Describing transformational change(s)

The farmland was transformed become residential areas.

I have written elsewhere about how Indonesian IELTS candidates often use become to talk about a constant, where in English it is only ever used to describe a change. However, although become is used to describe a change, we would not use become AND transform together. Continue reading

Unreasonable use of ‘reason’

The reasons that caused land degradation are shown in the pie chart.

One problem here is that reason is closely synonymous with cause, and so it’s as though you’re saying:

  • ..the causes that caused land degradation!”

Another problem is that reason has stronger collocates:

  • The reasons for land degradation are shown in the pie chart.
  • reason(s) + for + effect(s) noun
  • The reasons why land became degraded are shown in the pie chart.
  • reason(s) + why + effect(s) clause

Notice that in these last two examples there is no cause effect signal (cause). If you use a cause effect signal then you need a more suitable substitute word for the cause or reason:

  • The factors that caused land degradation are shown in the pie chart.
  • The conditions that led to land degradation are shown in the pie chart.

In your IELTS Task 1 essay you will go on to name and describe factors and conditions, and this is easier to do elegantly if you call them ‘factors’ and ‘conditions’ than if you call them ‘reasons’.

Chicken because egg because chicken

Earth hour can have a significant impact on our planet. Because much can be achieved when people work together towards a shared goal.

I’ve posted about because before – here, here, and here. It’s such a common word and so you should make a special effort to use it correctly. Incorrect use can have a negative effect on your IELTS speaking and writing scores! Continue reading

Media Multitasking

Many people these days – youngsters in particular – believe in their ability to perform more than one task at the same time, or to ‘multitask’. In this post we listen to what the research has to say about ‘media multitasking’. Before you listen, discuss the foillowing questions with a friend:

  • Are you good at multitasking?
  • Do you multitask when using electronic devices? Which ones?
  • Can multitasking make you smarter?

Accent: US Flag

Continue reading

Why do people copy other people?

In this post we hear from a social scientist explaining what causes people to copy other people. Before you listen, discuss the following questions with a friend.

  • Why do people choose one brand of washing powder rather than another?
  • In a group, why do people tend to behave like their friends?
  • When was the last time you copied someone else? Why did you copy them?

Continue reading

Changing people’s beliefs is not easy!

Research suggets that even when people are faced with strong evidence that challenges their beliefs, they are usually reluctant to change their minds. This can be relatively harmless, for example there are those who still believe that the Earth is flat. At the same time it can have catastrophic consequences, as for example in the US with Trump’s denial of climate change.

Before you read, discuss with a friend the following questions:

Continue reading

Better off using ‘better off’

Many students spend hours reading grammar books in order to improve their English. However, they are probably better off reading novels instead.

Most people are familiar with better off as the comparative form of well off (= wealthy). However, better off has other uses in IELTS speaking and writing (Task 2). Continue reading