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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 20: Giving Examples


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

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One of the things you will often need to do, in both spoken and written English, is give

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examples. Today we'll look at some of the language you can use for giving examples,

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and also for clarifying.

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First let's listen to someone talking about an analysis of bird songs:

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We're researching the effects of traffic noise on the calling behaviour of birds.

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Normally, if there was no background noise from roads or other human-generated noise,

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they'd be able to hear each other at least 100 metres apart. But where we have loud traffic,

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it's likely they can only hear each other 20 or 30 metres apart.

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We can analyse the frequency of the different notes in the calls. So for example, this is

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the grey fantail - how it would sound at a quiet site.

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She gives an example of one bird call they have analysed, and introduces that with the

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phrase 'for example'.

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So for example, this is the grey fantail - how it would sound at a quiet site.

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For example can be used to introduce the example, as it is here, or it can be placed after the

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example:

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This is the grey fantail, for example.

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But formally, it is better to introduce the example with the phrase. Listen:

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The birds aren't changing their tune very much, so on average, they're only going up

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one note on the musical scale. For example, with the grey shrike-thrush,

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it goes from here to here.

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The speaker makes a general statement about the behaviour of birds then illustrates it

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with one specific example.

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The birds aren't changing their tune very much, so on average, they're only going up

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one note on the musical scale. For example, with the grey shrike-thrush,

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it goes from here to here.

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Another phrase with exactly the same meaning is 'for instance'. Listen for the phrase used

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by this woman talking about kite-flying:

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Kiting has developed over the years. It's just amazing the difference and the variation.

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For instance, with the inflatable kites we don't use any spars with them. But you can't

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make inflatable kites unless you've got the right materials so today we work with rib-stock

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nylon so we're able to sew it. So, it's sort of like balloon fabric so we can fill them

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up with air and they go up in the sky.

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Again the phrase 'for instance' introduces the example. She makes a statement about the

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variety of kites, and then gives one example, of a kite with no spars:

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It's just amazing the difference and the variation. For instance, with the inflatable kites we

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don't use any spars with them.

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In informal language, when speaking, we can use less formal terms for giving examples.

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But you can't make inflatable kites unless you've got the right materials so today we

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work with rib-stock nylon so we're able to sew it. So, it's sort of like balloon fabric

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so we can fill them up with air and they go up in the sky.

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It's 'sort of' like balloon fabric. Here the speaker is using an example of something that

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might be familiar to the listener - balloon fabric - to clarify what type of fabric is

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used in the kites. 'Sort of' would not be used in this way in a formal essay.

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There's another way of giving examples, listen:

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We here have so far only studied two species of birds, the grey shrike-thrush

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and the grey fantail.

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Here the examples are not introduced with a phrase - the speaker simply pauses before

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giving the examples.

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We here have so far only studied two species of birds, the grey shrike-thrush

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and the grey fantail.

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When both speaking and writing, it's a good idea to try to be as specific and precise

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as possible when giving examples, or describing something. Listen to the bird scientist again,

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and see if you can hear the words that she uses to make her statements more precise.

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Normally, if there was no background noise from roads or other human-generated noise,

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they'd be able to hear each other at least 100 metres apart. But where we have loud traffic,

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it's likely they can only hear each other 20 or 30 metres apart.

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Traffic can be very noisy, depending on how many cars there are on the road and how fast

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they're travelling and how many big trucks there are. So at the largest roads that we've

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included in our study, there are about 150,000 cars coming past a day and that makes a noise,

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if you're right next to it, of up to 95 decibels, which is loud!

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Firstly, let's look at some of the expressions used to make descriptions of numbers more

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exact:

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they'd be able to hear each other at least 100 metres apart. But where we have loud traffic,

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it's likely they can only hear each other 20 or 30 metres apart.

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at least 100 metres apart. 100 metres is the minimum distance the birds would be able to

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hear each other.

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there are about 150,000 cars coming past a day and that makes a noise, if you're right

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next to it, of up to 95 decibels, which is loud!

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about 150,000 cars - possibly a bit more, or less than 150,000.

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up to 95 decibels - 95 decibels is the loudest noise recorded.

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There are about 150,000 cars coming past a day and that makes a noise, if you're right

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next to it, of up to 95 decibels, which is loud!

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Using words and phrases such as 'about', 'up to', 'more than',

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'less than' and 'most of' helps to make your meaning more precise, and

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more convincing.

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Expanding on an idea, clarifying and giving examples and reasons, are all important language

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functions you should demonstrate. Let's see how the bird scientist illustrates her theory

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about bird calls and traffic:

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It's a problem because communicating acoustically with sound is really a very important thing

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for birds. It's a matter of life and death.

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If they can't hear, in the first place they may have trouble attracting mates and breeding

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and keeping the population going. And also, if they can't hear each other's

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warning calls, they may be more likely to be taken by predators.

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Wherever you are, wherever there are roads and wherever there are birds, there are likely

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to be this problem. Birds will have difficulty hearing each other and they may be responding

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in the only way that they can.

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She is explaining why it is important for birds to be able to hear each other. She illustrates

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the importance with this phrase:

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It's a matter of life and death.

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It's a matter of life and death.

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Using idioms like this is a good way of demonstrating your familiarity with English.

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She then goes on to give specific examples why birds need to hear each other.

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If they can't hear, in the first place they may have trouble attracting mates and breeding

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and keeping the population going. And also, if they can't hear each other's warning calls,

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they may be more likely to be taken by predators.

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Problems occur when birds can't hear each other.

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She uses some signpost words to help the listener understand the different examples.

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What are those words?

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If they can't hear, in the first place they may have trouble attracting mates and breeding

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and keeping the population going. And also, if they can't hear each other's warning calls,

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they may be more likely to be taken by predators.

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'In the first place' is a sign that an example is going to follow, but also it tells the

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listener there will be another one.

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If they can't hear, in the first place they may have trouble attracting mates and breeding

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and keeping the population going.

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The second signpost word is 'also'. This introduces the second example.

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And also, if they can't hear each other's warning calls, they may be more likely to

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be taken by predators.

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That's all for now.

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To find out more about giving examples and to watch this episode again, visit the Study

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English website.

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(The address is: australianetwork.com/studyenglish)

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I'll see you next time.

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