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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay on the topic of children learning languages and the challenge/difficulty from the real IELTS exam.

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Dave

IELTS Essay: Children Learning Languages

Because many children are not able to learn foreign languages, schools should not force them to learn foreign languages.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Some feel that since it is challenging for children to learn a foreign language, schools should not emphasize this subject area. In my opinion, the challenge is the entire justification for supporting second language education.

Critics argue that the majority of children are simply incapable of learning an additional language. The best evidence for this is anecdotal and relates to the increasingly large burden of work placed on young children. Schools in many parts of the world, particularly in high-achieving nations such as South Korea and Japan, are in session for many hours and students learn an array of subjects. They are usually taught English, the world’s lingua franca, and this is especially difficult for speakers of Asian languages, where there is little shared linguistic history. The end result is often that students waste time and may feel discouraged and lack self-esteem.

However, children can learn languages better than adults and the challenge presented is itself an important lesson. If the schools have invested in proper training and use engaging materials then the lessons will not be boring and there is a stronger likelihood of success. Research has shown that language learning is most effective before the age of 7, with pronunciation becoming a stumbling block for older learners who already have fixed vocal formations. Moreover, the difficulty of learning a language encourages children to work harder and expand their ability to learn in creative ways. This applies to all subjects but languages stand out as students must seek novel memorization techniques and view the world from a completely different perspective.

In conclusion, despite the low rates of success in many cases, the impact of attempting to learn a language is itself tremendously beneficial. Schools should therefore continue funding this part of the curriculum.

Analysis

1. Some feel that since it is challenging for children to learn a foreign language, schools should not emphasize this subject area. 2. In my opinion, the challenge is the entire justification for supporting second language education.

  1. Paraphrase the overall essay topic.
  2. Write a clear opinion. Read more about introductions here.

1. Critics argue that the majority of children are simply incapable of learning an additional language. 2. The best evidence for this is anecdotal and relates to the increasingly large burden of work placed on young children. 3. Schools in many parts of the world, particularly in high-achieving nations such as South Korea and Japan, are in session for many hours and students learn an array of subjects. 4. They are usually taught English, the world’s lingua franca, and this is especially difficult for speakers of Asian languages, where there is little shared linguistic history. 5. The end result is often that students waste time and may feel discouraged and lack self-esteem.

  1. Write a topic sentence with a clear main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Develop it with specific or hypothetical examples.
  4. Keep developing it fully.
  5. You can have a second main idea.

1. However, children can learn languages better than adults and the challenge presented is itself an important lesson. 2. If the schools have invested in proper training and use engaging materials then the lessons will not be boring and there is a stronger likelihood of success. 3. Research has shown that language learning is most effective before the age of 7, with pronunciation becoming a stumbling block for older learners who already have fixed vocal formations. 4. Moreover, the difficulty of learning a language encourages children to work harder and expand their ability to learn in creative ways. 5. This applies to all subjects but languages stand out as students must seek novel memorization techniques and view the world from a completely different perspective.

  1. Write a new topic sentence with a new main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your new main idea.
  3. Include specific details and examples.
  4. Add as much information as you can and make sure it links logically.
  5. Develop the example fully.

1. In conclusion, despite the low rates of success in many cases, the impact of attempting to learn a language is itself tremendously beneficial. 2. Schools should therefore continue funding this part of the curriculum.

  1. Summarise your main ideas.
  2. Include a final thought. Read more about conclusions here.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean? Make some notes on paper to aid memory and then check below.

Some feel that since it is challenging for children to learn a foreign language, schools should not emphasize this subject area. In my opinion, the challenge is the entire justification for supporting second language education.

Critics argue that the majority of children are simply incapable of learning an additional language. The best evidence for this is anecdotal and relates to the increasingly large burden of work placed on young children. Schools in many parts of the world, particularly in high-achieving nations such as South Korea and Japan, are in session for many hours and students learn an array of subjects. They are usually taught English, the world’s lingua franca, and this is especially difficult for speakers of Asian languages, where there is little shared linguistic history. The end result is often that students waste time and may feel discouraged and lack self-esteem.

However, children can learn languages better than adults and the challenge presented is itself an important lesson. If the schools have invested in proper training and use engaging materials then the lessons will not be boring and there is a stronger likelihood of success. Research has shown that language learning is most effective before the age of 7, with pronunciation becoming a stumbling block for older learners who already have fixed vocal formations. Moreover, the difficulty of learning a language encourages children to work harder and expand their ability to learn in creative ways. This applies to all subjects but languages stand out as students must seek novel memorization techniques and view the world from a completely different perspective.

In conclusion, despite the low rates of success in many cases, the impact of attempting to learn a language is itself tremendously beneficial. Schools should therefore continue funding this part of the curriculum.

