This episode's vocabulary
- To malfunction (verb) - to fail to work or operate correctly.
- To monitor (verb) - to watch and check a situation carefully for a period of time in order to discover something about it.
- Contradictory (adj.) -if two or more facts, pieces of advice, etc. are contradictory, they are very different from each other.
- Fault (noun) - something that is wrong with a machine or system.
- Shoddy (adj.) - badly and carelessly made, using low quality materials.
- To reprogram (verb) - to program (an electronic device) again or differently.
- To fix (verb) - to repair something.
- To wind up (phrasal verb) - to find yourself in an unexpected and usually unpleasant situation, especially as a result of what you do.
- To install (verb) - to put a computer program onto a computer so that the computer can use it.
- Mandatory (adj.) - something that is mandatory must be done, or is demanded by law.
- Hassle (noun) - (a situation causing) difficulty or trouble.
- Well maintained (adj.) - kept in good order or condition.
Questions and Answers
M: Rory, tell us your story!
R: Well, the other day, our smart meter malfunctioned. It's like a small electronic device, which monitors the energy consumption in the house, and it tells you how much everything costs. Well, once you've consumed the energy, that is. It's part of a government initiative to get people to use energy more responsibly. Although if you ask me, using energy to power a device that's supposed to tell you how to save energy seems a little bit contradictory. But maybe it has another purpose that I'm missing. Apparently, it wasn't showing an accurate reading and it needed to be fixed. And it has apparently done this a few times. So it definitely needed to be reset or made more accurate somehow. I'm not exactly sure what caused this fault. But if I were to guess I would put it down to shoddy manufacturing processes and a lack of quality control. These things were clearly mass produced in an effort to get as many of them out as fast as possible. So it makes sense that some of them wouldn't work properly. And they just fall to pieces. I'm actually equally unclear on how it was repaired as well. I know we had to call an engineer to come and take a look at it. And I think he reprogrammed it. So apparently it works just fine. Though, to look at it, I don't think much has changed aside from the price on the display going up. So it's possible that it's either broken again, or by fixing it, we've actually wound up paying more. So I don't know if that's considered to be a success or not. I wasn't particularly bothered about getting it fixed, to be honest. Getting them installed was mandatory. But I found out recently that if you just ignored the letters and the emails from the government about them, then no one would care. So we could have avoided a lot of hassle if we'd done precisely that. Regardless, it's fixed now. And everything in the house is working again, which is the main thing.
M: And do you often have something broken in your home?
R: No, everything's quite well maintained.
M: Thank you, Rory, for your answer!
M: Yeah, dear listener, I know. So describe something that was broken in your home, and then got repaired. So what can you talk about here? It has to be something in your home. So a device like a TV, a computer. Some, I don't know, something from your kitchen, perhaps, a fridge, an oven. But again, you should choose something that you can speak about because this topic does require specific vocabulary, okay? Because if you choose a device that you cannot speak about, because you don't know the language, you don't know what it is, what you call it in English. So don't do that. Could you now make a decision, like which device you can talk about? Rory talked about a smart meter. What is it?
R: Well, like I said, it's a small computer that helps you understand how much energy you're using and how much it's costing your family.
M: Right, but you can also talk about I don't know like a coffee maker, for example.
R: Anything. A coffeemaker, a computer, a television, like, your laptop computer, anything really. It could even be like a light bulb. The light bulb stopped working because it's old and they fail. That's what they're designed to do.
M: I'd be very careful talking about your laptop because the task is like something in your home. So think IELTS people want us to talk about something in our home rather than you know, my phone, which is in my home, or my laptop. Maybe your home computer.
R: What about the landline?
M: Landline. Yeah. But I mean a phone, landline phone. Yeah, there we go. You see. So here don't talk about your smartphone. No, no, no laptop. So I think you can talk about landline phone. Maybe your PC, right? But again, I'd be pushing it, so it's better to choose something like a TV or a fridge, or again, a lamp, so something...
R: I was gonna say, make sure you pick something that breaks, I mean, the only thing I can think of in a house, which everybody has, which always breaks is a light bulb.
M: A light bulb. Okay, what about a remote control?
R: That's, those don't break. You just, the batteries run out.
