Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 1)

The table provides data on both male and female students obtaining teacher training qualifications in two time periods.

In 2005/6 approximately three times more students obtained a PGCE (24,405) rather than a BEd and other degrees (7,525). There were more than twice the number of females (17,420) with a PGCE than males (6,980) with the proportion of male qualifiers being 28.6%. A smaller number of male students (1,085) obtained a BEd and other degrees which amounted to less than 15%.

In the following academic year, the numbers of total PGCE qualifiers fell by 505 while those of BEd and other degrees went up by 520. The number of females with a PGCE remained almost the same at 17,415 while the males dropped by 1.5% to reach 6,485. There was a 0.1% rise in the proportion of male BEd and other degree qualifications which amounted to 1,125.

Overall, there were more females obtaining teacher training qualifications in both years with the PGCE course being preferred the most by both genders. There was a greater proportion of male qualifiers in 2005/6.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 1)

The table displays how many people use rail, the kilometres travelled per head as well as the cargo transported in 2007 in four countries.

Rail was used significantly more in Japan (27% of the population) than in the other three countries which amounts to 1,980km per head. About 6% used rail in the UK while 0.4% less used it in Italy. In Italy, however, passenger kilometres per head were 10km more than in the UK. Very few people travelled by rail in the USA, less than 1% which corresponds to only 80km per head.

In terms of cargo, the USA transported the greatest amount by rail (2,820 billion tonnes). Similar quantities were carried in Italy, the UK and Japan ranging from approximately 22 to 23 billion tonnes.

Concluding, although rail passenger numbers and kilometres travelled per head were high in Japan, the USA carried the most cargo using this method.

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 1)

The data given in the table shows how much of the global cell phone market share is held by manufacturers over a two year period; 2005 and 2006.

Nokia had the largest market share (32.5%) in 2005 followed closely by the other brand category at 19.2%. Motorola had a 5% lead over Samsung. The remaining three manufacturers, L.G, Sony Ericsson and BenQ Mobile captured a small percentage of the market share, less than 7%.

Only three manufacturers witnessed an increase in their market share the following year. Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson’s shares rose to 35%, 21.1% and 7.4% respectively. Samsung’s position in the market dropped by about 1% while L.G suffered a small fall of 0.4%. BenQ Mobile’s market share became almost half of what it was in 2005 and Others fell by 3%.

Overall, the mobile market was dominated by Nokia in both years whereas BenQ Mobile had the smallest share. Three companies improved their position in the market whilst the rest did not perform as well as they had done a year earlier.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 1)

The bar graph provides data on worldwide population percentages and shows how wealth is divided according to each area.

Firstly, China has the greatest population (almost 25%), followed by India, other Asia Pacific regions and Europe with approximately 15%. All other regions amount to below 10% of the global population.

Despite its low global population percentage (5%), the USA holds almost 35% of global wealth and Europe approximately 5% less than this. Rich Asia-Pacific has almost a quarter of the global wealth. All other regions possess low levels of wealth, that is, less than 5%. In particular India and Africa have significantly lower percentages, around 1%

To conclude, it is clear to see that there is an unequal distribution of wealth. Countries with large populations such as China do not have the corresponding percentage of global wealth. Similarly, regions with a relatively small population like the USA are richer in terms of global wealth.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

In some countries young people have little leisure time and are under a lot of pressure to work hard on their studies. What do you think are the causes of this? What solutions can you suggest?

It seems that people’s priorities have changed and youngsters spend most of their time trying to get good grades instead of focusing on their hobbies. In some countries such as Japan and China, students are under a great deal of pressure to perform well academically.

Firstly, parents have high expectations of their children and so in order to satisfy their parent’s wishes, students study hard at school. Similarly, the school programme has become fuller, with longer teaching hours, more compulsory subjects, more homework and tests than ever before. Students are assessed by tests and coursework and getting favourable marks involves plenty of effort. Finally, competition amongst students is encouraged in the classroom. Places at university are limited and only the best students will be able to get a position.

It is unhealthy for young people to give up their leisure time in order to study. Attitudes towards education need to be changed. The workload of students can be reduced and other ways of evaluating their work could be promoted, for example, presentations and class participation. Likewise if students are given less homework and tests they will have more free time to do what they enjoy most.

To conclude, students who spend too much time studying are likely to regret the fact that they didn’t enjoy their youth as much as they could have. Parents, teachers and schools should re-evaluate the importance of leisure time for children. They should also not push them so hard.


Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

It is becoming more and more difficult to escape the influence of the media on our lives. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living in a media-rich society.

Due to advances in technology, the media has invaded our lives, whether by print, TV, radio, and more recently the internet. The media has multiple functions such as to provide the public with information, to keep them updated with the latest local and international news as well to keep them entertained.

Global news can be announced as it happens and this is the main benefit of the media. People are well-informed about politics, economics, natural disasters and other issues that may have an effect on their lives. In addition, the average person is able to have their say as well as act like journalists by reporting incidents with their amateur videos and tweets. Society is more transparent as information becomes viral at a high speed and is accessed immediately.
Unfortunately, not everything the media promotes is in the public interest. There is plenty of violence and bad language used by the media. Viewers and listeners become passive, accepting the way that information is given to them, for example, showing scenes such as war footage or starving children continuously desensitises people. Lastly, famous stars are likely to criticise the media for not giving them any privacy and circulating untrue stories about them in order to make a profit.

