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(Video) How developed are your IELTS lexical resources? Try these 10 questions!

Posted on February 22, 2012 by - 35 Comments

(Please kindly provide me with some feedback.  Was this lesson helpful?  What would have made it better?)

Here is the text from the video:

Nowadays, young people admire sports stars though they often do not set a good example.  Do you think this is a positive or negative development?

The admiration young people hold for celebrities is not a new phenomenon.  Throughout/During history, youths have been inspired by people with outstanding athletic ability.  It is argued that this admiration brings with it more positive than negative issues/ramifications.  This will be proven by looking at how sports figures both instill inspiration and teach life lessons to young people.

Firstly, celebrities often display extremely developed skills, which can help to spur young people towards being/a life full of physically active.  For instance, school children are often driven to exercise in an attempt to become/emulate superstars, such as Sachin Tendulkar, Li Na and Kobe Bryant.  As this additional exercise is good for their health, it is difficult to argue that the inspiration celebrities bestow/leave upon young people is entirely a bad thing.  Thus, this shows that the admiration people hold for sports stars has positive implications/reasons.

Although the negative character figures/traits of many sports celebrities are often called into question, it is felt the public mistakes professional athletes make can act as good morality lessons for young people.  A good exhibition/image of this occurred when Canadian runner Ben Johnson dishonourably lost an Olympic gold medal due to steroid use.  This incident showed young people around the world that drug use is a shameful practice.  As this example illustrates/is shown, often the public errors athletes commit can act as good lessons for adolescents.

After looking at the above, it is felt to hold athletes in esteem does not bring with it entirely negative consequences.  It is assumed the historical admiration people will retain/retain for sports stars is not going to change into the foreseeable future.

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(Model essay) IELTS Academic essay in response to a question seen in India and Saudi Arabia in January 2012

Posted on February 21, 2012 by - 7 Comments

Do you feel artists like writers, musicians and painters still have value in modern society? Discuss.

The role artists play in modern society is an often debated topic.  On the one hand, many people see art and culture as critical components to a society’s image and sense of identity.  Others, however, feel that the significance of a society’s arts is overrated in the modern world.  This essay will analyze both sides of this argument.

From one perspective, many people believe strongly in the value that artists bring to a society.  For example, Bob Marley was a musician whose work helped to shape the modern cultural image of Jamaica and bring attention to global problems.  Performers like Marley help their countries establish recognizable cultures upon which valuable industries and worldwide recognition can grow.  It is thus clear why many argue that artists still bring value to modern society.

However, many counter that performers in the modern age contribute little of value to society.  Many pop music artists in Canada play a good example here.  Today, popular music production in Canada follows a very prescribed path.  An artist’s lyrics, image, sound and name are often decided by producers in an effort to maximize sales.  The unfortunate result of this is that it causes a lot of Canadian music to sound the same.  This repetitious quality to Canadian music and other modern arts of the world make it understandable why many feel artists contribute little of value to society.

Following this look, I feel that most performers still produce work that benefits society.  However, regardless of their effect on society, artistic freedom should be extended to all performers.

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(Model essay) IELTS exam blog entry in response to a General exam question as seen in Perth, Australia

Posted on February 19, 2012 by - 1 Comment

Violent films and TV programming are among the most popular forms of entertainment today.  Why do you think these programs are so popular?  Propose possible reasons to explain their large number of viewers.

The popularity of various forms of media are usually very revealing of a society’s collective psyche.  Often audiences consume programming that allows them to experience an existence not available to them in their day-to-day lives, and this is thought to be the main cause for the dramatic popularity of violent art.  This will be proven by looking at how violent media allows people to both explore certain curiosities and release tension.

Firstly, most legal systems around the world greatly reduce the amount of violence people experience in their daily lives.  For example, in countries with developed legal systems, experiencing physically aggressive situations in real life is extremely rare.  The irony is that this low exposure often piques a natural curiosity in violence among people.  Violent media, therefore, is popular because it allows people to vicariously experience a fantasised instance of violence without harming themselves or others.

In addition to this, violent media acts as an outlet for the natural aggression of human beings.  For instance, most would agree that adolescents act more physically aggressive towards each other than any other age group.  This aggression is usually thought to be a retained primitive instinct that predisposes adolescents to a natural degree of physical confrontation.  Thus, a likely argument for the popularity of violent media among adolescents is that it allows them to release this pent up hostility.

After looking at the above, it is clear that there are multiple factors contributing to the widespread consumption of violent media.  The enduring audience for this sort of media makes me feel violent programming will be made available to people for years to come.

 

(Model essay) Sample IELTS response to an Academic exam question seen 4 February 2012 in Wollongong, Australia

Posted on February 15, 2012 by - 8 Comments

Should young children be encouraged to follow a strict set of rules based on cultural tradition or should they be allowed to behave freely?  Discuss both and share your opinion.

The level of freedom children are allotted varies from one culture to another.  Among some, regimenting the behaviour of young children through strict traditional practice is thought to help them develop into skilled members of society.  Others argue the removal of strict household regulations allows young people to develop a free, inquisitive and creative mind.  Both points of view will be analyzed in this essay.

In one camp, raising children using a strict set of rules based on tradition is felt best.  For instance, in Japanese society often young children are taught how to properly conduct themselves in all social situations, including the manner in which they address elders, give and receive gifts and ask for favours.  As a result, Japanese society and the Japanese people are world renowned for their protocol, courtesy, attention to detail and charm.  As these are very positive qualities, it is clear that many benefits arise from the employment of a rigid parenting style.

