IELTS LISTENING – Planning a presentation on nanotechnology S13GT3



Planning a presentation on nanotechnology

TUTOR: Ah … come in, Russ.

Russ: Thank you.

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TUTOR: Now you wanted to consult me about your class presentation on nanotechnology -you’re due to give it in next week, aren’t you?

Russ: That’s right. And I’m really struggling. I chose the topic because I didn’t know much about it and wanted to learn more, but now I’ve read so much about it, in a way
there’s too much to say – I could talk for much longer than the twenty minutes I’ve been allocated. Should I assume the other students don’t know much. and give them a kind of general introduction, or should I try and make them share my fascination with a particular aspect? 

TUTOR: You could do either, but you’ll need to have it clear in your own mind.

Russ: Then I think I’ll give an overview.

TUTOR: OK. Now, one way of approaching this is to work through developments in chronological order.

Russ: Uh-huh.

TUTOR: On the other hand, you could talk about the numerous ways that nanotechnology is being applied.

Russ: You mean things like thin films on camera displays to make them water-repellent, and additives to make motorcycle helmets stronger and lighter.

TUTOR: Exactly. Or another way would be to focus on its impact in one particular area, say medicine, or space exploration.

Russ: That would make it easier to focus. Perhaps I should do that.

TUTOR: I think that would be a good idea.

Russ: Right. How important is it to include slides in the presentation?

TUTOR: They aren’t essential, by any means. And there’s a danger of tailoring what you say to fit whatever slides you can find. While it can be good to include slides, you could  end up spending too long looking for suitable ones. You might find it better to leave
them out. 

Russ: I see. Another thing I was wondering about was how to start. I know presentations often begin with ‘First I’m going to talk about this, and then I’ll talk about that’, but I thought about asking the audience what they know about nanotechnology. 

TUTOR: That would be fine if you had an hour or two for the presentation, but you might find that you can’t do anything with the answers you get, and it simply eats into the short time that’s available. 

Russ: So, maybe I should mention a particular way that nanotechnology is used, to focus 
people’s attention.

TUTOR: That sounds sensible.

Russ: What do you think I should do next? I really have to plan the presentation today and

TUTOR: Well, initially I think you should ignore all the notes you’ve made, take a small piece of paper, and write a single short sentence that ties together the whole presentation it can be something as simple as ‘Nanotechnology is already improving our lives’. Then start planning the content around that. You can always modify that sentence later, if you need to.

Russ: OK. 

TUTOR: OK, now let’s think about actually giving the presentation. You’ve only given one before, if I remember correctly, about an experiment you’d been involved in.

Russ: That’s right. It was pretty rubbish!

TUTOR: Let’s say it was better in some respects than in others. With regard to the structure, I felt that you ended rather abruptly, without rounding it off. Be careful not to do that in next week’s presentation.

Russ: OK.

TUTOR: And you made very little eye contact with the audience because you were looking down at your notes most of the time. You need to be looking at the audience and only occasionally glancing at your notes. 

Russ: Mmm.

TUTOR: Your body language was a little odd. Every time you showed a slide, you turned your back on the audience so you could look at it – you should have been looking at your laptop. And you kept scratching your head, so I found myself wondering when you were next going to do that instead of listening to what you were saying! 

Russ: Oh dear. What did you think of the language? I knew that not everyone was familiar with the subject, so I tried to make it as simple as I could.

TUTOR: Yes, that came across. You used a few words that are specific to the field but you always explained what they meant so the audience wouldn’t have had any difficulty understanding. 

Russ: Uh-huh.

TUTOR: I must say the handouts you prepared were well thought out. They were a good summary of your presentation, which people would be able to refer to later on. So well done on that. 

Russ: Thank you.

TUTOR: Well, I hope that helps you with next week’s presentation.

Russ: Yes, it will. Thanks a lot.

TUTOR: I’ll look forward to seeing a big improvement, then.

