Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Places in the city

When to use hyphens (-)

→Numbers (from twenty-one to ninety-nine) and fractionsThirty-two, forty-eight, fifty-six, sixty-one, seventy-nine, eighty-three etc.
Four-fifths, two-thirds, three-quarters etc.

→PrefixesCo- e.g. co-education, co-pilot
E- e.g. e-mail, e-commerce
Ex – e.g. ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-president
Half- e.g. half-price, half-hour, half-term
Mid- e.g. mid-week, mid-term
Non- e.g. non-profit, non-smoking
Pre- e.g. pre-school
Post- e.g. post-war, post-publication

→Compound nounsbreak-dancing, back-up, bee-keeping, all-rounder, free-for-all, daughter-in-law, chit-chat, double-decker etc.

→Compound adjectives
absent-minded, duty-free, back-breaking, day-to-day, long-distance, mass-market, hot-tempered, off-line etc.

→Compound verbsto lip-sync, to baby-sit, to house-hunt

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Adjectives without nouns

Adjectives are used to describe nouns. In some cases the noun is left out.

The + adjective (used for well-known groups of people)
Social condition: the unemployed, the jobless, the homeless, the young, the old, the rich, the poor
Physical condition: the disabled, the deaf, the blind, the injured

e.g. There should be more facilities for the disabled. The unemployed should be given jobs.

the English, the Welsh, the Irish, the Scots, the British, the Spanish, the Dutch, the French, the Poles, the Turks, the Swedes, the Finns, the Danes, the Swiss, the Portuguese, the Congolese, the Chinese, the Thais, the Israelis, the Iraqis, the Greeks, the Russians, the Palestinians, the Norwegians, the Italians, the Americans, the Belgians, the Brazilians, the Kenyans, the Europeans, the Moroccans etc.

e.g. The Swiss are well known for making delicious chocolates.

When the noun has been mentioned before

e.g. Do you want some tea? Jasmine or Green.

the tallest, the shortest, the highest, the smallest, the biggest, the smartest, the cheapest, the best, the worst, the greatest, the fastest, the slowest, the friendliest, the most significant, the most important, the most expensive

e.g. Which car are you buying? I think I’ll go for the cheapest. I wouldn’t buy the most expensive.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 1)

The pie charts show units of electricity production by fuel sources in Australia and France in 1980 and 2000.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

Australia and France used 5 fuel types in 1980 and 2000 to generate electricity. The pie charts indicate how these sources were distributed in each time period.

Starting with Australia, in 1980, coal accounted for half the 100 units of electricity produced. Hydro power and natural gas has an equal proportion of 20 units whilst oil represented 10 units. In 2000 the production of electricity increased to 170 units. Almost ¾ of this was due to coal usage. 36 units were hydro power produced and a minimal amount (2 units) by natural gas and oil.

In 1980 the distribution of the 90 total production units in France is more evenly spread out. 20 units are produced by oil, an equal number (25 units) by coal and natural gas while smaller units of nuclear power (15) and hydro power (5) are used. In 2000, the main portion was represented by nuclear power (126 units). Natural gas and hydro power stood at 2 units. An equal share of 25 units can also be seen for coal and oil.

As a result, Australia mainly employed coal and hydro power to produce electricity and there is no mention of using nuclear power for both time periods. On the other hand nuclear power appears to be a popular fuel source in France which also employs the other sources to a greater or less extent.

Cambridge, Ielts 7 past papers, p.101.

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 1)

The charts below show the main reasons for study among students of different age groups and the amount of support they received from employers.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

The first bar graph examines whether students of all ages study for a career or for personal interest while the second chart shows which age group employers are willing to support by allowing them time off work or assistance with tuition fees.

80% of students under 26 study in order to pursue a career. This reason is not so important as students become older. Approximately 20% of students over the age of 49 view this as relevant. A reverse trend is seen in students who study for their personal interest. Only 10% of those under 26 do this. The percentage increases together with age and 70% of those over 49 study for interest. For the age group 40-49, those who study for a career and those out of interest are equal (40%).

Employers are willing to support those under 26 (60%), between 26 and 29 (50%) and those over 49 (42%). They are less willing to provide aid to those between 30 and 49 years of age. The percentage for these two groups ranges between 30-32%.

To sum up, it is generally the case that younger adults study for career purposes while those who are older tend to study out of interest. Employers choose to support younger age groups more.

Cambridge, Ielts 5 past papers, p.52.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 1)

The map below is of the town of Garlsdon. A new supermarket (S) is planned for the town. The map shows two possible sites for the supermarket.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

The city centre and the countryside are the two potential locations for the construction of a new supermarket for Garlsdon.

