Thursday, June 19, 2014

Writing tips

Writing task about traffic and pollution problems

Increasing the price of petrol is the best way to solve growing traffic and pollution problems. To what extent do you agree or disagree? What other measures do you think might be effective?

Nowadays we are going through a crisis, a crisis greater than political (and) wider than cultural. It’s the economic crisis which was intensified by the dramatic increase in fuel’s price. Individuals (people/ the government) may believe that this is the best way to solve the growing traffic and pollution problems. There is no doubt in my mind that (no comma) this statement will only scratch the surface of the main problems, and there are more beneficial and efficient solutions which will (old use: avail) benefit the society substantially.

(More and more nations are choosing to increase the price of petrol for many and different reasons. ---> unnecessary sentence, your topic sentence could be the next one) One of the repercussions (no comma) of raising the price of petrol is that petrol stations will turn into chaos with citizens who will try to fill their fuel tanks early enough, in order to be on time for a lower price. Consequently, this (measure) will only affect the civilians financially and not the petrol stations’ owners who will only have profits (make profit) from this situation. Moreover, from an environmental perspective, the whole hazardous situation, will not raise any awareness on environmental issues. For instance, despite what many people might say, our (people's) pursuit will only be on how we/ they can decrease the gas consumption we/ they had last month.


To alleviate the situation, the government ought to provide citizens with cleaner and alternative fuels such as natural gas and diesel. Additionally, rarely do we see citizens using hybrid cars which seems to be a great solution to pollution problems. The government also needs to organize advertising campaigns so that individuals start using public transport (more)or take their rides circulate on foot. Last but not least, a valuable idea would be if government establish some special courses at schools in order to educate the younger generations on certain pressing environmental issues.

On balance, the drawbacks of increasing fuel prices outweigh the advantages, so I (always capital) am inclined to believe that governments need to start prioritizing their reforms and think about the common good.

Comment: Well done Germanos! I can see you have understood the writing guidelines I have given you and with a little more practice you will more than ready for the exams! 6/ 9

3 helpful videos on IELTS speaking

Mock IELTS Speaking Test #1 (Version 1): Amazing vocabulary and structure in the answers provided

IELTS Speaking Score 8.5 with Native English Speaker subtitles: To get acquainted with the beginning of the procedure

IELTS BAND 7 vocabulary for speaking test (part 1): Vocabulary tips

The amazing future candidates!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Writing Part 1: Cement and concrete production (describing a process)

The two diagrams clearly show all the materials and the processes, for the creation of cement and concrete.
                Cement production begins when we place limestone and clay into the crusher, in order to produce powder. Subsequently, powder is placed into a mixer and falls through a rotating heater. Inside this pipe (heater) it melts (no commas here) and after that it is ground in order to become cement and finally be packed in bags.
                According to the concrete production diagram, a wide variety of ingredients are required for this process. More specifically, a modicum amount of water is needed, around 10%, and approximately 15% of cement. Finally, (comma) mixing the above materials with an enormous amount of gravel (which amounts to/ constitutes 50% of the final product), and a medium quantity of sand, at 25%, into a concrete mixer, which rotates clockwise, completes the final part/ stage of concrete production.
                Taking everything into account, both processes seem to be excessively time consuming. (This conclusion cannot be drawn based on the diagrams/ no exact time is included) Additionally, the concrete-making process demands twice the materials than the cement production process.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Writing Task 1: tips

The IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing

The Introduction

You don't need much here. You only have 150 words to fully answer the question and this is not much. So, you need 1 or 2 sentences describing the following:
The type(s) of graph you are describing
The titles of the graph(s)
The date of the graph(s)
The scale (see the paragraph above)

You might not have all this information but you should report what you do have. So, for example, your beginning could look like this:

In this report I am going to describe 2 graphs. The first one is a bar chart showing the relationship between age and crime and the second is a pie chart showing the types of reported crime in the UK in 2002.

Describing Graphs for The IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing

What you need to do here is factually describe the graphs. You don't need to analyse the data, For example you don't need to give reasons for why figures are high or low. Sometimes, when there is more than 1 graph, there is a relationship between the two and you can bring in some comparison but more than this is not necessary. In the same way, no specialised knowledge of your own is needed or wanted nor your opinions.

