IELTS Topic: Environment

Vocab & Idioms

Go over the following vocabulary and expressions with your tutor. Read the word/expression and definition out loud, and your tutor will go over anything you do not understand. Practice creating a sentence or two to make sure you know how to use the word/expression properly.

Vocabulary/ Expressions

Recycle (v) – using materials like aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic containers, etc. and form it into something new that can be used
Use up (phrasal verb) – to consume completely
Emit (v) – produce something, especially gas, radiation, or harmful fumes
Renewable energy (n) – energy from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power
Pollution (n) – damage caused to water, air, etc. by harmful substances or waste
Awareness (n) – knowledge or perception of a situation or fact
Conservation (n) – the protection of plants, animals, natural areas, etc., especially from the damaging effects of human activity
Toxic waste (n) – unwanted chemicals that are the result of manufacturing or industry and that are poisonous to living
Earth Day (n) – celebrated every year on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection
Be in deep water (idiom) – to be in serious trouble

Part 1 Questions

Here are possible questions that might come up during the test. Go over them with your tutor.

Topic

  • Are there any pollution problems in your hometown?
  • Do you take any steps to help the environment?
  • Do you think it’s important to recycle materials like metal and plastic?

Part 2&3 Questions

Here are possible questions that might come up during the test. Go over them with your tutor.

Sample A

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe an environmental problem in your country. You should say:
    • what it is
    • how long it has existed
    • how it has affected people’s lives
    • and explain what we can do to solve the problem.

Part 3 Questions

  • What should governments do to protect the environment?
  • What should people do to protect the environment?

Sample B

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe an environmental problem that has been in the news recently. You should say:
    • what was the problem
    • when it happened
    • who was involved
    • and how you felt about it.

Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think it’s important to use renewable energy?
  • What are some examples how humans damage nature?

Sample C

Part 2 Questions

  • Talk about a way a noisy environment you experienced. You should say:
    • where it was
    • what type of noise it was
    • what you were doing at the time
    • and explain if it affected you negatively or not.

Part 3 Questions

  • Are people concerned about environmental problems in your country?
  • What are some ways water pollution can be reduced?

Sample Answers

Here are some sample answers. Go over them with your tutor.

Part 1 Questions

  • question Are there any problems with pollution in your hometown?
    • answer I’m from a small town, so we don’t have many problems with pollution. However, I have to say there are a lot of people who like to throw their trash on the side of the roads, especially in the rural areas.
  • question Do you take any steps to help the environment?
    • answer When I was an immature young adult, I didn’t care as much about the environment. Now that I’m a mature older adult it’s different. One way I help is to reuse rain to water my lawn, garden, and houseplants. Another way is to advocate for protecting nature on Earth Day annually.
  • question Do you think it’s important to recycle materials like metal and plastic?
    • answer By all means, because it’s important to protect the environment. I just wish more governments and countries would implement recycling programs to include awareness of the need to recycle.

Part 2&3 Answers

Here are some sample answers. Go over them with your tutor.

Sample A

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe an environmental problem in your country. You should say:
    • what it is
    • how long it has existed
    • how it has affected people’s lives
    • and explain what we can do to solve the problem.

One of the biggest problems in the USA is air pollution, largely in big cities. Since I’m from a small town, I don’t see this problem, but when I go to a city like New York City I’m shocked with the heavy smog that fills the air. One time I couldn’t see the top of the skyscrapers because the it was so bad. Just as a note, I know this problem doesn’t exist only in the USA. I’ve seen pictures of other cities such as Beijing China, Santiago Chile, and Bangkok Thailand. It appears the problem is worse in these cities.

I’m not sure how long the USA has had this problem, but I’m sure it has existed for a long time. I would guess the problem started during the industrial revolution and when gas powered cars started becoming popular. Ever since, I would think, it has gotten worse and worse.

Unfortunately, when there’s prolonged heavy air pollution, it causes several problems like permanent health effects, acid rain that contaminates the earth’s water, and damage to plants and animals.

Now, I want to talk a little about the health problems that air pollution causes. We as humans breath in this polluted air, which can cause respiratory problems. Just think about the effects of cigarette smoke on the lungs. Well, breathing in contaminated air has a similar effect. One more deadly medical condition iis cancer. It’s documented that breathing in smog can cause lung cancer.

So, people ask what can be done about air pollution. The simple answer is to reduce it. However, the more difficult part is actually doing it. A couple of ways would be to replace gas powered car engines with environmentally friendly electric ones, umm, reduce toxic emissions from industrial plants, better education, and promote public awareness.

I hope someday the air quality improves throughout the world or we are in deep water in the future.


Part 3 Questions

  • What should governments do to protect the environment?
    • In my opinion, I think governments all over the world should thoroughly review their environmental laws and change them to be more strict, especially with industrial companies who are known violators of toxic waste in our water, air, and land. Umm, also, they should provide a better way to educate their citizens about conservation because we need to protect our natural areas better. If we are not careful the world will be in deep water when too much of our land is destroyed.
  • What should people do to protect the environment?
    • Everybody has the responsibility to safeguard our precious natural resources. It doesn’t solely fall on the government. Take renewable energy for example. Using these reusable substances such as rain, wind, and sunlight can help the environment. More people should invest into these power producing options, although currently these machines are too expensive. So, I can understand why people don’t buy them. If the companies who make them lowered the prices, it would encourage people to purchase them.

