Helping people
Do you usually help people around you? How do you help people around you? Did your parents teach you how to help others? Did your parents help you much when you were a child? What have you done to help the elderly?
  • To give/lend someone a helping hand (idiom) - to help someone.
  • Self-sufficient (adj.) - able to provide everything you need, especially food, for yourself without the help of other people.
  • Explicitly (adverb) - in a way that is clear and exact.
  • To leap (verb) - to provide help, protection, etc. very quickly.
  • Save the day (idiom) - to do something that prevents a likely defeat or failure.
  • Lend an ear (idiom) - to listen to someone with sympathy.
  • Woes (plural noun) - big problems or troubles.
  • To vegetate (verb) - to live in a way that has no physical and mental activity.
  • Care home (noun) - a place where someone who is old or ill lives when they cannot live at home any more.
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Questions and Answers
M: Do you usually help people around you?

R: If it's asked for, of course. It's important to help people out when they need it. Or when they want it.

M: How do you help people around you?

R: Well, whenever my mum and dad want some shopping done, I'll definitely lend them a hand. And the same is true for all the people around me. Although thinking about it now, most of the people I know are actually quite self-sufficient. So this isn't really something I have to do very often.

M: Did your parents teach you how to help others?

R; I don't think they said explicitly how to help people. Just that it was important. And the importance of asking if their help was wanted, and maybe what kind of help people would want rather than just leaping in and trying to save the day.

M: Did your parents help you much when you were a child?

R: Oh, loads. I think most people support their children as best they can. They gave us a place to live and a good standard of living. Again, all of that is something that parents should be doing, especially for their children when they are children. And now they often lend an ear when they want to listen to our woes or hear about our successes. Although that's not to do with helping people that last one.

M: What have you done to help the elderly?

R: I like going to see my older relatives. I think that's one of the best things that you can do. Because otherwise, they're just sort of left to sit and vegetate in care homes. And I'm determined to avoid letting that happen to them. As much as I possibly can.
M: So helping people. What synonyms do we have for help?

R: Help, support.

M: Help, support. Okay. Or land a hand. So a hand, you land a hand. You help others. Yeah, sometimes I lend a hand to my parents, for my parents?

R: Well, sometimes I just lend a hand, but if we have to include it in a sentence, then... And in the middle of a sentence, then lend. Lend somebody a hand, lend a hand to someone.

M: Sometimes I lend my parents a hand. I lend them a hand or just sometimes I lend a hand at home. So I help at home. Can I use assist?

R: Assist is very formal. But yes, assist, give assistance, rent assistance, render aid.

M: Another good one is help out. Sometimes I help people out. So you help people out.

R: Is it a phrasal verb?

M: It's a phrasal verb.

R: Imagine. God, you know, it would be great if there was a phrasal verbs course somewhere that somebody had made that would help people learn all these complex expressions.

M: Where can I get this phrasal verb course?

R: Where? I don't know. Where could you get such a course, hey? I imagine it would probably be called something like The link is in the description. Something like that. But that's just off the top of my head. That's an idiom. We're working on an idioms course. But we only have a phrasal verbs course right now.

M: Help people around you. So help like people around you and you can say like if it's asked for. So if my help is asked for, I'll help out. Okay? So passive voice. If it's asked for I'll help out.

R: And is it a conditional sentence?

M: It is, yes.

R: Ooh, first conditional and passive voice, oh my god.

M: Want some shopping done, which is a nice construction. So if my parents want something done, or is my parents want something fixed. Or they want some shopping done, I'll help out. So to have something done. Or I lend them a hand. And then you can joke around like, no, no, no, I don't need your hand, I want your leg. Yeah, like proper English humour. Self-sufficient, who is self-sufficient?

R: People that can support themselves are self-sufficient. So most of my friends are very self-sufficient, which is, well, and rightly so. Most people should be. But that doesn't mean to say they don't need help from time to time. I mean, those bottles of champagne are not going to drink themselves.
M: Oh, delicious. Yum, yum, yum. So dear listener, Rory just tells us that okay, people around me are self-sufficient. So I don't help them out much. But you can also say that sometimes I donate to charity. So how do you help people? I donate to charity, even if you don't, just use the vocabulary, okay? If you don't do anything to help the others around you, I donate to charity. Or, for example, I prefer listening to people. Right? So listening is also helping, right? It's really helpful. Or sometimes I offer a homeless person a meal, like some people buy homeless people clothes or food. Rory, do you do that?

R: Not regularly, but I did give a homeless person some food the other day. Oh, my God, it was funny because like the sweets that were there, because I try not to eat sweet things these days. So I gave them to somebody else. They were like personalized ones from somebody's wedding. I was thinking, what is this homeless person going to think when they open this bag, it's gonna be a really weird experience.

M: Another good way of helping people is redirecting your gifts. So for example, it's my birthday, and instead of just getting all the gifts, I say, okay, so if you want to buy me a present, direct this money to this charity, okay? So all the people who want to kind of get me something, they send money to this charity. Okay? So it's called like redirecting your gifts. So you ask people to donate gifts for your birthday to a certain charity. Again, like you're using nice vocabulary. Usually, I redirect my gifts and help, I don't know, homeless children.

R: I feel really bad now. About my birthday.

M: I know, Rory, you should, you know, you live in freaking Scotland. You know? And you could do some help there.

R: I could, but I'm busy working, so...

M: Okay, okay, okay. How about a Gucci dress? If not a bag, then a dress. It will help me.