The media is a massive industry that is worth millions so in all probability it will be around for years to come. Time spent watching programmes could be spent in a better way and people wouldn’t be exposed to so much bad news if it weren’t for the media.


Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

Many people say that the only way to guarantee getting a good job is to complete a course of university education. Others claim that it is better to start work after school and gain experience in the world of work.
How far do you agree or disagree with the above view?

Parents value education and encourage their children to attend university maintaining that a good job will be waiting for them when they graduate. On the other hand some people value work experience over education and prefer to enter the working world instead of pursuing further studies.

With many countries facing a financial crisis, university graduates are not always able to find employment. In fact, there is no guarantee that any young person will get a job irrespective of their education or work experience. Many professions require a university education, for example doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers etc. and employers will prefer students who have one. Graduates tend to focus on one particular subject and so their knowledge will be valuable to an employer. Similarly, a university education teaches adults other skills such as encouraging critical thinking, time management and communication skills.

Those who enter the workplace directly have a head start. Although they begin at lower levels, for example as trainees or junior staff, they are able to climb the career ladder with their practical knowledge and relevant work experience. Sometimes workers who chose this option feel that they are at a disadvantage because they don’t have a formal education.

Whether a person choses to join the workforce directly or decides on further studies depends on a person’s preferences, beliefs and financial position. As getting a university education is expensive and time consuming those who don’t enjoy studying often go to work after high school.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

Recent figures show an increase in violent crime among youngsters under the age of 18. Some psychologists claim that the basic reason for this is that children these days are not getting the social and emotional learning they need from parents and teachers.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Children are nurtured by parents and teachers at home and at school. As their first source of contact, they are influenced and imitate the behaviour of those who they spend the most time with. Unfortunately, in today’s competitive world, adults do not spend enough quality time with their children.

Children who are left unsupervised for hours on end are not likely to learn about boundaries and what is appropriate social behaviour. With plenty of free time on their hands and no-one to keep them out of trouble, youngsters may engage in criminal activities such as vandalism, hooliganism, shoplifting and petty theft. As no-one guides them in the right direction, the friends they make might easily sway them into a life of crime. Similarly, teachers focus on their job of teaching school subjects rather than trying to keep youngsters trouble free.

There are many reasons why youngsters may opt for a criminal lifestyle and these are not always related to parents and teachers. In some cases, children are bullied at school and their reaction is to get back at society as often happens in high school shootings. Other times a youngster might have been born with criminal tendencies irrespective of the loving environment they grew up in.

Concluding, I believe there is no single reason that draws youngsters into offending. It is unfortunate that crime is on the increase when it comes to the under 18 year olds. Sometimes instead of instructing children in social behaviour and emotional learning, instructors and parents might be the actual cause of youngsters turning to crime.


Friday, 7 December 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

In today’s competitive world, many families find it necessary for both parents to go out to work. While some say that children in these families benefit from the additional income, others feel they lack support because of their parents’ absence.

Discuss both these views and give your opinion.

In our modern world, it is very rare to find a family where one of the parents is a home keeper even though it was considered the norm for a woman to stay at home to look after the children and maintain the household in the past. Financially speaking, it is difficult for a family to survive on the salary of a single parent.

Times have changed, prices have increased and basic necessities have become difficult to afford. In addition, children of today are materialistic, competitive and demanding. It is important for them to keep up with the latest fashion and own the newest gadgets as these products are an indication of their high social status.

Unfortunately in order to please their children and offer them material wealth, parents often neglect to give their children the appropriate emotional support that is required for their development. Due to their absence, parents do not spend enough quality time with their children so they do not know them very well. What is more, children often grow up resenting their parents for not giving them any attention. If they had a choice, most children would choose spending time with their parents rather than being spoilt.

To sum up, parents feel guilty that they have to spend so much time away from home and compensate for this by over spending on their children. Although they benefit in terms of having everything they desire, a parent’s support is equally, if not more, important.


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

To what extent should television participate in children’s education?

When someone thinks of television they usually point out the negative impacts that it might have on a child, for example, the use of violent images and inappropriate language that a child is likely to imitate. It is for this reason that many parents limit their children’s viewing time. Television is sometimes used in schools to educate children and there are many informative programmes that can enlighten a young child.

A teacher may use a television programme during a lesson as this has sound, colour, characters etc. that are likely to grab a child’s attention. Likewise, some students are better able to remember visual information. Similarly, many shows have an educational value, for example, general knowledge quizzes, live competitions between schools on a particular subject and sometimes a tutor may deliver a lesson on TV.

Although many parents limit the time their children watch TV, some channels and programmes, for example science, geography and history may actually enrich a child’s knowledge as well as improve their language skills. In some cases, busy parents are away from home for many hours and a TV set acts as an educational tool for children.

