Writing Task 2

Writing Exercise – How children learn to behave

Listen to the recording. You will hear an extract from a lecture about how children learn to behave. Try to distinguish the supporting details and decided whether they are examples or argument. Choose the appropriate answer.

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Writing Task 2

Exercise – Correct Run-On Sentences

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IELTS online course Writing Task 2

How we learn to behave

  • A woman turns off her cell phone as she enters a movie theater.
  • A driver eats a candy bar and puts the paper wrapper in the ashtray.
  • A couple decides to have a baby.

Being polite, neat, and family-oriented are characteristics of the well-socialized American. Socialization is the process of learning how to behave in the society we live in. For societies to exist, there must be some organized way of teaching the members what is expected of them and how they are to behave. Through socialization, the infant develops into a person like one of those describe above.

Every society tries to socialize its members. The task is performed by several groups and institutions (called socializing agents). The family, the school, and the peer group (that is, people of the same age) are the most important socializing agents. Of these, the family is the most important, especially during the first few years of life. A review of various studies of families has concluded that warm, supportive, moderately strict family environments usually produce happy and well-behaved children; and that cold, rigid, and overly strict families tend to cause youngsters to become rebellious, resentful, and secure (Gecas 1981).

How, then, do families and other socializing agents teach children how to behave? Two important ways are sanctions (rewards and punishments) and by modeling.

Rewards and punishments

Sanctions are consequences following a behavior that influence whether the behavior will be repeated. Positive sanctions mean that the behavior is followed by something that is a reward. If a child asks a parent “May I have some gum please?” and the parents gives the child some gum, the child learns that saying “please” at the end of a request results in getting what he asked for. Negative sanctions (also known as punishments) mean that something bad happens after a behavior occurs. When a child says “Gimme some gum” and the parent says “No gum until you learn to ask politely” and does not give the child the gum, the child learns that it is not a good idea to speak this way because he does not get what he wants.


Modeling refers to learning by watching the behavior of others – especially parents – and copying that behavior. Modeling influences both positive and negative behavior. For example, children who are respectful to elderly people have probably seen their parents do things such as helping older people on trains and buses. On the other hand, children whose parents are alcoholics are more likely than other children to become alcoholics themselves.

Differences across cultures 

It is easy to assume that every culture socializes children in the same way. Studies of other cultures, however, show that children are socialized differently depending on the culture they are brought up in.

A study of 6- to 11-year-old children in six farming communities in the United States, Kenya, Okinawa, northern India, the Philippines, and Mexico is a good example of these studies. Beatrice and John Whiting (1975) found a big difference between the types of household chores that children were expected to do in these cultures. More importantly, they found that parental expectations about work around the house were an important part of children’s socialization. Where children were expected to take care of other younger children and do chores that helped the whole household (as in the Kenya and Mexican community studied), they quickly learned to be responsible and caring toward others. In communities like the one studied in the United States, where children were only expected to do chores such as cleaning their rooms and picking up toys, they were less likely to develop these traits at an early age. Of course, not every family in a particular culture socializes their children in exactly the same way – and this would be true of expectations about household chores also. Nevertheless, many cross-cultural differences in socialization have been identified by researchers.

Other evidence of these differences in socialization practices comes from a study of how traditional Vietnamese and Chinese socialize their children. In these families, the needs of the group are seen as more important the the needs of the individual, and so children learn that their first responsibility is to their parents rather than to themselves. For example, many children work hard at school so that their parents will be proud of them.

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IELTS online course Reading

Reading – Unit 1 – Exercise 3

The reading passage below has 5 sections A – E. Choose the correct headings for sections A-E from the list of numbered headings below.

List of Headings

i           The science of marriage
ii          The importance of honest communication
iii         The power of thought
iv         The likelihood of marrying again
v          Technological advances
vi         The benefits of avoiding arguments
vii        The real predictor for a lasting marriage
viii       The consequences of early dissatisfaction

Section A        ____________
Section B        ____________
Section C        ____________
Section D        ____________
Section E        ____________

See answer in the comment section.

Section A 

Marriage is a much-researched topic, and the way married couples communicate in particular as been the subject of many studies. These days, research into marriage often involves hours of recordings, followed by a thorough analysis of data with the help of modern software applications.

Section B 

One such study analysed give years’ worth of data, obtained from 750 participating couples. At the start of the study, participants who felt they were in a harmonious relationship reported having happy marriages. In other words, low levels of conflict corresponded to a perceived higher degree of happiness. At the end of the five-year period, however, many couples had separated or had started divorce proceedings. The outcome of this study suggests that keeping the peace rather than talking about problems and working through them can have harmful effects on a relationship.

