Real Exam English - B2, C1, C2

S03 - 9 Culture

May 27, 2022 Real Exam English Season 3 Episode 9
Real Exam English - B2, C1, C2
S03 - 9 Culture
Show Notes Transcript

Native English speakers answer questions about culture from previous B2, C1, C2 and IELTS  exam papers.

If you are a real culture vulture then you will enjoy this episode. In this episode you will hear some super expressions with the word all, some brilliant use of adverbs and possibly the most well-structured answer we have ever heard on the Real Exam English podcast!

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Music: Wholesome by Kevin MacLeod

Thanks to all of the contributors, including Ian from the We Dig Music podcast, Konner from The Blunt Report podcast(, Rosemary, David, Mary Alice, Ofordi and Ursula.

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Hello and welcome to Real Exam English. Today’s episode is about culture. Personally I love learning about different cultures and one of the joys of being an online English teacher is that I get to meet people from all over the world and find out about the way they live and their customs and traditions. So if you, like me, are a real culture vulture then I´m sure you will enjoy this episode. In fact, I´ve added a photo from my travels in Indonesia and you will hear various speakers speculating about what they can see in the image. Also, in this episode you will hear some super expressions with the word all, some brilliant use of adverbs and possibly the most well-structured answer we have ever heard on the Real Exam English podcast, exciting.


As usual you can find the transcript for this episode on the Real Exam English website, and you can find details there too about classes and about donations, in case you would like to buy me a beer or something like that, come on, I love beer. Ok then, let´s go with the questions, here we go: 



are you interested in the cultures of other countries? For example their food or their music? 

Heck yes. I'm fascinated with them.Fascinated with them.Eastern slash Northern European countries. I'm I'm like I'm learning Russian, so I'm listening to lots of Russian language bands, which is great. Some amazing music coming out of there.Uhm, work for a company that's based in India, so I'm kind of interested in Indian culture as well. Less so the food I gotta say I do love Russian .And Eastern European food. Though all over that, yes.

Some students have the opportunity to study in another country. Is this a good thing to do?

 I think so yes, I would. One thing I kind of regret.Although the opportunity was never presented to me while I was growing up, is is just the ability to spend more than like a week or a holiday in a country, you know, just really.Enjoying being.In a foreign country of getting to know the culture, immersing yourself in the day-to-day of living in a different place, yeah.I think if you have the opportunity to do that, you should grab it with both hands.Get all up in that.

Two great answers there. The first question was if the speaker is interested in the cultures of other cultures and he responded “heck yes”. As you can probably tell heck is used as a way to add emphasis and the intonation is really important, heck yes. Another example using heck would be - influencers these days get paid a heck of a lot of money. Just bear in mind that this is informal, so you couldn´t use it in an essay or other formal writing, but writing or chatting informally…absolutely.

We also had this brilliant comparative structure in the first answer – I´m interested in Indian culture, less so the food. This is far nicer than just saying “but I am less interested in the food”. I´ll give you another example, I found the reading exercise quite easy, less so the grammar.  Handy structure that.

Just after saying he doesn´t like Indian food he says I do love Russian and European food, though. This use of though, at the end of the sentence, is really common by native English speakers but is something I very rarely hear non-native speakers using. It´s use here has a meaning similar to however, or nonetheless. Another example would be “that´s a lot of money for a pair of earphones. It´s totally worth it, though. They’re amazing”. So, if you want to sound a little more native guys, practice this.

In the second answer we heard this awesome recommendation “you should grab it with both hands, get all up in that”. This is really two separate expressions. The first one would be the most appropriate one to use in an exam situation “grab the opportunity with both hands”, which of course means you should take the opportunity. The second expression get all up in that is a bit more street, or informal, you could use it with friends, but it would sound out of place in an exam. Actually, in the first answer he used a similar expression when talking about the Eastern European food, I´m all over that, which means I love that stuff, again super casual, but cool, I like it.


Can the language one speaks affect their sense of identity?

