Overview of IELTS reading
Brunel : “The Practical Prophet” 為 2008 年 1 月 26 日舊題，屬於人物傳記類文章。主要描述了一名英國工程師 Brunel，討論他的貢獻在於主持修建了 Great Western Railway、系列蒸汽輪船和重要橋樑。
Pollution, in the Bay 為 2009 年 3 月 7 日舊題，講述了佛羅里達海灣的污染，美國 Florida 海岸的環境問題，後面又增加 fresh water 和 nitrogen 這兩種物質釋放對環境的影響。第三篇描述了 紐西蘭 少年文學家 Mahy Margaret，文中主要對 Mahy Margaret 的生活習慣和她的主要文學作品進行了介紹。
Introduction of the article
- Passage 1 – Brunel: “The Practical Prophet” 主要描述了一名英國工程師 Brunel 的主要貢獻。
- Passage 2 – 第二篇 Pollution, in the Bay，講述了佛羅里達海灣的污染，美國 Florida 海岸的環境問題，又增加 fresh water 和 nitrogen 釋放對環境的影響。
- Passage 3 – 第三篇描述了 紐西蘭 少年文學家 Mahy Margaret，文中主要對 Mahy Margaret 的生活和她的主要作品進行了介紹。
🔵 雅思閱讀機經Passage 1
主要描述了一名英國工程師 Brunel，討論他的貢獻在於主持修建了 Great Western Railway、系列蒸汽輪船和重要橋樑。
Brunel: ‘The Practical Prophet’
A. In the frontispiece of his book on Brunel, Peter Hay quotes from Nicholson’s British Encyclopaedia of 1909 as follows: ‘Engineers are extremely necessary for these purposes; wherefore it is requisite that, besides being ingenious, they should be brave in proportion.’ His father, Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849), was himself a famous engineer, of French parents. He eventually settled in Britain and married Sophia Kingdom, an English woman whom he had known in France in earlier days.
Their only son Isambard was born on 9 April, 1806. He was sent to France at the age of 14 to study mathematics and science and was only 16 when he returned to England to work with his father. Sir Marc was then building his famous tunnel under the River Thames. Isambard was recuperating near Bristol from injuries received in a tunnel cave-in when he became involved with his own first major project.
A Suspension Bridge on the Avon Gorge
B. The span of Brunel’s bridge was over 700ft, longer than any existing when it was designed, and the height above water about 245ft. The technical challenges of this engineering project were immense, and Brunel dealt with them with his usual thoroughness and ingenuity. But it is also interesting to look at how Brunel handled the other side of the engineering business: selling his ideas.
Two design competitions were held, and the great bridge designer Thomas Telford was the committee’s expert. Brunel presented four designs. He went beyond technicalities to include arguments based on, among other things, the grace of his tower design. Unfortunately, he only got so far as to put up the end piers in his lifetime. The Clifton Suspension Bridge was completed in his honour by his engineering friends in 1864, and is still in use.
The Great Western Railway
C. While Brunel was still in Bristol, and with the Avon Bridge project stopped or going slowly, he became aware that the civic authorities saw the need for a railway link to London. Railway location was controversial, since private landowners and towns had to be dealt with. Mainly, the landed gentry did not want a messy, noisy railway anywhere near them. The Duke of Wellington (of Waterloo fame) was certainly against it. Again Brunel showed great skill in presenting his arguments to the various committees and individuals.
Brunel built his railway with a broad gauge (7ft) instead of the standard 4ft 8½in, which had been used for lines already installed. There is no doubt that the broad gauge gave superior ride and stability, but it was fighting a standard. In this he was also up against his professional rival (but personal friend) Robert Stephenson and Robert’s father, George Stephenson. After much argument, the government settled the matter in 1846 by requiring any new lines to be standard gauge.
D. Brunel’s ready acceptance of new ideas overpowered good engineering judgement (at least in hindsight) when he advocated the installation of an ‘atmospheric railway’ in South Devon. It had the great attraction of doing away with the locomotive, and potentially could deal with steeper gradients. The system consisted of a 15in-diameter pipe, laid between the rail lines, with a slit cut along the top. A piston fitted into the pipe, and was connected to the driving railcar above by an arm.