Remember the function of many graphs is to describe a trend so be sure that you describe the trends. A trend is how values change generally over time and it is important to describe the changes along with some of the individual values. We will look at trends a bit later under line graphs.

One important issue with The IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing is how much detail to include in your report. This depends really on how much detail there is in the question. If there is only 1 graph and it doesn't have much numerical data in it, then you will be expected to include all or nearly all of the numerical detail. If, however, you have 2 graphs, both of which are very complicated with lots of values, you will not be expected to include everything as you only have 150 words to do the job. What you will have to do is to include a selection of what you feel is the most important and significant detail that needs to be included to accurately describe the graph. With practice from good IELTS practice tests, you will improve at including all the necessary detail with the right amount of words.
You must always have some numerical detail though.

Now let's look individually at the types of graph that you are likely to meet in the exam and how to describe them.

Bar Charts for The IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing

Hopefully you will have described the title of the bar chart in your introduction so you can go straight into the description. Basically, with a bar chart, you need to describe the bars and their values. When describing a bar chart you first have to decide in what order to describe the bars, highest value to lowest value or lowest value to highest value. It may be a mixture of this. If there are very many bars, you can sometimes group together for description 1 or 2 or 3 bars which have similar or the same values. If there are very many and you can't group them, then just describe the ones that are the most significant.

Pie Charts for The IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing

Pie charts are relatively straightforward as they only usually have a few sections though this is not always the case. You need to describe the segments and their values. If there are very many then just describe the ones that are the most significant. The values are often expressed in percentages but not always so be careful what scale you are using.

Tables for The IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing

These can sometimes be tricky as they provide a lot of information and it is often awkward and difficult to describe every piece of information. You have to decide and describe the values and sections that are the most significant.

Line Graphs for The IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing

The function of a line graph is to describe a TREND pictorially. You therefore should try and describe the trend in it. If there are many lines in the graph(s), then just generally describe the trend. If there is only one or two, then use more detail. So, describe the movement of the line(s) of the graph giving numerical detail at the important points of the line.

To describe the movement, there is some language which will always be useful. Below is a list of language you can use. Check with your dictionary words that you don't understand and practice using the words/phrases so you use them in the right way. As you will see, there are a number of words which are similar in meaning. This means that you will be able to use a variety of vocabulary which gives a good impression to the examiner who will read and mark your writing. The words below are particularly useful for line graphs but they can also be used where appropriate to describe the other types of graph.

Expressing the Movement of a Line
Rise (to), a rise, Increase (to), an increase, Go up to
Grow (to), growth, Climb (to), a climb, Boom, a boom, Peak (at), (reach) a peak (at)
Fall (to), a fall (of), Decline (to), a decline (of), Decrease (to), a decrease (of), Dip (to), a dip (of), Drop (to), a drop (of), Go down (to)
Reduce (to), a reduction (of), A slump
Level out, a leveling out, No change, no change, Remain stable (at), Remain steady (at), Stay (at), Stay constant (at), Maintain the same level

Describing the Speed of a Change

Describing a Process for the IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing

We have looked at the various types of graph that you might be asked to describe but you also might have to describe a diagram representing a process.

First of all, the introduction and the ending should be more or less the same.
Then, work out the various stages of the process. Take each one separately (it's only probably going to have a limited number of stages) and describe them fully. Fully is the important word as reaching the word limit has proved harder in this task. If you have this problem, don't be afraid to use your imagination to add to detail about the process.
Other Hints for the IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing

