5 words for Friday: Wildlife

5words_wildlifecaptivity (noun)

animals who live under human control and are prevented from escaping.

endangered species (noun)

a type of animal or plant that might stop existing because there are only a few of that type alive.

habitat (noun)

the natural environment which an animal lives in.

poaching (noun)

the illegal hunting, capturing or killing of wild animals.

(wildlife) conservation

the practice of protecting animals and their habitat from the damaging effects of humans.

5 words for Friday: Technology

5wff_tech

technophile (noun)

a person who is interested in modern technology and enjoys using it.

technophobe (noun)

someone who dislikes new technology, especially computers, and is not able to use it with confidence.

digital native (noun)

a person who is very familiar with digital technology, computers, etc. because they have grown up with them.

digital nomad (noun)

someone who uses technology, especially a laptop and a wireless network, to work remotely from anywhere in the world.

digital divide (noun, singular)

the problem of some members of society not having the opportunity or knowledge to use computers and the internet that others have.

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?

Continue reading “Writing, Task 1 (Academic): Stokeford”

Speaking, Part 3: Music

Music

 

Q. Is music from your country popular elsewhere?

Thanks to the influence of “Hallyu”, or the Korean Wave, the world has become increasingly aware of Korean music. 

Korean pop or K-pop has become a genre in its own right and K-pop stars have a huge global following, especially in South-East Asia. These fans follow their idols on social media, liking and commenting on every video. Some die-hard supporters even learn the language and travel to Seoul to see their favourite artists live in concert. 

A prime example of the popularity of Korean music is the song “Gangnam Style” by Psy. This was a worldwide hit – it went viral on YouTube and was the first video to ever get more than 1 billion views – that in itself is quite an achievement. It’s a real earworm, and as cheesy as it is, it’s really contributed to raising the profile of our music in new markets. 

Even more recently, the boyband BTS topped the US Billboard charts with their album – it’s the first time that a K-pop album has reached the coveted number 1 position and it’s an incredible achievement – so I’d definitely agree that music from my country is popular abroad. 

Q. Recently, many singers and groups have first become famous through television talent shows. What do you think about this?

I think there are both positive and negative sides to this.

Firstly, TV talent shows can allow unsigned singers to show off their talent – someone can rise from obscurity and become an overnight sensation. We usually see the audition performance from a member of the general public and that’s what blows us away – no-one expected Susan Boyle to have the voice she has, for example. Furthermore, these shows usually take place over a number of weeks or months so the viewing public form a bond with the performers and that allows them to build up a fan base – viewers vote for their favourite artist to remain in the competition.

However, there are too many of these shows on TV and it can be hard to tell the difference between them at times. Also, for many, fame does not last long. Contestants of shows like the X-Factor end up disappearing off the face of the earth once they have had their 15 minutes of fame. Even winners get dropped by their record label after their initial shine has worn off – the support shown by viewers on the show doesn’t always translate into sales of songs and albums.

So those are some pros and cons.

Q. Do you think that allowing more buskers in the city is a good idea?

An interesting question: I think it depends.

Street performers can help to add atmosphere to central areas – people might enjoy listening to live performances as they’re out shopping or sitting in pavement cafés. In Edinburgh, for example, during the summer festival period, it’s an opportunity to hear something new, and if you want to give a little money to show your appreciation for the performance you can.

That said, not all buskers are appreciated. For residents living in the city centre the extra noise and crowds that sometimes gather around to watch might not be appreciated.  Also, not everyone has talent or musical ability. They might have a limited repertoire and sing the same songs on repeat or may have unique vocal stylings which might be hard to listen to as they try to hit the high notes!

Maybe quality is more important than quantity on this occasion. 

Have a look at some suggestions for structuring your part 3 answer here.

Cambridge 13: Writing, Task 1 (Academic), Test 1

I looked at Test 1, Writing Task 1 on page 29 of the Cambridge IELTS 13 (Academic) book with students. This is a map question which shows changes to a hospital’s road access in 2 separate years . 

