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Describe a difficult thing you did

Part 2

This episode's vocabulary

  • Buff (noun) - a person who knows a lot about and is very interested in a particular subject.
  • Rudimentary (adj.) - basic.
  • Trial run (noun) - a practical test of something new or unknown to discover its effectiveness.
  • Apprehensive (adj.) - feeling worried about something that you are going to do or that is going to happen.
  • Remarkably (adverb) - used for emphasizing how surprising or unusual something is.


Questions and Answers

M: Rory here is going to describe a difficult thing he did. He's gonna say what it was, how he did it, why it wasn't easy, and he's gonna say how he felt about it. Rory, are you all ready?

R: Yes.

M: Bring it on.

R: Well, I think I'm forever doing difficult things. But one of the most difficult was using technology in my classes while I was doing my practical placement or the last practical placement, I should say. I've been wanting to use technology in big classes for a while now, but I wasn't sure how to do it, or actually even work up the will to even try to do it. I'm not a big technology buff. So it's not easy for me to think of ways to do this. Also, I'm a little bit lazy. I started out by watching a colleague use it in her lesson. And this was an application called Plickers, where students have a card with a sort of rudimentary QR code on it. And they can turn their cards in a certain way, and give answers to multiple-choice questions that are recorded on a smartphone. And then you use that to show their understanding of different concepts on an interactive whiteboard or a smartboard. It sounds simple enough, but I mean, you try getting 24 small children to understand this concept and show their answers in an acceptable period of time. It was a bit difficult, but after that initial period, it went reasonably well. And I decided to try it out for myself. I downloaded the app. Made up the quiz for it and organized the cards, and having seen how the technology works, I had a reasonable idea of how it should go. But I made sure to do a trial run without the kids beforehand, just in case there was a problem with it. As it turned out, setting up and testing the technology wasn't so hard. But getting the kids to use it was the real problem. Even then it was just a few of them who weren't getting it and they managed after a few examples. But I was a bit apprehensive before I went, well, before I went for it. After I got into and the students were comfortable with it turned out to be remarkably easy to use again and again. Now I'm actually looking forward to doing it with older students, and I think they will be able to more easily express the ideas behind their answers than, well, kids who are six or, well, even five years old.

M: What about your colleagues? Have they done anything like that?

R: Yeah, that's where I got the inspiration from.

M: Thank you, Rory, for your difficult vocabulary and really complicated grammar!

R: For a high score!



M: So describe a difficult thing you did. Wow. So Rory talked about something that he did at work. What else you can talk about? Actually anything.

R: Life is difficult, to be honest with you.

M: Life is difficult. I'm doing... I did my life.

R: I'm doing my life right now. And it's very difficult, so please stop bothering me.

M: Oh... Yeah. So maybe like you took a driving test. It was difficult, right? So an exam. Something, I don't know, you defended a thesis, like a dissertation. Or you went shopping and bought a present for your parents. Maybe this was difficult. Anyway, you just choose a difficult thing that is easy for you to describe. Okay? That you have vocabulary to describe. So make it easy. Maybe an exam could be the easiest thing to talk about. And Rory talked about a time when he had to use some technology. And Rory tell us, what synonyms did you use to say that it was difficult? So a difficult thing. So what else can we say?

R: I said it wasn't, I said it's not so easy for me. But like that's, that's, that works. Because you just say what something isn't. And it isn't easy, so it's the opposite of difficult.

M: So it wasn't easy. It was hard. It was difficult. It was complicated?

R: Yeah, I also said like getting the kids to use it was the real problem. So here it's like focusing on another thing that's difficult, a problem or difficulty.

M: Also, you can say like it sounds simple. It sounds simple enough, but and then blah, blah, blah, you say why it was difficult. Or kind of you described the thing that you did and then you go okay, it sounds simple enough. But in fact.

R: But it's not.

M: It's not, yeah. Yeah. Um, can we use something like? I thought it would be a walk in the park. I thought it would be like ABC, something like that. It wasn't a walk in the park.