Section C 

In a more recent, larger scale study, people were observed over a fifteen-year period. The researchers recorded the timings of marriages, divorces and remarriages and discovered patterns that helped them estimate how likely divorce was. If participants admitted the possibility of divorce to themselves during the five years of the study, the probability of it actually happening was ten times greater than for those couples who had not thought about it at all. Clearly, once the idea of divorce is in somebody’s mind, they are more likely to act on it.

Section D 

Yet another piece of research confirms that the way men and women feel at the beginning of their marriage makes a difference to its eventual outcome. Those who feel disappointed, perhaps because marriage itself is different from their expectations, or because their lifestyle is not what they had envisaged, are more likely to divorce.

Section E 

Having said that, relationships are complex and their development is the result of many different influences. The end of a marriage is unlikely to be brought about by one particular factor, and is more probably the result of a combination of small incidents that add up over time. It is also worth bearing in mind that in most countries it is the minority of marriages that fail. No one can truthfully claim that their marriage is happy or perfect all the time, but the fact remains that most married people stay together for life. The secret of a happy marriage, it seems, lies where most people have always thought it does: in the effort made on a daily basis by both partners to treat each other with consideration and courtesy, and to cheerfully accept each other’s faults as well as their good qualities.



IELTS online course Reading

Reading – Unit 1 – Exercise 2

Read the following paragraphs and identify the topic sentence of each paragraph. Reply your answer in the comment section below.

Paragraph 1

The value of grandparents to children should not be underestimated. The report shows the need for the government to address the importance of grandparents in future policy and legislation. It also demonstrates the need to amend the Children Act 1989 to remove the obstacle that requires the biological family to ask permission prior to making an application to the court for contact. Especially when a family is going through difficulties, it is important that the children can turn to someone who is not directly involved and is calm and relaxed, and that person is often a grandparent.


Paragraph 2

To have a society that is family-friendly, anti-discrimination laws will need to be introduced. Parenting would become a school-subject, staircases would be rebuilt so that buggies and prams could access any building and advertising for sweets and non-educational toys would be forbidden. Companies would be forced to only employ people who can travel to work in less than forty minutes and there would also be a thirty-five-hour working week and more holidays. In a world like this, there would be less divorce and crime, but we would be earning and producing less.


Paragraph 3

Almost half of grandparents lose all contact with their grandchildren after a separation or divorce, according to a new report. It found that forty-two percent never see their grandchildren again after the break-up. Even more – sixty-seven percent – are prevented from providing any sort of childcare or taking their grandchildren on outings, even when they had done so regularly in the past.

IELTS online course Reading

Reading – Unit 1 – Exercise 1

The importance of the social environment

The nature-nurture debate 

The roles of nature (what we inherit) and of nurture (what we learn) in making us what we are have long been debated. In the seventeenth century it was generally believed that people became what they were taught to be. By the second half of the nineteenth century, a quite different view was popular. Instead of looking to nurture – what people are taught – to explain human behavior, many social scientists looked to nature – what people inherit from their parents. Opinion on the question has gone back and forth ever since.

Obviously we do inherit something of what makes us who we are. But what? Physical traits such as skin color are clearly inherited, but people also appear to inherit temperament – a natural tendency to behave and react in a certain way. For example, some people are naturally active, nervous, or easily annoyed. Others, brought up in a similar environment, tend to be the opposite – passive, calm, and rarely upset. The role of heredity in determining our intelligence and aptitude is less clear, and the debate is far from over. What is clear is that, although nature may limit what we can achieve, socialization plays a very large role in determining what we do achieve. That is, whatever potential ability we inherit from our parents may be enhanced or restricted through socialization. Case studies of children who have not been cared for, and of children who have been stimulated to achieve at a high level, are evidence of the importance of social or environmental learning.

Children who are not cared for 

Since the fourteenth century there have been more than fifty recorded cases of feral children. Feral children have supposedly been brought up by animals in the wild. One of the most famous is “the wild boy of Aveyron.” In 1997, this boy was captured by hunters in the woods of southern France. He was about 11 years old and completely naked. The “wild boy” ran on his arms and legs, could not speak, and liked uncooked food. He could not do most of the simple things that younger children can usually do (Malson 1972; Lane 1976). he was obviously deprived of socialization.

