IELTS|Adults|Advanced|Unit 4|1. Spotlight on communication

  • How many different ways of communicating can you think of, for example, speaking face-to-face, facial expressions? What can be communicated using these methods?
  • How do animals and birds communicate?


1. Skim this passage. Don’t worry about anything you don’t understand. Either in your head or on paper, summarise the main topic or point of each paragraph in a single sentence.

* about 625 words

The Complexity of Animal Communication


A Communication is by no means a human monopoly, although our languages make possible by far the most detailed and subtle forms of communication that we know of. Most vertebrates (that is, mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians) can distinguish the sounds made by different individuals, so they are able to tell whether a sound is made by a parent or offspring, another member of their species, or a stranger. Virtually all owners of cats and dogs can provide evidence of their pet’s skills at communicating: not just with their own species — to warn off an intruding cat or dog, say — but also with their owners: demanding food, asking to be let out, greeting them when they return home.

В Apes, monkeys and many other primates have evolved fairly elaborate systems of calls for communicating with other members of their species. These sounds can be placed in three main categories: food calls, warnings of the presence of predators, and calls for help. The ‘vocabulary’ of most species amounts to only a handful of distinct sounds. However, the vervet monkeys of the Rift Valley in Kenya appear to have developed many more calls, each with its own meaning, making theirs by far the most complex communication system of any animals other than human beings.

C The monkeys spend most of their time in the treetops, where they are generally safe from predators. However, every morning at first light they climb down to search for food at ground level. Here they are far more exposed, and so at greater risk from predators. In order to minimise that risk, one of the vervets acts as a guard.

D If the guard sees a leopard approaching, it emits a loud barking call and the monkeys run into the trees, where the leopard can’t follow them. When an eagle is sighted, the warning is a double-syllable cough. Other vervets respond by looking up into the air, then seeking shelter among the dense branches of trees or bushes, where the eagle won’t follow them for fear of damaging its wings. The warning that a snake is approaching is a noise which the researchers who first studied vervet communication called a ‘chutter’ sound (apparently from the noise made by a motorcycle engine that is getting a lot of fuel). The monkeys stand up on two legs and look in the grass, then run to safety.

E Each sound is only used in its own precise situation. In effect, it means ‘There’s a leopard — or eagle, or snake — coming’. Experiments using recordings of the alarm calls when no predators are present show the same responses. The monkeys understand and respond to the call itself.

F Young vervets imitate the calls, and, like young children, at first overgeneralise their meaning. A toddler brought up in an English-speaking environment will come to the conclusion that the past tense of all verbs ends in -ed, and will use goed and runned as the past of go and run, before discovering that not all verbs follow that ‘rule’. Similarly, infant vervets also use the leopard warning call when they see various other mammals, the eagle alarm for other birds, and the snake cry for anything similar to a snake. As they mature and gain experience, they begin to use the calls correctly.

G Eagles are not only a danger to vervet monkeys: they also prey on small birds, such as the superb starling. This species has its own alarm call for eagles, which vervets recognise. When a starling squeaks the warning ‘danger in the air’, nearby monkeys repeat it — translating it into their own term — and all the birds and monkeys rush for safety.

Test spot

In both Academic Reading and General Training Reading, you may be asked which paragraph of a passage contains various pieces of information. You may find it helpful to underline the key words in the question (as in the example below). You should look for something that fits the whole piece of information, so in the example it is not just something about protection, but about how it is organised.

2. The passage has seven paragraphs labelled A-G. Which paragraph contains the following information?

Put the correct letter A-G.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

Example:how a species organises protection for itself

Answer: C

(The relevant section of text is underlined.)

Language terms

pic12_T|Grammar act|L9

1. Here are nine words and phrases to do with communication. Complete each definition with the right ending from the box opposite.

2. Label the words and phrases in italics below with one of the words and phrases (1-9) from exercise 1.

  1. My newspaper’s gone up to a quid.
  2. Despite its name, NASA not only carries out research into space, but also into the earth.
  3. Would you like to listen to my brand new CD?
  4. I’m going to have to buy a new computer — my old one’s on its last legs.
  5. Not all semantic phenomena can be handled by binary features.

