Global Issues

Here is the transcript for episode three of the Real Exam English podcast about global issues.

Hello and welcome to Real Exam English. Today we are going to be talking about global issues. We are living in an ever more globalized world and for that reason this is a topic that comes up quite frequently in English exams. Questions are often about problems, such as environmental issues or overpopulation, and how to solve those problems. It is also quite common to see questions about news coverage of global issues and different cultures and customs is another angle sometimes covered.

So we have questions about all of those different areas today. Also, We analyse some fancy grammar in the form of the passive voice and cleft sentences. We are some excellent vocabulary about globalization and we take a look at how to improve your speaking with discourse markers.

As usual we have a bunch of different accents for you to practice listening to, all in the one podcast, so let´s get going with the questions!

hat do you think we as individuals can do to make improvements in our world?

Just be nice like. It seems silly and I’m so not religious, but that section of the Bible where it says do unto others as you wish to have done unto you.

Brilliant like it’s a super concise and sensible way to live like.

Do I punch people in the face or get into fights? I don’t. You know why? ’cause I don’t want to get punched in the face?

Do I steal from people? I don’t why? ’cause I don’t want to get stolen from. Do I stab people? No, ’cause I think getting stabbed would suck. It seems like a really really simple principle that I don’t think Is taken seriously enough, like Just take that bit. That sentence lived by itAnd that will improve everything.

Some wise wise words there from the East Midlands of England! And a classic example of how to use the passive voice. We had 3 brilliant examples, Do I punch people? No, because I don´t want to get punched. We had I don´t want to get stolen from and getting stabbed would suck, which means it would be terrible, by the way. So normally you form a passive sentence with the verb to be and the past participle but it´s also possible with the verb get in place of be, particularly when talking about events that are negative or not desired, such as our examples here..getting punched, getting robbed, or getting stabbed!

Where do you get your information about news and current affairs from?

On be embarrassed by this cause I feel like I should pay loads more attention to what’s going on in the world and I really don’t do it as much as I would like. That being said, I subscribe to a podcast called The Squeeze And it’s a really short live Between 8 to 10 Minutes podcast every morning. Uh, we have good roundup of what’s happening, particularly in Australia, but we’ve global global stuff as well. If there’s something particularly that’s captivating me at the moment, I look at my local news station ABC, ABC. I will look up Newspapers Online.

Is it important to donate money to international charities?

I think Giving money to charities is always a good idea, If you have money to give. And who you give that money to is really important. That it aligns with who you are, I guess and What’s important to you. there’s Charities available for almost everything And what I will say is giving money to charities is almost always more worthwhile than donating goods. There is often after, particularly after a disaster A second disaster, which is that people have donated goods that aren’t fit for purpose or aren’t necessarily very Important.

Ok so we had a great connector in the first answer, which was That being said. This is a really nice way to express a contrast. For example, I don´t like animation movies, that being said I did love the latest Pixar film. Another way of saying the same thing is “having said that” or nevertheless, or nonetheless, or however if you want to keep it more simple.

In the second answer we saw an example of a cleft sentence, which was “What I will say is….giving money to charities is worthwhile”. So this is a great structure to use. It creates emphasis and is seen by examiners as an advanced grammatical structure. If you are doing a C1 or C2 exam and don´t know what this is then make sure to look it up in the grammar section of any good textbook because what I will say is that it´s really easy to use and a handy one to know.

How important is it for us to understand different cultures and customs?

Very important. I would recommend traveling to anybody and it’s like the best education I think I´ve ever given myself. Especially like you say, seeing different cultures and different communities, I mean the diversity that’s out there.  the way…. the religions you know, the way that people dress, the foods that people eat and to experience that is like em,  It’s just the best education That you could ever get yourself, and it’s also a really good way of, I guess acknowledging that everyone’s different and our differences can are something to be celebrated basically. it’s brilliant that we’re not all the same. It’s brilliant.