DON'T copy any part of the question in your answer. This is not your own work and therefore will be disregarded by the examiner and deducted from the word count. You can use individual words but be careful of using long "chunks" of the question text.
Don't repeat yourself or the same ideas. This gives a bad impression and the examiner realises that it isn't adding to the content of your report.
If you are weak at English grammar, try to use short sentences. This allows you to control the grammar and the meaning of your writing much more easily and contributes to a better cohesion and coherence mark. It's much easier to make things clear in a foreign language if you keep your sentences short!
Think about the tenses of your verbs. If you're writing about something that happened in the past, your verbs will need to be in the past tenses. If you're describing the future, you will need to use the future tenses. If it's a habitual action, you'll need the present simple tense and so on. If you have time, a quick check of your verbs at the end of the exam can help you find errors. For describing graphs you will probably need past tenses whereas, for describing a process, you will probably need the present simple. Think about the verbs while practising and then it will become easier when you do the exam.
Don't be irrelevant. Although you can use your imagination to expand on your answer, if any part of your report is totally unrelated to the question and put in to just put up the word count, then the examiner will not take it into account and deduct it from the word count.

Writing task 2: role of parents and school

It is generally claimed that people should be (learned or taught?) values from their childhood values in order to become valuable members of the society. However, (comma) there is an argument if this cultivation/ kind of education should be done/ given by from school or parents.


Many people think that it is the parents' duty to teach their offspring s how to be positive members of the society by giving them the appropriate virtues. This argument is maintained because scientists support the view that parents have a significant impact on their children's behavior and this is a partly true, since most of the children tend to imitate their parents' characteristics. For instance, most of the children would like to adopt/ have achieve the same occupation as with their father or mother. (You overused introductory phrases, but did not explain your argument fully, eg with an example)


On the other hand , it cannot be denied that many families do not have the adequate educational levels for this purpose, thus they are unable to cultivate their children. As a consequence, the only capable institute to do this is the school, whose imperative duty is to teach their pupils how to become acceptable citizens of the society. (Why is education necessary for values like respect to be taught to children? Your argument here does not add up.) And: how can schools teach values? (Read the comments on Germanos' essay)


However, there is another group of people arguing that neither school or parents could teach the children how to be (good?) members, but the society through the communication and interaction with their peers would/will teach them.


Although However, from a social aspect, it is true that statistically the most of the criminals have less educational experience or descend from families which didn’t give them the appropriate tools and knowledge. Needless to say that the economic crisis has contributed to the low quality of the educational system that drives children to the wrong direction. (Is this part of the writing topic?)


Taking everything into account, it appears to me that children have to be cultivated by both parents and educators in order to become excellent members of the society. My opinion is that society should build strong institutions and organizations that would mentor families and teachers how to guide children into the appropriate direction. (The conclusion is OK)

Writing task 1: Land degradation

The charts show the causes which contributed to the diminishing productivity of agricultural land during the 1990s in North America, Europe and Oceania.


As shown in the pie chart, the most harmful cause worldwide is over grazing which covers 35 percent of total causes. As we can see, the second adverse phenomenon is deforestation (by 5 units less--> is this a phrase?) and the last one is over cultivation (why by?) 28 percent of the total (opposing?) effects.


According to the table, European agricultural productivity has been affected in the most significant way. As can be observed (you have overused phrases beginning with as), the total land degraded in Europe is 23 percent, while at the same time it is 13 percent in Oceania and 5 percent in North America.


However, from the table it may be inferred that there is no over cultivation in Oceania, albeit this phenomenon is the third cause of worldwide degradation.

Overall, as we could see in the pie chart, there is a 7 percent of other factors that have not been estimated yet, which contribute to the decreased agricultural productivity. (Why refer back to the pie chart when you have not sufficiently covered the data in the table?)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Writing task 1 (Global land degradation - IELTS)

The pie chart shows the main reasons of global land degradation, while the table, below the pie chart, presents us with the extent the aforementioned phenomenon has affected three regions during 1990s (no apostrophe).

According to the pie chart, (comma) the main cause of global land degradation was overgrazing (no gap necessary), reaching 35% of the total causes. In addition, deforestation was on the same range of levels as overgrazing, around 30%. Last but not least, overcultivation and other causes were the rest 28% and 7% respectively, which renders both of those causes as secondary roots of the problem.

