GE|Adults|Upper-Int|15. Practical English 2


Discuss the questions

  1. What big cities have you visited as a tourist?
  2. Did you go on any kind of guided tour? Did you enjoy it? Why (not)?

Look at the pictures and discuss the glossary

  • vessel [‘vesəl] — a large ship or boat
  • anchor [‘æŋkə] — a heavy metal object which is dropped over the side of a ship or boat to keep it in one place
  • Nelson’s Column [‘nelsənz cɒləm] — the statue of Admiral Nelson on a column in Trafalgar Square
  • mink [miŋk] — a small mammal whose fur is used to make very expensive coats



Watch the video and answer the questions

Part one.

Interviewer | John

Interviewer: John Bigos is the managing director of London Duck Tours Limited. This company use Ducks, renovated World War II amphibious vehicles, which can travel on land and water. What makes a Duck tour better than a normal sightseeing tour?
John: What makes Duck tours more interesting in terms of the tour as opposed to other tours is the ability to be able to go on the land and the river in one tour at the same time. That has a great benefit for all our clients. We also have a very small vessel which only takes 30 people and that allows you to have a much more intimate relationship with your clients, which makes it a wonderful experience, which you don’t get when you go on ordinary, pre-determined, computerized tours.
Interviewer: Some people might say that taking tourists on such a busy river is a bit dangerous. Have you ever had any accidents?
John: In terms of accidents, we have had breakdowns, that mean that we have to drop the anchor in the river which is similar to having to use the brake on the land and we’ve had to recover both our boat and our passengers, but that fortunately is quite a rare thing, but it adds to the fact that the tour is unique and no one else can do it. So it is an experience, which can include being recovered by another Duck.
Interviewer: Do you ever have to rescue other people on the river?
John: When we are on the river, we are one of the most frequent users of this part of the river and people will often fall or jump off Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, or indeed Vauxhall Bridge and therefore we will be within the vicinity and often have to rescue people who have either fallen off accidentally or deliberately tried to commit suicide. So in terms of the river, it is a very serious river with a very fast-flowing tide and we treat it with the utmost respect.
Interviewer: Do you have many difficult customers?
John: We do have people who come in a very unprepared manner, for example a lady in a mink coat, who then gets wet and she asks for the mink coat to be specifically cleaned, which would cost us a whole day’s revenue. The coat was very expensive and the good news is that she was travelling abroad back to her homeland and unfortunately we were unable to get it cleaned within the time that she asked, and in the circumstances, it didn’t cost us any money. So those sort of people can be difficult as well as your normal customers who either don’t think they’ve had the service they requested or the tour was not up to a standard that they thought they would like, probably because they’re afraid of water.

1. What are the advantages of Duck tours compared with other tours?
2. What happens if a Duck boat breaks down?
3. Who do they sometimes have to rescue?
4. What was the problem with the lady in a mink coat? What happened in the end?

  • the Thames [ðə temz] — the river which runs through London
  • MI6 — the British Secret Intelligence Service, whose headquarters are on the banks of the River Thames
  • The Living Daylights and The World Is not Enough — two James Bond films
  • Emmeline Pankhurst [’eməli:n pæŋkhɜ:st] — the founder of the Suffragette movement which fought for women’s right to vote in the early twentieth century
  • Horse Guards (Parade) [hɔ:s ga:dz] — a place near Buckingham Palace where military ceremonies are held including the daily ‘changing of the guard’ by the Queen’s cavalry

Watch the video and answer the questions

Interviewer | John

Interviewer: What are the most popular sights?
John: The most popular sights that get people really excited are Parliament Square, where we have the new Nelson Mandela statue, and that’s the first statue that I’m aware of that has been erected whilst someone is still alive, and that’s very exciting. Additionally, we have a number of heroes in our country and Trafalgar Square with all the fountains and Nelson and Nelson’s Column really excite people, and finally we obviously have MI6, which is where our vessels go into the water and it is also where the films the living daylights and the world is not enough started when the boat came out of a second-floor window and as a «Duck» we replicate that in our own style.
Interviewer: What are your personal favourite sights on the tour?
John: I personally like the Houses of Parliament, because I think it is a beautifully designed building and it’s got some very very interesting features. I also favour the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst because that is quite interesting in so much as it was only in 1928 that women were given the vote and yet it seems so many years ago, and then in terms of large sights, obviously things like Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards are very interesting as well, because of the history.
Interviewer: What do you think is the best and worst thing about London for a tourist?
John: I think the best thing is the fantastic variety and depth of culture that we have in our capital city here. We have over 200 different cultures and nations who live here in the centre of London, and it makes for a fantastic cosmopolitan city with so much variety that it is impossible to get bored. It is a fabulous capital to come to as a tourist. In terms of the worst things for tourists in London, I don’t think our capital has yet reached the standards of service that a lot of other cities have, where you don’t get good quality food at a reasonable price on time quite often and you have a lot of delays in terms of travel and congestion, and therefore there are many things that can still be done to improve the quality of service for a fantastic capital city.