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IELTS LISTENING – Joanna’s psychology study S11GT3


Joanna’s psychology study


SUPERVISOR : Hi, Joanna, good to meet you. Now, before we discuss your new research project, I’d like to hear something about the psychology study you did last year  for your Master’s degree. So how did you choose your subjects for that?

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JOANNA : Well, I has six subjects,all professional musicians, and all female.Three were violinists and there was also a cello player and a pianist and a flute player.They were all very highly regarded in the music world and they’d done quite extensive tours in different continents and quite a few had won prizes and competitions as well.

SUPERVISOR : And they were quite young, weren’t they?

JOANNA : Yes, between 25 and 29 – the mean was 27.8. I wasn’t specifically looking for artists who’d produced recordings, but this is something that’s just taken for granted these days and they all had.

SUPERVISOR : Right. Now you collected your data through telephone interviews, didn’t you?

JOANNA : Yes. I realized if I was going to interview leading musicians it’d only be possible over the phone because they’re so busy. I recorded them using a telephone recording adaptor. I’d been worried about the quality, but it worked out all right.I managed at least a 30- minutes interview with each subject, sometimes longer.

SUPERVISOR : Did doing it on the phone make it more stressful?

JOANNA : I’d thought it might… it was all quite informal though and in fact they seemed very keen to talk. And I don’t think using the phone meant I got rich data,rather the opposite in fact.

SUPERVISOR : Interested. And you were looking at how performers dress for concert performances?

JOANNA : That’s right. my research investigated the way players see their role as a musician and how this linked to the type of clothing they decided to wear.But that focus didn’t emerge immediately. When I started I was more interested in trying to investigate the impact of what was worn on those listening and also weather someone like a violinist might adopt a different style of clothing from say, someone playing the flute or the trumpet.

SUPERVISOR : It’s interesting that the choice of dress is up to the individual, isn’t it?

JOANNA : Yes, you’d expect there to be rules about it in orchestras, but that’s quite rare.

SUPERVISOR : You only had women performers in your study. Was that because male musicians are less worried about fashion?

JOANNA : I think a lot of the men are very much influenced by fashion, but in social terms the choices they have are more limited … they’d really upset audiences if they strayed away from quite narrow boundaries.

SUPERVISOR : Hmm. Now, popular music has quite different expectations. Did you read Mike Frost’s article about the dress of women performers in popular music?


SUPERVISOR:  He points out that a lot of female singers and musicians in popular music tend to dress down in performances, and wear less feminine clothes, like jeans instead of skirts, and he suggests this is because otherwise they’d just be discounted as trivial.

JOANNA : But you could argue they’re just wearing what’s practical … I mean, a pop-music concert is usually a pretty energetic affair.

SUPERVISOR :  Yes, he doesn’t make that point, but I think you’re probably right. I was interested by the effect of the audience at a musical performance when it came to the choice of dress.

JOANNA : The subjects I interviewed felt this was really important. It’s all to do with what we understand by performance as a public event. They believed the audience had certain expectations and it was up to them as performers to full fill these expectations, to show a kind of esteem … 

SUPERVISOR : … they weren’t afraid of looking as if they’d made an effort to look good.

JOANNA : Mmm. I think in the past the audience would have had those expectations of one another too, but that’s not really the case now, not in the UK anyway.


JOANNA : And I also got interested in what sports scientists are doing too, with regard to clothing.

SUPERVISOR :  Musicians are quite vulnerable physically, aren’t they, because the movements they carry out are very intensive and repetitive, so I’d imagine some features of sports clothing could safeguard the players from the potentially dangerous effects of this sort of thing. 

JOANNA : Yes, but musicians don’t really consider it. They avoid clothing that obviously restricts their movements, but that’s as far as they go.

SUPERVISOR :  Anyway, coming back to your own research, do you have any idea where you’re going from here?

JOANNA :  I was thinking of doing a study using an audience, including …

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IELTS LISTENING – Jack interested in investigating seed germination S14GT3


Jack interested in investigating seed germination

EMMA: We’ve got to choose a topic for our experiment, haven’t we, Jack? Were you thinking of something to do with seeds?

