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Friday, 11 December 2009

Lesson 2 (Stages of writing a Discursive Essay)

Stage one
Underline the key words in the question.  You can also try to rephrase the question to understand what is expected of you in the essay.

Stage two
Brainstorm all your ideas onto a mind map or a list.  Do not reflect on what you have written, just quickly note down everything that comes to your mind in note form.  Spend only one minute on this stage.

Stage three
Circle the main points from your mind map or list.  These should be the most relevant ideas that can be incorporated into your essay.  You may need to group some of the points together if they are very closely linked.  Select a maximum of three to four main ideas to focus on.

Stage four
Think of evidence and or examples to support each of the mains ideas you have selected.

Stage five
Organise the main ideas into a logical order and follow this order in your essay.  This can be done by writing a number next to each idea to show the order in which you will write them in the essay. 

NB: Stages one to five should take no longer than 5 minutes.

Stage six
Write the introduction of your essay.  It should function like a map in that it outlines the areas (the main ideas selected in stage 3) that will be discussed in the body of the essay.

Stage Seven
Each main idea should be written in a separate paragraph.  Using the first main idea write the topic sentence (introduction) for the first paragraph of the essay.  This sentence should introduce the paragraph and tell the reader what the paragraph is about.  Add Supporting sentences which should contain the evidence/example to help develop and support the main idea.  You may also choose to add your opinion about the main idea at the end of this paragraph, or you may choose to leave your opinion about all the main ideas until the final concluding paragraph.  Your opinion should be balanced by looking at both sides (positive/negative, for/against).  However, if you are more inclined towards one opinion than another then this should be clearly shown with the amount supporting evidence/ examples you present for the opinion you hold. 

NB: Repeat stage seven for all the remaining main ideas selected in stage three.

Stage Eight
Sum up what you have written in the main body of your essay.  Do not add any new points.  Make sure your conclusion gives your opinion on all the main ideas and link them back to the introduction of the essay.  Remember not to contradict yourself, if you have more evidence/examples for one opinion over another them make sure your conclusion reflects this. 

Stage nine

Check your essay for mistakes with grammar, vocabulary, spelling and punctuation.

Stage nine should take 5 minutes.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Essay 025

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic: 

Governments spend huge amounts of money on arts. Some people feel that this is justified, whereas others feel that this money can be used for public health and education. Discuss both the views and give your opinion.
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
You should write at least 250 words.

It is necessary for governments to spend sufficient amount of money for the improvement and maintenance of public health and education, but allocating a certain amount for arts is also important for the comprehensive development of a nation.  Hence, the money set apart by government for arts should not be diverted and separate funds should be allocated for improving the social conditions in the country.

On the one hand, huge investments are required for providing basic health services and primary education for all sections of people.  Some people fear that large investments in establishing art galleries and preserving traditional art forms can shift government’s focus from more serious social issues.  For example, governments in many poor nations are not able to spend the required amount of money for the developing the educational and health sectors, which is said to be the major reason for their underdevelopment.  These governments, according to some, wastes large amounts of money for the development of arts.  

On the other hand, downplaying the importance of arts in a country is like neglecting the aesthetic, creative and emotional needs of the people.  For example, dance, music, drama, painting and similar arts have great importance in the cultural development of the people.  Allocation of funds in these areas by governments can also boost the economic development of the country.  Many people make a living by becoming the exponents of these art forms.  Moreover, preserving and maintaining the cultural traditions of the country through arts can attract tourists from all over the world.  Apart from their economic and educational pursuits, man finds great fulfillment in life by spending time for arts, which can satisfy his emotional needs. 

In conclusion, spending money for both arts, and educational and health needs are equally important and therefore ignoring either of the sectors is not desirable. 

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Lesson 1 (Writing Skills)

Teacher’s Guide

Skills for IELTS essay writing

  1. To teach students the skill to understand the focus of the question perfectly

Let them read the question thoroughly and underline the main points.  Give them a few questions and ask them to rephrase them to check whether they understand the question. 

·        Modern life styles mean that parents today have less time for their children.  Many children suffer because they do not get as much attention from their parents as children did in the past.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

The first skill is to do is to understand every aspect of the question perfectly. If you don’t understand the focus of the question, you will never be able to write the correct answer.