In terms of education, TV should be used as an alternative teaching source if a parent or teacher feels a programme is likely to benefit a child. TV does not only provide mindless entertainment but if it is used appropriately it can help young children make sense of their environment in an engaging way.

Question taken from Target Band 7 p. 55

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

Dieting can change a person’s life for the better or ruin one’s health completely. What is your opinion?

Nowadays there is great pressure to lose weight. Society, the media and the health industry all view slim people positively. This results in thousands of books, medication and TV programs that promise ‘miracle’ diets that can help you lose weight fast and effectively.

If a person is overweight, dieting can alter their life to a great extent. They will lose the excess kilos, increase their confidence and improve their general health. As long as a person has consulted a professional nutritionist who has suggested a particular diet for their body and problem and the excess weight has been lost gradually then this is likely to be a success story.

Unfortunately many people spend their lives following a yo-yo dieting pattern. They go to extremes and deprive their bodies of valuable vitamins and nutrients in search of a quick solution to their current problem, for example to fit into a wedding dress before a certain date. This kind of dieting may be harmful for your body in the long run and will actually result in a person gaining more weight in the end. This is because what was actually lost was not body fat. Excessive dieting exhausts and weakens the body and can therefore impact a person negatively.

To conclude, a person who maintains a healthy, balanced lifestyle continuously is likely to be energetic, confident, strong and less likely to get ill. Being obsessed with dieting however can lead to illnesses like anorexia and bulimia which are difficult to overcome.

Question taken from Target Band 7 p.62

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

The best way to reduce the number of traffic accidents is to raise the age limit for younger drivers and to lower the age limit for the aged ones. Do you agree?

Accidents are a daily phenomenon and occur for multiple reasons such as drinking and driving, speed, sleeping at the wheel, driving through red lights, talking or texting on the mobile phone, not observing the rules of the road and general carelessness. Although the age of the driver responsible for an accident varies, younger, inexperienced drivers and elderly ones pose a threat to themselves and others on the road.

Elderly drivers suffer from health problems such as heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease and poor vision. These factors lead to slow driving and poor reflexes. A driver needs to be alert when driving and drivers who are not sharp enough should not be allowed to drive.

Extremely young drivers do not have the maturity to drive a vehicle. They are at a stage in their lives when they want to show off to their peers by driving recklessly and speeding. Unfortunately they are not always in control of a vehicle or their surroundings. In addition, youngsters are unaware of the effects of alcohol on their body and how this can affect their behaviour. Tragically many young drivers lose their lives every year due to road accidents.

Naturally, there are other causes leading to accidents such as faulty cars, bad roads and inappropriate road signs. However, countries that allow youngsters to obtain a licence at 16 should re-consider the age limit. Increasing the upper limit should also be taken into account as a person’s failing health is dangerous to other road drivers.

Question taken from Target Band 7 p.64

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

Due to the change in women’s roles in modern society, men are now the ones suffering from sexual discrimination. Do you agree?

With the assistance of certain laws, for example employment laws, sexual discrimination, the right to vote and following years of struggle, women have gained more privileges than they once had in a male dominated society. Women can be found in all types of professions, have become better educated and have access to services they were restricted to in the past.

We should not forget that in many countries, especially in developing nations, women do not have the same rights as men. Even though equality between the genders is mainly seen in developed countries, we still see women being underrepresented in politics, top managerial positions and in other areas. Some countries, for example China, value men over women and even go so far as to terminate a pregnancy if they know a child will be a girl.

Just because women have earned social, political and economic equality, this does not necessarily mean that men are being discriminated against. Women are merely gaining what has been entitled to them for centuries. In fact, a woman’s life in modern society is becoming more complicated and demanding. They have to fulfil many roles and duties such as being a competitive career woman, a loving wife and mother and maintaining a household whereas a man’s identity is usually restricted to work only.

To sum up, women are more involved in the public sphere than ever before and have earned greater respect and authority following years of discrimination. Despite gaining these rights, unfortunately patriarchal societies still exist where the ultimate power rests in the hands of men.

Question taken from Target Band 7 p. 55

Monday, 3 December 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

Home schooling belongs to the past and is unacceptable in modern society. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Home schooling is still practised in some remote areas, often when children are unable to attend school because of their location, for example in some parts of Australia or when children have a busy professional schedule such as famous child actors. Sometimes home schooling is merely a preference chosen by parents.

Traditional methods of schooling are the norm as parents feel that schools provide the appropriate environment for a child to learn. They do not only engage in classroom activities but children also become sociable by interacting with others their own age. Good communication skills and team work are skills that can be used later on in life.

There are some benefits attached to home schooling. A child learns better and faster when they have individual attention and will most likely be academically brighter than other children. They might also feel safer in their home environment and will be able to have much more time for other commitments.

It is however unlikely that a single tutor will have all the knowledge required to teach all subjects equally well and a child might not receive the appropriate instruction in each subject. In addition, a child might become spoilt in this way and have unsociable behaviour. They will be unable to draw a clear line between home and school as the environment is the same. Similarly, they might have difficulties relating to their parents as teachers in cases where they are taught by them.

