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IELTS Listening Section 1
Paula: Ralph, it’s Paula.
Paula: You know I told you we could apply to the local council for money for our drama club… I’ve got the application form here but we need to get it back to them by the end of the week. I could send it on to you – you really ought to fill it in as president of the club, but I don’t know if it’ll get to you in time.
Ralph: Well, you’re the secretary, so I expect it’s OK if you fill it in.
Paula: Yeah, but I’d really like to check it together.
Ralph: Right. That’s fine.
Paula: Like, the first part asks for the main contact person – can I put you there?
Paula: Right. So that’s Ralph Pearson… and then need your contact address, so that’s 203 South Road, isn’t it? 
Ralph: No. 230 
Paula: Sorry. I always get that wrong… Then it’s Drayton… do you think they need a postcode?
Ralph: Better put it – it’s DR6 SAB
Paula: Hmm… OK… telephone number, that’s 01453 586098 isn’t it?
Paula: Right. Now, in the next part of the form I have to give information about our group… so,name of group, that’s easy, we’re the Community Youth Theatre Group, but then I have to describe it. So, what sort of information do you think they want?
Ralph: Well, they need to know we’re amateurs, not professional actors… and how many members we’ve got – what’s that at present – twenty? 
Paula: Eighteen … and should we put in the age range, that’s 13 to 22?
Ralph: No, I don’t think we need to. But we’d better put a bit about what we actually do… something like ‘members take part in drama activities’.
Paula: Activities and workshops? 
Paula: Right. That’s all for that section I think.
Paula: Now, the next bit is about the project itself – what we’re applying for funding for. So first of all they need to know how much money we want. The maximum’s £500.
Ralph: l think we agreed we’d ask for £250, didn’t we? 
Paula: OK. There’s no point in asking for too much, we’ll have less chance of getting it. Then, we need to say what the project… erm, the activity is.
Ralph: Right – so we could write something like ‘to produce a short play for young children’.
Paula: Should we say it’s interactive? 
Ralph: Yes, good idea… 
Paula: Right. I’ve got that. Then we have to say what we actually need the money for…
Ralph: Isn’t that it?
Paula: No, we have to give a breakdown of details, I think.
Ralph: Well, there’s the scenery.
Paula: But we’re making that.
Ralph: We need to buy the materials, though 
Paula: OK. Then there’s the costumes.
Ralph: Right. That’s going to be at least £50.
Paula: OK. And what else… oh, I just found out we have to have insurance … I don’t think it’ll cost much, but we need to get it organised.
Ralph: Yes… I’d forgotten about that, and we could be breaking the law if we don’t have it. Good thing we’ve already got curtains in the hall, at least we don’t have to worry about that.
Paula: Hmm. We’ll need some money for publicity , otherwise no one will know what we’re doing.
Ralph: And then a bit of money for unexpected things that come up – just put ’sundries’ at the end of the list.
Paula: OK, fine. Now the next thing they want to know is if they give us the grant, how they’ll be credited.
Ralph: What do they mean, credited?
Paula: I think they mean how we’ll let the public know that they funded us… they want people to know they’ve supported us, it looks good for them.
Ralph: Hmm. Well, we could say we’d announce it at the end of the play. We could make a speech or something.
Paula: Hmm, they might prefer to see something in writing… we’ll be giving the audience a programme, won’t we – so we could put an acknowledgement in that? 
Ralph: Yeah, that’s a better idea.
Paula: OK. And the last thing they want to know is if we’ve approached any other organisations for funding, and what the outcome was.
Ralph: Well, only National Youth Services and they said that at present funds were not available  for arts projects.
Paula: Right. I’ll put that and then I think that’s it. I’ll get that in the post straight away. I really hope we get the money.
Ralph: I think we’ve got a pretty good chance… hope so anyway. Thanks for doing all this, Paula.
Paula: That’s OK. See you soon .. Bye!
