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IELTS Speaking contest results – 5 speakers assessed!

Posted on August 26, 2013 by - 1 Comment

Last week, five individuals posted their speaking as part of an IELTS Speaking contest.  They spoke in response to this cue card seen in Jordan:

Describe a person you know who made a good decision.

Who is this person?

What was their decision and why do you feel it was positive?

What resulted from their decision?

I assess their performance in this video:

IELTS essay contest results – 18 essays assessed!

Posted on August 25, 2013 by - 1 Comment

Thank you to those of your that got involved in our essay writing contest last week.  Last week, 18 students wrote essays in response to this essay question:

Tourism is an excellent tool through which a country can develop. However, certain side effects of tourism can be harmful. How can countries curb the damaging effects of a growing tourism industry?

In this video, I comment on each of the essay submissions:

Here are the essay submissions themselves:

Vik (Band 7)

It is well known that tourism industry brings tremendous benefits to a country’s development. In fact, for many citizens of some exotic realms it may be one of the major sources of income. Unfortunately, despite of the obvious positive aspects, there some drawbacks present as well. It is agreed that growing tourism sector poses a threat to a region’s natural and cultural resources, as well as begets increased crime rates. To tackle these issues, the positive solutions of government issuing severe fines for littering and introducing more police patrol to the streets will be analyzed for viability in this essay.

For one, to address the problem of travelers damaging the flora and fauna of the county they visit, it’s administration could have imposed strict penalties for polluting resources such water supply, beaches, coral reefs, heritage sites and others. The effect of this can be seen in Stockholm, for example, where acknowledgment that city can fire you $1500 for throwing a garbage have impounded people with penchant for littering significantly. Thus it can be clearly seen from this example that imposition of such fines may help restrain tourists from tossing their trash wherever they please.

Further, additional security forces could be brought to popular crowded sights visited by many vacationers to crack down on criminal activity increase. For instance, during peak times of Olympic games in London, 2012, the number of police on duty had been increased fivefold. This, and draconian powers granted to law enforcement, boosted security in capital and helped to make the Games safe and secure for both visitors of metropolis and it’s townsmen. As this example shows, the conventional wisdom concerning the relationship between police numbers and crime has been proven true. Therefore authority should be encouraged to allocate more police resources to the places visited by sightseers.

After looking at potential resolutions to the complications associated with growing tourism industry, it is felt that establishing harsh punishment for damages caused to the nature and bringing more police to the places of interest can provide plausible remedies. It is thus hoped that the solutions

 

pinkroses (Band 6)

The tourism industry has a huge influence on the economy of many countries. It is important to protect this industry and ensure any negative effects caused within this field can be resolved. This essay will discuss the problems many countries face due to tourism and suggest idea’s as to how these can be rectified.

In certain tourist destinations a rowdy crowd can spoil the atmosphere for many other holidaymakers as well as the local people. For instance, a popular holiday destination in Europe is Spain; Many young people go to Spain for holidays, stag/hen parties and weekend getaways. The youths visiting Spain have been stereotyped as ‘drunk all day long’ and ‘too loud’. This has an impact upon other holiday makers who have spent their money to go to a place where they can relax but instead have their vacation ruined by other fellow holiday maker.

In order to ensure that people are not put off coming to Spain or other countries which face similar problems, the government need to learn from countries in which this problem is non existent and put rules and regulations into action. For example, in the USA, it is strictly prohibited for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. Furthermore, the majority of people need to provide a valid proof of identification in order to buy alcohol. In certain European countries it is too easy for young people to purchase alcohol due to the lower age limit and lack of identity checking. If stricter rules were enforced then this could certainly make a difference to the economy.

To conclude, to protect the tourism industry in many countries from declining it is important for the government to act and enforce stricter rules to ensure that all holiday makers enjoy themselves and do not cause problems for each other. Enforcing stricter rules around identification and higher age limit for purchasing alcohol will contribute to ensuring that everyone can have a good time whilst visiting the country without any disturbances from others, which in turn will mean that people are more likely to return or recommend the holiday destination to others.

 

itssujan (Band 6)

In today’s world, tourism is one of the major sources of revenue for many countries.Even though the travel industry can bring many benefits economically and culturally, it is believed that there are certain side effects of tourism, which can be harmful. Global nations need to address this negativity by bringing in newer laws.Couple of possible solutions will be analysed below.

Firstly, pollution in various forms such as air and noise is one of the most harmful effects of tourism. Governments need to bring in ways to reduce the number of vehicles travelling from and to these places. For instance, environmental friendly means of transport such as bicycles should be promoted and group travels must be mandated instead of the normal transportation modes. By following this, the count of tourist vehicles would be reduced tremendously. Thus, this makes it clear that this step would minimize one of the negative impacts of the growing travel industry.

Secondly, due to the difference in cultures of people visiting a place, there might issues with the local population. For example, in India it is very uncommon for a person to drink alcohol in public or wear extremely small clothes when they are out. Nations should start a process in which, the first time visitors are educated about local cultures and are encouraged to respect them, to avoid any kind of violence or harassment. Therefore, taking this route, countries can address another bad effect of tourism.