Even though home schooling is not an outdated practice and some communities practice this method of teaching, I believe a child will receive a well-balanced, rounded education and make more friends in a traditional classroom setting.

Question taken from Target Band 7, p.57

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Verbs - Present Perfect Continuous

We use the present perfect continuous for actions that had been happening for a period of time before the past time you are thinking about. e.g. I was exhausted when I arrived home. I'd been working hard the whole day.

POSITIVE SENTENCES (‘d / had been + ing)
I/You/He/She/It/We/They had been playing for two hours before realising it was time to go home.

The students had been imitating the teacher during the lesson and that's why they were sent home.
His grandmother wasn't well and he had been helping her for some time.
The forest fire had been burning for a few hours before the fire brigade arrived.
Her mother had been calling her for quite a while before she finally responded.

NEGATIVE SENTENCES (had not (hadn’t) been + ing)
I/You/He/She/It/We/They hadn’t been watching TV when the doorbell rang.

The teenagers hadn't been hitch hiking when the police found them.
I told them not to make a noise but they hadn't been keeping quiet so I didn't take them to the park.
He hadn't been introducing the guests when he was called to make a speech.
We hadn't been holding on tightly and that's why we were injured in the accident.

Had I/you/he/she/it/we/they been waiting for Caroline's arrival?

Had the clubbers been hanging up their coats before entering the club?
Had Kate been climbing that tree when she fell and broke her arm?
Had the builders been building that house when the earthquake occurred?
Had they actually been carrying those heavy rucksacks across Canada?

Friday, 16 November 2012

Verbs - Present Perfect Continuous

We use present perfect continuous for:-
  • Actions that started in the past and are still going on. The emphasis is on how long an action lasted e.g. I have been painting this room for a week and I still haven’t finished yet.
  • Actions that happened over a long period of time and have stopped but have present results e.g. The workers have been working extremely hard to meet the Christmas deadlines but they have stopped for a week.
Time expressions: for, since, all day/morning/year, for ages/a long time/many years.

POSITIVE SENTENCES (have ('ve) / has ('s) been + ing)
I/You/We/They have been sleeping all day.
He/She/It has been sleeping all day.

I have been looking for my glasses all day and I still haven’t found them.
The catering company has been making tea for delegates since the conference started this morning.
We have been picking apples off trees on this farm for many years.
Ever since he stared going out with Maggie he has been paying for everything.

NEGATIVE SENTENCES (have not (haven’t) / has not (hasn’t) been + ing)
I/You/We/They haven’t been sleeping all day.
He/She/It hasn’t been sleeping all day.

We haven’t been keeping any rabbits because we don’t have time to look after them.
Due to government restrictions, the hunters haven’t been hunting deer this season.
His health hasn’t been improving despite all the medication he has been given.
Our paediatrician told us she hasn’t been growing at all.

Have I/you/we/they been sleeping all day?
Has he/she/it been sleeping all day?

Has she been counting stock all morning?
Has Robert been coughing this week or is he feeling better?
Have the prisoners been crawling through that tunnel for a long time?
Have the players been crying since their football team lost the match?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

General Training - Model Answer (Task 2)

Some people think that young people should be ambitious. Others believe that it is fine if young people do not have big aims in life. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

When we think of young people, we imagine them to be full of energy, to have grand dreams and wishes to be successful in their lives. These ambitions are what often drive them in their work or personal lives to achieve their desired goals.

Ambition may be thought of as being positive as it provides the motivation to move forward and is a necessary ingredient to reaching one’s aims. It is a good idea for young people to be ambitious as the older generation tends to lose this aspect of their personality as they become older because what they once valued as being important changes. Creativity and new products and services often result from ambitions that youngsters may have. As people want to reach a certain standard they need to find alternative ways to do this in a competitive environment leading to creativity and drive.

On the other hand, many young people go through life without any ambition. This depends on a person’s character and what they want from their lives, or perhaps their aims are personal and too small to benefit society as a whole. In addition, being over-ambitious often makes a person malicious or selfish because to get ahead in a cut-throat world these characteristics are required.

In my opinion, youngsters, particularly in their 20s should be ambitious. They should have hopes and dreams, whether big or small, professional or social and work towards them. Life without any ambition would be monotonous.

Question taken from Exam Essentials IELTS Practice Tests p.198

Monday, 12 November 2012

Verbs - Past Perfect

We use past perfect for completed actions in the past that happened before other completed past actions e.g. I had never visited Romania before last year.

Time expressions: already, after, before, by the time, when, for, since, as soon as.

POSITIVE SENTENCES ('d/had + past participle)

I/you/he/she/it/we/they had eaten before going for a walk.

I had already married Diana before I fell in love with Josie!
After we had met we became good friends.
As soon as she had mended the hole in her trousers, they ripped again.
Once they had mixed the flour, they added raisins.

NEGATIVE SENTENCES (had not/hadn't + past participle) 

I/you/he/she/it/we/they had not (hadn't) eaten before going for a walk.

We hadn’t moved the sofa by the time they arrived. That’s why they were angry when they came home.
The dog hadn’t obeyed Thomas when he told it to go home.
When we went for a visit they hadn’t offered us any tea.
She hadn’t opened the machine to see if it was working before she rang the Service Department.

