Collecting things
Do you collect anything? Why do people like collecting things? Is collecting a popular hobby in your country? What kind of items do people collect in your country? Are there any things you have kept from your childhood?
  • A reminder of someone/something (noun) - a person or thing that makes you remember a particular person, event, or situation.
  • Blue-chip art (noun) - blue-chip art refers to high-value artworks by well-established artists – artists with a solid reputation for creating art that increases in value over time.
  • Monetary (adj.) - relating to money or in the form of money.
  • To hoover something up (phrasal verb) - to use something quickly and eagerly.
  • Raison d'etre (noun) - a reason for existence.
  • Collectable (noun) - any object that people want to collect as a hobby.
  • Bits and pieces (idiom) - small things or jobs of different types.
  • Memorabilia (plural noun) - objects that are collected because they are connected with a person or event that is thought to be very interesting.
  • To theme (verb) - to design something according to a particular theme (= subject), or to relate it to a particular place or time.
  • China (noun) - clay of a high quality that is shaped and then heated to make it permanently hard, or objects made from this, such as cups and plates.
  • Stamp (noun) - a small piece of paper with a picture or pattern on it that is stuck onto a letter or package before it is posted, to show that the cost of sending it has been paid.
  • Widespread (adj.) - existing or happening in many places and/or among many people.
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Questions and Answers
M: Do you collect anything?

R: Well, I suppose you could say I collect tattoos since I have a lot. But more concretely, I've got this... Actually, I've got them with me. I've got this collection of plastic bands that I've picked up over the years. They come in quite handy as a teaching aid. And also they're nice reminders of the places I've been to over the years.

M: Why do people like collecting things?

R: Well, I guess it depends on what they're collecting. I mean, well, blue-chip art has serious monetary value. And some people just randomly hoover things up mindlessly. So there's not really any raison d'etre there. Some items are sold as collectables on the subject of raison d'etre. So that's like the reason, the whole reason that they're there is for people to collect them. And then some people collect things from their childhood. Well, it's nice because it's a nice reminder of that time in their life. So lots of different reasons.

M: Is collecting a popular hobby in your country?

R: I have absolutely no idea. I mean, I need to think about it. Yeah, my friends collect various bits and pieces of memorabilia, which are themed after various pop stars. But about people in general, I don't know. I haven't seen anything on the news or any articles about it, so I don't have a clue.

M; What kind of items do people collect in your country?

R: I think people used to collect things like china and stamps. But that's a bit stereotypical and cliche. And I have no idea how widespread this is. It's just something that you see or read about people doing in the media.

M: Are there any things you have kept from your child?

R: Oh, loads. We have a ton of old school reports and things that we made in class, like little ceramic bowls, for example. And what else? I think those are the main things. And, well, the reason why, like I said it's just a reminder of how things have changed since I was younger, or in the case of my school reports, how they haven't changed.
M: So, dear listener, we are talking about collecting things, not accumulating stuff. If you have a flat full of shoes or jewellery, for example, you're not collecting, you're just hoarding. Okay? So like too many shoes, too many jewelry items. Hoarding and you are a hoarder. This is not good. Okay? But collecting is a purposeful activity. And the serious collector is knowledgeable about their chosen items. Items? Like things. So they organize them and they have a catalogue of stuff. Okay? So people usually collect what, Rory?

R: Well, I think the common one that people talk about in my country is people collecting stamps, but I'm not sure how common it is anymore.

M: So, dear listener, collecting could be a hobby. Rory collects tattoos. So he has a lot of tattoos all over his body. Rory, do you have any tattoos on your face?

R: No, I don't have tattoos on my face because...

M: Scotland freedom like no?

R: No. First of all, I think that would be quite painful. At least if my ribcage... I had my ribcage tattooed and that was very painful. So I can only imagine what it would be like getting my face tattooed. Also, it would affect my employment prospects. So I'm not doing that.

M: I have a collection of books. I have a collection of tattoos on my body. I have a collection of bands. Bands or bracelets. So, you know, like plastic, like stuff here. And Rory has a collection of plastic bracelets or bands. They are reminders. So these bracelets remind Rory of places he has been to. So you can say, okay, I have a collection of postcards. They are reminders of places I've visited. Present Perfect.

