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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 11: Grammatical Range in the Speaking Test


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0:12

Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS Preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

0:18

Knowing how to compare and contrast is something you are likely to need for the IELTS Speaking

0:23

Test.

0:25

There are a number of grammatical structures that you can use to make comparisons and express

0:30

differences.

0:32

Listen to this candidate comparing and contrasting his teachers:

0:37

What differences in teaching styles have you experienced with different teachers?

0:42

Well, I think, you have to make a difference between a teacher's knowledge and personal

0:46

style. Some teachers, you know, are very knowledgeable and have a lot of experience and everything.

0:53

Both my history and science teachers knew their subjects really well, but my maths teacher,

0:59

who was much older - maybe that's why - just didn't have the skills to convey all that

1:05

to the students. If I were to compare all my classes, I would say his were the most

1:11

boring. My history teacher, on the other hand, he knew how to communicate to students and

1:18

his lessons were more enjoyable and we learnt faster.

1:22

He said that "both my history and science teachers knew their subjects".

1:28

He uses the word 'both' to say 'the two together'. They're similar in the way they know a lot

1:34

about their subjects. He then contrasts them to the maths teacher by using the word 'but'.

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Listen:

1:44

Both my history and science teachers knew their subjects really well, but my maths teacher,

1:51

who was much older - maybe that's why - just didn't have the skills to convey all that

1:56

to the students.

1:58

To justify the contrast he compares the ages of the teachers. The maths teacher is much

2:05

older. Older is a comparative adjective. Someone who is 50 is older than someone who is 40.

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'Much older' is a way of saying the difference is larger - someone who is 80 is much older

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than someone who is 40.

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He also compares the teaching styles of his teachers:

2:30

If I were to compare all my classes, I would say his were the most boring.

2:36

This time he uses the superlative - the most boring, because he is comparing more than

2:42

2 things. He does this using a conditional 'if' sentence which is a polite way of criticising

2:49

someone:

2:50

If I were to compare all my classes, I would say his were the most boring.

2:57

He goes on to talk about his history teacher. How does he show that he is comparing him

3:02

to the boring maths teacher? My history teacher, on the other hand, he

3:08

knew how to communicate to students and his lessons were more enjoyable and we learnt

3:13

faster.

3:14

He says 'on the other hand' to show that he is now talking about a different style of

3:20

teaching. And again he uses comparative forms - more enjoyable and faster - to express this

3:29

difference.

3:34

Now listen to another candidate responding to a question designed to encourage her to

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compare and contrast:

3:41

Is it better to grow up in the city or in the countryside?

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Well, I think that, mm, both places have their pros and cons. I've grown up in a city, and

3:56

I've lived in a city all my life. And sometimes when I see those families who have their kids

4:02

in the countryside I envy them, because they can run about, you know. They are free and

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the environment is cleaner and safer, but then, on the other hand, you know, living

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in a city gives you other, um, opportunities to socialise, have more contact with culture,

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and better opportunities for education. So, I don't know. It's difficult to say. Both

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things have advantages and disadvantages.

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She begins by saying that "both places have their pros and cons". Saying 'both' means

4:43

she is referring to the city and the country. Pros and cons is an idiom meaning advantages

4:52

and disadvantages. Then she establishes that her point of view is that of a city person:

5:00

I've grown up in a city, and I've lived in a city all my life.

5:06

Then she says what the advantages - the pros - of living in the country are:

5:11

Sometimes when I see those families who have their kids in the countryside I envy them,

5:19

because they can run about, you know. They are free and the environment is cleaner and

5:27

safer.

5:28

The advantages are that in the country you can run about and be free. She also uses the

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comparative adjectives 'cleaner' and 'safer' to describe the country compared to the city.

5:43

Often you use comparatives with 'than' a word that means 'in comparison with'.

5:50

The country is cleaner than the city.

5:55

She chooses to contrast with the word 'but' and talk about the advantages of living in

6:00

the city:

6:01

They are free and the environment is cleaner and safer, but then, on the other hand, you

6:09

know, living in a city gives you other, um, opportunities to socialise, have more contact

6:15

with culture, and better opportunities for education.

6:20

Like the previous candidate, she uses the phrase 'on the other hand' to show she is

6:25

talking about something different - the city.

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And again she uses the language of comparison, this time the irregular comparative form of

6:36

good, 'better'. Listen again:

6:40

They are free and the environment is cleaner and safer, but then, on the other hand, you

6:48

know, living in a city gives you other, um, opportunities to socialise, have more contact

6:53

with culture, and better opportunities for education.

6:58

Now let's listen to the way she rounds off her comparison of city and country living:

7:04

So, I don't know. It's difficult to say. Both things have advantages and disadvantages.

7:11

She ends by saying both have advantages and disadvantages which means that one isn't better

7:18

than the other. You don't have to say that one thing is better than another if you don't

7:23

think so. The phrase for this is 'as good as'. She thinks that the country is as good

7:30

as the city.

7:35

The structures you use to compare things in the speaking test are assessed as grammatical

7:41

range and accuracy, one of the IELTS marking criteria. Other things that are assessed in

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this area are the number of mistakes you make and the range of sentence types you use.

7:54

Don't be overly concerned about being perfectly correct all the time. Some mistakes will occur

7:59

in your speech.

8:04

It's good to review the rules for forming comparatives.

8:07

One syllable words have the -er comparative form: big, bigger

8:15

You need to memorise the forms for 2 syllable words because they can be either -er or have

8:22

'more' before them: narrow, narrower

8:27

useful, more useful

8:30

Words of 3 syllables and longer have the 'more' form:

8:36

intelligent, more intelligent spectacular, more spectacular

8:44

You can emphasise the degree of difference and say 'much older'.

8:50

With 'more intelligent', you say 'much more intelligent' and with 'more spectacular',

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you say 'much more spectacular'.

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And don't forget to review irregular comparative adjectives like:

9:09

good, better bad, worse

9:14

far, further or farther

9:20

Whenever a question has a comparative adjective in it, you can be confident that you are expected

9:25

to reply with the language of comparison.

9:32

That's all for now. To find more information about grammatical range and accuracy in the

9:37

Speaking Test visit our Study English website. The address is: australianetwork.com/studyenglish.

9:41

Good luck with your studies. Bye.

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