QUESTIONS (had + past participle)  

Had I/you/he/she/it/we/they eaten before going for a walk?

Had she packed her bags by the time the taxi arrived?
Had the class painted landscapes before?
Had Mike and Andrea parted before he moved to Uzbekistan?
Had Joss passed Mark by the time they had reached the half way line?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Verbs - Present Perfect

We use present perfect (has/have + past participle):
  • To talk about the past with no time reference, so time isn’t important or we don’t know the time e.g. We’ve already eaten, thank you.
  • For actions/situations that started in the past and continue in the present. We are more interested in the present result of a past action e.g. Have you been to the factory lately?
Expressions used with present perfect: been, ever, for, since, just, yet, already, never, recently, lately, today, this morning/week/month/year

Since + the point in time when it started e.g. I’ve been here since January/ the beginning of the year / one o’clock / Tuesday / 2011 / 2nd March / the war started

For + the period of time e.g. I’ve been here for twenty minutes / a few hours /ten days / three weeks/ two months / five years /a long time

For regular verbs, past participle = infinitive + ed

Past participle of irregular verbs


I/You /We/They have (‘ve) stopped.
She/He/It has (‘s) stopped.

She has cycled across the country before, so she’s really fit.
We’ve taken some beautiful shots of flowers for the exhibition.
Kumar has done the ironing and he’s cooking now.
The housewives have knitted jerseys for their grandchildren.
The boy scouts have caught some trout for dinner!
You have cleaned your car a million times. I don’t think you need to do it again this week!

I/You/We/They have not (haven’t) stopped.
She/He/It has not (hasn’t) stopped.

Lisa hasn’t taken a bath yet so we’ll probably be late.
The patients haven’t taken their medication today.
They haven’t met up for coffee for a long time.
We haven’t driven our new car yet. We only bought it yesterday.
Simon hasn’t read the newspaper so I don’t think he knows about it.
I haven’t ever listened to music using a record player before.

Have I/you/we/they stopped?
Has she/he/it stopped?

Have you played golf on that new golf course?
Have the secretaries been on the training course?
Has Sam ever changed a tyre before?
Has Tony washed the plates yet? We don’t have clean ones for the guests.
Has Greg ever worn a tie to work?
Have the customers used the phone service yet?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Verbs - Past Continuous

We use past continuous for:-
  • Actions in progress in the past e.g. Helen was having breakfast at 8:00.
  • A short action in the middle of a longer action e.g. The fishermen were going home (long action = past continuous) when they saw a shark (short action = past simple).
Expressions with the past continuous: While, when, as.

We don’t use the past continuous for verbs which describe a state (thoughts, feelings, senses, possession) e.g. agree, be, believe, belong, contain, exist, forget, hate, have (possession), hear, imagine, know, like, love, mean, mind, need, notice, owe, prefer, realise, remember, seem, suppose, understand, want, wish

POSITIVE SENTENCES (was/were + ing)
I/She/He/It was playing
You/We/They were playing

She was putting her make-up on when I rang her.
They were cooking for many guests so they needed to start early.
He was exercising at the gym at 8pm last night.
We were sewing the children's fancy dress costumes so we couldn't come.
They were shopping for the party when we bumped into them.
Sandra was jogging in the park when the dog attacked her.
We didn't go into the room because the housekeeper was cleaning.
Toby was brushing his teeth because he had a meeting to go to.

NEGATIVE SENTENCES (wasn’t/weren’t + ing)
I/She/He/It was not (wasn’t) playing
You/We/They were not (weren’t) playing

Charles wasn't shaving when I arrived to take him to work.
They weren't painting their house yesterday as they needed a break.
I wasn't washing the dishes. In fact, I was relaxing.
You know we weren't playing cards. We had a group assignment to finish off.
The workers weren't digging the road when I went to check up on them.
We parked outside but we weren't eating at that restaurant.

Was I/She/He/It playing?
Were You/We/They playing?

Were you packing your bags this morning for the trip?
Were you rowing as early as 6am?
Was Bill tanning when the swimmer drowned?
Were the unemployed workers waiting in a line to get in?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Verbs - Past Simple

We use past simple for:-
  • Completed actions in the past e.g. We went to the cinema yesterday.
  • Actions that interrupted longer actions in the past e.g. Elaine dropped in while we were having dinner.
Expressions with the past simple: yesterday, last weekend/week/night/month/year, two minutes/hours/days/nights/weeks/months/years ago

We add ed to regular verbs. The verb is the same for all persons: I/You/He/She/It/We/They played

Verbs ending in e, add d e.g. like → liked
Consonant (b,c,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,q,r,s,t,v,w,x,y,z) + y = i + ed e.g. study→studied
Vowel (a,e,i,o,u) + consonant = double consonant + ed e.g. stop→stopped
She woke up at 7 o'clock yesterday.
The shop sold over 2.000 ice-creams last month.
As the train arrived early this morning I managed to get to work on time.
I got undressed and went straight to bed.
That house was buit 5 years ago.
Peter drank a glass of water before he continued talking.
The Chinese won the most gold medals in the paralympic games in London.
While his parents were away on holiday, he broke his piggy bank and spent all his savings.
He fell off his bike yesterday and broke his leg.
They changed their currency at the airport.
We ate burgers last night.
He went into the house slowly so as not to wake anyone.