What a great way to view the world eh! So this question is a really good opportunity for you to show off some nice language. In this answer we heard about the diversity, the religions, the clothes, the food, you could also mention the traditions, the manners, the music, architecture, whatever, it´s so open that you can force in whatever cultural vocabulary you know. If possible try to use colourful language, so instead of simply saying the food, say the diverse gastronomy, or instead of clothes say mindblowing fashions, lets impress those examiners!

How important do you think it is to follow news from around the world?

Oh, goodness, I think it is important. Yeah, I don’t do it As often as I used to. I do think it’s important to follow news from other places in the world because it’ll allow you some different perspectives which For one, being in the United States, we have a very centric view of ourselves where at least this is my opinion We are the world is us, you know, in so many ways and how it’s presented in the United States, that the media doesn’t necessarily Present important issues that occur outside of your country. Additionally, the bias that exists within media as far as you know to which political base the media is leaning towards, whether that be The Liberal, as you know, kind of perspective that, for instance, CNN News Network would have compared to a more conservative right wing aspect that the Fox News might have. So your news outlets are somewhat skewed in that respect, and having the ability to view news from outside sources like international sources, whether that be the BBC or other outlets in other countries, allows the different perspective to what you’re seeing in your own Country. So it’s a maybe a slightly less biased view of what is occurring as compared to what you made Receive when you’re in your own domestically.

We had an awesome example of participle clause here. Being in the united states, we have a very centric view of ourselves. So the sentence starts with a present participle “being” and then follows with another verb “have” which has the same subject.  Another example would be, Being Irish, I love Guinness or seeing the police, the thief ran away. This is another of those structures that examiners look upon as more advanced and a good one to put into your writing particularly. So if you are doing a C1 or C2 exam then you definitely should know how to do this.

What I also really liked about this answer was the discourse markers. to introduce his first point he said For one and then for the second point additoinally, to give an example he used For instance, to compare two options he used Whether that be A or B,    and also he used as compared to. So in terms of organization this was a great answer, really well structured.

Some people say it is better to solve problems in our own countries before thinking about world problems. Do you agree?

I, I think that to an extent yes, but I also recognize that we’re all interconnected. No country operates completely independently of itself, with the exception of maybe North Korea. But even then they, I mean they have imports and exports too. I think that all of our countries depend. Particularly Western countries depend so much on each other for trade and Commerce that it’s impossible for us to distinguish Individual countries problems versus global problems. So I think that, for example, in the United States we have Lots of problems with things like crumbling infrastructure and manufacturing issues and economy struggles based on the changing digital economy, particularly in our post consumer. I guess postconsumer is not the best word……Late stage capitalistic structure that we have right now. So I think that Where we’re at right now, globally, we all depend on each other to take care of each other, and so I think that while to an extent you know domestic issues should happen and should be taken care of at a local level and local government level, I think that global international issues Are pressing and should be taken care of.

Wow, now that´s how to answer a question! It´s got loads of excellent vocabulary about globalization, for example Imports, exports, trade, commerce, Interconnected, manufacturing issues, changing digital economy, Crumbling infrastructure, late-stage Capitalistic structure. Wow! He also uses this expression “to an extent, domestic issues should be taken care of”. Ok, so to an extent kinda means partly and you hear a variation of this very frequently in part 4 questions in the B2, C1 and C2 exams. So you might hear something like, “to what extent do you agree that Hawaiian pizza is disgusting”. And it very often confuses people because they don´t know that “to what extent” means how much. So to what extent do you agree that Hawaiian pizza is disgusting means how much do you agree that Hawaiian pizza is disgusting. It´s essential to know that this phrase. And I think Hawaiian pizza is lovely by the way.

How important is it for us to understand different cultures and customs?

