Animals

This is the transcript from the Real Exam English podcast episode about animals.

Hello and welcome to Real Exam English. Today’s topic is animals. You are going to hear speakers from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand, all answering questions about pets, zoos, wildlife and all things animal, and of course you have me, from Ireland, picking out the best bits. And today those best bits include different ways to express habits, you will hear some super vocabulary, excellent idioms and also we have some top class speculation about a photograph with an owl.

Remember you can find the transcript for this, and every episode, on the Real Exam English website, realexamenglish.com You can find information there too about classes, if you would like help preparing for an exam or just to improve your English in general. Feel free to get in contact any time!

Ok then, animals, here we go:

how much contact do you have with animals in your daily life?

50% less than I did.A while ago I used to have a dog and a cat. Now I just have a dog.  Unfortunately. I mean fortunately that I still have the dog, but it sucks that I don’t have the cat. So there you go, quite a lot of contact.

What are the benefits of humans for humans of having abundant wildlife?

Loads loads like I’ve recently moved out of the city into the….Like a fairly small town, uh, my house is less than 100 meters away from a large wood and I like to go and walk around the woods. I’ll see birds. I’ll see other people walking dogs occasionally see a deer. It’s just it’s wonderful, lovely and relax. I think being out in nature is good for your spirit. It’s very, you know, very relaxing, very calming I find.

Ok, we’re just going to pick up on two different ways to express habits. In the first answer the speaker says he used to have a dog and a cat, which refers to the past and implies that that situation is no longer the same. Remember used to can only be used in the past in English, there is no present version of it. I sometimes hear students using used to for a habit in the present when they really should be using the present simple, like they say these days, I use to go to the gym every day, instead of these days, I go to the gym every day.

 In the second answer we hear another way to talk about habits in the present and that is using will. The speaker said I´ll see birds, I´ll see other people walking dogs. So will can be used for habits in the present and used to for the past. Another example would be, I used to drink tea every morning, but not anymore, now I’ll have coffee most mornings. Examiners identify when you use a variety of structures like this so you should try to keep this in mind when you are writing and speaking.

What is the most attractive animal, in your opinion?

Ah, the most attractive animal. I would say just a cute you know, little puppy dog or maybe like a cute little kitten. The kind that you just want to pet and you know, cuddle up with. 

How has the wildlife population of your local area changed over the years?

I’m not sure I haven’t been paying so much attention to it there. There have been more bear sightings in Connecticut recently. Like over the past.Like since since hibernation ended, so like since the spring there’s been more bear sightings.Less fish if you go out fishing. When I was a kid we would go out fishing and come back with, you know at least three or four you know bass in in the bucket.Now you know you’re lucky if if you get a you know a little sunny, so it’s the there’s less, there’s less game, there’s less fishing game.More bear sightings, less fishing game? Uh, that’s that’s the most that I’ve been attentive to. 

Ok so here is another way to express a habit in the past and that is with would. The speaker said “when I was younger we would go out fishing”, and this is a very typical situation to use this structure, when you are reminiscing about the past. Like, when I was a boy we would play football every day for hours, or when I visited my grandmother she would always cook my favourite dinner.

Also, in the first answer here we heard a lovely phrasal verb, to cuddle up with a puppy, which means to sit or lie with your body against someone else, for instance, I like to cuddle up with my wife on the sofa and watch a movie.

what are the benefits for humans of having abundant wildlife.

Now I have no doubt that biologist or zoologist or or something like that would be better Answering this question than me, but from my knowledge and from what I feel also is that having rich and healthy and abundant wildlife. And means basically the earth is healthy itself and humans whether we like it or not, are animals. And we require a healthy earth and we require healthy Earth to clean the air to keep the ocean clean to make sure we have fertile soil to grow things. And obviously animals are necessary for for. Food as well for some places and some people and so for that reason, keeping things healthy. Keeping the entire biodiversity and biosphere of the world healthy also keeps humans healthy.

What is your attitude towards keeping animals in zoos and wildlife parks?

This question is really like a double edged sword. As we say there is 2 Very difficult sides to it and the first side is that it is not great for the animals you know they live in often. Even the best zoos they live in often quite small cramped places. I think they get mental health issues because of because of. It’s not natural for them, and it’s certainly not normal. However, on the flip side of that, a lot of these animals end up living in better conditions than they might have might have lived in the wild, and the biggest bonus of zoos and wildlife parks is that it brings awareness to people bringing so much more funding. And brings research and science about these animals. We would know a fraction about animals if It wasn’t for zoos. We really require zoos to get funding for these things, get public awareness and to learn from animals.

What a great answer. This is a typical question in English exams and this speaker brilliantly explains the two sides of the argument, as he said the question is a double-edged sword, meaning it has positives and negatives. This is a great expression to know, by the way, you can use it to answer many questions in a speaking exam or in a writing exam. For example, the development of modern technology has been a double-edged sword in terms of human communication, or becoming famous is a double edged sword. Nice expression that.

We also had some lovely green vocabulary here, in fact we had three words beginning with bio. We had biodiversity, which is the mix of different life living in an environment, we had the biosphere which is the regions of the earth occupied by living organisms and we had biologists, who of course are the people who study all of that stuff. If you are looking for a really high C1 mark or to pass a C2 test then this is the kind of language you need to be producing in your exam.

