English learning log

Volunteers, conflicts, pets, computer games

2013. november 13. - polly graph

Examiner:      Good morning!  Take a seat, please.

                   How are you feeling at the moment?

                   How did you feel this morning when you woke up?

                   What will you miss most now that you’re leaving school?

                   Would you stay one more year?  Why (not)?


Now I’m going to ask you a few questions.  If you can’t understand me, I can repeat the question once.  Let’s get started.



What situations need volunteer workers?

In my opinion, when there has been a big disaster somewhere, like an earthquake or the eruption of a volcano, then people have to help.  We must send medical aid, food, clothes, and volunteer workers who help the people.  This is a very important thing, because if we were in their situation, we would be happy if they helped us.


Can a volunteer be treated the same as paid staff?

I think volunteers can be treated the same as a paid staff, that is, they should work as hard as paid staff.  I think we need volunteers because sometimes a company does not have enough employees to complete all the tasks it has but cannot afford to hire more staff.  It is also good for the people who do it because everybody should start work somewhere and volunteering is a good way to start it.


Can you list some reasons why people volunteer?

Sure, firstly, people would like to live in a better world and they try to help in achieving this somehow.  Secondly, they feel better doing it, because they do something for the world and that’s good.  Lastly, people try to persuade others to volunteer and try to lead an exemplary life.  I reckon that everybody should do something on a voluntary basis to experience what it feels like.


What are some problems people might have after a disaster and how can volunteers help overcome these?

There are basically only problems after a disaster.  The first questions are where the survivors will live, what they will eat and drink, and what they will wear.  Volunteers can help in building new houses and distributing aid, food and clothes.  If these problems can be solved it is really important that the survivors get psychological help too.  I think the hardest thing is to lose somebody you love and then having to come to terms with that.  And volunteers can help here, too.


Have you ever done any voluntary work?

At my high school we had to do ten hours of voluntary work per term in the first two years.  I think it was a good thing, we got a taste of what it feels like to help someone without expecting anything in return.  We went to a shelter for dogs and took the dogs for a walk, gave a concert in an old people’s home, played with kids in a children’s hospital, that sort of thing.  I really enjoyed it.


I see.  Now let’s move on to the next topic, which is conflicts.



Is conflict always negative?

No, definitely not always.  A conflict could be good, it may sound funny but it can be useful.  I mean if there is a conflict, that means we start to talk about the problem, and that’s always good.  We either find a solution and live happily ever after, or if we can’t find a solution we realise that maybe we should not meet anymore.



How can conflicts be resolved?

It depends on the situation but there are some common tips and ideas which could be good for almost every situation.  Firstly, everyone has to listen to the other person’s opinions, you have to consider that too, because it’s important.  Then if the two parties who are having a conflict cannot agree in any way, then they should ask a third person to help them decide who is right, someone to mediate between them.  I don’t think that simply ignoring a conflict and making that topic taboo works.


Does there have to be a winner and a loser of a conflict?

Well, not necessarily.  If the two parties can reach a compromise, then no one wins, but it’s good for everyone.  I think it’s more problematic when there is just one solution. In this case somebody has to win. I’m not really good at this game, so if I have a conflict with somebody, I usually tell him/her my opinion and listen to his/her ideas too and if I can’t see a solution, I won’t start an argument, I’ll just leave or let him/her win.


Who do you have the most conflicts with in your family?

My mum, definitely.  We never really have a conversation without arguing a little bit.  I mean I love her to bits, we just seem to have this thing going on between us, that we are unable to agree on anything.  I think my dad and my sister find this quite amusing, actually.  Sometimes it is funny, but not always.


Have you ever had a conflict with one of your teachers?

Oh yes, it happens every now and then.  It’s natural I guess, unless you are one of those people who never say anything in class.  I haven’t had a serious conflict with anyone, but once or twice my parents had to make a call and I think my form teacher had to intervene a couple times too.  But that’s fine, because school should prepare you for life, shouldn’t it?


Well, I see.  Now, let’s change the topic.  We’re going to talk about creativity.



Is creativity a good thing? Why or why not?

