in something
Disdain (n) – showing that you believe that others do not deserve your respect, time or attention
Resounding (adj) – assured and emphatic
Take precedence – to be more important and to require foremost attention
Take it upon yourself to do something – to do something, even if nobody expected or asked you to do it
Fruitful (adj) – bringing result, successful

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IELTS Speaking topic – Home and hometown #2

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Talk about a place in your town or city you often visit
You should say:

  • what the place is
  • where it is located
  • why you visit it

and say whether it is popular with other people.

Model answer

A place I’m really fond of and which I frequent is the historical centre of our town. The sidewalk is cobbled, the streets are lined with upmarket shops and the area is mostly car-free as parking is prohibited there. There is plenty of vegetation so it feels cool even on hotter days. Because the traffic is very low there it is rather quiet despite many outdoor cafes.

As I have just said it is more or less in the centre. The main reason I go there is neither to shop nor to eat, but simply to take in the atmosphere of the older days. Meticulously restored historical buildings of merchants and other well-off citizens create a unique sensation of being the past. It is an experience worth having, and I don’t seem to be alone in this opinion. The place is quite a hit with tourists despite there not being any actual museums or galleries.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Home and hometown

What is the best age for young people to start living away from their parents?
This will vary wildly, there is no one-size-fits-all solution I believe. People mature at their own pace – some will have formed will in character in their teens, others might take much, much longer, so called late bloomers. Culturally there are evidences of wildly different ages seen as normal to live with one’s parents. It is not unusual for Italian men in their thirties to live with their mom and dad. Personally I think once you have landed a job that you can pay the bills with it’s time to move out.

How can people make their neighbourhoods a better place to live?
One should not litter, be friendly to their neighbours, respect others’ personal space and their right to peace and quiet – these all sound quite ordinary. A less obvious thing is to do your best to cultivate a sense of community. People who know and trust one another organically create a space where everyone feels welcomed and comfortable.

What factors do people take into account when choosing a town or a city to live in?
First of all the matter of employment prospects is considered because if you can’t find a well-compensated position you simply won’t be able to pay the bills. Secondly, developed infrastructure is a big factor – the variety and quality of shops, whether there are any decent schools, kindergartens, gyms and hospitals. Finally, the place has to have a developed public transport system as relying on your car alone can be selfish and myopic.

Cities now and then

How has life in the city changed over the past decade?
I am pleased to say that the changes have been mostly positive. Public transport has been slowly getting more attention with funds funneled into this vital part of urban life to innovate and improve. The programme of short-term bike renting is picking up steam – one can now use a rental bike to cover small distances either for commuting or recreation, all at a very low price. Many cities are experiencing an increase in green spaces with the current trend moving away from long stretches of tarmac and pavement in favour of more natural materials.

Is it a good or a bad thing that nowadays people leave smaller towns to live in bigger cities?
It all started with industrialisation some hundred years ago and has been so since then. All businesses and industries are normally located in major metropolitan centres with most lucrative employment opportunities there. It might not be a very positive development, but it is a natural one. So even though centralisation of talent is not very desirable, it shouldn’t be too concerning either.

Home and hometown vocabulary

Cobbled (adj) – if a road or sidewalk is cobbled, big rounded stones are used to surface it
Lined with upmarket shops – full of high-end, expensive shops
Mature (v) – to become more adult either physically or mentally
Litter (v) – to throw trash on the street rather than to designated bins
Cultivate a sense of community – to create and support the feeling of belonging to a group

General vocabulary

Frequent (v) – to go somewhere often. Note that last syllable should be stressed – frequent
Take in the atmosphere – to open yourself psychologically and emotionally to understand what a place feels like
Meticulously (adv) – in a very careful manner with great attention to detail
To be a hit with somebody – to be very popular with a particular group of people
One-size-fits-all – an approach that aims to apply the same rule to everybody despite people not being the same, i.e. people like different things and have different experiences.
Late bloomer – a person who achieves success later in their life
Land a job (informal) – to get a job, to be taken on by a company
Employment prospects – one’s chances to get/land a job. Larger cities naturally have better employment prospects that smaller towns
Well-compensated – another way of saying “well-paid” when talking about salary
Myopic (adj) – used figuratively here, it means “short-sighted” – not seeing future consequences of their actions
Funnel (v) – to direct something such as money or resources to one place or cause
Pick up steam – to increase in speed, usually used figuratively to talk about some process such as business
Some (adj) – here used in the meaning “one” or “about”
Lucrative (adj) – financially attractive or advantageous

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IELTS Speaking topic – Transport #2

IELTS Speaking topic - transport 2

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Talk about a memorable car journey
You should say:

  • when it took place
  • if you were alone or with other people
  • what was memorable about it

and say if you enjoyed the journey.