The aim was to try to get them to think about how they would approach this in the exam, and we can do this here too.

We’ll think about the information we’re presented with, then look at some suggestions for writing about the changes for our reader. 

Continue reading “Cambridge 13: Writing, Task 1 (Academic), Test 1”

Writing (Academic) Task 1: Introduction

In Writing Task 1 (Academic) you’ll be presented with some information. It can take a variety of different forms. 

You might be given some data:

  • bar chart/graph
  • pie chart
  • line graph
  • table

Alternatively, you might be given images:

  • map
  • diagram – flowchart, process

The aim of Academic Writing Task 1 is to write a report, taking the information given, and summarising what is most important.

Some key points:

–  The question will almost always ask you to:

“Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.”

Sometimes you will be given too much information – in that case focus on what is most important.

–  This is an academic report. The language should be formal.

– You must write at least 150 words – under-length answers will lose marks.

– You should spend 20 minutes of the exam writing your report. (Task 2 is worth more and you might want to attempt Task 2 first – just a suggestion!)

Report Structure

You can structure all Task 1 answers as 4 clear paragraphs:

  1. An introduction – what does the graph/table/diagram etc. show? You can paraphrase what you’re given on the question sheet.
  2. An overview – what are the most important features or trends? What are the main changes?
  3. A body – describe the most important pieces of data in more detail, and use any figures in your report. Divide this into 2 paragraphs to make it clear for the reader to follow – one long paragraph isn’t as clear.
1. Introduction
2. Overview
3. Body 1
4. Body 2

Leave a line between paragraphs to make it even clearer.

What not to include:

  • No opinion
  • No conclusion

You should not give your opinion in a Task 1 answer. Just write about the information you’re given – identify the most important features, describe them and compare them.

You should not write a conclusion in a Task 1 response – an overview works just fine. (Your Task 2 essay will need a conclusion, however!)

Speaking, Part 1: Maps & Directions 🗺

Do you use maps?

I have a terrible sense of direction and I’m always getting lost! I try to use the map on my smartphone to locate myself and find my way but even then I’m not always able to read it. When I’m driving somewhere that I’ve never been before I rely heavily on the satellite navigation in my car to get me from A to B.

Do you ever ask for directions?

I know my hometown like the back of my hand, but if I was lost in a place I’d never been before I wouldn’t usually ask a stranger in the street. Instead, I’d ask someone in a store how to get there – I think that’s safer than standing out like a sore thumb with a map and looking confused. 

Speaking: Communication

Warmer

I began this class by looking at some pictures.

In pairs, students had to think about what the photos were of (the clue letters helped to focus their answers), and they also needed to discuss when they may have been used.  

We discussed each form of communication, thinking about when they were used, what the advantages may have been, and why they may no longer be used today. 

  • Homing (carrier) pigeon
  • Morse code
  • Yodelling (yodeling) 
  • Semaphore

Brainstorm

We then brainstormed forms of communication the students themselves use – messenger apps on their smartphones, telephone, email and so on.

We thought about other forms that may not be so common these days such as faxes & telegrams. 

Forms of communication

Part 1 

1. How do you usually keep in touch with members of your family? 

Sample answer

I tend to use messenger apps like Whatsapp on my smartphone. I’m not living in the same country as my family – it’s a great way to keep in contact with them because not only can I send text messages instantly but also photos and video. It also allows me to make voice and video calls, however I prefer to use Skype for this because I find the quality is better. The only thing I have to remember is the time difference – I’ve called my mum at 3am a few times by mistake! 

2. Do you prefer to contact people by phone or by writing emails?

Sample answer

It depends on the situation but I usually prefer to write emails. 

If I’m contacting a company to complain, I prefer to email their customer service department as I’m able to express myself more effectively this way. I can clearly state what the issue is and how I’d like it resolved – I’m not as assertive when I do this over the phone.

If I’m at work, I also prefer to fire off an email. I like to have a written record, so I know exactly what has been said or agreed to and it is there for all to see in black and white. 