The question is whether children are affected negatively because of the lack of attention and care from parents due to their busy life schedule when compared to the children of the past.

Sometimes there is a danger that students understand only part of the question and write about one particular idea.  For example, students would write about the ‘busy life style of parents’ or about ‘lack of attention from parents’. Students should understand the question comprehensively and understand the focus of the question.  Teacher can ask one of the students to rephrase the question and speak about it. 


Exercise I Write which of the answers focuses on the question.

1.    People nowadays work hard to buy more things.  This has generally made our lives more comfortable, but many traditional values and customs have been lost and this is a pity.
       To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

a.    Write a paragraph about hardworking nature of people and how it has benefited them and one or two paragraphs about the why traditional values are lost.
b.    The focus of the essay should be whether traditional values have been lost as a result of the hardworking nature of people, in spite of the fact that it has helped them to have better standard of living and more comforts.
c.     Write whether traditional values have been lost because of the hard working nature of people and the advantages of traditional values.

2.    In most countries, multinational companies and their products are becoming more and more important.  This trend is seriously damaging our quality of life.
       To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

a.    Write about the advantages or disadvantages of multinational companies.
b.    Write whether multinational companies and their products affect the quality of life of people.
c.     Write about the influence of multinational products in the life of people.

3.    In many countries, television shows many foreign made programmes.  The domination of imported entertainment is harmful to the cultures of these countries.
        To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

a.    Write about the advantages of television and foreign made programmes. Also, write about foreign channels.
b.    Write, whether imported television programmes affect the culture of the local people.
c.     Write about the advantages or disadvantages of imported entertainment.

4.    Governments make many rules to protect people from danger, for example, by making people wear seat belts in cars or not allowing smoking in public buildings.  However, many people believe that there are too many rules nowadays.

        To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

a.    Write whether seat belts and public smoking are advantageous to the people.
b.    Write about the advantages or disadvantages of many rules.
c.     Write if there should be no rules or not
d.    Write if the rules are too many and whether we should reduce them.

5.    The first car appeared on British roads in 1888. By the year 2000 there may be as many as 29 million vehicles on British roads.  Alternative forms of transport should be encouraged and international laws introduced to control car ownership and use.
        What are your views?

a.    Write about the development of cars since 1888 and the advantages or disadvantages of cars.  Write also about the importance of alternative forms of transport and international laws in the use of cars.
b.    Write about the growing number of cars on roads and whether alternative forms of transport should be encouraged and international laws introduced in order to reduce the number of cars on roads.
c.     Write about traffic jams and how to avoid them, also write about the role international laws and alternative forms of transport.

6.    The threat of nuclear weapons maintains world peace. Nuclear power provides cheap and clean energy.  The benefits of nuclear technology  far outweigh the disadvantages.
     Do you agree or disagree?

a.    The essay should be whether we should make nuclear weapons, which can maintain world peace.  Write also, about whether nuclear energy provides cheap and clean energy.
b.    The advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy.
c.     We need to find out whether the advantages of nuclear energy are more than the disadvantages and if it is beneficial for mankind.

7.    Euthanasia, or mercy killing, has been in the news more and more recently.  Many people are strongly against such a practice, but there is a growing demand to have it legalised.  How far do you agree with euthanasia being made legal?

a.    The question here is whether euthanasia is a morally acceptable practice.
b.    The focus here is the advantages or disadvantages of euthanasia.
c.     The question is why, or why not government should succumb to the growing demand for euthanasia being  legalised.

Check the answers and study them
b,  2.  b,  3.  b,  4.  d,  5.  c,  6.  c,  7.  c

Friday, 13 November 2009

Essay 024 (Gap year)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic:

In some countries young people are encouraged to work or travel for a year between finishing high school and starting university studies.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for young people who decide to do this.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
You should write at least 250 words.

It is greatly advantageous for young people to travel or work for a year after high school and before joining university.  However, encouraging them to do it, can also have a certain detrimental effect on their life and future.