R: I'm back. And you were talking about the bracelets. Here they are again, by the way. Obviously, in the real exam, you will not have bracelets, you cannot bring props with you. However, if you are wearing jewellery, Maria, can you point to it? Like if I had my band on?

M: Yes.

R: I could say like, oh, it's like this. Yeah. So you could actually use those in the exam as reminders of what to say if you're asked about the topic. Are there any kinds of verbs or vocabulary for talking about collecting things? And why is the answer yes? Because I used them.

M: People can collect blue chip art. Blue chip art.

R: And people that have listened to our part three premium episodes will know what this is because I already talked about it. Now here I am in the free part one talking about it too. So blue chip art, in a nutshell, has a very serious reputation and history behind it. And so it's got lots and lots of monetary value. That means it's worth a lot of money.

M: And do we use an article? Like these items have a monetary value or just monetary value? Without any article.

R: It depends if we're describing it in particular, like this piece of art has a high monetary value, so we're talking about it in more detail. But just to talk in general, I don't think we need it. It's got monetary value.

M: Art costs money. So art, or like paintings have monetary value. Also, certain items, we call them items or things, have sentimental value. So like things from my childhood have sentimental value. You said that people can hoover things up.
R: But if you're hoovering things up, it's just like you're collecting in a very sort of wide and nondiscriminatory way, which means you're not really making lots of thoughtful decisions about what you're collecting. You can hoover up items to collect them. And you can hoover up food off your plate. Anyone who has seen me eating McDonald's knows exactly what I'm talking about.

M: So could you give us an example? What else we can hoover up?

R: Well, let's say there's lots of things on sale and you buy all of them, then you've just hoovered them up. Because you've just collected all of them.

M: Things or items people collect can be called collectables. Okay? You collect things, you have a collection of something. So you have a lot of collectables. And how can we use it in a sentence? Like vintage collectibles.

R: Like, to be honest, you're asking the wrong person because I don't collect that much. So there are items that are marketed as collectables, I think. For example, there are models, like series of models, which are marketed as things that you collect, and you build up a series of models over time. So aircraft models, for example, can be considered collectible.

M: You can also have some sentimental collections, like a collection of old family photos, greeting cards, and some flower petals. You have a flower and a flower has petals, okay? Petals. Like gift wrappings, for example. Wrappings. Like you have a gift, a present and you wrap it. So maybe you collect these ones. Seashells. Okay? Rory, and then you've used this strange word...

R: Oh, it's French. Although I probably mispronounced it. So sorry for anyone in France that's listening to us. I'm pretty sure it's probably closer to raison d'etre. But it's, it's an English exam, not a French one. So my French pronunciation is not on trial here. But the idea of raison d'etre is just a reason for existing. You could say the raison d'etre for collectable items is just to be collected.

M: Raison d'etre also is another way of pronouncing it.

R: Unless you're French because my French friend laughed at me when I pronounced it with the R at the end. She said it's the raison d'etre. But I think that's just a feature of French pronunciation and possibly even in certain regions. So the idea is clear, regardless. But if you don't want to pursue the French word then just say reason for being. You will be fine.

M: Her job is her raison d'etre.

R: I hope not. That's a sad life.

M: Like a reason for existing. And, Rory, you told us that, some items are considered collectables.

R: Oh, yes. So, some items are considered collectable. So that's their raison d'etre.

M: So why do people collect things?

R: Just because they are collectables.
M: And also you can say that people collect things for pure enjoyment, okay? To connect with the past, and to learn about something new. Because a true collector, like knows everything about the items they collect. Also, people think about collecting as an investment, so they want to invest their money into different collectables. So like, it's their investment. That's another reason. And they can buy vintage items, dear listener. Like rare, like rare, not found everywhere, rare vintage items, like antiques or rare coins, for example. A very good strategy to answer the examiner's question is to say, I have absolutely no idea. Rory, how do we say it with feeling, with intonation?

R: Well, in any way you like, however, in my case, I was like, I have absolutely no idea. Emphasis on no. Because I don't, I don't have any idea. I don't go around asking people about their collections. I talk to them about other things that are not connected to that. So yes, that's, I suppose that's my problem, really. But I don't think it's worth talking about.

