Hello. My name is Katrina Martin. Could you tell me your full name, please?
Hello. My name is Elisabetta Bortolotti.
Thank you. Can you show me your identification, please? … All right. That’s fine. I’d now like to ask you some questions about yourself. Tell me about where you live.
I live in Venice, the capital city of Italy. It’s very famous for being a romantic city, the city of love.
What are the advantages of living there?
It’s lively and fun and you never get bored. You can find any kind of entertainment you can imagine, from pubs and clubs to museums and galleries.
What are the disadvantages of living there?
It’s very crowded and quite dirty in Venice. You have to know which areas to avoid too, as some areas have bad reputations, especially at night.
We’re now going to talk about animals, what is your favourite animal?
My favourite animal is the dog. I love dogs because they’re a lot of fun, very playful, but also seem to have bit of character. So, it’s always quite amusing to try to play with your dog.
Why do you think some people like keeping pets?
I would suspect it’s mainly for the company, so that they don’t feel alone when they come home in the evening and they have someone waiting for them. I don’t have any pets, though I used to when I was a kid.
Are there any animals you are scared of?
I have a phobia of Scorpions. I reckon it’s because of the way the creature looks and they can also be venomous. They’re aggressive so if they sting you, you can get very badly hurt. Cockroaches are another animal I’m terrified of. I am afraid they will crawl on me.
Are zoos popular in your country?
Yes, they are, especially with kids. Kids love discovering new things, including new animals, and a zoo is the best place to do that. They can observe a wide range of animals in a safe environment.
Let’s move on to talk about food. Do you think men or women make the best cooks?
It doesn’t depend on the sex of the person but on their enthusiasm. The men in my family are really good cooks, and they enjoy talking about food as well as cooking and eating it.
Is it important to teach children to cook from a young age?
The younger the better. Of course, you wouldn’t give a young child a knife, but they can mix ingredients together and things like that. The younger they start the better cooks they’ll be when they grow up.
What is a typical dish from your country or region?
Lots of people think we eat beef brains all the time. It’s a kind of national stereotype. But actually I’ve never eaten them! I would say a more typical dish is Pizza, and it’s one of my favourites.
Do people in your country or region eat traditional food or international food?
We eat both. I regard it as very important to keep culinary traditions alive, but I also love Chinese food and Japanese food and Indian food, and loads of other cuisines. I like having variety in my diet.
Now I’m going to give you a topic and I’d like you to talk about it for one to two minutes.
You’ll have one minute to think about what you’re going to say before you begin talking.
You can make some notes if you wish. Here is a pencil and some paper.
I’d like you to describe a personal achievement you are proud of.
All right. Remember, you have one to two minutes to talk on the topic. Don’t worry if I stop you , I’ll let you know when the time is up.
Describe a personal achievement you are proud of.
You should say:
what you achieved
when you achieved it
what was difficult about achieving it
and explain why you are proud of this achievement.
Please start speaking now.
OK, so you asked me to talk about an achievement I’m particularly proud of, so I could have talked about when I passed my driver’s license test, or when I bought my first car, but in the end, I decided to talk about the only time I actually won a sports tournament.
Only once did I win my village chess tournament. It was when I was sixteen years old. It was particularly difficult because, to be honest, I’m not a great chess player and I always played mainly to have fun and not really to win. But that one year I decided. I made it my goal: I was going to win the village chess tournament. So I played many games, lots of them against older players, much older than me, who were members of the club, in their fifties, and it was very difficult. Playing older players is always tough. They have more experience, they do all these impressive tricks and they definitely know how to beat their opponent. And on top of that it’s very much a matter of pride for them – they don’t want to lose against one of the younger members of the club.
But anyway, I won a few games against older players and then I ended up playing the final against my best friend. And that was another difficulty. He was my best friend so I didn’t want to play it too mean with him but at the same time I wanted to win. At least the fact that he was my best friend meant that I knew exactly how to beat him, though, because I had played against him many times before. We had a very long game and it was nerve-wracking. It wasn’t very good game but in the end I won.
I’m very proud of my achievement because I managed to reach the goal I set for myself and it was something that I know neither the spectators nor the other players would have expected me to accomplish.
Thank you. Was your family proud that you won the tournament?
Yes, they were. We had a big meal to celebrate, and my dad cooked Pizza. He’s a great cook so that was a real treat for me. We’ve been talking about achievements.
I’d like to discuss with you some more questions related to this topic. First, let’s consider the role of achievements in the world of education.
Do you think that in your country academic success is more valued than other kinds of achievement, such as achievements in sport?
No, I don’t. I think in my country, successful sportspeople are looked up to more in society at large as well as at school.
Why do you think that is?
Well, I think people who are good students are often thought of as nerds and are teased by their classmates, whereas being good at sport is considered ‘cool’. Maybe this is due to the role of celebrity sportspeople, Francesco Totti being the most prominent among them in recent years. They are chased by the paparazzi, and given lucrative sponsorship deals and so on.
Yes, I see. In your opinion, is it recognition and prizes that motivate students to succeed, or is it a personal sense of achievement?
I would say they hanker after recognition from their teachers and perhaps envy from other students. I know that was the case with me, if I’m honest! It may be, though, that if someone is particularly timid, they would actually shy away from any special recognition of their efforts.
Right. And what do you think makes some students more successful than others?
Although, as I said, most students are motivated by recognition, I do think that those who are the most successful in the long run are those who have intrinsic motivation. And that is because you don’t always get congratulated publicly for everything you do, so someone who does things only for that would soon stop making an effort, you know?
Yes, that’s a good point. Now, we’re going to discuss motivation and achievement in the workplace.
Some people think that a successful person is someone who earns a lot of money. Do you agree?
No, I would define it as ‘someone who benefits others’?
Right. Can you explain what you mean?
Yes, I mean that working just for the money could be considered selfish. Most people do it, and I don’t judge people for having that as their primary objective. Nevertheless, those who work to help others are more inspirational: nurses, for example, who really don’t earn much, or youth workers, who often don’t get much appreciation for their hard work, or those who do volunteer work with the homeless or something like that.
Yes, so you would say that most workers in your country were motivated primarily by money?
I would, yes. It’s only normal. People have families to feed and, given the choice of a low-paid job that benefitted others and a higher-paid job that benefitted their own family, it’s only reasonable that most would choose the latter. It’s possible that those who choose the former kind of job are single or young, and so don’t have that many responsibilities.
OK, And what about how things in the workplace have changed? Do you think people in your country take the same pride in their work as they used to?
Hmm, that’s a tough question; I’m inclined to say ‘no’.
Why do you say that?
Because many people in my country now work for huge companies. They may never even have seen their managing director and certainly don’t know him very well. They don’t have any reason to take pride in doing the job to a high standard because feedback is limited. In the past, companies were not only smaller but tended to be family run, so everyone had something invested. I mean personally speaking, in the business, They cared about the success of the business.
Thank you. It’s been nice talking to you.
Thank you very much.