R: You are not a charity case, Maria. No matter how many requests you make, it is not going to happen.

M: Shoes?

R: What's the next piece of vocabulary or grammar?

M: Okay, okay. And another thing that you can say I just smile and spread positivity. Positivity? Positive. Positivity. Right?

R: Positivity. I smile and spread positivity. Obviously, I don't do that. That is not something I am accustomed to doing. But you could do that and say it's helping.

M: Yeah, so how do you help? I smile and spread positivity around me.

R: I'm just super positive about life.

M: And then kind of you smile at the examiner. Do you feel my positivity?

R: And then the examiner fails here because you're not doing anything.

M: No. No, it's good collocations.

R: I know, you don't lose marks for your behaviour.
M: Spread positivity, okay? Donate money, donate clothes to charity. Okay? Help homeless people. Very good language, right? Not just like, I don't help much, everybody is self-sufficient, like, okay. Parents didn't say it explicitly. So when we do something or say something explicitly, how do we do this?

R: We say it clearly and directly and make it known that that is what we are talking about. So if they had been explicit about it, they would have said, now I am going to show you how to help someone. And this is important because, I don't know, helping people is something that we all should come to expect from each other in order to have a functioning society. That is very explicit. Almost nobody says that. They should probably though.

M: So parents usually just show children what to do. So this is a homeless person and just... Or they don't explain but they just like give something to homeless people or to some, I don't know.

R: I have this amazing image in my head now of your mother saying and this is a homeless person.

M: This is explicit, okay?

R: In a very like matter-of-fact way, just to be like, this is a homeless person.

M: Save the day is an idiom, dear listener. Are you ready? Save the day.

R: Yes. Save the day. But that is another, well, is it an idiom? I guess. It's an idiom or an idiomatic expression meaning to rescue somebody or to help someone out really quite profoundly. It's associated with superheroes. Superman saves the day frequently.

M: Yeah, like to do something that prevents a failure or disaster. Right? So the team scored a goal and saved the day. Right? So they won the championship, for example. Right? And here, we use it in the context of...

R: Well, the context of helping people.

M: Yeah, so because you shouldn't help if the help is not asked for. So if they don't want your help, you shouldn't try to save the day. Okay? You shouldn't just like grab them, I'm gonna help you anyway. Whether you want it or not.

R: Because then it's less about helping people and more about you looking good, which is not something that you should be doing, at least in a healthy society it's not something you should be doing. There are all kinds of people who do things to save the day to make themselves look good. And it has disastrous consequences because the people that they are trying to help either don't need it or don't want it.

M: And what did you mean when you say leaping in?

R: Leaping in is just a phrasal verb or idiomatic expression that means, well, to go into a situation without much thought beforehand. So this is the point, if you leap in, you haven't thought about it, you haven't thought about the possible repercussions, which is the usually unfortunate consequences of something. And it can be really bad. For example, if you think about wildlife documentaries, when lions are going after something that they're going to eat, you know, you can leap in and save the day. But then you have deprived the lions of food, and you have upset the natural balance. And this has all kinds of consequences for the wildlife in that area. So don't do it, even though it's very sad.

M: So leap means to provide help very quickly?

R: I think it just means to enter a situation. It doesn't mean... It's nothing to do with help. It could be, but it's not explicitly connected to this.
M: But in this context, kind of we provide some help. For example, Rory leapt in to explain. So we're talking about something, we don't understand each other and Rory leapt in to explain things.

R: Or leapt in.

M: Leapt in. Yeah, yeah, sorry. So Rory leapt in.

R: I think it could be leapt in or leapt in, frankly.

M: Parents could lend you an ear. So we talked about lend a hand, help people but also people can lend you an ear. Lend is like, okay, could you take this for some time and then give it back?

R: Yes.

M: Lend money. Right? So Rory, could you lend me 10,000 euros? Please.

R: No.

M: For, you know, Gucci products.

R: I know where this is going and the answer is no. Absolutely, no.

M: Rory gives me his money, he lends me his money, I should give it back. Maybe.

R: No, not maybe.

M: And parents could help a child by lending their ear. Their ear, right?

R: Lending an ear, lending their ear. But the idea is that you're not actually giving them the ear physically. Like this ear. You are giving them attention and listening to their problems.

M: Listen to their woes.

R: Their problems.

M: So "Shakespearian". Woe. We can help the elderly. The elderly or what? Senior citizens. Like older people.

R: Can I just point out like I did earlier, what a weird question this is... Like what, what a random question to ask somebody. What have you done to help the elderly? You could ask like but what have you done, examiner?

M: Yeah, go ahead. What have you done?

R: Like, that's weird. Like, why specifically the elderly? What have you done... It could be what have you done to help others?

M: Yeah, I don't know. Yeah, very, very, very strange. So older relatives or older people. And Rory tends to just listen to them to give his attention to them. And Rory, you said, like, they tend to just get left to sit and vegetate. So if I vegetate, I become a vegetable.

R: Yes, you just sit and do nothing, basically. If you're in a... It's something that happens to coma patients in hospital, if you're in a vegetative state, then you don't do anything, you just lie there, and that's all. You do nothing.

M: And older people tend to get left. So they are left alone. So they get left to sit and vegetate. Right. In care homes. So these special places for the elderly. Care homes. The elderly, dear listener. Okay? Thank you very much for listening! For helping us, buying our premium and our phrasal verbs course. You really do help us by liking the video, by subscribing, by spreading our videos to your friends. Thank you so much! Bye!

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