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CPE writing 1 – question and four example answers

 

Writing part 1 all together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a = 4332

b = 5445

c = 5445

d = 5555

Hours of “Extra” listening practice in 5 steps

The best place to learn English is in an English-speaking country because you are exposed to English a lot and have the chance to use it. You get practice listening in the classroom, and extra practice outside the classroom. In the 21st century you can expose yourself to lots of English in your own country. Everybody knows about it, but not many actually do it.  Below are 5 steps to help you “achieve” this.

1 – get hold of a variety of things to listen to in English. This way you can listen to what you feel like listening to at a particular moment. We spend hours of time “making” ourselves do things when working or studying at university  / school . So listening to English should be a pleasure, and not I DON’T WANT TO LISTEN TO THIS NOW BUT I MUST DO IT TO LEARN ENGLISH pain mentality.  You’re not lazy, you just don’t want more pain than you already have. When choosing think about these guidelines:

a – the more interesting the better: If you like it you will do it. “English for pleasure not pain”

b – the more relevant to your needs the better: If you feel it is useful you will do it. E.g. if you want to improve your speaking with other people, listening to people speaking to other people is more relevant than listening to the news. If you want learn about motivation, then you need lots of motivation speeches.

c – the shorter the better: If the listening is 1-2 minutes, you can listen more times in 5 minutes = easier. If it is only 5 minutes of listening it is also easier to “find time”. People often complain “I don’t have enough time.” This is true if we need to find 60 minutes of complete focus on nothing but English, but we can all find 5 minutes somewhere in the day! If we find 5 minutes 3 times a day, that’s an extra 15 minutes per day,  an extra 30 hours per year.

d – the easier the better: If it is easy, it does not take as much energy = you will want to do it more. Of course, if it is “too easy” / “this is so easy it is wasting my time”, then it is not interesting. So “Easy” but you still feel positive about it. * Easy can be because it is slower, or does not have a lot of new words, or, for example, a movie with subtitles in your language. One example of “Easy” is a movie with subtitles in your language.

 

these are guidelines to think about. They are not 100% rules that ALL have to be followed with EVERYTHING.  Something may be long and difficult, but it is really interesting and relevant, so that’s fine. Use common sense and how you feel.   And remember, the types of things you feel like listening to can change with time or mood!

Examples of a variety of things are: podcasts with short dialogues, songs, TV series, movies, songs, news apps, English learning podcasts, audiobooks, audio fairytales, different youtube channels…

2 – Create “Easy – start” conditions: At the university where I teach, there are lots of machines selling Coca-Cola. If I want a Coke, it’s only a few minutes’ walk away wherever I am in the university.  It’s easy to get a coke.  Do the same with your listening. Make it easy to start. Put this “variety of listenings” on all your devices (phones, tablets, computers). Buy two / three earphones for listening. If you want, buy an mp3 player and put it with earphones in the pocket of a jacket you often wear. When I was doing this in Chinese, I had 3 mp3 players with their own ear-phones in three different jackets.

3 – Plan your “places of practice” :  Below is a table with my “plan” for the next month of “where” I will listen to Chinese / Arabic. Under the table are some more examples of situations:

Place / action

Duration

Listening type *

Plan

At the computer typing low-focus e-mails / blog entries

5 – 120 minutes

Low-focus only *

When I feel like it

Doing the dishes

15 minutes morning / evening

Both low-focus and high-focus*

Each time

Walking to the station

12 minutes

Both

When I feel like it

Walking from the station to university

40 minutes

Both

Each time

Washing the floors

20-60 minutes

Both

When I feel like it

Skiing / running

20-30 minutes

Both

When I feel like it

Tidying up

15 minutes

Both

When I feel like it

Listening type *

This is really important to think about.

* High-focus listening = you feel the need to focus all your attention on the listening. Often this can be a movie you haven’t seen, or a podcast that you will only listen to once.  If you are doing some mental work or may be distracted by other people, then you can’t do high-focus listening.