Initially, the S2 location in the city centre seems attractive as it is centred between Bransdon (16km to the west) and Cransdon (25km to the east). The former has a population of 15,000 while the latter has 29,000 which would increase shopping traffic to the town of Garlsdon which has an existing population of 65,000. However, on closer inspection we can see that the town centre is a no traffic zone and the railway shoots past it.

S1 is situated in the northwest and is sandwiched between the main road and the railway. Hindon which is located 12km away from this point has a population of 10,000. The site of this supermarket is on the outskirts of the town, in the countryside.

Before deciding which option to go for, the municipality should weigh its choices. If it builds in the town centre, shoppers will have difficulties with parking and transportation there as it is a no traffic zone. On the other hand, building on the outskirts may deter shoppers who don’t want to trek out that far.

Cambridge, Ielts 5 past papers, p.75.

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 1)

The diagrams below show the life cycle of the silkworm and the stages in the production of silk.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

In order to produce silk cloth, two processes need to take place. The silk worm should go through its life cycle and then a made-made process is needed to turn a cocoon into cloth.

It takes a total of 16 days for a moth to emerge from a cocoon and the life cycle of the silkworm involves four stages. Initially a moth lays its eggs on a leaf. 10 days later, these become silkworm larva which feed on mulberry leaves. The larva spins a cocoon of silk thread in 4-6 weeks. The final stage comes to an end 3-8 days later with the complete cocoon.

In order to produce cloth, cocoons are selected then boiled in water. The thread, which reaches lengths of between 300 to 900m, is unwound then twisted. The thread is either dyed directly or woven and then the cloth is dyed.

All in all, the production of silk is a time consuming process involving two separate procedures. The natural procedure which lasts for up to 16 days follows the life cycle of the silkworm. Then there is human intervention which requires another 5 steps before the cloth is ready.

Cambridge, Ielts 6 past papers, p.75.

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 1)

The graph below shows the consumption of fish and different kinds of meat in a European country between 1979 and 2004.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

The line graph records weekly fish and meat consumption per person per gram over a 25 year period.

Firstly, fish is the least consumed commodity throughout the period, remaining relatively stable at around 50 grams per person. In 1979 the amount of lamb eaten was 150 grams. Generally, there was a downward trend and a drop to approximately 60 grams in 2004. A similar pattern is noted with beef. Starting out at about 200 grams in 1979, this amount fell to around 140 grams. Between 1984 and 1989 more beef was consumed, reaching almost 250 grams which is the highest point of consumption when comparing all 4 categories. Finally, the amount of chicken eaten increases dramatically. It starts out in 1979 at 150 grams and ends at 250 grams by the end of the period under investigation.

To sum up, beef and lamb weekly consumption per person has been reduced over 25 years. Fish has not noted any significant changes in consumption. Poultry is the only meat that was eaten more.

Cambridge, Ielts 7 past papers, p.53.

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 1)

The table below gives information on consumer spending on different items in five different countries in 2002.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

The information provided relates to how consumers in five countries distributed their spending among three different categories in the year 2002.

Turkey’s consumer expenditure on Food, Drinks and Tobacco was the greatest, accounting for 32.14%. This was closely followed by Ireland with 28.91%. The consumers in Sweden spent the least (5.77%) in this sector while Italian and Spanish consumers spent 16.36% and 18.80% respectively.

The percentage spent on Clothing and Footwear was considerably lower at less than 10% for all countries. Italy’s expenditure stood at 9% while Ireland, Turkey and Spain showed similar spending habits ranging between 6.43% and 6.63%. Once again Sweden had the lowest percentage in this sector.

Consumers spent the least on Leisure and Education. Figures stood below 5% for all countries. This category accounted for 4.35% of Turkey’s national consumer expenditure. Sweden and Italy followed with just above 3%. Ireland showed 2.21% and Spain a low 1.98%.

Overall a larger proportion of national consumer expenditure in 2002 can be seen for Food, Drink and Tobacco and the least for Leisure and Education. Turkey ranked the highest in the first category. The Italians spent more on Clothing and Footwear while Turkey was interested the most in Leisure and Education. Sweden noted relatively low percentages in all categories compared to the other countries.

Cambridge, Ielts 7 past papers, p.30.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

The idea of having a single career is becoming an old fashioned one. The new fashion will be to have several careers or ways of earning money and further education will be something that continues throughout life.

