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This is my IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay on the topic of curriculum from the real IELTS exam.

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IELTS Essay: Curriculum

The best curriculum is not one based on a static body of knowledge, but one which teaches students to cope with change.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Many would argue that schools today should focus more on adaptability rather than traditional, discrete subjects. In my opinion, although there is a strong argument for this contention given the disruptive nature of modern industries, it is nonetheless important to preserve the traditional role of subjects in a curriculum.

Those who support this reform contend that the skills needed for modern workforces are changing rapidly. Past generations could rely on subjects learned in high school and university, such as those related to accounting, finance, and so on, providing lasting job security. This guarantee is less stable now due to advances in automation specifically and technology generally. At many companies, human workers are being phased out of specific roles and entire jobs and replaced by cheap software. Therefore, schools should teach adaptable methods for handling change that will help them cope with an uncertain future job market.

However, traditional subjects provide an invaluable base of knowledge for the average student. By learning about core subjects a person becomes more well-rounded intellectually. In high school and university this likely includes math, literature, the sciences, history, physical education, economics, philosophy, art, and so on. Naturally, most of these subjects will not yield practical skills that are used on a daily basis throughout life and that is the source of many later complaints about school curricula. However, it is impossible to know the final utility of a given skill or piece of information. A good example of this would be the classes that Steve Jobs took about calligraphy in university which later informed the lasting design of computer interfaces and word processors.

In conclusion, despite pragmatic employment concerns, it is essential for students to possess foundational knowledge about multiple disciplines. Moreover, a binary distinction between subject knowledge and flexible skills is not always necessary.

Analysis

1. Many would argue that schools today should focus more on adaptability rather than traditional, discrete subjects. 2. In my opinion, although there is a strong argument for this contention given the disruptive nature of modern industries, it is nonetheless important to preserve the traditional role of subjects in a curriculum.

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

1. Those who support this reform contend that the skills needed for modern workforces are changing rapidly. 2. Past generations could rely on subjects learned in high school and university, such as those related to accounting, finance, and so on, providing lasting job security. 3. This guarantee is less stable now due to advances in automation specifically and technology generally. 4. At many companies, human workers are being phased out of specific roles and entire jobs and replaced by cheap software. 5. Therefore, schools should teach adaptable methods for handling change that will help them cope with an uncertain future job market.

  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. Use short and long sentences.

1. However, traditional subjects provide an invaluable base of knowledge for the average student. 2. By learning about core subjects a person becomes more well-rounded intellectually. 3. In high school and university this likely includes math, literature, the sciences, history, physical education, economics, philosophy, art, and so on. 4. Naturally, most of these subjects will not yield practical skills that are used on a daily basis throughout life and that is the source of many later complaints about school curricula. 5. However, it is impossible to know the final utility of a given skill or piece of information. 6. A good example of this would be the classes that Steve Jobs took about calligraphy in university which later informed the lasting design of computer interfaces and word processors.

  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.
  6. Make sure you have something really specific.

1. In conclusion, despite pragmatic employment concerns, it is essential for students to possess foundational knowledge about multiple disciplines. 2. Moreover, a binary distinction between subject knowledge and flexible skills is not always necessary.

  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.

Many would argue that schools today should focus more on adaptability rather than traditional, discrete subjects. In my opinion, although there is a strong argument for this contention given the disruptive nature of modern industries, it is nonetheless important to preserve the traditional role of subjects in a curriculum.

Those who support this reform contend that the skills needed for modern workforces are changing rapidly. Past generations could rely on subjects learned in high school and university, such as those related to accounting, finance, and so on, providing lasting job security. This guarantee is less stable now due to advances in automation specifically and technology generally. At many companies, human workers are being phased out of specific roles and entire jobs and replaced by cheap software. Therefore, schools should teach adaptable methods for handling change that will help them cope with an uncertain future job market.

