Geography
Have you ever studied geography at school? Do you like geography? Do you want to travel to a country because of its geographical conditions? Are you good at reading maps?
Vocabulary
  • Tectonic plate (noun) - one of the parts of the earth's surface that move in relation to each other.
  • Natural disaster (noun) - a natural event such as a flood, earthquake, or tsunami that kills or injures a lot of people.
  • Stick with something/someone (phrasal verb) - to continue doing something or using someone to do work for you, and not stop or change to something or someone else.
  • Erosion (noun) - the fact of soil, stone, etc. being gradually damaged and removed by the waves, rain, or wind.
  • Relevance (noun) - the degree to which something is related or useful to what is happening or being talked about.
  • Orienteering (noun) - an activity in which you have to find your way to somewhere on foot as quickly as possible by using a map and a compass.
Questions and answers
M: Have you ever studied geography at school?

R: Well, yes. But if I'd had the chance, I probably wouldn't have taken it as a subject. I mean, I remember all of the stuff about tectonic plates, and earthquakes and other natural disasters. But to be honest, I don't think that stuff has any relevance for my life right now.

M: Do you like geography?

R: Well, like I said, it's not really my thing. If I'd been able to, I'd have dropped it as a subject, but I couldn't. So I just had to stick with it. All of the things about like erosion and plate movements. I mean, it's interesting, but doesn't have any direct relevance from my life. And, you know, if it doesn't really have much relevance, then it's not terribly interesting, or it's not terribly, it's not terribly engaging, is what I should say.

M: Do you want to travel to a country because of its geographical conditions?

R: Well, I think if I'd been able to, I would have traveled to South America to see the rainforest. But it seems like that will never happen now. And to be honest, even if I had gone I don't think I could handle the humidity.

M: Are you good at reading maps?

R Well, I probably would have gotten into it if I'd had decent lessons at school and you know, much interest, but to be honest, I've never had much of an interest in either geography or orienteering. So it's not something I'm terribly good at.

M: Hey, thank you so much, Rory, for your geographical answers!
Discussion
R: Only four questions this time?

M: Yeah, unfortunately, because it's a fresh IELTS-speaking topic. I couldn't find any other questions on geography. So dear listener, if you had this topic in your exam, could you please write in the comments what questions you remember about geography?

M: So geography. I think everybody remembers their geography classes. And geography is taught at school as a subject, right? And we have a lot of topic-specific vocabulary here. For example, Rory started with tectonic plates.

R: I did talk about them, but tectonic plates are, I think, the same word in every language. They're the parts of the crust that move around. It's like the surface of the crust that moves around. And they move around because of the magma and convection. Like that's the movement of the magma underneath the plates.

M: Earthquakes.

R: Yeah, let's move on to Earth. quakes because they cause earthquakes,

M: Natural disasters.

R: Can we not keep talking about earthquakes? That's when the tectonic plates like rub against each other, and then they suddenly move and that causes an earthquake.

M: Well, yeah. Earthquakes is like when everything like... Does like this.

R: Yeah, but if you get like geography and you have to answer questions about it, then you can say this.

M: Natural disasters, earthquakes, floods, fires. What else do we have? Bush fires?

R: Did you say storms?

M: Storms. Yeah.

R: Tornadoes, hurricanes.

M: Tornadoes, hurricanes. Yeah, so you can mention all that. And you can say that, okay, I did geography at school. So and you say I did geography or I had geography.

R: Or took. Although, geography like, if you take a subject, that means you've chosen it. So, and I didn't have a choice because it was compulsory. But if you opted to do that, then you could say I took geography.
M: And usually geography is an academic subject. And it's compulsory at school, usually, even in primary school. And we can say that geography is fundamental to everybody because a child discovers the world when he or she studies geography. Okay? So it's fundamental. It's about global warming. It's about... I'm reading from Wikipedia. International population movements.

R: In the exam, you will not have time to check Wikipedia, you're just gonna have to go with what you know, which is why I was like, oh, my God, like I know about X, Y, and Z, but, and nothing major about geography. I don't understand how convection currents work, for example. I could guess, but I don't know much about it. Sorry, if you're doing geography.

M: So yeah, if we talk about geography, it's not only about the countries and continents, it's also about the populations, about food security, for example, about, you know, different natural disasters and stuff. So yeah, throw in some posh vocabulary, like tectonic plates.