1. Discuss these questions.

listen and speak_Lesson

  • What makes some people sound boring when they are speaking?
  • Can you give some examples of effective speakers, perhaps a salesperson, or one of your friends?
  • How do effective speakers keep the attention of their listeners?
  • How important is non-verbal communication, such as facial expressions and gestures, when speaking?

1. Think about how your language is spoken in different regions. Are some accents regarded as more attractive than others? Are judgements made about people’s education or intelligence on the basis of how they speak?


2. Our attitudes towards different accents and other varieties of our language are affected by our attitudes towards the groups of people who speak them.

You are going to hear part of a lecture about this relationship between language and social values. This is typical of Section 4 of the Listening Module. Make sure that your answers reflect what the speaker says. The lecture is in two parts. Read the summary carefully and then listen to the first part of the recording and answer questions 1—4.

Test spot

In the Listening Module, you may be asked to choose words from a box (as below), or to write words that you hear. Words in a box are usually different from those you hear. First read through the box of words and the summary. Try to work out what information Is missing. When you have listened and completed the summary, check that your answers fit both the meaning and the grammar. Make sure that your answers reflect the meaning of what you hear.

Questions 1-4

Questions 1-4

It’s a striking feature of languages that different varieties acquire different social values. Any social group develops norms of behaviour, such as wearing certain styles of clothes, and members of the group tire expected to conform to those norms. (~) Since language is a form of behaviour, the group develops a distinct variety of language too, which helps to maintain and signal group identity. This variety comes to reflect the social status of its users: the higher this is. the greater the prestige of the variety of language. (~)

Standard varieties of languages serve the needs of the national rather than the local community, and arc associated with the goals and values of nations. People who use standard varieties tend to he well educated, so the standard is usually thought of as a model of correct language, and other varieties as incorrect. (~)

All varieties of language reflect social relationships, and the judgements we make about language are often disguised social judgements. (~) For instance, when parents tell their child off for using slang expressions, it’s probably because they’re afraid that other people will think the child is of lower status than they wish him or her to be considered.

Complete the summary below, using words from the box.

Questions 5-7

Questions 5-7

In fact the English are very aware of social differences in accent, and can usually work out from it a person’s region of origin, social standing and standard of education.

Accents are also classified aesthetically. In one experiment it was found that British people, who recognised where each accent came from, preferred rural accents to ones from British cities such as Birmingham or Liverpool. (~) However, people from other countries, without that knowledge or the social attitudes that go with it, assessed the pleasantness of the accents differently, language is also a symbol of identity. People from a particular region, such as Yorkshire, in the north of England, may take pride in their local speech as part of their pride in their local culture, and may make an effort to retain their accent if they move to another part of the country. (~)

Attitudes towards different varieties of language can be remarkably powerful. In another piece of research, people listened to the same argument against capital punishment spoken with different accents. (~) Some accents were effective in changing people’s views on this matter, while others weren’t. Listeners were also asked to rate the quality of the argument. Generally, when the case was argued in an accent of high prestige, it was thought to be better argued than when presented in accents of lower prestige.

Clearly we need to be careful about how far our attitude to other people is affected by our reaction to their speech.

What point does the speaker want to illustrate with each example?

Choose your answers from the box, and write А, В, C or D next to each question.

A Accents can help to identify someone’s personal characteristics.
В People’s attitude towards their accent may reflect their attitude towards their place of origin.
C Persuasiveness may depend on the speaker’s accent.
D Judgements of attractiveness may actually be disguised social judgements.

5. research using rural and urban accents

6. the Yorkshire dialect

7. research concerning capital punishment

Adverbial clause

1. Read these sentences, which are based on the Reading passage.

  1. Where vervet monkeys live,they are at risk from leopards, eagles and other predators.
  2. There is always a monkey on guard because they are more vulnerable on the ground than in the trees.
  3. When a snake comes close,the guard gives a call which means ‘snake’.
  4. If the guard sees an eagle approaching,it gives a call that means ‘danger from the air’.
  5. The guard gives a warning so (that) the other monkeys can escape.
  6. Although vervet monkeys and superb starlings are different species,the monkeys can understand the starlings’ warnings.