In summary, steps such as controlling environmental and cultural impacts should be taken to address the problems which arise due to the growth in travel sector. Thus, it is recommended that it is high time for countries to give importance to the negative aspects of travel sector as much as the positives if tourism has to become an ever evolving economic growth tool.

 

Annabelle G (Band 6)

Traditionally, it is known that tourism can help the growth of a country’s economy and can contribute to the development of the local areas. However, it has been seen that tourism can have a very negative side effects on a country and is some cases will result in more cons than pros. It is argued that the main causes of this are visitor’s unsocial behaviour which affect the quality of life of the local community and over development of rural areas destroy a region’s natural resources and its community. To tackle these issues, law enforcement on alcohol limitations and council’s restriction on developments in rural areas related solutions will be analysed for viability.

Firstly, it is felt that if governments put higher limitations on problems surrounding alcohol it will result in less unsocial behaviour from travellers.

An instance illustration this action is, in some countries, such as New Zealand and Australia, the government is harshly restricting alcohol use. All bars and clubs are to be closed around midnight and age limitation is restricted to 18. 18 to 25 years old always have to show an ID and bars that have been found to serve alcohol to underage people are fined very heavily. This law enforcement helps in preventing problems such as noise, crime and drug issues. Without steps such as this it is easy to see how visitor’s behaviour under the effect of alcohol can cause negative impact on the local community. Thus, the effectiveness of this suggested solution can be seen.

However, to address the issue of rural areas development is it suggested that more local councils around the world should restrict or limit into a certain extant the amount of development allowed in rural areas. An idea that supports this is, in England many councils preserve natural resources of regions and refuse to give building permission in certain country sides areas. Their goal is that every area in the country and especially rural areas must have 40% natural land consisted of farms, parks and untouched land. By limiting companies from building enormous amounts of holiday sites, hotels and roads, the natural land, forests, beaches and heritage sites can be preserved. As this shows, preserving a percentage of rural areas against development of tourism can help natives and local community to prevent damage to the local environment.

It is felt that restriction on alcohol and building developments could do a lot to minimize the negative effects tourism has. It is hoped these strategies are put into place everywhere to help curb the damaging effect of a growing tourism industry.

 

nathan83 (Band 6)

It is true that tourism can bring both positive and negative impacts. While many countries benefit from the growing tourism industry, the accompanying damaging effects of tourism should not be neglected. This essay will present the harmful effects of tourism and give possible ways to reduce it.

In my opinion, tourism industry could bring a lot of economic benefits but poses greater threats to the socio-cultural and environmental aspect of a country. Firstly, tourism could lead to crowding and congestion along with alcohol and drug problems. Secondly, interaction between visitors and local people could erode traditional customs and cultural heritage. Finally, tourism could threaten the local natural environment by waste pollution and tourists’ activities.

On the other hand, it is necessary to combat the negative impacts of tourism. It is believed that the most important solution is for the government to ensure that tourism will become sustainable through careful management and planning. Another good solution is to raise awareness of visitors and local people about these negative effects because it is through understanding that people will be motivated to change behavior and cooperate in the preservation and conservation of natural beauty of tourist spots. It is also helpful to reduce the number of tourists visiting certain areas to reduce the amount of pollution and disruption people bring. Lastly, local management could train more staff who can instruct and guide guests into the right places especially in protected areas.

In conclusion, tourism certainly brings negative effects to the host country and the environment but careful management is important so that these potential negative effects would not outweigh the economic benefits.

 

Samat (Band 6)

A successful tourism industry has always affected a country’s economy positively. Besides its benefits, it has got some detrimental effects. One of those negative consequences is the problem with trash. In order to overcome it, governments need to introduce fees for tourists as well as seek out volunteers who will help clean the environments.

One effective way of tackling the problem is demanding money from tourists. For example, in some Japanese tourist attractions, if people want to enter the territory, they will have to pay a reasonable and affordable amount of money for it. Since there are many tourists, raising money this way is not difficult. After having received the money, the Japanese government begins to set up infrastructure, such as litter-bins. Thus, fewer people will be leaving their garbage on the ground. The adequate use of money, therefore, can considerably reduce the amount of trash being left.

Another possible solution would be assembling volunteers who are willing to work as scavengers. For instance, in Japan, tens of thousands of people have gathered together in the Mount Fuji to clean up the place. As a result, tens of tons of trash have been collected. What is great about this way of solving the problem is that it does not require money. In addition, having heard of this act, tourists and other people will be more appreciative of the importance of cleanliness than they used to. That is why governments should try to find as many volunteers as possible in order to cope with the garbage issue.

To conclude, establishing fees and gathering volunteers are two perfect ways of adressing the problem with trash. If governments consider the aforementioned suggestions, the amount of garbage being left in tourist attractions will decrease significantly.

