IELTS READING – Chelsea Rochman S21AT3

IELTS SIMULATOR  FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE  READING – Chelsea Rochman S21AT3 FREE COMPUTER DELIVERED ONLINE TEST IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

Chelsea Rochman,

 an ecologist at the University of California, Davis, has been trying to answer a dismal question: Is everything terrible, or are things just very, very bad?

Rochman is a member of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis’s marine-debris working group, a collection of scientists who study, among other things, the growing problem of marine debris, also known as ocean trash. Plenty of studies have sounded alarm bells about the state of marine debris; in a recent paper published in the journal Ecology, Rochman and her colleagues set out to determine how many of those perceived risks are real.

Often, Rochman says, scientists will end a paper by speculating about the broader impacts of what they’ve found. For example, a study could show that certain seabirds eat plastic bags, and go on to warn that whole bird populations are at risk of dying out.’But the truth was that nobody had yet tested those perceived threats,’ Rochman says.’There wasn’t a lot of information.’

Rochman and her colleagues examined more than a hundred papers on the impacts of marine debris that were published through 2013. Within each paper, they asked what threats scientists had studied – 366 perceived threats in all – and what they’d actually found.

In 83 percent of cases, the perceived dangers of ocean trash were proven true. In the remaining cases, the working group found the studies had weaknesses in design and content which affected the validity of their conclusions – they lacked a control group, for example, or used faulty statistics.

Strikingly, Rochman says, only one well-designed study failed to find the effect it was looking for, an investigation of mussels ingesting microscopic plastic bits. The plastic moved from the mussels’ stomachs to their bloodstreams, scientists found, and stayed there for weeks – but didn’t seem to stress out the shellfish.

While mussels may be fine eating trash, though, the analysis also gave a clearer picture of the many ways that ocean debris is bothersome.

Within the studies they looked at, most of the proven threats came from plastic debris, rather than other materials like metal or wood. Most of the dangers also involved large pieces of debris – animals getting entangled in trash, for example, or eating it and severely injuring themselves.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – The power of play S20AT3

IELTS SIMULATOR FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE READING – The power of play S20AT3 FREE COMPUTER DELIVERED ONLINE TEST IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

The power of play

Virtually every child, the world over, plays. The drive to play is so intense that children will do so in any circumstances, for instance when they have no real toys, or when parents do not actively encourage the behavior. In the eyes of a young child, running, pretending, and building are fun. Researchers and educators know that these playful activities benefit the development of the whole child across social, cognitive, physical, and emotional domains. Indeed, play is such an instrumental component to healthy child development that the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights (1989) recognized play as a fundamental right of every child.

Yet, while experts continue to expound a powerful argument for the importance of play in children’s lives, the actual time children spend playing continues to decrease. Today, children play eight hours less each week than their counterparts did two decades ago (Elkind 2008). Under pressure of rising academic standards, play is being replaced by test preparation in kindergartens and grade schools, and parents who aim to give their preschoolers a leg up are led to believe that flashcards and educational ‘toys’ are the path to success. Our society has created a false dichotomy between play and learning.

Through play, children learn to regulate their behavior, lay the foundations for later learning in science and mathematics, figure out the complex negotiations of social relationships, build a repertoire of creative problem-solving skills, and so much more. There is also an important role for adults in guiding children through playful learning opportunities.

Full consensus on a formal definition of play continues to elude the researchers and theorists who study it. Definitions range from discrete descriptions of various types of play such as physical, construction, language, or symbolic play (Miller & Almon 2009), to lists of broad criteria, based on observations and attitudes, that are meant to capture the essence of all play behaviors (e.g. Rubin  1983).