Absolutely, absolutely yeah.Uhm, and it's really interesting. You know, there's you know, I just. I always mention to my students that what's the message behind the capital I in English. I mean English is.The only language that capitalizes the first person like that every time, and I think that contains a really powerful mindset that's going on.And then you look at other languages, for example Thai. It doesn't have a word for I. The only time it appears is when you say that you know.I am following you. Give your name and then it disappears from the lexical collection that the language offers. So I definitely think it's part part and parcel of your identity. I also think that there's certain emotional experiences and perceptions that we that we can.Explore in languages that we that don't necessarily have a direct translation, so that as you expand your repertoire, linguistically, I think you also expand your repertoire of perspective and point of view, and I think that's really interesting for students, and it can be as simple as nap and siesta. There are two really, Really, really different things. Although we can use them interchangeably, they have slightly different matices of difference.

Top notch answer there, that speaker is actually a university linguistics professor, thus her amazingly detailed answer. She said language is part and parcel of your identity. Part and parcel means it a basic and necessary part. For instance, being tired is part and parcel of having young kids. 

We then heard that we should expand our repertoire, linguistically. So this word repertoire comes from French and is pronounced kind of in a French way, repertoire. It means the skills or types of behaviour someone habitually uses. It was quite funny and ironic actually that she used that word whilst speaking about using words from other languages where we don´t have a direct translation. Also, interestingly, she used a word matices, to describe the slight differences between nap and siesta, and while most Spanish listeners to this podcast might understand what she is referring to a native English speaker wouldn´t, as this word matices isn´t actually a word. The speaker lives in Spain, and has kind of anglicised the Spanish word matiz, which kind of means nuance in English. It´s the perfect example of how one language sometimes robs words from another language, which is exactly what she was talking about, which makes it all the more ironic. 


Ok, it´s time for a little speculation. The photogragh that is being spoken about can be found on the realexamenglish blog, there´s a link in the shownotes or you should hopefully be able to see it in your podcast player too.

I would probably say that it's Southeast Asia.And and if I could be more directed, probably I'd probably locate it in.Thailand and it looks like there's it's an offering of some sort, perhaps at one of the watts or something like that and look at them. The box and it looks like they're they're a box that looks would be reminiscent of like a white sticky rice box and some of the fruit platters look like they might be.Uhm, decorated to the highest of extent. So it's almost like it would be in an offering of sorts.

Here's a bunch of people with.Fruit in bowls balanced on their heads. They're on a trip.There's a huge crowd of them. It looks like they're in Thailand or somewhere like that, and I think they are going up to a temple to make some kind of offerings due to some kind of religious festivities. That's my guess.


OK, uh, it looks like there's.Getting the IT looks like they're bringing supplies and materials, perhaps offerings for some kind of a festival.Uh, I don't think the festival started yet. I think they're preparing because I see some of the women are dressed up and looks like festive clothing, but not all. And you know they're carrying stuff.And they don't look too happy, so I don't think they're celebrating yet. Yeah, it looks like they're bringing supplies.

OK, looks like it is probably based. Maybe Shree Lanka or somewhere like this.That's clever.They have food in there.They all seem to have the same sort of food and stuff on their heads.There I would say they're doing some sort of a procession to a shrine like a religious ceremony or something like that, Where they They leave gifts for whatever God they believe in. Feast afterwards.


Ok so just to pick out the expressions used to speculate, we had - I would say, they seem to have, they don´t look happy, that´s my guess, looks like, they might be, would be reminiscent of, perhaps, and my favourite one - it almost looks like it would be. For anyone who has to speak about photos in an English exam make sure to practice using a variety of these, and for anyone not doing an English exam, this is really useful language anyway as you often have to say what you think is happening in a situation.

what do you think contributes most to globalization?

