Good afternoon.My name is Eli.
Can you please tell me your name?
My name is Conor.
Pleasure to meet you.
Pleasure to meet you, Conor.
Now, in this first part, I'd like to askyou some questions about yourself.
Let's talk about about where you live.
Which town or city do you live in?
I live in Paris, France.
Do you like living there?
Not even remotely.
I find the cost of living prohibitivelyexpensive, and taking public transport
anywhere is generallyan objectionable experience.
Is there a town or city that youwould prefer to live in?
Well, I used to live in Shanghai and that,
to my mind, is probablythe nicest city I've lived in.
Or rather, I enjoyedliving there the most.
That's not the same as it being the nicestcity, but I enjoyed living there the most.
I would love to return there.Let's move on.
Let's talk about taking photos.
Do you take a lot of photos?
People take a lot of photos of me,but I don't take a lot of photos.
Generally speaking, do you prefertaking photos or being in photos?
Again, I generally dislike both.
I did use to modeland I got paid for that.
So my enjoyment was directly relatedto how much money I was paid.
But in general, I don't like photographs.
I don't like being in front of a camera.
I think everyone's a little bitmore critical about themselves.
Everyone sees flaws in themselvesthat other people miss.
It's like that spotlighteffect in psychology.
You make an error, you interpret it asbeing more visible than it actually is.
And same with your flaws.I think you see things that other people
black and you distortthem in your own mind.
How do you think mobile phones havechanged the way that people take photos?
It may not be to answer the questiondirectly, but I would say
mobile phones have
diluted the importance of taking photos.
prior to the advent of cell phones
and mobile phones, people took photosof actual of things worth remembering.
Whereas now anything that happens at anytime, on any given day, at any moment,
for any reason, must be crystallizedin a JPEG for all time.
Here's avocado on a piece of bread.
Well, I must look at this foreverand I must send it to everyone I know
Many people like taking selfies.Why do you think that is?
I don't want to be unduly critical.
The way society
has developed recently is that there'smore of a primacy or an importance place
on the self rather thanthe collective or society.
And everyone has been led to think that I
don't know their reality or whatever itis that they're doing is interesting.
And the reality is it's not.
So I think people most of socialmedia is like Vlogging and blogging.
And here's what's going on in my life.
And people are misled into thinking,oh, this is something I also should do.
And yeah, I would say that that's whatit is, but I don't think it's stupidity.
Some people say it's justhow people are dumb.
I don't think people are any dumbernow than they ever were in the past.
Let's move on.Let's talk about being bored.
Do you often feel bored?
Not a second.
I cannot recall the last time Iever felt a moment of boredom.
Some people think it's good to be bored.
Sorry, sir, is that a question?
Well, some people think it's good to bebored, but what do you think about that?
If I were to reframe that, I thinkit's good to take time to be mindful.
I mean, on a daily basis,I take a moment to reflect on what has
happened, what I'm grateful for,what I'm looking forward to,
what I might be worried aboutand what I'm doing about that.
So I'm not doing anything other thansituating myself in the moment.
I'm not texting,I'm not listening to anything like that's
being, I guess, somewhatidle or not being occupied.
But I think that's radicallydifferent to being bored.
Okay, Conor, now in this next time going
to give you a topic and I'd like youto talk about it for one to two minutes.
Before you talk,you have 1 minute to think about what
you're going to say and you canmake some notes if you wish.
Do you understand?
Okay, Conor, here's your topic.
You'll have 1 minute to prepare.Alright.
Remember, you have oneto 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?
So the question didn't seem to prohibit me
from talking about someonewho no longer lives.
So the person I chose was Socrates.
And that would requiretraveling back in time.
The reason I chose Socrates is the sameanswers to the question, who is Socrates?
And he's the godfather of philosophy and I
guess by extension,all of Western thought.
where would we go?We wouldn't go anywhere.
In fact, there's a very specific moment
in time in which I would actuallylike to talk to Socrates.
And that is maybe around the night before
his death as relayed in the bookThe Apology by a student Plato.
And what we would do is I would actuallyask him a series of questions because
I think there are a lotof contradictions in Socrates'existence.
For example,he preached a life of humility.
He referred to himself as being a very
dumb man, that he knew lessthan anyone in the world.
Yes, when he was found guilty.
So he was on trial for essentially heresyin Athens and for corrupting the youth.
When he was found guilty,
he was given the opportunity for clemencyand he rejected it out of hand when all he
had to do was displaythe slightest modicum of humility.
