Talking Point

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 June, 2006, 12:00am

Part A


You are Melon Yeung. You work in a department store handling complaints about goods people have bought. When a customer comes to you, you have to fill in a form about the problem. You need the following information:

1. the item bought

2. date of purchase

3. cost of purchase

4. method of payment

5. problem with purchase

6. any further question

Part A Tips

This situation is a bit different from some. Think about what would really happen. Sales assistants do not introduce themselves but politely get on with their job.

* greet the customer

* explain the procedure

E.g. Good morning, Madam. Can I please ask you a few questions about your complaint so that I can fill in this complaints form?

* try to get used to what various question prompts require

* a thing is a noun so a what question is needed

* questions about time are when questions

* cost/price involves how much

* method means how

* a problem is a noun

NOTE: Own questions will not get marks if they repeat questions already asked. Although you might get a mark for a question like How old are you?, you would not really ask someone that so directly. 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 allowed] and then talk for five minutes. Everyone must try to contribute equally.

Some overseas students are coming to your school for a few weeks as part of an exchange programme. You and some classmates have been asked to prepare a presentation for them warning them about some of the problems associated with shopping in Hong Kong. Discuss what to warn them about and what advice to give them.

You may like to consider:

* price

* quality

* dishonesty

* ways to be safe

Part B Tips

* Starting - try to do more than repeat the question

E.g. Hong Kong is a great place for shopping, but if you are not careful you can be cheated, so lets think of things to warn our visitors about.

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

Content ideas

* where to go to get good prices, places to avoid, differences between districts

of Hong Kong, tourist areas, different types of shops, bargaining

* suggest reliable places for the sorts of goods the visitors might be interested

in, shops whose quality you feel trust in

* ways in which dishonest shop keepers try to cheat people, especially visitors (saying only more expensive versions are available, adding extras, packing something different from what the customer saw and other tricks)

* where to go, things to insist on, people to go with, things to ask, papers to keep, organisations to ask help from


You do not need to come to a conclusion so just keep the discussion moving along not too fast and not too slow. Remember to show your knowledge of different types of language: make statements, give opinions, agree, disagree, ask questions, offer reasons, and sum up and so on. Don't be afraid in questions of this sort to draw on your own experience.

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 in confidence.

Answers (Part A)

1. What did you buy?

2. When did you buy it?

3. How much did it cost/did you pay for it?

4. How did you pay?

5. What is the problem with it/ the purchase?

6. Do you want a refund?/ Have you used the purchase?/ Have you had a problem here before?/Do you have the receipt?