R: Yeah. You could just say that. Just say like, I learned about tectonic plates, but I don't know anything else about... That's just, I know the name. And that's fine. Because it's a test of your language. Not your understanding of the ideas underlying them, I suppose.

M; If you don't like geography, you can say it's not my thing.

R: It's not my thing.

M: It's not my thing, right? I don't like it. I don't like geography. Rory, can I say it's not my cup of tea?

R: Why not?

M: Because I heard it's a cliche, and it's old and nobody's using it anymore. And it's unnatural. And it's this old idiom that you want to squeeze in to impress the examiner. So does it work?

R: If you stress and go like, it's not my cup of tea.

M: It's not my cup of tea. But okay, how would you say it naturally? So do you like geography?
R: No, it's not my cup of tea. It's never been my cup of tea.

M: So it's okay to use it, yeah?

R: It's okay. Yeah, I don't think anyone will, like really care. They'll just be like, hmm, unusual, but then move on.

M: When was the last time you personally used this phrase talking with your friends?

R: I have absolutely no idea. I don't keep track of these things. I need an idiom diary.

M: Yes, you do, Rory. Starting from today, you should have your idiom diary. And notice it's raining cats and dogs. Do you ever say this? It's not my cup of tea. It's what?

R: Hold on. We could just like just type in cliches. Examples of cliches and writing. Yes. Get up on the wrong side of the bed. Think outside of the box, a loose cannon, a perfect storm, open up a can of worms, dead as a doornail. Dead as a doornail? Who says that?

M: As old as the hills, to burn the midnight oil. Also, if you studied geography at school, and then you decided not to, you can say I dropped it. Right? So I decided not to study it, right? I dropped it. You can say I did learn a couple of things from Geography. For example, I remember plate movements.

R: Plate movements, look at their vocabulary.

M: Erosion.

R: Erosion is what happens when the environment interacts with the terrain. So it's like the wind, for example, if there's lots and lots of wind blowing, then that will erode the surface of, stones for example, and it will flatten them or smooth them over. And the same thing happens with, with water when things get worn away. Erosion is, it has an influence on terrain. That's all you need to know. You just say that, like I know that erosion has an influence on terrain.

M: Terrain means earth. So it's a posh word to mean the ground, terrain. Right? Also you can mention such things as the globe, the North Pole, continents, hemispheres, two hemispheres, two hemispheres in our brain. Equator, lowlands, highlands, deserts. You see, so this kind of geographical vocabulary. An interesting question, would you go somewhere because of its geographical conditions?
R: What a weird question. Like, just say I would go there because of the weather or the climate. But I talked about the humidity, which is how much moisture is in the air.

M: Yeah. So in Thailand, for example, it's humid. Humidity. But geographical conditions, what do you mean by this? I'm gonna read it to you, geographic conditions or geographical conditions, yeah?

R: This has turned into a geography lesson.

M: The natural physical environment presented by the country, and pretty much this is about mineral resources, water supply, soil, Flora, Fauna, you know. Stop it.

R: Oh, I'm sorry. Were you saying something?

M: Yes, about water supply.

R: Now you know how it feels.

M: So pretty much geographical conditions are about animals and the weather, water bodies, rivers, oceans that you have in a country. And you said something about rainforests, right?

R: I did. I would go to the rainforest. There's a technical piece of vocabulary for you. The rainforests are a specific place, and the humidity we already talked about.

M: And then the examiner can ask you about reading maps. So I can be good at reading maps. I'm good at reading maps. I'm good at following directions. Or I'm not so good at orienteering. You said. What is orienteering?

R: Orienteering, really simplified is just using maps to find your way around. So you have a look map and then you see what direction you're gonna go in. If you have a compass.

M: Right, Rory, now, we're gonna check your geography knowledge. So what's the capital of Malta? Come on.

R: Oh, my God.

M: What's the capital of Malta, Rory?

R: It's got a really funny name. And I've totally forgotten it.
M: It starts with V. Valette. Minus point for Rory. What's the name of the largest river to flow through Paris?

R: It's not the Seine?

M: Well done. One point. What's the currency of Sweden?

R: Oh, that's the krona.

M: Oh, yeah. The Swedish krona.

R: I lived there. So I should know that.

