Puzzles
Do you like puzzles? Do you like doing word puzzles or number puzzles? Did you like doing puzzles when you were a kid? When do you do puzzles, during trips, or when you feel bored? Do you think it is suitable for older people to do puzzles?
Vocabulary
  • Let alone (phrase) - used after a negative statement to emphasize how unlikely a situation is because something much more likely has never happened.
  • To make out (phrasal verb) - to deal with a situation, usually in a successful way.
  • Engaging (adj.) - pleasant, attractive, and charming.
  • To match up (phrasal verb) - If two pieces of information match up, they are the same.
  • Expertise (noun) - a high level of knowledge or skill.
  • To work out (phrasal verb) - to understand something or to find the answer to something by thinking about it.
  • Jigsaw (noun) - a picture stuck onto wood or cardboard and cut into pieces of different shapes that must be joined together correctly to form the picture again.
  • To set up (phrasal verb) - to arrange for an event or activity to happen.
  • To fill out (phrasal verb) - to write or type information in spaces that are provided for it.
  • Crossword (noun) - a game in which you write words that are the answers to questions in a pattern of black and white squares.
  • Wordle (noun) - a brand name for an electronic image that shows words used in a particular piece of electronic text or series of texts. The words are different sizes according to how often they are used in the text.
  • To rule something or someone out (phrasal verb) - to decide or say officially that something is impossible or will not happen, or that something or someone is not suitable.
Questions and answers
M: Rory, do you like puzzles?

R: Well, not really. It's always difficult for me to follow the instructions, let alone make out any solutions. Although now that I think about it, it's not because they're not particularly engaging. It's just because I have other things on my mind, to be honest with you.

M: Do you like doing word puzzles or number puzzles?

R: Well, ideally, neither. But if I had to choose one, I suppose it would be word puzzles, because they most closely match up with my area of expertise, which is English. I suppose working out my finances is enough of a number puzzle for me.

M: Did you like doing puzzles when you were a kid?

R: I think I used to, but I had more time to finish them off back then. Whereas now I don't really because I've got all these jobs to do. Working out how to finish a Rubik's cube or to put together a jigsaw takes ages for me. So I don't really have the time for it.

M: When do you do puzzles, during trips or when you feel bored?

R: Well, I think the closest I get is when I'm setting them up for classes and I have to work out the solutions. If I had to choose then it would probably be during trips like filling out a crossword on a plane. If I didn't have a book and there was nothing else to do. But that's just an example.

M: Do you think it's suitable for older people to do puzzles?

R: Well, I think they're the ones best place to do it, since they have, well or they usually have more free time on their hands and they have more experience. Although now I think about it, young people are always putting up or posting pictures of their wordles, aren't they? So maybe we shouldn't rule them out entirely.

M: Hey! Thank you, Rory, for your answers! We weren't puzzled by them at all.
Discussion
M: So, Rory, when I asked you, do you like puzzles, you said that you enjoy making out the solutions?

R: Well, I said it was quite difficult to make out the solutions. But if you make something out, that just means that you either see it clearly, or in this case, see it clearly in your mind's eye. So understand it clearly. So it's difficult to make out the solutions. It's difficult to find the solutions. But you could say the same thing about anything. Like in foggy weather, it's difficult to make out things in the distance. So it's difficult to see things in the distance too.

M: So we make out solutions, right? A phrasal verb. But what do we do with puzzles? We do puzzles, we complete puzzles. We what?

R: I talked about it later. I said to fill out a crossword, which is another way of saying that you complete it as well. But you can also fill out forms so if you were ever asked questions about writing, then you could say I need to write when I have to fill out a form.

M: Fill out a crossword, do a puzzle, complete a puzzle. And a crossword is a kind of puzzle, right? What other kinds of puzzles can you talk about here? You can talk about jigsaw puzzles.

R: I was gonna say I, mentioned jigsaw puzzles, and Rubik's cubes as well. I think those are the big ones that I have experience with. But you have logic puzzles as well like Sudoku, for example. It's where you have to match up numbers and squares. I'm not really explaining that very well. But you've seen this before.

M: So yeah, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku. So these are all different kinds of puzzles. And also, you can talk about these wood cubes or something. This is pieces of wood, and you arrange them in different ways. So yeah, word puzzles and number puzzles, right? And, Rory, you said that, if I had to choose, I choose something like word-based puzzles.

R: Or just word puzzles.

