BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 431

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 431

IELTS Academic Reading Test

A. Language lovers, just like music lovers, enjoy variety. For the latter there’s Mozart, The Rolling Stones and Beyonce. For the former there’s English, French, Swahili, Urdu… the list is endless. But what about those poor overworked students who find learning difficult, confusing languages a drudge? Wouldn’t it put a smile on their faces if there were just one simple, easy-to-learn tongue that would cut their study time by years?

Well, of course, it exists. It’s called Esperanto, and it’s been around for more than 120 years. Esperanto is the most widely spoken artificially constructed international language. The name derives from Doktoro Esperanto, the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof first published his Unua Libro in 1887. The phrase itself means ‘one who hopes’. Zamenhof’s goal was to create an easy and flexible language as a universal second language to promote peace and international understanding.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

B. Zamenhof, after ten years of developing his brainchild from the late 1870s to the early 1880s, had the first Esperanto grammar published in Warsaw in July 1887. The number of speakers grew rapidly over the next few decades, at first primarily in the Russian empire and Eastern Europe, then in Western Europe and the Americas, China, and Japan. In the early years, speakers of Esperanto kept in contact primarily through correspondence and periodicals, but since 1905 world congresses have been held on five continents every year except during the two World Wars.

Latest estimates for the numbers of Esperanto speakers are around 2 million. Put in percentage terms, that’s about 0.03% of the world’s population – no staggering figure, comparatively speaking. One reason is that Esperanto has no official status in any country, but it is an optional subject on the curriculum of several state education systems. It is widely estimated that it can be learned in anywhere between a quarter to a twentieth of the time required for other languages.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

C. As a constructed language, Esperanto is not genealogically related to any ethnic language. Whilst it is described as ‘a language lexically predominantly Romanic’, the phonology, grammar, vocabulary, and semantics are based on the western Indo-European languages. For those of us who are not naturally predisposed to tucking languages under our belts, it is an easy language to learn. It has 5 vowels and 23 consonants. It has one simple way of conjugating all of its verbs. Words are often made from many other roots, making the number of words which one must memorise much smaller.

The language is phonetic, and the rules of pronunciation are very simple, so that everyone knows how to pronounce a written word and vice-versa, and word order follows a standard, logical pattern. Through prefixing and suffixing, Esperanto makes it easy to identify words as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, direct objects and so on, by means of easy-to-spot endings. All this makes for easy language learning. What’s more, several research studies demonstrate that studying Esperanto before another foreign language speeds up and improves the learning of the other language.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

This is presumably because learning subsequent foreign languages is easier than learning one’s first, while the use of a grammatically simple and culturally flexible language like Esperanto softens the blow of learning one’s first foreign language. In one study, a group of European high school students studied Esperanto for one year, then French for three years, and ended up with a significantly better command of French than a control group who had studied French for all four years.

D. Needless to say, the language has Its critics. Some point to the Eastern European features of the language as being harsh and difficult to pronounce, and argue that Esperanto has an artificial feel to it, without the flow of a natural tongue, and that by nature of its artificiality, it is impossible to become emotionally involved with the language. Others cite its lack of cultural history, indigenous literature – “no one has ever written a novel straight into Esperanto” – together with its minimal vocabulary and its inability to express all the necessary philosophical, emotional and psychological concepts.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

E. The champions of Esperanto – Esperantists – disagree. They claim that it is a language in which a great body of world literature has appeared in translation: in poetry, novels, literary journals, and, to rebut the accusation that it is not a ‘real’ language, point out that it is frequently used at international meetings which draw hundreds and thousands of participants. Moreover, on an international scale, it is most useful – and fair – for neutral communication. That means that communication through Esperanto does not give advantages to the members of any particular people or culture, but provides an ethos of equality of rights, tolerance and true internationalism.

F. Esperantists further claim that Esperanto has the potential – were it universally taught for a year or two throughout the world – to empower ordinary people to communicate effectively worldwide on a scale that far exceeds that which is attainable today by only the most linguistically brilliant among us.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

It offers the opportunity to improve communication in business, diplomacy, scholarship and other fields so that those who speak many different native languages will be able to participate fluently in international conferences and chat comfortably with each other after the formal presentations are made. Nowadays that privilege is often restricted to native speakers of English and those who have special talents and opportunities for learning English as a foreign language.

G. What Esperanto does offer in concrete terms is the potential of saving billions of dollars which are now being spent on translators and interpreters, billions which would be freed up to serve the purposes of governments and organisations that spend so much of their resources to change words from one language into the words of others. Take, for example, the enormously costly conferences, meetings and documentation involved in the European Union parliamentary and administrative procedures – all funded, essentially, by tax payers.

And instead of the World Health Organisation, and all NGOs for that matter, devoting enormous sums to provide interpreters and translations, they would be able to devote those huge amounts of money to improving the health of stricken populations throughout the world.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Reading Passage has seven paragraphs, A – G.

Choose the correct heading for paragraphs B – G from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i – ix in spaces 14-19 below.

i.    A non-exclusive language

ii.    Fewer languages, more results

iii.    Language is personal

iv.    What’s fashionable in language

v.    From the written word to the spoken word

vi.    A real language

vii.    Harmony through language

viii.    The mechanics of a language

ix.    Lost in translation

IELTS Academic Reading Test

14. Paragraph B

15. Paragraph C

16. Paragraph D

17. Paragraph E

18. Paragraph F

19. Paragraph G

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.

20: What advantage is there to learning Esperanto as one’s first foreign language?

A. Its pronunciation rules follow those of most European languages.

B. There are no grammar rules to learn.

C. It can make the learning of other foreign languages less complicated.

D. Its verbs are not conjugated.

21: What do its critics say of Esperanto?

A. It is only used in artificial situations.

B. It requires emotional involvement.

C. It cannot translate works of literature.

D. It lacks depth of expression.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

22: How could Esperanto help on a global level?

A. It would eliminate the need for conferences.

B. More aid money would reach those who need it.

C. The world population would be speaking only one language.

D. More funds could be made available for learning foreign languages.

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the Reading Passage?

In spaces 23-26 below, write

YES if the statement agrees with the views of the writer

NO if the statement contradicts the views of the writer

NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

IELTS Academic Reading Test

23: Supporters of Esperanto say it gives everyone an equal voice.

24: Esperanto is the only artificially-constructed language.

25: Esperanto can be learned as part of a self-study course.

26: Esperanto can be used equally in formal and casual situations.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

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BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 431

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IELTS Academic Reading Test

14. V

15. VIII

16. III

17. VI

18. I

19. II

20. C

21. D

22. B

23. YES

24. NO

25. NOT GIVEN

26. YES

IELTS Academic Reading Test

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