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – Why companies should welcome disorder S19AT3

IELTS SIMULATOR ACADEMIC ONLINE READING – Why companies should welcome disorder S19AT3 FREE COMUPTER DELIVERED ONLINE IELTS SIMULATION TEST
IELTS READING

Why companies should welcome disorder

A. Organisation is big business. Whether it is of our lives – all those inboxes and calendars – or how companies are structured, a multi-billion dollar industry helps to meet this need. We have more strategies for time management, project management and self-organisation than at any other time in human history. We are told that we ought to organise our company, our home life, our week, our day and even our sleep, all as a means to becoming more productive. Every week, countless seminars and workshops take place around the world to tell a paying public that they ought to structure their lives in order to achieve this. This rhetoric has also crept into the thinking of business leaders and entrepreneurs, much to the delight of self-proclaimed perfectionists with the need to get everything right. The number of business schools and graduates has massively increased over the past 50 years, essentially teaching people how to organise well.

 B. Ironically, however, the number of businesses that fail has also steadily increased. Work-related stress has increased. A large proportion of workers from all demographics claim to be dissatisfied with the way their work is structured and the way they are managed. This begs the question: what has gone wrong? Why is it that on paper the drive for organisation seems a sure shot for increasing productivity, but in reality falls well short of what is expected?

C. This has been a problem for a while now. Frederick Taylor was one of the forefathers of scientific management. Writing in the first half of the 20th century, he designed a number of principles to improve the efficiency of the work process, which have since become widespread in modern companies. So the approach has been around for a while.

D. New research suggests that this obsession with efficiency is misguided. The problem is not necessarily the management theories or strategies we use to organise our work; it’s the basic assumptions we hold in approaching how we work. Here it’s the assumption that order is a necessary condition for productivity. This assumption has also fostered the idea that disorder must be detrimental to organisational productivity. The result is that businesses and people spend time and money organising themselves for the sake of organising, rather than actually looking at the end goal and usefulness of such an effort.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – Why zoos are good S21AT2

IELTS SIMULATOR FREE ACADEMIC READING – Why zoos are good S21AT2 FREE COMPUTER DELIVERED ACADEMIC ONLINE TEST IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

Why zoos are good

Scientist David Hone makes the case for zoos

A. In my view, it is perfectly possible for many species of animals living in zoos or wildlife parks to have a quality of life as high as, or higher than, in the wild. Animals in good zoos get a varied and high-quality diet with all the supplements required, and any illnesses they might have will be treated. Their movement might be somewhat restricted, but they have a safe environment in which to live, and they are spared bullying and social ostracism by others of their kind. They do not suffer from the threat or stress of predators, or the irritation and pain of parasites or injuries. The average captive animal will have a greater life expectancy compared with its wild counterpart, and will not die of drought, of starvation or in the jaws of a predator. A lot of very nasty things happen to truly ‘wild’ animals that simply don’t happen in good zoos, and to view a life that is ‘free’ as one that is automatically ‘good’ is, I think, an error. Furthermore, zoos serve several key purposes.

B. Firstly, zoos aid conservation. Colossal numbers of species are becoming extinct across the world, and many more are increasingly threatened and therefore risk extinction. Moreover, some of these collapses have been sudden, dramatic and unexpected, or were simply discovered very late in the day. A species protected in captivity can be bred up to provide a reservoir population against a population crash or extinction in the wild. A good number of species only exist in captivity, with many of these living in zoos. Still more only exist in the wild because they have been reintroduced from zoos, or have wild populations that have been boosted by captive bred animals. Without these efforts there would be fewer species alive today. Although reintroduction successes are few and far between, the numbers are increasing, and the very fact that species have been saved or reintroduced as a result of captive breeding proves the value of such initiatives.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – Saving bugs to find new drugs S20AT2

IELTS SIMULATOR FREE ACADEMIC READING – Saving bugs to find new drugs S20AT2 FREE COMPUTER DELIVERED ONLINE TEST IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

Saving bugs to find new drugs

Zoologist Ross Piper looks at the potential of insects in pharmaceutical research

A. More drugs than you might think are derived from, or inspired by, compounds found in living things. Looking to nature for the soothing and curing of our ailments is nothing new – we have been doing it for tens of thousands of years. You only have to look at other primates – such as the capuchin monkeys who rub themselves with toxin-oozing millipedes to deter mosquitoes, or the chimpanzees who use noxious forest plants to rid themselves of intestinal parasites – to realise that our ancient ancestors too probably had a basic grasp of medicine.