M: To what country do the Canary Islands belong?

R: Canary Islands?

M: The Canary Islands.

R: The Canary Islands? Do you mean The Canary Islands?

M: Delete this.

R: Oh my god. Please keep that in. That's funny. The Canary Islands belong to Spain, by the way. I've been there.

M: The Canary Islands. Canary. Canary.

R: The Canary, The Canary islands.

M: I can't pronounce the islands. The Canary Islands belong to Spain. Yes. Well done. What's the highest peak in Africa, Rory? Come on.

R: Oh, that's Kilimanjaro.

M: Hey. Hemingway. What's the capital of Peru?

R: Oh... It's not Quito, is it?

M: Lima.

R: Oh, sorry. Quito is the capital of Ecuador, I want to say. Or Colombia.

M: So, dear listener, as you see, an educated native speaker is not quite educated.
R: Well, I'm being badgered. And I don't even know what my time limit for answering questions is. However, I already said that geography wasn't my thing. So whatever. But what is my thing is grammar. I used a lot of the third conditional here. Can we talk about the grammar, please?

M: Shoot. The third conditional. Hit us with the third conditional.

R: I did, but now you're going to explain it because I can't. Good luck.

M: If I had had the chance. I wouldn't have taken it as a subject. So in the past, you see, we're talking in the past, about the past, at school, finito. And we imagine a situation so if, you know but it's not real, not real past. So if Rory had had the chance, but he didn't, I would have taken but he didn't. Right? So yeah, Rory, could you pronounce it naturally? So our listener could hear the natural pronunciation?

R: If I'd had. Or if I had had. Had had. Had had.

M: If I'd had?

R: Well, I'd say if I'd had. But Todd, but if I had had, if I had had. So it's like, really quick. Had had.

M: Had had. Had had the chance.

R: If I'd had the chance.

M: Had had the chance, I...

R: Had had the chance.

M: The whole thing.

R: Oh, sorry.

M: Say the whole freaking sentence.

R: But if I'd had the chance, I would have dropped it.

M: Sweet. Thank you.

R: But can we transfer it to something else? Could you ask me a question about school subjects, for example?

M: Yeah. What about astronomy, Rory?
R: Oh, yes. I never studied astronomy. But if I'd had the chance then I would have taken it at school.

M: Yeah. When you talk about school, university, your childhood, feel free to use the third conditional about unreal past. For example, if in the past, like when I was at university, if I'd been able to, if I had been able to I'd have traveled to South America, but I couldn't do it. I didn't have any money or I was busy. And I didn't go. So I'd have traveled. I would have traveled. I'd have traveled. Rory, could you pronounce the whole thing? The whole sentence. For us to hear your natural Scottish pronunciation? Scotland freedom.

R: What was it? What was it? I think if I'd been able to, I'd have traveled to South America to see the rainforest.

M: Yeah.

R: Oh, no, I didn't see it like that, though. It's like, oh, yeah, I wouldn't have said it like that. I would have said like, oh, if I'd been able to, then I would have traveled to South America to see the rainforest. There we go. Much more natural pronunciation.

M: Back in the past, right? But I wasn't. And it didn't happen. Also, for example, you can say that, for example, your geography teacher was horrible. Like a horrible teacher, you hated geography. And then you imagine, oh, what if the teacher, you know... Right? So what do you say? If I'd decent geography classes, I'd have loved it at school. But you didn't have good classes. The teacher was horrible. And you hated geography. Yeah?

R: If I'd have better teachers, I would have paid more attention. I would have stayed. You could say that for any subject. Maybe that's our new hack. Like if something if you get asked a question about a random topic, and you'd be like, well, if I'd had better teachers, I would have paid more attention to that in school. Ask another question. Let's transfer this.

M: For example, mathematics. Did you have mathematics at school? Did you like it?

R: No, I hated mathematics. If I'd had better teachers, then I probably would have done better with it. There we go. Any subject.

M: Yep. And anything about school, just blame it on the teachers.

R: Well, why not? We're doing that anyway.

M: Sorry, teachers. If you're a school teacher, sorry. It's just a good way to use the third conditional. Thank you very much for listening! Thank you so much! Love, hugs and kisses! Smash the like button, subscribe. Share our videos, love and joy. Bye!

R: Do not smash the like button, be nice to the like button, just press... Bye!
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