Fixing things
Are you good at fixing things? What kinds of things can you fix? Is there anyone in your family who is good at fixing things? Have you ever asked people to teach you how to fix things? Has anyone ever taught you to fix things? What was the last thing you broke in your home?
  • Repair (noun) - the act of fixing something that is broken or damaged.
  • To slap (verb) - to put or move something quickly or with force.
  • Tape (noun) - a long, narrow strip of material that is sometimes sticky on one side.
  • Tech-savvy (adj.) - knowing a lot about modern technology, especially computers.
  • To resolve (verb) - to solve or end a problem or difficulty.
  • Dab hand (noun) - someone who is very good at a particular activity.
  • To undersell (verb) - to not give something or someone, especially yourself, the praise that is deserved.
  • To maintain (verb) - to keep something in good condition:.
  • Witchcraft (noun) - the activity of performing magic to help or harm other people.
  • To pester (verb) - to behave in an annoying manner towards someone by doing or asking for something repeatedly.
  • Ornamental (adj.) - beautiful rather than useful.
  • To snap (verb) - to cause something that is thin to break suddenly and quickly with a cracking sound.
  • Blu-Tack (noun) - a brand name for a soft, sticky substance that can be used more than once to temporarily attach light things to a wall or similar surface.
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Questions and answers
M: Are you good at fixing things?

R: I can only make the most basic repairs, sadly. And by basic I mean, slap some tape on it, cross your fingers and hope for the best. I am the least tech-savvy person that you have ever met and probably will ever meet.

M: What kinds of things can you fix?

R: I can resolve typical issues with the most common software packages and computers. But that usually means just turning them off and then turning them back on again.

M: Is there anyone in your family who is good at fixing things?

R: Yeah, my dad is a dab hand with a hammer and a set of nails. To be honest, that's probably underselling it frankly. He's one of the most capable people I know in terms of repairing and maintaining things. He once made a cracked plate look, well, just good as new, basically, just with some superglue, and some witchcraft, to be honest with you. Or it seems that way to me.

M: Have you ever asked people to teach you how to fix things?

R: Well, I think I pester Vanya, our producer, about tech related issues all the time. And before that, I called my brother from Russia to ask him how to fix the Wi-Fi router. Well, I just set up the Wi-Fi router, because it wasn't working properly. That was pretty embarrassing.

M: Has anyone ever taught you how to fix things?

R: I'm sure they have. But for the life of me I can't remember the details. Oh, that's not true, actually. My landlady once showed me how to unblock the pipes in my apartment. Although that was just a case of turning the taps on and waiting. I'm not sure if that counts as like fixing things or, or an effective solution to a problem. But at least she was trying to help.

M: What was the last thing you broke in your home?

R: Oh, this is gonna get me in trouble. So I once accidentally knocked over an ornamental sheep and snapped off its leg. And then I tried to fix it back into place using some Blu-Tack. And I didn't think anybody would know about it until right now. So sorry, mom.
M: I'm good at fixing things, which means that you can do stuff with your hands. So I can make the basic repairs in my home, yeah? And Rory told us, he can slap some tape on the problem. So tape is something sticky, and he can just like glue it all together and that's it. You can also say that I am a tech savvy person. I know things about technology. I can fix computers, phones. So I am tech, technology savvy. Savvy like I know things about technology. So I can fix TVs, computers, phones. Or I'm not, I'm not a tech savvy person, so I can't fix anything. And here we can say that I can handle or make basic repairs. Right? Rory also said that I can resolve the typical issues. So resolve or solve typical issues. And here also you can say something about software. So I can deal with software packages, but I'm not really a tech savvy person. What are the basic repairs around the house? Dear listener, for this topic, you do need maybe like two, three phrases to name specific repairs. So first of all, replace a light bulb.

R: Or screw a light bulb back in.

M: Screws. Screw is like when you use a screwdriver, this instrument. If you're listening to this audio version, could you go to our YouTube channel and look at the pictures we're showing you because this vocabulary is pretty difficult. And to understand what we mean, you should look at the pictures. YouTube, the link is in the description. So replace a light bulb. Bulb. And screw it in there. Screw like a you use a screwdriver.

R: You just twist it around.

M: Or you can fix a loose screw. A loose screw? Rory, go ahead.

R: Sorry, a loose screw or to have a screw loose also means that you're crazy.

M: Oh, okay.

R: Have you never heard that before?

M: No, no, I've heard like, oh, he's bonkers. Or he's off his head.

R: Oh, well, in America, people get called screwy, which is kind of the same thing, if you're a bit nuts.

M: Or you can have a wobbly chair, you know, a chair like... You know, like one leg is shorter than the other. Yeah, chair has four legs usually. And if the chair is wobbly, it goes... So you can build up a shorter leg. So you can level a wobbly chair. Oh my gosh, this vocabulary is band nine. Do you feel it? So you can say, oh, yeah, like I can handle basic repairs around the house. For example. I can level a wobbly chair. Band nine. What about a toilet, Rory?

R: You unblock a toilet. Oh, God. Why do I always get the disgusting ones?

M: Yeah. Oh, unclog the toilet. Because yeah, like clogged pipes, right? So you can unclog the toilet.