M: Right, true, true. Okay.
R: What are people doing with their remote controls that they, they stop working.
M: Oh, I know, I know. What about, what do you call this device? A router or a router? That gives you the Internet? That thing. The router. Yeah, we can say a router or router or so they pronounce it like this, right? Router. Yeah. So the thing that gives you this Wi Fi at home. Oh, yeah, they usually break. Right. So Rory talked about this meter. And you said that our smart meter malfunctioned. So to malfunction, does it mean that it broke down?
R: Yes. Or, well, or it didn't work properly. I mean, if something breaks down, usually that means it stops working. But if something malfunctions, it could mean that it stopped working or that it's not working properly.
M: Yeah, yeah. You can also say that, okay, my TV broke down, for example. But usually, we choose a device. So it could be some electronic device that usually breaks down. Alright, and then you said, what happened. So the device is supposed to tell you how to save energy. Okay, and it wasn't showing an accurate reading from your energy thingies.
R: So a reading is just, well, the results of the measurement, basically.
M: Yeah, you can just say that, okay, it wasn't showing anything, for example. If, for example, I don't know, if you have a camera at home, okay, so my home camera broke down. Maybe you have cameras installed by your door, for example. Or you can make it up again, dear listener, you can imagine that you have a camera next to your door. So the camera wasn't showing anything. And it needed to be fixed. Right? So something needed to be fixed. It needed to be repaired.
R: Yes. Well, actually, that's a good point, we should probably talk about different ways of talking about repairing and things that go wrong. So we already talked about malfunctioning, stop working, needing to be fixed, needing to be repaired, having a fault.
M: It had a fault. Can you say... What can you say it about? Like my coffee machine had a fault?
R: Yeah, my coffee machine had a fault and it started producing tea.
M: What about... So you said it malfunctioned, can I say it's dysfunctioned? Or it became defective?
R: No, no quite. Well, you could say it became defective. Although that's a bit of a mouthful, isn't it? It's probably easier to say malfunctioned.
M: Right. But about devices, yeah, we usually say kind of it malfunctioned, or it broke down. Okay. So then you say, I'm not sure what caused the fault. So you see, so what caused the fault? So what caused the device to break down. And then you go like, Okay, I'd put it down to manufacturing processes. I'd put it down to and then the reason why it broke down.
M: You said something like shoddy. Shoddy manufacturing processes?
R: Yeah, shoddy manufacturing is just a way of saying it's not well-made.
M: It was just badly made. Yeah. And then kind of these things were clearly mass-produced. They were badly made. So it's just like poor design.
R: Yeah, lack of quality control. So that just means it wasn't checked. And then mass-produced just means as many as possible.
M: Yeah, kind of like a typical design just breaks down and you can do nothing about it. You have no idea why it happens. Yeah, I think like internet routers do that from time to time, yeah?
R: Well, they have to be mass-produced because everybody's got Wi Fi these days.
M: And then you say I'm unclear on how it was repaired. So it was repaired, we had to call an engineer. So we had to call somebody to come and take a look. So if for example, your internet router breaks down, you call the service, so I had to call the service. So the customer service or I had to call an engineer, I don't know. But you don't kind of ask an engineer to come in and kind of check the internet router. I think they just check it via the phone these days. So he reprogrammed it. So I had to call an engineer to come and take a look and he reprogrammed it or you can say he fixed it.
M: It was fixed by an engineer.
R: I think I've said this word a lot actually. Either I think or apparently because how much do we know about how things are repaired? So that's why you get, or you hire a specialist.
M: Yeah, true.
R: And then we move into how I felt about it. So I didn't actually say an explicit emotion. I was just saying, like, I wasn't particularly bothered, it didn't matter to me one way or the other.
M: Yeah. Like, I wasn't bothered about getting it fixed. So kind of I didn't care. Right, it was okay. And also the phrase is to get something fixed. Because Rory didn't fix it himself. He got it fixed. Right? So and the card asks you how you got it repaired? So kind of, not how you repaired it yourself. But if you repair that yourself, you can say, okay, I fixed it myself. If you called or paid somebody, so you say, I got it fixed. I got it repaired.