M: Collect things, collect bits and pieces. So bits and pieces, like is a synonym for like things, and then we have this word memorabilia. So what's memorabilia?

R: Memorabilia are just things that people collect because they're connected with a particular, well, it could be a person or it could be a place. So for example, I have a friend who's got lots of Kylie Minogue memorabilia.

M: I've got a lot of Beatles memorabilia. Beatles mugs, a Beatles bag, a Beatles bag, a Beatle... Oh, t-shirts... The Beatles, you know?

R: I do know the Beatles. But do you really do that?

M: Yes.

R: Seriously? Oh my god, that's cool.

M: I still have lots of memorabilia. I've been to Liverpool several times, and I just had to buy everything there.

R: I have a story about that, that you're going to love and hate at the same time. My grandfather was a painter and decorator and had this whole stock of Beatles wallpaper delivered in the 1960s. And, of course, like, they covered the house and then they wallpapered over it and it was destroyed. If they'd kept that wallpaper, it would be worth millions of pounds. And, of course, it's all gone now because it wasn't considered collectable at the time. But you could sell this to Beatles fans for so much money.

M: You see, dear listener? That could have been an investment, okay? So you can say that I've got a small collection of personal memorabilia. Personal memorabilia? Like things that have emotional value, emotional meaning for me, they have sentimental value. Another strategy when you don't know the answer is how on earth should I know? Okay? So you have nothing to say and you say like, how on earth should I know? So it's a rhetorical question. All right? Rory, how should we pronounce it beautifully?

R: Well, how on earth should I know? So emphasis, I suppose, on the earth and I and the end of the know. How on earth should I know?

M: Like what do people collect? Like, I don't know. So how on earth should I know? You know? And then you say something. Okay? Here, what items do people usually collect? You can say... Well, Rory told us about china, china collections. You know, like china, like different plates and cups. Also, Rory you know, I've checked Scotland, and many people in Scotland collect shells, shells, because you have, what, the ocean, the sea. So people collect shells and, you know, what do you call an activity when people walk along the shore and they kind of like, they look for...
R: It's not beachcombing, is it?

M: Yeah, it is.

R: Oh, my, how did I... Now, I should say, Maria did not tell me that's what it was going to be beforehand and I've only ever seen beachcombing talked about in novels for children from the 1960s. So how I knew that piece of vocabulary, I don't know. But yes, I know about beachcombing.

M: It's a crazy word. So beachcombing. Tp comb is like when you do this with your hair, right? So you comb your hair. And when you... You do, you do beachcombing?

R: Well, you do or you go beachcombing. I don't know because I haven't done it.

M: You go beachcombing, you know? Like you walk along the shore and you look for beautiful shells, beautiful stones, maybe something else, you know, maybe somebody lost something. So kind of like beachcombing might be popular in different countries. Like an interesting word to use, dear listener. Like, what activities do people prefer?

R: Beachcombing. Yes, that is something that people do. I feel like most people would say that they just go for a walk along the beach and collect things, don't they?

M: Okay. You can collect things from your childhood, right? And maybe you have loads of photos. So you have like a ton of old photos, like a lot of old photos. You can also like say a pile of things. Okay? A pile of things from childhood. Loads of things or a ton of old photos, for example. And you have these old photos, and it's nice to look back on things. Okay? So I look back on how things were in the past and compare them to the present. To look back on something. Could you give us an example with this nice phrasal verb, to look back on something?

R: Well, if we're talking about childhood, like when I look back on my childhood, it was a largely positive experience.

M: So here's an interesting fact for you, dear listener, about strange collectors. David from England has over 500 traffic cones.

R: Why? A traffic cone is usually an orange cone, an orange plastic cone that is placed in the road when there's a hazard. Why would you collect them? I don't understand. And also, is that not dangerous? And stealing? If you're collecting them from public places.

M: Thank you for listening! Do check out our premium episodes where we discuss speaking parts two and three with fresh IELTS speaking topics, the links are there.

R: And if you would like to do a little bit of reflecting, you could answer our reflection task today, which is which answer that I gave is the most effective and why. And if you write it down in the comments, I will reply to you on feedback day. Feedback Friday, that's what we're calling it.

M: Let's collect positive emotions and band "nineness". Bye!

R: Bye!
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