There have been similar stories of social deprivation this century. Anna, for example, was born in 1932 in Pennsylvania to a young unwed mother. The father was outraged by the birth and did not want to have anything to do with the child. The mother tried to give Anna away but could not, so she hid her in the attic and gave her just enough food to keep her alive. Anna was neither touched nor talked to, neither washed nor bathed. When she was found in 1938 at the age of 6, Anna could not talk or walk. She could do nothing but lie quietly on the floor, her eyes and face expressionless.

Children who receive little attention in orphanages suffer similar harmful effects. In 1945, researcher Rene Spitz reported on an orphanage where 18-month-old infants were left lying on their backs in tiny rooms most of the day without any human contact. Within a year, all had become physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially impaired. Two years later, more than a third of the children had died. Those who had survived could not speak, walk, dress themselves, or use a spoon (Spitz 1945).

Child geniuses 

While the lack of of normal socialization can destroy minds, specialized socialization can create geniuses. A young woman named Edith finished grammar school in four years, skipped high school, and went straight to college. She graduated from college at age 15 and obtained her doctorate before she was 18. Was she born a genius? We do not know. However, as soon as she stopped playing with dolls, her father filled her days with reading, mathematics, classical music, and intellectual discussions and debates. When she felt like playing, her father told her to play chess. This very special attention to her academic development is likely to have contributed significantly to her achievements. Another example is Adragon Eastwood Demello who graduated with a degree in mathematics at age 11. When he was a few months old, his father gave up his career as a science writer to educate him.

Many parents of geniuses have deliberately given their children very stimulating environments. In his study of Einstein, Picasso, Gandhi, and other world-famous geniuses in various fields, Howard Gardner (1993) found that they were all born into families that valued learning and achievement with at least one loving adult who especially encouraged their ability.

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IELTS online course Listening

Listening – Unit 1 – Exercises

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IELTS online course Listening

Listening – Unit 1 – Review Quiz

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IELTS online course

IELTS online course

This IELTS course will prepare you to take the IELTS Academic tests with confidence. You will have immediate access to IELTS practice materials covering each of the four skills: listening, reading, writing, speaking.

This innovative preparation course has been designed by Ms Quynh who has 8 years experience in teaching and tutoring IELTS. The course prepares you not only for the IELTS test but also for the “real world” so you can use English fluently in any context.

The course is conducted via Skype, so students are required to have good Internet connection, headphones and microphones.

The maximum number of students is 6 so that I can give each student full attention.

What you’ll learn

  • Learn about the IELTS test procedure and format
  • Learn useful test-taking strategies and skills for the IELTS Academic tests
  • Learn useful social knowledge to build your argument for IELTS Speaking and Writing Tests
  • Practise and develop skills and strategies by completing IELTS-style practice tests in reading, listening, speaking and writing
  • Develop your reading, writing, listening and speaking English skills

Contact me via Facebook to register for the IELTS online course.


IELTS Speaking – Part 2 – Describe a restaurant experience


You must have been to a restaurant at least once in your life. Some even go to restaurants everyday. However, when it comes to describing the experience at a restaurant, some students might still struggle with the topic as they lack of vocabulary to describe food and places. Let’s analyse a sample talk about a restaurant experience (extracted from IELTS Express – Intermediate).

Describe a recent restaurant experience. You should say: 

  • where you ate 
  • who you went with 
  • what you ate 
  • and explain how your felt about the experience 


The student presented in a logical order: provide a context, then describe the events and finally give his opinions. Here is my note on the key points of his talk:

  1. The context:
  • 2 weeks ago
  • a fast food place on Oxford street
  • with his girlfriend
  • early in the evening
  • Oxford street was busy
  • He’s a vegetarian

2. The events & his feelings

  • He had a veggie burger with french fries, and a large chocolate milkshake which was so good 
  • All cost about 4 pounds
  • His girlfriend had a salad a bottle of mineral water because she doesn’t like the type of food they have there.
  • He thinks she didn’t like it because it was covered in a very oily dressing.
  • She was pretty angry. 

 Tips for Speaking Part 2: 

  • Instead of trying to cover the points on the card only, you should tell an interesting story in a logical order. Of course you still need to cover all the points. But keeping in mind that you are telling a story would help you organize your talk and add your feelings and opinions easier.
  • As you can see from my notes above, apart from his opinion about the food, he also added extra information, for example, how much it cost, what his girlfriend had and why, and what he thinks about her feelings and why. It is encouraged to add extra information as long as they are relevant and all the details are well organized.


Previous lesson:

IELTS Speaking – Part 1 – Food


Learn more:

IELTS Vocabulary – Food 

IELTS Writing – Food

IELTS Speaking – Describe a family member