What does he say about…?

1. Nelson Mandela’s statue

2. Trafalgar Square

3. MI6

4. the Houses of Parliament

5. 1928

6. 200 different cultures

7. standards of service

8. travel and congestion

  • as opposed to — compared with
  • quite a rare thing — something which is quite rare. We often use quite a /an before a noun + adjectives, e.g. It’s quite a nice day today. We watched quite an interesting film last night.
  • aware of — that I know about
  • a number — some, several


Listen and complete the phrases

What makes Duck tours more interesting in terms of the tour, as opposed to other tours… …but that fortunately is quite a rare thing. that’s the first statue that I’m aware of that has been erected whilst someone is still alive… Additionally, we have a number of heroes in our country…

Watch the video and choose the right answer

1. Theresa.

Interviewer: What’s your favourite city?
Theresa: I would have said Prague actually, but I’ve recently been to Stockholm a couple of times and I loved it. Stockholm is fantastic. It’s built on 14 islands, lots of water, which I love, lots of interesting museums, Stockholm’s lovely.
Interviewer: Which city would you most like to visit?
Theresa: I went to Cape Town earlier on this year and we were only there for five days and there was so much that I didn’t see that I would love to go back to Cape Town and see Robben Island and some of the apartheid museums and learn more about Nelson Mandela.

2. Anne.

Interviewer: What’s your favourite city?
Anne: Probably Delhi, because of the difference in culture and the monuments that are there and the people, and looking at the cultural differences of how we live and how they live. And I just find everyone so nice, so friendly.
Interviewer: Which city would you most like to visit?
Anne: I would most like to visit Barcelona because I’ve heard the shopping’s very good.

3. Agne.

Interviewer: What’s your favourite city?
Agne: It would be New York. I like the hustle and bustle and the ‘busyness’ and just the overall feeling of being in that city — it’s just really nice, it just makes you feel really alive all the time, lots and lots of things to do and it just goes on, it just doesn’t stop.
Interviewer: Which city would you most like to visit?
Agne: I’d like to go to Sydney, see what that’s like.

4. Matandra.

Interviewer: What’s your favourite big city?
Matandra: My favourite big city? I risk sounding partial but it would have to be my home town, it would have to be Rome. I think it’s, you know, a lot of the reasons are… no need to explain, but I think it’s very happening, more than people think and it’s the right compromise between a laid-back lifestyle and a, you know, the positive aspects of living in a metropolis.
Interviewer: Which city would you most like to visit?
Matandra: Either Casablanca or a place like that. I’m just fascinated with that part of the world.

5. Harley.

Interviewer: What’s your favourite city?
Hayley: Em. London. Because it’s got all the shops. So I can come here and go shopping.
Interviewer: Which city would you most like to visit?
Hayley: Any, really, anywhere, I’d like to go to Australia, anywhere hot, anywhere with shops. Anywhere.


Choose the name of the person

  1. Which speaker…?

Your Personal track_HW2

  • would most like — Barcelona is the city I would like to visit the most
  • hustle and bustle — idiomatic expression meaning busyness, lots of people and noise
  • laid-back lifestyle — a relaxing lifestyle
  • Anywhere hot, anywhere — anyplace, I don’t mind which

Listen and complete the phrases with one word

I would most like to visit Barcelona. I like the hustle and bustle. It’s the right compromise between a laid-back lifestyle and the positive aspects of living in a metropolis. Anywhere hot, anywhere with shops.


Write down as many countries as you can in one or two minutes

Read the article and find out what a «Segway» is


The Segway Tour of Budapest

With its fascinating history, incredible architecture and rich cultural heritage, Budapest is one of today’s top weekend destinations in Europe. Known as the «Paris of Central Europe» there is plenty to do and see in the two parts of the city which are separated by the majestic river Danube. What better way to see the sights than to take a City Segway Tour and glide around on your own personal transport?

A Segway is a self-balancing personal transportation device designed for use in a pedestrian environment. It travels on two wheels and is guided by gyroscopes that respond to the body’s movements. The rider stands on a small platform between the two wheels holding on to handlebars at waist height. It takes a while to get used to a Segway’s movement, but once you do, it’s a safe and comfortable way of getting around.