The pipe ahead of the piston was then evacuated of air by pumps stationed about two miles apart along the line. The atmospheric pressure then drove the train. Since this connecting arm had to run along the slit, it had to be opened through a flap as the train progressed, but closed airtight behind it. Materials were not up to it, and this arrangement was troublesome and expensive to keep in repair. After a year of frustration, the system was abandoned. Brunel admitted his failure and took responsibility. He also took no fee for his work, setting a good professional example.
E. The idea of using steam to power ships to cross the ocean appealed to Brunel. When his GWR company directors complained about the great length of their railway (it was only about 100 miles) Isambard jokingly suggested that they could even make it longer – why not go all the way to New York, and call the link the Great Western. The “Great Western” was the first steamship to engage in transatlantic service.” Brunel formed the Great Western Steamship Company, and construction started on the ship in Bristol in 1836.
Built of wood and 236ft long, the Great Western was launched in 1837, and powered by sail and paddlewheels. The first trip to New York took just 15 days, and 14 days to return. This was a great success; a one way trip under sail would take more than a month. The Great Western was the first steamship to engage in transatlantic service and made 74 crossings to New York.
F. Having done so well with the Great Western, Brunel immediately got to work on an even bigger ship. The Great Britain was made of iron and also built in Bristol, 322ft in length. The initial design was for the ship to be driven by paddle wheels, but Brunel had seen one of the first propeller driven ships to arrive in Britain, and he abandoned his plans for paddle wheel propulsion.
The ship was launched in 1843 and was the first screw-driven iron ship to cross the Atlantic. The Great Britain ran aground early in its career, but was repaired, sold, and sailed for years to Australia, and other parts of the world, setting the standard for ocean travel. In the early 1970s the old ship was rescued from the Falklands, and is now under restoration in Bristol.
G. Conventional wisdom in Brunel’s day was that steamships could not carry enough coal to make long ocean voyages. But he correctly figured out that this was a case where size mattered. He set out to design the biggest ship ever, five times larger than any ship built up to that time. Big enough to carry fuel to get to Australia without refuelling, in addition it would carry 4,000 passengers. The Great Eastern was 692ft long, with a displacement of about 32,000 tons.
Construction began in 1854 on the Thames at Millwall. Brunel had chosen John Scott Russell to build the ship. He was a well-established engineer and naval architect, but the contract did not go well. Among other things, Scott Russell was very low in his estimates and money was soon a problem. Construction came to a standstill in 1856 and Brunel himself had to take over the work. But Brunel was nothing if not determined, and by September, 1859, after a delayed and problem ridden launch, the Great Eastern was ready for the maiden voyage.
Brunel was too sick to go, but it was just as well, because only a few hours out there was an explosion in the engine room which would have destroyed a lesser ship. Brunel died within a week or so of the accident. The great ship never carried 4,000 passengers (among other things, the Suez Canal came along) and although it made several transatlantic crossings, it was not a financial success. Shortly after the Great Eastern began working life, the American entrepreneur Cyrus Field and his backers were looking for a ship big enough to carry 5,000 tons of telegraphic cable, which was to be laid on the ocean floor from Ireland to Newfoundland.
Although Brunel did not have it in mind, the Great Eastern was an excellent vessel for this work. On July 27, 1866 it successfully completed the connection and a hundred years of transatlantic communication by cable began. The ship continued this career for several years, used for laying cables in many parts of the world.
Use the information in the passage to match the project Brunel did (listed A-G) with opinions or deeds below. Write the appropriate letters A-G in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet.
A. River Thames Tunnel
B. Clifton Suspension Bridge
C. Atmospheric Railway
D. Great Britain
E. The Great Western
F. Great Western Railway
G. The Great Eastern
1. The project of construction that I.K. Brunel was not responsible for.
2. The project had stopped due to inconvenience and high maintaining cost.
3. The project was honored to yet not completed by Brunel himself.
4. The project had budget problem although built by a famous engineer.
5. Serious problem happened and delayed repeatedly.
6. The first one to cross Atlantic Ocean in mankind history.
The reading passage has seven paragraphs A-G
Which paragraph contains the following information?