The sentences illustrate some of the main functions of adverbial clauses.

What is the function of each adverbial clause (printed in italics) in sentences 1-6 above?

Choose your answers from the box.

time place reason

condition (used when one circumstance depends on another)


concession (used to contrast two different ideas)

Adverbial clauses

Adverbial clauses (like adverbs, such as yesterday, and adverbial phrases, such as at the end of the week) can add a large range of meanings to a sentence. They may begin or end a sentence.

These are the most common meanings of adverbial clauses, with some of the conjunctions that introduce them. The adverbial clauses are in bold.

Time when, while, whenever, before, after, as, as soon as, once, now (that), since, until, till (informal)

Time clauses use present tenses to refer to the future:

Tell me when you contact Jill.

This adverbial clause refers to when you should tell me. Compare Tell me when you’ll contact Jill.

Here the when clause is not adverbial, it is the object: it refers to what I want you to tell me now.

Place where, wherever

It’s worth communicating with people, wherever you meet them.

Cause and reason because, as, since

Since nobody knew where she was, nobody could help her.

Purpose (what is hoped for as a result of the action) so that, so (informal)

  • I shouted, so (that) they would know I could see them.

Condition if, unless, in case, on condition that, provided that, providing, as/so long as

You can explain the research project to our visitors on condition that you don’t use any jargon.

Like time clauses, conditionals use present tenses to refer to the future. The basic conditional structures are listed below. The conditional clause states the condition which must be satisfied before the main clause may be true.

a Open conditional: present tense in conditional clause, imperative in main clause.

Give me a call if you need any help.

b Zero conditional: present tense in conditional clause, present tense in main clause. This refers to something that is generally true.

Babies don’t learn to speak unless the}’ hear other people speaking.

c First conditional: present tense in conditional clause, will in main clause. This refers to something that may or may not happen in the future.

Your children will learn English wry easily, provided they play with English-speaking children.

d Second conditional: past tense in conditional clause, would in main clause. This refers to something that isn’t true now:

People would understand you more easily if you spoke a little more slowly.

Or it can refer to something in the future that is unlikely to happen:

If everyone started learning the same foreign language, we would all understand each other.

e Third conditional: past perfect tense in conditional clause, would haw done in main clause. This refers to something that didn’t happen in the past

I spent so long on my mobile that I wouldn’t haw been surprised if the

battery had gone flat.

f Mixed conditionals: often past perfect tense in conditional clause (referring to something that didn’t happen in the past), would in main clause (referring to something that isn’t the case in the present or future):

If phones hadn’t been invented, it would be hard to keep in touch.

Concession (contrast) although, though (informal), even though, while, whilst (formal), whereas (formal)

Animals communicate, although they can’t speak like human beings.

Condition + contrast even if, whether … or …

Even if Roger phones us now. it’s too late to meet him this evening. (= I don’t expect Roger to phone us now, but if he does …)

Whether I text them or email them, I’ll still haw to wait for a reply.

Manner as if, as though

Dogs often behave as if they can understand what people say.

1. Now choose a word or phrase from the box to complete these sentences so that they match the ideas in the passage. Decide on the function of each adverbial clause (in italics).

although once since
so / so that unless while

2. Rewrite these pairs of sentences as one sentence, turning one of them into an adverbial clause.

Example: Experiments in teaching chimpanzees to communicate using their voices failed. Their vocal organs are incapable of speech, (as)

Experiments in teaching chimpanzees to communicate using their voices failed, as their vocal organs are incapable of speech.