B. Pharmaceutical science and chemistry built on these ancient foundations and perfected the extraction, characterisation, modification and testing of these natural products. Then, for a while, modern pharmaceutical science moved its focus away from nature and into the laboratory, designing chemical compounds from scratch. The main cause of this shift is that although there are plenty of promising chemical compounds in nature, finding them is far from easy. Securing sufficient numbers of the organism in question, isolating and characterising the compounds of interest, and producing large quantities of these compounds are all significant hurdles.

C. Laboratory-based drug discovery has achieved varying levels of success, something which has now prompted the development of new approaches focusing once again on natural products. With the ability to mine genomes for useful compounds, it is now evident that we have barely scratched the surface of nature’s molecular diversity. This realisation, together with several looming health crises, such as antibiotic resistance, has put bioprospecting – the search for useful compounds in nature – firmly back on the map.

D. Insects are the undisputed masters of the terrestrial domain, where they occupy every possible niche. Consequently, they have a bewildering array of interactions with other organisms, something which has driven the evolution of an enormous range of very interesting compounds for defensive and offensive purposes. Their remarkable diversity exceeds that of every other group of animals on the planet combined. Yet even though insects are far and away the most diverse animals in existence, their potential as sources of therapeutic compounds is yet to be realised.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – Back to the future of skyscraper design S19AT2

IELTS SIMULATOR FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE READING – Back to the future of skyscraper design S19AT2 FREE COMPUTER DELIVERED ONLINE TEST IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

Back to the future of skyscraper design

Answers to the problem of excessive electricity use by skyscrapers and large public buildings can be found in ingenious but forgotten architectural designs of the 19th and early-20th centuries

A. The Recovery of Natural Environments in Architecture by Professor Alan Short is the culmination of 30 years of research and award-winning green building design by Short and colleagues in Architecture, Engineering, Applied Maths and Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge. The crisis in building design is already here,’ said Short. ‘Policy makers think you can solve energy and building problems with gadgets. You can’t. As global temperatures continue to rise, we are going to continue to squander more and more energy on keeping our buildings mechanically cool until we have run out of capacity.’

B. Short is calling for a sweeping reinvention of how skyscrapers and major public buildings are designed – to end the reliance on sealed buildings which exist solely via the ‘life support’ system of vast air conditioning units. Instead, he shows it is entirely possible to accommodate natural ventilation and cooling in large buildings by looking into the past, before the widespread introduction of air conditioning systems, which were ‘relentlessly and aggressively marketed’ by their inventors.

C. Short points out that to make most contemporary buildings habitable, they have to be sealed and air conditioned. The energy use and carbon emissions this generates is spectacular and largely unnecessary. Buildings in the West account for 40-50% of electricity usage, generating substantial carbon emissions, and the rest of the world is catching up at a frightening rate. Short regards glass, steel and air-conditioned skyscrapers as symbols of status, rather than practical ways of meeting our requirements.

D. Short’s book highlights a developing and sophisticated art and science of ventilating buildings through the 19th and earlier-20th centuries, including the design of ingeniously ventilated hospitals. Of particular interest were those built to the designs of John Shaw Billings, including the first Johns Hopkins Hospital in the US city of Baltimore (1873-1889). ‘We spent three years digitally modelling Billings’ final designs,’ says Short. ‘We put pathogens in the airstreams, modelled for someone with tuberculosis (TB) coughing in the wards and we found the ventilation systems in the room would have kept other patients safe from harm.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – The concept of intelligence S20AT1

IELTS FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE READING – The concept of intelligence S20AT1 FREE COMPUTER DELIVERED ONLINE TEST IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

The concept of intelligence

A. Looked at in one way, everyone knows what intelligence is looked at in another way, no one does. In other words, people all have unconscious notions – known as ‘implicit theories’ – of intelligence, but no one knows for certain what it actually is. This chapter addresses how people conceptualize intelligence, whatever it may actually be. But why should we even care what people think intelligence is, as opposed only to valuing whatever it actually is? There are at least four reasons people’s conceptions of intelligence matter.