 

Alessandro (Band 6)

The tourism industry in many countries around Asia is one, if not the most important, source of profit to their development. Being nature and its amazing sites the attractive to visitors, they have to be preserved in order to protect not only fauna and flora, but also the tourism. The Governments around the world must create programs to incentive preservation through tourists and locals. This will be shown that distribution of garbage bins and information signs in various languages can help to reduce de destruction of sites.

Firstly, it is essential for high visited places to have where to dispose garbage. To illustrate this, the local public city council in Sao Paulo city decided to install new and resistant garbage bins around Paulista Avenue. Considered the city icon, this avenue is cleaner than before when visitors had difficult to find where to dispose garbage. Thus, the connection between garbage containers and the conservation of sights where they are located is clear.

In addition, making tourists and locals aware of how to contribute to the preservation of visited places is essential. Taking Sweden as a example, it is possible to find information signs in 6 languages at famous museums. Besides guiding information, the signs also instruct visitors on what is forbidden inside the buildings in order to conserve them. It is clear that information signs in various languages contribute to reduce damages to visited places.

After analyzing how local Governments can promote tourism conservation through infrastructure and information, it is shown the importance of these sort of incentives to the tourism industry. It is hoped that nations around the world adopt these basic initiatives.

krucznik (Band 6)

Today, many countries use their touristic attributes as a main and easy source of profit and development. This can be seen among most countries of Southeast Asia and South Europe. It is believed that despite positive side, there are also negative effects of tourism such as pollution and noise. This essay will discuss the problems many countries face due to growing tourism industry and how these can be curb by setting up appropriate law and noise zones.

Firstly, one of the most common and easiest way of coping with pollution is establishment of appropriate law in order to maintain touristic places clean. For example, authorities of Boracay Island in Philippines banned smoking of cigarettes on a beach and person who break this rule may face high financial penalty. For this reason, beach stay clean and there is no danger for a wildlife. Thus, the effectiveness of this suggested solution can be seen.

In addition to this, authorities of touristic places can create a noise zones in a cities. For instance, famous La rambla street in central Barcelona is a place where tourists and locals can gather and spend their free time enjoying parties and long conversations.

This makes it clear that everyone knows intention of this street and therefore most people would not choice this place to live in. As this shows, creation of a noise zones can be very effective way to create balance between growing tourism and local people’s life.

In conclusion, creation of proper law and noise zones can do a lot to overcome problems of growing tourism industry. It is thus hopped that authorities will do their best to diminish harmful effect of tourism.

 

aijazbasheer (Band 5.5)

Tourism is wide spreading industry now days. Revolution in communication and traveling gave a boost to tourism. Albeit of its positive aspects a large fraction of society is holding the notion that, tourism is undermining the cultural values and damaging the historic heritage of traveled destinations. This is responsibility of governments and as well as society to counteract the negative impacts of tourism.

Firstly, frequent visits by tourist can alter the historic ambiance of toured places. To preserve the historic sites into there original shape is a difficult task. There must be legislation at sate level which can restrain those activities which are demolishing the frequented areas. For instance in Venus which is a lucrative destination for tourists, dwellers obliged by law to take prior permission from local authorities to carry out any construction and amendment in their houses. In this way they are successfully preserving their historic legacy.

Secondly, visitors bring their own culture with them and with the passage of time this phenomenon can undermine the specific cultural aura of that area.Communities of toured areas can play a vital role in preserving their national heritage. For example, Mori tribes of New Zeland arrange annul festivals for promotion of their culture. These events not only provide chances for reviving local customs but also instill a sense of commitment to their national roots.

In order to preserve our culture and heritage from travelers it is necessary for governments and local societies to take plausible measures and if they fail to do so, destruction and damage of tourism sites are obvious pitfalls of flourishing tourism industry.

 

Mohammad (Band 5.5)

Today one of the relatively hot debate topics in many countries is flourishing tourism industry.It is commonly seen that tourism industry is an essential factor in developing many countries in terms of providing financial opportunities.However,its drawbacks ,such as increasing crime rate and influencing societies traditions,can negatively affect destination countries.

Firstly,as a result of increasing number of visitors from different countries,the crime rate in host societies is increasing.This problem has concerned governments of visiting countries.It seems that this problem should be handled by taking efficient security measures such as installing video surveillance cameras ,increasing number of police officers,and controlling the criminal background of tourists.In addition citizens should be taught how to do to increase their safeness.

Secondly,another disadvantage of developing tourism industru is that old traditions and customs of visiting countries can be negatively affected by introducing new cultures by visitors.These new habits and technologies can encourage citizens,specially young individuals,to ignore their traditions,and gravitate towards new cultures.This issue can be addressed by training people ,specially students,through educational systems to be more familiar with their traditions and customs.Moreover,media can enhance public awareness about their cultures and encourage them to preserve their precious old crafts and customs.

In summary,tourism industry can help governments to promote their countries,but they should consider its drawbacks such as increasing crime rate and endangering old traditions.It seems that these problems can be managed by cooperating goverments and citizens by taking effective security strategies and educating citizens to value their customs.