In the past it was common to hear of people working in the same company all their lives and being occupied in the same career. This demonstrated stability and loyalty which were qualities that were highly valued. Times have changed as have attitudes towards work and an individual’s needs.

Today employers are happy to hire staff that have had varied careers as this shows extensive experience and personal growth. The market has become flexible and it is now possible for people to have more than one job and to change their career choice. Opportunities such as flexi time, part-time work, unpaid leave etc now exist which make it possible for people to work and study at the same time.

It is no longer frowned upon for people to return to the classroom at any age. As resources are becoming scarce and competition fierce, workers need to keep up with any changes in their field. Therefore seminars, courses, further qualifications etc are always necessary.

Our society demands that we adapt to the working environment. This means we need more than one way to earn a living, in a world that has become expensive and difficult to live in. It is more of a necessity than a fashion to have several careers. Students obtain degrees young and are able to change their choice if they aren’t able to find work in their selected field. Learning is life-long and ensures a person keeps up with the times.

Cambridge, Ielts 1 past papers, p.92.

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

News editors decide what to broadcast on television and what to print in newspapers. What factors do you think influence these decisions? Do we become used to bad news? Would it be better if more good news was reported?

There are several factors that determine what editors select to appear on television and in newspapers. Each media has its own guidelines on how news is transmitted. This may be influenced by the management of the media who may take a particular slant. Other factors may include sensational stories that sell, emotional stories that sway public opinion, topics that interest viewers/readers etc.

Most of the time, we are exposed to bad news like viruses, food poisoning, natural disasters, accidents etc. After a while this bad news has no impact on us. There is less good news and it gets lost in all the bad news. I think we get accustomed to bad news and that is what we expect when we turn on the TV, radio or read a newspaper.

Without a doubt, good news is better but bad news sells. I can’t remember the last time I heard any good news. If more good news was shown, I think people would have a positive outlook to life and feel there is something to look forward to. Who wouldn’t be excited finding out about tax cuts, economic growth, low levels of unemployment etc.

News is broadcast around the clock and decided upon by editors who are influenced by external factors like how to make a profit for the station or newspaper, how to attract more audiences than their competitors, political affiliations etc. Bad news dominates the media and makes us immune to it. Positive news is rare but more of it would be appreciated.

Cambridge, Ielts 1 past papers, p.73.

Human Sounds - Expressteach.com

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Should wealthy nations be required to share their wealth among poorer nations by providing such things as food and education? Or is it the responsibility of the governments of poorer nations to look after their citizens themselves?

Occasionally wealthy nations provide humanitarian aid to poorer nations such as food in cases of droughts or floods, and offer educational services like free books to improve the quality of life in Third World countries. These kinds of gestures demonstrate our compassion as humans and are provided voluntarily from one country to another.

An independent and strong country is a valuable commodity, able to stand on its own two feet and provide a good standard of living for its citizens. It shouldn’t depend on hand-outs from other countries. National disasters are unavoidable and under these circumstances, richer nations could provide some assistance. We must not forget that governments are elected with the expectation that they will pass laws to help the economy grow and the country prosper.

Richer nations are not obliged to bail out poorer ones. Their primary responsibility is towards the well-being of their own citizens. If they have surplus funds, excess expertise, volunteers etc then they may send supplies to poorer countries. The help provided by the government, organisations or individuals should be purely voluntary without any hidden motives.

The self-sufficiency of poorer nations is important to retain a positive, healthy image and to maintain their dignity. If they are able to overcome hardships on their own this will raise their self-esteem. This of course is an ideal scenario. In real life it is much harder for a country to recover from poverty and foreign aid is given throughout the year.

Cambridge, Ielts 1 past papers, p.52.

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

There are many different types of music in the world today. Why do we need music? Is the traditional music of a country more important than the international music that is heard everywhere today?

Categories of music vary from jazz, rock, pop to house, opera and country. Each type stresses a particular musical instrument, rhythm, beat and unique sound. Music entertains us, makes us want to dance and sing, motivates us to exercise, takes us to a certain time period and alters our mood. Music has become part of our urban environment and can be heard everywhere; in shops, restaurants, bars, public transport, parks etc.

Whether someone listens to traditional or international music is a matter of personal preference and has to do with the trends in a country. Traditional music is important because it reflects the local culture and traditional sounds of a country. In Zimbabwe, for example, drums made of animal skins are popular. Local music also promotes local singers and musicians. Today, the music industry has become globalized and tunes, especially from the USA and the UK are played worldwide.

