Part 1 – Introduction & Interview
Q. Where did you grow up?
Answer: I grew up in “Arnos Grove”, an area located in the southwest corner of Enfield in London, England. I spent much of my childhood there.
Q. Was it a good place to grow up as a child?
Answer: Of course, it was a remarkable place for me, and it still is a great place for parents to raise their children. It is a beautiful place with very few crimes which makes it one of the best places to live in – both for adults and children. “Arnos Grove”, during my childhood, was one of the friendliest neighbourhoods in London where we studied in excellent schools, had many friends to play with, had large parks for us to visit, and life was full of surprise and magic.
Q. Where did you usually play in your childhood?
Answer: During my childhood, I often played with my friends on the lawn of our or their houses. Sometimes, we even played on the streets which were safe for children as very few cars drove there at that time. We often walked to the nearest park in the evening and played hide-and-seek with my close buddies. Besides, our school had a large playground where I often played with my classmates. When I was at home, I played with my brothers and cousins in our room.
Q. Do you think childhood is different today from when you were a child? [How?]
Answer: Well, childhood is a period when we know no bounds and think everything is possible. The innocence, simplicity and joy for all children from all generations are the same, but the environment, social condition and the neighbourhood they grow up in or experience greatly influence how they spend their time and how they feel. Since social condition and lifestyle during my childhood were different than that of today, it is only natural that our childhood was different from that of today’s kids.
We used to play outdoors most of the time, had little pressure to become the top-scorer at school, could visit any friend any time and had no computers or the internet. We had many friends and hated to spend time indoors in the evening. We did not have many toys and we could build stuff to play with from simple materials which were available around us. Modern children, however, spend much of their time indoors, love to consume their free time watching cartoons and YouTube videos, have many toys and do not have the freedom to go out anytime they want primarily because their parents do not think that it is safe for them. I feel like things are much different now than our time!
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Part 2 – Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card
Describe one of your friends whom you like.
You should say:
- who he/she is
- how you know him/her, and for how long
- why he/she is special to you
and explain your relationship as friends.
[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.]
Emily was my closest friend in my high school days, and she still is the best buddy I have. We maintain a solid bond of friendship for over 18 years and I have never had a bad experience with our friendship. This is a nice cue card topic indeed that reminds me of my childhood days and one of my best friends ever.
I met Emily for the first time in our school playground. I was a seventh-grader back then while Emily was in eighth grade in the same school. One day, we both went to the playground to play soccer but had to wait for an hour or so before our coach arrived. During that time we sat together and chatted for a while. This was just the beginning, and soon our friendship became stronger than ever.Emily is a special friend to me for many reasons and I can talk about her good qualities and talents for hours. But for me, her most impressive features are her genuine smiles and kindness. I have never seen her get angry with someone unless there is a very strong reason for that. She also does not stress out and show her anxiety or fear like many others. I once asked her how she manages to remain so cool and maintain her composure even in emergencies and desperate time, and she replied that she had gone through the worse experience of her life when her mother died. She told me that she does not want to be remembered as a bad person and that’s why she has changed after her mother’s death. No doubt she is a special girl! She is also special to me as both of us share some common interests like reading books, watching TV series, shopping, doing charity works and so on.
We have been sharing this important friendship since our high school days and around 18 years seems have passed with the twinkle of an eye! Hope the bond will last till the last days of our life. The key ingredients behind this sustainable relationship are our mutual respects, trustworthiness and love for each other.
Q. Is friendship important in your culture?
Answer: Yes, friendship is very important in British culture. Though Brits are a bit reserved, they cannot do without friends. We love to have friends to make our life happier and more meaningful and often friends are the first persons who come to our rescue when we are in some sort of trouble. We cherish our friendship and in our private parties, friends play the most important roles.
Q. How many close friends can you have?
Answer: I used to have many, literally too many friends in my childhood and school days. At that time I thought someone can have 20, perhaps 30 or even more close friends. But as I grew up, the number of close friends started to reduce and that plummeted to less than ten. Nowadays, I have only three to four close friends and one best friend.
Part 3 – Details Discussion:
Q. Are friends more important than family? Why/Why not?
Answer: Well, I believe family is more important to us than our friends. In fact, we are a vital part of our family and we belong to it and thus family comes first. The contributions of our family to make us what we are today is incomparable to the contribution of anyone else. Our family would always be ready to help and support us no matter what, and that is why we should be ready to prioritise it over our friends. Having said that, an individual also needs friends as they are also an important part of our life.
