Study English – Series 3, Episode 21: Talking About the Family


Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS
Preparation. I’m Margot Politis. The family is a common topic in IELTS, especially
in Part 1 of the Speaking Test. Talking about such a familiar topic might
seem simple, but doing it well requires thought and practice. Let’s listen to someone talking about their
family: My mother is a teacher and my father is an
architect. I’ve got 2 brothers and one sister, so that’s all the immediate family. She begins by identifying her mother and father,
and then her brothers and sister. What did she call all of them together? My mother is a teacher and my father is an
architect. I’ve got 2 brothers and one sister, so that’s all the immediate family. The immediate family. Another term for this
is nuclear family. That’s the parents – mother and father – and
the siblings – brothers and sisters. A male child is called the son of his parents
and a female child is called the daughter. Mother and father are the formal words. In
informal English you say mum and dad, like this: Me and my mum we immigrated to Australia in
1991 to Perth and then I moved over to Sydney to be with my dad, then dad moved back to
Thailand, so yeah. The family outside of the immediate family
is called the extended family. The parents of your parents are called grandparents
– grandmother and grandfather. The brothers and sisters of your parents are called uncles
and aunts. Listen: Both my parents were only children, so I don’t
have any aunts or uncles. But I do have a niece, my oldest brother’s daughter. If you refer to your mother’s sister, you
can say “my aunt on my mother’s side”. If you refer to your father’s father, you can
say “grandfather on my father’s side”. The children of your aunts and uncles are
called “cousins”, whether male or female. The children of your brothers and sisters
are called nephews if they’re boys and nieces if they’re girls. What did our first speaker say about her extended
family? Both my parents were only children, so I don’t
have any aunts or uncles. But I do have a niece, my oldest brother’s daughter. She said her both her parents were only children.
This means they were the only child of their parents and didn’t have any brothers or sisters. If there are several children in your family
you talk about them by order of birth, like this: I have one older brother, he’s 22. I have,
I’m in the middle and I’m 20 and I have a younger sister who is 15. The first child in the family can be called
the oldest and the last the youngest. Sometimes the youngest is called the baby brother or
sister, or as in the next clip, the little brother or sister: I’ve got 2 sisters and a little brother. The children of a family are a generation
and the children they go on to have are the next generation. For instance, when someone’s parents immigrate
to Australia and have children here, those children are called first-generation Australians.
When they grow up and have children, their children are referred to as second-generation
Australians. Listen: My parents were born in Italy but my brothers
and sister were born here so we’re first generation Australians. My niece is second generation. A married couple are husband and wife. Each
is called the spouse of the other. The words for relatives by marriage are the
same as with your immediate family, but with -in-law added. So your spouse’s father is your father-in-law
and their sister is your sister-in-law. The plural of these forms is sisters-in-law
and fathers-in-law. Death and divorce mean that people remarry
and have children with a different parent. This parent by marriage is called your step-mother
or step-father. Any children they may already have become your step-brothers and step-sisters.
The children they go on to have with your actual mother or father are your half-brothers
or half-sisters. In the IELTS Speaking Test it is important
to extend your answers. When asked about your family, it’s best to reply first by saying
who is in your immediate family as our first speaker did: My mother is a teacher and my father is an
architect. I’ve got 2 brothers and one sister, so that’s all the immediate family. Now listen to how you might develop a longer
answer, like this: My mum was born in Malaysia in a town called
Bentong, which is just north of Kuala Lumpur. But her family origin is Sri Lankan Tamil.
So racially I guess you’d say they’re South Indian. But they migrated to Sri Lanka and
then her family …her elder sister was born in Sri Lanka. But then her family moved
to Malaysia and most of the other children were born in Malaysia. First she says where her mum was born: My mum was born in Malaysia in a town called
Bentong, which is just north of Kuala Lumpur. But her mother isn’t ethnically Malaysian,
so she points this out: But her family origin is Sri Lankan Tamil.
So racially I guess you’d say they’re South Indian. She then explains how her mother came to be
born in Malaysia: Her elder sister was born in Sri Lanka. But
then her family moved to Malaysia and most of the other children were born in Malaysia. When developing your answer, be careful to
use the correct prepositions – in or at. You are born ‘in’ a country and ‘in’ a town. Listen: My mum was born in Malaysia in a town called
Bentong, which is just north of Kuala Lumpur. If you decided to say where your parents were
educated, you need to say ‘at’ – “my father studied at university.” There are many possible questions that can
be asked about families. The questions are designed to make you use particular language
functions. So, for making comparisons you may be asked:
“Are nuclear families better than extended families?” And for giving an opinion, the examiner might
ask: “Should children always obey their parents?” If the examiner asked you: “What is the best
age to get married?” They are expecting you to identify and explain. So it’s a good idea to think about possible
questions like these and try to make up some more questions yourself. Listen to the way
this woman responds to the question: “What’s a normal family?” I don’t think there’s any such thing as a
normal family, but, yeah my family gets along well. It’s got it’s quirks but we get along
well. That’s challenging the question, which you
are allowed to do as long as you justify what you say. When answering questions about family, you
need to be able to identify family members and their relationships to one another with
the correct words. What family members does this woman mention? I used to speak Cantonese at home when I was
a kid and then when I went to school I spoke English with all my friends, and a few of
my cousins are here and things, so I spoke English with them as well, and then slowly
I lost learning Cantonese and I can’t speak it anymore. She talked about her cousins, who are the
children of her aunts or uncles. You need to have something to say about your
family, so be prepared to say where your parents were born or where your brothers or sisters
work or study, like this: My oldest brother studied law at Flinders
University in Adelaide and got a job at a law firm in the city where he met his wife.
They were married 2 years ago and last year they had their first child. My sister-in law
is expecting another baby. I’m hoping for a nephew this time. She talked about her oldest brother, his wife
who is also her sister-in-law and her potential nephew. She said when her brother was married,
where he studied and what he does and even where he met his wife. That’s all for now. To find more information about the speaking
test and to view other episodes, visit our Study English website. Good luck with your studies.

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