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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 23: Talking About Food


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0:12

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

0:18

The topic of food and the customs around preparing food come up often in the IELTS Speaking Test.

0:24

It is useful to look at this topic area and think about how to select language and organise

0:30

a response if you're asked to talk about food, cooking and diet.

0:36

Let's begin by listening to someone talk about the various meals she has during the day:

0:41

I usually have breakfast every morning, and lunch in the early afternoon, a sandwich usually

0:47

or some instant noodles, but the main meal of the day for me is normally dinner.

0:52

Let's go over the language of meals. She mentioned breakfast, the morning meal, lunch, the meal

1:00

we have in the middle of the day and dinner, which is the evening meal.

1:05

So what other words are there?

1:08

In the United States and Britain another word for dinner is supper.

1:13

In Australia the word supper isn't used very often and usually refers to a light meal late

1:19

at night.

1:20

In Australia the other word for dinner is tea.

1:24

Tea can also refer to afternoon tea or high tea, a formal English meal of small sandwiches,

1:32

scones and a cup of tea.

1:35

A tea break or a coffee break is a short time during the working day when people have a

1:41

break with a cup of tea or coffee.

1:43

Food and drink consumed between meals during the day or night are called snacks.

1:51

You might hear people talk about 'brunch', which is a mid morning meal that combines

1:55

breakfast and lunch, a bit like the Chinese yum cha.

2:00

Yumcha is quite familiar to westerners these days and it would be reasonable if asked what

2:06

your favourite meal is to talk about it as the speaker does here:

2:10

The family usually gets together on Sunday for a traditional Chinese banquet, or yum

2:15

cha, either at home or in China town, but usually I eat on my own, or have lunch at

2:21

work with a colleague.

2:24

So what might you be asked about meals?

2:29

You might be asked what you usually have to eat for breakfast or whether you eat breakfast

2:34

at all.

2:36

Another common question is 'What is the main meal of the day?'

2:39

How does the speaker answer that?

2:42

I usually have breakfast every morning, and lunch in the early afternoon, a sandwich usually

2:48

or some instant noodles, but the main meal of the day for me is normally dinner.

2:53

Her answer is dinner, but, as would be expected, she expands her answer to talk about other

3:00

meals too.

3:02

It is important to distinguish between meal and staple. Staple means the basic food most

3:09

commonly eaten. For most people in Asia this is rice as it is with our speaker:

3:16

Rice is the main staple in my diet.

3:19

Staples in other countries are potatoes, and wheat in its various forms such as bread,

3:26

pasta or couscous.

3:27

When preparing for the IELTS Test, it is important to brainstorm a variety of topics and issues

3:36

- to begin to develop your own ideas, and build up possible responses.

3:42

You should:

3:43

think of examples think of reasons

3:47

think of useful vocabulary

3:50

To start you could divide the topic of food into various aspects such as: meat, fish,

3:58

vegetables and herbs and spices.

4:04

Cooking styles: boiling, frying and steaming.

4:10

Cuisines: Italian, Indian and Japanese.

4:19

Cooking utensils: pots, pans and woks.

4:26

Eating utensils: plate, bowl, knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks.

4:39

There are many things to say and ask about these things. With food types, you might want

4:45

to say that you don't eat meat and that you are a vegetarian. You may even avoid eggs,

4:52

milk and fish as well, in which case you are a vegan.

4:58

You could be asked why people choose to be a vegetarian or a vegan.

5:02

A good reason to be vegetarian is that it is a healthy diet, something our speaker is

5:08

aware of:

5:09

I try and have a healthy, balanced diet - not much fried, fatty food, and a good mix of

5:15

fruit and vegetables.

5:17

You may be asked about what healthy food is or if junk food is bad for you and why.

5:22

With utensils it's possible that you may be asked to compare chopsticks with forks with

5:30

a question like:

5:31

Do you prefer to eat with chopsticks or a fork?

5:36

Now let's see if you can work out what question might have prompted our speaker's reply. Listen

5:44

to the clip, and think what question might have been asked.

5:48

Rice is the main staple in my diet. I try and have a healthy, balanced diet - not much

5:54

fried, fatty food, and a good mix of fruit and vegetables.

5:58

Perhaps she was asked: 'Describe what you usually eat?' That would require describing

6:05

in the answer.

6:06

Or

6:08

'What do you usually eat?', where you would have to identify what you eat.

6:13

Which question is more likely? Listen again:

6:16

Rice is the main staple in my diet. I try and have a healthy, balanced diet - not much

6:23

fried, fatty food, and a good mix of fruit and vegetables.

6:27

She's identified or named the things she usually eats, so the most likely question would be:

6:34

'What do you usually eat?'

6:37

Let's try it again. What question? Think about the language function she uses:

6:43

The family usually gets together on Sunday for a traditional Chinese banquet, or yumcha,

6:48

either at home or in China town, but usually I eat on my own, or have lunch at work with

6:54

a colleague.

6:56

What about: 'Is it better to eat alone or with others?'

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That needs you to give an opinion. She talks about eating alone, but doesn't say that it's

7:06

better or worse than eating with others.

7:09

So that's not right. She explains who she eats with and when, so it's more likely to

7:16

be: 'Who do you usually eat with?'

7:19

Does the answer fit? Let's try it.

7:23

The family usually gets together on Sunday for a traditional Chinese banquet, or yumcha,

7:28

either at home or in China town, but usually I eat on my own, or have lunch at work with

7:34

a colleague.

7:35

Let's try one more. What might the question be?

7:39

I don't cook much. My mother is a good cook, and can create great meals just from a wok!

7:46

We have many dishes including roast duck - my favourite.

7:50

What about 'Can you cook?' She doesn't really say if she can or can't. She just says she

7:57

doesn't cook much. It's probably: 'Who does the cooking where

8:02

you live?'

8:03

I don't cook much. My mother is a good cook, and can create great meals just from a wok!

8:10

We have many dishes including roast duck - my favourite.

8:13

These questions might be asked individually in Part 1 of the Speaking Test, or joined

8:23

together in Part 2.

8:24

Part 2 is the long turn, where you have to talk for one to two minutes in response to

8:31

a prompt card like this:

8:34

Talk about what you usually eat every day.

8:36

You should say:

8:38

what you eat who you eat with, and

8:41

who does the cooking where you live

8:43

Let's listen to the response:

8:46

I usually have breakfast every morning, and lunch in the early afternoon, a sandwich usually

8:51

or some instant noodles, but the main meal of the day for me is normally dinner. That

8:57

often consists of some meat, maybe grilled, some steamed vegetables and rice.

9:04

Rice is the main staple in my diet. I try and have a healthy, balanced diet - not much

9:09

fried, fatty food, and a good mix of fruit and vegetables.

9:15

The family usually gets together on Sunday for a traditional Chinese banquet, or yumcha,

9:20

either at home or in China town, but usually I eat on my own, or have lunch at work with

9:26

a colleague.

9:28

I don't cook much. My mother is a good cook, and can create great meals just from a wok!

9:34

We have many dishes including roast duck - my favourite.

9:39

That's all for now.

9:43

To find more information about the IELTS Speaking Test, visit our Study English website.

9:49

Good luck with your studies.

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