subtle /ˈsʌt.l ̩/ /ˈsʌt-̬/ adjective APPROVING
1. not loud, bright, noticeable or obvious in any way
The room was painted a subtle shade of pink.
The play’s message is perhaps too subtle to be understood by young children.
2. small but important
There is a subtle difference between these two plans.
vertebrate /ˈvɜː.tɪ.brət/ /ˈvɝː.t ə̬-/ noun [ C ] SPECIALIZED
an animal that has a spine
Birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles are all vertebrates.
offspring /ˈɒf.sprɪŋ/ /ˈɑːf-/ noun [ C ] plural offspring
1. the young of an animal
In the case of the guinea pig, the number of offspring varies between two and five.
2. HUMOROUS OR FORMAL a person’s children
Tom’s sister came round on Saturday with her numerous offspring.
vulnerable /ˈvʌl.n ə r.ə.bl ̩/ , /ˈvʌn.rə-/ /ˈvʌl.nɚ.ə-/ adjective
able to be easily physically, emotionally, or mentally hurt, influenced or attacked
I felt very vulnerable, standing there without any clothes on.
It is on economic policy that the government is most vulnerable.
ape /eɪp/ noun [ C ]
an animal like a large monkey which has no tail and uses its arms to swing through trees
Chimpanzees and gorillas are both apes.

predator /ˈpred.ə.tə r / /-tɚ̬ / noun [ C ]
1. an animal that hunts, kills and eats other animals
lions, wolves and other predators
Onomatopoeic expression for the sound the expulsion of gas, from the anus, through a pair of sweaty buttocks would make.
prey on sth phrasal verb
If an animal preys on another animal, it catches and eats it
The spider preys on small flies and other insects.
starling /ˈstɑː.lɪŋ/ /ˈstɑːr-/ noun [ C ]
a common bird with black or dark brown feathers which lives in large groups in many parts of the world
talk the hind legs off a donkey – talk for hours
on its last legs INFORMAL
Something that is on its last legs is in such bad condition that it will soon be unable to work as it should.
I’ve had the same TV for fifteen years now and it’s really on its last legs.
sour grapes
If you describe someone’s behaviour or opinion as sour grapes, you mean that they are angry because they have not got or achieved something that they wanted.
I don’t think it’s such a great job — and that’s not just sour grapes because I didn’t get it.

conform to/with sth phrasal verb
to obey a rule or reach the necessary stated standard, or to do things in a traditional way
Before buying a pram, make sure that it conforms to the official safety standards.
Members must conform to a strict dress code.
social standing = social status
capital ˈ punishment noun [ U ] ( ALSO the death penalty )
punishment by death, as ordered by a legal system
pursue /pəˈsjuː/ /pɚˈsuː/ verb [ T ] FOLLOW
1. to follow someone or something, usually to try to catch or kill them
The car was pursued by helicopters.
The hunters spent hours pursuing their prey.
He was killed by the driver of a stolen car who was being hotly pursued by the police.
infamous /ˈɪn.fə.məs/ adjective
famous for something considered bad
The list included the infamous George Drake, a double murderer.
He’s infamous for his bigoted sense of humour.
insatiable /ɪnˈseɪ.ʃə.bl / ̩ adjective
(especially of a desire or need) too great to be satisfied
Like so many politicians, he had an insatiable appetite/desire/hunger for power.
Nothing, it seemed, would satisfy his insatiable curiosity.

prominent /ˈprɒm.ɪ.nənt/ /ˈprɑː.mə-/ adjective FAMOUS
1. very well known and important
a prominent Democrat
a prominent member of the Saudi royal family
The government should be playing a more prominent role in promoting human rights.
eminent /ˈem.ɪ.nənt/ adjective
famous, respected or important
an eminent historian
sb’s/sth’s claim to fame
a reason why someone or something is famous
This little town’s only claim to fame is that the President was born here.
broadcaster /ˈbrɔːdˌkɑː.stə r / /ˈbrɑːdˌkæs.tɚ/ noun [ C ]
someone whose job is to speak on radio or television programmes
He was a famous broadcaster in the 1930s.
rolling news — a 24-hour, continuously updated news service on radio or television.
cite /saɪt/ verb [ T ] GIVE EXAMPLE
1. FORMAL to mention something as proof for a theory or as a reason why something has happened
She cited three reasons why people get into debt.
The company cited a 12% decline in new orders as evidence that overall demand for its products was falling.
2. FORMAL to speak or write words taken from a particular writer or written work
She cites both T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf.

