August 1st, 2018
For speaking, here are the tasks:
- Hour one – we’ll be going over the packages; as much as we can get through until the 1st break.
- Hour 2-3: Two things will be happening: Section 1 will be given A / B partners. These partners will be going through each of their question sets.
While this is going on, I will be giving you your actual final speaking test at random. You won’t prepare for it, just choose a card from the selection and go. I want to see your skills with thinking quickly.
Then we’re done.
July 30th, 2018
Just like I talked about on Friday, here is the plan for our final week. The time has just flown by, I think.
- Monday: We will go over the test results and I will hand back your writing. We will spend more of our focus on the reading as opposed to the listening. Then we will finish off the articles and if we have time, do a few lessons for the listening. I will hand out the spelling for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Young people prefer listening to music rather than listening to the news on the radio. Is this a positive or a negative trend? Provide reasons and examples for your opinion.
Some films are designed to make people think, while other films are designed to entertain or amuse people. Which type of film do you prefer and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
Give reasons for the popularity of reality TV in the recent years. Explain the effects on society and the social meaning of this trend.
These days people pay more attention to famous film stars than to famous scientists. Why is this happening? Explain the trend, giving reasons and examples to support your opinion.
- Tuesday: We will complete the listening package and take our spelling lesson #6. I will give you a few more reading examples from an actual test and we can go over their meaning and where you found the answers.
- Wednesday: We will start with out final spelling and then go on to the speaking package – let’s try and get that done for today. I would like to get one final speaking grade today for all of you before I count up your final marks.
- Final test. Marks will be in the computer today and handed out to you.
- TBA – Movie? Final writing paper that I will have you do for me that is not graded – for my eyes only.
July 25th, 2018
Speaking / Articles
July 24th, 2018
Since we didn’t have much time to do the articles all together last week, I would like to spend some time at the beginning of class today to have some time where you can put that article together.
I will give one hour for this.
The remainder of time we will look at a package of reading excerpts that are very useful for each and ever reading section you will take on the IELTS.
If we still have time after these 7 passages are completed, I have another package that will help you understand detail oriented questions.
It should be a busy but good day today. Tomorrow we will all complete the articles and then do some speaking.
July 23rd, 2018
Nowadays doctors can become very rich. Maybe they should not focus on profitable activities such as plastic surgery or looking after rich patients and concentrate more on patients health, no matter how rich they are?
Does travel help to promote understanding and communication between countries?
In your opinion what factors contribute to a good movie?
Are famous people treated unfairly by the media ? Should they be given more privacy, or is the price of their fame an invasion into their private lives?
Is animal testing necessary?
Some businesses now say that no one can smoke cigarettes in any of their offices. Some governments have banned smoking in all public places. Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons.
To what extent is the use of animals in scientific research acceptable?
Human beings do not need to eat meat in order to maintain good health because they can get all their food needs from meatless products and meatless substances. A vegetarian diet is as healthy as a diet containing meat. Argue for or against the opinion above.
Forests are the lungs of the earth. Destruction of the world’s forests amounts to death of the world we currently know. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Are our zoos cruel to wild animals? Discuss.
Zoos are sometimes seen as necessary but not poor alternatives to a natural environment. Discuss some of the arguments for and/or against keeping animals in zoos.
To what extent will migration from the developing world to the developed world become a social and political issue in the 21st century?
In Britain, when someone gets old, they often go to live in a home with other old people where there are nurses to look after them. Sometimes the government has to pay for this care. Who should be responsible for our old people? Give reasons.
Let’s go over the test (Reading and Listening) together. We will go over all of the questions and then I will give back your writing.
July 17th, 2018
Spelling first, today.
We will be continuing with the reading section of the test. This will be completely a drill class. It is a very dry lesson, but I think that the more reading you do, the better you will be.
If we finish the package today, I have some more reading for you to do through my Oxford IELTS prep book.
Also, I would like to meet with a few people today while you are doing your work. This will be an individualized class for certain elements of reading that you could find difficult. If you need help, please see me in the first break time, so I can schedule some one on one tutoring during the second half.
July 16th, 2018
Hope you had a good weekend. Today, we will be going over the reading and speaking of the test after you choose a journal entry. These journals are great practice for free thinking without grades. Here are some choices:
- If countries are serious about solving traffic problems, they should tax
private cars very heavily and use the money to provide free or very
cheap rail travel. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
- Some people think the main purpose of schools is to turn children into
good citizens and workers, rather than to benefit them as individuals.
To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give your own reasons.