B. First, implicit theories of intelligence drive the way in which people perceive and evaluate their own intelligence and that of others. To better understand the judgments people make about their own and others’ abilities, it is useful to learn about people’s implicit theories. For example, parents’ implicit theories of their children’s language development will determine at what ages they will be willing to make various corrections in their children’s speech. More generally, parents’ implicit theories of intelligence will determine at what ages they believe their children are ready to perform various cognitive tasks. Job interviewers will make hiring decisions on the basis of their implicit theories of intelligence. People will decide who to be friends with on the basis of such theories. In sum, knowledge about implicit theories of intelligence is important because this knowledge is so often used by people to make judgments in the course of their everyday lives.

C. Second, the implicit theories of scientific investigators ultimately give rise to their explicit theories. Thus it is useful to find out what these implicit theories are. Implicit theories provide a framework that is useful in defining the general scope of a phenomenon – especially a not-well-understood phenomenon. These implicit theories can suggest what aspects of the phenomenon have been more or less attended to in previous investigations.

D. Third, implicit theories can be useful when an investigator suspects that existing explicit theories are wrong or misleading. If an investigation of implicit theories reveals little correspondence between the extant implicit and explicit theories, the implicit theories may be wrong. But the possibility also needs to be taken into account that the explicit theories are wrong and in need of correction or supplementation. For example, some implicit theories of intelligence suggest the need for expansion of some of our explicit theories of the construct.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – Beyond the blue horizon S18AT3

IELTS SIMULATOR FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE READING – Beyond the blue horizon S18AT3 FREE COMPUTER DELIVERED ONLINE TEST ... IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

Beyond the blue horizon

Ancient voyagers who settled the far-flung islands of the Pacific Ocean

An important archaeological discovery on the island of Efate in the Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu  has revealed traces of an ancient seafaring people, the distant ancestors of todays, Polynesians. The site came to light only by chance. An agricultural worker, digging in the grounds of a derelict plantation, scraped open a grave – the first of dozens in a burial ground some 3,000 years old. It is the oldest cemetery ever found in the Pacific islands, and it harbors the remains of an ancient people archaeologists call the Lapita.

They were daring blue-water adventurers who used basic canoes to rove across the ocean. But they were not just explorers. They were also pioneers who carried with them everything they would need to build new lives – their livestock, taro seedlings and stone tools. Within the span of several centuries, the Lapita stretched the boundaries of their world from the jungle-clad volcanoes of Papua New Guinea to the loneliest coral outliers of Tonga.

The Lapita left precious few clues about themselves, but Efate expands the volume of data available  to researchers dramatically. The remains of 62 individuals have been uncovered so far, and  archaeologists were also thrilled to find six complete Lapita pots. Other items included a Lapita burial urn with modeled birds arranged on the rim as though peering down at the human remains sealed inside. ‘It’s an important discovery,’ says Matthew Spriggs, professor of archaeology at the Australian National University and head of the international team digging up the site, ‘for it conclusively identifies the remains as Lapita.’

DNA teased from these human remains may help answer one of the most puzzling questions in Pacific anthropology: did all Pacific islanders spring from one source or many? Was there only one outward migration from a single point in Asia, or several from different points? ‘This represents the best opportunity we’ve had yet,’ says Spriggs, ‘to find out who the Lapita actually were, where they came from, and who their closest descendants are today.’

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – When Evolution Runs Backwards S17AT3

IELTS SIMULATOR FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE READING – When Evolution Runs Backwards S17AT3 FREE COMPUTER DELIVERED ONLINE TEST IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

When Evolution Runs Backwards

The description of any animal as an ‘evolutionary throwback’ is controversial. For the better part of a century, most biologists have been reluctant to use those words, mindful of a principle of evolution that says ‘evolution cannot run backwards’. But as more and more examples come to light and modern genetics enters the scene, that principle is having to be rewritten. Not only are evolutionary throwbacks possible, they sometimes play an important role in the forward march of evolution.

