Comparing and contrasting

1 In Parts 1 and 3 of the Speaking Module, you may be asked questions that require you to compare things, or to discuss the relative advantages or disadvantages of different things.

a Look at the question below.

  • Would you prefer to live in a city or a village? Why? 

b Think of three advantages of each type of place. You can use phrases with adjectives (e.g. quieter) or nouns (e.g. fewer cars) or adverbs (e.g. live more comfortably).

City Village
more interesting quieter


c Now think of three disadvantages of each type of place.

City Village
less peaceful fewer shops


2 a Listen to a student answering question 1 above and tick the comparative expressions he uses from the list below.

b Look at the words the speaker used to organise his response. What order did he say them in?

3 a Make notes on these questions, similar to the ones you made in Exercise I.

  • Do you think it’s better to live in a modern flat or an old house? Why?
  • Would you rather live in a modern town or a historic city? Why?
  • Would you prefer to live in the city centre or in the suburbs? Why?

4 In Part 3, you may be asked to compare a current situation with a past situation. You need to be careful with tenses in order to describe past and present habits and situations.

Read the question, then listen to a student’s response and fill the gaps with words that you hear.

  • Do you think modern homes are different from homes your grandparents had?

5 The speaker in Exercise 4 doesn’t just say ‘homes are different now’ He says they are ‘completely different’. When speaking, it is very natural to stress the difference by using modifying expressions.

a Look at the phrases below and cross out the incorrect modifying expression in each one.

b  Now listen to a speaker talking about question 1 below and check your answers to Exercise 5a.

1 Are city buildings very different from those in your grandparents’ day?
2 Do you think modern homes arc different from homes your grandparents had?
3 Do you think cities are the same today as they were 50 years ago?
4 Do you think people know more or less about the world than they did in the past?

6 Now use expressions from Exercise 5a in response to questions 1-4 above. Record yourself if you can.

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