contest /kənˈtest/ verb [ T ] ARGUE
1. If you contest a formal statement, a claim , a judge’s decision, or a legal case, you say formally that it is wrong or unfair and try to have it changed
We will certainly contest any claims made against the safety of our products.
dispute /dɪˈspjuːt/ verb [ I or T ]
to disagree with something that someone says
Few would dispute his status as the finest artist of the period.
The circumstances of her death have been hotly disputed.
[ + ( that ) ] I don’t dispute (that) Lucas’ films are entertaining, but they haven’t got much depth.
biased , UK ALSO biassed /ˈbaɪ.əst/ adjective
showing an unreasonable like or dislike for a person based on personal opinions
The newspapers gave a very biased report of the meeting.
I think she’s beautiful but then I’m biased since she’s my daughter.
mainstream /ˈmeɪn.striːm/ adjective
considered normal, and having or using ideas, beliefs, etc which are accepted by most people
This is the director’s first mainstream Hollywood film.
benchmark /ˈben t ʃ.mɑːk/ /-mɑːrk/ noun [ C ]
a level of quality which can be used as a standard when comparing other things
Her outstanding performances set a new benchmark for singers throughout the world.

disruptive /dɪsˈrʌp.tɪv/ adjective
causing trouble and therefore stopping something from continuing as usual
His teacher described him as a noisy, disruptive influence in class.
crusade /kruːˈseɪd/ noun
1. [ C ] a long and determined attempt to achieve something which you believe in strongly
They have long been involved in a crusade for racial equality.
a moral crusade against drugs
2. [ C often plural ] ( ALSO Crusade ) a holy war fought by the Christians against the Muslims, often in Palestine, in the 11th, 12th, 13th and 17th centuries
wrongful /ˈrɒŋ.f ə l/ /ˈrɑːŋ-/ adjective
describes actions that are unfair or illegal
She is claiming damages from the company for wrongful dismissal .
wrongful arrest/imprisonment
susceptible /səˈsep.tɪ.bl / ̩ adjective INFLUENCED
1. easily influenced or harmed by something
She isn’t very susceptible to flattery.
These plants are particularly susceptible to frost.
Among particularly susceptible children, the disease can develop very fast.
2. describes someone who is easily emotionally influenced
They persuade susceptible teenagers to part with their money.
destitute /ˈdes.tɪ.tjuːt/ /-tɪ̬.tuːt/ adjective
without money, food, a home or possessions
The floods left thousands of people destitute.

hardship /ˈhɑːd.ʃɪp/ /ˈhɑːrd-/ noun [ C or U ]
(something which causes) difficult or unpleasant conditions of life, or an example of this economic hardship
disseminate /dɪˈsem.ɪ.neɪt/ verb [ T ] FORMAL
to spread or give out something, especially news, information, ideas, etc., to a lot of people
One of the organization’s aims is to disseminate information about the disease.
superficial /ˌsuː.pəˈfɪʃ. ə l/ /-pɚ-/ adjective NOT SERIOUS
1. DISAPPROVING (of a person) never thinking about things that are serious or
He’s fun to be with, but he’s very superficial.
superficial /ˌsuː.pəˈfɪʃ. ə l/ /-pɚ-/ adjective NOT COMPLETE
2. USUALLY DISAPPROVING not complete and involving only the most obvious things
I thought that article was written at a very superficial level.
The documentary’s treatment/analysis of the issues was very superficial.
I only have a superficial (= slight) knowledge of French.
exposé /ekˈspəʊ.zeɪ/ /ˌek.spəˈzeɪ/ noun [ C ]
a public report of the facts about a situation, especially one that is shocking or has been kept secret
Today’s newspaper contains a searing exposé of police corruption.


1. These words occur in the Vocabulary section. Complete each sentence with one word or phrase from the box. You may need to make the word plural.

accent acronym collocation false friend idiom jargon nonverbal communication proverb slang

2. Complete these sentences with an adverbial clause.

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