IELTS Essay Topic: Maternity Leave

In the last few months, the topic of maternity leave was given in IELTS writing task 2. Maternity leave means paid leave given to women who are going to have a baby. They are paid during the months they do not work by the company they work for and can return to their position at the end of their paid leave.

Below are some ideas that you can use for this topic.

Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments box below.

Question: What are the advantages and disadvantages to maternity leave?

Advantages of Maternity Leave

  • Women no longer need to choose between a career and having a family.
  • Women will be able to enjoy time with their newborn baby without financial concerns.
  • Parents will be better able to afford the necessary medical care for both mother and baby.
  • Companies will be able to keep a good member of staff.

Disadvantages of Maternity Leave

  • Small companies are not able to afford to pay women for maternity leave.
  • Companies will need to find a temporary replacement for the work which might not be easy.
  • When mothers return to work they will not be up-to-date with recent developments in the company.
  • Maternity leave encourages women to continue working rather than staying at home to raise a child.

Can you think of more advantages and disadvantages?

Post your comments below.

 

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Answers: Phrasal Verbs & Proper Verbs

Below you can see the options available for changing phrasal verbs into formal verbs:

  1. The business was set up / established / founded in the 1980’s.
  2. People often prefer to hang out/ socialise with other people who share similar perspectives on life.
  3. Students must hand in / submit their applications before March 15th.
  4. Putting off / To delay / To Postpone visiting the doctor can result in symptoms becoming worse.
  5. Fires need to be put out / extinguished immediately before they spread.

Comments:

The phrasal verb “set up” is fine to use in IELTS writing task 2 and speaking.

“hang out” is a phrasal verb that can be used for IELTS speaking but not IELTS writing. The verb “meet” is not the same.

The verb “hand in” can be used for both speaking and writing. The verb “join in ” is not a paraphrase because it means “to participate”.

The verbs for question 4 can all be used in both writing and speaking.

Both verbs for question 5 cab be used in writing and speaking. The verb “quench” is mainly used for quenching thirst by having a drink and is not a suitable paraphrase. Also the verb “stop” means to prevent which is not a paraphrase for put out. Also the verb “terminate” is not suitable.

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Phrasal Verbs and Proper Verbs

As you know, many phrasal verbs are not suitable for IELTS writing task 2.

Phrasal Verb Paraphrasing

Below you will find some sentences which contain phrasal verbs. You need to replace replace the phrasal verbs with proper verbs suitable for a formal essay. In some cases, more that one verb is possible as a paraphrase.

  1. The business was set up in the 1980’s.
  2. People often prefer to hang out with other people who share similar perspectives on life.
  3. Students must hand in their applications before March 15th.
  4. Putting off visiting the doctor can result in symptoms becoming worse.
  5. Fires need to be put out immediately before they spread.

Answers

Click here: Answers to this lesson

 

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Important things are free: Essay Thesis statements

Below you can find various introductions for this essay:

Some people think that the most important things in life are free and cannot be bought. To what extent do you agree?

Sample Introductions

Not everyone agrees whether the best things in life are available for free and that money cannot buy them. I believe that most basic human necessities in life require money to obtain them and only a few things are completely free.

While some people believe that the best things in life do not require money to be obtained, others disagree. In my opinion, happiness, family and health, which are the most important aspects of life, are completely free for all people.

Although there are people who consider that most good things in life are free for both rich and poor, other people believe this is not the case. I think that the things central to a good life need to be bought and only happiness can be attained without money.

People have different views about whether the best things in life can be obtained without money. In my opinion, the things that are crucial to human survival must be paid for, except happiness and health.

Comments

You can see the various options for background statements and different ways of expressing your views in the thesis statement.

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Important Things are Free Essay Tips

A number of students reported this essay question in IELTS writing task 2. Many of you have asked me for ideas and tips about this essay. You can find step by step tips below. The essay below is called an Opinion Essay (however some teachers called it an “argumentative essay” or “agree/disagree essay”).

IELTS Essay Question 2017

Some people think that the most important things in life are free and cannot be bought. To what extent do you agree?