R: I didn't think it would be rocket science. I suppose... Do you know what? Yes, just don't draw attention to it. We've been talking. One of my students and I were talking about this recently. And it was all about using idioms. And as long as you don't overly stress them, it's fine. So you don't say like, it was not rocket science. Notice my complicated expression, Mr. examiner, or Mrs. examiner.

M: Yeah, so it wasn't difficult.

R: Just say it wasn't rocket science. It wasn't difficult.

M: It wasn't difficult. Yeah.

R: It just looks difficult.

M: Rory, you started the talk by saying I think I'm forever doing difficult things. What did you mean by that?

R: Life is very difficult. Always for me. No, I just, it's just a way of describing like, something that you're constantly doing. Oh, actually, and oh, ah, ha, I haven't given this explanation in a while. When you say, when you use the continuous form, it draws attention to things that are annoying.

M: Hmm.

R: So it's like I'm forever doing difficult thing. So it's like, oh, you're always doing that. And so it's a way that people draw attention to the fact that it's an annoying thing. And I didn't know about that until like five years ago. And I was like, ooh, that's quite an interesting explanation. I wonder why it's for that purpose.

M: Yeah, it's the same like when we say she's always complaining. He's always crying. And also, we're kind of annoyed by the fact that he cries all the time. So yeah.

R: It's great though. The irony of complaining about someone who complains though. Although I do that, like there's so many teachers on my course that complain about everything, and I'm just like, oh, I hate this. But then you can't really complain about people complaining. Otherwise, you just die of irony.

M: Yeah, you can say like they're always complaining. They're always complaining.

R: They are always complaining. No, everyone. But like...

M: Annoys me. And then you said, I've been wanting to use technology for a while.

R: It's Present Perfect Continuous.

M: Yeah. And some people might ask you but Rory, wait, want? Can we use want in the continuous? Can we use love, or like in the continuous? Can we use remember, forget in the continuous? Because it's a state verb?

R: Yeah. I'm just trying to think if there is a way that you could, I mean, theoretically, you shouldn't be able to use... You couldn't say like, I've been remembering to do something.

M: But people actually do say that.

R: Well, why? When? Under what circumstances? Because people do say that. But I'm just trying to think of an example and it's not coming to me.

M: No, it's for example, I've been forgetting to call you. Right?

R: Or I've been forgetting a lot recently.

M: Yeah, exactly. So if you kind of if you forgot, you are forgetting and maybe in the future, also, you will be forgetting things. So, you say I've been forgetting, right?

R: What about... No, but what about remembering? Like, I need one for remember. Because like really there must be one like.

M: So you see, it used to be like we can't use want, love in the continuous. But then McDonald's, thank you very much. So I'm loving it. And now, many state verbs are used in the continuous and that's why like, I've been wanting to use technology for a while. That sounds normal. And I've been forgetting things recently. So that's also okay. So yeah, now the rules have been changed. And in natural English, it's absolutely fine. So yeah, you can go ahead and notice when people use continuous forms with which verbs in series, in films, so yeah, in some interviews, Rory spoke about technology. And you said that I'm not a big technology buff. I'm not a big technology buff. So it wasn't easy for me.

R: Yes. This just means I'm not very good with technology. I'm not a big fan.

M: Yeah, like a technology buff. What else can we use buff with? So I'm a history buff. I'm not a history buff, for example.

R: I think that's it. It's like tech and history. It's like really nerdy things.

M: Then Rory described what he did with this technology. And this was like, specific explanation of this app. And what he did with this app like QR code, and students had to give their answers. So yeah, it was, sounds really complicated.

R: Well, I actually think it sounds quite simple if you look at it on a diagram or but like, for me, when I saw, when someone was explaining how to do this, I was just like, oh, this sounds like a lot of extra work. But actually, as it turns out, it wasn't it was just, the difficulty wasn't the task. The difficulty was really overcoming my own fear of technology.

