Writing, Task 1 (Academic): Stokeford

There’s a question on page 283 of the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS.  

In it we can see the village of Stokeford in 1930 and 2010. It’s a question I like to look at with students in Writing Task 1 class – maybe I’m biased but map questions are my favourite!

There are many changes between the two maps. We’re going to highlight those changes and think of some useful vocabulary we can use to describe them in our report. 

First, let’s look at the 2 maps and consider the following:

  • what is the same?
  • what has changed?

What’s the same? 

  • the bridge
  • the post office
  • the River Stoke
  • the main road
  • the primary school* 

What has changed?

  • the primary school 
  • shops
  • houses
  • farmland
  • gardens 
  • large house

Next, let’s think about some useful vocabulary for describing these changes.

Useful vocabulary

  • build – make something by putting bricks or other materials together
  • construct – make or form by combining parts
  • convert – change in building function or use
  • demolish knock down a building
  • develop – built houses etc. on a piece of land
  • disappear – to no longer exist
  • extend – increase a building in size or area
  • reduce to make something less in size
  • replace – put something in the place of something else

We can use these words to think about specific changes in the village:

demolish By 2010, what had been demolished?

 the shops

extend What had been extended?

primary school

convert What had been converted?

 large house > retirement home

build What had been built?

 houses, roads

construct What had been constructed?

 houses, roads

replace What had been replaced?

large house > retirement home, farmland > homes

develop What had been developed?

 farmland > homes

disappear What had disappeared?

shops

Our next step is to think of how we present the changes in our report.

Tenses

Both maps are dated, and both dates are in the past.

  • Which tense should we use for 1930? past simple
  • Which tense should we use for 2010? past perfect

1930

In 1930, Stokeford was surrounded by farmland. There was a primary school and post office in the centre of the village. Additionally, there were a couple of shops. To the north of the village, there was a bridge, crossing the River Stoke. A road wound through the centre of the village. There was a large house surrounded by gardens to the south of the village. 

2010

By 2010, the shops had been demolished.

We’re saying ‘by 2010’ because the changes took place between 1930 and 2010. If we said in 2010 it’s like the changes took place in that year. We could also say “According to the 2010 map…”. 

A suggestion is that we use the past perfect here, and instead of the past perfect active, we’ll use the past perfect passive. We use the passive when we are interested in the object or when we do not know who caused the action.

Someone had demolished the shops (Past perfect active) >  The shops had been demolished (past perfect passive).

demolish By 2010, someone had demolished the shops.

> By 2010, the shops had been demolished.

extend By 2010, someone had extended the primary school.

> By 2010, the primary school had been extended.

convert By 2010, the retirement home had been extended.
build By 2010, new roads had been built.
construct By 2010, homes had been constructed.
replace By 2010, farmland had been replaced by homes.
develop By 2010, the farmland surrounding the village had been developed.  
disappear By 2010, the village shops had disappeared.

And finally, we can bring all of this together to write our Task 1 report!

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