Alternative answer: This goes without much arguments that families are more important than family primarily because while both friends and families will provide us with all kinds of supports, emotional or otherwise, during good times, many friends would probably run away from us when things get really messy and tough. Besides, the family is what teaches us the realities of life, which includes our friends as well, from day one. In fact, our first words, after coming to this world, is either “Mama” or “Papa” (mother or father), not “friends”, which certainly sets the tone and course of our “real” relationship for the rest of our lives because, after all, we just can’t deny our “blood relationship” whether we like it or not.
Q. What are some important qualities of a good friend?
Answer: I would like to say that a good friend should be reliable and trustworthy. Trustworthiness is the key quality of a good friendship, I presume. Such a good friend should also be honest and sincere. Then loyalty and mutual understanding are two other virtues to make the bondage stronger among friends. Finally, a sharp sense of caring and sharing is also expected from a good friend. When all these qualities are combined, the bond of friendship becomes stronger than ever.
Alternative answer: Any person with good human qualities can be a good friend. But, to be more specific, a person needs to be honest, trustworthy, dependable, supportive, loyal, caring and non-judgmental at all times in order to be a good friend. Besides, a person should also be able to experience and express empathy towards others to be a good friend. Finally, having enough “self-confidence”, being a “good listener”, and a certain degree of “humour” can also be considered as some important qualities of a good buddy.
Q. Why people have fewer friends when they grow up?
Answer: This is a great question to answer. The number of friends in our life usually decreases when we grow up primarily because we tend to choose friends more cautiously in our adulthood and have more responsibilities to perform as adults and less time to hang out with friends. In our childhood, we easily like someone and do not hesitate to start a conversation and make new friends. However, as we get matured and gather negative experience about people, we do not let ourself be fooled by false friends. We tend to have a few but more close friends in our adulthood.
Alternative answer: We all understand how important friends really are, but unfortunately, more often than not, we tend to have fewer friends when we grow up for several reasons. The first reason is being that the “common experience”, which starts the friendship, simply just fades away in time as we grow older. Secondly, as we grow older, our priorities in life simply change because of our jobs and families despite our best efforts and intention to maintain a good and steady friendship. Finally, changes in locations also sometimes contribute to having fewer friends in life as we grow up.
Q. What aspects are important to maintain a friendship?
Answer: Friendship is divine and relies on mutual understanding. Our life becomes more meaningful and amusing when we are surrounded by good friends. So friends should be reliable, trustworthy, and helpful. They should support each other both in good and bad times. Maintaining a good friendship, in my opinion, requires empathy to friends, acceptance to mistakes, forgiveness and overall respect to each other. When any of these elements are lost, friendship starts losing its appeal.
Alternative answer: Maintaining a friendship is never really an easy thing as it may take real efforts and time to maintain it. And, to do so, one, first, has to keep in touch with his/her friends as regularly as possible even if it means taking a “few seconds” to say “hello” to them over the phone. After that, of course, one should also make sincere efforts to show his/her appreciation or gratitude for the invaluable friendship by being “generous” to each other. Finally, we should also lower our expectations and refrain from making assumptions in order to eliminate the possibilities of being “disappointed” because disappointments indeed hurt friendship in a big way.
Q. Is it important for people to have good friendships while at work? Why?/Why not?
Answer: No, it is not really important for people to have good friendships while at work primarily because it may stand in the way of “professionalism” and thus hurt our work performance rather unexpectedly due to the “conflict of interest”. Of course, when we say that having “good friendship” is not important while at work, we should never assume that being “rude” or “uncooperative” with our colleagues at work is ok, rather it merely means that having a “solid professional” relationship with co-workers is way more important at work than having a so-called “good friendship” because this practice might just attract “unwarranted attention” from others at work, which is never a good thing.
Q. Is it easy to make friends nowadays as compared to the past? Why?/Why not?
Answer: Yes, I would say that making friends nowadays is easier today than in the past primarily because we expect more from our lives, be it professionally, financially or socially, which “motivates” us to interact with more and more people on a daily basis. Besides, in today’s world, there is no or very little “cultural” barriers, as in the distant past, among people from different backgrounds, race, gender or lifestyles, which actually makes it rather easy today to make friends. Finally, because of the advancement in communication technologies also, meeting with new people today and becoming friends with them has become much easier than at any time in the past.