This is a guest post and MP3 by Ben Worthington from IELTS Podcast. If you are studying for the IELTS exam, this can be an invaluable resource to improve your score! Learn more here.
The environment is a hot topic at the moment and has been for some time. For this reason, it comes up as a topic in the Speaking section of the IELTS quite frequently. There are words and phrases that are quite specifically related to the environment so you’d do well to practice and understand them.
We’ve put together some of the typical questions that get asked and paired them with answers. Enhancing your IELTS Vocabulary should help you to do well in this section of the test. If you have any doubts about the meanings of the phrases, words or collocations that are highlighted in the passages scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll find their explanations.
Part 1 Type Questions
Examiner: Do you believe that pollution is a big problem?
Answer: Pollution is without a doubt a problem. In some countries, the air quality is so poor that people wear face masks in areas where there is heavy industry. The waterways are polluted and the ocean is full of plastic.
Examiner: Do you or your family do anything to protect the environment
Answer: We are very conscious of the earth’s scarce resources. We water our garden using grey water. We also collect rainwater off the roof. We use energy efficient lights and fans and we recycle our household waste wherever it is practical.
Examiner: Have you ever taken part in an event centred around the environment?
Answer: I have. We attend a big beach clean-up once a month. We are part of a group cleaning up the natural habitat of the birds and small sea creatures that live on the beach. Some of the birds that breed on the waterline have been identified as endangered species.
Part 2 Type Question
Examiner: Describe an environmental disaster that has made the news.
In this question, you should describe the event, where it took place and the effect that it had on the environment
Answer: A few years ago, two commercial ships collided outside Galveston in Texas. Between them, they lost hundreds of thousands of litres of marine fuel into the ocean. It contaminated the seventh largest estuary in the world. The oil spill also floated out into the open water in the Gulf of Mexico. Environmentalists at the time said that every type of marine life was under threat, as marine fuel smothers birds, animals, and fish. It was the start of the spring migration and the animal sanctuaries along the coast reported catching and cleaning many animals coated in oil. The shrimp and crabs had started to spawn and the concern was that they were at the bottom of the food chain and would contaminate all of the larger species
Part 3 Type Questions
Examiner: Do you think that your government does enough to control environmental damage?
Answer: I don’t believe that they do. I have personally seen streams and rivers where industrial effluent is evident. We burn too many fossil fuels to generate electricity and the government still has not introduced a carbon tax in my country.
Examiner: What do you think is the biggest environmental problem faced by the world?
Answer: I believe that the biggest environmental problem facing the earth is rapid deforestation. Eighty percent of the earth’s animals and birds live in forests and the loss of habitat could result in the mass extinction of these animals. Deforestation also drives climate change.
Examiner: How should we teach our children to care for the environment
Answer: Our children follow our example. They should see us conserving water, making use of energy efficient resources and recycling glass, paper and other recyclable materials. We should all stop using single-use plastic products.
- Air quality – The degree to which the air is free of pollution
- Animal sanctuary – A place of safety for distressed animals
- Carbon tax- A tax on fossil fuels
- Conserving water – To use water sparingly
- Endangered species – A species that is close to extinction
- Energy efficient – To use as much energy as is required with no wastage
- Environmentalists – Someone who is concerned about the environment
- Estuary – The large tidal area of one or more river
- Fossil fuel – Fuel such as coal or diesel, formed from organic material
- Grey water – Fairly clean waste water from baths and showers
- Heavy industry – An area of factories which use heavy machinery
- Industrial effluent – Liquid waste from factories
- Loss of habitat – Loss of natural living areas
- Marine life – Living creatures in the sea or ocean
- Mass extinction – The largescale total loss of species
- Natural habitat – The natural living space of a particular species
- Oil Spill – Oil which has escaped into a body of water
- Rapid deforestation – The fast destruction of forests
- Recyclable materials – Materials which can be re-used once reworked
- Scarce resources – A limited amount of materials such as water
- Spring migration – The movement of animals from north to south or vice versa
- The food chain – Living organisms in a hierarchy that depend on the one below for sustenance
- To be under threat – To be at risk
- To contaminate – To poison or pollute
- To spawn – The release of eggs by fish or frogs.