From the data contained in the table, it can be seen that Europe had the highest level of land degradation, around 23%, and that’s mainly due to the fact that its (no apostrophe) influence/ OR better: the destruction by deforestation and over cultivation was significant, reaching 9.8% and 7.7% respectively. However, Oceania possessed the highest percentage of over grazing, at 11.3%, and the lowest percentage of overcultivation which amounted to 0%, while North American land was affected by those two phenomena by 1.5% and 3.3% correspondingly.

Taking everything into account,global land degradation was well distributed (this statement is unclear- do you mean among the 3 countries?), and over the 50% was caused by over grazing and deforestation, whereas there were numerous fluctuations among the regions.

Note: do not just report data; make some more comparisons, as well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Writing task 2: Role of parents and school in socialization

Some people think that parents should teach children how to be good members in society. Others, believe that school is the place to learn this. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Over the past several years, there has been agreat debate on whether parents or school are the most decisive socialization factor for adolescents or even for younger children. Some people believe that parents should teach them how to be exceptional members of society, while others believe that this is a process which can only occur in schools. There is no doubt in my mind that both sides play a crucial role in order to have some producing successful residents in (their) society in the near future.
Socialization is the process through which anindividual acquires an understanding of ideas, beliefs and values, sharedcultural symbols, meanings and codes of conduct. Therefore, parents, play an essentialrole in children comprehending these meanings; in fact, parents are forced to responsible for socialising a person from infant. In addition, (comma) parents need to socialize/ inform/ educate adolescentsin many ways, such as sexually, religiously, to name but a few. Sexual and religious socialization of babies and children begins at home, where parents have the opportunity toemphasize/ cultivate their deepest values in the family. Most importantly, from a very young age, children areexposed to messages about modesty and privacy, and gender specific messages about proper conduct. So do we realise Consequently, it is of utmost importance that parents need to be carefulof how they discipline their children and, (comma) more vitally, (comma) how they set theirappropriate boundaries for children growth.
Socialization also takes place outside the home,like in the school, as adolescents and children observe community regulations, and participate in cultural and religious activities. Children and adolescents are also exposed to a diversity of cultural viewpoints, birth control and gender roles. Such issues sometimes remain unaddressed in schools as teachers may feel reluctant to explore these diverse opinions, fearing that such discussions will be perceived as endorsing or refuting specific values. (So WHY are schools important? Think of values like respect, cooperation and tolerance and how these are encouraged in the classroom. Are those necessary to future citizens of a civilized society? How do children mix when they go to school? Is school a determining stage of socialization? These are the questions that you should answer in this paragraph! :-)
All things considered, both parents and educators have imperative roles in fostering literacy and skills. I am inclined to believe that parents should play the primary role on endowing their children with social and cultural values , whereas professional educators should play the primary role in providing information about the above values.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Writing task 1

The charts display s the expenditures that a UK school has on divergent running costs in three total separate years: 1981,1991 and 2001.

First of all, in all three years the greatest disbursement was on instructor salaries. More specifically, comparing the years 1981 and 1991, teacher’s payment rose 10% and reached the 50% of the total outlay; however, in 2001 it decreased by 5%. On the other hand, the cost of worker payments was less than the instructors' ones. In 1981 the former constituted 28% of total spending and it was continuously falling, so in 2001 it was only 15 percent.

Moreover, we can observe that the cost of books had increased in 1991 up to 20 percent and, in 2001, it decreased to nine percent. Nevertheless, furniture and equipment expenditure s follows a total different distribution than books because from 1981 to 1991 it diminished considerably and in 2001 it reached 23 percent, a much bigger rate that 1981. Finally, insurance that has the smallest proportion in the total school spending pie; in 1981 schools paid 2 percent of the total costs for it, while in 1991 it was 3 percent and in 2001 it reached the point of eight percent.

The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that teachers' salaries were the largest cost of the schools and while spending increased for equipment and insurance, money expended on books and worker salaries cost dropped dramatically.

Essay about how technology affects communication and interaction between people

It is a general fact/ is generally acknowledged that the process in which people interact has been affected because of the technological progress, but this inevitably gives rise to the question of whether this phenomenon has altered life in a positive or a negative way.

