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How are poverty and education related -IELTS Speaking Test Preparation

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

Discussion Points:

Poverty and education are deeply interconnected in a complex and multifaceted manner. The relationship between these two factors is bidirectional, meaning that poverty can impact education, and education can influence one's likelihood of escaping poverty. This relationship has significant implications for individuals, communities, and societies as a whole. Here's a discussion of how poverty and education are related:

1. Limited Access to Quality Education: Poverty often limits access to quality education. Families struggling with poverty might not have the financial means to provide basic educational resources such as textbooks, school supplies, and uniforms. They might also lack access to well-equipped schools, skilled teachers, and extracurricular activities, all of which contribute to a holistic educational experience. This can lead to subpar education and limit the learning potential of children from impoverished backgrounds.

2. Dropout Rates and Early School Leavers: Children from impoverished families are more likely to drop out of school due to a variety of reasons, such as the need to work to supplement family income or help with household chores. This early departure from education diminishes their chances of acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to break the cycle of poverty.

3. Cycle of Intergenerational Poverty: A lack of education can perpetuate a cycle of poverty across generations. Parents with limited education and lower income levels might struggle to provide their children with adequate educational support and resources, thus reducing their children's opportunities for upward mobility.

4. Employment Opportunities: Education plays a crucial role in determining employment opportunities. Higher levels of education generally lead to better-paying jobs and career advancement. Individuals with limited education are often relegated to low-skilled, low-paying jobs, which can make it difficult to escape poverty and improve their overall quality of life.

5. Social Mobility: Education is often seen as a pathway to social mobility. It provides individuals with the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking abilities necessary to pursue higher-paying and more fulfilling careers. Without access to quality education, individuals are less likely to have the tools to lift themselves out of poverty and create a better life for themselves and their families.

6. Impact on Cognitive Development: Quality education is not only about acquiring job-specific skills; it also enhances cognitive development, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking. These skills are essential for making informed decisions, adapting to change, and participating in civic activities. Lack of education can limit an individual's capacity to engage effectively in society.

7. Societal Implications: From a societal perspective, inadequate education can lead to a less-skilled workforce, which in turn can hinder economic growth and development. A lack of education may also contribute to social unrest, as individuals who feel marginalized and disadvantaged due to their lack of access to education may become disenchanted with the system.

8. Policy Interventions: Governments and organizations often recognize the importance of addressing the poverty-education cycle through targeted policy interventions. These can include providing scholarships, subsidies, and incentives for education, improving school infrastructure, implementing school feeding programs, and promoting vocational training to equip individuals with practical skills. In conclusion, poverty and education are tightly intertwined, with poverty often hindering access to quality education and education serving as a critical tool for breaking the cycle of poverty. Addressing this relationship requires a comprehensive approach that involves not only improving educational opportunities for those in poverty but also addressing the systemic factors that contribute to poverty in the first place.

Example answer for IELTS speaking test:

Poverty and education share a complex relationship, exerting mutual influence on each other. This connection is of paramount significance due to its social and economic implications.

Primarily, poverty can severely impede access to education. Families grappling with financial constraints often struggle to provide the necessary resources for their children's education, such as textbooks, uniforms, and school supplies. Moreover, impoverished areas may lack well-equipped schools and qualified teachers, resulting in a compromised learning environment. Consequently, children from disadvantaged backgrounds may receive substandard education, limiting their potential for intellectual and professional growth.

Furthermore, poverty can lead to high dropout rates. Economic pressures might force children to abandon their studies prematurely in order to contribute to family income or assist with household responsibilities. Such early departures from education hinder the acquisition of skills and knowledge required to break free from the cycle of poverty. Conversely, education plays a pivotal role in alleviating poverty. It equips individuals with the skills necessary for securing better employment opportunities. Higher levels of education generally correlate with higher earning potential and career advancement, enabling individuals to improve their socioeconomic circumstances. This is particularly evident in the case of vocational and higher education, which prepare individuals for specialized roles in various industries.

In terms of societal impact, an educated population fosters economic growth. Educated individuals contribute effectively to the workforce, driving innovation and productivity. Moreover, education cultivates critical thinking and problem-solving skills, enabling individuals to make informed decisions and participate actively in their communities. This social engagement is pivotal for poverty reduction, as educated citizens are better equipped to advocate for their rights and access available resources. In conclusion, the intricate relationship between poverty and education manifests in both constraining access to education due to poverty and mitigating poverty through education. Acknowledging and addressing this relationship is imperative for creating a more equitable society and fostering sustainable economic development.

Other IELTS questions related to Education:

  1. Do you work or are you a student?

  2. Why did you choose that subject?

  3. Did you enjoy/Do you enjoy studying at school?

  4. Do you study English now?

  5. What kind of school did you go to as a child?

  6. Where do you study / Where did you study?

  7. What do you study/did you study in university?

  8. What was your favourite subject as a child?

  9. Who was your favourite teacher?

  10. Do you enjoy studying alone or with friends?

You could also be asked to describe one of the following:

  • a teacher

  • a subject

  • an important memory

  • the actual school you attended

  • a lesson

You may well be asked to describe a subject that you studied in school or that you wish you had studied. Remember that it could be your favourite subject or a subject you hated. It is always important that you read the whole cue card and do not jump to conclusions.
Here is an example:
Describe a subject you enjoyed studying at school. You should say: – when and where you started studying it – what the lessons were like – what made the subject different from other subjects and explain why you enjoyed the subject

Describing a subject presents many possibilities. You can talk about many different aspects of your chosen subject, including the classes, the books, and the teachers. However, the cue card might present you with a more specific topic, like this one:
Describe a project that you did in school with your classmates or friends. You should say: – what the project was – what it was about – how you completed it and whether you enjoyed the project or not.

It can be harder to answer a cue card when the thing you must talk about is a memory or period of time. These can be a real challenge because thinking of the right vocabulary and grammar is quite difficult. When you are presented with this sort of question, you might have to be a little creative with your answers. Here is another example cue card:
Describe a period of time from your studies that was the most difficult for you so far. You should say: – when it was – why was it hard – what you were doing at that time and whether you felt you were successful in overcoming the difficulties.

Finally, we come to the obvious IELTS speaking cue card: describe a teacher. This is definitely a common cue card and also quite an easy one. I think that most people who sit IELTS should be comfortable describing people like teachers. If you are not, you should look at my other lessons on how to describe people. You may also find this article about the good qualities teachers possess to be helpful.
There are lots of different ways that this could be phrases. It could be a teacher who influenced you, a teacher you liked, a teacher who helped you, your favourite teacher… and so on. There are numerous possibilities. But here is one example:
Describe a teacher from the past whom you remember. You should say: – what subject the teacher taught you – how old you were then – what were some special characteristics of this teacher and explain why you remember this teacher.

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