Model answer

Back in 2004 my father and I decided to traverse the Carpathian Mountains in his old and trusty car. We had no particular reason to go there other than to enjoy the great scenery. It was a beautiful summer so we set off as soon as the car passed an inspection at a shop

Other than my father and myself there was nobody in the car. Our mother intended to join us, but she is a known backseat driver so in the end we decided not to take her with us. A couple of my schools friends felt like coming too, but their parents simply wouldn’t let them. It was too dangerous, they said. So it was just the two of us at the end.

Apart from the great sights of mountain peaks what really made the trip stick in my mind was the breakdowns. We had two flat tyres that we had to patch up on the side of the road. Then the engine started to sputter and eventually died. As it turned out, the fuel pump had gone bad so we had to fit one from a different model. But at the end of the day I really enjoyed the experience!

IELTS Speaking Part 3


What type of public transport is best for modern cities?
We have to consider the size of the city before we choose the best mode of public transportation. Small to medium cities will best benefit from conventional buses. Minibuses are great too for shorter routes I guess. If we talk about a big metropolis, things get more complicated. To offset carbon emission trams and trolleybuses can be used, both operating off the city power grid. To increase overall passenger capacity large cities build an extensive underground network. This helps reduce traffic congestion as well as lower exhaust fumes levels. Therefore, no such thing as the perfect public transport exists – they all serve a purpose and fill a niche.

Is it a good idea to reduce the amount of privately owned cars? Why/why not?
This is a great proposition from the practical and environmental points of view. Clearly, private vehicles are one of the biggest carbon monoxide contributors in the modern world. Moreover, elimination or drastic reduction of their numbers would lead to a more stress-free society. It is no secret that driving is a great source of distress for most traffic participants.

However, ethically it is unfair to take away the right to have and drive cars. People have grown too accustomed to having the freedom of going anywhere without relying on public transport. Perhaps a smoother transition from car ownership could give people time to get used to new conditions. A gradual shift spanning five to ten years would probably be ideal in this situation.

How can people’s commute times be reduced?
People commute because they have to be present somewhere physically – it sounds self-explanatory, but it is crucial to to understand this point. If we take out the necessity to be at work or place of study in person, then the idea of commuting simply wouldn’t exist. Therefore, moving to working or studying from home is the cheapest and extremely effective way to do so. Thankfully, modern technologies are more than developed enough to facilitate this.

Transport in different times

Was it easier or more difficult to go somewhere in the past?
I believe people had different experience of travelling depending on the time period. Hundreds years ago very few places had paved roads. Rain and snow would normally turn them into muddy messes that were almost impossible to travel through. While such modern issue like traffic congestion was unknown, I would say that travelling was a much more challenging venture. If we go back half a century ago, when the road network had already been quite extensive while the number of cars remained relatively low, the situation was quite different. Wide but mostly empty roads lent themselves to a relaxed and very enjoyable experience of going somewhere.

What transport regulations can we expect to see in the future?
A likely law that will get imposed in the foreseeable future is introduction of riding licenses for bike users. As popularity of bikes seems to be on the rise thanks to unparalleled mobility and practicality the governing bodies will feel the need to control this situation. We might witness creation of technical inspection similar to that of cars. Moreover, license plates for bikes would not be out of the question either.

Transport vocabulary

Traverse (v) – to go through or to cross something
Set off (phr v) – to start a journey or to start moving
Backseat driver – a person who loves giving tips and comments on how the driver controls the car. Used negatively or humorously.
Breakdown (n) – a failure of some component in a machine, a piece of electronics and so on
Patch up (phr v) – to fix something quickly and temporarily
Sputter (v) – (here) if an engine sputters it struggles to work and sounds like it is about to shut down
Carbon emissions – harmful gases produced as a result of burning fuel by an engine
Carbon monoxide – see above, this time the particular harmful chemical is mentioned
Paved road – a road which surface is covered with tarmac, concrete or other material

General vocabulary

Trusty (adj) – trustworthy and reliable
Stick in smb’s mind – to be memorable, to remain in one’s memory
Offset (v) – to make something bad slightly better, to compensate for the harm or damage caused
Power grid – the power system of a town, a city or a building
Fill a niche – to find usage and popularity in a particular sphere
Proposition (n) – an official offer or suggestion
Contributor (n) – either a person or a body that adds to something, either positive or negative
Drastic (adj) – very serious, introducing considerable changes
Distress (n) – a stressful condition characterised by high levels of anxiety
To grow accustomed to something – to get used to
Transition (n) – changing or moving from one state to another
Spanning (adj) – covering or including, e.g. ‘A book spanning five thousand years of human history’
Crucial (adj) – vitally important, integral
Lend oneself to something – to be suitable or fitting for a particular role or application: ‘Plastic paper doesn’t lend itself to making origami’
Impose (v) – to force some law, rule or regulation on/upon somebody
Be on the rise – to be increasing
Unparalleled (adj) – the best (or the worst), the only one in existence. Can also be used about historical high or low levels of something: ‘Unparalleled levels of crime’
Governing bodies – state organisations that rule (govern).

