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For Students: Talking about cities

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Are you from a town, city, or village? How do you define them? I read somewhere that if the place has 100,000 people or more then it is a city, and anything below 10,000 is classed as a village, leaving everything in-between a town. Do you prefer the hustle and bustle of a big city? Or the slower pace of life?

I'm from a town, a seaside town where the pace of life is quite slow. It's main industry is tourism and it attracts many tourists from within the country and abroad as well as students from each corner of the world each summer who come and study English in the English Riviera, as it is called. If you asked me to choose 3 words to describe or associate my town I'd say SEA – being a seaside town of course we are by the sea which is great for when the sun is out and we have the option of going to a beach in the town or one in a neighbouring town to cool down. AIR – the air in my hometown is nice, fresh, and clean. Something I always took for granted until I went to work in Moscow. CLIMATE – literature often tells stories of England and its grey and gloomy rain clouds, well it's not true down in the south west. The weather is good enough to wear shorts for most of the year, and for the town to be home to many palm trees. How would you describe your hometown in 3 words?

I've been lucky enough to visit, live, and work in quite a few cities all with their charms, and their drawbacks. I'm going to tell you about 7 cities using some of the most common words used to describe cities, towns, and villages....

Lviv – I like the cobbled streets even though they aren't really comfortable to walk on without a decent pair of shoes. They also get noisy at peak times with all the cars driving (and speeding) on them, but that said, they are very nice to look at. Lviv is also a city with lots going on. Almost every day there is some event happening in the city. Its narrow streets make it different from other typical cities, but must be a nightmare for drivers.

Cobbled streets – roads made from cobblestone

Decent – quite good

Speeding - driving faster than the law's limit

Peak times – busy times of the day

Going on – events in a city/town/village

Narrow streets – streets that are close together, the opposite of wide

Nightmare – something unpleasant

Warsaw – This city has wide streets, very wide and just crossing the street can be time-consuming. It's a sprawling city with lots of empty space between things which can make you feel like you are not getting anywhere if you dare to walk somewhere without using its public transport.

Wide – streets that are not close together, the opposite of narrow

Time-consuming – things that are unpleasant and take a lot of time to do

Sprawling – big and spread out

Dare – risk

St. Petersburg – I like the vibe in St. Petersburg. There is a totally different vibe in the city compared to the capital Moscow. It also, like Moscow, has an excellent underground system which makes it very easy to get around. The locals are also a clever bunch who love to read, but that's not unusual for a cultural capital.

Vibe – atmosphere

Get around – to travel in the city

Locals – natives of the city

Milan – Being in Milan is like attending a fashion show, but the catwalk is the streets. A super stylish city with lots of upmarket and affluent areas. Even their McDonalds oozes style. What is also great about Milan is that it is very well-connected. You can be in Turin, Genoa, Como, Bergmo, Parma all within 90 minutes.

Catwalk – the runway where models walk down at a fashion show

Upmarket / affluent – an expensive area

Oozes – to give a big impression

well-connected – a city in a location that has easy access to other cities and countries

Berlin – A diverse city where if you don't feel like you fit in, in your own city, Berlin will welcome you. It is a melting pot of the weird and the wonderful. With its superb transportation system including an underground and overground you have easy access to the whole city. The Berlin streets are lined with cafes, pubs, bars, and many hip places to visit as well as being know for it's lively nightlife

Diverse – many people from different countries and cultures

Fit in – when you feel comfortable among your peers and society

Melting pot – a mixture

Overground – a train service in a city that runs, well, at ground level and above

Easy access - an easy way to get to somewhere

Lined with – many things next to each other

Hip – popular and cool, usually for young people, artists, and students

Lively nightlife – lots of bars and clubs to party

Moscow – A bustling city where people don't stand still for more than a split-second. The worst traffic jams I have ever seen. I have heard horror stories from people who live on the outskirts driving to work and the hours and hours it has taken them. For a city so big, it's no surprise some areas are rough, and it can be a bit dodgy at night, but luckily I didn't have any bad experiences.

Bustling – lots of movement from people, cars, and transport

Traffic jams – lines of cars not moving or moving slowly on the roads

Horror stories – stories of people in bad situations

On the outskirts – the edge of a city

Rough (area) – areas where there is usually criminal activity and people on low-incomes

Dodgy - Dangerous

Kielce – You might not have heard about this Polish city. I visited once for a weekend. I was quite taken aback by how rundown the main street was. There were many shops that had closed down or were simply boarded up. Maybe I picked the wrong weekend to visit, but Saturday afternoon in a city just shy of 200,000 people, it was like a ghost town. They did have a few very modern shopping centres though.

Take aback – when you weren't expecting something to be like that or happen

rundown – not nice to look at and in need of repair

closed down – a business no longer working because of financial problems

boarded up – covered windows usually by wood, often found in rundown areas

just shy of - just below a number

ghost town – some there are very few people on the street if any

Try using the above words to do the following speaking tasks. Record yourself on your phone and then listen back for any mistakes.

Prepare to talk for 1 to 2 minutes

Task 1: Talk about a city you have visited. What was it like? What did you like and dislike about it? Why did you go there?

Task 2: Talk about your city. What different areas are there? What would you change about the city? What do you think the city will be like in the future?

Task 3: Write about a city you have visited using no more than 70 words using at least 4 words or expressions above

Cheers - English native speaker in Lviv

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