Firstly, travelling to cultures and people other than their own, or taking up a job can give young people a broader outlook about life, which is not possible through university education alone.  It can also give them greater emotional and intellectual maturity to plan their career goals and even deal with problems of life in a better way.  Engaging in practical work will help young people to have a direct experience of the harsh realities of life, rather than just bookish knowledge.  For example, an employment can give them prior knowledge about the professional skills that they need to acquire in their university education.  Being exposed to the moral and cultural practices of people in other regions, can teach them qualities of life that they may not learn at home and such knowledge can make them more tolerant.  Above all, it can give them greater confidence and self-reliance. 

Nonetheless, it can break the continuity of education, which can end up in increasing number of school drop outs.  For example, if a young man finds a job with a decent salary, he would sometimes continue in his job even after the end of the gap year.  Although it gives him a temporary financial fulfilment, denies him the opportunity for further education and a much better job.  Being away from a formal educational environment for such a long time can affect his discipline, study habits, which can lead to poor academic performance at the university. 

Taking a gap year has enormous benefits for young people, but they should also be aware of the dangers that they are exposed to.   

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Essay 023 (Private Tuition)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic:

Some parents believe that extra private lessons outside school hours, where students work alone with a teacher, can help them do better at school.  Others disagree.

Discuss both the views and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
You should write at least 250 words.

Many parents believe that the crowded environment in regular classrooms can have a negative impact on the academic performance of students.  Hence they send them to private tuitions where the teacher can individually help them to study their lessons more effectively and perform better at school.  However, others believe that private lessons outside school hours are burdensome to children and it can have a negative influence on their academic development.

Because of the constrains of time, the size of the syllabus and the number of students, school teachers may not be able to cater to the individual needs of all children who have different intellectual capacities.  For instance, in regular classrooms, weaker students find it hard to grasp the formulas of mathematics and science, which makes these subjects difficult for them.  Whereas, the teacher at a private tuition follows the pace of the student and makes sure that he is thorough with the lessons.  This means that the teacher has sufficient time to repeat the lessons in case the student does not understand it, the first time.   This gives greater confidence to such students and helps them to get superior grades in examinations.

On the other hand, private lessons outside school hours is considered, by many parents, as an intrusion into the time that children should engage in sports or other extracurricular activities.  They believe that students are already stressed out after regular school hours and should be given time to relax, instead of taxing them again with more lessons.  If they are forced into private tuitions they may develop a negative attitude toward studies, which would have detrimental effect on their academic performance.  Moreover, private lessons outside school hours is very expensive and many parents would not be able to afford it.

After considering the positive and negative aspects of private tuitions, I  suggest that intellectually weak students should get assistance form a private teacher, who would help them to perform better in school. But, on regular school days students should not be burdened with extra private lessons and the best way to do it is, to find a few hours during weekends.  Although it may be financially burdensome for many parents, intellectually weak students would greatly benefit from private tuitions. 

In conclusion, despite certain drawbacks, private tuition has enormous benefits for students, to perform well in their academics.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Essay 022 (Power of advertising)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic:

Today the high sales of popular consumer goods reflect the power of advertising and not the real needs of the society in which they are sold. 

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
You should write at least 250

Although the lure of advertisements helps to sell products to some extent, the reason for the large sale of consumer goods cannot be attributed to it.  The increasing needs of people for convenience and luxury, and the rising purchasing power of the society, have contributed considerably to this phenomenon.

Firstly, modern inventions have helped people to have products that would reduce their physical labour, wastage of time and increase convenience.  Hence people would buy things that would make their life easy and comfortable.  For instance, modern devices like washing machines, dishwashers, blenders and microwave ovens have saved a great deal of time for housewives and reduced their physical effort.  This would prompt them to buy more and more such products with newer features and discard the older ones.  Moreover, people also buy tinned and instant foods in large amounts to save the time for cooking.  This would mean that it is the real needs of people that automatically lead to the bulk sale of these products.

Secondly, the rising economic status has enabled people to buy many products that would help them to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle.  People today buy several cars, latest electronic gadgets, expensive dresses and rare cosmetics to flaunt their wealth.  The trend of giving gifts on every important occasion, also has greatly contributed to the sale of consumer goods in large quantities.  Much more than just advertisements, the requirements of people for a rich lifestyle have definitely helped companies to sell their products in bulk.

