IELTS Academic Reading Practice 1

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 1-13.

Questions 1-4

Complete the summary below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in 1-4 on your answer sheet.

Around the world, languages are going . Though there are likely many factors contributing to this, the most concerning are changes in culture, implementation of government surrounding language use and economic . Although it is challenging, linguists hope to endangered languages in order to learn from them.

Questions 5-9

Look at the following Statements (Questions 5-9) and List of people below.

Match each statement with the correct person.

Write the correct number A-E in boxes Questions 5-9 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

List of people
  1. Michael Krauss
  2. Salikoko Mufwene
  3. Doug Whalen
  4. Mark Pagel
  5. Nicholas Ostler

5. People must learn to speak multiple languages to save endangered languages.
6. Speaking a majority language, such as English, may be mandatory for commercial purposes
7. The way we see the world may be affected by which language we speak
8. Members of younger generations may not feel connected to their native languages
9. A language with too few young speakers is at risk of extinction
Questions 10-13

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage ? In boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

10. Areas in the world that are isolated are more linguistically diverse
11. There aren’t enough speakers of Navajo, so the language will go extinct.
12. Government language bans usually lead to rebellion and conflict.
13. The average age of a language’s speakers does not affect its ability to survive.




Unlike IELTS listening, you will NOT get any time to transfer your work to an answer sheet.

Answer Sheet
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2
3
4
5
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7
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9
10
11
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13


Endangered Minority Languages

Similarly to endangered animals such as tigers, the world’s languages are gradually going extinct all around us. Languages die out when their last native speaker passes away. The same is true for the native language of the Native American Navajo nation, an area spanning across four south-western states in the U.S.. Today, remaining speakers of the Navajo language are aging, while younger generations grow up attending schools in English. Meanwhile, with English dominating local road signs, media, and advertisements, linguists estimate that the Navajo language will be lost within the next hundred years.

On average, one minority language disappears every few weeks. With half of the world’s estimated 6,800 languages under threat of extinction within the next few generations, Navajo is not the only language in trouble. Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading commented, “At the moment, we are heading for about three or four languages dominating the world,” and he continues on, “It’s a mass extinction, and whether we will ever rebound from the loss is difficult to know.” As the number of diverse languages in the world shrinks, it seems we may be living in the time of an unprecedented global language extinction.

Our world is filled with minority languages with relatively few speakers, and populations living in isolation result in greater linguistic diversity. While there are 250 languages with more than a million speakers, at least 3,000 languages have fewer than 2,500 speakers. Navajo, with its approximately 150,000 speakers, is still considered endangered. How could this be? In fact, linguists determine which languages are endangered not by the number of speakers that they have, but by the average age of the speakers. According to Michael Krauss, director of the Alaska Native Language Center, languages with many young speakers are considered safe, while languages with very few young speakers are at risk.

But what causes young people to abandon the language of their parents? Nicholas Ostler, of Britain’s Foundation for Endangered Languages, claims that some speakers choose whether or not to speak a language due to changes in society. “People lose faith in their culture,” he says of the issue, “When the next generation reaches their teens, they might not want to be induced into the old traditions.” Simply put, the languages of communities considered to be prestigious exert a powerful influence over members of younger generations, who may then reject their native languages.  

Other times, the dominant language of an area is not left up to choice. Governments may take action to systematically eliminate, or to promote a particular language. This can be accomplished through policy, such as banning language use in schools, or offering classes only in one language. One unfortunate example of such practice comes from the United States. In the past, the U.S. contributed to the extinction and endangerment of languages such as Navajo by running Indian reservation schools only in English. But the most detrimental factor to language extinction is not the policy of one nation; it is economic globalization. “Native Americans have not lost pride in their language, but they have had to adapt to socio-economic pressures,” says  Salikoko Mufwene, who chairs the Linguistics department at the University of Chicago, “They cannot refuse to speak English if most commercial activity is in English.” With the fate of the world’s language on the line, we must ask ourselves: are languages worth saving?

Each individual language loss also represents the loss of potential knowledge. Linguists, anthropologists and other scientists may learn from data gathered on languages, which can provide information on language evolution, relationships, and more. If a language that was never recorded goes extinct, so does any information gleaned from studying it. In addition, there is a cultural loss associated with language.

Language and culture are intertwined in a way that’s difficult to separate; it is often impossible to fully understand one without the context the other provides. ‘If a person shifts from Navajo to English, they lose something,’ Mufwene says. ‘Moreover, the loss of diversity may also deprive us of different ways of looking at the world,’ says Pagel. Without the language, cultural traditions and history will be less accessible to future generations.

In addition to societal aspects affected by language, there is emerging evidence that language may have physiological effects on the brain itself. “Your brain and mine are different from the brain of someone who speaks French, for instance,” Pagel says, “The patterns and connections we make among various concepts may be structured by the linguistic habits of our community.” It seems our very perception of the world around us could be bound to our native languages.

In spite of the efforts undertaken by linguists and others, there is little hope for many of the languages which will likely be lost within the century. However, recent trends towards the preservation of cultural heritages may slow, or perhaps prevent the loss of some languages. Doug Whalen, founder and president of the Endangered Language Fund in New Haven, Connecticut states that “The key to fostering diversity is for people to learn their ancestral tongue, as well as the dominant language,” he claims that “Most of these languages will not survive without a large degree of bilingualism,”  In some cases, such as with the Maori language in New Zealand, interest the language has risen through the introduction of classes in public schools. Meanwhile, Polynesian languages in Hawaii have gained about 8,000 new speakers of recently, while indigenous languages in California are gaining support from “apprentice” programmes. In these programmes, volunteer ‘apprentices’ are instructed in traditional activities, such as basket weaving by living speakers of an endangered Native American language. Within about 300 hours of practice, participants are generally able to speak the target language semi-fluently, well enough to pass it on to others. However, Mufwene suggests that preventing the death of a language by revival isn’t the same as natural usage. “Preserving a language is more like preserving fruits in a jar,” he says.