On a Segway tour of Budapest, visitors are taken to visit many of the key sights including St Stephen’s Basilica, the Hungarian State Opera House, and the famous Chain Bridge over the Danube. During the tour the guide gives historical and current information about the city, and tells fascinating stories which contribute to an unforgettable experience. Although visitors do not enter any of the city’s numerous museums, the tour is an ideal way to find out where the most important places are.

Tours operate in all weathers and in case of rain ponchos are available for anyone that needs them. Tours run every day of the year at 10.00 a.m. and from April to October at 6.30 p.m. too. One tour lasts between two and a half and three hours, including a 30-minute orientation session in the park for riders to get used to their Segway. Anyone over the age of 12 can join except for pregnant women, and a helmet must be worn at all times. The price is €55 and reservations can be made online.


glide around — to move smoothly without making an effort

gyroscopes — a wheel inside a frame, that doesn’t change position when the wheel moves

handlebars — the metal bar you hold when you are riding a bicycle (or a Segway)

poncho — a type of coat with no sleeves and one hole for your head

Read the article again and mark the sentences as True or False

Watch or listen to a short film on The Museum of the History of Science. Complete the sentences with a number, or one to three words.

A Short Film on the Museum of the History of Science

Hello, I’m Amy. Welcome to the Museum of the History of Science. Instruments from some of the most important scientific breakthroughs of the modern era are here.

The museum has an unrivalled collection of scientific artefacts, and there are incredible objects wherever you look.

This device was used by the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi to illustrate how radio waves work. Whenever he pushed a button a bell would ring on the other side of the room. This was the first step towards the invention of the radio, which began the age of the mass media.

Biologists in the 1930s and 40s used this apparatus to develop and test the revolutionary drug penicillin. It was wartime so they had to be innovative and even improvised with biscuit tins. But despite the lack of proper equipment this research led to the large-scale production of the world’s first antibiotic. Since then the drug has saved millions of lives.

But neither this penicillin apparatus nor Marconi’s radio wave device are the most popular items on display in the museum. The museum’s most celebrated artefact is this small blackboard. It might not look like much, but it was used by the genius physicist Albert Einstein. He visited Oxford in 1931 and explained his theories on the age and size of the universe using this very blackboard. You can still read his equations today — if you can understand them!

The Museum of the History of Science is home to one of the largest collections of scientific instruments in the world. It opened as a science museum in 1925, thanks to the donation of a huge collection of scientific instruments from this man — Lewis Evans. Evans was a paper manufacturer but always had a keen interest in science, even as a child. He didn’t do well at school, and contemporaries reported that he ‘could not spell, but liked blowing himself up with chemicals’. As an adult he travelled around the world collecting artefacts from the worlds of mathematics, astronomy, and navigation. He was particularly famous for his outstanding collection of astrolabes. These are historical instruments that predict the positions of the sun, moon, and stars. They were used by philosophers, navigators, and astronomers for centuries. They were a central tool of science in Ancient Greece and Rome, and had a huge influence on the Islamic Golden Age and the European Renaissance. Evans also collected sundials — ancient devices for telling the time — and quadrants — instruments used for measuring angles.

Today Evans’s items are still central to the museum’s exhibition, but over the last ninety years the collection has grown. These two beautiful 18th-century globes, for example, one showing a map of the world, the other showing a map of the stars, used to sit in the library of Oxford University’s All Souls College.

This ornate silver microscope belonged to King George III, this old astrolabe was Queen Elizabeth I’s, and the famous British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel owned this sextant, an instrument used to measure the angles between two points. There’s an old clockwork universe showing the orbits of the solar system, and a variety of timepieces from ancient civilizations.

Some people think that science is all about facts and figures. But the items on display here, whether it’s a beautifully crafted 16th-century astrolabe or a wartime biscuit tin, really bring science to life. It’s a wonderful combination of science and history, and thanks to the passion of people like Lewis Evans, visitors can enjoy these fascinating objects for generations to come.

Read the instructions


Describe an interesting town or city in your country that visitors might enjoy.

You should write:

1. what the place is called

2. where the place is

3. what the facilities are like

4. and say why visitors might enjoy going there

Write a description of an interesting city in your country. Use the instruction as a plan.


  1. Read the topic and the questions carefully.
  2. Plan what you are going to write about.
  3. Write the text according to your plan.
  4. Check your writing before sending it for evaluation.
  5. Learn the rules and see the sample here.
  6. Please use Grammarly to avoid spelling and some grammar mistakes.