Irregular verbs

Subject + did not + infinitive for all persons and verbs (regular and irregular)
 I/You/He/She/It/We/They did not (didn’t) play

I didn't grow up in India.
We didn't have a washing machine when we were studying at university.
I didn't think about it until I had reached home.
The students didn't understand the lesson very well.
We didn't hear about the news because we never watch TV.
They didn't close the suitcase well and it opened during the trip.
Whenever she spoke to the parrot, it didn't repeat her words.
They took the car to the mechanic but he didn't fix it because he didn't have the spare parts for it.

Did + subject + infinitive for all persons and verbs (regular and irregular)
Did I/You/He/She/It/We/They play?

Did he go up the stairs or use the elavator?
Did the class finish the assignment on time?
Did the police officers follow the bank robbers after the bank robbery?
Did they manage to pull them up?
Did you remember to switch off the gas when you left the house?
Did the company answer back to the letter of complaint you sent?
Did Mike receive the package he was waiting for?
Did the children put the toys back where they found them?

Past Simple of the verb 'to be'

It was snowing yesterday.
He wasn't at the football match because he was at work.
Were they happy to hear the news?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Verbs - Present Continuous

We use Present Continuous for:-
  • Actions that are happening now e.g. What are you doing?
  • Temporary situations e.g. They’re living with an Australian family in Sydney.
  • Future arrangements e.g. We’re going to the cinema this evening.
Expressions used with Present Continuous:- at the moment, right now, now, at present, currently.

We don’t use the Present Continuous for verbs which describe a state (thoughts, feelings, senses, possession) e.g. agree, be, believe, belong, contain, exist, forget, hate, have (possession), hear, imagine, know, like, love, mean, mind, need, notice, owe, prefer, realise, remember, seem, suppose, understand, want, wish

sit sitting
plan planning
run running
stop stopping
swim swimming

come coming
live living
make making
smile smiling

die dying
lie lying

I am walking.
You/We/They are walking.
He/She/It is walking.

She is talking to Betty at the moment.
He’s going out this evening.
Her boyfriend broke up with her and she is in her room crying.
They are currently reading a novel for their assignment so they can’t go out tonight.
I think she is hiding behind the chair.
We are helping the homeless this weekend.
Stop! A pedestrian is crossing the road.
They are building a row of houses in this street at present.
His car broke down and he’s pushing it to the garage.
Look! That man is shouting at the children.
The workers are carrying bags of supplies to the supermarket right now.
They are jumping over the last hurdle now.

I am not
You/We/They are not
He/She/It is not

They aren’t working today as it’s a public holiday.
The film isn’t starting for another hour so take your time.
He isn’t studying for his exams.
They aren’t meeting up this week to discuss the project.
He isn’t running very fast. I don’t think he’ll win the race.
She isn’t calling us to eat dinner. She just wants to see if we’re alright.
We aren’t looking at the accounts today because we don’t have time.
They aren’t going to Spain this summer.
I’ll call her. She isn’t sleeping.
She isn’t cutting the bread. She’s making some cupcakes for the party.
They aren’t arguing about football this time.
She isn’t putting the books on the shelf. She has gone to get a ladder because she can’t reach. 

Am I
Are you/we/they
Is he/she/it

Is she eating in the kitchen or the living room?
Are you writing a response to the email?
Is he booking a table for tonight?
Are they cooking potatoes or rice for us?
Is she asking for directions? I hope we can find the place.
Are you opening the suitcase to put more clothes in or are you looking for something?
What’s he doing over there? Is he sitting or standing up?
Is she listening to Pink’s new album now?
Can I speak to dad or is he watching TV?
Are they playing the guitar in the band tonight?

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Verbs - Present Simple

We use present simple for:-
  • Habits or repeated actions (every day, once a week, etc.) e.g. We telephone each other twice a month.
  • Things that are always true e.g. Adele sings very well.
  • Timetables e.g. The train leaves at 7:30 in the morning and arrives at 9am. I go to work at 7am daily and return at 5pm.

Use present simple with:-
  • Verbs that are not activities - think, know, understand, agree, want
  • Adverbs of frequency - sometimes, often, always, usually, never, occasionally
I/You/We/They work
He/She/It works (add 's' or 'es' to the verb)

Verbs ending in sh, ch, ss, o, x add 'es'
wash washes
teach teaches
cross crosses
go goes
mix → mixes

Verbs ending in consonant (b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z) + y, change to 'ies'
carry carries
study studies
cry cries

I usually walk to work.
She often drives into town on Mondays.
We park our car in front of the supermarket.
They wait at that bus stop over there.
I wake up at 7:30 every day.
She sometimes sleeps late at weekends.
We make sure we wash our face every morning.
I always eat a sandwich for lunch because I don't have time to cook.
Ahtletes drink a lot of water.
He frequently buys ice-cream in the summer.
That shop sells frozen yoghurt too.
I like ice-cream.

