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Hello everybody! Welcome to the new lesson with ABC English Levels and Valentine. Today you’ll learn some techniques to compare photos in the FCE Speaking test, Part 2. And again, I will share some tips to make you feel more confident!
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Off we go!
What you will learn
- Plan to talk about any pair of photos
- Two ways of comparing two photos
- Useful phrases to begin your speech
- Tips: how to use efficiently your time
- Words of deduction
Let’s start from the beginning.
Plan to compare photos
In one of my lessons on Speaking Part 1, I already mentioned that it’s a thumb of a rule to ask yourself questions to organize your speech better. So, here again, we will apply this rule. Keep in mind the following four questions:
- What they are doing
- How they are feeling
It works for absolutely any description or comparison. Let’s see.
Example. This photo shows (who?) the young person (where?) in the mountains. (What is he doing?) He is standing on the top and looking far in front of him. (How is he feeling?) He might be/looks excited and happy.
Sure, you can add details if necessary: who with, when, why you think so, etc.
And remember! You must use present continuous tense describing actions in the picture you are looking at as they’re happening at the moment of your speaking.
Two ways of comparing photos
There’re two most common ways to do it.
- First. You can talk about each photo in turn, about the one and then the other. Choose this you can’t concentrate on the similarities and differences of the photos.
- Second. You may speak about both pictures simultaneously. Choose this if you see the similarities and differences between the photos at once.
But in both variants, you have to get the concept, the topic of the photos.
Phrases to begin with
In the first case, a very comfortable start is the following: In this photo (you can indicate it with your hand) I/we (can) see something/somebody doing something and feeling in a certain way. The other photo shows something/somebody doing something and feeling in a certain way. Or: In this photo, there is/are something/somebody doing something and feeling in a certain way.
In the second situation, if you feel like talking about both photos at the same time, you should quickly spot the similarities and differences between the pictures. You can try the following structures: In both photos/pictures, I/we can see something/somebody… or Both photos/pictures show/depict something/somebody doing (name the similar things about both ones) but here (indicate the photo you mean with your hand) people/things are … while in the other picture they are … (say about the differences).
Words of deduction
When it’s not clear what you see in the photos, speculate and imagine. For this, you’ll need certain words and phrases.
- He might feel happy (you aren’t very sure).
- He must be very tired (you’re pretty much sure).
- He can’t be very tired (you’re convinced that he’s not).
- They look very sad. The house looks like a castle. The boy looks as if/though he’s seen a ghost.
- The girl seems to be familiar with the man.
Probably, it’s possible that, maybe, I might be mistaken but it seems to me that etc. are the phrases to help you too.
In episode 1 I told you about the structure of Speaking Part 2 and the time you’re given to speak on your own – one minute. For people who feel free to talk on the subject, it might seem too little a time. To those who find it difficult to speak on their own, it might be too much. In both cases, there’s one helpful way to feel the time – control it.
You have to train a lot at home with a timer. If you choose to talk about one photo and then the other, the following strategy can help. Divide your minute into three parts: 15 sec for one photo, 15 sec for the other, and 30 sec to answer the question about your photos. This will help to understand how many sentences you can say in each part. Approximately, it can be 2-3 sentences for the first picture, 2-3 for the second, and 4-5 to respond to the question. So time yourself to teach your brain to feel the time and speak by the time.
If you prefer to speak about both photos at the same time, divide your speaking into two parts: give yourself 20-30 seconds to compare the photos, and the rest of the time to answer the question.
In either case, remember to talk until the examiner says ‘thank you‘.
Don’t know what to say? Remember one of the tips I gave you before – think about yourself. E.g., if you see in the picture something you would do yourself, think why: maybe, some features of character make you do the same activity.
Somebody is hiking in the picture? You know you like it too because it gives you the feeling of adventure and freedom. So, say so! Go from personal experience to generalization. You can say: People choose to go hiking because they want to feel freedom and adventure.
It works in the opposite situation too, when you hate something you see in the photo or just are not interested in it. Again, think about the reason. E.g., you may not like hiking because you are a pampered princess and prefer a cosy relaxed atmosphere to energy consuming activities. So, understanding that will help you to think about the person in the picture as your opponent and you can say: People who go hiking might prefer physical activities to a relaxed atmosphere.
If you have said everything you could say but the examiner hasn’t said ‘thank you’ yet, turn to speak about yourself and your possible behaviour in the situations from the photos.
Finally, let’s complete the task. Imagine you see two photos. One of them shows the person in the mountains and the other the person lying and reading a book. The question is ‘Why do people choose these activities?‘
Both photos show the people in their leisure time but in different ways.
In the first photo, there’s the person on the top of the mountain looking far in front of him while the person in the second photo is reading in a lying position.
What people choose to do mainly depends on their characters, skills and way of life. I believe those who prefer to spend their spare time outside hiking or doing other active things are generally energetic and adventure lovers, unlike the people who prefer to read in a cosy relaxed atmosphere.
I guess work also influences the way people spend their free time a lot. A person whose job is physically hard might be fond of staying in and enjoy reading.
(If the examiner hasn’t stopped you here, you can add: If I were to choose between these two activities, I’d definitely go hiking as I’m sitting behind the desk all the time).
And that is all. I hope you find the lesson helpful. Leave your likes on iTunes and comments below, ask your question. This was ABC English Levels and Valentine. Wish you all the best and till next week!