Exam topics (March, 2016 in Greece)

These are the various topics for the IELTS exam in the beginning of March in Greece as our students remember them.
Text 1
Text one was about the cultivation of organic foods and seeds. There was an example of a farm in the US, where a family grows, collects and stores seeds. The text concluded in several surveys conducted by experts, stating that there are dangers, such as famine, in case we do not increase food production and create new cultivation techniques.
Text 2
Text two focused mainly on how science can be affected by social and economical ideas, on how sociologists can disprove some scientific ideas that were taken as a fact and on how some researchers adopted new techniques that take into account modern sociological views and ideas.
Text 3
Text three was about chemicals, such as fluoride, that are mixed in the water in order to keep it clean and also benefit the health of the teeth. There was a debate between people who opposed this technique and people in favor. Scientific opinions were also mentioned.
Task 1
The first picture shows a top plan of an estate as it is now and the second picture, as it is designed to become in the future.
Compare both pictures and highlight the changes that will take place.
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     FF493B62-C025-4BAF-BDF0-349F5A8E32CEF9337E4D-3E7F-4F67-8280-5943A5917B38 (2)
Task 2
Some people believe that the purpose of school is to shape a child to be a good citizen and a qualified worker, while others believe that school must firstly focus on shaping a balanced individual.
To what extend do you agree or disagree
Justify your opinion and give a personal example if possible
Part 1
1. Which space do you prefer most to spend your time when you are at home.
2. What changes would you make to this space if possible.
Part 2
Describe a meal you had with friends. Please say
What  you ate
What  you talked about
What was worth remembering
Part 3
1. In what situations a family is not able to have dinner altogether?
2. Are there any special foods Greeks enjoy eating during the holidays?
3. Who of the two are bound the most between each other : Colleagues or classmates?

3rd Videographic for IELTS practice

Young and growing: An animated infographic showing how the global population is set to change

Watch the videographic and complete the gaps of the tapescript:


In 1950, —————————— (1) in rich countries in North America, Europe and Oceania was around 30 years old. 

In Asia, Africa and Latin America it was closer to 20 . 

Since then ——————————————————- (2) as people have fewer babies and live longer. But Africa’s different.

It’s high fertility and deaths from war and disease that ————– (3a) the median age ———— (3b). 

Though ———————————– (4) as people live longer, healthier lives. 

In the rich world, ———————————- (5) , while the median age in poor countries ————————— (6). 

A ———————————————– (7) in terms of population numbers. 

In the middle of the 20th century, there were 2.5 billion people. 

In most places, the population ————————————- (8) — and ———————————————– (9) by 2050. 

In Asia, the number of people surged and is forecast to taper off. 

But in Africa, the population ————————————- (10) and this is likely to continue . 

In fact, Africa’s population ——————————————— (11) to almost two and a half billion people by 2050, making the region a growing market.

3rd videographic Answer key

Videographics – for IELTS practice

Have you ever seen a videographic? I’m sure most of you have. Have you ever thought of using them in an IELTS class? Well, they are an excellent choice for IELTS students because a videographic is a video which combines moving images with graphical images on top. (macmillan dictionary) There are several videographics you can find online which are like ‘live’ charts. Everything takes place in front of your eyes. I find them particularly helpful for students starting to work with charts. It’s a great practice.

I have started preparing a short series of such videographics which students can watch and complete a short exercise. The videos are short so they do not have to spend a lot of time on them. In this way, they watch the analysis of a graph/chart, etc. and also learn and/or revise language used when writing a report for IELTS task 1. Teachers can download the video and do the exercise in class or you can ask your students to visit my blog and do the exercise. Whichever is more convenient.

I hope you like them. Remember to leave me feedback so that I know you find them helpful!


Global smart phone shipments

Sales have reached a ———— (1) but with a new cast of companies. In ——— (2) around ———————– (3) smartphones were sold. Nokia shipped— ——– (4) , —————- (5) by Blackberry, Apple, Samsung, HTC and others. The market soared but Samsung and Apple took over the first and second ————- (6) and pulled away. Last year, shipments ———– (7) a billion according to the research firm IDC. Samsung and Apple still dominate but new names make the top 5 : LG of S.Korea and Huawei and Lenovo from China . Nokia left the —————- (8) all together. It’s selling its mobile phone Division to Microsoft. Blackberry and HTC are absent, too. The ———— (9) growth is the cheap android phones especially from China. Today, supplies outside the top 5 ———— —– (10) almost 40% of shipments, ——– (11) the ——- (12) of just 4 years ago.