IELTS Listening Section 2
Joanne: Hi, you must be Rob! Nice to meet you. So, I hear you’re planning to visit Australia.
Rob: Yeah and I really wanted to talk to you because I was thinking of spending some time in Darwin and my sister told me you’re from there.
Joanne: That’s right.
Rob: So tell me about it.
Joanne: Well… where shall I start… well, Darwin’s in what they call the ‘top end’ ’cause it’s right up at the northern end of Australia and it’s quite different from the rest of Australia in terms of cultural influences – in fact it’s nearer to Jakarta in Indonesia than it is to Sydney, so you get a very strong Asian influence there. That means we get lots of tourists – people from other parts of Australia are attracted by this sort of international, cosmopolitan image. And as well as that, we’ve got the same laid back atmosphere you get all over Australia – probably more so if anything, because of the climate. But, what a lot of the tourists don’t realise until they get there is that the city’s also got a very young population … the average age is just 29, and this makes the whole place very buzzy. Some people think that there might not be that much going on as far as art and music and dancing and so on are concerned, because it’s so remote. I mean, we don’t really get things like theatre and opera in the same way as cities down in the south like Sydney, for example, because of the transport expenses. But in fact what happens is that we just do it ourselves – lots of people play music, classical as well as pop, and there are things like artists groups and writers groups and dance classes – everyone does something, we don’t just sit and watch other people. 
Rob: You said it’s very international?
Joanne: Yeah, they say there’s over 70 different nationalities in Darwin. For instance, there’s been a Chinese population there for over 100 years – we’ve even got a Chinese temple. It was built way back in 1887, but erm, when a very bad storm – a… a cyclone in fact – hit Darwin in the 1970s it was almost completely destroyed. The only parts of the temple that survived were part of the altars and the stone lions, but after the storm they reconstructed it using modern materials … it’s still used as a religious centre today, but it’s open to tourists too and it’s definitely worth going to see it. Oh and as far as getting around goes, you’ll see places that advertise bicycles for hire, but I wouldn’t recommend it. A lot of the year it’s just so hot and humid . Some tourists think it’ll be fine because there’s not much in the way of hills, and the traffic’s quite light compared with some places, but believe me, you’re better off with, public transport it’s fine, and not expensive. Or you can hire a car, but it’s not really worth it.
Rob: What’s the swimming like?
Joanne: Well, there are some good beaches, but the trouble is that there’s this nasty creature called the box jellyfish and if it stings you, you’re in bad trouble. So you have to be very careful most of the year especially in the winter months… You can wear a lycra suit to cover your arms and legs, but I wouldn’t like to risk it even so, personally. And there are the salt water crocodiles too. I mean, I don’t want to put you off – there are protected swimming areas netted off where you’ll be safe from jellyfish and crocs , or there are the public swimming pools, they’re fine of course.
Rob: So which places would you specially recommend?
Joanne: Well, one of the most popular attractions is called ‘Aquascene’. What happens is every day at high tide hundreds of fish come in from the sea – all different sorts, including some really, big deep-sea fish – and some of them will even take food from your hand. It’s right in the middle of town, at the end of the Esplanade.  It’s not free – I think you have to pay about five dollars but it’s definitely something you have to experience. Then of course Darwin has a great range of food, being such a cosmopolitan place. And if you don’t have lots to spend, the best place to go is to Smith Street Mall where they have stalls selling stuff to eat, there’s all sorts of different things including south-east Asian dishes , which I really like. You’d think there’d be plenty of fresh fish in Darwin as it’s on the coast, but in fact because of the climate it mostly gets frozen straight away, but you can get fresh fish in the restaurants on Cullen Bay Marina – it’s a nice place to go for a special meal and they have some good shops in that area too . What else, well, there’s the botanic garden: it’s over a hundred years old and there’s lots to see an orchid farm, rainforest, a collection of palm trees, erm, a wetlands area you can easily spend an afternoon there. That’s at Fannie Bay, a couple of kilometres out to the north. Then, if you’ve got any energy left in the evening, the place to go is Mitchell Street that’s where it all happens as far as clubs and music and things are concerned  – you’ll bump into lots of my friends there! Talking of friends, why don’t I give you some email addresses, I’m sure they …
IELTS Listening Section 3
Dr Blake: Come in. Ah yes. Stella, is Phil there too? Good. Come on in. OK, so you’re here to discuss your research project. Have you decided what to focus on? You were thinking of something about the causes of mood changes, weren’t you?