- People visiting other countries should adapt to the customs and
behaviours expected there. They should not expect the host country to
welcome different customs and behaviours.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
finally, we will be continuing our listening exercises that we started last Monday.
July 13th, 2018
Today will be the third practice test. If you do finish earlier, you have some time to work on next week’s article.
July 12th, 2018
Good job with the speaking yesterday.
Today will be all about writing. You will improve not only your grammar, but you’ll also have a good time with learning fluency of sentences and ideas, which you all need!
We will do the spelling test (on transportation) first.
July 11th, 2018
Yesterday was quite a long session with reading.
Today we will be doing speaking. First, however, we will be going through the class and doing the articles for study. So I will not be grading you for this as it is your first time performing for the class, but I will be helping you get prepared for the article presentation that will be graded at the end of the session (Week 5).
I hope that everyone can get to go. I will give you about 15 minutes in class to work on it.
I will hand out the speaking packages today so that we can jump right into the speaking exercises. It will be a little livelier than the other drill classes.
July 10th, 2018
Yesterday was mostly based on listening – and today’s focus is based on reading. We do the heaviest parts of class at the beginning of the week so that the end of the week will be lighter.
So I think that after the spelling test, we will work on reading exercises for the whole day.
Yet reading is extremely important for everyone, so as a bonus, I’d like to read a short story with you that I find to be one of my favorites. This is not related to IELTS, but like the journal writing, it is good for a warm up to think in English.
I don’t have printouts, so we can do this as a reading together on the computer:
I’ll see how it goes with you.
For the rest of the class, we will have reading drills.
July 9th, 2018
I hope you had a good weekend.
Today, we will have a lot to do. First of all, there is a journal prompt that I will provide here. You can choose one:
1. To what extent do you agree and/or disagree?
Some people think that the only purpose of working hard is to earn
2. Discuss both views and give your opinion.
Some believe that punishment is the only purpose of prisons, while
others believe that prisons exist for various reasons.
3. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages?
In some countries, governments are encouraging industries and
businesses to move to regional areas outside the big cities.
4. What are the causes and give solutions.
Despite improvements in vehicle technology, there are still large
numbers of road accidents. Explain some of the causes of these accidents, and suggest some
measures that could be taken to address the problem.
5. Multiple/Two part question tasks.
Many people around the world are choosing to move to live in cities.
What problems do people experience in big cities? Should governments
encourage people to move to smaller towns?
Let’s go over the test (Reading and Listening) together. We will go over all of the questions and then I will give back your writing.
Finally, I have a listening skills package that we will go over together, part by part. This is very important for you to practice your skills. We will complete this package over the course of the class.
July 6th, 2018
Today, we will take another practice test. I will only give speaking scores to the ones that have not completed their test yet.
We will do more of the same thing as we did on Tuesday and correct the test on Monday – hopefully completing both the reading and the listening sections.
On Monday, we will go over listening exercises as well.
Also today at the beginning of class, I would like at least five volunteers to complete their articles. We will enjoy five presentations, talk about them and then get right into the test.
Let’s have a great Friday.
July 5th, 2018
I will have corrected your writing assignments (pre-assessment) and given you a band score from 0-9. We will do the speaking test first thing today.
Then we will grade the whole test and if there are any answers you’d like for me to explain, I can. This might take up to an hour or so to complete.
After this, I will have us do a quick spelling test. This spelling test will be me saying the word and you writing your own sentence using the word in context to the sentence.
For example: The word is “Migration”
You have to spell the word correctly. You can use forms like: Migrating / Migrated / Migrate as long as the root word is correct.
This should be what your sentence looks like:
There was a huge migration to the city after the workers in the small town lost their jobs.
This tells me that you can spell the word, you know the definition and you know how to use the word. Each is worth 2 points. There are 10 words given and the quiz is worth 20 points. (1 spelling, 1 context.)
After that, we will be doing drills for reading exercises. I have a print out for you, but next week, I will just give you the page numbers and you can write answers in your own notebooks.
If we have time, I will show you how to look up articles to summarize for the class. If not, then we will do them tomorrow – before the first exam!!!
July 4th, 2018
This day will be quite a challenging one, yet necessary in order for your personal growth in the IELTS.
I will be giving you a pre-assessment IELTS exam.
After it’s all over, we will try to finish our AI activity.
Tomorrow will be the spelling quiz after a small review.
July 3rd, 2018
Welcome to IELTS! I hope you will get a lot out of this class and improve your scores. I would like to sit and talk to you about what my plan is to start and have you write name tags on your desk.
Let me guide you around the website. There are a lot of things to sort out.