As I see it, people who are creative are very lucky, so I think yes, it is a fantastic thing.  If you are creative, then for example you can make great presents for Christmas or for birthdays etc, or you can decorate the place where you live.  Creativity can make your life more colourful and I think it makes everyone pleased when they can say, “Yes, I made that.”


Is taking a risk part of creativity?

It’s a hard question.  I’ve never thought about that.  I think I’m a creative person, or at least I can be creative sometimes.  It depends on the situation, the circumstances and the task ahead.  But to answer your question, I think there’s no connection between creativity and the willingness to take risks.  Therefore taking a risk is not part of creativity.


What are some creative ways to entertain children?

Lovely question.  Usually it depends on the child.  I think the most creative way to entertain a child is if we play something with them.  Some parents just let the child watch TV or play computer games, but in the long run that won’t do any good for the child.  Parents should spend quality time with their children, for instance making up a story together or building a   big castle, things like that.


         Can creativity be a problem at school?

I think so, because creativity also means not doing what everyone else does, so not following the rules but doing things your own way, and some teachers might have a problem with that.  But luckily we have had some teachers who really appreciated creative people in the class and didn’t think that these students were trying to be disruptive by being different.


         Who is the most creative person you know?

My boyfriend.  He is very smart and very funny, both of which I think are crucial for creativity.  Usually I can’t wait for my birthday or Christmas, because I know he will come up with something very original.  Last Christmas, for instance, he wrote a poem for me, which was very beautiful.


Thank you, that’s the end of the first part of the test.




Now look at this situation.  You can study the sheet for half a minute.  When you are ready, start a conversation with me.  I am your friend.


You are thinking of buying a puppy for your sister, who is 14 years old.  Ask your friend for some advice about this, considering the following:


Ø       how your sister feels about dogs

Ø       what taking care of a dog involves

Ø       whether your sister is old enough to do all that

Ø       what your parents would say





-        So, do you think it’s a good idea to buy Emily a puppy for her birthday?

-        Does she like dogs?

-        Are you kidding?  She is crazy about dogs!  Whenever we see one on the street, she always stops and says hello.

-        OK.  Now have you ever had a dog?  Do you know what it means to look after it?

-        No, we’ve never had a dog.  I guess having a dog means walking it two times a day, of course feeding it, and maybe washing it every now and then?

-        And you think your sister could do all that?

-        Well, not alone, but there’s my brother to help, plus me and my parents of course.  And you know we have a huge garden, so the dog could run around all the day.

-        What about your parents?  Would they agree to your plan?

-        I think so, but I will definitely ask them first, before I do anything.

-        That sounds like a good plan to me.


Thank you, that’s the end of the second part of the test.




In the last part of the test, you will compare and contrast some pictures.  Now you have half a minute to look at these pictures and the prompts below them.  When you are ready, you will have three minutes to talk.


The pictures below show a computer game and a board game.  Compare and contrast them, including the following points:











Ø       what kind of people enjoy each game

Ø       how long people usually play these games

Ø       the cost of the games

Ø       your personal preference

I know that the stereotypical thing would be to say that older people prefer board games, while the younger generation like computer games more.  However, I have several friends who are really into playing some board games and often have parties where they play e.g. Risk.  I think this is what the picture suggests too, with the beer bottles for instance.

Well, a game like Risk can take you a couple hours, sometimes even a whole night, but I’ve heard of these parties called LAN parties where everyone brings their own computer along and people play games for days on end, just grabbing some food on the way.  You can sometimes also hear about people who play with games like WOW for weeks on end, though I think that sounds a bit scary.

About costs, I guess board games are still cheaper than a computer, although they are getting more and more expensive as the design gets nicer, so sometimes you end up paying huge amounts of money for board games too.  But I think board games are generally less addictive, so you probably end up spending more on your computer games because you simply must have the latest thing.

I’m not a great fan of computer games to be honest, and there definitely isn’t one that I play a lot.  I kind of like board games, like Risk, or games involving trivia and all sorts of questions, but I don’t play these that often.  Sometimes when all the family is together, we’ll spend a couple hours playing some game and that’s fun.


Thank you, that’s the end of your test.





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