Speaking: Giving longer answers

In this lesson, we’re going to look at how you can give longer and better answers to basic communication questions. This is important in both social situations and interview tests.

The questions and answers in this lesson are for university and high school students, but the ideas and practice are also useful for business people.

There’s a worksheet (pdf) for you to print it out. Click on the “download” button below to get it.



Listen to ten basic communication questions, and read them below:

  1. What is your name? (Which is your family name?)
  2. Where do you live?
  3. How old are you?
  4. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
  5. Do you have any pets?
  6. What is your hobby?
  7. What club do you belong to?
  8. What sport do you play?
  9. How do you come to school?
  10. How long does it take?


Short answers

Most of my students give answers that are very short. For example:
1. My name’s Tatsuhiro;
2. I live in Munakata;
3. I’m 19.
etc…

However, in a communication situation, you want to give longer answers to appear more friendly and interesting, so the other person will want to talk with you for longer. In communication, short answers can seem very unfriendly. Meanwhile, in an interview situation, you are trying to show the interviewer that your English level is good. The longer you talk (and the more fluently), the better your English seems.

How can we make our answers longer?

There are basically two “rules”: First of all, give the main information in a sentence form (not just the answer). Next, try to add a little extra information, or make a comment.

Listen to the example answers below. (If you want to read the transcript, look at the bottom of the page and click “Read More”)

Important: After each example answer, you should try to give your own answer. Don’t write it first. Just speak out loud. If you don’t like it, do it again and again until it’s good enough!!

Q1: What is your name?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try

Q1a: Which is your family name?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try

Q2: Where do you live?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try

Q3: How old are you?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try

Q4: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try

Q5: Do you have any pets?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try

Q6: What is your hobby?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try

Q7: What club do you belong to?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try

Q8: What sport do you play?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try

Q9: How do you come to school?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try

Q10: How long does it take?
>> Listen to the example answer below
>> Then you try


If you want to read the transcript for the above answers, please click on the “Read More” button below:


1. My name’s Tatsuhiro, Tatsuhiro Tanaka. It’s fine just to call me Tatsu if you prefer.
1a. My family name is Tanaka. It’s a very common name in Japan, as you know.
2. I live in a house in the countryside about 30 minutes by train from here. It’s a town called Munakata. There’s not much to do there, but I really like it.
3. Well, I’m 19 years old and I’m in the second year at university.
4. Yes, I have one brother and two sisters, so it’s quite a large family. My brother is younger than me, and both of my sisters are older.
5. Yes, my family keep a pet dog. We’ve had him for about 5 or 6 years now.
6. I guess my main hobby is watching movies. I love movies, I have lots of DVDs and I go to the cinema probably once or twice a month.
7. I belong to the art club at my school. Many of the members focus on manga and drawing that kind of art, but in my case I prefer graphic design.
8. Ah, well I don’t play any sports now. I used to play badminton, but I’m too busy to play anything now.
9. It’s quite a long way from my house to the school, so first of all I have to go to the station by bicycle, then I take a train, and finally I walk from the station to my school.
10. Well, it’s quite a long journey so the whole journey takes me about… well, just over one hour door to door.
Read more