Study English – Series 2, Episode 15: Astronomer

Hello. I’m Margot Politis. Welcome to Study
English IELTS preparation. Today, we’re going to talk about the IELTS
speaking and reading tests. The speaking test includes an interview, where
you can be asked to talk about yourself, your family, your job or maybe your studies. But you won’t have to answer any questions
today. Instead, we’re going to interview a man called Perry Vlahos. He’s an astronomer.
By asking Perry a series of questions, we can learn a bit more about what makes a good
response. Let’s begin by asking Perry a typical part
1 type question. Perry, can you tell us about yourself? Well, currently I’m the Vice-President of
the Astronomical Society of Victoria. Another thing I do is the tours at the Melbourne Observatory,
where a lot of people come in to get a look through the telescopes and have been there
for a long time – very historical instruments, in some cases. Perry answered the question very well. He
gave detail in his answer. He’s the Vice-President of the Astronomical
Society of Victoria, and he does tours at the Melbourne Observatory. Perry ordered points logically and he used
linking words like currently, and another thing. Did you notice that he started his response
with the word well? He did this so he could have some time to
think about his answer. Sometimes people will use fillers like well,
um or ah while they are thinking about what they want to say next. It’s best to minimise fillers. Don’t use them
too often, because it affects fluency. Fluency is an important feature of your spoken
language that the examiner is listening for. What question would you ask Perry next? Perry is an astronomer. We might ask him about
his area of study, astronomy. Perry, could you tell us about astronomy? Astronomy is very much a cutting edge science.
It’s the oldest science and it’s also the newest science. And then, every time we find out something
new and interesting out there, it also tells us something new and interesting about ourselves
and our place in the cosmos. Perry used words that belong to the field
of astronomy. For example, he talked about cutting edge
science and the cosmos. Perry also used opposites in his description.
He described astronomy as being both the oldest science and the newest science. Perry didn’t just tell us facts about astronomy,
he extended the description to tell us his opinions about the effect that astronomy can
have. He said that: It can tell us something new
and interesting about ourselves and our place in the cosmos. To enhance his response, Perry could have
talked more about the cosmos. That would show more of his vocabulary range. So, let’s ask Perry: Why did you choose to study astronomy? When I was about eleven or twelve and had
my first science lesson at high school and the teacher went up to the board, drew a semi
circle, put in various dots, labelled them, said: “Right. Now copy this down into your
books. These are stars, planets and constellations, go out there and find them tonight and then
let me know how you went.” It inspired me, fired my imagination and gave me something
to work towards. Perry answered this question by telling a
story. He used narration. He began the story by telling us when it happened,
that is: when I was eleven or twelve and he then told us where the story took place,
that is: in my first science lesson at high school. The narrative follows a sequence of events.
Perry used direct speech. He quoted exactly what the teacher said. The teacher said: “Right. Now copy this down
into your books”. By quoting what the teacher said, his response
is more interesting. By listening to Perry, we can get a few useful
tips for the IELTS speaking test. Perry did a number of things that you should
do in your IELTS test, to give the examiner the best chance to hear you speaking clearly. It’s a good idea to link ideas and language
together and give interesting answers. You should also try to give details and answer
questions fully. Remember how Perry told us that astronomy
was both the oldest and also the newest science? Using these opposites was a good way for him
to describe the field. It also allowed him to show that he was aware of the relationship
between these words. Understanding the relationship between words
can help to build your vocabulary. It will also help you to answer some questions in
the IELTS reading test. Let’s have a look at some word relations you
should know. First, synonyms – words that mean the same. For example, for interesting, we have synonyms
such as: entertaining fascinating and intriguing And for the word beautiful, we have: gorgeous handsome lovely and exquisite You should also know about opposites. For example: high and low big and small anxious and calm cheap and expensive Another group of related words that can be
useful to know is words related by degree. These are words we can put on a scale. For example: hot warm cool and cold Hot and cold can also be opposites. So can
warm and cool. Now here’s Perry talking about what it’s like
to look up at the stars with his telescopes. Listen for adjectives and adverbs as we ask:
Perry, do you enjoy your work as an astronomer? I imagine the closest that I come to a great
spiritual experience is when I’m out there with my telescope, total darkness and the
universe above my head, and you feel this strong connection between all of those elements,
and that really fires me, and I’m always looking for new things to see as well. Perry uses a range of adjectives such as: total darkness strong connection and new things Can you think of any synonyms for these?
How about: absolute darkness firm connection and unfamiliar things What about opposites? The opposite of strong connection is weak
connection. The opposite of new things is old things. Perry also uses the adverb always. The opposite of always is never. We could also form a scale from always: always sometimes occasionally never Knowing how words relate is useful when answering
true, false and not given questions in the IELTS reading test. But that’s all for today. Let’s review what we’ve learnt: First, we saw how Perry answered interview
questions. We saw how linking ideas, using narrative and giving detailed answers can
be helpful. Then, we looked at word relationships. We
saw that learning synonyms, opposites and scales can help build vocabulary and can also
help in the IELTS reading test. Of course, all of these skills take practice. Make sure you visit the Study English website
for more. It’s at Bye bye.

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