* Low-focus listening = you can listen for a bit, then stop listening while looking at something else, then come back to listening. For example, as I type this I am listening to a Chinese TV series that I have already watched. If I focus more on my work, I stop listening, but when I focus less on my work, I hear more “bits” of the film. Because I have already watched the TV series, it doesn’t matter that I missed bits of it.

Other “Places of practice”

working out at the gym /  sitting in the train / bus on the way to work / walking my dog /putting on make-up / waiting in a queue in a shop, cafe, post office  / ironing the clothes etc

4 – each day keep a record of the approximate amount of time you spent listening when doing something.  At the end of the week look at

how many minutes you did

where you did the listening

why you didn’t do it where you thought you would

 

then re-write your table.

After a few weeks you will be listening a lot more.

 

5 – As you listen, speak!! More on this later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read for Writing: negative effects of social networks

1 – read the writing question and answer the question: What is the “topic(s)” language”?

 

Some people say that children’s use of social networks, due to the negative effects, should be restricted at home and banned at school.

To what extent do you agree?

 

 

2  – Brainstorm negative effects of networking, particularly on children / teens. Make a note

 

3 – Do the same for positive effects

4 – Look at your notes, what collocations / phrases did you use? Can you think of alternatives to increase your linguistic choice?

5 – skim read the three articles to see which points you brainstormed are made.

article one

article two

article three

 

 

 

 

6 – copy into one document the more “interesting points” on positives and negatives.

7 – highlight collocations / phrases that you would like to activate (either in this essay or another)

8 – Plan your essay:

Read the statement / questions again

Some people say that children’s use of social networks, due to the negative effects, should be restricted at home and banned at school.

To what extent do you agree?

 

  • Do you need to discuss both sides?
  • Do you need to talk about both advantages and disadvantages?

 

Answer:

As always, you just need to answer the question. In this case it is “To what extent do you agree?” So you just need to say…

fully agree / mostly agree/ generally agree / partially agreee/  fully disagree / disagree with some exceptions etc…

Naturally in your essay you will have to talk about the negatives. If you completely agree, then you won’t need to talk about positives very much, if you fully disagree, then you will need to show why common negatives are wrong, while also showing the positive sides to a greater extent.

 

9 –  write your essay

 

10 – read what others have written

 

Homelessness: Canada / Australia

Pre-reading

Before reading the following article from CBCnews guess your answer to the question below, then read to see if you were right:

 

What are the reasons for the jump in the amount of homeless people in Vancouver?

What does the local government plan to do?

 

Reading

Homeless count finds housing affordability crisis driving numbers up

Half of people surveyed said lack of income and lack of affordable housing main reason for plight

 

Housing costs and a lack of income are driving up the numbers of Lower Mainland homeless, 22 per cent of whom were employed full or part-time, according to the latest count conducted by Metro Vancouver.

The report issued Tuesday said the takeaway from this year’s homeless count is the need for more affordable housing.

About half of the people surveyed said housing costs and a lack of income were the main reasons they slept on the street or in shelters.

“In order to stem growing homelessness, it is clear we need more affordable housing options,” Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay, the chair of the region’s housing committee, said in a statement.

 

More seniors, fewer youths

About half the people surveyed had lived in the region 10 years or more before becoming homeless.

Vancouver, Surrey and Langley were the three cities with the most homeless people.

The report found 82 per cent of those surveyed had at least one health condition.

 

Aboriginal homelessness ‘troubling’

A finding 34 per cent of the homeless people surveyed were Aboriginal, an increase of 28 per cent from 2014, was called “troubling” by the authors of a separate report released Monday.

Aboriginal people only account for 2.5 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s total population.

“The enduring effects of colonization, the legacy of the residential school system and the impact of child welfare and the foster care system continue to impact the daily experience of many Aboriginal Peoples and families and directly contribute to the high incidence of Aboriginal homelessness,” the report read.

“The bottom line shows that Aboriginal peoples are 18 times more likely to be homeless in Metro Vancouver than the mainstream population.”

