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Archive for 2011

(Model essay) General Training exam in Sydney, Australia, December 2011

Posted on December 30, 2011 by - 8 Comments

(This question taken from IELTS-blog.com.)

Public transportation could be made free of charge. Are there more advantages or disadvantages to this change?

Most large cities today boast numerous public transit options, available to residents for a fee. Whether providing these options free of charge is a positive thing is often a highly debated topic. I argue that felt making public transportation available free of charge ramifies more advantages than disadvantages. This will be proven by looking at how a free public transportation system encourages more environmentally friendly living and provides accessibility to low-income individuals.

For one, encouraging people to use public transportation through fare elimination has many benefits to the environment. For example, as more people use a city’s public transit system, the congestion that city experiences on the road is greatly reduced. Having fewer vehicles on the road in turn reduces a city’s overall carbon footprint immensely. Thus, the benefit to removing public transportation fares can be seen.

In addition to this, allowing people to use a city’s transportation services without charge can be exceptionally helpful to low-income residents. For instance, any city that employs this change would empower its people with the ability to live and work in entirely different parts of a city, regardless of their economical situation. This would thus heighten a low-income earner’s chances of gaining financial ground. As this example shows, privileging a city’s people with free transit service boasts more benefits than drawbacks.

After analyzing the above, it is clear that removing the fare charged to public transit passengers has more pros than cons. This alternative should be considered as a future growth option for emerging cities.

 

(Model essay) Academic question as seen in Vietnam in late November

Posted on December 22, 2011 by - 8 Comments

(This question taken from ielts-blog.com.)

Economic growth has helped to improve standards of living all over the world. However, some research shows that people in developing countries are happier with this trend than people in developed countries. Explain why you think this is.

Developments in the global economy mean different things to different people. To some, recent growth may be coupled with a rise in standards of living, and thus seen as positive. To others, this growth brings with it increased global competitiveness, and is thus seen as negative. These particular opinions are thought to reflect the results of recent research indicating more satisfaction with global growth among the developing world than the developed world. Both sides will be analysed in this essay.

It is easy to understand why global economic growth is welcomed among developing countries. In China, for example, young people today have vastly more developed lifestyles than their parents or grandparents. Today many Chinese people consume luxury goods, an ability seldom possible 30 years ago. From this example, it is easy to understand why people in developing countries see current global economic growth as a reason to be happy.

However, the economic rise of developing countries makes for more competition among developed countries. For example, microprocessor design, a field once dominated by countries with highly developed education systems, is now an area into which developing countries are making serious inroads. Because of this, the once technical giants of the developed world are now seeing their market share decline. This example makes it clear why developed countries are not entirely happy about the economical growth of developing countries.

I feel the above reasons explain why research results indicate the opinions of developed and developing countries contrast on this topic. So long as this trend continue, these viewpoints should not be expected to change much.

 

(Model letter) Task 1 question as seen in Egypt and the UAE in early December

Posted on December 19, 2011 by - 2 Comments

You went on a sightseeing trip with a tour company but did not like it.  Write a letter to the company manager to complain.  In your letter include:

  • why you went on the trip
  • what you did not like about it
  • what you suggest the company do to improve their service for future visitors

To the manager of Gordon Travel,

I am writing this letter to you to bring to your attention a few shortcomings in the service you provide.

Last week, I traveled to Kiev as part of your Eastern Europe Journey program in an effort to better educate myself about this region of the world.  Although the hotel and meals were fine, the tour guide on our bus was less than adequate.  He seemed ill prepared for the tour and kept forgetting facts and the names of the locations we were visiting.  To be honest, he seemed so unsure of himself when speaking to our group that I have the feeling he had never been to Kiev before.  In addition to this, although he was able to speak broken Russian, it was evident he could not speak any Ukrainian.  This of course made the tourists aboard our bus even more skeptical of the facts he was sharing regarding Ukrainian linguistic history.

I hope you use my feedback constructively to improve the quality of your tour for future visitors to Ukraine.  Ensuring your patrons receive an English-speaking Ukrainian native as a tour guide would be a good start.