Tips for this IELTS Essay

  1. Please note that the wording of the essay is “important things” not “important services”. You need to pay close attention to the words used in the essay so that you don’t change the meaning.
  2. You need to make a list of things that are important in life and are free:
    1. family
    2. health
    3. appreciation of nature
    4. love
    5. Each of the above cannot be bought using money – they are available to rich and poor alike.
  3. This essay is not about WHY they are free. You need to be very clear what the aim of the question is. The question is “do you think the most important things are free or do you think the most important things are not free and must be bought.
  4. You need to think of things that are not free and must be bought:
    1. food
    2. housing
    3. education
    4. health care
    5. clothes
    6. cars
    7. electricity
    8. these items must be bought using money. Rich people get better quality food, housing, education etc than poor people who sometimes can’t afford even the most basic human necessities.
  5. Now you have brainstormed your ideas. What is your opinion? Do you think the best things in life are free? Or do you think the best things in life are not free?
  6. Your opinion must be written clearly in the introduction and explained in the body paragraphs.
  7. Your thesis statement:
    1. The thesis statement should be one sentence that presents your position (your opinion).
    2. You can start this sentence with : In my opinion or I think or I believe or something similar that shows YOUR own personal opinion. Don’t start it with “this essay”.
  8. Model Introduction
    1. See a range of different introductions for this essay question: Model Introductions

IELTS Writing Task 2 Model Essays

You can find more tips, free videos and model essays on this page: IELTS Writing Task 2.

I also offer advanced writing task 2 lessons. Each lesson is a 1 hour lecture which explains everything there is to know about the right techniques for each type of essay. Click here: Liz’s Advanced Writing Lessons

 

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Answers for Bitcoin listening

See the answers below for the listening exercise about Bitcoin. If you didn’t complete the lesson, please check here: Bitcoin listening before checking the answers and transcript below.

Transcript

Bitcoin is an experimental, decentralized digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority: managing transactions and issuing money are carried out collectively by the network.

Bitcoin is one of the first successful implementations of a distributed crypto-currency, described in part in 1998 by Wei Dai on the cypherpunks mailing list. It is built upon the notion that money is any object, or any sort of record, accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context. Bitcoin is designed around the idea of using cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money, rather than relying on central authorities.

There are many advantages to bitcoins, for example they are sent easily through the Internet, without needing to trust any third party and also transactions are fast. However, unfortunately, transactions are also irreversible.

Information from wiki.

Answers

  1. instant
  2. central authority
  3. record
  4. fast
  5. irreversible

More Listening Lessons for IELTS

You can find all my listening exercises and tips on this page: IELTS Listening

 

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IELTS Listening: Bitcoin

A short listening exercise which focused on filling in the gaps in a passage. You need to read the passage first before listening the the recording. Make a note of key words in the passage and predict the types of answers that will come (nouns / verbs etc). This audio is on a cloud so you will need stable internet connection to stream it.

Tip: Answers will come in order of the question numbers. To keep your place in the recording and not get list, you need to focus on key words in the passage below and not get lost in the extra detail in the recording.

Post your answers below and I’ll post the answers tomorrow.

Listening: What is bitcoin?

Complete the summary using no more than two words and/or a number.

A new currency recently established is the bitcoin which allows (1) …………. transactions. It is not limited geographically and is not controlled by a (2) ………………………… The idea behind it is that money is any object or (3)……… which is accepted as payment. The benefits of bitcoins is that they can easily used online and transactions are (4)…………. but the downside is that they are (5)……………

 

 

Answers:

Click below to see the answers

Answers to Bitcoin Listening

 

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How to Paraphrase Successfully in IELTS

Paraphrasing in IELTS is essential for a high score in IELTS. This page contains tips on paraphrasing to maximise your score. You need to learn to to identify paraphrases in IELTS listening and reading. For IELTS writing and speaking, you need to learn to paraphrase using your own words. Students who are good at paraphrasing will do better in all parts of their IELTS test.

This page will review 6 tips for paraphrasing in IELTS:

  1. using synonyms
  2. not changing all words
  3. avoiding mistakes
  4. changing word forms
  5. changing sentence stucture
  6. paraphrasing and band scores
  7. paraphrasing practice lessons

1. Using Synonyms

In IELTS one way to paraphrase is to use synonyms. Using different words with a similar meaning shows the examiner a range of vocabulary which you need to get over band score 6. Here is an example of how a sentence can be re-written by using synonyms:

The reasons for increasing levels of pollution are the development of industry and air travel.