R: If that is the problem.

M: You can also say that I can...

R: Oh, wait. What do you use to unblock a toilet? The plunger.
M: Plunger. A plunger. You can also fix loose doorknobs. Like door knobs they're called. Not handles but door knobs.

R: I don't know, I think your handle could be loose as well.

M: Door handles, like loose. Door handles. Repair electronic devices. Like a kettle or a toaster. Or you can fix leaky faucets.

R: A faucet is the bit in the sink that goes over. Because I used to think it was something totally different.

M: You can also say that I can replace light switches. So you kind of switch on the light. So these things.

R: I like how we've spent five minutes listing all of these things that people are supposed to be able to do and I can do none of them. So...

M: You can also say, dear listener, I have a knack for fixing electronic gadgets.

R: I don't have a knack for this.

M: So Rory definitely no. I don't, I don't have a knack for fixing anything. I can barely fix this thing. So yeah. You said that your dad is what? A dab hand?

R: A dab hand. Yeah, if you're a dab hand at or a dab hand with something it just means that you're very good at it. And it is always good at. A dab hand with or in and good at something. Get your prepositions right.

M: So Rory's dad is a dab hand with a hammer and nails. A hammer that you can use to hammer in nails. Nails not nails, but nails the thingies. Yeah, if you're listening to this, go to our YouTube. Okay? We're showing you stuff. And you can say that my dad is the most capable person. So my dad knows how to do things. He's talented, he's capable. And he uses super glue, super glue to fix things. So Rory usually uses superglue.

R: I use super glue to stick my hands together. Or stick my fingers together.

M: You mentioned a cracked plate. Cracked?

R: Yeah. So the crack, there was like a crack in the surface of the material. Because it got broken on its way to Scotland from Russia. And yeah, he fixed it. So it's good as new, which means it's back to normal. Although I've totally forgotten what I've done with that plate now, which is terrible because it was a gift. Oops.

M: Yeah, you see? You can give some examples like a cracked plate, or what else do we usually break?

R: Glasses, you smash glasses. Good luck getting those back together with super glue.

M: When you ask people to help you, you can say I usually pester my dad for help or I pester my friends. So pester you can like... Oh, could you please fix this? Could you please fix this? Could you help me? Help me. So you kind of...

R: You might need to have it repaired. Have it repaired or get it repaired. Oh, grammar, grammar time. Because somebody else does the job for you.
M: Like a plumber or an electrician. And usually our Wi-Fi router or router may break down. Yeah? Or may not work. Wi-Fi router, router. For the life of me I don't remember.

R: But it's just another way of saying I have absolutely no idea. Are you sniffing the glue?

M: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

R: Oh, wow.

M: For the life of me. Yeah. And landlady. Rory's landlady helped him out. So landlady is the person who you rent your flat from?

R: Yes.

M: And she helped you to unblock the pipes? So in the bathroom there are some pipes. And she helped Rory to unblock the pipes. And she told him to put the taps on. There are some taps. So he had to turn on the taps.

R: Turn them around.

M: Turn them around. So taps are kind of like little switches, right?

R: I guess so. That's the best way I would describe them. But then I know nothing about home maintenance.

M: Yeah, so we call it like maintenance jobs, so jobs around the house. So Rory doesn't even know the names, you see?

R: I don't even care. Like, it just, it fixes itself. Somebody takes care of it. I don't know.

M: Rory accidentally knocked over an ornament sheep.

R: Ornamental sheep.

M: Oh, ornamental. Ooh. So kind of little sheep and then he goes like... So he knocked it over. And it's a leg snapped off. Yeah? It's like snapped off. So the the sheep or cow.

R: In fairness, it was very fragile, to be honest. Oh, I should have used the word fragile. But I didn't. Fragile means it breaks very easily or could break very easily. So it shouldn't have been in that position in the first place, mother.

M: So Rory broke his mom's favourite sheep. A cow. We're not sure.

R: I didn't break her favourite sheep. It was just an ornament randomly.

M: And then, Rory tried to put it back in place. So put it back in place with some Blu-Tack. Blu-Tack is this sticky thing. Blu-Tack. Kind of like glue.

R: Sticky material. It's like that. This is White-Tack. But it's the same idea.

M: White Tack. Yeah, sometimes it's blue.

R: It's white in Russia, I think. But it's blue in my country.

M: And you said like I just rumbled myself there. What did you mean by that?

R: It just means that I just showed that I had done something wrong, basically. If you've been rumbled, then people work out that you've done something wrong. What was the last thing you broke?

M: Oh, I am Maria "The Breakerer". I break everything. I break plants, flowers, people.

R: People?

M: Yeah, I can break anything. You know, I just test the quality of things with my hands. And my father, when I was a child, my father used to tell me that, Maria, we should put you up in a museum because like, how did you manage to break this? Seriously? So I just, oh, just give it to me and... I break the unbreakable. Dear listener, make sure that you go to our YouTube channel and watch the video because we show you the pictures. Okay? For this topic, you should use some specific vocabulary like fixing leaky faucets. I enjoy restoring old damaged pieces, repair electronic devices, loose doorknobs, you see? So... Thank you very much for listening! Okay, bye, dear listener!

R: Bye!

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