How often do you use a computer? What do you usually use a computer for? What kinds of computers are popular in your country? Who taught you how to use a computer? When was the first time you used a computer? What would your life be like without computers? Do you think computers have changed your life?
  • Commonplace (adj.) - happening often or often seen or experienced and so not considered to be special.
  • Exposure (noun) - the fact of experiencing something or being affected by it because of being in a particular situation or place.
  • Explicitly (adverb) - in a way that is clear and exact.
  • Reminiscent of sb/sth - making you remember a particular person, event, or thing.
  • Embedded (adj.) - if an emotion, opinion, etc. is embedded in someone or something, it is a very strong or important part of him, her, or it.
  • Immerse yourself in sth - to become completely involved in something.
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Questions and answers
M: How often do you use a computer?

R: Well, if we include the one on my phone, then probably just about every single day, they're hard to get away from. But I think the same is true for just about everyone, isn't it?

M: What do you usually use a computer for?

R: Just about everything you could care to imagine. But if we narrow it down to the most common and general things, probably storing and communicating information. I mean, for example, everyone uses some sort of messenger app, and I keep all the evidence from my university work on my phone.

M: What kinds of computers are popular in your country?

R: Well, I'm hardly an expert. But if I were to guess I would say that laptops and desktops are probably quite commonplace. If we include it to less traditional options, then satnavs are sort of computer as are the ones on your phone, and everyone has one or the other, well, or both?

M: Who taught you how to use a computer?

R: I was thinking about this the other day, actually. And I think it was a combination of self-teaching and exposure to computers from a young age. Everyone starts by plastic around with a keyboard and mouse. And then you get a simple system or program and see what happens. And ultimately find a specific purpose to use the thing for, whether it's just playing games or working properly. I don't remember anyone ever explicitly teaching me anything specific.

M: When was the first time you used a computer?

R: Oh, God, that must have been over 20 years ago, when I first got a computer for. It's a computer for, sorry, it was a computer for kids from my parents. It just had a few simple games on it to help you get used to the idea of actually using a computer. It wasn't one you would recognize today. It just had the small LCD screen that was more reminiscent of a watch that a computer.

M: What would your life be like without a computer?

R: Well, that's a bit like asking what life would be like without lighter or plumbing. It's so embedded in everything that I do. Life would be different beyond imagining. The easy answer is to say that it would be worse or more boring. Though, I think in many ways, it might actually involve more reading and imagination. It's hard to say to any great extent, like I said, though.

M: Do you think computers have changed your life?
R: Well, that's an interesting question. Because actually, it's impossible to answer. You only get one life. And I suppose while you could imagine different possibilities, you always miss something. I would say they made my life what it is, since they've always been there in one way, shape, or form. An older person who grew up without them might be able to give a better answer, but I've been too immersed in them.
M: You've got one life, but you can get numerous computers.

R: Yes. Unless you're playing a computer game, then you can get many lives.

M: True, but only in the computer game. Right? Rory, and how many computers have you had like in your life?

R: That's a really good question. So, two now, one before lockdown. Okay. If we start counting, it's going to take a really long time, let's say roughly 10.

M: Okay, yes. But if I have a smartphone, is it a computer? Do you think it's a computer? Or like a computer is like a laptop? So...

R: I think so. Yeah. But if we're talking about, when I think about computers, like in the question, you just asked me that it's probably desktop or laptop computers. But you do have a computer in your phone because it computes information.

M: Hmm. Okay. Yes, dear listener and viewer and watcher. So we can say that our phone is our computer, but also like a desktop. So a laptop, right? So like this. A laptop, and also a desktop computer, this huge computer that stands on your desk or on a, on the table somewhere. And also you can talk about brands. So for example, Rory, what do you think? Like which brand is the most popular brand of computers in 2022 all over the world?

R: Ah, that's a good question. Are we getting paid to give an answer to this question?

M: No, unfortunately, no. It starts with an A. Aa...

R: Is it Apple?

M: Apple. Yes. Yeah. Apple computers. So dear listener, if you have Apple computers, or if you don't have any Apple, you can still say that, oh, yeah, Apple laptops, Apple computers are popular. Also, what did you say? How do you pronounce it?