R: Or I had it repaired.
M: I had it repaired. Yeah.
R: There's another one.
M: Which one?
R: I had it done. I got it done. There was another one as well. But it's escaping me now.
M: Yeah. So if, for example, you have this video surveillance, you have CCTV cameras to kind of protect your home. So you can say yeah, like my CCTV cameras broke down. And then I had to call in an engineer, and I got them fixed.
R: You could even do that for a light bulb.
M: You have the cameras around your house, maybe. Well, why not? Or a light bulb, but a light bulb, well, it doesn't actually break down. It's just like it's, it just stops working. And you have to replace it. Right?
R: Yes. But the thing about light bulbs that not a lot of people know about is that they're designed to break much sooner than is necessary.
R: If they were made to a higher quality, then they would last much longer.
M: Yeah, but I just I can say that. Okay, my light bulb stopped working and I just replaced it. So there isn't much of a story about it, right?
R: Well, you could make up a story, the journey to repair the light bulb.
M: Oh, boy. Yeah. So it could be quite quite a tricky one. Because I don't know what usually break down in my home. I have no idea. Nothing. Like the internet stopped, stops working once in a while, but it's kind of the Wi-Fi issues. So my Wi-Fi broke down. Can I say my Wi-Fi broke down?
M: And then I got it fixed. I called in the customer service, and I paid. And it turned out that I hadn't paid for my Wi-Fi, for my internet. That's like a typical story. All right. And then you said that we could have avoided a lot of hassle, if we'd done something before. First conditional.
R: Yes. Oh, it's, well, it's a very complex... We could have avoided it, could have avoided, could have done.
M: Yeah, if for example, you forgot to pay for the internet, I could have avoided it, if I paid for my internet on time. But I didn't pay, I didn't avoid it. And the internet switched off, right. So that's why we're using the third conditional. I could have avoided it. I could have avoided it, if I'd paid, if I had paid. And you can say about the hassle. Oh, there was so much hassle about it. It wasn't working. I was stressing out. Oh, I hated all this hassle. But Rory wasn't particularly bothered.
R: I wasn't particularly bothered, I'm still not particularly bothered. To be honest with you, I hope it breaks again, because it's the most pointless thing that I've ever seen.
M: Yeah, dear listener, so maybe you have, you know a lot of devices in your home, in your kitchen and they keep breaking down. Again, you can just remember only one instance, that something broke down. Again, this is a bit tricky, because you need to know certain words and verbs to talk about it. Okay? So now we've given you a couple of synonyms that you can use. Rory, tell us the about the organization of the story?
R: Well, I started off actually by talking about when it happened, even though it wasn't very specific. So it's just like, the other day and then what the device is, and then explaining further what the device does because not many people have smart meters in their homes. So you can explain a bit more. Even if it's something that you have that's quite common, you could explain why it's important to you. So you could say oh, the other day our computer broke. Obviously you know what a computer is, but it's important to me because I do all of my work. on it. And that's why I needed to get it fixed. Anyway, I gave a few more details about what the device was and what actually happened in order for it to be broken. So here, it was just not doing its job properly, it wasn't giving an accurate reading. After that, I talked about why it was broken, or how it was broken. And I just said, I'm not really sure because I'm not an expert, but it was broken. And then I guessed about why it might be broken. But basically, it was just a guess. In the same way, when we talk about how it got repaired, I just explained, like, I don't really know how it got repaired. But we had to call someone to fix it. And they did fix it. And that's the most important thing. And then explain how you felt about it. Well, here at the end, I just say I wasn't particularly bothered, or it felt really good for it to be fixed. Usually people are quite happy for things to get fixed. And then just explaining a little bit more about why I felt that way. So in my case, I wasn't particularly bothered, because I don't care about these things. If you talk about your computer or home blowing up, then you might say I felt very good, because it meant I could do my work or I could watch videos on YouTube again.
M: Yeah, my home just blew up, yeah, I'm okay with that. Yeah.
R: I'm not really bothered. I didn't really like my home anyway.
M: Right. On such a bright, note, dear listener, thank you very much for listening! And in speaking part three, we'll continue talking about repairing things. Be with us, stay with us. Bye!
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