[The examiner asks the candidate about him/herself, his/her home, work or studies and other familiar topics.]
Q. Do you prefer to have one particular friend or a group of friends? [Why?]
Answer: I prefer to have a group of friends, as opposed to having just one particular friend, since more friends usually mean more chances of getting help and advice when I would be in need of some. More friends also usually mean more fun and more sharing in order to make us happy in our lives.
Q. What do you like doing most with your friend/s?
Answer: I like doing pretty much everything with my friends, depending on our moods and times, but I mostly like to hang out with my friends at a local coffee shop. I sometimes enjoy our lively conversations while enjoying some drinks like ca phe da (cold coffee) and sharing some “fun and exciting” news among each other until we get tired! By the way, we, Vietnamese, are probably the most “talkative” people in the world!
Q. Do you think it’s important to keep in contact with friends you knew as a child? [Why/Why not?]
Answer: Friendship, to us Vietnamese, is a lifelong thing, no matter where or when we made the friendship. So, if we ever made some friends during our childhood, we would certainly try to keep in contact with them because childhood friends are even more special since this kind of friendship is usually born out of no “expectation” and no “worldly-gain”.
Q. What makes a friend into a good friend?
Answer: There is a saying that “A friend in need is a friend indeed”. A good friend will always be on our sides through thick and thin in order to support us in whichever capacity they can. A good friend will not only help us to move along in the right direction in life but also prevent us from getting “astray”.
[The topic for your talk will be written on a card which the examiner will hand you. Read it carefully and then make some brief notes.]
Describe an important choice you had to make in your life.
You should say:
and explain how you felt when you were making this choice.
[ You will have to talk about the topic for one to two minutes. You have one minute to think about what you are going to say. You can make some notes to help you if you wish.]
[Examiner: All right? Remember you have one to two minutes for this, so don’t worry if I stop you. I’ll tell you when the time is up. Can you start speaking now, please?]
Model Answer 1:
Whether we like it not, we all have to make some important decisions at some points of our lives because they allow us the opportunities not only to grow as a “person”, but also to adapt and adjust our “life strategies” with the demand of time. Today, I would like to talk about one such important decision, which I made about 5 years ago or so.
The decision was about whether to quit my job or not and then going back to university again in order to obtain an advanced degree, such as an MBA, in “international business”. And, the reason, for which I wanted to obtain an advanced degree, was that I wanted to build my career as a university teacher instead of pursuing a career in the corporate world.
But, it was not a very easy decision to make for me at that time as I didn’t only have enough funds to pay for my educational expenses, but also I wasn’t confident enough about a good academic performance, after a significant time of study break, which would be a “must” thing to help me get a job as a university faculty member. Not knowing for sure what to do, I sought for some important advice from one of my high school teachers, who was very much like a “mentor” to me, and he told me that I should have gone back to university again. So, I went back to the university again, and in hindsight 20/20, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made so far.
Anyway, it was indeed a very important decision to make because it allowed me to find out my true potentials, both on the intellectual level and professional level, in the subsequent years. In fact, I did get an invitation to work as a teacher at a local university after finishing my advanced degree. Besides, this particular decision made me more confident about my life and future than ever before which was more of an important “gift” for me in itself than prospective career opportunities.
Model Answer 2:
Decisions, decisions. I’m not always good at making decisions. I worry about making the wrong choices and often seek advice from friends to help me think through the consequences of picking one option over another. Mind you, some people say that we choose who to ask for advice depending on what advice we want to hear. That might be true. Some decisions are easy to make – perhaps because all the possible options are good ones (like choosing a favourite pudding) others seem to have no good options only ‘least bad’ ones, those are hardest to make. The important decision I can think of, and which I’m going to talk about today, worked out in the end, but it was terrifying to have to make at the time.
I’ll talk you through what the decision was, when I took it and what the results were. Finally, I’ll explain why it was so important that it still impacts me today.
The decision was whether or not I should relocate to a different part of the country to take up a new job. I had to make this decision about 6 years ago. I had been self-employed for a while, but then there was a downturn in the economy and I stopped getting enough work to support myself. I applied for a job in Sheffield, which was a city I didn’t know at all, and when I had first an interview, and then a job offer, I was faced with a big decision. Should I leave my home and friends to start a new life in Sheffield for a promising job at a prestigious university; or should I stay where I was in my lovely house and familiar surroundings, and hope the work might pick up again in the future?
