Sunday, 27 February 2011

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

Some people think it is very important to get a university education. Others feel we should encourage more young people to take up a trade such as plumbing, painting or building to ensure a good balance of skills in our society.

Discuss both these views and give your opinion.

University has become a popular destination for high school leavers. With many opportunities for further education, fewer young people are resorting to traditional trades in the construction and service sector. As a result, the job market has a shortage of skilled labour and favouritism is shown towards graduates with a university degree.

Those who support that a university education is vital, might believe that this type of learning enables a student to have a theoretical perspective in a field of study, broadens horizons and increases the chance of finding an attractive position which is not physically demanding. On the other hand, skilled labour is important for society. All buildings require regular maintenance and although the demand for this type of work is extremely high, the supply of these types of workers is limited. This often means that a country has to import labour from elsewhere to cover its shortage.

In an ideal world there would be a good balance of skills and people would be able to find reliable handymen whenever they needed them. However, I feel that each individual should pursue the path that is closest to their heart whether this leads to university or technical training. Naturally, if someone is inclined towards taking up a trade they should be encouraged to do so.

To conclude, although having equal amounts of workers in each profession would ensure a balance of skills in society, in my opinion, this would be difficult to achieve. Even though programmes exist to encourage young people to be involved in trade related jobs, each individual has their own ambitions and career path they wish to follow.

Question from p.99 New Insights into IELTS - Workbook

Friday, 25 February 2011

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

The number of overweight children in developed countries is increasing. Some people think this is due to problems such as the growing number of fast food outlets. Others believe that parents are to blame for not looking after their children’s health.

To what extent do you agree with these views?

In developed countries much more food is available now than ever before. Apart from home-made food many alternative options are available. There are fast food outlets on every corner and restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets can be found in every street making it easy to purchase processed food on a 24 hour basis. It is no wonder that children are tempted to eat continuously leading to the overweight trend we witness today.

In my opinion, parents are to blame to a great extent for not encouraging their children to follow a healthy lifestyle. Parents should take the time to prepare nutritious home-cooked meals for their children and let them participate in the selection of natural ingredients as well as in the preparation of food. In doing so, children will lean to enjoy cooking and not be tempted to eat commercial, industrialized, harmful food. As we know, children follow trends set by their parents and if they feel meals are a shared, family activity then they will stay at home more.

Of course fast food outlets litter the streets and attract children with their games, quickly prepared meals, advertising and special offers that children cannot resist. These outlets are also attractive because the food is cheap, tasty and in fashion. Due to the nature of the food and the way in which it is cooked it does contribute to obesity and health related issues.

To sum up, although fast food outlets are numerous and appealing for children, I firmly believe that parents should be responsible for taking care of what their children eat. If parents are not concerned about their children’s diet, their children will not worry about it either.

Question from p.105 Action Plan for Ielts

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

Larger proportions of people live and work in other countries today than at any time in the past. It is probable that in the future there will be no borders and people will be able to move freely between countries.

To what extent do you agree with this opinion?

There is no doubt that improved transportation links and ease of movement between countries has meant that more people are choosing to immigrate or work abroad. Workers often opt for a life in another country because the working and living conditions are better there. This shift has been eased by agreements between trading partners and companies who wish to hire specialized staff. The internet is another example of how borders have been erased and where people can perform any type of activity in cyber space.

I do not believe that borders will be erased in the future, even though at present they are blurred. Each country has its own rules and regulations governing the movement of people. Borders have been erected to establish the outline of a country and its people. Governments need to control the flow of moment between countries as this affects the labour market, demand and supply and the economic growth of a country.

On the contrary, I believe the government will make it more difficult for people to cross borders. Many countries have imposed quotas on the number of foreign workers allowed into the country. They also stamp their passport with future departure dates depending on when their contracts are due to end. A sudden massive movement of people will drain a country’s resources and some areas cannot financially support a large amount of people.

To sum up, although restrictions have been lifted for living and working in other countries today, and this trend offers many advantages to countries with labour shortages as well as to workers, for practical reasons and population control I believe that borders will continue to exist in the future.

Question from p. 135 Intermediate Objective IELTS Student’s book

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

With the increase in use of the Internet, books will soon become unnecessary.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

To a large extent the internet has affected our reading patterns. Many people subscribe to on-line newspapers and magazines and it is now possible to download books to a portable e-book device. The future of books does seem gloomy considering that the sale of electronic books has increased rapidly in recent years and people prefer to spend their time on-line rather than reading a book.

Readers are able to access a wide variety of free resources on the internet. Research papers can be downloaded in the form of a pdf file in seconds and keywords can help locate passages without having to read through a whole book. As well as providing information, the internet offers an endless amount of entertainment in the form of games, movies, music and social networking. That is why many prefer this media to books which are time consuming.

