Hobbies and free time
What do you like to do in your free time?/Do you have a hobby? Do you need any special equipment for it/them? Do you share your hobbies/activities with others? Did you have a hobby as a child? What would you like to do with your free time in the future? What are the most popular hobbies or pastimes in your country?
  • Out of the ordinary (phrase) - unusual.
  • Clearly (adverb) - used to show that you think something is obvious or certain.
  • Run-of-the-mill (adj.) - ordinary and not special or exciting in any way.
  • Martial art (noun) - a traditional Japanese, Chinese, or Korean form of fighting or defending yourself, practised as a sport or as exercise. Martial arts include karate, judo, kung fu, and aikido.
  • Specialist (adj.) - having or involving detailed knowledge of a subject.
  • Solitary (adj.) - done alone.
  • Rock climbing (noun) - the sport of climbing on rocks or in mountains, or on specially designed walls inside or outdoors.
  • To get into something (phrasal verb) - to become interested in something.
  • To/for those ends (phrase) - used to refer to the goals or objectives of a particular endeavour.
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Questions and Answers
M: What do you like to do in your free time?

R: I wouldn't say I had a hobby, really, unless my job teaching really counts. I do a lot of things in my free time, though. I like to read and write fiction and some short articles on teaching. And I do different sports like wild swimming, jujitsu and yoga.

M: Do you need any special equipment for it or them?

R: Well, nothing terribly out of the ordinary. I mean, to read, you need to have a book, clearly. Similarly, for swimming you need shorts, and yoga studio requires you to bring your own mat. But outside of this, I think it's pretty run-of-the-mill stuff. Nothing special. I think the most specialist equipment I need is the gi that I wear for jujitsu and a gi is like a kind of uniform that you have to wear for this martial art.

M: Do you share your hobbies or activities with others?

R: So for yoga, swimming and martial arts, I definitely need partners for those things, since it's safer, and well, even necessary for the development of some positions and moves and concepts. But reading and writing are pretty much solitary activities, and I just spend time doing them by myself.

M: Did you have a hobby as a child?

R: I mean, I used to collect these plastic models of various military crafts from around the world. That was quite fun. Other than that, not really, I only ever read or wrote and played video games or went out with my friends. That's the standard stuff that you do when you're a young person, really.

M: What would you like to do with your free time in the future?

R: Oh, I quite like the things I do already, to be honest. I recently got into rock climbing. So maybe when I'm back from Oxford, and I have more time I'll get into that even more.

M: What are the most popular hobbies or pastimes in your country?

R: Oh wow, that's a good question, actually. I think a lot of people go walking, running and jogging outdoors. Especially since we have a special law in our country that allows this to happen anywhere. I also think that outdoor activities in general are quite common since we have so much free space for use. So why not use it for those ends?
M: So hobbies. We can also use pastimes. Right? So pastimes - like free time activities?

R: Yeah.

M: Can I say leisure activities? Because leisure is my free time. So leisure activities.

R: I think so. That should be okay. Like things you do for fun.

M: Yeah. So in this episode, we used the word hobby a lot of times. But dear listener, again, don't use it in real life. And in IELTS it's better to use free time activities, leisure activities, or just like I do this in my free time. And then you say I do different sports like yoga, I do different sports like swimming, but Rory does wild swimming. Like a true Scottish person. Like... Freedom. Wild swimming.

R: All it is is cold or open water swimming. Probably it's very popular elsewhere in the world too.

M: Yeah. It's very boring to swim in a swimming pool. Like Rory does wild swimming. You know? In the open ocean.

R: Well, it's also expensive. You have to pay to get into these things. Why would you pay to get into a swimming pool when you can go into the water for free?

M: So Rory also does jiu-jitsu. So I do karate, I do martial arts. You know? All this like karate, jujitsu. Sometimes we do need special equipment. So special like devices or you can call it gear. Special gear? For example, if you enjoy diving, you need diving gear. So like an oxygen tank, a special suit. And Rory goes like nothing terribly out of the ordinary.

R: Yeah. But that just means nothing unusual.

M: Yeah, like I need a book to read, obviously. Swimming shorts to swim. And also, dear listener, to meditate, you do need specific equipment. Did you know that? So there's a special meditation pillow. And you can't meditate without it, dear listener.

R: That sounds like some sort of late-stage capitalists ploy to make people buy stuff they don't need. That's ridiculous.

M: Oh, it's called meditation cushion. There you go. Oh, take a look, take a look. Organic, cotton, chambray zafu meditation cushion. 40 pounds, Rory, four colours. Okay? Let's choose.

