This week's talking point is age. 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.
Are you happy with the age you are?
What is your perfect age? Why?
And what is the most challenging stage of life?
'Age is just a number. You are as young as you feel.' Do you agree?
What problems do generation gaps bring about?
What advantages/disadvantages are there to being young/old today compared to in the past?
What age range do you consider to be in the prime of life?
Would you exchange maturity and wisdom for the bloom of youth?
Medical science has enabled more people than ever to live to a ripe old age. Do you think this is always desirable? And what are the disadvantages?
These are the seven stages in a person's life. What typical behaviour and characteristics do you associate with each? An example is given for each stage.
childhood: grazing your knee
teenagers: playing truant
young adult: working out
adulthood: getting a mortgage
retirement: going grey
old age: memory loss
To illustrate the issue, you can watch this Speakout video where passers-by answer these three questions:
In what ways do you feel different today than you did ten years ago?
What’s the best time of life do you think?
In what ways has ageing affected your life?
N: My life has changed a lot in the last ten years. I’ve moved away from home and into central London, and that’s
made me feel much more independent. How about you? In what ways do you feel different today than you did ten years ago?
Ni: Well, I feel very different. I’m retired now and I wasn’t retired then, so today I play and ten years ago I worked.
G: About ten years ago, I guess I was just, kind of, starting out uh, along the road of being a freelance artist, and, um, a little bit nervous at that stage uh, and, sort of scared of the future a little bit.
C: Today, I probably feel more relaxed. Um, I don’t try and stress about things too much, try and take life easy – well, not too easy obviously, but um – try not to worry about things and know that everything will turn out all right in the end.
Ja: Well, I’m a lot less fit. I used to think I was going to be a professional footballer and then the reality of it all kicked in and ten years down the line I’m just a wasted rock star.
Na: I guess more, I’m more confident and erm, I, you kind of don’t have to rely on your parents, which is always a good
R: Well, very different because ten years ago I was still in business and in charge of a small company and so, quite often there was stress and certainly a lot of work.
W: Ten years ago I wasn’t as open-minded as I am now. But, um, I think about eight years ago I made a big decision to quit sport at quite a high level, to, erm, just live a life in the world of art, which is quite an open-minded thing to do. And, kind of, makes you a better person I think.
Je: I suppose I feel more grown up, more worldly-wise. Erm, I’ve seen a lot more of the world. Erm … But in many ways I feel just the same – I can’t believe that I’m actually ten years older. If I think about that, that, you know kind
of 21-year-old self, I, it seems strange.
E: I was just trying to think back to what I was doing ten years ago. Erm, so, I’d just started a new job, erm, I was
actually in the middle – I had just been diagnosed with cancer, so erm, I guess from, from ten years ago exactly to today I feel a lot more mature. I feel very much, very much glad of the life that I have, erm, which could have been, could have been taken away. Erm, and I feel more ready to tackle the ups and downs that life throws at me.
N: What’s the best time of life do you think?
Ni: The best time of my life – well, now. I’m retired; ten years ago I wasn’t retired. And I can do whatever I want with
whoever I want whenever I want. I can stay here or go abroad. So yeah, now, definitely.
C: The best time of life would be, hopefully, when you retire. Erm, because you’ve got no stresses of work, erm, or anything to worry about. Maybe just your health.
G: I think the best time of life is, is when you’re about two years old. Uh, my son is two right now and he’s just totally
open to all learning – coming up with new words every day, being just generally excited about everything. When he wakes up he’s lively, excited, just wanting to do something new, and get away with all kinds of mischief.
W: I think probably now, in my early twenties because that’s where you get tested the most.
Je: I think I would have to say the ‘now’. Definitely. Ultimately because, erm, I always remember reading er, a saying which is that if you um, regret the past and worry about the future you forget to live in the ‘now’.
E: Very much the ‘now’. So, yeah, if you asked me this question ten years ago I would say it’s all about being twenty-
four and er, getting out of university and starting your first job. Ask me, ask me now and it’s, yes, here. Ask me in ten years and it’ll be with kids, etc., so yeah, always live for the now.
R: I, I don’t think there is a best time of life. I think … they’re all; they all have their own, erm, specific nice things and happy things. I think that er, that whether you’re a student or older or in business or whatever, that there are very nice times.
N: In what ways has ageing affected your life?
C: Hopefully I’m becoming wiser, but er, others may disagree with that!
G: I think as I get older, the responsibilities that I have, are sort of making me a little bit more boring, erm – mean that I can’t get away with things and do the things that I used to do when I didn’t have the responsibilities.
Ni: I thought I’d be devastated to be as old as I am but, actually, I’m not.
W: As I get older I’m noticing you’re not as clever as you think you are! And there’s always time for improvement.
Je: In terms of getting older, I think I just see it as an opportunity to, um, yeah, to go forward, to have a family and to, to see a bit more of the world.