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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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IELTS study hacks (and other Q&A!)

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This way to band 9…

The essay in this video was written by a practicing IELTS examiner.

This question was seen last year in Moscow:

Some people contend that all young people should attend university after high school, while others maintain that this is not always the best option. Discuss both views and give your opinion. Give reasons for your answer and include examples from your own experience where appropriate.

Some feel that all young people should attend university, while others point out this may not be a suitable path for everyone. I am of the latter view. I believe that career training in other areas may serve the interests of many young people far better than undergraduate studies.

On the one hand, there is convincing support for university education for all. Firstly, a liberal education encourages the broadening of the mind. For example, students of history, art and literature tend to be tolerant and thoughtful and fulfil useful service careers in teaching, journalism, public relations and politics. Encouraging everyone to enrol in university would also push people towards lucrative professional roles, such as those held by doctors and lawyers, positions that also bring great social prestige.

However, despite these benefits, universal tertiary education would be problematic at both the societal and personal levels. It should be noted that the building of houses and offices, the transporting of goods, and the production of furniture and appliances are essential to society and require skilled manual workers and tradespeople. Further, many young men and women naturally excel when working with their hands. Forcing them to study disciplines of abstract thought would clearly be a waste of their time and potential. Thus, encouraging people to choose a path that allows them to invest in their natural strengths is better for both the individual and society as a whole.

Overall, it can be seen that although pursuing a university education has many merits, it may be more of a hindrance than a help to some people. In my own case, being very bad with my hands but quite handy with words, university was the right option for me. As this essay has shown, everyone is different and no one course in life fits all.

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How to get full marks for Task Achievement

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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