M: And then you say, anyway, it went reasonably well, and I decided to try it out for myself. So I decided to try it out. So I decided to do it. See how it goes and it went reasonably well, or it didn't go well at all.

R: It didn't go according to plan.

M: Yeah, it didn't go according to plan. Then Rory used a super grammar structure. Are you ready, dear listener? He said something like, having seen how the technology worked, I had a good idea. Bla, bla, bla, bla. Wow. So you see, it's...

R: What is that called?

M: Perfect Participle Clause.

R: Oh, that's what it is. Because I've been... Because I've been having trouble distinguishing between things like inversion cleft sentences and participle clauses recently.

M: No, it's Participle Clause. Yeah.

R: It is.

M: So having seen how it worked, so after I have seen how it worked, I had blah, blah, blah. Yeah? So a nice one here, you can say something like, having done it for the first time, I then kept doing it regularly, for example, right? And then Rory said that I did a trial run without the kids. So what's a trial run?

R: It's just when you practice. I practice. But, oh, sorry, I practiced in the past. But if you say I made sure to do, and it's, well, first of all, it's more complex and involves more or a greater number of phrases. You make sure to do a trial run, make sure to be prepared.

M: And then I had a reasonable idea of how it should work, for example, to have a reasonable idea. And this is a good one as it turned out, this ta, ta, ta, ta, ta. Yeah? So as it turned out, it wasn't that difficult. Or it was very difficult. Or it wasn't that easy. Yeah? It was the real problem. But I managed to do it. Right? This is another synonym, like I tried it out, I did it, I managed to do it. But before that you were a bit apprehensive.

R: Yes.

M: I was a bit apprehensive.

R: But apprehensive is just nervous about the future.

M: What else can we be apprehensive about?

R: Oh, many things. Apprehensive about our exam, apprehensive about trying something new for the first time. Apprehensive about meeting new people.

M: Yeah.

R: You can be apprehensive about anything as long as it's in the future. I was a bit apprehensive. But as it turns out, everything was fine.

M: Yep, I got into it. And everything went reasonably well, despite the fact that it was difficult. Yeah. And Rory said that it turned out to be remarkably easy, right? So it turned out to be remarkably easy.

R: I love turned out. Turned out and wind up I think are my favorite ones. Somebody said that to me the other day like you always use, you always use wind up. Why do you use wind up? Because it's just something I wind up doing.

M: Yeah, cool. All right. Lovely. Could you comment on the organization? How did you make sure that the flow is like the speech is well organized, and the examiner understands you well?

R: Well, I just describe the background. So I've been wanting to do this thing. I didn't or I haven't because or I hadn't because. Like I said, I'm lazy, and I don't like technology. And then I described the process of understanding how to do it, which connects to how I did it. And then why it wasn't easy. And then just explaining like, it's not the technology, that's the problem. It's actually the children, in fact, interacting with the technology.

M: Children are the problem.

R: Children are never the problem. It's always the things around the children that are a problem like the adults, to be honest with you. And then talking about how I felt about doing it, I didn't actually say like, when it comes to how I felt about doing it, or I felt. It's just like, I was a bit apprehensive. And now I'm looking forward to it. So I didn't actually explicitly talk about the feelings. It was more just describing.

M: Excellent! Thank you very much!

R: Oh, and then I talked about what to do in the future. Sorry. Then I was just like connecting the ending of the story to the future. So it was like, now I did this thing, I feel more confident about the future. Yay.

M: Yep. Yep. Super. Don't forget that at the end of your talk, the examiner would ask you a very short question, which requires a very short answer. Like one sentence answer and then speaking part three begins.

R: But I gave a really good answer still. Oh, yeah, you did. You did. I said I was inspired by my colleague. I have amazing mentor teachers. That's been one of the good things about doing the course to be honest with you. The teachers that I've had have been absolutely brilliant.

M: Sweet! We're happy for you that you're learning and studying and studying and learning.

R: Thank you!

M: Thank you very much for listening! And we'll move to the next episode, speaking part three! Bye!

R: Bye!

M: Bye, bye, bye!


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