DESCRIBE AN AUCTION

This is a two minute talk for IELTS or TOEFL to talk about an Auction.

The keywords of the talk are highlighted in bold.

An auction is a great place to go and hunt for a bargain.

You can buy anything and everything at an auction and often at a very cheap price.

Unlike a shop, there is no fixed price and things are sold by a bidding process.

The Auction is conducted by an auctioneer.

Every item for sale has a Lot Number and Lots can be previewed beforehand.

To bid for something you want to buy, you should either raise your hand or use a paddle with a specific number given to you prior to the auction starting.

An auction is competitive and many other people will be bidding for the Lot just like you.

Quite often, there is a reserve price on the item being sold, so if that reserved price is notr reached, the item will be withdrawn from the sale.

The price usually goes higher and the item is sold to the highest bidder when the auctioneer says ‘final offer’ and ‘going going gone’.

Paintings, old furniture, televisions, mobile household ornaments, bric-a-brac, books, records and even a love letter collection from a famous person can be sold at an auction.

I once bought a 1927 nokia cellphone for next to nothing.  Can you believe that?

The rule of thumb is that something is considered antique if it is more than one hundred years old but these days, anything from yesteryear might be considered antique.

There are also auctions for vintage cars, second hand cars, houses and land.

Don’t forget to raise your hand if you want to bid for something and don’t raise your hand (or paddle) if you don’t intend to bid for something.

Otherwise, the auctioneer might accept your bid and it will be ‘going going gone’

Keep an eye out for things which are valuable and collectable but be careful not to buy something which might not be the genuine article and is completely worthless.

You do not want to waste your money!

Good luck!

PORTRAIT PAINTING OR INSTANT PHOTO

This is an essay which takes a reflective look at the transition to digital photography from portrait painting.

We must first pose the question – has the instant photo replaced the portrait painting forever?

The keywords of the lesson are highlighted.

The modern trend of taking a selfie brings into sharp focus how much we all enjoy taking photos and capturing memories to share with others.

The digital camera is part of all our lives in the modern world and instant photos are taken at the press of a button.

They are then immediately transmitted to friends and family by social media, smartphone apps, stored in digital photo albums or in remote clouds.

Very few are printed and displayed around our home.  We try to be selective of the best ones taken.

Long before photography was ever invented, people had to be content with portrait paintings comissioned from professional artists.

The subject of the portrait would be expected to sit for long periods of time while the artist made sketches or painted directly onto canvass.  This all took time.

The invention of the first camera prototype by Frenchman Louis Daguerre in 1837 was the first step in the eventual transition away from portrait painting to photography.

Significantly, not only was the concept available to the public masses but it was affordable.

We would all come, in time, to know how to use the zoom lens, shutter, flash and tripod with relative ease.

Our grattitude is extended in American George Eastman who founded his Kodak company and heralded a new era in photography.

We must also be thankful to Englishman Edward Muybridge who conducted a galloping horse experiment with pictures that captured the simple stride of a horse in twelve sequential moments.

The world was about to embrace moving pictures as a concept or movies as we call them today and my dear Mum (my Grandmother too in fact) would talk of a night out at the Picture House.

Remarkably perhaps, this modern era of the instant photo has not killed the portrait painting stone-dead but rather given us the opportunity to reproduce imagery with new skills developed in photo-editing software with a sense of surrealism and novelty.

Not only that but we have come to respect and value the capture of an image by an artist of a subject either in cartoon lampooning or in caricature.

Hands up who has not contemplated or had a sketch done by a street artist or looked for the personal touch of a ‘togetherness’ picture for your wedding day to be hung in the hallway for guests to see?

The old saying that a picture paints a thousand words is never more true than today.

The ultimate irony is that we are using the technology of today to create the memories of yesteryear and also of the future.

Photography moves with the times.

As we move with the times, there is a place for the commissioned portrait painting to exist alongside the instant digital photo in the capture of a memory.

MOTHER HEN AND THE UNWASHED EGG

I had never considered until the other day whether eggs were or should be washed or not.

So i decided to consult Mother Hen who I thought would know best.

It amazed me to learn that America, Japan and Australia wash their eggs while the rest of the world (which includes Europe, Great Britain and the asian countries) do not.

It creates a sort of trade embargo where British eggs cannot be sold or eaten in America and likewise American eggs cannot be sold or eaten in Britain.

How utterly bizarre is that!

According to Mother Hen, it is all down to animal husbandry.

We are all educated folk and know  that the salmonella virus can be contracted from eating eggs.

We are not sure how salmonella gets there in the first place.

