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IELTS Preparation Series 2, Episode 15: Astronomer


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0:00

Hello. I'm Margot Politis. Welcome to Study English IELTS preparation.

0:19

Today, we're going to talk about the IELTS speaking and reading tests.

0:24

The speaking test includes an interview, where you can be asked to talk about yourself, your

0:30

family, your job or maybe your studies.

0:34

But you won't have to answer any questions today. Instead, we're going to interview a

0:39

man called Perry Vlahos. He's an astronomer. By asking Perry a series of questions, we

0:47

can learn a bit more about what makes a good response.

0:51

Let's begin by asking Perry a typical part 1 type question.

0:57

Perry, can you tell us about yourself?

1:00

Well, currently I'm the Vice-President of the Astronomical Society of Victoria. Another

1:05

thing I do is the tours at the Melbourne Observatory, where a lot of people come in to get a look

1:10

through the telescopes and have been there for a long time - very historical instruments,

1:15

in some cases.

1:17

Perry answered the question very well. He gave detail in his answer.

1:23

He's the Vice-President of the Astronomical Society of Victoria, and he does tours at

1:31

the Melbourne Observatory.

1:34

Perry ordered points logically and he used linking words like currently, and another

1:42

thing.

1:44

Did you notice that he started his response with the word well?

1:49

He did this so he could have some time to think about his answer.

1:55

Sometimes people will use fillers like well, um or ah while they are thinking about what

2:02

they want to say next.

2:04

It's best to minimise fillers. Don't use them too often, because it affects fluency.

2:10

Fluency is an important feature of your spoken language that the examiner is listening for.

2:18

What question would you ask Perry next?

2:22

Perry is an astronomer. We might ask him about his area of study, astronomy.

2:30

Perry, could you tell us about astronomy?

2:34

Astronomy is very much a cutting edge science. It's the oldest science and it's also the

2:40

newest science.

2:40

And then, every time we find out something new and interesting out there, it also tells

2:46

us something new and interesting about ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

2:53

Perry used words that belong to the field of astronomy.

2:57

For example, he talked about cutting edge science and the cosmos.

3:03

Perry also used opposites in his description. He described astronomy as being both the oldest

3:11

science and the newest science.

3:15

Perry didn't just tell us facts about astronomy, he extended the description to tell us his

3:22

opinions about the effect that astronomy can have.

3:25

He said that: It can tell us something new and interesting about ourselves and our place

3:32

in the cosmos.

3:33

To enhance his response, Perry could have talked more about the cosmos. That would show

3:39

more of his vocabulary range.

3:41

So, let's ask Perry:

3:45

Why did you choose to study astronomy?

3:47

When I was about eleven or twelve and had my first science lesson at high school and

3:55

the teacher went up to the board, drew a semi circle, put in various dots, labelled them,

4:01

said: "Right. Now copy this down into your books. These are stars, planets and constellations,

4:06

go out there and find them tonight and then let me know how you went." It inspired me,

4:11

fired my imagination and gave me something to work towards.

4:16

Perry answered this question by telling a story. He used narration.

4:23

He began the story by telling us when it happened, that is:

4:28

when I was eleven or twelve

4:31

and he then told us where the story took place, that is:

4:36

in my first science lesson at high school.

4:40

The narrative follows a sequence of events. Perry used direct speech. He quoted exactly

4:49

what the teacher said.

4:51

The teacher said: "Right. Now copy this down into your books".

4:57

By quoting what the teacher said, his response is more interesting.

5:02

By listening to Perry, we can get a few useful tips for the IELTS speaking test.

5:09

Perry did a number of things that you should do in your IELTS test, to give the examiner

5:13

the best chance to hear you speaking clearly.

5:16

It's a good idea to link ideas and language together and give interesting answers.

5:24

You should also try to give details and answer questions fully.

5:28

Remember how Perry told us that astronomy was both the oldest and also the newest science?

5:41

Using these opposites was a good way for him to describe the field. It also allowed him

5:47

to show that he was aware of the relationship between these words.

5:52

Understanding the relationship between words can help to build your vocabulary. It will

5:58

also help you to answer some questions in the IELTS reading test.

6:02

Let's have a look at some word relations you should know.

6:06

First, synonyms - words that mean the same.

6:12

For example, for interesting, we have synonyms such as:

6:17

entertaining

6:18

fascinating and

6:20

intriguing

6:23

And for the word beautiful, we have:

6:25

gorgeous

6:26

handsome

6:28

lovely and

6:29

exquisite

6:31

You should also know about opposites.

6:34

For example:

6:36

high and low

6:38

big and small

6:42

anxious and calm

6:45

cheap and expensive

6:49

Another group of related words that can be useful to know is words related by degree.

6:55

These are words we can put on a scale.

6:59

For example:

7:01

hot

7:02

warm

7:03

cool and

7:04

cold

7:06

Hot and cold can also be opposites. So can warm and cool.

7:14

Now here's Perry talking about what it's like to look up at the stars with his telescopes.

7:20

Listen for adjectives and adverbs as we ask: Perry, do you enjoy your work as an astronomer?

7:30

I imagine the closest that I come to a great spiritual experience is when I'm out there

7:35

with my telescope, total darkness and the universe above my head, and you feel this

7:41

strong connection between all of those elements, and that really fires me, and I'm always looking

7:49

for new things to see as well.

7:53

Perry uses a range of adjectives such as:

7:56

total darkness

7:59

strong connection and

8:02

new things

8:04

Can you think of any synonyms for these? How about:

8:10

absolute darkness

8:13

firm connection and

8:16

unfamiliar things

8:19

What about opposites?

8:22

The opposite of strong connection is weak connection.

8:27

The opposite of new things is old things.

8:33

Perry also uses the adverb always.

8:37

The opposite of always is never.

8:41

We could also form a scale from always:

8:45

always

8:46

sometimes

8:47

occasionally

8:49

never

8:52

Knowing how words relate is useful when answering true, false and not given questions in the

8:58

IELTS reading test.

9:01

But that's all for today.

9:03

Let's review what we've learnt:

9:04

First, we saw how Perry answered interview questions. We saw how linking ideas, using

9:12

narrative and giving detailed answers can be helpful.

9:16

Then, we looked at word relationships. We saw that learning synonyms, opposites and

9:22

scales can help build vocabulary and can also help in the IELTS reading test.

9:29

Of course, all of these skills take practice.

9:32

Make sure you visit the Study English website for more. It's at abcasiapacific.com/studyenglish.

9:42

Bye bye.

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