 

Read through the article again

  1. highlight 4-6 points of interest. In those points, underline some key collocations.
  2. re-tell in class the key points of interest for discussion

 

Extra

 

Read through the next article, from the Dail Telegraph (Australia), guess as many options as you can for the missing words

 

Homelessness is an increasingly 1)________problem in Sydney, especially in the inner city where it’s hard to miss the growing number of beggars, rough sleepers and people doing it tough on the streets. It’s a confronting, distressing sight.

Most of us are guilty at some stage of turning a blind eye to this suffering, writing it 2)______as a hopeless affair that can’t be solved. But that is simply not true. Sure, there is no magic 3)_______to solve homelessness, it’s a complex issue with complex causes, but there is one fundamental issue helping to perpetuate the cycle: a lack of affordable housing.

For decades, Australia has failed to meet the housing needs of our lowest income residents and nowhere is that more obvious than in Sydney. Housing affordability is at an all-time low and rents are skyrocketing, 4)_________more low and middle income earners at risk of homelessness than ever before. A single person on minimum wage can now pay up to 68 per cent of their income to rent a one-bedroom flat. Low income households earning $500 a week can pay up to 85 per cent of their income on rent. Many households are 5)___________just one unexpected expense away from disaster.

“In order to 6)___________homelessness we really need to have some affordable housing,” Homelessness NSW CEO Katherine McKernan says. “Crisis services are experiencing 7)__________demand but there’s simply nowhere to refer people into long-term accommodation.

“So there’s blockages occurring, which is why there’s an increase in rough sleeping because people simply aren’t able to access services.”

 

There’s nothing humane about sleeping on the street, it is never, ever a choice. Community attitudes, however, tend to 8)________some blame on the person experiencing it. A public perception survey by Homelessness Australia in 2014 found most people believed bad decision making, mental illness and substance abuse were the major causes of homelessness. The reality was that housing affordability, financial difficulties and family violence were much 9)_______drivers.

 

While the NSW Government has invested $22 million in additional private rental subsidies to provide access to housing for young people, women and children escaping violence, it doesn’t address 10)______________ issues like rental market affordability. It won’t address the 11)___________social housing waiting list nor the current high demand for homelessness services. And ultimately it boosts the coffers of private rental landlords rather than addressing the 11)___________issues contributing 12)_____high rents in Sydney, and the lack of affordable housing in general.

There is 13)__________evidence that a ‘housing first approach’ can reduce the risk and break the cycle of homelessness. That’s because when people have a roof over their heads with adequate support services, they’re more likely to get their life back on track.

“If you provide long-term accommodation with support, people will stay housed, they won’t fall back into homelessness,” McKernan says.

A Sydney housing forum was told last week that another 100,000 affordable homes must be made available in NSW over the next two decades to reduce housing stress and the risk of homelessness. That means 14)__________policies such as inclusionary zoning to ensure a percentage of new developments are affordable housing. That means developing innovative financial models to support more affordable housing.

An increase of supply won’t solve all of Sydney’s housing 15)_______but it will have a significant impact.

All it requires is the political will to create a city where everyone has access to housing, where everyone counts.

 

Click on the link here to find the answers, I also recommend reading the comments to the side of the article

 

 

 

Canadian view on Russia – US election scandal

Pre-reading

Before reading the following article from the Toronto Star guess your answer to the question below, then read to see if you were right:

 

Which countries will the author critcise: Russia, China, America, Saudi Arabia, Canada?

Reading

Why is Vladimir Putin’s Russia seen as uniquely evil?

The question comes to mind again following former U.S. national security advisor Michael Flynn’s decision to plead guilty to charges of lying to the FBI about his conversations in late 2016 with Russia’s then ambassador to Washington.

So far, most reportage has concentrated on the effect this will have on U.S. President Donald Trump,

But I’m stuck on a prior question: Why did Flynn feel it necessary to lie in the first place? What was wrong with someone sure to be a key member of the new administration talking to an important foreign ambassador?

Technically, Flynn could have been charged under a 1799 law aimed at preventing private citizens from discussing matters of state with foreign entities. But it’s a law that, for obvious reasons, has never been used.