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IELTS Speaking topic – Money and shopping #1

IELTS Speaking topic - money and shopping 1

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Talk about a purchase you were unhappy with
You should say:

  • what you bought
  • where you bought it
  • why you were unhappy with the purchase

and say what you did with the thing you bought.

Model answer

Back in school I had a part-time job at a local fast-food joint. I remember getting my first paycheck and going on a shopping spree right after. Among other useless things I had bought one was especially silly. It was a really expensive mobile phone that I purchased at the brand’s retail outlet.

I’m unsure why exactly I felt dissatisfied with buying it. It was probably the fact that I spent a lion’s share of my money on it. Or maybe because it had become obsolete a year later, just like most tech pieces at the time did. Anyway, the feeling of novelty wore off after a couple of days and I was left with an overpriced gadget.

I think I ended up using the phone for a year when one day it slipped out my palm and I dropped it. The screen cracked and I was quoted such a high price for replacing it that it was simply not worth it.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Money in society

Is money necessary to be happy?
As far as I know there has been an extensive research done in this field and the findings were quite surprising. Basically, once you have enough money to cover your basic needs such as food, housing and other necessities, further increase in monetary well-being does almost nothing to the level of happiness. Once this point of diminishing returns is reached, the happiness-to-money ratio tapers off. It really makes you think whether excessive wealth contributes very little to your outlook on life. So as long as you have enough money not to worry about where to sleep and put food on the table, you are as happy as the rich guy next door, if not more!

Should schools pay more attention to teaching about money and spending it?
At school they teach us many things – how to read and how to count, historical dates and factual data, how the world works. However, there seems to be a deficit of real-life-oriented subjects. We graduate with our heads filled with mostly abstract information that has little application to the problems we face daily. Knowing what money is, how to make, spend and handle it is one of such vital skills most people lack. Classes of economics are yet another strictly academical discipline and do not tackle the problem at hand. Financial literacy is as important as ever nowadays, therefore overlooking it is simply unacceptable.

Shopping and spending habits

Some people do buy things at shopping centres while others prefer markets. Why?
Two things come to mind here. First of all, shopping centre is an expensive place to rent and run your shop, so the overheads have to be factored in the price. Naturally, the buyer is the one ending up paying for that. Markets on the other hand are simple outdoor venues with stalls that you can use for very little money, sometimes free of charge. The other possible reason is the experience of haggling. I know some people who are keen on trying to drive the price down when on a hunt for a bargain. I know a guy who bought a chestnut dining table with a set of chairs to match it for a song. At the end of the day people who don’t mind paying a little extra purchase things at shopping centres.

Is it better to buy new things or pre-owned ones?
I’m afraid there is no definitive answer to this as it all comes down to your preferences, budget and attitude to conscious consumption. The advantages of buying new are evident – the joy of being the first and only owner is a serious source of dopamine for people.

Reasons to buy used are on the surface as well. First and foremost, it’s the price. You would normally expect to pay considerably less for a slightly used item just because it is not new. You also get to meet the person who is likely to have similar interests as your since you both enjoy the item in question. Finally, purchasing a pre-owned thing is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint since you will effectively be ‘recycling’, or using something again. I strongly believe that choosing to get a used article is a much more reasonable choice for the reasons above.

Money and shopping vocabulary

Paycheck (n) – informally, it means the amount of money you get for your job
Shopping spree – a behaviour when you do a lot of shopping, usually buying many unnecessary things in the process
Retail outlet – a shop aimed at retail customers (not companies or businesses)
A lion’s share – bigger part of something
Quote (v) – (here) to give an estimated price for some goods or services
Basic needs – things you can’t live without like food, clothing and shelter
Monetary well-being – situation when you have more than enough money
Point of diminishing returns – in statistics, a point when increase in one factor no longer provides the same increase in the other corresponding factor
Overheads (n) – business expenses associated with renting a venue, paying your staff etc.
Haggle (v) – to try and convince the other person to give you a better price when buying or selling something
Bargain (n) – something bought at a much lower price
For a song – if you buy something for a song, you get it for a very low price

General vocabulary

Fast-food joint – another name for a fast-food restaurant
Feeling of novelty wears off – when you no longer feel the joy from owning something that you have bought recently
Palm (n) – the inner part of your hand i.e. where the fingerprints are
Finding (n) – (here) something that has been discovered through a survey or an experiment
Taper off – to stop increasing, usually used in statistics i.e. when describing a line graph
Contribute (v) – (here) to affect something, to take part in changing it in some way
Problem at hand – a current problem that demands attention
Literacy (n) – how well you know and understand something: computer literacy is knowing how to use computer well
Venue (n) – a place where something happens
On a hunt for – looking for something
Definitive answer – a solution to something that everybody is happy with
Carbon footprint – the amount of harmful gases that someone or something produces as a result of existing

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