Despite the advantages that reading electronically offers, I do not think the paper format of books will disappear completely. Traditional books have been around for thousands of years and have sentimental value for some readers who are not willing to make the switch to another format. Reading a book is often regarded as a passive activity and is not to everybody’s taste.

Even though the internet now fulfils the role of books and offers additional features like in-built dictionaries, free book samples and flexible search options, in my view there will also be a demand for books and bookshops. How would commuters pass the time waiting for their transport means if they could not walk into a store and browse the latest paperback?

Question from p. 108 Intermediate Objective IELTS Student’s book

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

People today spend far more time watching sport than actually doing any themselves. What are the factors influencing this change?

Watching sports nowadays is straightforward. There are stadiums, courts, ice rinks, fields, swimming pools etc. located within easy reach and at an affordable price. For those unable to attend matches and competitions, access to events is available from a variety of media (television, internet, radio etc) which reports live or has feature programmes.

Watching sport has become a popular leisure activity and a weekend outing. It also provides an excuse for people to go to sports bars with their friends to see events being broadcast live. Similarly, people believe that watching sport is fun and can produce an adrenaline rush without actually participating in the event. So I would say that availability, affordability and social trends have contributed towards the popularity of being a spectator. Marketing and advertising also play a role. A large amount of time and effort goes into promoting sports with channels reporting events on a 24 hour basis. Advertising companies see this as an opportunity to sell their products with the help of sporting heroes.

On the other hand, there has been a decline in participating in sports. This might be due to our busy lifestyle. Our hectic schedule prevents us from taking part in sports which require training, practice and participation in frequent sporting challenges. As we become older and our responsibilities increase, our priorities change and we move away from being fit and well exercised.

All in all, although it is healthy to be involved in some type of sporting activity, many people adopt a inactive lifestyle and can be seen enjoying sports from afar.

Question from p. 82 Intermediate Objective IELTS Student’s book

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

Working hours are too long and people are not spending as much time as they should with their families or on leisure activities.

What is your opinion on this?

Due to factors like the economic crisis, changes in the labour market and a consumer society, workers are staying at work beyond the prescribed eight hours per day. Working such long hours, of course means that free time spent at home with their families or on leisure activities is reduced.

Firstly, it is necessary and rewarding for people to be engaged in paid employment. The head of a household should provide for the needs of the family and in doing so feels worthy, has self-esteem and confidence. But I do believe that people work more than they should at the cost of spending time with their families and enjoying their free time on a hobby.

Employed people should relax and energize themselves in order to be more productive at work. Likewise, spending time with family members should be a priority as it strengthens bonds and produces healthy, balanced adults. Everyone also needs to have a hobby which relaxes them and takes their minds off their daily, tiring routine. Leisure activities are part of an individual’s social life and it helps them meet new people and network outside their work environment.

In conclusion, laws that maintain an eight hour working day and allow for compulsory holiday periods should be kept. Although people need to work in a fast paced, competitive society which values money and wealth above other aspects of life, families should spend time at home and on their hobbies. Without having something positive to look forward to such as quality family time, workers become exhausted and unmotivated.

Question from p. 44 Intermediate Objective IELTS Student’s book

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

To get a good job today, it is more important for children to study mathematics and foreign languages than art and music.

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

The job market has become highly competitive today. In order to get a good job with a high salary, attractive working environment and conditions it is necessary to have the appropriate qualifications, experience and character depending on the field.

Due to globalization, the ease with which people work abroad, the need to communicate for conducting business and the lowering of barriers to trade such as the formation of the European Union, studying a foreign language has become a necessity rather than a leisure activity. Those who are fluent in languages such as English, Spanish, and Chinese have a competitive advantage over other candidates. Similarly mathematics is a core subject and very useful in everyday life. We perform simple calculations in all types of activities like shopping, budgets etc.

On the other hand, art and music are equally important as they support creativity and expression which are a requirement for good health. Even though these are creative subjects, in modern society they are highly valued and it is possible to find a good job in this sector. Let us not forget the large sums made by those in the music business and what lengths art dealers go to in order to secure priceless works of art.

Even though parents are concerned with the future of their children, I believe they should study the subjects that they enjoy and are good at. In that way they will find work that expresses them and they will be successful in their chosen field.

Question from p.47 Intermediate Objective IELTS workbook

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

Governments spend millions of dollars each year on their space programmes. Most recently, Mars is the focus of scientists’ attention. Some people think this money would be better spent on dealing with problems closer to home.

Do you agree or disagree?