Advertisements have a big role in informing people about various products in the markets and their important features, but they cannot influence the buying habits of people beyond a certain level.  It also familiarise them with popular brands and help them to choose a product over others.  People may buy a product, attracted by a commercial campaign, but if it is not useful to them they would never buy it again.    

Overall, advertisements have some influence in the buying habits of people but the huge sale of consumer goods cannot be attributed to its power.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Essay 021 (Problems of aging)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Because of the falling birth rates and better healthcare, the world’s population is getting steadily older and this trend is going to cause serious problems for the society.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own
knowledge or experience.

You should write at least 250 words.

The increase in the number of older population, due to better health care and falling birth rates, can definitely have serious social and economic implications.

Since the elderly are physically and psychologically weak, caring for them automatically becomes the responsibility of the younger population. If their number rises beyond a certain level, it would become a huge burden on them to provide food, healthcare and other basic facilities. Inevitably, a major share of country’s resources has to be spent for this purpose. Consequently, this would lead to the reduction in budgetary allocation for other developmental activities, resulting in serious economic consequences. The manintainance of homes for the retired and old age pensions have become a huge burden for governments in many western countries.

Moreover, since the falling birth rates reduce the number of young people, the productivity of the country would be affected seriously. Young and energetic professionals are required in various developmental projects, research and development. Although a few older people do work beyond their retirement age, their contribution is very limited in physically demanding jobs and modern technology. For instance, in a number of developed countries shortage of young professionals in important areas like healthcare and information technology is experienced today. These countries are forced depend on the services migrant professionals from developing countries to fill the vacancies in those areas.

In conclusion, although increasing life expectancy can be counted as a sign of development, if it is coupled with the reduction in the number of younger population it would lead to many issues related to the progress of the country. Hence a number of countries are now encouraging more children in families by giving them incentives in terms of economic benefits and longer maternity leave.

Essay 020 (Celebration of National Events)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Governments often spend large sums of money on spectacular displays to celebrate national events of significance. This money could be better spent on improving social conditions in the country.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

You should write at least 250 words.

Government should not divert the money meant for the celebration of national events of significance, as it has many benefits, in terms of reminding the citizens about the rich cultural heritage of the nation and inspiring a sense of patriotism and nationalism among various sections of population. Hence spending large sums of money for this purpose can be justified and government should allocate separate funds for improving the social conditions of the country.

Firstly, the occasion of national events is the time to remind people of the history and culture of the nation. For instance, during the republic day celebration, in India, traditional art forms are staged and ceremonial processions are organised throughout the country. Although these celebrations would incur large expenditure for the state as well as people, they would make the citizens proud of the rich traditions of the country. Such feelings would also help people to develop sense of patriotism and a spirit of national integration, that are important aspects of the nation building process. Therefore, spending a large amount of money for this purpose is worthwhile.

Secondly, although a substantial sum is spent on spectacular displays during national holidays, a large number of international tourists visit the country during this time and such events are telecast throughout the world. This would definitely benefit the country economically and it is a great opportunity to showcase one’s culture and traditions before the world. Hence it is quite reasonable to celebrate national events with pomp and fanfare.

In conclusion, the money spent for the rich celebrations of national events of significance, should not be diverted for improving the social conditions of the country as it has a number of cultural and economic benefits for the nation.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Essay 019 (Children over 15 years)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic:

Children over 15 years should be allowed to make decisions about their lives without the interference of their parents or teachers. Society should accept that children mature at a younger age these days and should adjust the law accordingly.

Discuss this statement in relation to your own society or a society that you know well.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

You should write at least 250 words.

Because of the easy access to information, and better education system today, children above the age of 15 in my country, have greater knowledge and confidence, but this has not given them the emotional maturity or experience to take important decisions without the active participation of parents or teachers. Hence, there is no need to change the present law to accommodate the rights of children of this age group.