 

Manimala (Band 5)

Historically,it has been in man’s nature to explore and visit distant places.In recent times, this has come up as a fast developing industry called tourism.Although nations are economically benefited by such influx of foreign visitors, it is believed that it also has detrimental effect on traditionally based societies.The role of media and that of the natives in conserving the culture of a country will be seen for their viability.

Firstly, the government can highlight the importance of a tourist spot in its country by way of advertisement in television and newspapers. For example,the Indian government promotes tourism by the slogan Incredible India which carries with it both the pictorial and factual description of the place of interest in all leading dailies and important television channels.This enables one to gain essential knowledge of the place and to respect its importance. Thus, it is clearly seen how media can play a vital role in preventing vandalism and conserving a historically important place.

In addition, the locals have the moral responsibility in continuing with the traditional importance of a place. For example, If one is to enter the premises of a sikh temple ,it is only when their traditional norms are adhered.They are helped in this by the personnels in the locality.By taking in the local flavor one is bound to enjoy the visit much more than otherwise.Therefore, the participation of natives in making tourism an experience of a lifetime cannot be disputed.

In conclusion, in order to promote tourism without any negative impact on a country, advertisement and citizens have major part to play.It is believed that with all technological developments and greater awareness on a country’s heritage ,tourism will come as a boon and not a bane to any country.

 

simona (Band 5)

It is common today , that tourist industry is flourishing at a tremendous rate owing to the economical stability experienced by most of the people the world over . Although tourism brings with it several privileges , the harmful effects to state s natural habitat and threat of invasion of foreign cultures cannot be denied . To tackle these issues , well maintained tourist spots and educating local people to serve as tourist guide related solutions will be analyzed for viability .

Firstly , it is felt that employing caretakers could helps to significantly minimize the issue of damage caused by visitors to tourist attraction . Take safari park of Malaysia , for instance . if there had been no restriction and defined rules applicable to the visitors of this spot , the park might have lost the original shape and value . Some people often find it hard to believe that this valuable tourist destination has managed to maintain its charm for last 40 years . Thus , the effectiveness of the suggested solution can be seen .

However, to address the issue of adverse effects of globalization brought about by tourists , it is suggested that local people should be adequately educated and trained to flourish their own culture to visitors instead of the letting the outsiders to spread foreign trends. For example , people visiting China are often supposed to wear the traditional dress and eat according to the customs there . As can be expected , this has resulted in survival of countries cultural values for which china is renowned world wide . Thus, this suggestion is plausible.

As can be seen the proposed solutions of maintaining tourist points and spread of traditional norms to visitors by educated residents will be very effective . it is thus hoped these strategies are put into place everywhere to stimulate efforts of attaining safe tourist globally .

 

atefeh (Band 5)

Today,one of the relatively fast-growing industries in the world is tourism.It is commonly seen that tourists bring some issues with themeselves fot their destination countries.It is believed that goverments can address these issues through enforcing specific rules and providing more facilities and information for their citizens and visitors in the period when there are many tourists in their countries.

For one,It is believed that authorities should pass laws to reduce the drawbacks of tourism industry and enforce those rules.For example,Shiraz is a historical city in Iran which receive many visitors each year.Most of those visitors were young individuals who wanted to stay awake late and drink and they used to make noise at night on weekdays .Local goverment enforce this rule that all clubs and amusement providers should be closed at 11 on weekdays .This rule helped many families to enjoy their rest at summers’ nights.Thus it is clear that new regulation can help to overcome some of the difficulties with tourism industry.

Secondly,goverments should be prepared to service the holiday takers with special facilities for them in order to preserve the rights of their citizens.For example,they can increase the number of buses and trains in their pulic transport systems or extent their working hours.Moreover,authorities should educate and inform their citizens to take percaution more tham before in the tourism seasons.In addition,goverments should ask the tourism companies to increase the awareness of the visitors about the traditions and specific rules in their destination.Thus,it can be understood that some issues can be tackled by being prepared in advance.

In summary,It is agreed that by following rules and providing knowlege and facilities tourism’s disadvantages can be solved in the near future.It is recommended that officials in different countries cooperate to find effective solutions for the problematic effects of tourism industry on countries.

 

deepak (Band 5)

Countries all over the world promoting tourism as it is a huge source of income. However, Tourism may leads to destroy local culture as tourist also comes up with their native culture. In this essay, I will describe how proper measures can be taken by authorities to control these damaging effects.

Firstly, there should be proper guide book in various languages to teach tourists about the local culture and how to access various destinations. As sometimes tourists can accidentally cause damage to the society. For example, sports like base jumping is banned in countries like Singapore. However, Switzerland does not have any restriction based to base jumping. This can be clearly seen from my example that tourist should knows about the rules and regulations of a nation.