In a world of multi-culturalism it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between traditional and international music as each type draws factors from each other. International music may include lyrics from another language such as Hindi or Arabic or use an instrument that is specific to a culture, for example, a Mongolian string instrument.

Music has many purposes. It relaxes us, passes on important messages, helps us learn foreign languages easier and supports a whole industry. Traditional music tends to be nostalgic and supported by elder members of society. International music plays in nightclubs and is favoured by younger crowds, specifically hip hop, rap, pop etc. I don’t think a comparison can be made based on importance. Music is music, crosses boundaries and depends on a person’s tastes.

Cambridge, Ielts 1 past papers, p.32.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

The position of women in society has changed markedly in the last twenty years. Many of the problems young people now experience, such as juvenile delinquency, arise from the fact that many married women now work and are not at home to care for their children.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Due to changes in society, far few women can be seen at home taking care of their children. There is increasing pressure on women who have multiple roles in modern society; that of wife, mother and career woman. Balancing these functions and dedicating enough hours to their children is almost impossible with the result that children of today are neglected.

Juvenile delinquency, I believe, starts with adverse conditions at home, when parents aren’t at home to give the child the attention it requires. Growing up, children need to know there is someone there for them emotionally. They may need encouragement and help with homework. In some cultures this role is undertaken by the grandparents who look after their grandchildren once they retire. Under these circumstances, children are well-fed, entertained and taken care of by someone in their immediate family.

Looking at families where both parents are forced to work long hours, we can notice behavioural problems. Care givers are paid to do a job and that is the extent of their responsibility. In such situations the child feels resentment as their parents aren’t dedicating enough time to them. These children are likely to act out for example through vandalism or shop lifting in order to get attention.

In our times of social equality, I would say that the absence from home by one of the parents could account for juvenile delinquency. Other family members such as aunts or grandparents might be able to fill the void. However, I believe that in an attempt to gain recognition from parents, children engage in anti-social behaviour.

Cambridge, Ielts 2 past papers.

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Without capital punishment (the death penalty) our lives are less secure and crimes of violence increase. Capital punishment is essential to control violence in society.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Some kind of control is needed in society to prevent chaos and people from harming others. The death penalty is used in some American states for example to combat serious criminal offenders such as serial killers. Applying capital punishment to severe crimes may make target groups, family members, victims and the wider society feel safer.

Although some criminals may fear being punished by being put to death for their actions, I believe there is no direct relationship between capital punishment and committing less crime. Firstly, many acts of violence go unpunished. These may range from date rape to domestic violence. The legal system is made up of a complex web of players including the media and public opinion. If we look at the number of convicts that have undergone capital punishment and the level of violent crimes in society, I think the figures will not correspond to each other.

Secondly, the roots behind an increase in the acts of violence need to be addressed. What is causing this behaviour and why isn’t capital punishment as a method of control effective? Furthermore, crime levels in countries that have the death penalty such as Saudi Arabia and other that don’t, for example the United Kingdom should be compared.

To conclude, I believe we all feel safer knowing a dangerous member of society is no longer among us and can’t cause potentially more harm. Criminals need to feel that their violent crimes will be punishable by death, making them think twice about committing a deadly offense. Despite this, I am sceptical as to whether a reduction in crime level is associated with tough capital punishment laws.

Cambridge, Ielts 2 past papers.

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Prevention is better than cure. Out of a country’s health budget, a large proportion should be diverted from treatment to spending on health education and preventative measures.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Medical science has progressed to such a stage where it is possible to understand the outcomes of many illnesses. Millions of dollars are spend on medical services to cater to the needs of the sick. However, what is really required is an investment in health education and preventative measures.

It often takes years of neglect or bad health habits before problems appear. People avoid going for check-ups, in most cases, until they notice some obvious symptoms or experience pain. Health education and preventative measures may be regarded as long-term solutions to a nation’s sufferings. A simple government campaign which promotes healthy lifestyles could go a long way in preventing future illnesses. Health education could become part of the school curriculum as well. Knowing what causes terminal illnesses like heart disease in the first place, will help individuals be more responsible for their health instead of overburdening the existing health system.

Naturally, tackling immediate health problems in the form of treatment is important and a substantial amount of a country’s budget is allocated to this sector. Hospitals in many countries are overcrowded, the staff work long hours and patients don’t receive the medical attention they deserve. By allocating the necessary funds to preventative measures, this gloomy image of current hospitals can be eliminated as can a patient’s suffering.

I think it is a good idea for the government to take an interest in promoting healthy living so that in the long-run, fewer people will be visiting hospitals, the nation will feel better and budgets can be reduced or allocated elsewhere.