I hope you can improve your scores because:
What is the IELTS? Here’s a brief easy lecture. Follow along and take notes if you’d like:
Give me three questions about the IELTS you’d like to find out.
Tomorrow, we will take a short assessment test regarding the IELTS, but today, want to express the importance of articles and their impact in this class. Here is an article I will read to you:
Researchers have overcome one of the major stumbling blocks in artificial intelligence with a program that can learn one task after another using skills it acquires on the way.
Developed by Google’s AI company, DeepMind, the program has taken on a range of different tasks and performed almost as well as a human. Crucially, and uniquely, the AI does not forget how it solved past problems, and uses the knowledge to tackle new ones.
The AI is not capable of the general intelligence that humans draw on when they are faced with new challenges; its use of past lessons is more limited. But the work shows a way around a problem that had to be solved if researchers are ever to build so-called artificial general intelligence (AGI) machines that match human intelligence.
“If we’re going to have computer programs that are more intelligent and more useful, then they will have to have this ability to learn sequentially,” said James Kirkpatrick at DeepMind.
The ability to remember old skills and apply them to new tasks comes naturally to humans. A regular rollerblader might find ice skating a breeze because one skill helps the other. But recreating this ability in computers has proved a huge challenge for AI researchers. AI programs are typically one trick ponies that excel at one task, and one task only.
The problem arises because of the way AIs tend to work. Most AIs are based on programs called neural networks that learn how to perform tasks, such as playing chess or poker, through countless rounds of trial and error. But once a neural network is trained to play chess, it can only learn another game later by overwriting its chess-playing skills. It suffers from what AI researchers call “catastrophic forgetting”.
Without the ability to build one skill on another, AIs will never learn like people, or be flexible enough to master fresh problems the way humans can. “Humans and animals learn things one after the other and it’s a crucial factor which allows them to learn continually and to build upon their previous knowledge,” said Kirkpatrick.
To build the new AI, the researchers drew on studies from neuroscience which show that animals learn continually by preserving brain connections that are known to be important for skills learned in the past. The lessons learned in hiding from prey are crucial for survival, and mice would not last long if the know-how was erased by the skills needed to find food.
The DeepMind AI mirrors the learning brain in a simple way. Before it moves from one task to another, it works out which connections in its neural network have been the most important for the tasks it has learned so far. It then makes these harder to change as it learns the next skill. “If the network can reuse what it has learned then it will do,” said Kirkpatrick.
The researchers put the AI through its paces by letting it play 10 classic Atari games, including Breakout, Space Invaders and Defender, in random order. They found that after several days on each game, the AI was as good as a human player at typically seven of the games. Without the new memory consolidation approach, the AI barely learned to play one of them.
In watching the AI at play, the scientists noticed some interesting strategies. For instance, when it played Enduro, a car racing game that takes place through the daytime, at night, and in snowy conditions, the AI treated each as a different task.
Writing in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe how the new AI solved problems with skills it had learned in the past. But it is not clear whether drawing on past skills made the AI perform better. While the program learned to play different games, it did not master each one as well as a dedicated AI would have. “We have demonstrated that it can learn tasks sequentially, but we haven’t shown that it learns them better because it learns them sequentially,” Kirkpatrick said. “There’s still room for improvement.”
One reason the AI did not nail each game was that it sometimes failed to appreciate how important certain connections were for its playing strategy. “We know that sequential learning is important, but we haven’t got to the next stage yet, which is to demonstrate the kind of learning that humans and animals can do. That is still a way off. But we know that one thing that was considered to be a big block is not insurmountable,” Kirkpatrick said.
“We are still a really long way from general-purpose artificial intelligence and there are many research challenges left to solve,” he added. “One key part of the puzzle is building systems that can learn to tackle new tasks and challenges while retaining the abilities that they have already learnt. This research is an early step in that direction, and could in time help us build problem-solving systems that can learn more flexibly and efficiently.”
Peter Dayan, director of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London, called the work “extremely nice”. He said that for computers to achieve AGI, they will need to learn how one task relates to another, so that past skills can efficiently be brought on bear on new problems.
Alan Winfield, at the Bristol Robotics Lab at the University of the West of England said the work was “wonderful”, but added: “I don’t believe it brings us significantly closer to AGI, since this work does not, nor does it claim to, show us how to generalise from one learned capability to another. Something you and I were able to do effortlessly as children.”
In your notebook, answer these questions:
How are these two pieces connected?
Can an AI learn better than a human? Why or why not?
What are some examples of the talk that are similar to the text?
Are there religious / moral problems with artificial intelligece?