Talking points

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 May, 2006, 12:00am

Part A


You are Apple Chow. You work as a volunteer at an elderly people's centre on your housing estate. The centre wants to improve its services and is conducting a survey of the elderly visitors there to gather more information and ideas. You are helping with the survey and want to get the information below from the elderly people you speak to.

frequency of visits to the centre

purpose of visits

what they like about the centre

their dislikes


any further question


introduce yourself

explain your purpose

ask permission for an interview

Hello, I am Apple Chow. I am a volunteer here. We want to find out your views about the centre. Would you mind answering some questions for us?

Try to get used to what various question prompts require.

Frequency means how often.

Purpose means why.

Likes and dislikes are things so we use 'what'.

You could ask 'What suggestions ...', but it is more usual to ask a yes/no question as the person may not have any new ideas to offer.

You own questions will not get any marks if they have already been asked. It would be risky to ask if they liked the centre or wanted something changed. That information has already been covered.

Although you might get a mark for a question like 'How old are you?' you would not ask someone so directly about their age.

Try to ask for useful information.

Part B


Four candidates sit in a group ready for a discussion. The topic is always related to the role play. Candidates read the topic, think about it for one minute (no writing is allowed) and then talk for five minutes. Everyone must try to contribute equally.

You and some friends are members of the Social Service Group at your school. You are going to visit an old people's centre and arrange some entertainment for them. The following have been suggested:

a variety show

a tea party

a dance

a quiz

Discuss which idea would be best. You may want to consider:


what is easiest for you

what will please the old people most

anything else you think is important


Hold your discussion

Beginning - try to do more than repeat the question.

Organisation - you could each give your opinions first or go through the ideas one by one following the hints.

Content ideas

variety show: fun, needs a few acts and some equipment

tea party: enjoyable, chances to chat, costly, hygiene concerns

dance: choose music carefully, but some may have too many aches and pains to take part

quiz: a few teams, easy, general questions, good quiz master needed, fun and relaxed atmosphere, use big pictures and music, microphones needed


You do not need to come to a conclusion so just keep the discussion moving along not too fast and not too slow. Show your knowledge of different aspects of the language: make statements, give opinions, agree, disagree, ask questions, offer reasons, sum up and so on.


The first part stresses accuracy so pay attention to grammar. The discussion focuses more on fluency so make sure you say plenty and behave naturally. Pronunciation is important for both. The words must sound like English! And practice definitely helps with oral exams as you gain confidence from getting used to the situation.

Answers (Part A)

How often do you come to the centre?

Why do you come to the centre?

What do you like about the centre?

What do you dislike about the centre?

Do you have any suggestions for the centre/to improve the centre?

How long do you usually stay at the centre? /Do you come here alone?/ How do you travel to the centre?