Cambridge, Ielts 2 past papers.

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Fatherhood ought to be emphasised as much as motherhood. The idea that women are solely responsible for deciding whether or not to have babies leads on to the idea that they are also responsible for bringing the children up.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

In the West, men’s attitudes towards fatherhood have changed in recent years partially because of laws which have been imposed to make them more responsible family members following a rise in single parent families and due to women’s struggles to secure a place in the work area. The new generation of fathers can be seen taking an active role in their children’s lives.

Scandinavian countries, in particular, are taking the lead in terms of fatherhood rights. Men are entitled to paternity leave when their wife gives birth and there are increasing numbers of men who stay home and look after children on a full-time basis. In my opinion this is a positive step towards shared responsibility. I think it is important for both parents to take part in their child’s upbringing as children need role models from both genders in order to become balanced adults. Whereas in the past women were solely assigned to all duties relating to child care, fathers of today now realise that they have a lot to offer a child in terms of time, support, encouragement etc.

On the whole I think that fatherhood should be stressed as much as motherhood. It takes two people to produce a baby and men have a right to feature in a child’s life. Fathers have many positive contributions to make towards a family and shouldn’t rely on laws or changes in society’s outlook to perform their role. Having a baby and bringing it up are two different functions. Nature makes it possible for only a woman to bear a child but the task of upbringing should rest on both parents.

Cambridge, Ielts 2 past papers.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Improvements in health, education and trade are essential for the development of poorer nations. However, the governments of richer nations should take more responsibility for helping the poorer nations in such areas.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

When it comes to health, education and trade, poorer nations are regarded as lagging behind. Richer nations often help out by sending aid, providing funds or carrying out development projects.

In my opinion, the state of many poor countries can be attributed to the previous actions of rich European nations. Taking Africa as an example, countries on this continent were colonised by the British, French, Portuguese, Dutch and Germans. These colonial powers were responsible for taking Africa’s natural mineral resources. It is their duty and obligation to now assist these countries.

Richer nations have discovered vaccines and cures for illnesses and can provide solutions in the area of health. Richer nations can benefit from trading with poorer nations who have the necessary raw materials (e.g. diamonds, gold, copper, etc) and cheap labour. Finally, education is the sector that is worst hit in the Third World with millions out of school, particularly girls.

The type of aid that is sent is important. Richer nations should teach poorer ones to become independent so they will be self-sufficient and can have a sustainable economy in the long-run. Providing aid as a hand-out is temporary and provides short-term solutions. Furthermore, this aid might be used to control a country further.

To sum up, richer countries measure the development of poorer nations according to their own standards. Third World countries need to be able to stand on their own two feet in all aspects. If they accept help from richer nations they should make sure there are no hidden agendas and development programmes have a long-term aim.

Cambridge, Ielts 3 past papers, p.98

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

In many countries children are engaged in some kind of paid work. Some people regard this as completely wrong, while others consider it as valuable work experience, important for learning and taking responsibility.

What are your opinions on this?

In many countries there are laws stating the minimum working age, for example minors under 16 are forbidden to work while in other parts of the world such as in Africa, children can be seen working in fields. Some Asian countries like China have been criticized for operating ‘sweat shops,’ that is, allowing young children to work in factories for long hours at a less than minimum wage.

In European countries, teenagers often have some sort of part-time job. Although they are not assigned to positions of great responsibility, they can learn many things on the job. This valuable experience teaches them how the adult world works, how a business functions, how to be responsible and accountable as well as the value of money. It builds their self-confidence and improves their communication skills.

Those living in the West would criticize those in developing countries for allowing children to work. Perhaps their definition of a child is someone under 12. As they live in different conditions where helping hands aren’t required on farms and in factories, they are critical of these practices. Maybe they recall the lessons of history and the Industrial Revolution when young children worked in coal mines or in factories earning a living.

I think that 16 year old teenagers should be encouraged to work on a part-time basis to cover their expensive and take responsibility for their lives without burdening their parents while simultaneously receiving an education. On the other hand, we can’t judge the extreme poverty, cultural practices and necessity for children to work in less developed countries of the world, where not working equates starvation.

Cambridge, Ielts 3 past papers, p.74

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

When a country develops its technology, the traditional skills and ways of life die out. It is pointless to try to keep them alive.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Technology is here to stay and developments are expanding in all areas of life as well as to all corners of the world. This has an impact on traditional skills, usually a negative one, as traditional ways of life are being lost.

