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IELTS with Fiona Members Academy

Day 10: Cities


urban sprawl



poor housing

housing shortage

rural deprivation

high-rise flats

public spaces

public transport system

run-down/ deprived areas

urban sprawl

traffic congestion


Academic Reading: Stepwells

  • Passage 1 so also good for GT
  • TFNG, Open Questions, Complete a Table
  • see video help in ‘Water‘ section

GT Reading – Lessons from the ant

  • Passage 3 – good for Academic
  • Multiple choice, gapfill, choose from a list


ALSO –  related to cities but it’s in the NATURE section so maybe you did it already:

The megafires of California PDF

Website and podcast links 




Sao Paulo Listening PDF

Key Vocabulary:

– the population has more than doubled

– a leading industrial city

– the coffee trade

– migrants

– favelas

– push and pull factors

– migration obstacles

– poor harvest

– floods cause damage

– educational opportunities

– health facilities



Part 2

Describe an interesting town or city in your country that visitors might enjoy.

You should say

  • what the place is called
  • where the place is
  • what the facilities are like

and say why visitors might enjoy going there.

Part 3

What are the advantages of living in a city or big town?

What are some of the challenges facing towns and cities?




Learning Link: Have a go with TubeQuizard

This site that has interactive grammar and vocabulary activities based on the subtitles and transcriptions from YouTube videos.

Learning Link: British Council LearnEnglishTeens is a great place to find clearly structured Writing models relevant to the IELTS Test.

What is a smart city?

(animated video with lots of vocabulary with solutions to problems e.g. ‘designed to optimise resources, and thereby promote sound and sustainable developemnt’.

Smart cities of the future

(good language ‘Never have cities been so challenged’ ‘This raises many issues’)

Tourism ‘pollution’ in Japan

Getting paid to cycle to work

Irresponsible tourism

Wildfires: Causes, Costs and Containment


Writing Practice

Academic Writing Task 1

Describing changes to a map 

[Get the exercises and models in the Writing course]

Task 2 

Nowadays the way modern society is developing is being shaped by people’s migration to large cities.

In what ways is migration to large cities affecting society?

Is this a positive or negative development?

Click here for a model answer

Cities have always been an engine of development worldwide, attracting people and resources, but nowadays the pace of change is increasing rapidly. As a result, modern society is now more urbanized than at any time in its history and societies are experiencing both negative and positive changes.

One possible negative development is the danger that through migration, society may generally become more selfish, using up resources in terms of energy, food and facilities at a faster rate than in the countryside. Moreover, once people lose contact with the values, traditions and possibly languages of the communities they left behind, society will undergo further change.

The negative impact of urbanization on society generally cannot be ignored. However, migration also benefits society. This is because large cities are dynamic and in a state of flux, offering people opportunities such as jobs and the chance to try out new ideas. The contribution of such ideas to the wealth of any country can transform society enormously, funding more facilities in fields such as health and education.

As well as transformation through new ideas, innovative ways of living – for example eco-houses and flexible working practices like partially working from home – can in turn affect the whole of society. The quality of life for city inhabitants can then be significantly improved, which in turn stimulates growth and improvements in rural areas.

On balance, in my opinion the contribution made by migration to society is positive and the transformation is not restricted to cities alone. It can stimulate developments beyond city boundaries, creating wealth, ideas, jobs and improvements in society at large.


How much can you remember?



  • boarded up shops: shops that are no longer doing business
  • chain stores: well-known brands with shops in multiple cities
  • to close down: to stop doing business
  • deprivationthe lack of material benefits considered to be basic necessities in a society. ‘Rural deprivation and ill-health in England in danger of being overlooked.’
  • fashionable boutiques: fashionable clothes shops
  • high-rise flats: multi-story apartments
  • inner-city: the central part of a city where people live and where conditions are often poor
  • in the suburbs: the outer area of large towns and cities where people live
  • local facilities: local buildings or services serving the public
  • multi-story car parks: car parks on several floors
  • office block: a large building that contains offices
  • out of town shopping centre/retail park: large shopping centres outside of the town or city
  • pavement cafe: cafes with tables outside on the pavement
  • places of interest: buildings that have a particular interest for visitors
  • poor housing: housing that is not in good condition
  • public spaces: areas in a town or city that are open to the public
  • public transport system:  public vehicles such as buses and trains that operate at regular times on fixed routes
  • residential area: an area where people live
  • run down: old and of a poor standard
  • shopping centre: an area consisting of multiple shops
  • shopping malls: large indoor shopping centres
  • sprawling city: a city that has grown over time and which covers a wide area
  • tourist attraction: a place of interest to tourists
  • traffic congestion: heavy traffic making it difficult to move around a town or city
  • upmarket shops: expensive fashionable shops

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