In the first place, if the law is amended to protect the rights these children, both parents and teacher would completely lose their control over them both at home and in school.Since this is psychologically a vulnerable age, they can easily be lured by misleading elements in the society, who can exploit them physically and emotionally. Furthermore, they could be deviated to bad habits like drug addiction, alcoholism and uncontrolled sexual indulgence. Elders would require a lawful control over them at this age to safeguard them from such potential dangers.

Secondly, the important decisions that children take, can easily go wrong, because of the lack of experience and the temperamental nature of their decision making process. Since children would be able to make decisions about their personal, professional or education life, like career choices or life partners, wrong decisions can prove to be detrimental to their success in future life. For example, as the age of 15 is crucial period for them to lay a foundation in their educational career, if not properly guided, there could be a danger of greater school dropouts and career choices that would not match their intellectual aptitudes.

Parents and teachers who have greater experience and emotional maturity should guide them at this age, but at the same time should not impose their ideas on them.

Essay 018 (Is education more important than health for development))

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic:

The wealth of a nation is said to depend on the health of its citizens. Yet, in the modern knowledge-based economies of the world, education is more and more being seen as the main force in the development of all countries.

Do you share this view?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

You should write at least 250 words.

A nation with a healthy population that could actively participate in the development the state was traditionally considered wealthy. However, today there are several other factors and among them education is the major force that can lead to the comprehensive development of a country.

In most developed countries we find that most people lead a healthy life in terms of availability of essential nutrients and healthcare facilities whereas in many developing and underdeveloped countries often the situation is the opposite. Yet, countries like China and India are trying to equip their citizens with higher levels of education, which they think is the easiest way to achieve the status of a developed country. In the modern knowledge based world economy, rich countries like the United States are now giving greater importance to churning out educated graduates in all areas, which is crucial for research and development and effective implementation of developmental projects. This definitely would mean that educated professionals do play a significant role in today’s concept of progress.

In addition, although health can be considered as one of the benchmarks of development, for further development in modern economic scenario, a sound education system is a mandatory requirement. Or else, countries would lag behind in the modern race for supremacy in the information technology driven world. This could even lead to a situation where the so called developed countries would not be able to match the fast pace of development in this area. This could easily be seen in the superior figures of economic growth in countries like India and China, whereas the growth rate in developed countries, where policy planners have not given proper consideration to have highly educated professional force, is comparatively less.

Overall, in the modern technologically driven economies of the world, an educated and highly skilled workforce is key to progress and prosperity.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Essay 017 (alternative energy sources)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

One-day the world’s oil and gas reserves will run out. The search for alternative energy sources like wind power, solar power, burning waste, and water power are causing as much environmental damage as the oil and nuclear power sources they are intended to replace.

•How far do agree with this latter statement?
•What possible benefits do the alternative energy sources bring? Or what damage do they cause?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
You should write at least 250 words.

The depleting petroleum resources with its huge environmental hazards have forced scientists to search for a perfect alternative energy that can replace this conventional power source. Although alternative fuels like wind power, solar energy have certain disadvantages, they will emerge as a force to reckon with in meeting the world’s energy shortage and replacing oil and gas.

In the first place, alternative energy sources, like solar power, is clean and environment friendly. This should be seen against the fact that traditional sources of energy like gas and petrol cause enormous damage to the environment. However, the problem with this is that the cost of power generation is much higher as compared to mining and processing petroleum. This problem will soon be overcome as a great deal of research is now going on in order to reduce the cost of photovoltaic technology. If this is achieved in the near future, which definitely is a possibility, the energy needs of the world will easily be met. Energy from wind and water is also equally environment friendly, although it is sometimes said to be unreliable. Burning waste may have the disadvantage of polluting the environment by emitting smoke, but we need to take into consideration the amount of waste that is removed through this process.

Secondly, alternative energy is never ending and renewable because sources like sun and water will never be exhausted and do not use up natural resources. A perfect example of this would be solar energy, which is generated from the heat of the sun. In contrast, traditional way to sourcing energy eat up precious natural resources and are not renewable.

Overall, one can clearly come to a conclusion that alternative sources of energy are environment friendly and a perfect replacement for oil, gas and even nuclear energy. With the right research and use of modern technology, we can foresee a pollution free world of energy.