Good luck,

Ryan

 

(Model essay) Academic Task 2 question as seen in Vancouver, Canada, in December 2011

Posted on December 15, 2011 by - 3 Comments

Some people believe advertising causes more harm than good to society. Others refute this.  Discuss both views and share your opinion.

One of the main stimulants of consumerism within a country is advertising. As such, advertising can be seen as a necessary practice within any healthy economy. However, people often counter this by saying that too much exposure to commercial promotions can cause societal problems. Both sides of this argument will be analysed before a conclusion is reached.

On the one hand, advertising stimulates healthy spending, which can grow economies and create jobs. Take Coca-Cola, for example. Coca-Cola is a company that spends massive amounts on marketing every year. Because of this, it has become a brand that is recognised in the most remote corners of the earth. This level of recognition allows even the smallest of vendors anywhere in the world to create wealth through providing an attractive product with a powerful brand to potential customers. Thus, it is understandable why many people believe the benefits of advertising outweigh the drawbacks.

On the other hand, it is purported by many that advertising has negative ramifications on societies. For example, at Christmas time, American children are often the target of very elaborate marketing schemes hatched by large companies looking for holiday sales. As these sorts of campaigns can induce children to become overly concerned with commercial matters, many people worry this may interrupt their development as moral people. When seen in this light, it is clear why many people feel there are more drawbacks than benefits to advertising.

Following this look at both sides of the above debate, I feel the manner in which advertising fosters wealth and economic growth makes it much more positive than negative in nature, and I hope these positive financial effects are increasingly experienced the world over.

 

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IELTS Academic and General Task 2 - How to write at a band 9 level

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Here is the task and response as they appear in the video:

Consumers are exposed to an extreme amount of advertising in the modern era. To what extent do you think people are influenced by ads? What measures would you suggest to protect them?

Modern approaches to marketing have become increasingly intrusive, and this has exposed people to more advertising than ever before in history. Because many of these advertisements successfully manipulate the viewer’s lifestyle and opinions, I feel their influence is profound. This essay will analyse examples that demonstrate this influence. It will also offer suggestions regarding how society can guard itself against the powers of advertising.

The influence of advertising can change lifestyles and societal values in dangerous ways. For example, fast food, such as that served by McDonald’s and KFC, is often presented as the diet of athletic people. To the public, these images normalise and validate what many scientific studies have confirmed is a very unhealthy dietary choice. In addition to altering lifestyles, marketing campaigns can also confuse the public about important societal events. For instance, a recently released video depicts a group of marching protestors defusing a confrontation with the police by giving them a Pepsi. Many people correctly pointed out that such imagery trivialises the purpose of protest and the professional role of the police, images that could dangerously alter the opinions of impressionable young people. Thus, as the above examples show, advertising in the modern era is extremely influential.

To protect people from these negative effects, one approach is to regulate the number of times a marketing campaign can target a specific person’s social media account. This has been effective in Canada, where marketers are only allowed to present their promotional Facebook imagery to people old enough to know they are being advertised to. A second strategy could be to create awareness programs in high schools that educate young people about advertisements and their influence. These two policies would help preserve the public’s ability to remain critical of what they see.

Although advertising is an economic necessity, its influence should be recognised and kept under control. As the above has shown, societies should work to guard their freedom to make decisions unaltered by the interests of large companies.

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Transition your sentences at the band 9 level!

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Here is the template seen in this video (scroll down for the full text of the essay):

Do you feel the money governments spend to protect the environment would be better used elsewhere?

_____________ the world over typically _____________. There are reasons to support and refute this practice. Using examples from_____________, I will discuss both positions before declaring a personal stance.

Firstly,_____________ is beneficial for many reasons. For example, in _____________, _____________, such as _____________. This _____________ is important because it not only_____________, but it also _____________. Because such _____________ are common among most countries, it is clear why __________________.

However, despite these benefits, _____________ has undeniable merit. In _____________, for example, _____________. Similar _____________ can be seen among _____________, such as _____________. Thus, it is clear that for _____________, _____________ may be better _____________.

Following this examination, I support _____________, but I strongly feel this _____________. This is _____________, and I hope to see it _____________.

Do you feel the money governments spend to protect the environment would be better used elsewhere?

Governments the world over typically allocate a portion of their spending to preserving the environment of their respective countries. There are reasons to support and refute this practice. Using examples from my country, I will discuss both positions before declaring a personal stance.

