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IELTS essay, topic: Is learning a foreign language essential or a waste of time (opinion)?

This is a model response to a Writing Task 2 topic from High Scorer’s Choice IELTS Practice Tests book series (reprinted with permission). This answer is close to IELTS Band 9.

Set 5 Academic book, Practice Test 25

Writing Task 2

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people feel that learning a foreign language is an essential component of a child’s education. Others feel that learning a foreign language is often a waste of time that can be better spent on learning about technology and other more vocational subjects.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your knowledge or experience.

You should write at least 250 words.

Sample Band 9 Essay

Throughout the history of education, learning a foreign language or languages has been a constant component. Of course, many people feel that this is really an unnecessary part of education for everyone, but this is not a point of view that I share.

The opponents to learning a foreign language might argue that most people do not travel that often outside their own country. In addition to this, out of all the countries of the world, comparatively not many share the same language. Therefore, learning a foreign language will only be useful for the very limited time that one spends in a country where this language is used. For some people, the language might never be used in their entire lives. When one thinks about how much time and money are spent training language teachers, buying resources, going on trips and delivering lessons for such a negligible benefit, this would seem to be a very inefficient allocation of resources.

However, the benefits of learning a foreign language go further than just the ability to use it from time to time on a holiday or business trip. Firstly, through learning one language, one gains an understanding to some extent of how all languages work. Thus, no matter where people might end up around the world, the knowledge of language can be of use. Secondly, with the study of a foreign language, one also opens oneself up to other cultures. This allows in turn an appreciation for different points of view and belief systems. With an ever-shrinking world due to globalisation, the ability to empathise and understand the people from other countries is vital to reducing conflict and creating a more tolerant society. Finally, quite simply learning languages is excellent for the improvement of general cognitive skills.

It seems to me that learning a foreign language, therefore, is more than just gaining the ability to speak a few words of a foreign tongue. It is part of intellectual and social development and needs to be continued for everyone in today’s schools.

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3 thoughts on “IELTS essay, topic: Is learning a foreign language essential or a waste of time (opinion)?”

  1. Education today is an essential key to becoming successful in the future. The curriculum in these institutions should be designed in such a way that it is helpful in the overall development of a child. In this essay I will talk about if foreign language as a component of child’s education is beneficial or not.
    Learning a foreign language as a part of curriculum doesn’t have so many benefits when a child is growing up because they don’t have opportunities to go abroad and converse with people who speak that language. Sometimes these extra subjects create a burden on a child as there is already a lot to study, if time management is not done appropriately, they can lag in important subjects. Rather the focus of educational institutions should be on including more vocational and technology driven subjects as they make students more curious and innovative in approaching different things in life.
    But as said learning a foreign language has positive sides as well, as it makes a child open to other cultures and creates curiosity in them to learn more about that culture. Also, in future whenever they visit that place, they can have better communication with them without feeling helpless. Also, globalization has opened different spectrums in the world, a new language can always be beneficial to use it for your advantage in opening a new business or working in partnership with people of that country.
    In conclusion I would like to mention that learning a foreign language doesn’t come with lots of advantages when a child is growing up. If parents feel a need that their child should know a foreign language, then they can opt it as an additional subject which students can study in summer or winter breaks without jeopardizing their regular curriculum.

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Simone Braverman is the founder of and the author of several renowned IELTS preparation books, including Ace the IELTS, Target Band 7, the High Scorer's Choice practice test series, and IELTS Success Formula. Since 2005, Simone has been committed to making IELTS preparation accessible and effective through her books and online resources. Her work has helped 100,000's of students worldwide achieve their target scores and live their dream lives. When Simone isn't working on her next IELTS book, video lesson, or coaching, she enjoys playing the guitar or rollerblading.