The technical term for an evolutionary throwback is an ‘atavism’, from the Latin atavus, meaning forefather. The word has ugly connotations thanks largely to Cesare Lombroso, a 19th-century Italian medic who argued that criminals were born not made and could be identified by certain physical features that were throwbacks to a primitive, sub-human state.

While Lombroso was measuring criminals, a Belgian palaeontologist called Louis Dollo was studying fossil records and coming to the opposite conclusion. In 1890 he proposed that evolution was irreversible: that ‘an organism is unable to return, even partially, to a previous stage already realised in the ranks of its ancestors’. Early 20th-century biologists came to similar conclusion, though they qualified it in terms of probability, stating that there is no reason why evolution cannot run backwards – it is just very unlikely. And so the idea of irreversibility in evolution stuck and came to be known as ‘Dollo’s law’.

If Dollo’s law is right, atavisms should occur only very rarely, if at all. Yet almost since the idea took root, exceptions have been cropping up. In 1919, for example, a humpback whale with a pair of leg-like appendages over a metre long, complete with a full set of limb bones, was caught off Vancouver Island in Canada. Explorer Roy Chapman Andrews argued at the time that the whale must be a throwback to a land-living ancestor. ‘I can see no other explanation’, he wrote in 1921.

Since then, so many other examples have been discovered that it no longer makes sense to say that evolution is as good as irreversible. And this poses a puzzle: how can characteristics that disappeared millions of years ago suddenly reappear? In 1994, Rudolf Raff and colleagues at Indiana University in the USA decided to use genetics to put a number on the probability of evolution going into reverse. They reasoned that while some evolutionary changes involve the loss of genes and are therefore irreversible, others may be the result of genes being switched off. If these silent genes are somehow switched back on, they argued, long-lost traits could reappear.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – Alexander Henderson S19AT1

IELTS FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE READING – Alexander Henderson S19GT1 .... FREE COMPUTER DELIVERED ONLINE TEST.... IELTS SIMULATION

IELTS READING

Alexander Henderson

Born in Scotland, Henderson emigrated to Canada in 1855 and became a well-known landscape photographer

Alexander Henderson was born in Scotland in 1831 and was the son of a successful merchant. His grandfather, also called Alexander, had founded the family business, and later became the first chairman of the National Bank of Scotland. The family had extensive landholdings in Scotland. Besides its residence in Edinburgh, it owned Press Estate, 650 acres of farmland about 35 miles southeast of the city. The family often stayed at Press Castle, the large mansion on the northern edge of the property, and Alexander spent much of his childhood in the area, playing on the beach near Eyemouth or fishing in the streams nearby.

Even after he went to school at Murcheston Academy on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Henderson returned to Press at weekends. In 1849 he began a three-year apprenticeship to become an accountant. Although he never liked the prospect of a business career, he stayed with it to please his family. In October 1855, however, he emigrated to Canada with his wife Agnes Elder Robertson and they settled in Montreal.

Henderson learned photography in Montreal around the year 1857 and quickly took it up as a serious amateur. He became a personal friend and colleague of the Scottish-Canadian photographer William Notman. The two men made a photographic excursion to Niagara Falls in 1860 and they cooperated on experiments with magnesium flares as a source of artificial light in 1865. They belonged to the same societies and were among the founding members of the Art Association of Montreal. Henderson acted as chairman of the association’s first meeting, which was held in Notman’s studio on 11 January 1860.

In spite of their friendship, their styles of photography were quite different. While Notman’s landscapes were noted for their bold realism, Henderson for the first 20 years of his career produced romantic images, showing the strong influence of the British landscape tradition. His artistic and technical progress was rapid and in 1865 he published his first major collection of landscape photographs. The publication had limited circulation (only seven copies have ever been found), and was called Canadian Views and Studies. The contents of each copy vary significantly and have proved a useful source for evaluating Henderson’s early work.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – Autumn leaves S18AT2

IELTS FREE ONLINE ACADEMIC TEST READING – Autumn leaves S18AT2 FREE ONLINE COMPUTER DELIVERED ACADEMIC TEST IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

Autumn leaves

Canadian writer Jay Ingram investigates the mystery of why leaves turn red in the fall

A. One of the most captivating natural events of the year in many areas throughout North America is the turning of the leaves in the fall. The colours are magnificent, but the question of exactly why some trees turn yellow or orange, and others red or purple, is something which has long puzzled scientists.