R: Is it Acer? Okay, well, I'd say Acer. But that's just because that's how it looks like it's pronounced.

M: Right. So you see, you can talk about your phone. You can talk about different brands of computers and Rory, you say that it's hard to get away from. So computers are hard to get away from, right.?

R: They are, yeah. So if something is hard to get away from, that just means that it's everywhere. And so you can't really escape them.

M: Also, Rory has used a tag question. He goes like, I think the same is true for everyone, isn't it? The same is true for everyone, isn't it? Rory, could you model a nice pronunciation for us? What about the intonation?

R: Well, if we're sure about what the answer is, which I was, then I think the same thing is true for everyone, isn't?

M: So isn't? Isn't it? So it goes up, right?
R: I thought it went down when I said it before. Yeah, I can't remember. Maybe you'll be able to tell us. Does it go up when you're inviting an answer? And it goes down when you're so when you're sure about the answer?

M: Bravo, correct. Yes. That's my educated native speak.

R: Yeah. So I didn't get it right there, though.

M: But maybe you are not sure. You know, like, oh, it could be true. You know, like, isn't it? You know, like, tell me.

R: No, but it's one of these things, you just do it automatically. And then you focus on it. And you're like, oh, yeah, I'm not doing the right way.

M: Yeah, so you can say like, it's true for everyone. It is true. It's true, isn't it? You know, isn't it? Like what do you think? But if you're sure that yes, well, come on. It's true for everybody. Everybody enjoys our podcast and vidcast and my hair, Maria's hair. So it's true for everybody, isn't it? Isn't it? Kind of like it's a fact that everybody loves my new hair. Rory, do you like my hair?

R: I do. When did you have it done?

M: Oh, I think this week, yeah, this week. Just for the recording, dear listener, just for you to enjoy. Take a look. Back to the computers. You can say like, what do you usually use a computer for? So what do you usually use it for? I use computers for blah, blah, blah. So the question is a bit strange. Like, what do you use a computer for? And you said that, if we narrow it down to the most common and general things, we use it for storing, for communicating information, so storing information, keeping information and communicating. So narrow it down, tell us what does it mean? It's a phrasal verb.

R: Is it? Oh, great, good. So there's, if you narrow something down, or you just focus on, well, the biggest and most important things. So here, I focused on the most common in general things. It's not where I started from, though I talked about just about everything, but if you narrow it down. So this is a good way of introducing the idea of this narrowing down by talking about everything that's possible beforehand, then you switch over to the narrowing down process.

M: Sweet. So you have many options. Like we can do different stuff, different things with computers, and then we kind of like we narrow it down, right? I play video games, and I watch Netflix. That's all, you know. That's how I use my computer. Okay, cool. And so we store our information, we store our files, and Rory said that I keep all the evidence from my university work. Evidence, like in crime, you know, evidence. And you say, on my phone, right, and also on my computer or in my computer?

R: Oh, it's funny, though, because I was thinking about that there. If we're talking about information, information is on your computer, but all of the components are physically in your computer.
M: Yeah. Also, you can say like on my phone. And our favorite strategy. It doesn't matter what the question is, if you're not sure or if you don't know what to say, dear listener, so you can say, I'm hardly an experts. But if I were to guess I'd say that. Yeah. For example, I asked, Rory, what's the most expensive computer in the world?

R: Well, I'm hardly an expert. But if I were to guess I would say it's something made by Apple, just because their computers are usually quite expensive.

M: Rory, what about the future? What computers people will use in the future?

R: Well, I'm hardly an expert. But if I were to guess I'd say they'd be using ones that are more sophisticated.

M: Yeah, you see. And then we say that laptops and desktops. So desktop, computer desktops are quite commonplace. So commonplace, it means common, popular?

R: I don't know if it means they're popular, because popular has to do with lots of people liking something. But if something is commonplace, then it's like, well, it's something you see most of the time in different places.

M: Yeah, so you can say laptops are commonplace. But then Rory goes less traditional options, options, not variants, options, like different options.

R: Yeah.

M: You said satnavs. Satnavs? What are they?

R: Yeah, so satnavs are like satellite navigation systems. So like a GPS on your computer. A GPS is short for global positioning system, which is like the network of satellites that, well, they help you drive your car and help you navigate.