I expect Flynn wouldn’t have bothered lying to the FBI about conversations with, say, the Canadian ambassador on matters of mutual interest. But, in this climate, talking to the Russians was simply one step too far.

The ostensible reason is the widely held belief that Russian hackers working under Putin’s orders undermined the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The unspoken corollary is that Putin is responsible for Trump’s victory. The reigning conspiracy theory is that Trump and/or his minions colluded with Putin to bring this about.

All of this is possible. Sometimes there are conspiracies.

The simpler explanation, however, is that Trump won because his brand of right-wing populism worked particularly well in the complicated U.S. electoral college system and because his opponent, Hillary Clinton, ran a terrible campaign.

But the conspiracy theory fits the popular Western notion of Putin as evil genius.

I’m not sure why this notion holds. It is true that Russian elections are stacked. But as long-time political operative Donna Brazile has pointed out in a recent book, so is the U.S. Democratic Party’s nomination process.

At least the Russians do have elections, a nicety that the Saudis, say, don’t bother with.

Putin is justly criticized for unilaterally annexing Crimea to Russia. Yet no Western government berates China for its unilateral annexation of Tibet in 1950.

Beijing’s argument that Tibet is historically part of China is accepted. Putin’s argument that Crimea is historically part of Russia is not.

Canada, for instance, has imposed economic sanctions against figures around Putin for their gross violation of human rights. It has done nothing against Chinese rights violators close to Xi.

Some of the reasons for this double standard are economic. China is the world’s second-largest economy. Western business people want a piece of the action.

To that end, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to China thus week is focused on trade and investment. Don’t expect sunny Trudeau to dwell on downers such as Xi’s human rights record.

Other reasons for the double standard are geopolitical. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West became accustomed to a diminished Russia. To see it reasserting itself today in its traditional spheres of influence — Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Baltic states, Central Asia — is disconcerting.

China is also reasserting itself, particularly in the South China Sea. But that has given rise to little popular alarm in the West.

Which brings me back to Michael Flynn and America’s current fascination with the Russian threat. The notion of Trump as Putin’s malleable tool has the eerily familiar ring of Cold War paranoia. And it is equally improbable.

 

(article is adapted from here)

Read through the article again

  1. highlight 4-6 points of interest. In those points, underline some key collocations.
  2. re-tell in class the key points of interest for discussion

 

 

Python for linguists: beginner course + NLTK

If you’re interested in analysing how words are used in different contexts, or which words are more popular than others, analysing corporas, or just want to process people’s twitter / social media accounts to see who /what they’re positive about and what they don’t like so much, then python language programming can help.

And it’s easier than you think .

you can either search the internet for advice  / videos on

“how to use python to….”

and generally end up watching some videos to learn. Just two points:

1 – make sure you actually do yourself on your computer what you see in the video  (or read)

2 – as you “do” on your computer, play with what you’re doing, change it, experiment, have fun.

for learning about analysing language use, you can do the above, or follow the outline given below..

 

About the outline below, when followng it I recommend flexibility, i.e.

  • skip stuff that’s boring
  • look up more videos / articles for stuff that is difficult / more interesting
  • skip stuff that is still difficult after the previous advice
  • don’t be afraid at any moment to brach out into doing other things in python. THe stuff you learn will help with Natural Language Processing
  • definitely watch videos of stuff with python for doing anything so you raise your awareness of capabilities (in tihs case it miught be a good idea not to worry about actually doing what you see, just watch and pick pu general ideas even if you’re not sure about everything that is going on)
  • do stuff regularly, in smaller chunks
  • play and tweak…

 

 

Step 1: (if you’re new to python)

learn the basics of python.: good place to start is this free online course

NOTE: if you EVER have a problem, and the program tells you something is wrong, copy the message the program gives you, put it into a search engine, and you will find links to a GREAT tutoring forum

https://stackoverflow.com/

 

Step 2: NLTK  – Natural Language Toolkit

look into NLTK, a toolkit that helps analyse language:

a – watch videos 3,4,5,6 (click here)

