Arrival of the examiner, a small, heavily sun-tanned middle-aged man with a slightly bald head. He gave me a small smile as he went into the test-room and closed the door.
I was beckoned into the room. On sitting down, I handed him my ID card and watched him check the information. After that, he set a small mp3 recorder on the desk between us and started the interview. First, he stated the place and date of the interview and began asking me questions.
Q: What’s your full name?
A: My name is Zhong Wanting and you can also call me Helen.
Q: OK, Helen, where are you from?
A: My hometown is Chengdu, Sichuan, but I’ve stayed in Guangzhou, for more than 12 years.
Q: Can you tell me what you do? Do you work or do you study?
A: I’m a junior high school student, as you can see, and I’m now studying in Grade 9 in Guangdong Experimental Middle School.
Q: What do you study at school?
A: The middle school curriculum. We study a range of different subjects, for example, the 6 main subjects as we like to call them---- Chinese, maths, English, chemistry, physics and politics. Apart from these, we also have P.E. and history. Now we are in Grade 9, which is the tensest and busiest year in junior high school, as we have to prepare for the senior high school entrance examinations. This means that we have to drop some of the courses we have learnt in Grade 7 and 8, such as biology and geography.
Q: Of these parts that you study, which one do you like best?
A: I like chemistry the most, even though we only started it this term, meaning that we have studied it for only 4 months. I really like the various reactions, and how matter changes. The experiments are so amazing. I just love doing things in the chemistry laboratory.
Q: What kinds of clothes do people like to buy?
A: Well, teenagers like to choose clothes that are in, that are trendy, for teens like fashion, especially when they are with their peers. And the elder generation, the adults, tend to buy clothes that are more comfortable to wear and more economic. So, I think the different ways in which young people and older adults choose apparel reflect their different views about fashion, and value.
Q: Can you tell me something about your grandparents?
A: My mother’s father passed away when I was only 2 years old, which means that I do not have a clear, distinct memory of him, but I have seen his picture, and I have heard stories about him from my mother, about how he worked as a pilot in the Chinese army. Grandmother doesn’t live with us now, but we usually phone her on special occasions. On my father’s side, his mother----my grandma, -----passed away when I was in primary school. She died of cancer of the intestines. I miss her very much because she had always been kind to me. My grandfather lives in Chengdu now with my aunt, uncle and cousins as a retired worker. When I was a little child, I used to live with my grandparents (my father’s parents). They took good care of me and were very fond of me because I’m the only girl in my family in my generation.
Q: What roles do grandparents (old people) play in Chinese families?
A: Grandparents are the elders in a family, and are the most respectable figures. They carry with them history and tradition, the deep marks of past years and the heavy burdens of their times. The grandparents of our generation grew up in the darkest times of war and bloodshed and the hardest times of reconstruction after the birth of a new country, and they have a lot of stories from those times to tell their offspring. Grandparents are also more traditional, and usually, it is them who accompany children and teach them how to behave and tell them about the traditional Chinese virtues.
Part 2 Cue Card
[ Talk about a shopping center you are familiar with
l Where the shopping center is
l What you can buy
l How often you go there
and the reason why you like it ]
The shopping center that I like the most is called Emperor Square. It is settled in Zhongshan road, next to the Zhonghua Plaza, and it’s in the vicinity of my school, so it’s convenient for me to go to. This place is focused on fashion and trend, so it’s very popular among teenagers. At weekends, the place is filled with middle school students. You can buy most of the ‘innest’ things there, such as albums of famous pop stars and comic fan stuff. For boys, there are shops highlighting football, where you can buy pillows with Manchester United or AC Milan’s emblem on them. For girls, there are shops selling fancy clothes, accessories, make-up and cute chains to hang on mobile phones. There are also special shops featuring ‘DIY’, where you can do a range of things from hammering your own silver necklace to making soap and perfumes. We once made a cake of soap ourselves in Junior 1 for our English teacher, who was about to leave China, as a farewell present.
I am not as crazy about shopping as many of my peers, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t shop at all. I go to the Emperor Square more frequently than other places, about twice or three times a month. I still remember the first time I visited the place with my friends. It was right after an important exam, and my friends decided to go out to relax. When they invited me, I agreed, and I went to the Square with them. From then on I have always regarded the Emperor Square as an interesting place to be.
I am not as rich as others, and sometimes I don’t have enough money with me, but even window-shopping there is highly enjoyable. Just strolling in the maze-like corridors and alleys and studying the exquisitely displayed commodities is a pleasure. Also, we have found this shopping center a good place to purchase birthday presents for our friends, since in the various stores there you can certainly find something suitable for a teenage friend. I really like the Emperor Square, a place of shopping surprises.
Q: Are there many people in the shopping center you just described?
A: Yes, and most of them are teenage students as I have mentioned.
Part 3 General Questions
Q: What features do you think a successful shopping center must acquire?
A: In my opinion, a successful shopping center must, in the first place, be clear about what sort of customers they need to attract------does it focus on customers of a certain category, for example, sports lovers or old people? Or does it want to attract the general public? With this in mind, a shopping center can then import the correct goods to sell.
Also, the shopping place needs to be well furnished, equipped with adequate facilities, such as comfortable air-conditioning and spacious, easily accessible lifts. I don’t think anybody would like to shop at a construction site!
Then, the commodities the shopping center sells should be both modest in price and high in quality. Everybody likes things that are nice and cheap.
Last but not least, the service in a shopping center should be enhanced in order to attract more customers. Shop-assistants must be friendly to customers and willing to serve them well. There are picky shoppers who find fault with everything and can’t make up their minds. A shop-assistant then, must be patient with them instead of being annoyed, and should try his best to satisfy the customers’ needs and help them choose what fits them best.
Q: What do you think can be done to make a shopping center more attractive?
A: First of all, adjustments can be made to a shopping center’s facilities to make them more comfortable. More kinds of goods can be added to the storage and arranged in such a way that they can be more convenient for customers to access to.
Secondly, more sales activities can be held to raise interest. For example, a sales season around Christmas can attract many shoppers, and there can be more commodities on discount ----- cheaper merchandise means more buyers! Also, a shopping center can invite famous people, such as pop singers, to help promote its goods and entertain customers. These activities can certainly make a shopping center more popular.
Q: What do you think are the benefits of Internet shopping?
A: Talking about Internet shopping, I often buy books via the Internet, and I really enjoy this kind of shopping.
Internet shopping can save you a lot of time and energy. If you shop in the traditional way, you may have to run all around the city and turn all the shops upside down just for one special article. It may also cost you a whole morning and you may feel exhausted at the end of the day. However, if you do your shopping on the Internet, you can simply key in a few words and with a click of the mouse, your order is off and you can wait for your merchandise to be delivered to you.
Internet shopping is much more convenient than traditional shopping. It can be hard for you to find something you need, for it may be tucked away in a corner of a shop. Yet on the Internet, you can just search for the merchandise you need, and receive the result a second later.
The examiner told me that it was the end of the speaking test. After saying goodbye, I left the room. I felt that I had done quite well in the speaking section.