Season Finale
In the final episode of season 1 Rory takes a full IELTS Speaking test.
Questions and answers
Part 1 -Shoes

Maria: Let’s talk about shoes now. What kind of shoes do you usually wear?

Rory: Usually I wear trainers in the summer and boots in the winter. So it really does depend on the weather. Something more casual in the summer, something lighter, and something more hardy in the winter, really.

Maria: Do you have a favorite pair of shoes?

I don’t know. I had a favorite pair of shoes. They were a one of a kind red pair of Skechers shoes. There was a factory error that meant that instead of the usual blue, they came out red. And I really loved them because they were one of a kind. Unfortunately, a year ago, my mother threw them out because they were kind of falling to pieces. I was a bit upset because I was thinking about taking them to a cobbler, but they never made it that far. The closest thing to a favorite pair of shoes I have now is probably my blue Skechers, but they’re not the same as the red ones because they’re like everyone else’s.

Maria: How often do you buy shoes?

Rory: I think I buy them roughly once or twice a year. I always buy my boots from a shoe shop because I think it’s important to check the… Just to check the size and the fit, really. So in that sense, I always have to go to a shoe shop, which I’m rarely able to do because I don’t live in the U.K. these days.

Maria: Do you like expensive shoes?

Rory: I think it depends what you mean by expensive, really. I suppose if you mean approximately 5000 rubles or I think it’s about 60 pounds and pound sterling, then, yeah, kind of. I buy, like I say, Sketchers and they’re roughly that price. So I like those kinds of expensive shoes. But it’s not because they’re expensive.

Maria: Would you ever spend a lot of money on shoes?

Rory: Well, it’s like I said before, it depends on how you define a lot of money. I think I would. And I think the shoes I buy now are quite high quality, but I don’t buy them very often. So I think that justifies the expenditure. So, yes, I would spend a lot of money on shoes, but not because they’re expensive.

Maria: Have you ever bought shoes online?

Rory: Yes, once. And it was a disaster. I told you before, my mother destroyed my one of a kind red Sketchers, and I was very upset and I thought I’d found a pair online. They were bright red. But that’s OK. It’s not as bad as it looked. And I ordered them. And then when they arrived, they weren’t red. They were green. And I don’t like the color green. So that was quite disappointing for me. So I have ordered online, but I’m never doing it again.


Part 2 — A situation that made you laugh

Maria: Now, I’m going to give you a topic and I’d like you to talk about it for one or two minutes. Before you talk, you have one minute to think of what you’re going to say. You can make some notes if you wish. I’d like you to describe a situation that made you laugh. In the task it says: “Please say what the situation was, when it was. He also should answer the question, “who was there with him?”, and say why it’s made him laugh. All right. Remember, you have one to two minutes for this. Don’t worry if I stop you. I’ll tell you when the time is up. Could you start speaking now, please?

Rory: Of course. The first thing that comes to mind, if I think of a humorous situation I’ve been in, is one time I was working at a summer camp with my friend John, and I was giving a briefing to him and the other teachers there. And I thought it would be a good idea if I got the teachers to pretend that they were a class of young people so that they could see how the activities were being done. And that would hopefully make them appreciate the instructions a lot better than if I just told them straight. However, what I didn’t reckon with was the fact that one of my friends, John, in this case in particular, decided to take the role play too far. And he, instead of completing the task, drew a funny picture of a cat, and he held it up for everybody to see. And at that point, everyone in the room just burst out laughing. It was… Like, we were hysterical. It was absolutely ridiculous. I think the main reason is because, well, we’ve been working together for a long time, so we’d bonded and we were all very comfortable with each other at that point. But in addition to that, we were working hard and I think a lot of us had sleep deprivation and we were really looking to release the stress and tension we were feeling. So it all just started coming out of people and we were laughing for like about five minutes straight before we could recover control of ourselves. I think the one of the other reasons that really got to me in that sense was also just the contrast with normality. We’d been working quite professionally with each other for, oh, gosh, about two weeks at that point. And then the contrast with normality, it just made everybody laugh
in addition to all of the other reasons beforehand.

Maria: Okay. Thank you.


Part 3 — Humor

Maria: Now, we’ve been talking about a funny situation, and I’d like to discuss with you one or two more general questions related to this. Let’s talk about humor. Do you think a sense of humor is important?

Rory: Oh, yes, it’s absolutely crucial. It helps you cope with stress. And I really think it helps people regulate their emotions. If you never laugh, then you suppress a lot of these feelings. And that can be quite damaging, actually. Another reason is that it helps you find common ground with people if you can share a laugh together.

Maria: Is humor easy to translate from one language to another?

Rory: I think practical jokes and almost slapstick comedyб because everyone can see it and appreciate it. That’s easy to translate. It’s not something that I like, but I think a lot of people can understand it. But for other elements of humor, like dark humor, not every culture can get that. I noticed, for example, that as you move further east from America, the humor tends to get darker and darker. And people… Until you come to Russia and it all seems like people are doing bad things to each other just “because”. So that can sometimes be something that’s lost in translation, I think.

Maria: Can humor be useful in learning another language?

Rory: I think in terms of teaching the language, it’s good if your teacher has a sense of humor because you relax more and then you’ll be more receptive, for example. But as a learner… I don’t know. I suppose it would take the edge off being stressed. Definitely.

Maria: Do you think that when people laugh, it’s always genuine or sometimes people can even fake it.

Rory: I think people do put on their laughter sometimes. I think you can tell because it seems to me that the pitch of people’s laughter can tell you a lot about her genuine it is. If it’s like a really really high pitch, almost unnatural, then it seems to me like it’s fake or less genuine.

Maria: How do you think laughter can be used in a negative way?

Rory: I think it’s combined with bullying. For example, if you’re laughing at someone as opposed to laughing with them, then you can use it in a very negative way, almost to lower someone’s self-esteem, really, And that’s not very nice.

Maria: Do you think that the less people laugh, the older they get?

Rory: Maybe not older, but certainly they seem to become more serious or behave in a more mature way. We usually associate people laughing and joking around with being less mature, maybe, more childish and younger. However, I suppose… Laughter also decreases stress in people as well, doesn’t it? So if you decrease the stress which can cause you to age, then actually maybe it would make you seem a little bit younger.
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