B. Summer leaves are green because they are full of chlorophyll, the molecule that captures sunlight converts that energy into new building materials for the tree. As fall approaches in the northern hemisphere, the amount of solar energy available declines considerably. For many trees – evergreen conifers being an exception – the best strategy is to abandon photosynthesis* until the spring. So rather than maintaining the now redundant leaves throughout the winter, the tree saves its precious resources and discards them. But before letting its leaves go, the tree dismantles their chlorophyll molecules and ships their valuable nitrogen back into the twigs. As chlorophyll is depleted, other colours that have been dominated by it throughout the summer begin to be revealed. This unmasking explains the autumn colours of yellow and orange, but not the brilliant reds and purples of trees such as the maple or sumac.

C. The source of the red is widely known: it is created by anthocyanins, water-soluble plant pigments reflecting the red to blue range of the visible spectrum. They belong to a class of sugar-based chemical compounds also known as flavonoids. What’s puzzling is that anthocyanins are actually newly minted, made in the leaves at the same time as the tree is preparing to drop them. But it is hard to make sense of the manufacture of anthocyanins – why should a tree bother making new chemicals in its leaves when it’s already scrambling to withdraw and preserve the ones already there?

D. Some theories about anthocyanins have argued that they might act as a chemical defence against attacks by insects or fungi, or that they might attract fruit-eating birds or increase a leafs tolerance to freezing. However there are problems with each of these theories, including the fact that leaves are red for such a relatively short period that the expense of energy needed to manufacture the anthocyanins would outweigh any anti-fungal or anti-herbivore activity achieved. photosynthesis: the production of new material from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – Second Nature S17AT2

IELTS FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE  READING TEST – Second Nature S17AT2 .... FREEE ONLINE COMPUTER DELIVERED TEST ..... IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

Second Nature

A. Psychologists have long held that a person’s character cannot undergo a transformation in any meaningful way and that the key traits of personality are determined at a very young age. However, researchers have begun looking more closely at ways we can change. Positive psychologists have identified 24 qualities we admire, such as loyalty and kindness, and are studying them to find out why they come so naturally to some people. What they’re discovering is that many of these qualities amount to habitual behaviour that determines the way we respond to the world. The good news is that all this can be learned.

Some qualities are less challenging to develop than others, optimism being one of them. However, developing qualities requires mastering a range of skills which are diverse and sometimes surprising. For example, to bring more joy and passion into your life, you must be open to experiencing negative emotions. Cultivating such qualities will help you realise your full potential.

B. ‘The evidence is good that most personality traits can be altered,’ says Christopher Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, who cites himself as an example. Inherently introverted, he realised early on that as an academic, his reticence would prove disastrous in the lecture hall. So he learned to be more outgoing and to entertain his classes. ‘Now my extroverted behaviour is spontaneous,’ he says.

C. David Fajgenbaum had to make a similar transition. He was preparing for university, when he had an accident that put an end to his sports career. On campus, he quickly found that beyond ordinary counselling, the university had no services for students who were undergoing physical rehabilitation and suffering from depression like him. He therefore launched a support group to help others in similar situations. He took action despite his own pain – a typical response of an optimist.

D. Suzanne Segerstrom, professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, believes that the key to increasing optimism is through cultivating optimistic behaviour, rather than positive thinking. She recommends you train yourself to pay attention to good fortune by writing down three positive things that come about each day. This will help you convince yourself that favourable outcomes actually happen all the time, making it easier to begin taking action.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – The Context, Meaning and Scope of Tourism S18AT1

IELTS FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE TEST READING – The Context, Meaning and Scope of Tourism S18AT1 ... ONLINE COMPUTER DELIVERED TEST .... IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

The Context, Meaning and Scope of Tourism

Example : A. The history of travel

Travel has existed since the beginning of time, when primitive man set out, often traversing great distances in search of game, which provided the food and clothing necessary for his survival. Throughout the course of history, people have travelled for purposes of trade, religious conviction, economic gain, war, migration and other equally compelling motivations. In the Roman era, wealthy aristocrats and high government officials also travelled for pleasure. Seaside resorts located at Pompeii and Herculaneum afforded citizens the opportunity to escape to their vacation villas in order to avoid the summer heat of Rome. Travel, except during the Dark Ages, has continued to grow and, throughout recorded history, has played a vital role in the development of civilisations and their economies.