Secondly, authorities should provide garbage bin to their popular or heritage buildings. Otherwise, tourists can throw garbage to any place thereby creating litter pollution. For Example, In India popular place like India Gate has number of garbage bin to control litter. As this helps to make our prestigious monuments to remain clean.

Finally, politicians and local police should need to control the usage of drugs and alcohol in their country. As this can create violation among local and tourists. For instance, In cities like Delhi no one can buy alcohol contained drinks under 18 years old. This provides a safe environment as sometimes youth can be involved in fighting.

In conclusion, no doubt tourism helps every nation for their growth of income. But with certain restrictions and guiding tourist about local culture we can effectively reduced the damaging effects by a tourist to our nation. In the end, creating more tourism and safe environment

 

delvydavis (Band 4)

In this modern day, exploring the world aka tourism is growing. Many countries have adopted tourism similar to one of their major industries, through which they earn good revenue. However, there are harmful side-effects too.

To start with, one of the major problems facing by tourism industry is accumulating garbage. Polluting the precious resources by simply throwing the waste away puts the , water, beaches, wildlife, heritage sites and nature in danger. Similarly another issue is the increased crime rate; some tourists have criminal background and some local people are criminals such as burglary, rape & drugs. They damage the harmony of fellow tourists and local public. In addition to that, there is a significant danger to the local culture. More tourists from different cultures mingling with local culture, even sometimes tourists do offensive stuff unknowingly to the local culture. For instance, a woman wearing a knee frock in Saudi Arabia is offensive.

Undoubtedly, there are many solutions to this. The local authorities can restrict these crimes by applying more police on tourist places will reduce the crime rate against the tourists. To avoid littering, the tourism department should impose very high penalty such as Dubai did in their country – 1000Dirhams as a penalty for littering. Additionally, warning multi-language sign boards placed everywhere in the tourist spot will convey the message. Similarly, appointing caretakers will suffice. Apart from that, the government can enforce new laws to preserve the wildlife and nature which should obviously be conveyed to the guests

To summarize, even though the government and local people will be benefited from the tourism, there are some troubles too. By going through the above mentioned recommendations we can avoid these to a certain limit.

 

CorinaS (Band 4)

Tourism is one of the main ways through which a country can be known and well appreciated. It is clear that tourism can contribute by far to the country’s economy. However, a bad management of the touristic program or an undeveloped infrastructure could do more damage that good. Every country should have a special department in charge with the touristic management. Those specialists have to develop a perfect program for making the tourism effective and successful.

First of all they need to highlight all the places with interest to the tourist people. Either is something extraordinary like art museums, palaces or beautiful gardens, sustained by the historical heritage of the country, or something untouched by people, natural reservations, wild areas for the most adventurous of the tourists. In all the cases, first thing to provide is the easy access to those areas. People need a good and secure way to access all this, as well as a proper accommodation and good resources. For example, you can’t develop worldwide programs and packages without having an airport, a good motorway or train network available.

In addition, there is absolutely necessary to advertise those programs, to let people know that that country has great and unique areas to show. Without a doubt, nowadays the internet is the main way of doing that. A proper advertisement requires an accessible and updated web page, which has to include all the information regarding the area of interest, the objectives, the easy access to them and of course, not last, the special programs and offers which cannot miss.

To sum up, if all these parts are well developed and properly managed, the tourism will not have damaging effects, on the contrary, will make the targeted places of interest worldwide known and will participate to the development of that country.

 

ngvantan91 (Band 4)

As we move into the twenty-first century, each country has many different of areas which desires to develop itself and tourism is a considerable field they do. Indeed, the extension of tourism is not only rapid own country’s profit, but also creates more job opportunities in unemployment issue, especially at developing countries. While there are a variety of benefits of tourism, there are also certain drawbacks.

Perhaps, the greatest bonus of touring industry is the increasing of total revenue annual. Comparing to others field includes agriculture, plenty of industries and so forth, tourism is almost dominant interest. Another benefit of developing tourism is to solve jobless matter which the challenge restrains the economy’ growth.

Not everything, however, about effects of tourism is positive. One major problem is that instead of encouraging the diversity of culture, it can ruin nation’s ethnic culture constantly. Since tourists come from everywhere, as a result, natives are easy to absorb their culture whether bad or not. In addition, negative potentials are more attractive than positive ones. It really becomes a dangerous nuclear.There is no doubt that prevention of unhealthy lifestyles enter to society by strict authorities’ inspection is prioritized the most. Moreover, not only adults, but also children should be encouraged and enlightened their awareness of bad sectors, also the preservation of beautiful culture.

As what has discussed above, one can reach a statement that the role of tourism is irreplaceable in developing economy’s consolidation. Although the advantage of tourism industry are huge, negative impacts would make our efforts turn to zero if without timely intervention of authorities.

 

showeb (Band 4)

Tourism is a vital element for a country’s economy. It can contribute an important role to develop the country. It is argued that some of its side effect is very harmful. We shall be looking forward about this issue prior get the solution of the damaging effect.