He just had to say, you know what?
I was wrong to talk about theseideas or just compromise.
You just have to compromise a little bit.
And the man who professed himself to know
less than anybody else and who preachedunending humility was refused refused
to illustrate or demonstrate any humilitywhatsoever, and, in fact, chose death.
And I would like to ask him,how do you reconcile those two positions?
How do you reconcile humilitywith what I think is rank arrogance?
And that's what I wouldlike to talk to him about.
Thank you. Do you think you everwill spend a day with Socrates?
Highly unlikely.Thank you.
We've been talking about a famous personyou would like to spend a day with,
and I'd like to ask you some moregeneral questions related to your topic.
Let's consider, first of all,spending time with others.
So there are some people that like
to spend time primarily by themselves,and there's others that like to spend
a lot of time with a vastarray of different people.
What do you think are the advantages
of spending time with a lotof very different people?
So again, I'm going to take that question
to mean spending time with, let's say,cognitively diverse people.
So people who know a lot about differentthings have different interests.
And I would say the advantages of that areyou are generally exposed to other ideas.
And I think a skill that is somewhatvanishing these days or is in the process
of vanishing these days is learning to bearound people you don't agree with.
And that's, I think, a rather useful skill
in society,being able to be in the presence of people
who might have political or religious orphilosophical or legal or cultural beliefs
which are contrary to your own, and beingable to be civil with those people.
So, yeah, being around cognitively diverse
people, I think is very usefulfor generating that skill.
That's a very interesting point, Conor,that you said
we're finding it more difficult to spendtime with people that we maybe don't agree
with politically orreligiously or ethically.
Why do you think that is that we're
finding it more difficultnowadays compared to the past.
I would say that
people talk about, let's say,the Echo Chamber effect,
where you just you associatewith people who already agree with you.
And there's a feedback loop where
you hang around with five people allthe time, and all five of you have this,
you hang around with five other people,and all six of you have the same ideas
and just repeat and reinforceyour own ideologies.
I would say overarchingly it's morethe way news and events are actually
portrayed online, not just online,in print, just in news in general.
So news outlets, the way information ispresented, it tends to be very polarizing.
There's very little nuance,very little Gray.
Everything is black or it's whiteand Where's the camera,
it's black or it's white, and it'sdesigned to evoke an emotional reaction.
And I think that there's
a value there's such profitin presenting information in that way.
So that is all that companies doand that's all that news outlets do.
And when you're raised in that environment
and let's be honest,information is an environment,
then it becomes more difficult to bearound people who disagree with you.
So what kind of active steps can people
take to spend time empathizing andlistening to a diverse range of opinions?
So again, I can only speak from my ownexperience, but
what I do and what I have done for a verylong time is I actually buy books written
by people who I alreadyknow I disagree with.
So let's say you're on one side of
the political spectrum or you have veryfixed opinions on a certain topic.
I will consciously not just read but pay
to read a book written by somebody who Ialready know I disagree with so that I can
at least say I gavethat person the best possible chance.
I didn't listen to whatsomebody else said about them.
I sat down and I read the book.
And often there are places whereyou'll find common ground or
pockets of agreement.
And to me, I mean, I've donethat for a very long time.
So it's easy for me now,
but that really has helped me tobe exposed to or around ideas that I know
I probably won't agree with, but I don'thave an emotional reaction to it anymore.
I'm just going to haveto move on to another topic.
Let's talk about role models.
Do you think it's important for youngpeople especially to have role models?
if the role models are people who exhibitgood behavior or beneficial behavior or
habits which are productive, then sure,that's an absolutely wonderful thing,
the idea of just having a rolemodel in and of itself.
And I think this kind of comes back
to the idea of what exactly constitutesa role model these days is somebody who we
all know, someone who hasany degree of notoriety.
Are they a role model?
Because that seems to be the standard.
Now this musician or this actor,
people know who they are,therefore, they are a role model.
There's no disrespect,
but this person doesn't know the firstthing or probably doesn't know the first
thing about geopolitics,religion, the economy, medical science,
philosophy, history, geography, anysingle branch of knowledge you can name.
So why would I look to thisperson for behavioral cues?
Well, the thing is,
often with young people,they don't choose role models based
on political beliefs or particularlygood behavioral characteristics.
They'll often choosefilm stars or athletes.
Now my question to you is,do you think that these film stars
and athletes and other celebritiesthat become role models for young children
have an ethical responsibility to improvetheir behavior and to act in a way
that's more in accord with beinga positive role model.