R: Yes. I'm sure when the Buddhist monks who came up with the concept of mindfulness, where you know, investing all this time meditating and developing their minds. They were thinking, yes, we want this, meditation really needs some organic cotton. What a lot of...

M: Dear listener, go to yogamatters.com. And take a look at these beautiful meditation cushions. Or you can get one for, or you can get some special... Oh, meditation kit for 140 pounds. Kit is like, you know, like...

R: Yeah, it's a collection of objects needed to do something. So a toolkit is the collection of tools needed to make repairs.
M: You see, dear listener? Beautiful language. So even if you don't like meditation, you can say, oh, yeah, sometimes I do meditation, and I have my meditation kit with a cushion and a buckwheat bolster. What's a bolster? Okay, dear listener, now you know where to go, yogamatters.com. Just, it's a very good idea to look at the products. Look at the language they use and choose maybe two words, you can remember to name specific things, and you can use them about anything. For example, the examiner asks you what's your favourite object. You say, oh, my meditation kit with a cushion made out of organic cotton.

R: Oh, my God, yeah.

M: There you go. You see? What would you like to buy? Of course, an organic meditation cushion.

R: And then the examiner will give you like a five for being foolish.

M: Oh, my God. Ooh, they have different fragrances and candles because you can't meditate without a candle, dear listener.

R: I am not hearing any of this right now. This is crazy.

M: But our Rory is super simple, he only needs a mat. But also, Rory, you mentioned some strange words you need for jujitsu.

R: Oh, a gi. A gi is just the uniform that you use for jujitsu, typically, at least in my country they are white. I imagine there could be other colours too if they wanted them to be. But usually, they're white. But yes, that's, like I say, that's the closest thing to something very special that I have. So the closest thing to something special, or the closest thing to special equipment. But for the rest of it, there's this expression, nothing terribly out of the ordinary, which is connected to just saying nothing unusual or nothing terribly special.

M: So dear listener, this is your chance to use super topic-specific vocabulary. So you should choose an activity and then choose a word you can remember, something very specific, like a thing you used to do this or you can lie. Okay? If, dear listener, you enjoy climbing, even if you don't enjoy it. For example, if you are into rock climbing, what specific word can we use?

R: I don't know if you need it for rock climbing, but when I go rock climbing, I need a harness to hold everything in place so I don't fall.

M: Very good. So you need a harness to do it. So just choose an activity, you can choose a strange activity like, I don't know, digital art, pottery, beekeeping. Maybe you enjoy keeping bees. But even if you don't, just lie. Choose a strange activity and then choose one word, which is about some devices, some tools, you need to do this, okay? To impress the examiner with your topic, and specific vocabulary. In some activities, we need partners. So we need other people. Some activities are solitary.
R: That just means you do them by yourself. And actually doing something by myself is an expression that you could use not just for your hobbies, but for anything. Like I work by myself, or I can't work by myself because I need other people in the team to help me.

M: When I was a child, I used to collect plastic models of military craft. Military craft? Like soldiers?

R: Yeah, like aircraft, or whatever, you know, different machines.

M: Airplanes, yeah?

R: Yeah.

M: When you speak about new hobbies and activities, you can say I recently got into rope climbing. I recently got into swimming, I recently got into painting, or you could say, I recently took up gardening, or took up walking like started doing something. So in your country, what do people usually do? And here you can say, well, I think a lot of people go walking. So go walking, go running, go jogging outdoors, but do sport. Dear listener, be careful with go and do. So what else do we do? Like "do yoga", do karate, do sports.

R: Well, thinking about it now, you go plus -ing, don't you? And do, the things don't usually end with -ing, do they?

M: For example, camping. Like to stay in a tent.

R: I go camping. You don't "do" camping.

M: Riding.

R: You go riding.

M: Yeah. What about football?

R: You play football. But you play rugby and you play golf. But all of those involve balls. So that's why they're playing.

M: You do need balls to do this. What about gymnastics?

R: You do gymnastics. So I think we're spotting a pattern here.

M: What pattern?

R: Go plus -ing and do plus not -ing. And play verbal sports. Or just like, well, I suppose you can play chess as well. So it's like a game, play a game.

M: And you can speak about outdoor activities, indoor activities. And you know what they say, Rory? About hobbies. They say to make your hobby your job and you'll never have to work a day in your life.

R: Well, that's complete nonsense, because my hobby is my job, and I still work every day.

M: Thank you very much for listening! And we'll get back to you in our next episode! Bye!

R: Bye!
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