The sentence above can be paraphrased as:

The causes of rising levels of pollution are the growth and expansion of industry as well as the number of people travelling by air.

Here is a list of how the sentence was altered using synonyms.

  • causes = reasons
  • increasing = rising
  • the development of = the growth and expansion of
  • and = as well as
  • air travel = travelling by air
  • Notice: you can see that the words “levels of pollution” and “industry” have not be changed. This is fine. Not all words need to be changed. In fact, the word “pollution” is best not changed. See tip number 2, below:

2. Not All Words Need Changing

Not all words need to be changed for a high score in IELTS. You can see from the example above that some words have remained the same “levels of pollution / industry / air). This means you need to decide which words to paraphrase and which words to keep the same.

Decide which words you can successfully paraphrase and which ones you will keep. Be selective. A high level student knows when to change words and when now to change words.

If you try to paraphrase too much, you might:

  1. make mistakes which will lower your score
  2. change the meaning which might result in you going off topic
  3. See tip number 3, below:

Here is a link to more practice paraphrasing for IELTS.

3. Avoiding Mistakes

The more mistakes you make with vocabulary in IELTS writing and speaking, the lower your score will be. Paraphrasing is a skill. Synonyms do not have exactly the same meaning and cannot always be used at the same time.

Watch this video below to get useful tips on paraphrasing for writing task 1 and writing task 2.

4. Changing the Word Form

Another way to paraphrase sentences is to change the form of the word. This means we use the same words as IELTS but change their form. Here is an example:

Many people are unhealthy because they fail to eat well and exercise.

This can be paraphrased by changing the word form of “unhealthy”, “fail” and “exercise”.

Many people have poor health because they are failing to eat well and are not exercising enough.

You can see from the above example, that many of the words are the same but the form is changed.

  1. unhealthy = poor health
  2. fail = failing
  3. exercise = exercising

This demonstrates excellent vocabulary skills to the examiner and will help you get a good score for vocabulary. It shows that you understand the words very well and can use them in different ways.

If you watch the video below about writing an introduction for IELTS writing task 2, you will see again how words can be paraphrased by changing their form and using synonyms.

Writing an Introduction for an IELTS Essay

Common Word Forms Examples

  • developing = the development of
  • increasing = an increase in
  • pollution = being polluted
  • explain = explanation

5. Changing Sentence Structure

Another way to paraphrase successfully is to change the order to words in a sentence. This means changing the structure of the sentence. Taking the example from above again:

Many people are unhealthy because they fail to eat well and exercise.

You can see there are two clauses “Many people are unhealthy” and the second clause “because they fail to eat well and exercise”.

We can change the order of the clauses:

Many people fail to eat well and exercise and, for that reason, they are unhealthy.

Lets make more changes to the sentence. Now we can also paraphrase by altering the word form as we did previously. The final sentence would be:

Failing to eat well and not exercising are the reasons that many people have poor health.

6. Paraphrasing & IELTS Band Scores

Of course paraphrasing will help your band score for the criterion of vocabulary.

Band Score 5

  •  Minimum Range of Vocabulary
  • Frequent Errors which cause problems with meaning

Band Score 6

  • Adequate Range of Vocabulary
  • Some Errors but the meaning is clear

Band Score 7

  • Sufficient Range of Vocabulary
  • Few Errors

Band Score 8

  • Wide Range of Vocabulary
  • Most sentences are Error Free

You can see that you need to show a range of words which means you need to paraphrase. But you also need to reduce your errors which means don’t try to paraphrase too much and don’t make mistakes.

Following the above tips (using synonyms, not paraphrasing all words, avoiding errors, changing the word form and changing the sentence structure) will help you achieve the highest score.

7. Paraphrasing Practice

It is essential that you practice paraphrasing and using synonyms. You can find some paraphrasing practice lessons on the links below.

  • My IELTS Reading Main Page which contains lessons for paraphrasing and using synonyms as well as lots of lessons for TFNG and other question types that appear in IELTS reading.
  • My IELTS Writing Task 2 Main Page which contains lots of tips for essay writing as well as paraphrasing practice.

 

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, lessons, free videos and more.

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