 I think there are probably two or three major factors that contributes to globalization. With the first major one being the fact that. We can travel absolutely anywhere we like, quite easily and relatively affordably. Most especially in the West, most people can afford to fly anywhere on the globe without actually having to be Rich, the next biggest factor, obviously, is the Internet and the pure access to information that we all have. We can learn about just about anything that is occurring on any corner of the globe, and thanks to the Internet and lastly English, English is getting bigger and bigger all the time and is becoming the global language. Which is suddenly creating a situation in which so many people on the planet are able to be able to communicate and talk with each other.

 can the language one speaks affect their sense of identity?

I think that the language that you speak is hugely incredibly tied into your personality. Obviously there are huge influences from the culture in which you've grown up, but. Once you have spoken to enough people that are bilingual or trilingual.And they will tell you that they feel like they are a different person when they speak. The the other language they feel like they can't make the same jokes they feel like they can't express themselves in the same way, and even the actual structure of language itself affects this as small examples. The way that we say I am sick as opposed to I have sickness in different languages. I think really affects the way you feel about that topic.

Wow, if you want to know how to structure an answer well in an English exam look no further than here. So the first question was what do you think contributes most to globalization and he started with “I think there are probably two or three major factors that contribute to globalization, with the first major one being the fact that”. Absolutely brilliant. Then he follows it with “the next biggest factor, obviously, is the internet”, boom, excellent, and then he finishes with “lastly, English, English is getting bigger and bigger”. I love it.

His answer is also peppered with loads of adverbs, in just two answers he managed to fit in absolutely, easily, relatively, especially, actually, obviously, just about, lastly, suddenly, hugely and incredibly. How fantastic is that, it makes his answers way more descriptive and informative and of course, in an exam situation would be a great way to score a few marks for language. So make sure to practice using adverbs like these, both in your speaking and in your writing, particularly if you are writing something like an article, a story, an informal letter or a review.


Some people say that these days there aren't many big cultural differences between countries. Do you agree?

So I'm going to be pernickety again and say I think it depends on the cultures and the countries that you're comparing, UM?Perhaps not so much in Western cultures, and I think you know some of that also applies to West versus, for example, Eastern Eastern cultures. But yeah, there are still some cultural differences. It's not all A one size fits all


What do you think contributes most to globalisation?

The ability to travel.Really, I mean in terms of for example.At my back.Flights tickets, tickets that you can buy are a lot cheaper than they used to be, or possibly not now because of COVID, but before COVID they were definitely cheaper, which meant people could travel around more and I think the other one is really economics or finance and business. This has opened up.Has opened the door for a lot of companies to expand and to go into different countries and different markets, and so you know you sort of see the same shops everywhere.And and I think as well as as both of those things social media and the Internet. I think in its own way, it's it's made everything accessible to anybody in the world notwithstanding those people who have restrictions on what they can see using the Internet.


The first answer here starts with this typically British word pernickety. She said I´m going to be pernickety again, which means she is going to be overly fussy or putting too much emphasis on unimportant details. Like, customs officials in Australia can be extremely pernickety about what they allow you to take in.

We then heard another expression with the word all, well in fact it´s an adjective and that was  one-size-fits-all, or more slowly…one-size-fits-all. This means it is suitable for everyone or every purpose. For instance, the government has taken a one-size-fits-all approach to education. So there’s actually four separate words which make up this one compound adjective, which would be great to use in an exam situation as compound adjectives and compound nouns are seen as higher level, and therefore exactly what you should be using!

Lastly we heard this lovely connector, notwithstanding, which is similar to despite or not considering something. An example would be, notwithstanding my poor preparation, I´m still going to take the English exam, or injuries notwithstanding, I finished the marathon in 4 hours. Really nice that, kind of C2 level connector, if anything.

Ok guys, that´s it for today. There were some really excellent answers there, so hopefully you found some nice language you can use going forward. Remember to check out Facebook or Instagram for any updates or information about new classes, for instance I´m just starting some cheaper group classes which will have more students in the class but all the same material. This could be great for anyone who is on a budget and wants to prepare for their B2 or C1 exam with other students from around the world, get all up in that, haha, ok folks, let´s call it a day, till next time, all the best, Trevor 


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