Even so, in some rare cases, languages have essentially risen from the dead. If a language has been successfully preserved in writing, those from later generations may be able to revive them. But the fact remains that without any written form, a language is effectively dead. This realization has resulted in the speakers of some endangered languages making attempts at developing writing systems in hopes of preserving their language for future generations to learn from.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Endangered Minority Languages

Similarly to endangered animals such as tigers, the world’s languages are gradually going extinct all around us. Languages die out when their last native speaker passes away. The same is true for the native language of the Native American Navajo nation, an area spanning across four south-western states in the U.S.. Today, remaining speakers of the Navajo language are aging, while younger generations grow up attending schools in English. Meanwhile, with English dominating local road signs, media, and advertisements, linguists estimate that the Navajo language will be lost within the next hundred years.

On average, one minority language disappears every few weeks. With half of the world’s estimated 6,800 languages under threat of extinction within the next few generations, Navajo is not the only language in trouble. Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading commented, “At the moment, we are heading for about three or four languages dominating the world,” and he continues on, “It’s a mass extinction, and whether we will ever rebound from the loss is difficult to know.” As the number of diverse languages in the world shrinks, it seems we may be living in the time of an unprecedented global language extinction.

Our world is filled with minority languages with relatively few speakers, and populations living in isolation result in greater linguistic diversity. While there are 250 languages with more than a million speakers, at least 3,000 languages have fewer than 2,500 speakers. Navajo, with its approximately 150,000 speakers, is still considered endangered. How could this be? In fact, linguists determine which languages are endangered not by the number of speakers that they have, but by the average age of the speakers. According to Michael Krauss, director of the Alaska Native Language Center, languages with many young speakers are considered safe, while languages with very few young speakers are at risk.

But what causes young people to abandon the language of their parents? Nicholas Ostler, of Britain’s Foundation for Endangered Languages, claims that some speakers choose whether or not to speak a language due to changes in society. “People lose faith in their culture,” he says of the issue, “When the next generation reaches their teens, they might not want to be induced into the old traditions.” Simply put, the languages of communities considered to be prestigious exert a powerful influence over members of younger generations, who may then reject their native languages.  

Other times, the dominant language of an area is not left up to choice. Governments may take action to systematically eliminate, or to promote a particular language. This can be accomplished through policy, such as banning language use in schools, or offering classes only in one language. One unfortunate example of such practice comes from the United States. In the past, the U.S. contributed to the extinction and endangerment of languages such as Navajo by running Indian reservation schools only in English. But the most detrimental factor to language extinction is not the policy of one nation; it is economic globalization. “Native Americans have not lost pride in their language, but they have had to adapt to socio-economic pressures,” says  Salikoko Mufwene, who chairs the Linguistics department at the University of Chicago, “They cannot refuse to speak English if most commercial activity is in English.” With the fate of the world’s language on the line, we must ask ourselves: are languages worth saving?

Each individual language loss also represents the loss of potential knowledge. Linguists, anthropologists and other scientists may learn from data gathered on languages, which can provide information on language evolution, relationships, and more. If a language that was never recorded goes extinct, so does any information gleaned from studying it. In addition, there is a cultural loss associated with language.

Language and culture are intertwined in a way that’s difficult to separate; it is often impossible to fully understand one without the context the other provides. ‘If a person shifts from Navajo to English, they lose something,’ Mufwene says. ‘Moreover, the loss of diversity may also deprive us of different ways of looking at the world,’ says Pagel. Without the language, cultural traditions and history will be less accessible to future generations.

In addition to societal aspects affected by language, there is emerging evidence that language may have physiological effects on the brain itself. “Your brain and mine are different from the brain of someone who speaks French, for instance,” Pagel says, “The patterns and connections we make among various concepts may be structured by the linguistic habits of our community.” It seems our very perception of the world around us could be bound to our native languages.

In spite of the efforts undertaken by linguists and others, there is little hope for many of the languages which will likely be lost within the century. However, recent trends towards the preservation of cultural heritages may slow, or perhaps prevent the loss of some languages. Doug Whalen, founder and president of the Endangered Language Fund in New Haven, Connecticut states that “The key to fostering diversity is for people to learn their ancestral tongue, as well as the dominant language,” he claims that “Most of these languages will not survive without a large degree of bilingualism,”  In some cases, such as with the Maori language in New Zealand, interest the language has risen through the introduction of classes in public schools. Meanwhile, Polynesian languages in Hawaii have gained about 8,000 new speakers of recently, while indigenous languages in California are gaining support from “apprentice” programmes. In these programmes, volunteer ‘apprentices’ are instructed in traditional activities, such as basket weaving by living speakers of an endangered Native American language. Within about 300 hours of practice, participants are generally able to speak the target language semi-fluently, well enough to pass it on to others. However, Mufwene suggests that preventing the death of a language by revival isn’t the same as natural usage. “Preserving a language is more like preserving fruits in a jar,” he says.

Even so, in some rare cases, languages have essentially risen from the dead. If a language has been successfully preserved in writing, those from later generations may be able to revive them. But the fact remains that without any written form, a language is effectively dead. This realization has resulted in the speakers of some endangered languages making attempts at developing writing systems in hopes of preserving their language for future generations to learn from.

IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

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