Mother Hen curtly points out that the issue of salmonella is a fairly recent thing.

We tend to forget of days gone by when people were less health-conscious, health-aware and refrigerators did not come into being until that well known genius Albert Einstein came up with the idea in the 1920s.

What we fail to understand, says Mother Hen, is that eggs are more resistant than you think to bacterial contamination.

Eggs have this invisible coating or safety jacket called a cutible which blesses every egg shell and makes them very strong.

Mother Hen is adamant that eggs which are washed of this coating make them damaged and susceptible to contamination.

Washing the eggs in a special chemical way merely deludes public thinking that salmonella cannot be contracted..

Quite the contrary in fact as it becomes the breeding ground for it.

So there is every reason to suppose that a washed egg could become tainted.

While not refrigerating eggs at the outset when Mother Hen lays them and not washing them, there is actually less likelihood that anyone will get sick.

Mother Hen boasts that eggs are one of the healthiest kinds of food humans can eat.

Eggs are the ultimate fat-fighters and it is nonesense to suggest they raise your cholesterol level.

The wisdom of Mother Hen is undeniable.

She realizes she could be a salmonella carrier even before she lays an egg, so she is all for the idea of anti-salmonella vaccination.

She does concede that as she gets older, the eggs she lays have poorer cuticle coverage and the risk of contamination, although small, is still there.

Mother Hen thinks the public are confused about the selection process for eggs and what to do with eggs once we have bought them.

The best place to buy the eggs is at the farm shop but few people get that opportunity, so we usually buy them at the grocery store or the supermarket.

The eggs might be cooled or chilled but they are rarely refrigerated and more often than not, they are kept at room temperature.

Keeping the purchased eggs at room temperature when we get them home is the logical thing to do.

Their shelf life for consumption may be shorter than if they were refrigerated but the shorter duration will provide a more healthier egg to eat.

What happens to a cold egg then, I asked Mother Hen, if it is then introduced to room temperature?

It will sweat and possibly be open to breed bacteria.

Mother Hen sees the modern day refrigerator as the enemy in the quest to preserve the glory of the beautiful egg.

Every one of us will surely admit that we buy our eggs, perhaps by the dozen, in the carton and then place them later at home in the special slot inside the refrigerator.

It indeed preserves the shelf life, so to speak, for cooking and eating the egg but it also reduces the natural taste the egg has to offer.

The ultimate message of Mother Hen is not to underestimate the power of the egg, to respect the aesthetics of the egg and not exaggerate human health and safety out of ignorance.

I want to thank Mother Hen for her time in giving this somewhat unusual interview.

Do not forget to read this article again and refresh many of the useful phrases which I have highlighted.

HENRI DUNANT – THE RED CROSS MAN

Henri Dunant is a very famous person indeed but hardly anyone knows who he is today.

He is the mentor behind the creation of the Red Cross.

He is probably and literally the fourth most famous Swiss national after William Tell, Henri Nestle and Roger Federer.

When as a thirty one year old journeyman he passed by the Battle of Solferino in northern Italy in 1859, he knew something had to be done to address the barbarity of warfare.

He wanted to set up a humanitarian movement which could and would protect human life and health, ensure respect for all human beings and also prevent as well as alleviate human suffering.

It was only a few years after the Crimean War fought by Britain, France and Turkey against Russia which was significant to bringing public attention the need for non-combatant trained medics to be available at the field of battle, the most famous of whom was, of course, Florence Nightingale.

Within the space of four short years, his vision came to fruition and the Red Cross institution was formed in Geneva Switzerland in 1863.

Its adopted symbol of a red cross on a white background is an exact reversal of a white cross on a red background for the Swiss nationaL flag.

Henri Dunant received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 for his important contribution to mankind and yet he suffered greatly in his life as a direct result of this due to poverty, ill-health and personal bankruptcy.

When he died an old man in 1910, he was an obscure rather than a notorious figure for history to record.

But the Red Cross plays an important part in times of war and world crisis today with no little thanks paid to Henri Dunant.

DESCRIBE A JOB AT A DEPARTMENT STORE

This is an English lesson where an employee describes a job they do at a department store.

You might be asked to describe the job you do for a TOEFL or IELTS talk for one or two minutes.

The content of this lesson can easily be adapted for that purpose.

The keywords of the lesson are highlighted.

This is the text of the lesson.

 

Hello everyone, my name is Chris.

I am a retail assistant in a famous department store.

You can see I am wearing a uniform.

Can you guess the name of the department store?

The store is located in the shopping mall outside of the city.