No, I don't.
I think from the perspective of a parent,or rather, I think comma,
from the perspective of a parent comma,it would be more prudent
for you to present better optionsfor role models to your children.
So the idea that
if you're in a position where, you know,your children are looking at
semi intelligent actors and semiarticulate musicians and taking,
as I said, behavioral, political,philosophical cues and influence
from people who have absolutely no ideawhat they're talking about,
the responsibility is actuallyon the parents to intervene.
Again, that's perhaps a bit contentious,but that's my opinion.
Okay.Thank you very much, Conor.
That is a speaking test.Thank you very much.
Have a nice day.
So how did you feel? How was itgoing through the test yourself?
Well, I don't think it was
my best performance,but I definitely think that was probably
the best IELTS test anyoneelse has ever done.
You think you're going to bea good role model there, Conor?
Yeah, a good role model.
I know everything about everything.
So you can look at me for advice.
Well, you and Socrates.
Well, that's the thing.
It occurred to me.
It's one of those things,
I suppose had to put a structured thoughtwhere I had this wonderful thought
in the back of my mind and I wanted to useit, this wonderful quote from Socrates.
And I thought, I'm not going to just use
it for the sake of using it,but it would have been nice.
And I thought,
that's actually something that talk aboutin terms of how you answer a test
sometimes, you know,you have a really nice piece of language
or a nice idea and youreally want to use it.
Oh, this will sound great,
but the thing is,if you just push it in for no reason or
you just awkwardly steer the conversationin that way,
it actually makes the conversationless organic and less pleasant.
So you had a very nice quote about Fame
being the perfume of good deeds, and I waslike, just going to say it for no reason.
So just forget about it.
I'll say it later and peoplewill know I'm smart.
And that's what you justwitnessed, everybody.
That's a very important consideration.
Do you use language for the sake of using
language, or do you use languageto best convey your ideas?
What would you say, Conor?
That's the thing
we both encountered
in many different contexts, a lotof writing samples and speaking samples.
there's often, I think,a misconception that
good communication is using as manybig words as you possibly can.
Even if you sacrifice grammatical accuracyand actual just overall communication,
you just sacrifice the clarityof your communication.
Well, that makes it good.
As long as there's lotsof big words, then it's good.
And in fact, that's honestly not howcommunication works in any language.
Communication is mostly succinct.
very brief to the point,unlike everything I just said, I'm aware
to draw a line under.
Yeah, I would say that the misconceptionis, well, I must make this sentence.
This sentence must have three non defining
rows of laws for itto be advanced grammar.
And no, using the tensesaccurately makes it
using the perfect tense isaccurately makes it advanced.
For example, the passive voiceaccurately makes it advanced.
Having page long paragraphs or page long
sentences, excuse me,does not accurate grammar make.
So that's a tricky topic there becausea lot of students
look at the public band descriptorsfor IELTS, and they see that they need
to use Idiomatic vocabulary to get bandseven or above for lexical resorts.
And as a result, they do exactlywhat you recommended not doing.
these are the Idioms that I know,
and I'm going to tailor my communicationto being able to use these Idioms.
What would your advicefor those students be?
Well, idiomatic language is contextual.
So, for example,
accurate Idiomatic language is contextual,
which means you need to useit in the correct context.
If you just use it
Well, then it's not Idiomatic language.
It's just words that you'rethrowing into a sentence.
So there are many times I'm sure we've
used Idioms so far,but I can't think of any off the top.
Oh, there we go.Off the top of my head, there's one.
But in general,again, they happened organically.
I wasn't putting one into every single
sentence because, again,that becomes somewhat
And again, Idiomatic languageis generally barely noticed.
So again, I had to actively say,oh, please.
Then it's barely noticed whenit's used in the correct context.
But the thing is, examiners are trainedto notice that kind of language.
So you don't need to go out of your way
to use particular phrasesthat you've learned for the test.
By communicating your idea as accuratelyas possible, you'll be using that high
level language, and the examinerwill do the work for you.
They're going to pick out on those phrasesthat you use more idiomatic in nature,
and then they'll give youthe score accordingly.
You have much more succinctly expressed.My thought.
you used a lot of really nice techniquesthat I liked all throughout the test.
And I wonder if we could kind of go over
some of your questionsand you can just kind of tell me
what your thought process was.
So one thing that I noticedthat you did quite regularly is
you worked out the extent of the question.
So, for example, in part two, you said,well, I've noticed that you haven't
specified whether this personhas to be alive or dead.
