Welcome to C1 listening! If you’ve passed your B1 and B2, you’ll have no trouble reading this 🙂 !

So what is NEW in the C1 listenings? What makes them different from B2? What is the same?

  • Speed is similar to B2 listening
  • Idea of a debated issue, the pros and cons, continues
  • More nuanced speech (and therefore vocabulary)
  • It will be less clear if the person is pro or anti the issue – but they WILL take a position
  • Wider vocabulary reflecting real spoken English
  • More informal language and idioms

nuanced = showing a small/subtle difference


C1 Listening / ISE iii listening English

You will hear the recording twice, and then the examiner will ask you questions.


Who does the speaker think is to blame for problems in the fashion industry, and what solutions does she suggest?

Does she agree that workers in sweatshops are better off because of fashion?

It’s another Saturday shopping expedition with a few friends. We regularly meet up and spend the morning trudging through over-crowded shopping centres, full of individuals driven to consume. There are bored, restless children, enthusiastic shoppers, not to mention over-worked, under-paid shop assistants expected to cater to our every whim. And we love it passionately. Fashion: clothes, shoes, seasonal, reduced, full- priced. We love it all. We will grab anything to fill our wardrobes and our underdeveloped self-esteem, more preoccupied by the colour of shoes we’ll wear tomorrow than any of fashion’s ethical dilemmas.

But does the fashion industry really have a lot to answer for? Well… exploitation of people in developing countries, animal welfare and environmental concerns just to start with. These are serious matters, and matters which people say concern them. So why do we, the consumer, tolerate these ongoing abuses and why is the this ethically dubious industry thriving?

The act of shopping itself has been promoted as a social activity, and purchases are even shared online on social media. Consumers with good taste or the ability to pick up a bargain are given special recognition on Youtube channels and Instagram. It also seems that we, the buyers, now view clothes as a disposable item – wear once or twice, then throw out.

But clothes are not compost. Even organic fabrics, like wool, do not decompose in landfills as the conditions are simply not right. Animal welfare activists remind us constantly of the exploitation of innocent beasts from sheep to baby harp seals. And then of course there’s the sweatshops we see periodically on the news, but view with a kind of indifference. Yes, we know it’s wrong, but we did need those new shoes, didn’t we? One acquaintance justifies the situation, asserting that if we didn’t buy these items, those working in these atrocious conditions would have no job at all and therefore actually be worse off! Sadly, he may have a point.

Can we look chic and be ethical at the same time? The answer is maybe, well up to a point anyway. As consumers we could buy goods made in our own countries, it’s a good starting point. Fair wages will be paid to those working in the textile industry and we’ll reduce those air miles and our carbon footprint. While wool and leather may be natural products, there is no question that animals are being mistreated. There are enough synthetic alternatives now available which are as strong, durable and as attractive as the real item and no animal need suffer for your trendy accessories. Don’t simply discard clothes. Pre-loved articles will be loved again by savvy consumers, and then recycled into industrial rags and other by-products. We should shop when we need things. There are alternative ways to socialise.

It’s not the fashion industry that has a lot to answer for. They satisfy a demand. It’s the consumer. Do we even take into consideration fair working conditions, maltreatment of animals and pollution when we reach for a new top or shoes? The ringing of tills countrywide suggests not.

Who does the speaker think is to blame for problems in the fashion industry, and what solutions does she suggest?

The speaker believes that it’s due to the consumer/ consumer’s attitude towards shopping

  • we shop as a social activity or to gain status on social media
  • we view clothes as disposable items
  • we view sweatshops with a kind of indifference

Some solutions:

  • buying goods made in their own countries
  • buying synthetic alternatives to wool/leather
  • recycling clothing
  • shopping only when we need things, socialise in other ways


Does she agree that workers in sweatshops are better off because of fashion?

She reluctantly* agrees, they might have no jobs at all.

*This idea of agreeing, but not readily is VERY important, simply saying “she agrees” is NOT enough.


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