Stella: Yes, but the last time we saw you, you suggested we narrowed it down to either the effects of weather or urban environment, so we’ve decided to focus on the effects of weather.
Dr Blake: Right. That’s more manageable. So, your goal is… Phil? 
Phil: To prove the hypothesis – no, to investigate the hypothesis  that the weather has an effect on a person’s mood.
Dr Blake: Hmm. Good. And what’s your thesis? Stella?
Stella: Well, our thesis is that in general, when the weather’s good it has a positive effect on a person’s mood and bad weather has a negative effect.
Dr Blake: Hmm. Can you define your terms here – for example, what do you mean by ‘good’ and ‘bad’? 
Phil: OK. Well, good would be sunny, warm weather  and bad would be when it’s cold and cloudy or raining.
Dr Blake: And how would you define an effect on a person’s mood? What would you be looking to find?
Phil: An effect on the way a person feels…
Dr Blake: Hmm?
Stella: A change in the way they feel?  Uhm, like from feeling happy and optimistic, to sad and depressed.
Dr Blake: Right. And what sort of weather variables will you be looking at?
Phil: Oh, sunshine, temperature, cloudiness, precipitation among others. It’ll depend a bit what the weather’s like when we do the survey.
Dr Blake: Fine. We’ll talk about that in a minute. But first, what about background reading? I gave you some suggestions – did you manage to read any of it ?
Stella: Yes – we read the Ross Vickers article – the one comparing the groups of American Marines training in summer and winter. That’s quite relevant to our study, it was interesting because the Marines who were training in the cold winter conditions tried to cheer themselves up by thinking of warm places, but it didn’t really work.
Phil: Yes, they were trying to force themselves to have a positive mental outlook but in fact it had the opposite effect, and they ended up in a very negative state of mind .
Stella: And we found some more research by someone who wasn’t on the reading list you gave us – George Whitebourne. He compared people living in three countries with very different climatic conditions. Actually he looked at several things, not just the weather, but he found some people’s reactions to bad weather were much worse than others and it was linked to how stressed they were generally – the weather on its own didn’t have such a significant effect on mood .
Phil: And we looked at a paper by Haver…
Phil: Yeah. He broke weather up into about fifteen or sixteen categories and did qualitative and quantitative research, he found that humans respond to conditions in the weather with immediate responses, such as fear or amazement, but these responses can also be linked to associations from their earlier life , such as a particular happy or sad event.
Dr Blake: Did you have a look at Stanfield’s work?
Stella: Yes. It was interesting because the type of questions he asked were similar to what we were planning to use in our survey.
Dr Blake: Yes?
Stella: He asked people how they were feeling on days with good and bad weather. He found the biggest factor seemed to be the humidity – moods were most negative on days with a lot of rainfall . Long periods without sunshine had some effect but nothing like as much.
Dr Blake: Hmm. That could be quite a useful model for your project.
Phil: Yes. we thought so too – although we can’t continue our survey for as long as he did – he did his over a six-month period.
Dr Blake: Right, well, you’ve made quite a good start. So, where are you going from here?
Phil: Well, we’ve already made the questionnaire we’re going to use for the survey – it’s quite short, just eight questions. We’re aiming to survey twenty people, over a period of three months from October to December.
Stella: We can’t specify the actual dates yet, because it depends on the weather  – we want to do the survey on days with a range of different weather conditions. And we’ll just be working on campus, so our data will only be statistically sound for the student population here.