Some experts claim that im personal communication has diminished. Through technology the proper interaction among the interlocutors is eliminated, (comma) thus people are more and more keen on making conversations only in front of a screen, whereas in the real life they are not able to develop any kind of relationship. For instance, the most of the young people are more confident when searching for lovers/ partners through Facebook or Skype rather than flirting and having romantic affairs in the real world.

On the other hand, many social networkers believe that technology has made them more social, since it enables them to transfer those relationships to the real world, too. Actually, networkers find it easier to make friends through social networks/ media, while they substitute mobile devices with actually meeting each other at local caf├ęs or other places that they are keen on.

Not only has technology influenced people individually, but it has also assisted the business activity through firms around the world. In fact, companies are able to cooperate with other corporations and sell their products in the global market. Therefore, technology has enabled economic growth around the most transitioning economies. A case in point could be Greek family businesses which are active in the field of tourism and are now able to globally advertise their activity on the Internet. ---> Good point, but is this related to human relationships?

In my point of view, (comma) because every coin has two sides, technological effects on communication depend on which way people use it. I am convinced that technology requires wisdom and limits. (a bit unclear, maybe one extra sentence could explain it better)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Some speaking questions answered by Germanos

Part 1

Which magazines and newspapers do you read?
Nowadays I don’t really read any newspapers often, except sometimes that I want to be informed about the political and financial problems of my country , and that’s because I find them really expensive and apart from that I can easily find them online on the web.

What kinds of article are you most interested in?
I really enjoying reading articles from magazines with scientific content and that’s mostly because I love mathematics and computer science. I also want to know how the market’s going, so I love reading articles about the stock market, I don’t have any specific reason why I read those articles , it’s just a personal preference .

Have you ever read a newspaper or magazine in a foreign language?
Actually, I’m reading magazines in English all the time, and not just me, but all the adults, and that’s because nowadays it’s easy to (browse them from) flick through them on the internet, it's free and fast. For instance when I wake up in the morning I like drinking my coffee browsing a newspaper on the web, it’s a nice ‘company’.

Do you think reading a newspaper or magazine in a foreign language is a good way to learn the language?

Well to learn the language from all aspects no, but when you flick though a magazine , written in English for example , you can sometimes understand, people's culture and their everyday activities. However, (comma) reading an English magazine also allows you to know the people's slang, which is really hard to get acquainted with alone. In conclusion, (comma) reading a magazine can be beneficial and simultaneously can harm you, if you are trying to learn English only from them.

Part 2

Describe a restaurant that you enjoyed going to. You should say: 1) where the restaurant was, 2) why you chose this restaurant, 3) what type of food you ate in this restaurant and explain why you enjoyed eating in this restaurant.

If I remember correctly it was two years ago, the restaurants’ name was china town and it was located in syntagma (Athens) .From the first second that I saw it , it was amazing, the service was excellent and fast. (Full stop) Imagine that the waitress was filling our glasses with water all the time and her reactions were really fast. It had great salads with many vegetables, and the two most exciting dishes was duck with sweet sauce and vegetables, and a soup filled with shark fin, the last one was delicious. Other than that, I really like their ‘traditional’ beer, the Chinese beer. In a nutshell the atmosphere was amazing and I would like to visit them again in the near future, it was worth every penny.

Some of part 3 questions

Some people say that food in an expensive restaurant is always better than food in a cheap restaurant – would you agree?

Well, I have never considered this matter before, but I’m inclined to believe that sometimes expensive restaurants are believed to be better due to pricey materials and ingredients they use in order to cook the food that they serve. I also have to mention that we might sometimes pay more for the trademark of the restaurant than the actual ly food that we order, and that’s because some restaurants are luxury and we need to choose them on more special occasions like birthdays or weddings. So in conclusion I disagree.
How important is it for a country to be able to grow all the food it needs, without importing any other from other countries?

That’s a tough question to be answered, but the true question is, can a country grow all the food it needs alone? I guess the answer is no, because this is nearly impossible. For example here in Greece as a Mediterranean country we has the advantage of growing vegetables thanks to the right conditions but we don’t have all kinds of fruits that we might need, like the African ones, so we are forced to import them from our neighbors. All in all, (comma) the more food a country grows, the wealthier it gets.