However, traditional subjects provide an invaluable base of knowledge for the average student. By learning about core subjects a person becomes more well-rounded intellectually. In high school and university this likely includes math, literature, the sciences, history, physical education, economics, philosophy, art, and so on. Naturally, most of these subjects will not yield practical skills that are used on a daily basis throughout life and that is the source of many later complaints about school curricula. However, it is impossible to know the final utility of a given skill or piece of information. A good example of this would be the classes that Steve Jobs took about calligraphy in university which later informed the lasting design of computer interfaces and word processors.

In conclusion, despite pragmatic employment concerns, it is essential for students to possess foundational knowledge about multiple disciplines. Moreover, a binary distinction between subject knowledge and flexible skills is not always necessary.

Answers

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

argue contend

focus more look more at

adaptability be able to change

rather than instead of

traditional old, conservative, normal

discrete subjects separate areas of study

strong argument good point

contention argument

given some random

disruptive nature way they disrupt, change industries

modern industries new technologies

nonetheless regardless

preserve keep

traditional role normal place

curriculum what is studied at a school

support are in favor of

reform change

contend argue

modern workforces people employed

past generations parents, grandparents, etc.

rely on depend on

related to concerning

accounting dealing with numbers

finance dealing with money

and so on etc.

providing lasting job security guaranteeing a job later

guarantee making sure of

less stable not certain

due to advances in because of changes in

automation specifically and technology generally computers and robots doing things especially but also tech overall

phased out replaced

replaced by something taking the place of

cheap software inexpensive programs

adaptable methods new ways

handling change dealing with adaptability

cope with deal with

uncertain future job market problems in the future finding a job

traditional subjects normal academic subjects

invaluable base of knowledge really important subjects

average student normal person studying

core subjects basic things studied in school

well-rounded intellectually all around good for your thinking

literature books

the sciences biology, chemistry, etc.

physical education gym

economics studying about money and economies

philosophy studying about knowledge and life

naturally of course

will not yield practical skills won’t actually produce anything

daily basis throughout life every day your whole life

source where it comes from

complaints criticisms

curricula plural of curriculum

final utility last usage

calligraphy study of writing letters

later informed after that went into

lasting design permanent look

computer interfaces how computers look and function on the screen

word processors MS word, etc.