NOTE: the book for NLTK is available online for free. Before, during or as you do step 2 a, you may like to read the first three chapters of the book (here)

b – then watch the series here  (ignore the fact that the guy is working from the “black and white” command line, you can do the same things in a Python IDLE)

c-  Do the course here (skipping stuff covered in the previous course)

At all times, any time you hav a question, pop it into a search engine to learn. There’s a lot of help for programming out there

 

after that look into regular expressions with python, scraping, plotting and other great stuff!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IELTS Writing Task 2: Discuss Both Sides and Give your Opinion

Click on the image below to download the PDF

IELTS essay discuss both sides

 

CPE Writing for “5”: Book Review (question + example answer)

Read the task below and note the key content points as well as the “detail” within them

CPE writing book review

Scroll down ……….

 

 

 

 

 

Read through the example answer and answer the following questions (CPE criteria “content” = 5)

Is all the content relevant to the task?

Are you, the target reader, fully informed as to the points highlighted in the task?

Book review.

By Lena Vertugina

The name of the book I would like to write about will provoke no instant response in the soul of an average European reader, neither it will be familiar to the majority of Russians, to which nation belongs its author Alexander Sharov, which is undoubtedly sad. “Yozhenka”, as it sounds in Russian, is by all means, one of the most romantic, educating and beautifully written stories ever.

Its heroine, Yozhenka, is a little girl who came into existence when a kind artist (also a book character) drew her with a pencil that initially was a hedgehog’s needle, hence the name of the girl that can loosely be translated into English as “a little hedgehog-girl”. She then embarks on all sorts of adventure, learns to enjoy life together with other inhabitants of the island, also drawn by the kind artist, her father, and, finally, undertakes a dangerous journey across wild seas to wage a battle against the evil characters of the story, who, in their turn, were created by an evil artist, a sibling brother of the kind one. Of course, in the end peace is established and all wicked heroes are cured of their malevolence and make friends with other characters.

The plot being schematically explained, it is worth clarifying why this story, seemingly being quite common in treating the everlasting conflict of the Good and the Evil, could still be still appealing to the young generation of Russian kids. It is all in the idea that we all are responsible for the actions we take, the friends we choose, the words we say to each other, that every page of the book is rich. “Grow up to become a kind artist of your destiny!” – the author hints. Moreover, while reading one just gets so much captivated by what is going on in the story that cannot but experience the whole range of emotions from fear and rage to complete elation – the effect ensured by the fantastic beauty of the narrator’s language. What can be more important than living a book that teaches us the most crucial and individuality-forming things in our whole future life?

Having been the most remarkable book of my own childhood and the early years of my daughters, “Yozhenka” is unfairly little known to readers in our country. I would very much like to see it turned into a wonderful cartoon or even a feature film and carry its charge of kindness and creativity to generations to come.

 

To learn more about the author of the above example, Lena Vertugina, please follow the links below….

Personal page:

https://vk.com/id4783208

Group page

https://vk.com/englishtogoo

 

 

IELTS Writing Task 2: Advantages and Disadvantages

Click on the link below to download the Advantages and Disadvantages PDF

IELTS Writing Task Two - Advantages and Disadvantages

Choosing a primary care physician in the US

Video 1

Pre-watching questions:

Do you feel more comfortable with a male or female physician? Why?

Do you usually turn to friends or family when looking for recommendation for a doctor?

How would you feel if your doctor had one of the following approaches:

  • parental
  • authoritative
  • caring
  • analytical

How many office / doctor visits do you schedule per year?

What’s your BMI (check here)

 

Now watch the video, as you watch, pick which of the above expressions in bold are used

 

 

Post-watching questions

First fill in the gaps, then check answers (scroll down) then discuss

  1. Do you really need to make a list before going to the doctor to get the most___ of the appointment?
  2. Are check-__only for old people?
  3. What did you think generally of the ______of advice?
  4. How important is it to keep your physician __ – to – ___ with your health?

 

 

Follow-up videos

Watch the following videos. Compare the advice they all give

 

 

 

Answers:

  1. get the most out of something
  2. a check-up(s)
  3. a piece(s) of advice
  4. keep someone up-to-date

 

 

 

 

 

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