Firstly, The most harmful side effect can be caused by the tourism is environmental pollution. The more tourist come the more environment will become polluted.For example,Kolkata,One of the popular tourist spot in India is now become a very dirty city. By this we can observe how a popular tourist spot become a polluted place of a country.

However ,by taking necessary step this problem can be solved. We can arrange varieties of tools to prevent it polluted. For example , we can keep adequate dustbin in each place where there is a possibility of littering. Tourist spot should have a twenty four hour monitoring system to take necessary action against those tourist who make the spot dirty.Thus we can keep the environment clean. So, by arranging different kind of tools we can prevent the side effect of the tourism

To summarize, By taking appropriate action we can minimize the harmful effects of the tourism and thus can make it as an significant instrument for the country’s economy .So it is hoped,no more tourist spot will become dead by its damaging effect.

Shina scores an overall band of 8.5! You need to hear this!

Posted on August 24, 2013 by - Comments are off

I love opening my email box and seeing messages like this:

Hi Ryan,
 
I wanted to share some excellent news with you. I finally cracked the writing test in IELTS and got 8.5.
 
My marks in the other sections are: Reading- 8.5; Listening 9.0; Speaking: 8.0. and the aggregate is 8.5
 
I want to thank you for your superb guidance all through. 
 
Thanks a ton!

Shina was kind enough to participate in an IELTS Cast interview.  Our conversation revealed some surprisingly unorthodox things about her preparation and testing strategies.  For example, Shina skimmed and scanned through her reading texts (underlining key vocab along the way) before even looking at the questions.

Shina also shared the resources she used to score so well in the different sections of the exam.  Aside from our online work together, she engaged the British Council’s self-study courses at ieltspractice.com and roadtoielts.com, and she studied from Louise Hashemi and Barbara Thomas’s IELTS Trainer book.

Listen to our entire interview by clicking here.  For other interviews, visit ieltscast.com or search ‘IELTS Cast’ in the iTunes store.  Don’t forget to come and participate at ieltsnetwork.com, which is almost 100 users strong.

Two IELTS contests this week! Come and post your speaking and/or writing

Posted on August 16, 2013 by - Comments are off

ieltsnetwork

I’m very excited to announce the launch of The IELTS Network!  The IELTS Network is a hub for all people with interest in the IELTS exam.  It is a place where IELTS test takers and instructors can meet each other, share past exam questions and post their speaking/writing for others to critique (among many other things).  I’m very excited about this new forum for us to interact in and I hope to see you there.

As part of the launch of The IELTS Network, I’m holding two contests and encouraging students to get involved.  The first is a speaking contest (students post MP3s to IELTSNetwork.com).  The second is a writing contest (students post their responses as replies to my initial post).  For details about the new site and these contests, please watch the following:

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Your IELTS Speaking will improve by the end of this video!

Listen to the conversation without the pauses: http://ieltsielts.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/IELTS-Speaking-Mock-Test-2-Version-1.mp3

Here is a transcript of the IELTS Speaking demonstration seen in this video:

What is your full name ?

Good morning. I’m Ryan Higgins.

What should I call you?

Please call me Ryan.

Thank you. What country are you from?

I’m from Canada.

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. Are you working or are you a student?

I am a student.

OK. Can you tell me about your studies?

Sure. I am currently a fourth year student at the University of Toronto. I’m completing a Bachelor of Science and majoring in chemistry. I thought about doing a minor in English Literature to branch out my education a bit, but I decided against this when I discovered how heavy my chemistry workload would be.

Are you enjoying your studies?

Yes, very much so. This semester, I spend three days of every week studying in a lab, which I find interesting. My professors are terrific and very passionate about both chemistry and teaching. So, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning from them. In fact, I’ve enjoyed them so much that after graduating I am going to pursue a Master’s degree.

Oh, that’s wonderful. And what do you plan to do with these qualifications?

Well, that’s a very good question. I’m sort of feeling it out as a go along. At times I think about perhaps becoming an academic and teaching at a university. I think the theatrics of instructing students in a university lecture hall would be exciting. But other times I think I would like to apply my skills to a research company, develop new chemical ways of doing things. That could also be interesting.

So, to answer your question, my plan is currently a work in progress.

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

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Thank you. Do you have any hobbies or interests?

Yes, I do. I like to read a lot. I mean, read books unrelated to my studies. For example, I like reading about history. I’m currently reading a book on 20th Century American history that is quite good.

But aside from reading, I like to play ultimate Frisbee, which is a sport that is quite popular on campus. It involves a lot of running, so it is good exercise in addition to being fun.

Um, I’m keeping up with this TV show called Breaking Bad. My friends and I usually get together every week to watch the new episode.

So, I suppose those three things are what make up almost all of my free time.

Do people usually continue their hobbies when they get older?

I imagine many people do, although these hobbies may evolve. For example, people may continue the hobby of reading, but they may read about different things. I know I don’t read about the same things I did 5 years ago. I also think people experiment less as they get older. People find things they like to do and then continue to do them. So, to answer your question, yes, people continue their hobbies.