B. Tourism in the mass form as we know it today is a distinctly twentieth-century phenomenon. Historians suggest that the advent of mass tourism began in England during the industrial revolution with the rise of the middle class and the availability of relatively inexpensive transportation. The creation of the commercial airline industry following the Second World War and the subsequent development of the jet aircraft in the 1950s signalled the rapid growth and expansion of international travel. This growth led to the development of a major new industry: tourism. In turn, international tourism became the concern of a number of world governments since it not only provided new employment opportunities but also produced a means of earning foreign exchange.

C. Tourism today has grown significantly in both economic and social importance. In most industrialised countries over the past few years the fastest growth has been seen in the area of services. One of the largest segments of the service industry, although largely unrecognised as an entity in some of these countries, is travel and tourism. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (1992),Travel and tourism is the largest industry in the world on virtually any economic measure including value-added capital investment, employment and tax contributions,. In 1992’ the industry’s gross output was estimated to be $3.5 trillion, over 12 per cent of all consumer spending. The travel and tourism industry is the world’s largest employer the almost 130 million jobs, or almost 7 per cent of all employees. This industry is the world’s leading industrial contributor, producing over 6 per cent of the world’s national product and accounting for capital investment in excess of $422 billion m direct indirect and personal taxes each year. Thus, tourism has a profound impact both on the world economy and, because of the educative effect of travel and the effects on employment, on society itself.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – The growth of bike-sharing schemes around the world S16AT2

IELTS SIMULATOR FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE READING TEST – The growth of bike-sharing schemes around S16AT2 .. ONLINE COMPUTER DELIVERED TEST IELTS SIMULATION

The growth of bike-sharing schemes around the world

How Dutch engineer Luud Schimmelpennink helped to devise urban bike-sharing schemes

A. The original idea for an urban bike-sharing scheme dates back to a summer’s day in Amsterdam in 1965. Provo, the organisation that came up with the idea, was a group of Dutch activists who wanted to change society. They believed the scheme, which was known as the Witte Fietsenplan, was an answer to the perceived threats of air pollution and consumerism. In the centre of Amsterdam, they painted a small number of used bikes white. They also distributed leaflets describing the dangers of cars and inviting people to use the white bikes. The bikes were then left unlocked at various locations around the city, to be used by anyone in need of transport.

B. Luud Schimmelpennink, a Dutch industrial engineer who still lives and cycles in Amsterdam, was heavily involved in the original scheme. He recalls how the scheme succeeded in attracting a great deal of attention – particularly when it came to publicising Provo’s aims – but struggled to get off the ground. The police were opposed to Provo’s initiatives and almost as soon as the white bikes were distributed around the city, they removed them. However, for Schimmelpennink and for bike-sharing schemes in general, this was just the beginning. The first Witte Fietsenplan was just a symbolic thing,’ he says. ‘We painted a few bikes white, that was all. Things got more serious when I became a member of the Amsterdam city council two years later.’

C. Schimmelpennink seized this opportunity to present a more elaborate Witte Fietsenplan to the city council. ‘My idea was that the municipality of Amsterdam would distribute 10,000 white bikes over the city, for everyone to use,’ he explains. ‘I made serious calculations. It turned out that a white bicycle – per person, per kilometre – would cost the municipality only 10% of what it contributed to public transport per person per kilometre.’ Nevertheless, the council unanimously rejected the plan. They said that the bicycle belongs to the past. They saw a glorious future for the car,’ says Schimmelpennink. But he was not in the least discouraged.

