Number one for English language teachers

IELTS set two - speaking parts 2

Type: Teaching notes

Talking about technology using past, present, future and comparatives.

Time: 40 minutes +
Language focus: vocabulary – technology; tenses – past present and future; 'used to' and comparative structures

This activity is aimed at preparing the students for the speaking test on the topic of technology. In addition the activity, is useful in case a technological topic comes up in the writing test part 2. It looks at both the positive and negative sides of technology.

Stage 1

Draw a table on the board and label the middle column 'NOW'. Students brainstorm a list of technologies that they believe they could not live without, e.g. email, mobile telephone, television, CD player, the car, antibiotics etc. Students explain why they couldn’t live without them and how they improve their daily lives (to class or in small groups).

  mobile phone
the car


Stage 2

Now focusing on the very same ideas that the students have come up with get them to think about and discuss why the same technologies have made their lives more difficult and in fact have lowered the quality of their lives e.g.

"I find email very useful but probably I spend too much time everyday checking it when I could be doing something else..."

"I need my car to get to work but the smog in our city is so bad thanks to the car and more and more people are suffering from chest complaints like asthma" 

Stage 3

Now label the first column “PAST”. Ask the students to think about when they were children. What technology did they use to have? What did they use to do? This is a great opportunity to practise “used to”, present perfect and comparative structures e.g.

"Technology has really advanced over the years. For example when I was 10 years old we didn’t use to have computers and I spent most of my time playing outdoors with my friends while these days lots of children spend time indoors playing computer games - in my opinion too much time."

Now label the third column “FUTURE” – students speculate on how technology will change in the near and distant future. Here you can practise language of opinion and speculation e.g. "I think that in the future roads will become so congested that we won’t be able to use cars anymore, and I think we will have to have better forms of public transport."

"I can imagine a house where everything will be controlled by a computer e.g. the heating, fridge, oven etc, no doubt you’ll be able to control these functions from your own internet site so if you are at work you’ll be able to switch on the oven to cook your dinner simply by connecting to the internet."

So at the end of the lesson you may have a board that looks something that looks like this e.g.

land line phones
car / bicyle
mobile phone
the car
video phone
computerized homes
better public transport


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