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IELTS Preparation Series 2, Episode 14: Termites


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0:13

Hello. I'm Margot Politis. Welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation.

0:18

Today, we're going to talk about tenses, and different ways of making comparisons.

0:25

Choosing the best tense for formal writing, including your IELTS essay, is important,

0:31

and so is being consistent.

0:32

We're going to start by listening to an ecologist talking about termites in tropical Australia.

0:40

What verb tense does she use?

0:42

This is another species of termite that we have here in the Territory, and this species

0:49

is nesuta termes graviolis and as you can tell, it nests in trees and their nests are

0:54

nice and round around the higher branches of the tree, and then they build these little

0:57

runways, what we call carton runways, that run all the way from the nest, all the way

1:02

down to the base of the tree, and the idea here is the termites just use them as shelter

1:06

so they're not exposed to predators and not exposed to the hot sun. So they travel down

1:10

through these tunnels and that allows them to access food resources on the ground.

1:15

So here in tropical Australia, termites are actually the major decomposer insect and they

1:20

also play a really important role in conditioning the soil, much like earthworms do, so they

1:24

help to turn over the soil, to create new soil and to increase the porosity of the soil.

1:31

She says:

1:32

Termites are the major decomposer insect.

1:36

They play a really important.

1:40

They help to turn over the soil.

1:43

She used the simple present tense form of verbs: are, play, and help.

1:51

In IELTS writing tasks, the essay topics given are general and will require you to write

1:57

about actions. The simple present tense would be the most appropriate verb form to use because

2:04

you would be talking about general facts.

2:07

Dr Dawes-Gromadzki was describing general facts about termites, so she used the simple

2:15

present. Listen again.

2:18

So here in tropical Australia, termites are actually the major decomposer insect and they

2:22

also play a really important role in conditioning the soil, much like earthworms do, so they

2:27

help to turn over the soil. She starts using the present tense, and then

2:32

continues with it throughout her description.

2:36

It's very important to be consistent in the verb tense you use. So when writing your IELTS

2:42

essay, try to use the simple present tense for the main verb, and avoid switching tenses.

2:50

Keeping in mind that the essay will be about things in general, you also need to consider

2:56

the language of the noun phrases.

2:58

Listen to Tracey talking about the nesting habits of termites. What noun forms does she

3:04

use?

3:06

The idea here is the termites just use them as shelter, so they're not exposed to predators

3:10

and not exposed to the hot sun. So they travel down through these tunnels and that allows

3:15

them to access food resources on the ground.

3:18

Most of the noun phrases she uses are plural - termites, predators, tunnels, and food resources

3:29

She uses the plural for 'termites' because she is talking about the species as a whole.

3:36

The idea here is about the habits of termites in general, so the plural would be used.

3:44

It is not only one predator or a single tunnel or one food resource that is being discussed,

3:51

but all the 'predators', 'tunnels' and 'food resources' of the termites.

3:57

In formal writing, you will usually find nouns are in plural form when the statements are

4:03

general ones about groups, classes or things.

4:08

But, of course, you'll need to watch for uncountable nouns, because uncountable nouns do not have

4:14

a plural form.

4:17

The various topics you may get in the IELTS test will be general in nature, and will require

4:23

you to discuss, explain, compare and contrast in general terms.

4:28

So for your IELTS essay, you should use the simple present tense as the main verb form,

4:37

and use plural nouns or uncountable nouns for your subjects.

4:47

Now let's look at another aspect of the termite story - how comparisons are structured in

4:53

English.

4:54

We use a comparative to compare one person, thing or action with another.

5:00

For example:

5:03

Judy is younger than her sister.

5:07

We can use a double comparative when we want to say something is changing.

5:13

For example:

5:14

They are getting better and better since starting the IELTS program.

5:20

There is another way we can use a comparative - to describe complementary processes. That

5:28

is, we can describe how something is changing, but changing together with something else.

5:35

We can use this kind of form:

5:38

In Australia, the farther south you go, the cooler the winters.

5:45