Upper-Intermediate students on our July ’14 Speaking Skills course have been studying phrases for giving advice and tips. To consolidate some of the language they’ve been using in class to offer recommendations and make suggestions, some of them wrote the following dialogues, in which two people discuss a problem, containing some of the phrases we’ve looked at on the course so far (in bold)…
A: I don’t know how to save money. I spend all the money I have. Can you help me please?
B: Yes, sure I can. Start by making a list of the things you definitely need. The things that aren’t on that list, you should stop buying…
A: Yeah, okay… I can do that. I also spend a lot of money on the car…
B: Well, take every opportunity to travel with some friends that work with you. Sometimes you go in your car and other times you go in their cars.
A: That’s a really good idea! I’ll do that…
B: …And in the house, you can cut down on the water and gas you use…
A: I’ve already done that!
B: That’s good. So, remember you have to resist the temptation to buy useless things. Avoid going to work on your own and make sure you continue cutting down on the water and gas you use at home…
A: Okay, I will. Thanks a lot!
When you talk about travelling to work with colleagues you could talk about a “car sharing scheme”. You could also use “share” as a verb to talk about sharing the fuel/petrol costs. A shorter way to say “go with someone else in your car” is “to give someone a lift” e.g.: “You could set up a car sharing scheme… Some days you’ll give someone a lift and on other days they’ll take you to work. This’ll help everyone by sharing the cost of petrol.”
Mary: Hi, how are you?
Me: I’m fine, thanks. And you? Long time no see.
Mary: It’s true! Well, I have a big problem in my life. I’m really not feeling well. I need to lose weight. Can you give me any advice?
Me: Yes, of course. Start by doing some exercise like walking and running. You should try to do it at least three times a week.
Mary: Well, I agree with you but I don’t have any time!
Me: It’s important to establish a timetable.
Mary: Okay. I’ll try to do that. Do you have any other ideas?
Me: Resist the temptation to eat sweets and too much fast food… Have healthy food and drink a lot of water.
Mary: How many times should I eat during the day?
Me: Five or six times. And avoid eating a lot for your main meals.
Mary: Thanks a lot. I’m going to follow all of your advice.
Me: You’re welcome. Tell me how it goes. See you…
Mary: …I will. Bye. See you soon.
Teacher’s notes: The phrase “long time no see” is a natural, informal way to say that it has been a long time since you last saw somebody. Other phrases that do this are:
- I haven’t seen you for ages!
- It’s been ages! (‘s = has)
Notice how the two examples above both use have/has + past participle (Present Perfect) to comment on the time that has passed since the two people last saw each other.
I changed a phrase at the end of the dialogue from “I’ll wait your news” to “Tell me how it goes” because I thought it sounded more natural. Other phrases that could be used to close a topic in conversation and express the idea of wanting to know what happens next include:
- Let me know / Tell me how it goes / went.
- Let me know how you get / got on.
- Can’t wait to hear how it goes / went.