Sample B

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe an environmental problem that has been in the news recently. You should say:
    • what was the problem
    • when it happened
    • who was involved
    • and how you felt about it.

To be honest, I don’t follow the international or local news so this question is difficult to answer. Having said that, I’m going to talk about an environmental disaster that happened several years ago. I think I will always remember this event, which was the Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska. This man-made catastrophe was in the news for several weeks and the cleanup lasted for, I think, a few years.

The news coverage showed the devastation to the natural habitat along the entire western coast of Alaska. Since millions of gallons of oil was spilled in the Pacific Ocean, I’m sure the terrible effects of the toxic water was not just in the vicinity of the spill. The photos and videos of the damage that occurred were impressionable and bleak. I had a hard time understanding how such an evident could occur.

An oil tanker ran aground and If I recall correctly, it was due to faulty radar equipment and human error by the ship’s crew. I believe the captain of the ship was, umm, blamed for the devastating environmental disaster even though he was sleeping at the time.

The aftermath was a terrible sight for the eyes. Wildlife like birds, otters, fish, and other sea creatures were covered in oil and some barely alive. Other photos showed the natural land like plants and earth covered in the thick gooey oil. I was filled with disgust and wanted to help, but I couldn’t. I have to give credit to all the cleanup volunteers and to the people and businesses who donated money.

I know accidents happen, but this accident was avoidable. I think I read later that some of the crew and the company were held accountable for their actions or lack thereof. I’m not sure what the penalties were, but I don’t think they were severe enough for what happened and the degree of negligence on the part of the company and ship crew.

What is a couple million dollars in fines to a huge company like Exxon Mobil? …Nothing!


Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think it’s important to use renewable energy?
    • It is of the utmost importance. If we don’t start using more of this type of energy the fossil fuels will be used up and the world will be in an energy crisis. Also, if we keep using these natural resources, we will continue to destroy our cherished land. It’s important for companies to continue their innovation and research to develop and make better and less costly devices to use our precious renewable substances. In the long run the world will be a better place for all.
  • What are some examples how humans damage nature?
    • The one I can think of right off the bat is littering. It drives me nuts when I see all the trash alongside the roads. Well, It’s not just in my country, but in every country I’ve visited. It’s depressing at times. I don’t understand why people aren’t more conscientious of their actions. Another example is cars. Too many people want to drive to and from work or their personal activities, which escalates the current air pollution problem with the fumes that emit from the exhaust. More people should carpool or take public transportation.

Sample C

Part 2 Questions

  • Talk about a way a noisy environment you experienced. You should say:
    • where it was
    • what type of noise it was
    • what you were doing at the time
    • and explain if it affected you negatively or not.

Noisy conditions are the reason why I don’t like living in big cities or crowded neighborhoods.

Back in 2010, I was living in a residential area in Santiago Chile and my home was in a gated community where the townhouses are connected. My place was an end unit so there was only one other home connected to mine and 2 others unconnected, one to the back and the other to the right. Out of all the neighbors, the one to the back was the loudest. They were obnoxiously loud, especially at night on the weekends between 12 – 4 am.

So just imagine 10-15 young immature adults who are drinking beer, playing loud music, and trying to talk over the loud music. It was unbearable! To make it worse, my bedroom was in the back and I slept with the windows open because I didn’t have air conditioning and it was extremely hot during the nights in the summer. Even sleeping in my front room was disruptive to my sleep. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

I tried to ask them to keep the noise down to no avail. My next step was to call the police, but one of my other neighbors said they did that and the police did nothing. I guess I was expected to put up with it regardless of not being able to sleep. Thankfully, they didn’t party loudly every weekend.

Until this day, that particular neighbor still ranks as the worst and rudest one I had in my life, hands down. The complete and utter disrespect for others was unbelieveable. The only thing they cared about was themselves and having fun.

I can only imagine what the noise pollution is like living in a crowded city day everyday and night. No thank you, not for me! I’ll take any humble abode in the countryside over a city home in a noisy environment.


Part 3 Questions

  • Are people concerned about environmental problems in your country?
    • According to a report I heard on the nightly news about 50% of the general population in the USA does care. I only wish the other 50% did. It would make my country a cleaner and safer place to live. Umm, I kinda feel sorry for our future generations because they will inherit the environmental problems we created. I just hope it’s not too late. We need to educate, not just our children, but the adults also.
  • What are some ways water pollution can be reduced?
    • Well, we can start with stricter laws against the violators such as oil companies and manufacturing plants who dump toxic wastes into the world’s water sources. It seems like every other week I hear a news report about an environmental accident involving a chemical company or an industrial plant. Another example, would involve the general public cleaning up after themselves, especially when they are at the beach. Every time I go to the beach I see trash like plastic bags floating in the ocean.

Wrap-up

Go over any new expressions or vocabulary that you learned today.

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