So as someone who hasn’t lived in her country of birth since she was five years old, very important. I think I’ve lived in. I was born in Portugal. Both of my parents are Portuguese, but I haven’t lived there since I was five.Everywhere else I’ve lived in since then has felt like some form of home, but not quite.And that life experience, I think is invaluable, because if you’re someone who is an immigrant, you have to adapt. You have to adapt. You can’t just live your life in another country like you would in your country of origin, whatever that may be. Because chances are you’re going to come come up against some clashes. So I think my life experience has taught me that it’s very important to observe what other people are doing and respect it up to a point obviously, and. By leaving the comforts of whatever your country of origin is. It gives you a different perspective on the world, and I think it makes most people more open minded, and I think even if you don’t have the opportunity to to live the to leave the country that you were born in. And if you always live in the same place, that’s fine. You know it’s it’s not for everyone and not everyone can afford to or has the practicality to to be able to do that, but. We’re living in a more globalized world by learning about other cultures You enrich your own culture. You enrich your own knowledge, and I think it gives you more empathy towards other people, especially those who have different life experiences to you or different from you. Whether that’s gender, sexuality, race etc.

Some people believe that certain world problems are too big to solve and it´s too late to try. What do tou think?

 I would say that I’m a cautious optimist. I’m a bit of a cynic sometimes, and I’m a bit of a sceptical person. I for example, hate inspirational quotes. It really annoys me when people share those on social media, but I have to think that things will get better no matter what the scale of the problem is.

Because if you don’t and you need to despair. Well then the worst thing that can happen is that it gets worse, whereas if you try, even if you only halt problems rather than improving them, that’s already something and you just have to think that you can be a person to make a difference. I work in sustainability communications. Climate change is absolutely terrifying and very often news related to that Is very depressing and you see many climate change journalists talking about how difficult their job can be. There’s also something called compassion fatigue. Which is something people working in NGOs and other organisations from suffer from where you’re doing So much activism and you’re working on so many difficult issues that sometimes you can just burn out because of that. So you have to be careful.

Wow, compassion fatigue, I never heard of that before, interesting. We had some phrasal verbs here. So we had to come up against some clashes. So to come up against means to have to deal with a problem. So for example, if you come up against any difficulties, let me know and I´ll help out. We also had to burn out. So if you burn out you are suffering from extreme tiredness usually caused by working too much. For instance, the pressure in Michelin star kitchens is so high that many chefs burn out quickly. You can also use this as a noun, like I´m suffering from burnout.

How interested are you in keeping up with news and current affairs?

I would say I’m pretty involved. I’m sorry. Before the pandemic hit on my morning commute, I would also I would always listen to NPR which is national public radio. I love NPR and I feel like they were able to keep me connected into what was happening not only in America but all across the world as well so.

That’s how I would stay connected, but now that I work from home I kind of stopped listening to them. So I kind of, you know, disconnected from that because now you turn on the news and it’s only you know, covid and all of this stuff. So I kind of I’m not as connected like I used to take the weekly quizzes that they send out. And it’s like, yeah. I don’t do good anymore. Yeah, the new.

What do you think is the best way to bring world issues to people’s attention?

Wow, that’s a good question. In this day and age to kind of reach everyone. I would stay social media. I think that’s a good way to kind of put it out there to the world, because everyone seems to have some sort of, you know, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. Um, I think that’s a good way to get those issues out there. Like the news, yeah, but some people you know kind of don’t like the media anymore. So social media or you know things like that.

Ok so we had a nice phrase here which was used to buy a little bit of time to think about a hard question, that was Wow that´s a good question. So remember to have one or two of these time-buyers in case you get a tough question in your exam. We also heard the expression in this day and age, this is lovely alternative to Nowadays, which I seem to see in almost every essay I correct. So if you are one of the nowadays people then why not try this one for a change, in this day and age.

And that´s it for today folks. Remember to revise your passive voice, cleft sentences and participle clauses, particularly at a C1 or C2 level, or IELTS band 7. For B2 level you need to know the passive voice well as you´ll need it in your formal writings in particular. Additionally, make a note of some nice globalization vocabulary as it´s such a common theme. But remember to take some breaks for yourself, we don´t want you to burn out!

Ok guys, let me know what you think of the episode on social media and remember to check out the transcripts on the Real Exam English website if you need them.

All the best

Trevor

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