Firstly, government-funded protection of a country’s environment is beneficial for many reasons. For example, in my country, the Canadian government has spent a tremendous amount of money to ensure large swathes of land, such as Algonquin Park in Ontario, are inaccessible to resource-hungry companies and city sprawl. This policy is important because it not only ensures the natural beauty and wildlife of Canada are maintained for future generations, but it also preserves Canadian identity, which is tied closely to the vastness and untainted nature of the land. Because such values are common among most countries, it is clear why many people the world over support government-funded protection of the environment.

However, despite these benefits, reallocating such funding to other needs has undeniable merit. In Canada, for example, preserving the integrity of the environment seems somewhat hypocritical when so many First Nations peoples, who have been historically driven off the land, are in need of resources that allow them to preserve and pass on their languages and cultures to their descendants. Similar needs can be seen among the native populations of other nations formed out of the colonial period, such as the United States and Australia. Thus, it is clear that for select countries, government funding may be better channeled to the preservation of not only the land but also its indigenous peoples.

Following this examination, I support the government-funded preservation of a country’s environment, but I strongly feel this funding should also be directed to promoting the health of other aboriginal facets, namely the cultures and languages of a nation’s indigenous peoples. This is a much more holistic approach to environmental preservation, and I hope to see it adopted by countries around the world.

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Here is a transcript of the conversation heard in the video:

Please give me your identification.

Here you are.

Thank you. Now, in this first part, I’d like to ask you some questions about yourself. Do you come from a large or small family?

My family is relatively large. There are 5 of us: my parents, brother, sister and me.

OK. And do the members of your family live together?

No. My parents live in the same house I grew up in. This house is in a town called Pembroke. At the moment, my sister is living there, too. But she is only there because she is on break from her studies at university. My brother lives and works in Toronto, and I am living in Toronto, too.

Do you have a lot in common with the other members of your family?

Umm, not really, but we are nevertheless very close. We always love getting together and catching up on each other’s news. My parents have a quiet, country lifestyle. It’s very different from the busy city lifestyle of Toronto. My brother enjoys watching sports and camping and hiking in the mountains; he’s very outdoorsy. My sister is a bit of a socialite, so she likes going out with friends and arranging little get-togethers. I’m a bit on the quiet side. At the moment, I mostly just focus on my studies.

Are you currently working?

I am, but only part time. I am a part time university student.

Can you tell me about your studies?

Well, I’m completing an undergraduate Arts degree with a major of criminology. Because

I am a part time student, I only have 9 hours of class a week. I have three-hour lectures every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I am really enjoying the courses. The professors are interesting.

That’s wonderful. And what sort of part time work do you do?

I am waiter in a restaurant on the campus of my university.

I see. Do you enjoy that kind of work?

Honestly, not really. I’m not naturally a very social person, and waiting tables tends to demand this sort of personality. Also, university students do not tend to leave handsome tips.

But, I shouldn’t complain. It’s a job and it does help fund my studies.

Let’s talk about friends. Do you have many friends at your university?

Yes, I have a small handful of friends. But I suppose I would describe our relationship as more study partners than friends. We don’t really socialize outside of course-related topics.

Do you think friendships change as people get older?

Yes, definitely. I think life often makes demands of people and this can pull friends closer or push them away. A good friend of mine recently had a baby. I am very happy for him, but I know that this new development in his life will mean he and I will spend less time together. This is fine, I mean, of course he needs to spend time with his baby, but I think these sorts of life developments can change the dynamics of a friendship.

What sort of person do you easily make friends with?

I like people that have opinions. I enjoy talking with people about different subjects and hearing what they have to say about those subjects. I think I easily make friends with people that are good communicators. I don’t think we need to like all of the same things, but if we do share a few interests, that is obviously a plus. Character wise, I prefer quiet people to loud people.

Thank you. OK, let’s change topics. What do you do in your free time?

I have several hobbies. I enjoy jogging. I try to get a jog in every day. I also have a dog, so I spend quite a bit of time at the park. Um, I enjoy reading and surfing the net. I keep an online blog. It is a diary of my day-to-day life. I enjoy watching movies. I guess those are the main things I do in my free time.