Humans have been interested in discovering space and other planets for life sources for many years. This keen curiosity for the unknown has been coupled with the now pressing issue of the destruction of our planet and alternative places for us to live. As a result, governments and in particular the USA and Russia are quick to spend vast amounts of money yearly on space exploration.

There is a great deal of prestige associated with new discoveries and space missions. Take for example the space race to reach the moon and NASA’s recent findings on Mars which were broadcast worldwide. So in a bid to gain popularity, governments are competing with each other instead of combining their resources together and in this way reducing costs in training astronauts, paying engineers, accounting for failed missions, etc.

On the other hand, there are pressing problems to consider on our own planet. These have to do with social problems such as unemployment, poverty and hunger as well as environmental issues like global warming. Naturally, in order for these to be solved, governments are required to spend millions of dollars. In my opinion, immediate solutions are required for current problems rather than squandering large amounts on future programmes.

To conclude, our solar system is vast and exciting. Space programmes are necessary for a better understand of our life on earth as well the entire universe. However, our daily life on earth is clouded by severe and irreversible problems that require funding and effort to be solved. Rather than wasting the money on individual competitive space schemes, governments can collaborate to reduce costs.

Question from p.79 Grammar for IELTS

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

School children are becoming far too dependent on computers. This is having an alarming effect on reading and writing skills. Teachers need to avoid using computers in the classrooms at all costs and go back to teaching basic study skills.

Do you agree or disagree?

School children learn how to use computers from a very young age due to the technological advances in a modern classroom and because they are required to be computer literate in their adult life. As a result of the increased use of computers in the classroom some people are worried by the negative effect that this may have on their reading and writing skills.

Being dependent on a computer for writing often means that a student will become lazy with respect to spelling. As computers are equipped with a spell check programme, a child often will not know how to spell a word. They will also get used to writing words in a short form for example ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ which they will carry over to their pen and paper writing. In terms of reading, audio books are now available so children listen to passages being read instead of actively reading them and engaging in the written words.

Reading and writing are basic literacy skills that need to be mastered at a young age. In my opinion, traditional methods of teaching these skills for example through dictation, essay writing and creative reading should be used in the early years of education. Once these have been firmly grasped then technology can be introduced.

To sum up, although recent technology has considerably improved standards of education, it has nevertheless had a negative impact on our ability to think. Due to the importance of having strong reading and writing skills, I believe these should be taught initially without the aid of technology and computers should be introduced to the classroom at a later stage.

Question from p.215 Grammar for IELTS

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

Children can be adversely affected by the influence of television. To what extent do you agree with this statement?

A television can be found in almost all households these days. Screens are also available in public places like airports, waiting rooms, shops etc and individuals can watch programmes from their computers, portable televisions and mobile phones. So there is no doubt that television can influence children who are glued to the box for many hours a day.

If what children are watching is not appropriate this can be harmful for them. Inappropriate programmes include those that contain violence and bad language. Children are at an age where they imitate what they see around them, including what they watch on television. However, I believe that television will influence those who have already exhibited violent behaviour the most. We cannot ignore other bad effects of television on young people such as anti-social behaviour and eye problems.

On the other hand, there are plenty of educational programmes that are useful for training youngsters and these should not be ignored. Through television, children can learn a foreign language, science, history, geography and a host of other subjects. Furthermore, restricting the type of shows watched and the amount of time spent in front of the television will limit the negative influences of television on children.

All in all, although studies have being carried out to show the relationship between television and the negative effects on children particularly regarding violence, I do believe that television could be put to good use. There are plenty of valuable lessons to be learnt from this media and with parental guidance and support, children can benefit from this technology.

Question from p.112 Grammar for IELTS

Friday, 11 February 2011

Model Answer – IELTS (Task 2)

The birth rate in most developed countries is predicted to begin to fall over the next 50 years. By 2030 it is estimated that over one third of the population in most developed countries will be aged 65 and over.

What effects will these predictions have on developed countries if they prove true? What can be done now to deal with this situation?

With the birth rate expected to fall and an increase in the number of senior citizens, this is likely to result in economic and social problems in developed countries. Although there is no way of changing these figures for a more balanced society, the government may take some precautionary measures to lessen the impact this prediction might cause.

To begin with, if most of the population is over 65, the output of a country will be reduced. At this age people usually retire and do not contribute positively to the income or growth of a country. To face labour shortages, some governments have chosen to increase the age of retirement so that people continue to work well past a reasonable retirement age.

What is more, the social needs of the elderly differ to those of other members of society. At a later stage in life individuals require care, medical treatment and social interaction with others. The government will have to restructure the way that it spends its budget, allocating more money to pensions, hospitals, old age homes, libraries and other services aimed at the elderly.