I thought a lot about the pros and cons; I cried a lot to be honest, as the thought of making a new start was really scary. I’d be all on my own, and what if I didn’t make friends or couldn’t do the job well? However, ultimately it came down to income. I couldn’t live on fresh air, and this was a well-paid job. I also thought if I turned the work down, and then didn’t manage to pick up new contracts I’d always wonder ‘what if?’ or how might things have been different if I’d just been brave enough to ‘give it a go!’ I accepted the job and started to pack. In less than three weeks I was renting a flat in a new city and turning up to work in a new office with new colleagues. One resolution I made early on, was to be really positive about the decision once I’d made it. I’d join societies, say ‘yes’ to every social invitation, and really try to build a new life quickly. I wouldn’t ever look back!
The result of the decision? Well, I moved to a new city and took a new job. It was hard at first, there was a lot to learn and sometimes it was lonely too. However, I’ve never regretted it. Sheffield is a lovely city near to the beautiful countryside. I’ve rented an attic flat which has great views over the city in one direction and woodland in the other. I think this city must be one of the friendliest ones in the UK, people were incredibly welcoming to me as a newcomer, and there is always lots to do. I don’t have that job anymore, but I don’t regret taking it at all. I do sometimes miss my old house in Lamington where I used to live, but I don’t miss anything else. I think the move revitalized me and took me on a great new adventure, sometimes you do just have to take a bit of a risk in life to progress, this bit of risk-taking worked for me.
So in conclusion, I think it was a big decision, but I made a good choice. Of course, it was an important one as it changed everything for me, from where I lived and worked, to who my friends are. Honestly, I think perhaps with decisions it matters less what you decide, and more than once you have made a decision you make the best of it, wherever it may take you. Sometimes the journey is speedy and smooth, sometimes it is rocky along the way, but whatever path we choose, it is what makes us the people we are – for better or worse!
[ Written by – Lucy Marris, Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]
Sample Answer 3:
I’ve made many decisions in my life and frankly speaking, I have taken those decisions sometimes all alone and sometimes discussing with my parents and others. The particular decision that seems very important to me was the time when I decided to major in Literature rather than major in Engineering. My mother wanted me to get admitted to the Engineering University and do my graduation majoring Engineering while my fascination was studying in Literature. I made this decision when I was 18 years old, just after finishing my 12th grade. My father did not force me to do anything; instead, he told me to do what I thought was best for me. My relatives thought that I was a fool and too immature to make a big decision for myself.
But after considering several issues and perspective I decided to get myself admitted to a university that offers graduation in literature. I’m happy that I made this decision. I’m yet to finish my graduation but throughout the last 3 years I have enjoyed studying literature and I am doing quite well academically.
Making the decision/ choice was not easy and I had to go through a hard time as I remember. I had to fight a lot with my inner self and then convince my mother. There were always risks of picking the option I prefer my parents would have complained if I hadn’t made a promising result. I still remember the dubious feelings I had that time. Sometimes it seemed to me that I should abandon my passion and yield to my parents’ decision and then again I strongly felt for my own choice and passion. Since I made my own choice at that time, a strong urge and force worked on me that I have to do really good and I am happy that I took my decision and doing very good so far.
Tips for answering this cue card topic:
Remember a decision that you took which turned out to be an influential thing you decided. You should be able to talk about something you decided and later proved to be useful and beneficial. This varies from person to person yet following are some of the ideas you can adopt to talk about your one:
Your decision to get admitted into a college, university or studying in a particular major/ subject.
Try to talk about something positive you decided. You are free to describe one of your decisions which become harmful for you later but it is advisable not to talk about such negative things.
Q. How parents’ decisions affect their children’s life?
Answer: Our decisions determine our actions and the future paths of our life. Wrong decisions can often ruin lives while prudent decisions often lead to prosperity and happiness. I would say that parents should be extremely careful when they are about to make a decision for their children and take into account their children’s future as well.
To be more precise, there are many cases that parents want to move to another city or even to another country for whatever reasons they have and due to this decision, children become unhappy and face difficulties. I vividly remember a friend of mine when I was in high school, that she had just moved to Greece and the difficulties she experienced were frightful. She didn’t even know how to speak Greek and apart from the fact that she experienced racism, she was devastated as she had lost all of her friends and her dreams. Another point to consider is parents’ desires about their children’s future career. Unfortunately, parents’ intervention in youngsters’ studies is a frequent occurrence and many times they do wrong choices. To illustrate, many parents force their kids to study a subject that they want and dream about, with the excuse that it was their own wish but they weren’t able to accomplish it.