What sort of pastimes are popular among Canadians?

Most Canadians like to play and watch hockey. I would say this is a very popular pastime. Canadians also like the outdoors, so hiking in the mountains, camping and canoeing are all popular hobbies. Um, Canada is a multicultural place, so I feel there are a lot of cross-cultural hobbies. Many Canadians like learning how to cook foods from other countries, for

example. These are probably the most popular Canadian hobbies.

Thank you. Now I’d like to ask you to speak one to two minutes on a topic.

Normally, you would have one minute to plan your answer, but for the sake of this recording we are going to skip this step.

Your cue card reads:

Describe someone who has had an important influence on your life.

You should say:

-Who the person is

-How long you have known him/her

-What qualities this person has

Explain why they have had such an influence on you.

Remember you have one to two minutes to deliver this monologue. I’ll tell you when the time is up. Start speaking now, please.

I am going to talk about my high school music teacher, Mr. McGrady, and how he has influenced my life. I have known Mr. McGrady for about five years. He is a very patient man and an excellent teacher, and I feel he instills music appreciation and understanding in all of the students he teaches. He is also a very dedicated teacher. I remember he would come to school early four days a week to conduct our high school band. In doing this, I think he demonstrated a lot of commitment and leadership, and I believe these qualities rubbed off on the students he taught. I haven’t seen him in a few years, but I do not doubt he is just as much the positive image today as he was when I was his student.

For me personally, Mr. McGrady has influenced the way I see the subject of music. I played saxophone in the high school band, and by watching Mr. McGrady interact with the different instrument groups, I saw first hand how these orchestral sections operate and come together to create music.

Mr. McGrady was also always trying to push students outside of their comfort zones, and this greatly influenced me. For example, he encouraged me to join a singing group that he had organized. I couldn’t sing then and I can’t sing now, but it was encouraging to feel that he believed enough in me to ask me to join.

So, overall, I feel Mr. McGrady, firstly, acted as a wonderful role model. Secondly, he taught me how to look at music differently. And thirdly he pushed me to try new things. These are the three main ways he influenced me, and I’m very thankful I had a teacher like him.

Thank you. You mentioned you hadn’t see Mr. McGrady in a few years. Do you think you will see him again?

I hope so. I know he’s busy teaching his classes these days. I should drop by my old high school and see him and thank him again for the things he has done for me.

How important is it for people to have positive role models during their formative years?

I think it is quite key. Young people are very impressionistic, in my opinion. They are willing to mimic the actions of those around them. Surrounding a young person with positive role models gives these young people something healthy to aspire to be.

Do you think the role models young people look up to today are similar to the role models young people looked up to 25 years ago?

Hmm, that’s an interesting question. I would say that the core values of today’s role models are the same as 25 years ago. I think qualities like integrity, diligence, benevolence and reliability will always be considered positive. I suppose a difference today is that young people are exposed to more people through different media channels, so the pool of potential role models increases. I would say this is a positive thing, so long as parents ensure the role models young people look up to are healthy ones. But to answer your question, yes, I would say the majority of today’s role models are more or less the same as 25 years ago.

What sorts of people make poor role models in your opinion?

People with serious personal problems, I think. Anger problems or people that have become generally disappointed with life. I don’t think they inspire hard work or ambition. Of course, people with substance abuse problems. Role models should be individuals that you can aspire to be. If that person has serious problems, then aspiring to be like them may not be healthy.

Do you think pop icons make good role models?

By pop icons you mean…

…singers, actors…

Well, I think they can be role models. But the fact that they aren’t completely accessible to young people makes them significantly different. Young people can’t call up a pop icon and ask them for advice, for example. But, so long as the star is a good person, I don’t think they are a negative influence on a young person. So, yes, pop icons can make good role models. But young people also need role models they can talk to and learn directly from.

Are you anyone’s role model?

Am I anyone’s role model… Yes. My cousin has a son, named Ethan. He’s 5, and I see him every other week because they live here in Toronto. I think Ethan looks up to me. I guess that’s partly because I am a man in his life that is a little younger than his father. I try my best to be a positive person so that he will aspire to be one, too.

Thank you. That is the end of the speaking test.

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