Similarly, in part one,
when I asked you if there's a town or citythat you would prefer to live in,
then you said, well, Shanghai isa place I would prefer to live in.
But that's not necessarily becauseShanghai is a better city.
It's more becauseof my personal experience.
Can you tell us a bit about a bit aboutthat technique and how students can
possibly take in some of those advancedtechniques for answering questions?
Well, Unfortunately, Eli,
that sort of thing is just it's in Born,you can't teach that kind of genius.
You have it.You know what I mean?
You have it or you don't?
No, it's very simple.
It's certainly not a stolen technique,but it's more it's called framing
in terms of logic, language,and even just psychology.
But in terms of logic,
I'm setting a very clear where my handsare, boundaries for what I'm going to say,
how even to describe it.
It's sort of like meta thinking.
How do you describe the wayyou think about a problem?
So I actually don't really even know how
to answer that questionthat I think about.
Something that you findyourself doing naturally.
I think it is actually almost certainly,
although this is justspeculating at this point.
I would say it is just a resultof studying philosophy.
the parameters of a question,
the example that you gave about Shanghai,
well, I would rather live in Shanghai,not because Shanghai is a nicer city
to live in overall, but I preferred livingin Shanghai compared to my time in Paris.
So there's an emotional connection there.
But the implicit meaning of the sentence
is not Shanghai, to me isa better place to live.
It's just I preferred livingthere than living in Paris.
So, yeah, that is actually just logic.
And that is something that I suppose I do
teach when you're talking about,let's say, EAP English for academic
purposes, if you're writingan argumentative essay and you have your
argument and your counterargument, soyour argument is your thesis statement.
What are you explicitly saying?
And then your counterargument must bea response to that thesis.
It's not just to an individualelement of your thesis.
Your argument is we should legalizethis drug, drug X.
Then your counterargumentmust challenge that idea.
No, we should not legalize drugs because
it can't just be an individualcomponent of the initial thesis.
So I think just teaching that again
and again and again andhundreds of times a year,
having consultations about, well, doesmy counterargument address my thesis?
And then you just draw it on a piece
of paper, the logicalconnections between ideas.
It then just becomessecond nature to think.
Well, what I'm saying here is I'mvery carefully defining my terms.
Another thing I'd like to point out,especially for people watching this is
your technique in part three,which is the way you infused your personal
experience with kind of moregeneral and abstract thinking.
So the way you said, I can onlyspeak from my personal experience.
And you gave the example of how
you enjoy reading books that you don'tnecessarily agree with and then how you
were able to take that as a conceptand then explain how that kind of answers
the question of engaging with other ideasthat you don't necessarily agree with.
Can you talk a bit about that as akind of rhetoric technique in part three?
Sorry.The idea of taking the personal experience
and extracting the principleand then applying it outwardly.
Especially becauseoften you're dealing with these abstract
notions and you shouldn't be talkingabout personal examples yourself.
You need to take your own experiencein order to talk about abstract concepts.
Yeah, of course.And I think the summary
when I tried to confirm what youwere asking, the summary is,
I think pretty clear where
all ideas are going to be interrelational.
You're going to call on memories to answer
any question that's all questions orinformation that you all answers are
pieces of information you're recalling.
So they're all memories.
So starting with yourself, in myexperience, you'll start from there.
That's your foundation and thenyou build your answer from there.
And the example we gave,which was what was the example again?
The example was different opinions.Oh, different opinions.
Here's what I do and it's very concrete.
Here's what I personally do.I buy a book.
I read a book based on somebody orwritten by somebody I don't agree with.
The reason I pay as well is becauseI want that's the motivation.
If I take it out of a lie,
if I borrow it from a library, excuse me,I haven't actually invested in it.
If I stopped reading it orwhatever, I don't care.
I didn't pay anything.When you pay for it,
you're forcing yourself to actually absorbthe information and pay attention to it.
So in that action, that overall action,there are those two principles.
One pushing yourself to do somethingthat you don't ordinarily want to do
and to making sure thatthere's motivation there.
By paying by parting with your own money,
you're forcing yourself to engage morecritically with the idea and then those
are the two ideas that you appliedmore broadly, as you say, to society.
So you're starting
in the center of a circle and you'rejust sort of building ideas outwardly.
Thank you very much, Conor,
really appreciate you comingon and doing the speaking test.
Hopefully people are going to be ableto learn from a lot of the vocabulary
and the techniques that youused in today's test.
So thank you very much.
You're welcome and good talking to you.