Dr Blake: That’s OK. Have you Thought how you’ll determine what will constitute each aspect of weather and how many you’re looking at?
Phil: We decided on four – the amount of sunshine, cloudiness, temperature and precipitation … we thought we might use the Internet to get data on weather conditions on the days we do the survey, but we haven’t found the information we need, so we might have to measure it ourselves . We’ll see.
Stella: Then we’ve got to analyse the results, and we’ll do that using a spreadsheet, giving numeric values to answers… and then of course we have to present our findings to the class, and we want to make it quite an interactive session, we want to involve the class in some way in the presentation, maybe by trying to create different climatic conditions in the classroom, but we’re still thinking about it .
Dr Blake: I see. Well, that sounds as if you’re on the right lines. Now, what I’d suggest that you think about…
IELTS Listening Section 4
Lecturer: All over the world, there are passionate arguments going on about how educational systems can be improved. And of all the ideas for improving education, few are as simple or attractive as reducing the number of pupils per teacher. It seems like common sense but do these ideas have any theoretical basis? Today, I want to look at the situation in the USA and at some of the research that has been done here in America on the effects of reducing class sizes. In the last couple of decades or so, there has been considerable concern in the United States over educational standards here, following revelations that the country’s secondary school students perform poorly relative to Asian and European students . In addition, statistics have shown that students in the nation’s lower income schools in the urban areas have achievement levels far below those of middle-class and upper middle-class schools . So would reducing class sizes solve these problems?
Well, we have to remember that it does have one obvious drawback, it’s expensive. It requires more teachers and possibly more classrooms, equipment, and so on. On the other hand, it smaller classes really do work, the eventual economic benefits could be huge. Better education would mean that workers did their jobs more efficiently , saving the country millions of dollars, it would also mean that people were better informed about their health, bringing savings in things like medical costs and days off sick .
So what reliable information do we have about the effects of reducing class sizes? There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence about the effect on students’ behaviour. But what reliable evidence do we have for this?
Let’s have a look at three research projects that have been carried out in the USA in the last couple of decades or so. The first study I’m going to look at took place in the state of Tennessee in the late 1980s. It involved some 70 schools. In its first year about 6,400 students were involved, and by the end of the study, four years later, the total number involved had grown to 12,000 . What happened was that students entering kindergarten were randomly assigned lo either small classes of 13 to 17 students or regular-size classes of 27 to 26. The students remained in whatever category they had been assigned to through the third grade, and then after that they joined a regular classroom.
After the study ended in 1989, researchers conducted dozens of analyses of the data. Researchers agree that there was significant benefit for students in attending smaller classes, and it also appears that the beneficial effect was stronger for minority students . However, there’s no agreement on the implications of this – we still don’t know the answer to questions like how long students have to be in smaller classes to get a benefit and how big that benefit is, for example.
The second project was much larger and took place in California. Like the Tennessee study, it focused on students from kindergarten through to grade 3, but in this case, all schools throughout the state were involved . The experiment is still continuing, but results have been very inconclusive, with very little improvement noted. And the project has in fact also had several negative aspects.
It meant an increased demand for teachers  in almost all California districts, so the better-paying districts got a lot of the best teachers – including a fair number that moved over from the poorer districts. And there were a lot of other problems with the project – for example, there weren’t any effective procedures for evaluation . All in all, this project stands as a model of what not to do in a major research project.
A third initiative took place in the state of Wisconsin at around the same time as the California project began, and it’s interesting to compare the two. The Wisconsin project was small class sizes were reduced in just 14 schools – but it was noteworthy because it targeted schools at which a significant proportion of the students were from poor families , compared with California’s one-size- fits-all approach. Analysts have found that the results are very similar to the Tennessee project, with students making gains that are statistically significant and that are considerably larger than those calculated for the California initiative.
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