Traditional skills usually involve making products like chairs, shoes and quilts etc by hand. Even though these handmade products are more expensive, they provide work for craftsmen. These skills are passed down through generations and are useful for keeping families together. Traditional products take longer to make but are crafted with care. Now, products are machine-made and workers have no association with what they produce in assembly lines. Regarding ways of life, technology has made life easier and convenient whereas in the past people lived simpler, healthier lifestyles without modern comforts.

It is almost impossible to keep these traditional skills and ways of life alive even though in some small communities, the government attempts to promote cultural heritage. Younger generations have embraced technology and aren’t interested in carrying on traditions. In order to keep up with rising populations and demand, products are mass produced with the use of technology.

Traditional skills and ways of life are worth keeping. They tie us to a genuine, healthier, simpler past. They say something about our wealthy cultural heritage. It is however difficult to maintain this as technology pushes society forward, erasing any nostalgic notions we might have. So even if we try to promote the past, it will inevitably die out.

Cambridge, Ielts 3 past papers, p.52

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Popular events like the football World Cup and other international sporting occasions are essential in easing international tensions and releasing patriotic emotions in a safe way.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

During the World Cup 2010 held in South Africa, before the start of each football match, the captain of each team read out a speech in the stadium in front of thousands of supporters. This short talk highlighted the fact that the games were against racism and were meant to unite nations.

At sporting events, each country shows its athletes off, and for a brief moment countries forget their tensions. On the field teams are on an equal footing and competition is regulated by policies, referees, judges etc. Flags are waved or wrapped around an athlete’s body and national anthems sung for winners. These are all ways of releasing patriotic emotions in a safe way.

In my opinion the desire for South Africa to join the world athletic scene pressured politicians to bring an end to apartheid. International tensions and sanctions were broken and South Africa now proudly displays its athletes on the global circuit. In sports, politics doesn’t count but people are nevertheless able to identify, support and cheer for their country.

There are some concerns for safety during international sports events. On rare occasions there are a small percentage of hooligans who take out their patriotic sentiments in a violent way, attacking members of their enemy country and destroying property.

On the whole, I believe sporting events are vital for putting aside tensions between countries and expressing ones love for a country and admiration for sporting heroes without causing any unnecessary harm. The harmony brought by sports can be seen in the peaceful passing of the Olympic, European, Pan African etc sports events.

Cambridge, Ielts 3 past papers, p.28

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Creative artists should always be given freedom to express their own ideas (in words, pictures, music or film) in whichever way they wish. There should be no government restrictions on what they do.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Art is a form of self-expression whether this is through writing, painting, music or film. Many artists and works are well-known because of their controversial outlook and criticism of the government or society in general. Some governments, especially in the case of dictatorships, force limits on artistic expression in the form of censorship.

Artists should be able to express themselves as they wish. After all, freedom of expression is a democratic right. The government may feel the need to intervene if art becomes controversial or oversteps the boundaries between art and pornography, for example. In art that is politically centred, the government might feel threatened that this attack will reduce their power. The individual should decide what type of art they wish to promote through their purchasing power and not the government. The government should promote and support art in the community and in this indirect way they can control what the public is exposed to.

On the other hand I feel that censorship increases artistic expression and gives value to a work of art that otherwise might not be so well-known. For example, politically outspoken novels that have been banned lead to an increase in sales as people rush to read copies of them out of curiosity.

All in all, I believe art should reflect a person’s feelings. Art happens to be a good way to criticise the government in a creative way. Plenty of art is abstract and shouldn’t be interpreted literally by governments who fear losing their authority.

Cambridge, Ielts 4 past papers, p.76

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

In many countries schools have severe problems with student behaviour.
What do you think are the causes of this? What solutions can you suggest?

Schools of today differ from those of the past. Students are rude to teachers, don’t pay attention in class and aren’t disciplined. Outside the classroom there is bullying, drug pushing and vandalism. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons behind this anti-social behaviour.

Teachers are often blamed for students’ behaviour but we must remember that their hands have been tied by laws and frequent inspections. They are no longer able to punish students or pass any negative comments. This means students can behave badly knowing there won’t be any consequences to bear.

Parents and guardians are responsible for their children’s manners. I believe children from broken homes or the ones who aren’t given adequate encouragement or support are more likely to exhibit anti-social tendencies. Looking at society as a whole, the value systems have changed as have attitudes towards education.

