Around the Water-Cooler: What are Australians talking about?

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This page is aimed at intermediate to advanced ESL students in Australia interested in improving their listening and speaking.  It presents interviews with people talking about current issues Australians might be discussing with their neighbours over the fence, friends in cafes and bars, strangers on the beach, fishing buddies on piers, or their colleagues around the water-cooler.

“Water-cooler chat is the informal chatter that occurs in offices. It’s where gossip is traded, sporting teams are discussed, and weekend and after-work plans are made.”

Interview with Jenny – 3 February 2015

Subjects discussed:

  • A possible change of leadership:  Will Tony Abbott be replaced as Prime Minister?  Is this a wise move?
  • The possible execution of the Bali 2
  • Sport: Australia’s recent victory at the Asian Cup

Tony Abbott and a possible challenge to his leadership 

Listen to Jenny present her views and as you listen, note the following expressions.  

1.     The main issue 2.     Whether or not he will survive
3.     A great campaign to get rid of him 4.     The best option
5.     Discussion 6.     A smart move
7.     Julia Gillard did that 8.     Changing leaders half-way through a term
9.     The media 10. Hell-bent on getting rid of him
11. A negative 12. Made some poor choices
13. A good communicator 14. A salesman for a prime minister
15. The knighthood – a trivial thing 16. We need to get on with dealing with…
17. The economy 18. The Senate is very opposed to him
19. On a path to nowhere 20. He is decent
21. Everything is so short-term 22. The Twitter mentality
23. 144 characters 24. Solve the problems of the world
25. A bit tragic 26. To govern
27. A long-term view of the country 28. To get beyond the short-burst way of thinking

Listening Comprehension Questions:

  • Does Jenny support a change of leadership at this time?
  • Does she mention the names of the politicians who might stand against Tony Abbott?
  • What does Jenny think the media’s role is and does she seem to support it?
  • What is her opinion of Tony Abbott? Does she think he is a great PM?
  • What is one reason she gives for believing a change of leadership at this time would not be a good decision?
  • Jenny says the Knighthood was a trivial issue. What are the important issues in her mind?
  • What does she mean by the Twitter mentality, do you think?

Look at the two Tweets below. Do they express the same opinion or different opinions?

________________________

Peter Watters ‏‪@pwatters2012 17m

17 minutes ago

Adelaide, South Australia

If ‪#TonyAbbott gets rolled today then a good bottle of red will be coming out for dinner in my house.

_________________________

Hannah Lynch ‏‪@SfordUponAvon 36m

36 minutes ago

I don’t get how Australians are suppose to feel secure with their gov’t if PM are getting challenged all the time ‪#TonyAbbott

________________________

(Audio at 2:40)

The execution of the Bali 2

Listen to Jenny present her views and as you listen, note the following expressions.  

1.     Drug mules 2.     Death penalty
3.     The firing squad 4.     Quite considerably
5.     Drug addicts 6.     Trafficked
7.     A large amount of Heroin 8.     On Death Row
9.     to distribute and sell 10. The consensus is …
11. Cause a lot of deaths 12. As a result of …
13. Argue 14. A deterrent
15. Statistics show … 16. To face the death penalty
17. To deter 18.Apparently rehabilitated
19. The jail 20. That’s been overlooked by..
21. Indonesian authorities 22. The new President
23. Hell-bent on… 24. A tough guy
25. To go down 26.  I would say.
  • What are three things we learn about the two Australians on Death Row?
  • What are the arguments for and against executing them?
  • What is the stand of the Indonesian President?
  • What do you think Jenny’s opinion is?

(Audio at 4:15)

The Asian Cup and the Socceroos

Listen to Jenny present her views and as you listen, note the following expressions.  

1.     A passion 2.     Mad, aren’t we?
3.     The Socceroos did well, didn’t they? 4.     A successful weekend
5.     The coach 6.     Is looking to win ….
7.     It seems like… 8.     A huge vision
9.     To look that far down the track 10. It’s given the sport a boost
11. A winner 12. A local
13. Faith in …. 14. Planned it over the long-term
15. A lesson 16. Transferred
17. All aspects of public life 18. Train
  • What do you know about the 2015 Asian Cup?
  • What does Jenny tell us about the coach – Ange Postecoglou? Check on Wikipedia to see if she is right.
  • What does she say the coach did which she thinks should be applied to all aspects of public life?

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