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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 21: Talking About the Family


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0:12

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

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The family is a common topic in IELTS, especially in Part 1 of the Speaking Test.

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Talking about such a familiar topic might seem simple, but doing it well requires thought

0:30

and practice.

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Let's listen to someone talking about their family:

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My mother is a teacher and my father is an architect. I've got 2 brothers and one sister,

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so that's all the immediate family.

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She begins by identifying her mother and father, and then her brothers and sister. What did

0:50

she call all of them together?

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My mother is a teacher and my father is an architect. I've got 2 brothers and one sister,

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so that's all the immediate family.

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The immediate family. Another term for this is nuclear family.

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That's the parents - mother and father - and the siblings - brothers and sisters.

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A male child is called the son of his parents and a female child is called the daughter.

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Mother and father are the formal words. In informal English you say mum and dad, like

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this:

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Me and my mum we immigrated to Australia in 1991 to Perth and then I moved over to Sydney

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to be with my dad, then dad moved back to Thailand, so yeah.

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The family outside of the immediate family is called the extended family.

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The parents of your parents are called grandparents - grandmother and grandfather. The brothers

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and sisters of your parents are called uncles and aunts.

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Listen:

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Both my parents were only children, so I don't have any aunts or uncles. But I do have a

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niece, my oldest brother's daughter.

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If you refer to your mother's sister, you can say "my aunt on my mother's side". If

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you refer to your father's father, you can say "grandfather on my father's side".

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The children of your aunts and uncles are called "cousins", whether male or female.

2:30

The children of your brothers and sisters are called nephews if they're boys and nieces

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if they're girls.

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What did our first speaker say about her extended family?

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Both my parents were only children, so I don't have any aunts or uncles. But I do have a

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niece, my oldest brother's daughter.

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She said her both her parents were only children. This means they were the only child of their

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parents and didn't have any brothers or sisters.

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If there are several children in your family you talk about them by order of birth, like

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this:

3:06

I have one older brother, he's 22. I have, I'm in the middle and I'm 20 and I have a

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younger sister who is 15.

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The first child in the family can be called the oldest and the last the youngest. Sometimes

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the youngest is called the baby brother or sister, or as in the next clip, the little

3:28

brother or sister:

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I've got 2 sisters and a little brother.

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The children of a family are a generation and the children they go on to have are the

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next generation.

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For instance, when someone's parents immigrate to Australia and have children here, those

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children are called first-generation Australians. When they grow up and have children, their

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children are referred to as second-generation Australians.

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Listen:

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My parents were born in Italy but my brothers and sister were born here so we're first generation

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Australians. My niece is second generation.

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A married couple are husband and wife. Each is called the spouse of the other.

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The words for relatives by marriage are the same as with your immediate family, but with

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-in-law added.

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So your spouse's father is your father-in-law and their sister is your sister-in-law.

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The plural of these forms is sisters-in-law and fathers-in-law.

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Death and divorce mean that people remarry and have children with a different parent.

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This parent by marriage is called your step-mother or step-father. Any children they may already

4:54

have become your step-brothers and step-sisters. The children they go on to have with your

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actual mother or father are your half-brothers or half-sisters.

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In the IELTS Speaking Test it is important to extend your answers. When asked about your

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family, it's best to reply first by saying who is in your immediate family as our first

5:23

speaker did:

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My mother is a teacher and my father is an architect. I've got 2 brothers and one sister,

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so that's all the immediate family.

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Now listen to how you might develop a longer answer, like this:

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My mum was born in Malaysia in a town called Bentong, which is just north of Kuala Lumpur.

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But her family origin is Sri Lankan Tamil. So racially I guess you'd say they're South

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Indian. But they migrated to Sri Lanka and then her family …her elder sister was

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born in Sri Lanka. But then her family moved to Malaysia and most of the other children

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were born in Malaysia.

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First she says where her mum was born:

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My mum was born in Malaysia in a town called Bentong, which is just north of Kuala Lumpur.

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But her mother isn't ethnically Malaysian, so she points this out:

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But her family origin is Sri Lankan Tamil. So racially I guess you'd say they're South

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Indian.

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She then explains how her mother came to be born in Malaysia:

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Her elder sister was born in Sri Lanka. But then her family moved to Malaysia and most

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of the other children were born in Malaysia.

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When developing your answer, be careful to use the correct prepositions - in or at.

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You are born 'in' a country and 'in' a town.

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Listen:

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My mum was born in Malaysia in a town called Bentong, which is just north of Kuala Lumpur.

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If you decided to say where your parents were educated, you need to say 'at' - "my father

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studied at university."

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There are many possible questions that can be asked about families. The questions are

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designed to make you use particular language functions.

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So, for making comparisons you may be asked: "Are nuclear families better than extended

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families?"

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And for giving an opinion, the examiner might ask: "Should children always obey their parents?"

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If the examiner asked you: "What is the best age to get married?" They are expecting you

7:41

to identify and explain.

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So it's a good idea to think about possible questions like these and try to make up some

7:48

more questions yourself. Listen to the way this woman responds to the question: "What's

7:54

a normal family?"

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I don't think there's any such thing as a normal family, but, yeah my family gets along

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well. It's got it's quirks but we get along well.

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That's challenging the question, which you are allowed to do as long as you justify what

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you say.

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When answering questions about family, you need to be able to identify family members

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and their relationships to one another with the correct words.

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What family members does this woman mention?

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I used to speak Cantonese at home when I was a kid and then when I went to school I spoke

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English with all my friends, and a few of my cousins are here and things, so I spoke

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English with them as well, and then slowly I lost learning Cantonese and I can't speak

8:43

it anymore.

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She talked about her cousins, who are the children of her aunts or uncles.

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You need to have something to say about your family, so be prepared to say where your parents

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were born or where your brothers or sisters work or study, like this:

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My oldest brother studied law at Flinders University in Adelaide and got a job at a

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law firm in the city where he met his wife. They were married 2 years ago and last year

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they had their first child. My sister-in law is expecting another baby. I'm hoping for

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a nephew this time.

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She talked about her oldest brother, his wife who is also her sister-in-law and her potential

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nephew. She said when her brother was married, where he studied and what he does and even

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where he met his wife.

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That's all for now.

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To find more information about the speaking test and to view other episodes, visit our

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Study English website.

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Good luck with your studies.

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