Today we’re going to watch an hilarious TED Talk by James Veitch, a British writer and comedian. In this talk, he narrates a very funny story about interacting with a man who sent him spam e-mail. Of course, this format is nothing like the IELTS Listening Exam, but it is always good to practice your general listening skills through various means – listening for comprehension, listening for detail, inference, and so on.


Spam (noun) – annoying, unsolicited e-mail

Inbox (noun) – the part of your e-mail account where received messages are stored

Hovering (verb) – hanging over something temporarily

Intrigues (verb) – to make someone feel very interested

Statisticians (noun) – people who analyze data and statistics

Cut (noun) – a portion of a larger whole; eg a 25% cut of a deal

Hummus (noun) – a kind of Middle Eastern food


True or False

Watch the video and answer these questions:

  1. James wanted to buy some gold.
  2. James was impressed by Solomon’s offer.
  3. Solomon will invest his money in property.
  4. Solomon suggested using a code for security.
  5. James has spent three years replying to spam e-mails.


Fill in the Blanks

Skip to 07:11 and listen again. Try to fill in the blanks.

Crazy stuff happens when you start _____1_____ to scam emails. It’s really difficult, and I highly ____2____ we do it. I don’t think what I’m doing is mean. There are a lot of people who do mean things to _____3_____. All I’m doing is wasting their time. And I think any time they’re spending with me is time they’re not spending scamming vulnerable adults out of their _____4______, right?

And if you’re going to do this — and I highly recommend you do — get yourself a pseudonymous _______5_______. Don’t use your own email address. That’s what I was doing at the start and it was a nightmare.



The topic of e-mails may come up in the IELTS Speaking Exam. You might be asked questions like the following:

Part One

How often do you check your e-mail?

Do you regularly check your e-mail?

Do you prefer writing by hand or typing on a computer?

Part Two

Describe an important e-mail you have received.

Describe a time when you had to send an important e-mail.

Part Three

Do you think writing emails has strengthened or weakened people’s writing skills?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of sending e-mails?

What are some problems that arise from using e-mail every day?



True or False

  1. F
  2. F
  3. T
  4. F
  5. T

Fill in the Blanks

  1. replying
  2. recommend
  3. scammers
  4. savings
  5. email address