despite pragmatic employment concerns regardless of real worries about jobs

essential crucial

possess foundational knowledge have info about lots of areas

multiple disciplines different subjects

binary distinction black and white difference

subject knowledge areas to study

flexible skills adaptable abilities

necessary needed

Pronunciation

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

ˈɑːgjuː 
ˈfəʊkəs mɔː 
əˌdæptəˈbɪlɪti 
ˈrɑːðə ðæn 
trəˈdɪʃənl
dɪsˈkriːt ˈsʌbʤɪkts
strɒŋ ˈɑːgjʊmənt 
kənˈtɛnʃən 
ˈgɪvn 
dɪsˈrʌptɪv ˈneɪʧə 
ˈmɒdən ˈɪndəstriz
ˌnʌnðəˈlɛs 
prɪˈzɜːv 
trəˈdɪʃənl rəʊl 
kəˈrɪkjʊləm
səˈpɔːt 
ˌriːˈfɔːm 
kənˈtɛnd 
ˈmɒdən ˈwɜːkˌfɔːsɪz 
pɑːst ˌʤɛnəˈreɪʃənz 
rɪˈlaɪ ɒn 
rɪˈleɪtɪd tuː 
əˈkaʊntɪŋ
faɪˈnæns
ænd səʊ ɒn
prəˈvaɪdɪŋ ˈlɑːstɪŋ ʤɒb sɪˈkjʊərɪti 
ˌgærənˈtiː 
lɛs ˈsteɪbl 
djuː tuː ədˈvɑːnsɪz ɪn 
ˌɔːtəˈmeɪʃ(ə)n spəˈsɪfɪk(ə)li ænd tɛkˈnɒləʤi ˈʤɛnərəli
feɪzd aʊt 
rɪˈpleɪst baɪ 
ʧiːp ˈsɒftweə
əˈdæptəbl ˈmɛθədz 
ˈhændlɪŋ ʧeɪnʤ 
kəʊp wɪð 
ʌnˈsɜːtn ˈfjuːʧə ʤɒb ˈmɑːkɪt
trəˈdɪʃənl ˈsʌbʤɪkts 
ɪnˈvæljʊəbl beɪs ɒv ˈnɒlɪʤ 
ˈævərɪʤ ˈstjuːdənt
kɔː ˈsʌbʤɪkts 
wɛl-ˈraʊndɪd ˌɪntɪˈlɛktjʊəli
ˈlɪtərɪʧə
ðə ˈsaɪənsɪz
ˈfɪzɪkəl ˌɛdju(ː)ˈkeɪʃən
ˌiːkəˈnɒmɪks
fɪˈlɒsəfi
ˈnæʧrəli
wɪl nɒt jiːld ˈpræktɪkəl skɪlz 
ˈdeɪli ˈbeɪsɪs θru(ː)ˈaʊt laɪf 
sɔːs 
kəmˈpleɪnts 
kəˈrɪkjʊlə
ˈfaɪnl ju(ː)ˈtɪlɪti 
kəˈlɪgrəfi 
ˈleɪtər ɪnˈfɔːmd 
ˈlɑːstɪŋ dɪˈzaɪn 
kəmˈpjuːtər ˈɪntəˌfeɪsɪz 
wɜːd ˈprəʊsɛsəz
dɪsˈpaɪt prægˈmætɪk ɪmˈplɔɪmənt kənˈsɜːnz
ɪˈsɛnʃəl 
pəˈzɛs faʊnˈdeɪʃən(ə)l ˈnɒlɪʤ 
ˈmʌltɪpl ˈdɪsɪplɪnz
ˈbaɪnəri dɪsˈtɪŋkʃən 
ˈsʌbʤɪkt ˈnɒlɪʤ 
ˈflɛksəbl skɪlz 
ˈnɛsɪsəri

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:

Many would a______e that schools today should f__________e on a_______________y r______________n t_____________l, d__________________s. In my opinion, although there is a s_________________t for this c_______________n the d__________________e of m___________________s, it is n____________s important to p_________e the t_______________e of subjects in a c___________m.

Those who s_________t this r_______m c_________d that the skills needed for m_________________s are changing rapidly. P_____________________s could r_______n subjects learned in high school and university, such as those r____________o a______________g, f___________e, a_____________n, p_____________________________y. This g_____________e is l___________e now d_______o a_______________n a__________________________________________y. At many companies, human workers are being p____________t of specific roles and entire jobs and r______________y c_______________e. Therefore, schools should teach a____________________s for h__________________e that will help them c________h an u_______________________t.

However, t_____________________s provide an i__________________________e for the a_______________t. By learning about c__________________s a person becomes more w___________________________y. In high school and university this likely includes math, l_________________e, t_______________s, history, p___________________n, e_____________s, p_____________y, art, and so on. N____________y, most of these subjects w____________________________s that are used on a d_________________________________e and that is the s____________e of many later c_______________s about school c___________a. However, it is impossible to know the f_____________y of a given skill or piece of information. A good example of this would be the classes that Steve Jobs took about c______________y in university which l_____________d the l_________________n of c_____________________s and w____________s.

In conclusion, d____________e p______________________________s, it is e__________l for students to p______________________________e about m___________________s. Moreover, a b_________________n between s_____________________e and f_______________s is not always n____________y.

Listening Practice

Learn more about this topic by watching from YouTube below and practice with these activities:

Reading Practice

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

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/11/no-tests-grades-classes/415509/

Speaking Practice

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

School

  1. Did you like your school when you were a child?
  2. What did you learn about?
  3. Did you have a favorite teacher?
  4. Are there many rules in schools in your country?

Writing Practice

Practice with the related IELTS essay topic below:

Many people argue that in order to improve educational quality, high school students should be encouraged to question and offer criticisms on their teachers. Others think this will lead to a loss of respect and discipline in the classroom.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.


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