Improve your Speaking 3: Clarification

Clarification: Yes/No Questions inviting illustration or example

They (North Americans) enjoy telling us that they’re the best.
And are they right?
Yes, if you measure success purely in dollars.

... but the (health) service is under too much pressure to give adequate support.
Can you be a bit more specific?
Certainly. There’re thousands of people who are in great pain. Some are waiting for minor surgery while others are waiting for treatment at pain control clinics.

... but it’s possible to give the job to a man with fewer qualifications.
Does that happen?
Perhaps not as much as it used to, but if a woman leaves a job to start a family, it may be very difficult for her to return to full-time work.

Clarification: "What" or "How" Questions inviting illustration or example.

What’s wrong with creating a few more jobs in the tourist industry? Think of all the money that’s spent in the souvenir shops of these galleries and museums.

What’s wrong with mixed ability teaching?
The reality is that people learn subjects such as languages and mathematics at different speeds.

What do you mean?
I mean that people’s situations can be very different. Let’s take the very extreme situation of a young woman who marries an old man as an example.

What do you mean by unnecessary?
Let me explain. Every morning, people go up and down motorways or cross from one side of town to the other in their cars, when they could quite easily take trains or buses.

Prices are rather expensive, but maybe that’s a good thing.
How do you mean?
I mean that the country isn’t inundated with tourists. It hasn’t been ruined by time-share developments or scores of ugly hotels, bars and discos.

... in a sense most of us are already using them (computers).
How do you mean?
Well, whenever we use our washing machines.... we are using computer circuitry.

.....many pizza parlours, pubs and burger bars are really being subsidized by the Government.
How come?
Because nobody would be able to accept jobs in these places if they didn’t have their incomes topped up by the state.

Without doubt, television has a lot to answer for.
In what way?
You’ve only got to switch on a film and you’ll see a violent incident every five or ten minutes on average.

Clarification: "Why" / "Why not" Questions inviting reason, illustration or example.

The young are often embarrassed by them (traditions). This is a shame.
Why do you say that?
Let me explain. Take a traditional Japanese song, for example.

First of all, Britain is unique in its transport history.
Why’s that?
Because of all the transport systems that have been developed in the last 300 years.

Not at national or international level.
Why not?
Well, we can hardly keep politics out of the Eurovision song contest. How are we meant to keep it out of football, which has a far greater following?

I’m not so sure about that.
Why not?
Because traditions are now under attack from mass production and mass marketing.

Clarification / Reiteration through reference to subject

They are usually on the same side in war-time, yet they rarely speak well of one another on a personal level.
Are we talking about a struggle for superiority?

I’m talking about national institutions, centres of culture which represent the best of Britain’s historical and artistic treasures.

That isn’t the point. I’m talking about soft drinks, and few Spanish bars will serve you with "horchata", their own traditional soft drink.

I’m talking about desktop PCs

Are you saying that foreign-based multi-nationals decide who is going to be British Prime Minister.

Well you might as well argue that the government should subsidize all shops. I’m saying that it’s the British tax-payer who pays the bill.

What I’m saying is that we are too interdependent. Perhaps our populations are too big. That’s why I’m advocating self-sufficiency as a goal.

What I’m saying is that older people have been there before. They’ve had the problems and found the solutions.

What are you trying to say?
To come to the point, there are so many different motives for marriage that it’s impossible to generalize about why people prefer married to single status.

That may be so, but for most people the whole point of marriage is to live together and possibly to raise a family. That’s what this discussion’s about.

To come back to the main point, this isn’t only about contemporary, experimental art. I’m talking about the appreciation of great masterpieces which have been acknowledged for centuries.

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