M: So like crosswords?

R: Yeah, crosswords are word-based. What else is word-based? Hangman? That's like a word-based puzzle or a word-based game that you play.

M: Is it a puzzle? Hangman.

R: It is. Because you have to work out a solution. So, and it's usually entertaining.
M: Yeah, you see. So I enjoy solving puzzles, I enjoy working out solutions, right? So if you do crosswords, Sudoku, yeah, you can use these nice words. And you can say, for example, I enjoy doing puzzles, which match up with my area of expertise. Expertise or expertise?

R: Expertise. And that's another phrasal verb that I picked out for this one as well. So if something matches up, then it fits together well. And actually, you could talk about matching up with your expertise or your area of expertise. But for puzzles, you could also talk about matching up the jigsaw pieces as well. You can also say that my life is a puzzle.

R: Yeah.

M: You said that working out my finances is enough of a numerical puzzle for me.

R: So, this is just a way of stressing the fact that it's a difficult thing to do. So if it's something is enough of something, it's just like, yeah, this is enough, I don't need any more. So working out my finances is enough of a number puzzle. Or if we were talking about something else, like word puzzles, for example, then you could say, oh, writing an email or reading my colleagues' emails is enough of a word puzzle for me. It's already complicated enough, I don't need anymore.

M: And if you never do any puzzles, never like, fiddle with a Rubik's cube or something else, you can say, yeah, my life is a puzzle, or my job is a puzzle. My, I don't know, personal relationship is a puzzle for me. So...

R: Yeah.

M: So a Rubik's Cube, right? So you finish a Rubik's cube. And also you can say, to finish off a puzzle.

R: Yeah. I suppose, what else could we say? Solve a puzzle, finish a puzzle. We've already said complete as well.

M: Or do, yeah, do a puzzle.

R: Yeah. So there's lots of verbs to go with puzzle. And phrasal verbs, which was the whole focus of today's episode.

M: How long would it take you to kind of "ubulububu" the Rubik's cube?

R: What, you mean, make all this make all of the colors match up?
M: Yeah. Oh, you know what I used to do? I had this Rubik's cube and the Rubik's Cube had these stickers. So it's actually like yellow stickers, green stickers. You know, what I would do? I would just like take off the sticker, put it there, take off another sticker, put it there. So I had like all like nice...

R: I think lots of people have done this as well, or been tempted to do it, to be honest with you.

M: That's Maria's Rubik's Cube.

R: We're talking about the phrasal verbs and the different verbs there. But we could also talk about words to describe puzzles. So obviously, puzzles, puzzling, I think that's a bit too obvious for most people. But we can talk about puzzles being engaging, or not very engaging. So that just means that they're interesting or not very interesting.

M: And you can do puzzles in different places. And when you go traveling, or when, for example, you feel bored. Yeah. And one of the questions was, like, do you do puzzles when you feel bored? And Rory said, yeah, I can fill out a crossword, if I'm really bored.

R: Yeah. But usually, I have a book with me on a plane. So this is not something like that I would do first.

M: But when you go traveling, Rory, so you went to Italy, did you take any puzzles with you?

R: I didn't know. No, but I had like a whole load of books. I don't know if you saw the Instagram post, but I like reviewed a book every so often. And that was what I did, when I was on holiday in Italy. To be honest, here's another way you could use enough of. Working out how to use the public transport system in Naples was enough of a puzzle as well. So I didn't really need something on a bit of paper other than the bus timetable to try and understand that.

M: So this is a great structure and a great strategy. If you have no idea what kinds of puzzles to talk about. You can say like, oh, traveling by Metro in Rome was a real puzzle for me.

R: Yeah, or enough of a puzzle for me.

M: Was enough of a puzzle for me, or like, living my life is enough of a puzzle for me. Thank you very much! I don't need any more. All this like Rubik's Cube and jigsaw puzzles and... And taking IELTS exam, you know...

R: Yeah. Especially the reading. Do you remember like we were talking about this, you get a question and you look at it. And it's like, none of the answers are appropriate, but you have to choose one.
M: Is a real puzzle. It's really puzzling, puzzling. Right, and you can say that puzzles are more suitable for older people or the elderly, or, you know, young people, right? Are there any puzzles, maybe like apps with puzzles?