Thank you. Can you tell me a little bit about your life at university?

Well, I live on campus. I like living on campus. It is convenient for me to get to class. I also have a meal plan, which means I do not have to worry about preparing dishes for myself. I have several friends in my program, so we often form study groups to review what we learned in our lectures. We also use the university gym and library a lot. So, my university life is somewhat of a microcosm. Everything we need is here.

Is there anything you would change about your life at university?

Actually, very little. I suppose the residences do get a little chilly in the winters. Sometimes it can be a drag marching to class in wet snow. But, hmm, honestly, there are very few things I would change.

Do you ever interact with students studying in other programs?

Again, not really. Chemistry students at U of T often keep to themselves. We might on occasion meet other science majors. But, no, we sort of share a small existence among each other.

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 a special day in your life.

-What happened on this day?

-What events made this day special?

-What impact has this day had on your life?

Please share any details you feel help describe this day.

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’m going to talk about my first day as a university student. My parents drove me from our home in Ottawa, so the journey took about 5 hours. I remember feeling a bit anxious because I didn’t know what to expect. It was also my first time living away from home, so this added to my nervousness.

Anyway, the day was special because it very quickly made me feel welcome in a new community. As you know, the first week of university is sort of a period of orientation, so it is a time when all of the second year students make all of the new first year students engage in crazy activities that help them make friends and feel welcome and get to know the culture of the university.

So when my parents and I drove onto the campus, we saw second year students wearing bizarre costumes and dancing in strange ways. I’m not quite sure how to describe it. They were singing strange songs and encouraging the first year students to get involved. We first year students were grouped into teams and given team T-shirts and instructed to do crazy things, like throw jelly at each other or make up a crazy dance on the spot.

The impact this day had on my life is significant. As I mentioned, I feel this day introduced me to an institution and to people I will be attached to for the rest of my life. It also showed me that taking people out of their comfort zone can help them quickly develop friendships with others.

So, overall, this day is a moment in my life I will always reflect upon fondly.

Thank you. Do you think it is important for universities to arrange this week of orientation?

Yes, definitely. As I mentioned, I think it helps people to quickly develop friends. Friends can really ease a person’s transition into university life. Because the bizarre games you play during orientation week happen on different parts of the campus, you rapidly get to know the layout of the university and where the different buildings are. So yes, I think it is very important for universities to dedicate a week to orienting students.

Thank you. Now I’d like to ask you a few more questions about moments in life. What do you think are the most important decisions a person makes in their life?

Hmm, that’s a deep question. Let me think for a second. Well, choosing a person to marry is of course a very big decision. You need to choose someone that shares the same values. Hmm, I suppose choosing a career is also important. I think it is vital that a person is passionate about the work they do. Spending your life doing a job you don’t really like would be depressing.

I suppose those would be the two most major decisions a person typically makes.

Do you think making these decisions is easier today than 25 years ago?

Umm…No, I don’t think so. I suppose people are more social today and there are more avenues for being social, so meeting potential marriage partners is easier. But I think that this actually makes it harder for people to settle down and get married. 25 years ago, people didn’t have so many options. Choosing a partner was easier.

And as far as a career is concerned, I also think there are way more options today than there were 25 years ago. So this can make the decision more difficult.

How about between cultures? Do you think making these decisions in one culture would be easier than in another?

Umm…let me see. Yes, I suppose so. Considering that in some cultures people aren’t able to make these decisions for themselves. In some cultures, a person’s parents decide whom they will marry and what they will do for work. I guess this may be easier, but I’m not sure easier is always better.

You mentioned that there are more avenues today for communication between people. Do you think this is, on the whole, a good thing?

I think the overall effect is a positive one. The exchanging of ideas is never a bad thing. It is accelerating the rate at which the human family is developing. I think it is also encouraging cultural exchange, which promotes peace between nations.

I suppose there may be a few small drawbacks. For example, I’ve heard that Internet addiction has become a serious problem among increasing numbers of young people in several Asian and I think even many western countries. It discourages face-to-face communication,

and this can cause all sorts of behavioural issues among young people.

But as I said, this small drawback is far outweighed by the benefits.

So do you think Internet use among young people is something that should be restricted?

I wouldn’t say “restricted”. It should be “monitored”. I feel young people should know how to use the Internet. Knowing how to look up information is a key skill in the modern world, so I feel completely restricting young people from using the Internet would be a mistake. So long as they aren’t using it excessively, I do not think Internet use is a very big problem.

How do you think people will communicate in the future?

I imagine that face-to-face communication will always have a role in basic human interaction. But, that said, I feel people are going to increasingly use electronic devices to talk with one another. Today, I use Facebook and my mobile to keep in touch with family and friends around the world. I think I talk to them by voice less than I would if I did not have tools like Facebook and Twitter and Whatsapp. So, I feel that in the future, electronic device use is going to become increasingly central to how we communicate with one another.

Are there any negatives to this trend?

