This week's talking point revolves around the people in our lives. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below, so that ideas flow more easily when you meet up with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
How big is your family?
Do you know anyone who has a half-brother or half-sister or a step-brother or step-sister?
Talk about your favourite relative and a relative you don't really get on well with. What are they like? What do they look like?
What memories do you have of your grandparents?
What do you know about your great-grandparents?
Do you know anyone (relative, friend or colleague) whose personality has changed over time?
Do you have the same best friend as you had ten years ago? Why (not)?
Do you stay in touch with friends from primary/secondary school/university?
Have you ever been close to someone but then drifted apart? What happened? Do you regret it?
Is there anyone you would like to get back in touch with? How would you go about it?
Have you ever tracked down anyone via the Internet?
To illustrate the point you can watch this Speakout video where some people talk about their family identity.
P: Hello. My name is Pasha. I work for the BBC and I do a lot of DJing in my spare time. Originally, I come from Moscow, but most of my family lives in New York now. Today I’m talking to people about their families.
Tell me about your family.
T: I have a very large family. I live with my mother and my step-father in Brighton in England. I have six brothers and sisters, of which I’m the
eldest and I have a lot of responsibility ... to look after them. B: I live with my mum and my sister and my dad. My sister is fifteen years
old and we’re really close. We’re a happy little family.
P: I have quite a small family. I only have one sister. She’s two years younger than me and then there’s my parents who live very close to
me. All of my grandparents have died, sadly.
E: I’m the middle child: I have an older brother and a younger brother and my parents are still together. I get on with them brilliantly – they’re a great family.
N: My dad’s Mexican and my mum is from London. And they, my mum
met my dad in Mexico, they moved over to England twenty-five years
ago. And I’ve got a sister who’s two years older than me.
M: Well, my family lives in Canada, in Toronto, Canada. I have a mother and sister, my father passed away about twenty years ago, so it’s just
the three of us. Something of a small family.
P: In what ways are you like your parents or siblings?
T: I look a lot like my mum: we have, like, the same height and build and face structure. And, I guess I have the same traits as her. We, sort of, have a very similar personality in the way we think about things, the
way we express ourselves.
P: I don’t think I’m very much like my sister; I think she’s very different from me. I think I’m similar to my father: we both have a mathematical, ‘science type’ mind, and I like to think I’m conscientious like my mother.
B: Um, I look quite a lot like my sister. But she’s like a younger version of me. And she’s thinner. And then, my mum, she’s a bit more reserved, so she’s very organised and my dad is a lot louder, a lot more
N: Um, I’m quite calm like my dad, and, but can get quite, I think, maybe
passionate like my mum.
E: I’m not very like my brothers: they are very similar to each other but I’m quite different. They’re more like my mum. I’m more like my dad. P: What do you know about your family history?
B: Well, my name’s Brogan, and it’s supposed to be Scottish or Irish, but I
have no idea where it’s really from.
P: My family history goes quite, goes quite a long way back on my father’s side, erm, certainly about four or five hundred years. He’s Scottish – from southwest Scotland – very close to Ireland. My mother was adopted: she and her twin sister were adopted and we’ve only
managed to go back one generation to the northwest of England. M: I actually started to retrace my family roots last year, so I went to Northern Ireland, to Belfast, and actually found some very interesting information about my grandparents. Found the house that my great-
grandfather built and where my grandfather was born.
T: I don’t know very much about my family history, but I’d like to look into it in the future.