I work in the Footwear Department.

The department is located on the third floor.

You can get to the Footwear Department easily by escalator or elevator.

Restrooms are located on the same floor near to the cashier desk.

In the Footwear department, we sell shoes, boots, sandals and trainers.

Sports equipment is sold in the department next to the Footwear Department.

The store is open seven days a week (except public holidays).

Opening times are from ten in the morning until eight in the evening.

I work there five days each week.

My two days off are rotated and organized by the Staff Manager.

I have worked for the department store for nearly two years now.

It’s a tiring job, standing a lot  but I enjoy my job very much and the challenge it presents.

That’s all about me and my job.

Thank you for listening to my presentation.

DESCRIBE AN ELECTION IN YOUR COUNTRY

The topic today is to Describe an Election in your country.

The substance of this lesson can be used for preparing a one or two minute talk on IELTS or TOEFL Test.

The keywords of the text are highlighted.

An election is held every four or five years to give the citizens of a country the opportunity to vote for a representative in parliament and choose a government.

A political party competes for the right to govern by publishing a manifesto of their proposed policies which they hope will persuade the voter to vote for them when election day comes around to go to the polling station.

Each political party will undertake a campaign in their attempt to persuade the electorate.  Canvassing, door to door, is undertaken and political leaders engage in TV debates on key issues such as education, healthcare and immigration.

The right to vote is available to all citizens who are aged eighteen years or older and to both men and women.

Voting is done in secret, can only be done and is usually done in person on the day of the election at the polling station but nowadays postal voting and voting by proxy for citizens living overseas is also allowed.

The aim of the election is to establish a mandate for one political party to govern by having the majority to bring to fruition their policies according to the manifesto.

If this does not happen, then the democratic process of government is compromised.

There might be a minority government leading to a coalition or alliance with another political party and terms such as power-sharing, Hung Parliament and even Snap Election are banded about by politicians and political commentators.

A Referendum is quite different from an election.

This is when the electorate are asked to decide on a specific issue of national conscience (for example, independence for Scotland,Brexit for Britain to leave the European Union or on something as sensitive as gay marriage).

The election is conducted in defined constituencies and the elected representative (whether for the party to govern or for the opposition (sometimes also called the shadow party), will attend sessions in Parliament.

The country is run by the majority party headed by a Prime Minister who appoints ministers to the Cabinet for key roles such as Chancellor of the Exchequer to manage the national Budget, the Home and Foreign Secretary.

Members of Parliament must also make themselves available for consultation in their constituency and a particular issue might be raised in parliament itself later by the MP if it is a significant issue of public interest.

Nowadays, opinion polls prior to the election and exit polls are done on election day by the media to anticipate the outcome of the election before it is eventually declared.

The right for a citizen to vote in a national election is a very important privilege and should not be underestimated.

 

 

THE WEEPING FIG – JATI WARINGIN

In Indonesia, the tree is called the Jati Waringin but it is more commonly known as the Weeping Fig.

The Weeping Fig  is a fantastic tree that attracts a large number of birds whenever it produces figs.

It is a sprawl of a tree in an urban environment where its invasive roots are hardly welcoming to its arborous hosts.

The Little Garuda has flown a long way in a short time and has found refuge here, made new friends.

Birds come for the fruit, for the insects and for the leaves to line their nests.

They spreaad the seeds onto branches of the tree where they germinate and develop.

Raptors are attracted to the swarms.

Human life passes by with total disregard and ignorance.

Except for one individual who has affinity with nature at play and knows the story of the Little Garuda.

That story is unfolding before his eyes.

Reality meets surrealism.

The succulent fig of the Waringin is the enlargement of a stem tip that becomes hollow and fleshy.

The figs are rich with starch, sugars, minerals as well as proteins and fats.

Within its cavity are tiny flowers.

The pollination of the flowers is the task of the fig wasp.

The fig wasp forces its way inside the fig to seek out the sterile gall flowers and lay their eggs.

The process of laying the eggs is coupled with the emission of pollen to the female flowers.

These tiny female flowers eventually develop into fruit.

The ripening of the fig is timed with the hatching of the wasps eggs and the maturity of the male flowers.

The male fig wasps die after mating with the female.

The female wasp is able to emerge from the fig and repeat the process.

Both the fig and the fig wasp are dependent on each other for their existence.

Without the fig plant, the wasp cannot multiply.

Without the fig wasp, the fig plant cannot form seeds.

The Jati Waringin is a truly fantastic tree.

The Little Garuda will not settle here.

This is just one short story from her youth in the journey of life.