3. Do you ever write letters by hand?

Sample answer

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a letter – it can be hard for others to decipher my scrawl! If I have to write a letter, I’ll type it up, print it out and sign it. I think the last time I wrote an entire letter by hand must have been when I was at primary school and I wrote a letter to Santa asking him for a Christmas gift. I do still write cards for special occasions, but the greeting is usually short and succinct.   

4. Is there anything you dislike about mobile phones?

Sample answer

They are a great portable form of communication, and while that can be advantageous in some circumstances, it also means workers can be contacted out with office hours by their colleagues and superiors. I personally believe that work-life balance is crucial, and that there is a clear divide between professional and private life. My company actively enforces a policy that supports this and I always keep my work phone turned off once I clock off for the day.   

Speaking, Part 3: Travel 🌏

Why do people like to travel?

Sample answer

I believe that there are a variety of reasons why people enjoy travelling.

Firstly, the workplace environment is competitive and stressful and workers need some time away from this, allowing themselves the opportunity to relax and recharge their batteries. If they did not take this break, the pressure could have a detrimental effect on their health.  

Secondly, I think we’re curious about the world around us and travel helps to broaden our horizons. When we visit somewhere new, we can learn about the culture of that place, enjoy enriching experiences first-hand and try the local cuisine. For example, when I went to Japan I took part in a tea ceremony and tried some authentic dishes – regional specialities – that I’d never had before. It was truly memorable.  

So those are some ideas.  

Cambridge 11, Speaking Test 1

I’m working my way through the Cambridge 11 textbook in class (it’s available to buy online from Amazon, check with your local retailer too.)

The part 1 questions for speaking test 1 tie in well with an earlier food lesson

Tip: Remember, in Part 1 answers shouldn’t be too long, but allow the examiner to assess your speaking ability.  

  • Aim for 2 or 3 sentences (approx. 20 seconds)
  • Use a range of quality language and grammatical structures

Sample answers:

  1. What sorts* of food do you like eating most?

*sorts = types

Hint: This question is quite general – sorts of food can relate to a specific country’s food (Japanese, Mexican) or it could be something more specific – pizza, chicken etc. Maybe you also like all sorts of food?

I’m a bit of a foodie so it’s fair to say I like all sorts of food. I like to try different dishes from all over the world but I’m really not a fan of spicy food.  If I had to choose just one type of food I’d opt for Japanese food – I’ve travelled there quite often and I always enjoy trying the diverse regional dishes – a steaming bowl of ramen on a cold winter’s day is absolutely perfect!

2. Who normally does the cooking in your home?

Hint: Think about who usually does the cooking in your household? Is it one of your family members? Do you live alone and cook for yourself?

That’s an interesting question! Usually, it’s the mother in the house who prepares the meals, but my family doesn’t conform to that stereotype. My father is a chef – he trained in France and makes the most delicious food. He taught me to cook from a young age so when he’s out at work I usually cook for my family – I love it!

3. Do you watch cookery programmes on TV?

Hint:

  • Yes? Talk about the types of show you watch. Is it with a famous chef presenting? Is it a show with regular members of the public?
  • No? Did you used to watch these show? Do you watch something else on the internet instead? 

I like to watch cookery shows – my favourite ones are when the presenters travel to other countries and learn about the food from that country. It’s a fascinating way to learn about the local cuisine.  I particularly like shows with celebrity chefs – Jamie Oliver for example – as his style is very relaxed and he takes real joy in food. I’ve replicated many of his recipes in my own kitchen.

4. In general, do you prefer eating out or eating at home?

Hint: Is there one you like more than the other? Do you eat with friends/family or alone? Eating in a restaurant means you don’t have to cook and you can try many different types of food. Eating at home might be cheaper, and is more relaxed.

As I said before, I love to cook but I also really enjoy trying new restaurants and revisiting my favourites too. For me, eating is very much a social activity and I enjoy catching up with friends over a leisurely meal. Seoul has a wealth of eateries and every week exciting new venues seem to open up so I’m more than spoilt for choice!

Speaking Test 1, Part 2 

Speaking Test 2, Part 3