I/you/we/they do not (don’t) cook.
She/he/it does not (doesn’t) cook.

He doesn't always cook for his family.
He doesn't watch TV at all.
She doesn't listen to rock music.
We don't usually play the guitar when we perform live.
They don't play games in their free time.
They don't dance when they go to clubs.
I don't read any books that don't have pictures in them.
Unfortunately I don't sing very well. 

Do I/you/we/they live in Spain?
Does she/he/it live in Spain?

Do you choose what to wear to work?
Does she telephone you when she wants something?
Do you remember that house?
Do you think it's a good idea?
Does he live in Vietnam?
Do the neighbours clean their house every week?
Do he usually study for his exams?
Do they meet up once a month to discuss business?
Does he work in a factory?
Do they often laugh at my jokes?
Do we usually order the salad? I can't remember.
Do I often write long letters? Yes, I do!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Speaking IELTS - Part 2 & 3 (Model notes)

Question taken from IELTS Testbuilder 2 p.64

Speaking IELTS - Part 2 & 3 (Model notes)

Question taken from IELTS Testbuilder 2 p.119

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 1)

The diagram illustrates the way in which rainwater is processed to be used in households and how wastewater is disposed of.

Initially, rainwater is either collected in a dam or a tank that is attached to a house. If rainwater is collected in a tank it is used directly by a household for the inhabitant’s individual purposes. Dam water needs to be treated prior to being delivered to houses for drinking purposes.

Household wastewater is treated at a wastewater treatment plant and is either recycled back into homes for further use or is disposed of into rivers if there is an excess amount of water. Similarly, treated stormwater is taken by underground pipes to rivers.

To sum up, rainwater is either used directly for household purposes or is treated at a treatment plant. Likewise, once treated wastewater may be re-used or directed towards a river.

Question taken from IELTS Testbuilder 2 p.87

Friday, 19 October 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 1)

The bar chart shows the sectors that employed workers in 2005 in the U.K according to gender.

The greatest number of men were employed in skilled trade (20%) followed by managerial and senior official positions at 18%. All other categories were below 15% with smaller employment levels for sales, administrative and personal service positions.

The opposite trend can be seen the case of females where 22% were in administrative and secretarial positions. Associate, professional and technical work was also undertaken at around 15%. Other categories employed approximately 12% female workers. Very few women, in fact less than 4%, were employed in manual labour positions such as skilled trade and operating machinery.

To sum up, we can notice a difference between the professions chosen by men and women. Men had senior positions and worked in skilled vocations whereas women were mostly engaged in administration work. Equal numbers (about 12%) were involved in elementary tasks.

Question taken from IELTS Testbuilder 2 p.115

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

Recent research has shown that media like the Internet and TV have a greater influence over people’s lives than politicians.

Which do you consider to be the greater influence?

Advances in technology means that people have access to the Internet and TV on an on-going basis. It is also for this reason that politicians use mass media to reach a wide audience. Due to the fact that viewers are tuned in so frequently, this media has a powerful influence on them. We often hear stories, for example, of how violent behaviour is triggered by violent images seen on the screen.

First of all, politics is not for everyone. Many people do not exercise their right to vote and do not take the opportunity to control how their lives are run by the government. For this reason, a politician would be unable to get their attention. Let us not forget that many citizens have a negative view of politicians and oppose their policies so this lessens their authority and influence. In fact, there are very few politicians who are seen as positive role models.

On the other hand, the media is able to send out messages that touch people’s lives and can sway public opinion either positively or negatively. All this depends on how a news story is broadcast. Social network sites and amateur videos capture a truer image of events and ordinary people have now taken on the role of journalists.

In my opinion the influence of politicians on everyday life is diminishing. The media is a powerful tool for communicating and passing on information and even politicians employ this source to advance their positions.

Question taken from IELTS Testbuilder 2 p.89

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Words with 'mate' (Vocabulary)

Mate is when two or more people share a space or are take part in the same activity.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 2)

The world has seen an enormous increase in flights for leisure, business and commercial purposes around the world over recent years.

What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of such flights?

Do you think flights should be taxed more?

Air passengers have different agendas and travel as tourists or for business purposes. Millions of people take to the skies around the world because of advances in technology and the availability of connecting flights.

The world has become a smaller place to live in and aircrafts provide the opportunity for people and products to be transported anywhere. Travelling for leisure introduces us to new lands, cultures and ways of living leading to acceptance and open-mindedness. Business people are able to make new contacts, get better deals and import and export products from far-away destinations. All this would not be possible without travelling by aircraft. In fact, in some isolated parts of the world or in the case of islands this is the only option available.

The environmental impact of flying however is great. A single flight emits a large amount of pollution, especially long-haul flights which consume large amounts of fuel. It is for this reason that some people believe that flights should be taxed more. That is, travellers should think twice about the carbon footprints they leave behind when going abroad.