R: There are. And I have, I, oh, I'm really annoyed now that you've asked me this question, because I have some on my phone. But I've completely forgotten what they're called. I suppose the closest thing I have is like chess. But that's not really a puzzle that's more like a game that you play with a computer. Or at least in the case of what I've got on my phone. What other puzzles can you have? Murdle is a puzzle. You could probably get jigsaw puzzle apps on your phone, I'm sure.

M: Really? Oh, wow. Maybe online crosswords?

R: Yeah.

M: And you mentioned like paper-based puzzles. So we have like, word-based puzzles, paper-based, like on paper crossword. Or you can also talk about, I don't know, apps that you have on your phone with puzzles.

R: Yeah.

M: If you do. And you mentioned this wordles.

R: Wordles. I know, I mentioned them, but the only reason I mentioned them is because people post them all the time. I actually, that was one of the, that was another phrasal verb that we used, putting up or, meaning putting up on social media, or posting on social media. So they're always putting them up there. And I can see them, it's like the the green squares and the yellow squares. And I think some of them are orange. And I don't really know how it works. But the idea is that you have to solve or work out which word is in the puzzle based on these things that they have in common with other words. And somehow this is wildly popular. I don't understand wordle. But it's an example of a puzzle. And you could say, it's an example of a puzzling puzzle, because I have no idea how it works. Sorry. That's my really bad explanation of why I picked wordle for that, because I don't know what it is. It's a puzzle for me.

M: It's a puzzling puzzle. Can we really say it's a puzzling puzzle?

R: Well, you could as a joke, and then laugh, and then the examiner looks at you like you're crazy. But they would, like, if you're laughing at the joke about the language, then it's probably a good sign that you have good control over it. Or you just have no life like me.

M: So if you decide to play with words, you can do this. But make sure that kind of the examiner is with you. And they understand that you are making a joke. Oh, I was puzzled by a puzzle. You know. If you kind of are not comfortable with it, just don't do it. Yeah, because it's very strange. I was puzzled by a puzzling puzzle.

R: I'll start making jokes, I promise.

M: Okay, okay, if I enjoy jigsaw puzzles, Rory. So let's imagine that you have this jigsaw puzzle with a photo of me or with a photo of us together. Right? So a jigsaw puzzle. What do you call this little thingy? Like "woowoowoo" this.
R: Oh, the pieces?

M: Yeah, so jigsaw pieces. And we can say, for example, if your puzzle, jigsaw puzzle has 1000 pieces, it's a 1000-piece puzzle.

R: Yes.

M: Right? And Rory, have you ever completed this jigsaw puzzle with 5000 pieces, or maybe 10,000 pieces?

R: I don't even think when I was a child and I used to do these things I ever completed something so big. Back then it's because I didn't have the attention span for it. And now it's because I just don't have the time. I don't... Maybe people get satisfaction from putting everything in the right place and completing something. But I don't think that's a good use of my time. Sorry, if you like jigsaw puzzles, by the way, I'm talking about my own personal experience, not criticizing yours.

M: And you know what? My brother had a jigsaw puzzle. And it was just like, like a black square, just like this.

R: What's the point in that? Does that make a particular statement or something?

M: I don't know. And now he completed it. And now it's on the wall. So you can just like glue it all together. So it's like one kind of a painting picture kind of thing. So...

R: Good for him. It's not what I would spend my time doing. I'm really sorry, Maria's brother, it's just not my thing.

M: You can also say that doing jigsaw puzzles is therapeutic for me. Right? So you said entertaining. It's having fun, but also it could be therapeutic.

R: Yeah.

M: You just like forget about your thoughts. You're focusing on this like black pieces, putting them all together. So put them together. Yeah?

R: So what kind of words do we have? Engaging, calming, therapeutic, puzzling.

M: Crazy, puzzling.

R: Sorry.

M: Oh, right. Dear listener, please tell us, what kinds of puzzles do you like? Or would you like to do this black jigsaw puzzle with black pieces?

R: Or practice your writing for part one and write a process description for how to do Wordle. And I'll read that and assess it. Actually, if someone sends me one of those on Instagram, I will read it and I'll give you feedback, because that's, that's quite useful for both of us. If you're interested in getting a link to the transcript for this episode that's in the description below. Please leave a comment and remember to like and subscribe.

M: Please choose your favourite phrasal verbs. Two phrasal verbs that you would like to use in your IELTS speaking, write them in the comments. Okay? And let's not be puzzled by puzzling puzzles.

R: Now that we've solved that puzzle, bye!

M: Bye!
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