JACK: That’s right. I thought we could look at seed germination – how a seed begins to grow.

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IELTS LISTENING – Laura’s work placement S17AT3



Laura’s work placement

TIM: Hi, Laura – could you spare a few minutes to talk about the work placement you did last summer? I’m thinking of doing one myself …

LAURA: Hi, Tim. Sure.

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TIM: Didn’t you do yours at an environmental services company?

LAURA: That’s right … It’s only a very small company and they needed someone to produce a company brochure, and I wanted to get some business experience because I’m interested in a career in occupational psychology in a business environment. It was good because I had overall responsibility for the project. 

TIM: What kind of skills do you think you developed on the placement? I mean, apart from the ones you already had … Did you have to do all the artwork for the brochure, the layout and everything?

LAURA: We hired the services of a professional photographer for that. I did have to use my IT skills to a certain extent because I cut and pasted text from marketing leaflets, but that didn’t involve anything I hadn’t done before.

TIM: Do you think you got any better at managing your time and prioritizing things? You always used to say you had trouble with that ..

LAURA: Oh, definitely. There was so much pressure to meet the project deadline. And I also got better at explaining things and asserting my opinions, because I had to have weekly consultations with the marketing manager and give him a progress report.

TIM: It sounds as if you got a lot out of it then.

LAURA: Absolutely. It was really worthwhile … But you know. the company benefited too …

TIM: Yes, they must have done. After all, if they’d used a professional advertising agency to produce their brochure instead of doing it in-house, presumably they’d have paid a lot more?

LAURA: Oh, yes. I worked it out – it would have been 250 per cent more. And I thought the end result was good. even though we did everything on site. The company has quite a powerful computer and I managed to borrow some scanning software from the university. The new brochure looks really professional; it enhances the image of the company straight away.

TIM: So in the long run it should help them to attract clients, and improve their sales figures?

LAURA: That’s the idea. Yeah.

TIM: Well. all in all it sounds very positive – I think I will go ahead and apply for a placement myself. How do I go about it?

LAURA: It’s easy enough to do, because there’s a government agency called STEP – S-T-E-P- that organizes placements for students. You should start by getting their booklet with all the details – I expect you can download one from their website.

TIM: Actually, they’ve got copies in the psychology department – I’ve seen them there. I’ll just go to the office and pick one up.

LAURA: Right. And then if I were you, after I’d looked at it I’d go over all the options with someone …

TIM: I suppose I should ask my tutor’s advice. He knows more about me than anyone.

LAURA: One of the career officers would be better, they’ve got more knowledge about the jobs market than your personal tutor would have.


LAURA: And then when you know what you want you can register with STEP – you’ll find their address in the booklet. And once you’ve registered they assign you to a mentor who looks after your application.

TIM: And then I suppose you just sit back and wait till you hear something?

LAURA: They told me at the careers office that it’s best to be proactive, and get updates yourself by checking the website for new placement alerts. Your mentor is supposed to keep you informed, but you can’t rely on that. 

TIM: I don’t suppose it’s a good idea to get in touch with companies directly, is it?

LAURA: Not really … But it is the company who notifies you if they want you to go for an interview You get a letter of invitation or an email from personnel departments.

TIM: And do I reply directly to them?

LAURA: Yes, you do. STEP only gets involved again once you’ve been made a job offer.

TIM: Right … So once you’ve had an interview you should let your mentor know what the outcome is? I mean whether you’re offered a job, and whether you’ve decided to accept it?

LAURA: That’s right. They’ll inform the careers office once a placement has been agreed, so you don’t have to do that.

TIM: Is that all then?

LAURA: More or less. Only once you’ve accepted an offer you’ll probably have to supply a reference, because the placement will be conditional on that. And that’s something you should ask your own tutor to provide. He knows about your academic ability and also about your qualities, like reliability.

TIM: Well, thanks very much for the information – I’m starting to look forward …

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