ǝɹɐɥs ˙21 ‘ǝlqnop ˙11 ‘ɹoɟ ʇunoɔɔɐ ˙01 ‘ʇsǝʇsɐɟ ˙9 ‘pɹɐoq ɹǝpɐǝl ˙8 ‘pǝɥɔɐǝɹ ˙7 ‘sʇods ˙6 ‘pǝʍolloɟ ˙5 ‘ ʇsoɯ ǝɥʇ ˙4 ‘000˙000˙003 ˙3 ‘0102 ˙2 ‘uoıllıq ˙1
ʎǝʞ ɹǝʍsuɐ

May 2015 Speaking topics (number 3)

New IELTS speaking topics (May, 2015) in Greece, as our student, E.K. , who sat the exam  remembers them :
Speaking test

Part 1
What is your full name?
Where are you from?
Do you watch TV? What kind of shows do you usually watch?
Part 2
Describe an educational series you watched in the past. Please say :
What was is about?
When and where did you watch it?
What did you learn from it?
Why did you like it?
Part 3
Do you prefer to watch national or foreign tv shows?
Do you think that advertisements influence people? What about children?
Do you think that advertisements targeting children should be limited?
Do you prefer to watch the same types of shows as you did in the past?

More IELTS writing task 1 & 2 topics (December 2014, Greece)

More IELTS writing task 1 & 2 topics (December, 2014) in Greece, as our students, M.K. and T.T., who have recently sat the exam, remember them :

Task 1

It was a bar chart (a drug company’s sales in 4 different countries)

Task 2

“In some countries men raise the children while women work full time”. Do you think this is a positive or negative development? Give examples to support your opinion.

Task 2

“Competition for university places is big, making it tough to enter universities nowadays.” Do you think that competition is positive or negative? Give examples to support your opinion.

Skimming and scanning reading texts

Today, I would like to share my experience using a lesson plan which can be both enjoyable and prepare learners for basic Reading strategies. It is not my lesson plan but I’ve used it for years with 1st year students, at AMC College (Thessaloniki) and it’s always worked very well. So, here it is. 

Teaching IELTS to 1st year College students is always a challenge because they are not required to sit exams right from the 1st year. This means they need extra motivation, a friendly as well as a playful atmosphere. Yet, they still need to be taught the basic techniques of the test and how to approach the various parts of it.

In the Reading Section, for example, Skimming and Scanning are the primary techniques students are introduced to. Every year, I use an activity that most of them enjoy and have fun with and one which, at the same time, teaches them exactly this. I have been using this lesson plan for 5 years and all of us enjoy it immensely. Its title is ‘Living in the UK’ and can be found at  http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/living-uk  ( Catherine Morley’s lesson plan – British Council, Mexico).

living-uk-lesson-plan    living-uk-worksheets

In this lesson plan,  students can read about the different countries of the UK, practise reading for specific information and guessing the meaning of words from the context. Worksheet A is basically a warmer (the Uk’s map where learners have to identify the various countries and their capitals). Worksheet B has a page with 16 questions and then 10 more pages with texts on cultural aspects of the different UK countries. Worksheet C has vocabulary tasks.

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I generally have large groups of students in the 1st year. For worksheet B , I don’t divide the students in pairs ,as the lesson plan suggests, but in groups . I always give very clear instructions about the team rules. I pick the person with the best leadership skills to be the head of the team and I explain that they are also responsible for any player who does not play fair or does not contribute enough. I suggest that they can decide themselves on the rules about how they will manage their team and their time. If I realise though that they are having a hard time doing this and it takes them time to do so, I step in and make suggestions , like : ‘divide the questions depending on the number of the team members’, ‘whoever finishes earlier can/will help a weaker student’, etc.

Before doing anything else, and once the teams are ready, they need to look at the worksheet’s question, ask about any difficult words. The next step is for them to circle the key words. They need to scan for information focussing on these key words. And they need to be fast.

I also ask them to stand up while working on this activity. The reason for this is that they need to scan read the various texts one after the other and once standing up, they are kept involved and also alert. They have to move around and look for information in one text after the other. All this while the clock is ticking! They only have 10′ to find all 16 answers.

I want the atmosphere to be competitive in a positive way but also playful. So, I let the teams ‘interact’ sometimes. They can tease each other about who’s better and who’s going to finish earlier. This brings laughs in the class but also increases their competitiveness and so they try to finish as soon as possible. Letting them a bit ‘loose’ motivates them to work fast! 1800250_871456116220360_6479170257965362559_n
The main goal is that they realise in the end that scanning for information does not necessarily require a very advanced level of language and needs not be time-consuming. I think this activity succeeds in exactly this and I hope you can enjoy it with your class, too!