 

Attempt full reading test…

 

IELTS READING – Motivational factors and the hospitality industry S16AT3

IELTS SIMULATOR FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE READING TEST – Motivational factors and the hospitality industry S16AT3 IELTS SIMULATION

Motivational factors and the hospitality industry

A critical ingredient in the success of hotels is developing and maintaining superior performance from their employees. How is that accomplished? What Human Resource Management (HRM) practices should organizations invest in to acquire and retain great employees?

Some hotels aim to provide superior working conditions for their employees. The idea originated from workplaces – usually in the non-service sector – that emphasized fun and enjoyment as part of work-life balance. By contrast, the service sector, and more specifically hotels, has traditionally not extended these practices to address basic employee needs, such as good working conditions.

Pfeffer (1994) emphasizes that in order to succeed in a global business environment, organizations must make investment in Human Resource Management (HRM) to allow them to acquire employees who possess better skills and capabilities than their competitors. This investment will be to their competitive advantage. Despite this recognition of the importance of employee development, the hospitality industry has historically been dominated by underdeveloped HR practices (Lucas, 2002).

Lucas also points out that ‘the substance of HRM practices does not appear to be designed to foster constructive relations with employees or to represent a managerial approach that enables developing and drawing out the full potential of people, even though employees may be broadly satisfied with many aspects of their work’ (Lucas, 2002). In addition, or maybe as a result, high employee turnover has been a recurring problem throughout the hospitality industry. Among the many cited reasons are low compensation, inadequate benefits, poor working conditions and compromised employee morale and attitudes (Maroudas et al., 2008).

Ng and Sorensen (2008) demonstrated that when managers provide recognition to employees, motivate employees to work together, and remove obstacles preventing effective performance, employees feel more obligated to stay with the company. This was succinctly summarized by Michel et al. (2013): ‘[Providing support to employees gives them the confidence to perform their jobs better and the motivation to stay with the organization.’ Hospitality organizations can therefore enhance employee motivation and retention through the development and improvement of their working conditions. These conditions are inherently linked to the working environment.

 

Attempt full reading test…

IELTS READING – The psychology of innovation S14AT3

IELTS SIMULATOR FREE ACADEMIC ONLINE READING – The psychology of innovation S14AT3 .......................IELTS SIMULATION
IELTS READING

The psychology of innovation 

Why are so few companies truly innovative? 

Innovation is key to business survival,and companies put substantial resources into inspiring employees to develop new ideas. There are, nevertheless, people working in luxurious, state-of-the-art centres designed to stimulate innovation who find that their environment doesn’t make them feel at all creative. And there are those who don’t have a budget, or much space, but who innovate successfully.

For Robert B. Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, one reason that companies don’t succeed as often as they should is that innovation starts with recruitment. Research shows that the fit between an employee’s values and a company’s values makes a difference to what contribution they make and whether, two years after they join, they’re still at the company. Studies at Harvard Business School show that, although some individuals may be more creative than others, almost every individual can be creative in the right circumstances.

One of the most famous photographs in the story of rock’n’roll emphasises Ciaidini’s views. The 1956 picture of singers Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis jamming at a piano in Sun Studios in Memphis tells a hidden story. Sun’s ‘million-dollar quartet’ could have been a quintet. Missing from the picture is Roy Orbison’ a greater natural singer than Lewis, Perkins or Cash. Sam Phillips, who owned Sun, wanted to revolutionise popular music with songs that fused black and white music, and country and blues. Presley, Cash, Perkins and Lewis instinctively understood Phillips’s ambition and believed in it. Orbison wasn’t inspired by the goal, and only ever achieved one hit with the Sun label.

The value fit matters, says Cialdini, because innovation is, in part, a process of change, and under that pressure we, as a species, behave differently, ‘When things change, we are hard-wired to play it safe.’ Managers should therefore adopt an approach that appears counterintuitive -they should explain what stands to be lost if the company fails to seize a particular opportunity. Studies show that we invariably take more gambles when threatened with a loss than when offered a reward.

 

Attempt full reading test…