Um, well, I suppose there are some negatives, but these negatives are far outweighed by the benefits. I suppose for people that communicate electronically the majority of the time, these sorts of people may feel nervous or awkward when in situations that demand face-to-face communication. But I feel the positives of using technology to communicate with others far outweighs the negatives. I mean, prior to the smart phone, I wouldn’t have been able to chat with distant friends throughout the day and send instant photos to them.

Thank you. That is the end of the speaking test. Students listening to this recording may now play the second version of this test to practice their speaking.

 

You construct a band 9 essay by the end of this video!

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

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Here is the essay as it appears in the video:

Nowadays, all new town planning should include public parks, shopping malls and sports facilities. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Designing the layout of a new town is an extremely intricate process. The question of what should and should not be included sets the foundation of the town’s identity forever. In my opinion, the addition of public parks, shopping malls and sports facilities is essential to the incubation of community and the encouragement of healthy lifestyles. I thus agree that these items should be included when a new town is being planned, and I will share examples to prove this.

Firstly, public parks and shopping centres help new towns foster a sense of community. For example, my small Canadian town has a very nice park near its centre. At weekends, the open context of the park environment makes it possible for people to meet each other and create friendships. This sort of organic community building is seen in my hometown’s shopping mall, too. Shopping malls encourage interaction, and thus they are great forums within which people can mingle and have experiences that could evolve into friendships. Thus, the helpful role public parks and shopping malls play in the establishing of a new town is clear.

Secondly, sports facilities catalyse positive lifestyle choices among townsfolk. For instance, the central location of my small town’s football pitch is a regular reminder to people passing by that exercise is important. Children in the town are visually aware that sport is accessible to them, and thus they engage in physical activity regularly. This is a clear advantage to town designs that include sports facilities.

As the above shows, public parks, shopping malls and sports facilities are helpful in many ways to the establishment of a town. Their inclusion in the planning of new towns is thus highly recommended.

You choose the prepositions!

 

The essay as it appears in the video:

What are some alternatives to fossil fuels? Do you feel the world will ever stop using them?

Global dependence on fossil fuels continues to be a pressing problem in the modern world. Although environmentally friendly energy sources are available, market prices make these alternatives prohibitively expensive for most people. I argue that humanity will indeed stop using fossil fuels in the future, but this will only happen when the price of cleaner energy sources falls to a point of competition. This will be proved by looking specifically at current trends within solar energy and biodiesel consumption.

Firstly, the increased availability of solar water heaters has made solar energy prices competitive with fossil fuels in some parts of the world. For example, the mass production of solar water heaters in China has led to their adoption as a cheap alternative to water heated using coal. Because this trend comes as a direct result of financial incentive, it is logical to conclude that market shifts will eventually cause green energy to take the place of fossil fuels.

This phenomenon is further exemplified by alternative fuel types such as biodiesel. For instance, although still slightly more expensive than energy sources derived from fossil fuels, biodiesel’s steady decline in price over the past 20 years coincides directly with a rise in its sales in most parts of the world. As most experts argue, a massive shift to biodiesel consumption will occur when prices remain consistently below fossil fuels. Thus, worldwide dependence on fossil fuels can be expected to erode as alternatives become more economical.

As evidenced by these trends in solar energy and biodiesel consumption, humanity is gradually shifting itself from fossil fuels to more environmentally friendly energy sources, and I hope this development continues.

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

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Do the advantages trump the disadvantages in this IELTS essay?

[Note: The word ‘phenomenons’ appears in this video. This should be ‘phenomena’, as it is with reference to the scientific plural.]

More and more students are going to another country for higher education. Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

It is very common today for students to go abroad to complete their college or university education. However, this trend presents both advantages and disadvantages to the students and the institutions involved. These items will be analysed in this essay before a position is declared.

The advantages of rising foreign student numbers are numerous. For one, this trend encourages human collaboration and the exchanging of ideas. For example, a Canadian engineering student attending a Japanese university would bring ideas and perspectives different to those of their classmates, a phenomenon that enriches the university’s program and level of discussion as a whole. In addition to this, having studied outside their home country, this student would take valuable international understanding with them, an important second benefit that promotes peace and international friendship. As this example shows, students and the world at large benefit when higher studies are engaged outside the home country.

However, many would argue the globalising of higher education does have certain disadvantages. For many young adults, foreign students may represent a threat to both professional opportunities after school and the overall workforce of their country. In the US, for example, companies scout talent on university campuses, and at select times this means offering employment to a foreign student instead of a local student. Although this scenario does occur, its impact on local graduates and their employment opportunities has been sensationalised by the media and large personalities like President Trump. Moreover, it should be remembered that attracting the world’s most talented students increases opportunities for important phenomena like scientific discoveries. Thus, the disadvantages of students going abroad for higher education are difficult to define.

As the above discussion reveals, the advantages of globalised higher education much outweigh the disadvantages, and I strongly hope countries continue to encourage the growth of their foreign student bodies.

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

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