As the old school system, dominated by respect and discipline cannot be brought back, other alternatives can be examined. Harsher forms of punishment like longer periods of expulsion for bullies and attacks against minority groups could be imposed. Teachers should be given more power in classrooms and students with discipline problems could be sent to hospitals and old age homes to carry out projects or asked to repair damaged school property.

To conclude, some schools, particularly inner city ones have to deal with extreme situations like gangs, drugs, vandalism and anti-social behaviour in general. This stems from an unstable home environment and lack of teachers’ disciplinary powers. Our modern, humane society favours integration, inclusion etc as opposed to punishment, so some type of community service might be ideal to combat this behaviour.

Cambridge, Ielts 4 past papers, p.98

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Happiness is considered very important in life. Why is it difficult to define? What factors are important in achieving happiness?

When you ask people for the reason behind their happiness, you may receive different responses. Happiness is difficult to define as it is a feeling and one that is subjective. What makes one person happy might not affect another.

Health and happiness go hand in hand. Health contributes to a person’s overall physical and mental well-being. If someone is healthy, they feel happy and have the energy to do what they enjoy most. Some people value the simple things in life and this contributes to their happiness. They may, for example, feel satisfied by spending a day at the beach or by reading a book.

The happiness that is derived from personal relationships should not be taken for granted. People often feel at peace with family members, partners or friends, particularly if they feel loved and supported. Others find happiness in religion and the spiritual well-being it offers them. On the other hand, some people’s happiness depends on their material wealth and possessions. They value money and the comfort it brings them.

All in all, happiness is hard to define as it is an abstract concept. It is a feeling that can be seen on someone’s face but comes from within. Happiness can be temporary, for example, winning $1,000 in the lottery or long term such as a successful marriage or a thriving business. Happiness is different for each person and is something that isn’t easy to achieve in our shallow, materialistic world. This most probably explains the availability of millions of self-help books on how to achieve happiness.

Cambridge, Ielts 4 past papers, p.52

Monday, 16 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Compare the advantages and disadvantages of three of the following as media for communicating information. State which you consider to be most effective:

Comics, books, radio, television, film, theatre

There are various ways to transmit information. This may be visually through books, aurally by using the radio or interactively in the form of a theatrical play. In my opinion, although the theatre is not the most popular means of communication today, it is the most effective.

Books are portable, available everywhere and are an important source of information. However, in developing and underdeveloped countries, a vast number of people are illiterate and cannot be reached in this way. Technology has reduced the value of this on-way system of communicating between a reader and a writer. Lastly books can be criticised for not being environmentally friendly and limited to one reading.

The radio can reach a wider audience, include current programmes that might be of interest and generate a discussion amongst listeners. It is also ideal for those who cannot read or spend long hours on the road. Today, the radio has lost its appeal, having being replaced by television, film etc. Most programmes are interrupted by advertisements or by annoying disc jockeys that won’t stop talking. Lastly, as a form of communication, body language is lost.

On the other hand, the theatre has been around for thousands of years, entertaining and informing all sorts of crowds from villages to cities. In rural villages of Africa, the theatre is used to educate people about AIDS and protective measures. A play is memorable, interactive and is experienced in real time. As such, I find it to be the most effective form of communicating information.

Cambridge, Ielts 4 past papers, p.32

Student profile - Cyprus

Friday, 13 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Some people think that universities should provide graduates with the knowledge and skills needed in the workplace. Others think that the true function of a university should be to give access to knowledge for its own sake, regardless of whether the course is useful to an employer.

What, in your opinion should be the main function of a university?

Many students attend university in order to prepare themselves for the workplace which demands that new employees have degrees, accompanied by the knowledge and skills needed to carry out their work competently. On the other hand, there are others who view university as a source of knowledge and a way to expand their general understanding of the world.

Those who view university as a training ground for future work have a limited view of the role of universities. There is no doubt that present employers regard qualifications highly. They want recent graduates to be able to begin being productive immediately. Our world has become specialised and knowledge narrowed to suit this trend. However, universities are supposed to broaden our horizons, expand our thinking and make us open-minded.

Knowledge is indeed a powerful tool. I believe the role of a university is to teach people how to think and cultivate their own independent ideas. Teaching a student how to use their brain means they can apply their knowledge to any situation successfully making them more efficient workers when they enter the workplace.

Think back to Ancient Greece where men spent all their lives in the pursuit of knowledge. Philosophers roamed the streets teaching students in open spaces without regard to future work prospects. Times have changed as have priorities. In a fast paced society, the university system resembles a factory that needs to produce efficient students for immediate work placement. I, on the other hand, am of the opinion that universities should provide knowledge for its own sake.