Ok then, so time for a photograph. Hopefully you can see the photograph in your podcast player, alternatively you can check it out on the blog on the Real Exam English website. So we have one speaker from the USA and one from the UK speculating about what they can see here, pay attention to the expressions they use to speculate, ok, here we go.

It looks like one of those bird sanctuaries where they get some.Different birds out and they show the Falcons and the owls and and things like that. And they do some of the what do they? Predator bird?Exhibits or something like that, so that’s yes. So that’s that’s what it looks like to me. The woman has a little being minnillo, so I imagine that it was there was a group there, and that maybe.The woman in the picture was a volunteer, one of something from maybe the audience to do a specific thing.And then the way the woman hand is cut, it almost looks like she’s about to give the animal little treat.It would be my.

OK, there they are.Uh, this what appears to be an instructor ’cause you’ve got a little microphone and then a lady holding. A barn owl on a glove, and I don’t think they’re related ’cause he’s got his little microphone on and. So I think he’s doing a show and he’s invited someone out of the audience to hold an owl.And the lady looks really pleased to be holding an owl. ’cause why would you not?

Ok so what did we hear….it looks like, I imagine, maybe it´s a, it almost looks like she’s about to, this is what appears to be, I don´t think they’re related, the lady looks really pleased. Nice to hear pleased, instead of happy, that nearly everyone else says. That would please an examiner for sure.

How much contact do you have with animals in your daily life?

With my own animal I have a lot of contacts, especially when I was working at home. She when I when I don’t have classes she’s with me 100% of the time and all of that I’m.I’m also an avid dog sitter, even though I have a cat, she’s she’s fine with several of my friends.Dogs, so I would say I would like more contact with animals.But I don’t necessarily have it, but I don’t. The desire is not so great that I need to volunteer atthe local.Pet protector, but I do like I do like having animals and I’m, you know, if we’re out on a hike or something like that, I’m certainly one to carry a few carrots in my bag and try to give it to a horse or.That kind of a thing.

Is it important to protect all animal species?

Well, I guess yes. I mean it’s my my thought and I am a vegetarian. So I guess uhm, have I been known to kill a mosquito? Yes, I’ve killed a mosquito. Do I try to shoosh a bee out of my house? Yes, uhm.Have I also eaten a shrimp every now and again? Yes, so all that all really made it.A tough question to answer.

In the first answer here, the speaker said that she is an avid dog sitter, meaning she is very keen or eager to be a dog sitter, which is someone who looks after someone else’s dog by the way. If an examiner asks you about your hobbies you could definitely use this word avid, like I`m an avid reader, or I’m an avid gamer, or whatever.

Can you tell me something about the wildlife in your country?

Well, we don’t have any really wild or dangerous animals. We have our national bird, Which is the Kiwi bird, and we have UM deer, possums and dolphins and we have about 47 million sheep. So, but yeah, nothing dangerous thing.

What are the benefits for humans of having abundant wildlife?

Oh yeah, that’s. Uhm, gosh, I hadn’t really thought about it actually because I’m so used to having abundant animals and things. I guess it’s just the nature, you know, being able to have all that nature around you and seeing how they live and and it’s nice. It’s just having them around and seeing how they live and their habitats and and everything so.

In this second answer the speaker gives herself some extra time to think with a combination of stalling expressions, “oh yea…uhm, gosh, I hadn´t really thought about it actually”. We’ve spoken before about the importance of having expression like these to give yourself an extra few seconds, which can help a lot in an exam.

We then heard her using “used to”, “I’m so used to having abundant animals”. So earlier we said that used to could be used for habits in the past, it can also be used in a different way, like in this example, to mean accustomed to. And it is used with the verb to be or get. Like It took me a while to get used to the heat in Spain but now I am totally used to it. Which is not true by the way.

What is the most attractive animal, in your opinion?

Uh, what’s the most attractive? Oh, I don’t know, I mean so I think pandas are incredibly cute. But then at the same token, I think you know Jaguars are absolutely beautiful animals and I think every animal is has got its own special something. And we’re watching a program about Dragonfly.

And you know, I mean, the the iridescence that they have is stunning. So I mean, the only things I really don’t find particularly attractive are bugs.But everything else has got something.

What do you think of testing cosmetics on animals?

I think it’s not necessary. Uhm, I think it’s cruel and I don’t see why we need to do that when we’re perfectly able to dermatologically test stuff without being cruel to animals. You know? I mean animals have.That they’re sentient beings. They feel pain. They feel stuff. Why do we need to put cosmetics or any kind of thing into their eyes? For example, uhm, you know it’s not humane, so I’m not a fan of it.

Loving the adjectives in the first answer here, you’ll notice they are mostly accompanied by adverbs too to give them a bit of emphasis, incredibly cute, absolutely beautiful and particularly attractive. A nice variety too, which is important to impress those examiners. Some top vocab here also, like the iridescence of the dragonflies, which is the changing bright colours of their wings and we heard that animals are sentient beings, which means they are able to experience feelings. She finished her answer perfectly too with this expression I´m not a fan of it, that’s a great way to voice your disagreement or disapproval of something. Like, what is your opinion of kids using mobile phones. I´m not a fan of it. Nice, handy expression that.

Ok well hopefully you are a fan of this podcast and find it useful. It would be great if you can give the podcast a rating on Spotify, if that is where you listen, and also give the page a like on Instagram, Facebook or wordpress. Ok guys, till next time, take care, Trevor

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