To sum up, an ageing population is a worrying trend. Young people will not be able to drive the economy with energy and new ideas while the elderly cannot work to their full capacity. Socially, senior citizens look forward to a period when they can relax and enjoy their leisure time after so many years of working and this will be denied to them. The government will be required to plan ahead in terms of passing appropriate laws, budget cuts and allocations to ensure economic growth and benefit to those in need.

Question from Grammar for IELTS (p.54)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

How to make a general statement (Writing)

If you do not know the exact information or figures to support an argument when you are writing an essay, you may use the following:

Generally speaking…
On the whole…
In a majority/a large number of cases…
It appears/seems that…
It is often said that…
There is a tendency for…
It has been suggested/claimed that…
It is generally believed/agreed/recognized/assumed that…
It is widely believed/accepted/assumed that…

Describing a person’s character/personality (Vocabulary)

There any many adjectives that can be used to describe a person’s character. A description of a person's personality can be positive or negative.

Aggressive (ready to attack or confront)
Ambitious (having a strong desire and determination to succeed)
Confident (feeling sure about yourself)
Down to earth, easy going (approachable and relaxed)
Extrovert, sociable, friendly (outgoing and expressive) – Opposite Introvert, unsociable
Generous (ready to give more of something than is necessary or expected)
Honest (truthful and sincere) - Opposite Dishonest
Intelligent, smart, clever
(quick to understand, learn and apply ideas)
Jealous (envying someone or their achievements and advantages)
Naïve (lack of experience, wisdom or judgment)
Nosy (wants to know about other people’s affairs)
Open (communicative and frank)
Optimistic, positive (hopeful and confident about the future) - Opposite Pessimistic, negative
Pigheaded, stubborn (determined not to change one’s attitude or position)
Polite (respectful and considerate of others) - Opposite Rude
Reliable (able to be trusted) - Opposite Unreliable
Sensitive (delicate appreciation of others’ feelings)
Talented (being good at something)
Trustworthy (able to be relied on as honest or truthful)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Structure of reading passages

Reading passages can be organized in various ways. Understanding how a text is structured will help you move around it easier. Signal words are also helpful as they link ideas together, show a change of ideas, a continuation of the same thoughts etc.

1) A chronological account of an event (e.g. the history of computers) is arranged in time order.

Signal words: Firstly, in the beginning, secondly, thirdly, at last, finally
before, during, at that time, while, since, meanwhile, after, later

2) Problem/solution reading passages (e.g. traffic in a city) present a problem and how it can be solved.

Signal words: situation, difficulty, trouble, crisis, dilemma, issue, problem, controversy, debate

3) A passage on similar/different ideas (e.g. domestic and wild animals) points out a main idea about two things that are similar or different, then provides details about this.

Signal words for similarity: also, in the same way, as, like, in common, similarly
Signal words for difference: although, however, but, yet, instead, unlike, different from, in contrast, contrary, on the other hand

4) A list of similar ideas that have supporting arguments (e.g. measures to reduce unemployment).

Signal words: a few, several, numerous, many, a variety of, for example, for instance, first, second, last, in addition, besides

5) Cause/effect shows how one event causes another one (e.g. the results of global warming)

Signal words: creates, causes, makes, leads to, produces, gives rise to, contributes to, results in/from, brings about, is due to, follows, comes from, is a consequence of

Speaking (expressing opinions)

There are many ways to introduce your point of view.

In my opinion…
In my view…
I think/believe (that)…
From my point of view…
To my mind…
As far as I am concerned…
I suppose/imagine (that)…
If you ask me…
It seems to me (that)…

Writing (What are you asked to do?)

Account for – give reasons for or explain why something happens
Analyze – examine in detail, identifying important points and features
Assess –decide about the value, quality, amount or importance of something
Comment on – identify the main issues giving your reactions based on what you have read
Comparative analysis – an item by item comparison of two or more sets of data, processes, products, etc
Critically evaluate – weigh the arguments for and against something, assessing the strengths on both sides
Demonstrate – make it clear or establish by arguments or reasoning
Describe – give the main characteristics of something, or outline the main events
Evaluate – look at the topic in detail and if appropriate, evaluate it critically.
Explain – make it clear why something is the way it is or why something happens

Adverbs meaning totally/completely

We were wide awake at 5am when the airplane landed.
They left the window wide open, no wonder they had their money stolen.
They were fast asleep by 9pm. It was an exhausting day.
My driving test was dead easy and I passed it the first time.
When the group started singing, everyone was dead quiet.
She can’t go on holiday as she’s flat broke. She spent all her money shopping.