The airline business is competitive and added taxes might reduce sales and cause a company to shut down. Even though the travel industry brings valuable money into a country and provides jobs to millions, the environment is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Instead of taxing passengers, a better solution would be to spend money on research and development to produce aircrafts that use alternative sources of energy.

Question taken from IELTS Testbuilder 2 p.61

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 1)

The information given shows how visitors feel about the facilities provided at a recently opened shopping complex in Auckland.

To begin with almost half (45%) of the male shoppers are satisfied with the shops. The other levels of satisfaction are almost or exactly 20%. Similarly a large percentage of women were either satisfied (37%) or very satisfied (34%) with the shops. The level of dissatisfaction was the same as for the males while less than 10% did not comment on this facility.

More than half (55%) of the men were satisfied with the restaurants and very few (5%) were dissatisfied. 25% were very satisfied and 15% gave no answer to this question. The satisfaction percentage ranged between 20% and 32% with respect to woman, with 32% being satisfied with restaurants and as many as 20% not commenting.

The majority (62%) of shoppers were satisfied with the design of the complex and only 10% were dissatisfied which was almost equal to the amount of those who didn’t comment.

Concluding, both men and women are generally satisfied with the shops, restaurant and design of the complex, with men having higher levels of satisfaction in all categories.

Question taken from IELTS Testbuilder 2 p.59

Academic Writing - Model Answer (Task 1)

The line graph shows how many people used three types of train travel in Great Britain over a 55 year period.

The National rail network was used most frequently in 1950 with 1,000 million passengers while in 1955 the usage reached its peak. Between 1960 and 1985 this amount decreased and ranged between 600 - 1,000 million passengers. This mode of transport picked up again after 1992 and surpassed 1,000 million passengers.

Travel by London Underground was stable at approximately 740 million passengers in the first 25 years. The lowest usage was in 1980 when passenger numbers fell to just below 500 million. An increase is then noted with numbers close to those of the National rail network.

The Light rail and metro system was built in the 60s and less than 240 million used this means of transport. Prior to 1980 passenger numbers dropped. In 1980 nobody used this means but then more passengers used it after this time period.
All in all, the most popular way to travel was national rail while light rail and metro were not preferred. There is also an upward trend in recent years in all types of train transport.

Question taken from IELTS Testbuilder 2 p.30

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Expressions with 'self' (Vocabulary)

Self-addressed = an envelope having your own address on e.g. If you want your assignment returned, you need to include a self-addressed envelope.

Self-appointed = to have a position/role without the authorization of others e.g. The committee didn’t select him. He was self-appointed.

Self-awareness = to know one’s own character e.g. Ever since she started psychoanalysis her self-awareness has improved.

Self-centred = to think only of oneself e.g. I don’t think she will help you as she’s so self-centred.

Self-confident = to trust one’s abilities, qualities and judgement e.g. You will do well in the interview. We can all see how self-confident you are.

Self-conscious = to think of oneself, appearance, actions in a negative way e.g. I can’t wear a bikini as I feel self-conscious about my body.

Self-control = to control emotions/desires e.g. She has no self-control and eats too much at parties.

Self-defence = to protect yourself/interests e.g. After they were attacked they learnt some self-defence techniques to protect themselves in the future.

Self-destruct = something/someone that destroys itself /themselves e.g. All that smoking is self-destructive.

Self-development = development of a person’s character/abilities e.g. The company encourages the staff to attend self-development courses.

Self-discipline = the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome weaknesses e.g. If you are self-disciplined I don’t think you will overspend on holiday.

Self-educated = education through one’s own efforts e.g. I didn’t study Computer Science at university. I’m self-educated.

Self-employed = to work for oneself e.g. I started my own internet business and I’m self-employed now.

Self-esteem /self-respect = confidence in one’s own abilities e.g. When she lost her excess weight, her self-esteem improved.

Self-evaluation/self-assessment = to evaluate yourself e.g. Our manager asked us to complete a self-evaluation form on our performance throughout the year.

Self-explanatory = obvious e.g. You can read the rules and regulations yourself. They are self-explanatory.

Self-governed = a government elected by its own people e.g. India used to be an English colony but now it’s self-governed.

Self-guided = a visit to a tourist attraction without supervision e.g. We took a self-guided tour around the castle as we didn’t want to wait in the queue for a tour guide.

Self-help = to not rely on others e.g. I find self-help books very useful as they teach you how to get what you want.

Self-induced = brought about by oneself e.g. I don’t feel sorry for them. The situation is self-induced.

Self-made = to become rich/successful by one’s own efforts e.g. He worked extremely hard and is a self-made millionaire.

Self-pity = excessive unhappiness over one’s own troubles e.g. You need to get over your self-pity and start looking for another job.

Self-portrait = when an artist creates his own portrait e.g. Vincent van Gogh’s self-portrait is in the museum.

Self-service = when customers choose goods for themselves e.g. They have a self-service salad bar at the restaurant so you can select what you want.

Self-reliance = to depend on one’s own powers/resources rather than those of others e.g. Even though he is 80 he is self-reliant and does everything himself.

Self-absorption = preoccupied with one’s own emotions/interests/situation e.g. A few days after the break-up of her marriage she became self-absorbed.