M: Oh, these are like little tablets that we have in our cars, right? So satnav.

R: It can be a tablet, I think. I don't know too much about them. But that's like I call it satnav.

M: And who taught you how to use a computer? And Rory goes, well, it's a combination of self teaching, and exposure to computers. So exposure, so when you are exposed to computers, what happens?

R: You're just around them all the time, and they're a part of your life so you can see them and interact with them on a daily basis.

M: And then you said that everybody starts by plastering around with a keyboard and a mouse, keyboard, keyboard. So plastering around is another phrasal verb for a super high score. Band nine score.

R: I think it might be one that's just for where, well, from my part of the country, though. Probably what they would say in America and most of England is messing around with something but plastering around with and messing around with something are basically the same thing.

M: And then when you talk about your childhood when you got your first computer, you can say that yeah, like I got my first computer. And then I got used to this. Right? I got used to this computer, I got used to this, to the idea of playing games. So how old were you when you got your first computer?

R: That's good question. Maybe about 10 years old. I'm not really sure. Does anyone remember when they got their first computer?

M: I was at university. I was pretty...

R: Really?

M: Yeah, I got it really late. Because my parents couldn't afford it. So I got it, I think like the end of high school university. Yeah. really late. So I do remember it was like, oh, it was a huge holiday. My brother was super, like happy because he finally could play computer games at home.

R: Did you get it for your birthday?

M: I don't think so. Just parents just bought it, just like that. Because maybe I entered university and I needed a computer at home. Because we used to go to this computer cafes, you know, these places full of computers. And my brother would go there to play video games, computer games, so... Yeah. Tough times, ah?

R: Nice.

M: Yeah. Rory said that he's too immersed in computers. Rory, could you clarify this one? To be immersed in something?

R: Yeah, that's just another way of talking about it, instead of speaking about exposure. So if you're immersed in something, it's like a big part of your world. It's like the air that you breathe. And to be honest with you. Most people probably are immersed in computers these days, aren't they? I can't think of like anyone who doesn't use one on a daily basis.

M: Hmm. Yeah. If we think that our smartphone is a computer so then it's just it's pretty much glued to our hands. So my smartphone is the continuation of my hand. Do you feel like this Rory that this kind of your smartphone is part of your body?

R: Sometimes, although recently, I just put my phone down and started reading and ignoring it. So that's been fun.

M: You mean reading books, not your phone?

R: Yeah.
M: Oh, wow. Okay, well done you. And Rory, I have one more question. So when you choose a computer, so let's imagine that you need to buy a new computer. Would you look at what color it is first? Or would you look at some features, some memory and some other details?

R: There would be the memory, the memory and the speed, probably, and the weight. Because I usually have to carry a computer around with me. So if I had a really heavy computer, it would be really difficult whereas the one I've got now is quite light, so I can carry it around. The color? No, I don't really mind about a color.

M: No? You've never bought a pink computer?

R: Well, no, but then in the same way, I've never bought a blue computer either. All of mine have been silver or black really, or a combination of the two. What color is yours?

M: Oh, my color is kind of like silver. I want it to be pink or red. But no, they just don't make them for some reason. Like, so... I wanted to be kind of gold, but it has gold here but I think it's like it's, most of it is silver. But there's just like a little bit gold of like here. Yeah. And what do you call these things, like weight, memory, are they not qualifications, not features, but they are...

R: Why can't they be features?

M: Features, yeah. Okay. Yep.

R: Well actually hold on a second because it depends. If we're talking about like memory, or processing speed. I think those are system. Not system requirements, but system features.

R: Features. Yeah.

R: And then the outside things would be like external features. Is it system features?

M: I think so. Yeah. So, dear listener, you can talk about them.

R: I was gonna say system requirements, but system requirements are what video games have.

M: Computers. Yeah. Excellent. Thank you very much for listening and watching! So computers is our fresh IELTS speaking part one topic. Rory, your final word, computerized word to the world.

R: Hopefully, the answers were easy enough to compute! Sorry. I'm not sorry.

M: Thank you very much! Bye-bye!

R: Bye!
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
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