IELTS Speaking: About Letters

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Here are some sample answers about "Letters" in the IELTS Speaking test given by John, who is an IELTS intructor works in China. Pay attention to those phrases that I underlineded. 

Do you often write letters to your family and relatives?
No, not really to be honest with you. I normally just call them or email them, cos it’s a lot quicker than writing a letter.

When do people usually write letters by hand?
Well, thinking about it, I’d say people are most likely to write letters by hand when it’s for something personal, such as a thank-you letter, or a letter from a parent to a son or daughter when they’re living away from home, because I’m sure you’d agree that it makes it that much more meaningful when it’s handwritten and not just typed up on a computer.

What can we learn from looking at handwritten letters that are hundreds of years old?
What can we learn? Um… that’s a good question, and I’m not actually that sure. Let me have a little think please! Um… well I suppose one thing we could learn would be the kind of language people used when communicating with each other, because I’m sure it was a lot different back thenAnd as well as this, I guess another thing is that we can get a glimpse into the kind of lives people used to lead. So in terms of knowing more about our history, I think old letters can be of tremendous value.

Is the handwriting of children as good today as it was many years ago?
I don’t honestly know, but my guess would be that it’s pretty much the same, because if you think about it, children still have to write most of their work by hand, and it’s not really until middle school that they start using a computer. So yeah, for children, I’d say not a lot’s changed, but that’s definitely not the case for adults! You know, I think you would agree with me that their handwriting is no way as good as that of adults in the past, simply because they use a computer to write everything now.

Are letters important when doing business?
Yeah, I’d say they definitely are, because I’m sure there are times when it’s either not convenient or not possible to communicate through other means. And another thing would be that letters are permanent, which makes it easy to remember the information in them, whereas telephone conversations can be easily forgotten. So yeah, although I don’t have much experience in business, I’m sure that letters play a vital role in communication.

What are the differences between business letters and personal letters?
Well I’ve never actually written or seen a business letter before, but I guess that they are generally written in a more formal style than personal letters, which tend to normally be written in more of a colloquial style. 

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