How good is your pollution vocabulary?
Many parts of the world suffer from pollution, and it is a topic that crops up regularly on test days.
Read the following speaking-style questions, paying close attention to words you don’t know and the words in bold. There are definitions for the words in bold at the end of the page.
Before you read the conversation, you might like to download this free PDF quiz and have a go at completing the blanks.
Part 1-style questions
Examiner: Are there many parks or public gardens where you live?
Candidate: I live in London, and although it’s heavily urbanised, there’s actually much more green space than you might expect. In fact, it’s the world’s first national park city! You can find some sanctuary in every neighbourhood, since 47% of the whole capital is made up of green spaces.
Examiner: How often do you visit a park?
Candidate: I like to keep fit, so I’m in the park most days. In Hyde Park, in Central London, you’ll often see lots of people cold water swimming in the Serpentine, a large body of water in the middle of the park. But I prefer canoeing!
Examiner: What do you do if you see litter in the park?
Candidate: I’m always disappointed to see people tarnishing our public parks with detritus from fast food or barbeques. I do try to pick it up when I can, but there can be so much that it would be overwhelming to collect it all myself. That’s why the Council does such an important public service in clearing waste.
Describe a place that you have been to that was polluted.
You should say:
– when and where you went
– why you went there
– what the pollution was like
and explain how you felt about this pollution.
The most polluted place I’ve ever been is Beijing. I was there on business a few years ago. It was long before the pandemic, but everybody was wearing face masks; it’s obviously just in the national psyche in China.
After all, pollution has been a problem there for years now. The pollution didn’t detract from the overall travel experience – the food and the culture more than made up for it! But I didn’t enjoy breathing the particles of hazardous substances which are emitted from cars, factories and other sources of pollution. I think change is long overdue in many parts of the world. Governments need to prioritise air quality over their economies. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen very often, although environmental awareness is increasing, and more people are thinking about sustainability.
Part 3-style questions
Examiner: What do you think is the most serious environmental problem in your country? [Evaluate]
Candidate: The most serious environmental problem here in the UK is the same one as in China, the air quality. In London, where there’s more traffic congestion than anywhere else in the country, people are at high risk of developing health conditions because they’re breathing polluted air.
Examiner: Who should be responsible for tackling the problem – business, the government or individuals? [Propose]
Candidate: We all need to collaborate on fixing the problem together. Businesses, the government and individuals all have a shared responsibility to enact change. The best place to start, though, would be government policy, like tightening up regulations on the most prolific polluters.
Examiner: Do you think this problem will be solved in the future? [Predict]
Candidate: Yes, because there’s no other choice. Humans are increasingly awakening to the fact that we need to take better care of our planet. That means reducing our carbon emissions by making changes to our lifestyle. There’s no other way to guarantee a sustainable future!
Definitions for IELTS Achievement Vocabulary
Urbanised – made into a town or city
Green space – parks, forests, fields
Sanctuary – a calm, quiet place
Neighbourhood – a part of a city
Keep fit – stay healthy
Cold water swimming – swimming in lakes, rivers or the sea
Body of water – usually a lake, can mean river or stream
Jogging – gentle running
Tarnishing – spoiling
Detritus – rubbish, litter
Barbeque – outdoor grill for meat
(local) Council – the organisation that manages a town or city
Public service – doing something that helps everyone
(to go/be…) On business – travelling for work, not a holiday
National psyche – Where a whole country believes or feels something
(to) Detract – to take away from
Particles – very small pieces, often in the air
Hazardous – unhealthy, dangerous
Emitted – given from
Overdue – late
(to) Prioritise – to decide something is more important than other things
Environmental awareness – thinking about the world around us
Sustainability – Something being able to continue as it is now
Traffic congestion – too many cars on the road
Health conditions – illness
Collaborate – work together
(to) Enact – to make something happen
Government policy – the Government’s plans
Regulations – rules
Prolific – doing something a lot
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