Cambridge, Ielts 7 past papers, p.102

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

As most people spend a major part of their adult life at work, job satisfaction is an important element of individual wellbeing.

What factors contribute to job satisfaction?

How realistic is the expectation of job satisfaction for all workers?

Many people spend 8 to 12 hours daily at work so it is vital that they enjoy or are at least satisfied with what they do. Being satisfied at work means you are less stressed and have a healthier lifestyle. You are better able to enjoy your personal life and avoid the Sunday night blues.

People work for money and a major factor contributing to job satisfaction would be a high salary, bonuses, commissions and any other monetary rewards. Those with families might regard flexible working hours and long holiday periods as perks. Ambitious workers might be satisfied with promotion prospects and challenging work. Apart from favourable working terms and conditions and an attractive working environment, job satisfaction depends on personal factors such as working in the profession of your choice, a good working relationships with colleagues etc.

Unfortunately not everyone has their dream job and it’s quite unrealistic to expect all workers to experience job satisfaction. Market demand and supply as well as fierce competition for positions often dictate the kind of work available. Often, due to financial pressure, workers accept positions that don’t match their qualifications or work experience and this makes them feel dissatisfied with their choices. Many small companies and factories cannot offer any benefits, diversity, challenges, and prospects for professional growth to their workers.

In an ideal or utopian world, all workers would be happy to go to work daily and feel satisfied with all work related aspects but in the real world, individuals have their own measure as to what constitutes job satisfaction. Workers’ expectations cannot always be satisfied and this negatively affects their well being.

Cambridge, Ielts 7 past papers, p. 79

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

Some people believe that there should be fixed punishments for each type of crime. Others, however, argue that the circumstances of an individual crime, and the motivation for committing it, should also be taken into account when deciding on the punishment.

Discuss both these views and give your opinion.

There are various types of crimes, ranging from minor to serious offenses. Punishment is set by the legal system through the courts and may be anything from a small fine to a life-sentence and in some countries and circumstances capital punishment.

Let’s take the example of a speeding offense and two possible motivations for this violation. Someone may have been speeding because they were in a hurry to arrive at their destination. Another person could be in a rush to get his pregnant wife to the hospital. Should they both receive the same fine? Some would say ‘yes’.

In cases of serious crimes like rape, murder and paedophilia, I believe, the courts shouldn’t be lenient. Everyone deserves a fair trial and is innocent until they are proved guilty, but under such circumstances, I feel the motivation and social conditions under which the law was broken are not valid. Life imprisonment and the death penalty should be applied.

In my opinion, there is no excuse for criminal action, particularly a severe one. Stealing food in cases of hunger is the only pardonable offense. The role of the court should only be to determine whether an offender is innocent or guilty. Other than that the punishment for each type of crime should be pre-determined. Allowing people to explain their circumstances or motivation weakens the punishment and excuses the crime. Furthermore, it wastes the court’s time and taxpayers’ money is spent on justifying criminal activities. Lastly, criminals and defence lawyers become good liars and fabricate the facts to suit a valid motivation.

Cambridge, Ielts 7 past papers, p. 54

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Model Answer - Ielts Writing (Task 2)

It is generally believed that some people are born with certain talents, for instance for sport or music, and others are not. However, it is sometimes claimed that any child can be taught to become a good sports person or musician.

Discuss both these views and give your opinion.

Who can forget the outstanding musical talent of Mozart who started out very young or the long-standing golf skills of Tiger Woods? These people are often referred to as child prodigies and are thought to have acquired their skills from birth. Other well-known and talented artists like Madonna have required years of hard work and dedication to reach the top.

It is often said that if a person is good at something, 10% of this is due to talent and 90% the result of hard work. Music and sports require long hours of training and practice. I think it is possible to teach any child how to become great at sports and music. For example, many Chinese Olympic gold medallists are trained from a very young age how to be winners.

Natural talents or aptitudes can be understood as an early interest in a subject. David Beckham for example began playing football young and spent a lot of his free time on the field. It was easier for him to become a well-known player as he was merely doing what he enjoyed best. These kinds of people are thought of as being born talented which gives less importance to all the hours of practice and the struggles faced to become successful.

As with all subjects, I believe music and sports can be taught. The degree to which someone is good at something depends on factors like dedication, creativity, a supportive network and opportunities available to develop a talent. Even if someone is born with certain talents, they still require skills and techniques to improve and excel, which can be provided through lessons. As long as someone is passionate about what they do, they can be taught well.

Cambridge, Ielts 7 past papers, p. 31