Furthermore, they urge their children to enrol at a university depending on career prospects, being indifferent to kid’s real dreams and aspirations. Because of these, children will end up trapped in disenchantment, misery and manipulation. On the other hand, the parents’ wise decision will affect the children’s life very positively.
Q. What important things do you consider while making a big decision?
Answer: That’s an interesting question. The decisions that I take mostly depend on the existing and potential circumstances. In my case, when I decided to leave Greece and move to England, there were endless matters that concerned me. First of all, the financial opportunity was the predominant and most significant one. If I didn’t have any money I wouldn’t be able to travel and start a new life here. Furthermore, career prospect was the second issue that plagued me during this decision. Due to the financial crisis that has agitated Greece and a big part of European countries, wages have declined and income has collapsed, so it’s almost impossible to get any form of employment. Therefore, I decided to take matters into my own hands and go and set my dreams in motion. Moreover, the overriding factor to this resolution was that my brother was in England too and I would have a really loving person of mine who always was by my side and supported me.
So I consider the present situation, related variables of the action I am going to take, future prospect, possible outcome (both positive and negative) while making any major decision.
Tip: I preferred to answer this question with a recent example of my life. You can do the same as well by talking about a job, studies, marriage, cohabitation, moving to another country and so on. For example, for the job, studies and moving somewhere else, you can say that you take into consideration things like job opportunities, salary, satisfactory working conditions, friends and relatives, husband and wife, type of facilities available, difficulty in adjustment and so on.
If you can talk about this cue card, you would also be able to describe:
1. Describe something you did and felt good for that.
2. Describe something you did for others.
3. Talk about a choice you made in your life.
4. Describe a decision you took that later affected your life.
5. Talk about an incidence when you got confused.
6. Describe an important choice you had to make in your life.
Q. What are the typical choices people make at different stages of their lives?
Answer: Life is full of many choices that we have to make from time to time in order to keep going. When we are students, we decide whether to study at a school close by or far away from home. We also have to decide whether to go for general education or a more specialized field of education as students. When choosing a career, we also have to decide whether to go for a job or have businesses of our own in order to earn a living. When we become adult and ready to settle down in life, we also have to decide whether to marry early or late, depending on our personal circumstances. And we also make so many small and major decisions in different stages in our life that greatly influence our life.
Q. Should important choices be made by parents rather than by young adults?
Answer: Important or less important, young adults should be able to make their own choices. Of course, they can seek advice from their parents and other persons in order to make “informed” decisions, but the ultimate choices should be made by the young adults themselves since they will have to live on their own at some points of their lives. Once the young adults learn to make choices on their own, they will be able to prepare the plans for their lives better and execute them according to the demands of the situations. Besides, making important choices will also help young adults become more confident in their lives.
Q. Why do some people like to discuss choices with other people?
Answer: People like to discuss their choices with other people primarily because they are not too sure about the choices they are about to make, and, as such, they are seeking some good advice to help them make a good decision. In fact, having discussions with others will almost always open up the doors of new ideas and opportunities since we all are different, and we all have different ideas on how to face life. Then, of course, there is another group of people who like to discuss their choices with other people simply because they are just not confident enough to make any choices in their lives even though the choices may be very ‘obvious”.
Choices in everyday life:
Q. What kind of choices do people have to make in their everyday life?
Answer: People make different kinds of choices in their everyday life from deciding what to wear for works to whether to eat vegetables or meat. Depending on how far we live from our works, we also have to make choices between whether to take a bus or metro subway in order to arrive at our workplaces. We may also need to make choices between how much money we should spend daily for buying our groceries and milk, and how much to spend in buying our favorite energy drinks when we are tight on our budget.
Q. Why do some people choose to do the same things every day? Are there any disadvantages in this?
Answer: We, as humans, just never really like to get out of our “comfort” zone. As a result, when we get used to doing the same things every day, we just don’t like to try anything else new simply because we fear in our minds that they may pose a different kind of challenges in our daily lives. But the problem or disadvantages of such “crippling” thoughts are that trying new things may actually improve our living standards in many ways. Besides, trying new things may also make our lives more fun by easing unnecessary pressures on us.
Q. Do you think that people today have more choices to make than in the past?
Answer: Yes, I do think that people have far more choices to make in the present days than in the past primarily because our lives have become more complicated, and our expectations from life have increased in many folds. As a result, we are not exactly content with simple choices of life, such as going to work and spending time with families, but other choices like whether we need to buy an iPhone, iPad or smartphone also come into play. Also choices like whether to watch a movie at home or movie theatre become a “headache” these days while in the past, we could simply visit a friend and spend some quality time with him or her.