On the other hand, however, many feel providing young people with freedom fuels their appetite for creativity.  American society, for example, is often mocked for its somewhat lax parenting structure.  Yet despite this, the United States was and continues to be home to the creation of some of the world’s most revolutionary products.  Thus, it is clear that freer parenting models pose numerous benefits.

After looking at both sides of this debate, I feel that a balance between protocol and free parenting structures should be sought after by guardians in the twenty-first century.  I expect this recipe to become more prevalent in the years to come.

 

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The essay in this video was written by IELTS Examiner C. This question was seen recently in Sydney:

These days many people prefer to rent rather than buy their own house. Why is this this so? Discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of renting or buying, and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and examples from your personal experience where appropriate.

Here is the essay as it appears in the video:

In most major cities in the west, people are opting to rent a home instead of buy. This is mostly because house prices have increased dramatically while personal income has not, a trend that means mortgage repayments now account for a much larger share of income than in the past. Renters have more disposable income every week than buyers and this is a big attraction. However, in my opinion, this is a false economy and in the long run I believe that the advantages of buying a property greatly outweigh the short-term savings to be made by renting.

While it is certainly cheaper week-by-week to rent than pay a mortgage, the renter misses out on the large capital gains to be made when buying a home. When I took out my own mortgage on my two-bedroom apartment, my repayments on a $400,000 loan were about $600 a week, compared with $500 for rental value on a similar property. However, over the past three years my apartment has appreciated by more than $250,000, greatly outweighing the $15,000 I would have saved by renting. In addition to this, my mortgage payments secured an acquisition of property that will remain valuable for my family into the future. Financial growth of this sort is not possible through renting.

Renters do not only lose out on capital gains, they also lose in terms of security and peace of mind. The roof over their heads once their lease is over is always at the mercy of the landlord, who might at any time decide to sell the property. The landlord can also put up the rent when they feel the market warrants it. Further, unless the renter invests their savings judiciously, the money they save will be frittered on day-to-day life, leaving them very much poorer than the buyer once retirement looms.

In conclusion, while a first mortgage will cost more each week than renting, the advantages of buying, including capital appreciation and housing security, greatly outweigh the short-term savings to be made by renting.

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Thanks to ‘Examiner C’ for this model. Here is the essay as it appears in the video:

Many people think that public celebrations (like national holidays, festivals, etc.) are a waste of money and that the government should spend these funds in a better way.

Do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and examples from personal experience where appropriate.

National holidays cost countries and their governments a lot of money. Wages need to be paid to employees despite their absence from work, and a national loss in productivity is experienced. For these reasons, some people suggest governments do away with holidays and instead spend the money on worthy projects. While this might seem at first to be a practical suggestion, I disagree strongly for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is axiomatic that a country’s production of goods declines when workers are not working; however, this is a tiny part of a much larger economic picture. Productivity is a function not only of hours worked but also of energy, drive, and morale. Thus, national holidays, which give workers a chance to relax and to celebrate aspects of their country and their lives, make for a happier and more productive workforce. In Australia, for example, the long weekend is a tradition that helps to unify society by making all feel rewarded and valued in a common enterprise and identity. It is for these reasons that labelling public celebrations ‘a waste of money’ cannot be supported.

Further, having the financial means to start new national projects is a good thing, but the question of apportioning funds in a manner that an entire society agrees is ‘a better way’ is simply unrealistic. A further consideration is the ramifications of pressure put on workers to work 52 straight weeks a year, a policy that could lead to stress-related illnesses and serious social problems. As this shows, the cancelling of public holidays and redirection of funds is an implausible suggestion.

In conclusion, I must affirm that while it is tempting to realise the short-term increase in productivity and savings that would result from abolishing public holidays, the overall cost greatly outweighs the gains.

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Here is the essay as it appears in the video:

Many people believe that a large proportion of a country’s health budget should be diverted from treatment to spending on health education and preventative measures. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give examples from personal experience where appropriate.

Modern medicine has evolved along two lines: prevention and cure. Many believe that too much emphasis is placed on the latter and that the balance of national health spending should shift to prevention. I am inclined to agree; however, my support is with the stipulation that an imbalance in the other direction should be avoided.

Many modern diseases that require pharmaceutical or surgical intervention, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, are induced by poor lifestyle choices. There is an abundance of evidence that these conditions are brought on by such factors as smoking, excessive dietary fat and sugar, and a lack of physical exercise. I have myself lost several family members to cancers and heart disease caused by smoking. Because the cost of treating these diseases is very high, and the prognosis uncertain, the need for preventative intervention is clear.

Fulfilling this need could be exercised in a number of ways. For one, the government could provide more health and fitness centres, and mount a public awareness campaign to encourage people to use them. In addition to this, taxes could be placed on excessive salt or sugar in processed foods, and special taxes could be added to tobacco products to discourage their use. I believe that measures such as these will in the long term dramatically reduce the incidence of certain deadly diseases.

However, it should be remembered that not all examples of modern disease are preventable or predictable, and it is critical to maintain research into cures for all diseases. Thus, in diverting health spending from treatment to preventative measures, countries should encourage a balanced approach to help extend lifespans and maximise quality of life. Prevention may be better than cure, but it can never wholly replace it.

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