Theme 15: Towns and Cities

Part 1-style questions

Examiner: What is it like where you live?
Christiane: I live in a residential area of a busy town in the south of Spain … we have all the facilities you need … good public transport … a good shopping centre … it’s nice …

Examiner: Do you like living in the city?
Andrea: Yes I do … I like going out with my friends and there are lots of lively bars and restaurants within walking distance of my apartment … I’m a bit of a culture vulture as well so it’s great to have access to art exhibitions and that kind of thing …

Examiner: Do you get many tourists visiting your area?
Mandy: Not really no … I live in the inner-city and the area is a little run down … it’s basically a lot of high-rise flats and many of the shops are boarded up … so nothing to interest tourists really …

Part 2-style task

Describe an interesting town or city in your country that visitors might enjoy. You should say

·        what the place is called

·        where the place is

·        what the facilities are like

and say why visitors might enjoy going there.

Monique:  Anyone who comes to my country really should spend some time in Barcelona … it’s a beautiful place … it’s not what you would call a sprawling city … it’s quite compact really and you could walk across the city in a couple of hours … but there’s no need to do that as we have a fantastic public transport system so it’s easy to get around … there are various districts all with their own character … you have the upmarket shops in the centre … you’ll find lots of chain stores you’ll recognise from your own country but also local brands as well … we have the narrow streets in the Gothic district with lots of fashionable boutiques and tourist attractions … there’s the Olympic area and the beaches along the coast … and dotted around the city are some lovely public spaces … parks and squares in the city centre and on the outskirts of Barcelona where people relax with their friends and family … and of course pavement cafes everywhere … all that and some great historical places of interest … so a great destination for tourists …

Part 3-style questions

Examiner:  What are the advantages of living in a city or big town?
Carrie: I think it’s having access to local facilities really … local shops as well as access to larger shopping malls in the city centre … and if you’re well-off you can afford to live in the suburbs away from the busy traffic …

Examiner: In your experience are city centres usually attractive places?
Mary: Some can be yes … especially those with a historical interest … but sometimes they’re full of ugly office blocksmulti-story car parks … and residents living in poor housing … it depends on the city doesn’t it?

Examiner: What are some of the challenges facing towns and cities?
Penny: I suppose traffic congestion is a major problem … and the growth in out-of-town supermarkets and retail parks mean lots of town centre shops are closing down … plus a shortage of good quality housing … I think these are the major challenges …

Definitions

·        boarded up shops: shops that are no longer doing business

·        chain stores: well-known brands with shops in multiple cities

·        to close down: to stop doing business

·        fashionable boutiques: fashionable clothes shops

·        to get around: to travel around

·        high-rise flats: multi-story apartments

·        inner-city: the central part of a city where people live and where conditions are often poor

·        in the suburbs: the outer area of large towns and cities where people live

·        lively bars/restaurants: bars or restaurants with a good atmosphere

·        local facilities: local buildings or services serving the public

·        multi-story car parks: car parks on several floors

·        office block: a large building that contains offices

·        out of town shopping centre/retail park: large shopping centres outside of the town or city

·        pavement cafe: cafes with tables outside on the pavement

·        places of interest: buildings that have a particular interest for visitors

·        poor housing: housing that is not in good condition

·        public spaces: areas in a town or city that are open to the public

·        public transport system:  public vehicles such as buses and trains that operate at regular times on fixed routes

·        residential area: an area where people live

·        run down: old and of a poor standard

·        shopping centre: an area consisting of multiple shops

·        shopping malls: large indoor shopping centres

·        sprawling city: a city that has grown over time and which covers a wide area

·        tourist attraction: a place of interest to tourists

·        traffic congestion: heavy traffic making it difficult to move around a town or city

upmarket shops: expensive fashionable shops