Answers

For extra practice, write an antonym (opposite word) on a piece of paper to help you remember the new vocabulary:

since because of

challenging difficulty

foreign language a language from another country

emphasize focus on

subject area what you study at school

entire justification whole reason

supporting second language education giving resources to classes for foreign languages

critics those against it

majority most of

incapable aren’t able to

additional language another tongue

best evidence for this clearest support in this area

anecdotal stories

relates to concerning

increasingly large getting bigger

burden of work pressure from homework

placed on put on

in many parts of the world in numerous countries

particularly in especially in

high-achieving nations countries with good scores

in session operating

array variety

lingua franca common language among non-native speakers

little shared linguistic history not much the same in the past of the languages

end result final outcome

waste time not use time well

discouraged not encouraged

lack self-esteem don’t think highly of yourself

presented shown

invested put money into

proper training good preparation

engaging interesting

stronger likelihood of success better chance of working out

research has shown that studies indicate that

effective useful

pronunciation how well you say words

stumbling block difficulty

fixed vocal formations muscles in your mouth can’t change

encourages engenders

expand move beyond

creative ways new methods

applies relates to

stand out especially

novel memorization techniques new ways of remembering

completely different perspective totally new way of seeing things

low rates of success doesn’t often work

in many cases sometimes

impact effect

tremendously beneficial hugely helpful

therefore thus

funding money

curriculum studies

Pronunciation

Practice saying the vocabulary below and use this tip about Google voice search:

sɪns 
ˈʧælɪnʤɪŋ 
ˈfɒrɪn ˈlæŋgwɪʤ
ˈɛmfəsaɪz 
ˈsʌbʤɪkt ˈeərɪə
ɪnˈtaɪə ˌʤʌstɪfɪˈkeɪʃən 
səˈpɔːtɪŋ ˈsɛkənd ˈlæŋgwɪʤ ˌɛdju(ː)ˈkeɪʃən
ˈkrɪtɪks 
məˈʤɒrɪti 
ɪnˈkeɪpəbl 
əˈdɪʃənl ˈlæŋgwɪʤ.
bɛst ˈɛvɪdəns fɔː ðɪs 
ˌænɪkˈdəʊt(ə)l 
rɪˈleɪts tuː 
ɪnˈkriːsɪŋli lɑːʤ 
ˈbɜːdn ɒv wɜːk 
pleɪst ɒn 
ɪn ˈmɛni pɑːts ɒv ðə wɜːld
pəˈtɪkjʊləli ɪn 
haɪ-əˈʧiːvɪŋ ˈneɪʃənz 
ɪn ˈsɛʃən 
əˈreɪ 
ˈlɪŋgwə ˈfræŋkə
ˈlɪtl ʃeəd lɪŋˈgwɪstɪk ˈhɪstəri.
ɛnd rɪˈzʌlt 
weɪst taɪm 
dɪsˈkʌrɪʤd 
læk sɛlf-ɪsˈtiːm
prɪˈzɛntɪd 
ɪnˈvɛstɪd 
ˈprɒpə ˈtreɪnɪŋ 
ɪnˈgeɪʤɪŋ 
ˈstrɒŋgə ˈlaɪklɪhʊd ɒv səkˈsɛs
rɪˈsɜːʧ hæz ʃəʊn ðæt 
ɪˈfɛktɪv 
prəˌnʌnsɪˈeɪʃən 
ˈstʌmblɪŋ blɒk 
fɪkst ˈvəʊkəl fɔːˈmeɪʃənz
ɪnˈkʌrɪʤɪz 
ɪksˈpænd 
kri(ː)ˈeɪtɪv weɪz
əˈplaɪz 
stænd aʊt 
ˈnɒvəl ˈmɛməraɪzaɪˈzeɪʃən tɛkˈniːks 
kəmˈpliːtli ˈdɪfrənt pəˈspɛktɪv
ləʊ reɪts ɒv səkˈsɛs 
ɪn ˈmɛni ˈkeɪsɪz
ˈɪmpækt 
trɪˈmɛndəsli ˌbɛnɪˈfɪʃəl
ˈðeəfɔː 
ˈfʌndɪŋ 
kəˈrɪkjʊləm

Vocabulary Practice

I recommend getting a pencil and piece of paper because that aids memory. Then write down the missing vocabulary from my sample answer in your notebook:

Some feel that s______e it is c____________g for children to learn a f________________e, schools should not e_____________e this s________________a. In my opinion, the challenge is the e_______________n for s____________________________n.

C________s argue that the m_________y of children are simply i_____________e of learning an a___________________e. The b__________________s is a____________l and r__________o the i________________________________k p_____________n young children. Schools i____________________d, p_________________n h____________________________s such as South Korea and Japan, are i_____________n for many hours and students learn an a_____y of subjects. They are usually taught English, the world’s l____________________a, and this is especially difficult for speakers of Asian languages, where there is l___________________________y. The e____________t is often that students w__________e and may feel d________________d and l_____________m.

However, children can learn languages better than adults and the challenge p___________d is itself an important lesson. If the schools have i__________d in p____________________g and use e__________g materials then the lessons will not be boring and there is a s____________________________s. R_________________________t language learning is most e_________e before the age of 7, with p_____________n becoming a s_______________k for older learners who already have f_________________________s. Moreover, the difficulty of learning a language e_____________s children to work harder and e___________d their ability to learn in c______________s. This a________s to all subjects but languages s_________t as students must seek n________________________s and view the world from a c_________________________e.

In conclusion, despite the l__________________s i_________________s, the i______t of attempting to learn a language is itself t___________________________l. Schools should t______________e continue f_______g this part of the c_____________m.

Listening Practice

Learn more about this topic by watching videos from The New York Times YouTube channel below and practice with these activities:

Reading Practice

Read more about this topic and use these ideas to practice:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/how-foreign-languages-foster-greater-empathy-in-children/432462/

Speaking Practice

Practice with the following speaking questions from the real IELTS speaking exam:

Language

  1. Can learning a language help you understand more about a culture?
  2. Why is it so difficult to learn a new language?
  3. How will language learning change in the future?
  4. Should governments invest more in second language learning in schools?
  5. What are the benefits of learning another language for your country?

Writing Practice

Practice with the related IELTS essay topic below:

Living in a country where you have to speak a foreign language can cause serious social problems, as well as practical problems.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?


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