NB You may use any letter more than once.
7. There was a great ship setting the criteria for journey of ocean.
8. An ambitious project which seemed to be applied in an unplanned service later.
9. Brunel showed his talent of inter-personal skills with landlords and finally project had been gone through.
Complete the following summary。
Using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the reading passage.
The Great Eastern was specially designed with a 10. _______ for carrying more fuels and was to take long voyage to 11. _______; However due to physical condition, Brunel couldn’t be able to go with maiden voyage. Actually The Great Eastern was unprofitable and the great ship never crossed 12. _______. But soon after there was an ironic opportunity for the Great Eastern which was used to carry and to lay huge 13. _______ in Atlantic Ocean floor.
🔵 雅思閱讀機經Passage 2
Pollution, in the Bay，講述了佛羅里達海灣的污染，美國 Florida 海岸的環境問題，又增加 fresh water 和 nitrogen 釋放對環境的影響。
下面給出本篇原文（摘自 The Economist）以及回憶後題目。
Pollution! In the Bay
A. POURING water into the sea sounds harmless enough. But in Florida Bay, a large and shallow section of the Gulf of Mexico that lies between the southern end of the Everglades and the Florida Keys, it is proving highly controversial. That is because researchers are divided over whether it will help or hinder the plants and animals that live in the bay.
B. What is at risk is the future of the bay’s extensive beds of sea grasses. These grow on the bay’s muddy floor and act as nurseries for the larvae of shrimps, lobsters and fish—many of them important sport and commercial-fishing species. Also in danger is an impressive range of coral reefs that run the length of the Florida Keys and form the third-largest barrier reef in the world. Since the 1980s, coral cover has dropped by 40%, and a third of the coral species have gone. This has had a damaging effect on the animals that depend on the reef, such as crabs, turtles and nearly 600 species of fish.
C. What is causing such ecological change is a matter of much debate. And the answer is of no small consequence. This is because the American government is planning to devote $8 billion over the next 30 years to revitalising the Everglades. Seasonal freshwater flows into the Everglades are to be restored in order to improve the region’s health. But they will then run off into the bay.
D. Joseph Zieman, a marine ecologist at the University of Virginia, thinks this is a good idea. He believes that a lack of freshwater in the bay is its main problem. The blame, he says, lies with a century of drainage in the Everglades aimed at turning the marshes into farmland and areas for development. This has caused the flow of freshwater into Florida Bay to dwindle, making the water in the bay, overall, more saline.
This, he argues, kills the sea grasses, and as these rot, nutrients are released that feed the microscopic plants and animals that live in the water. This, he says, is why the bay’s once crystal-clear waters often resemble a pea soup. And in a vicious circle, these turbid blooms block out sunlight, causing more sea grasses to die and yet more turbidity.
E. Brian Lapointe, a marine scientist at the Harbour Branch Oceanographic Institution at Fort Pierce in Florida, disagrees. He thinks sea grasses can tolerate much higher levels of salinity than the bay actually displays. Furthermore, he notes that, when freshwater flows through the Everglades were increased experimentally in the 1990s, it led to massive plankton blooms. Freshwater running off from well-fertilised farmlands, he says, caused a fivefold rise in nitrogen levels in the bay.
This was like pouring fuel on a fire. The result was mass mortality of sea grasses because of increased turbidity from the plankton. Dr. Lapointe adds that, because corals thrive only in waters where nutrient levels are low, restoring freshwater rich in nitrogen will do more damage to the reef.
F. It is a plausible theory. The water flowing off crops that are grown on the 750,000 acres of heavily fertilised farmland on the northern edge of the Everglades is rich in nitrogen, half of which ends up in the bay. But Bill Kruczynski, of America’s Environmental Protection Agency, is convinced that nitrogen from farmlands is not the chief problem. Some coral reefs well away from any nitrogen pollution are dying and, curiously, a few are thriving. Dr. Kruczynski thinks that increased nutrients arriving from local sewage discharges from the thousands of cesspits along the Florida Keys are part of the problem.
G. Such claims and counterclaims make the impact of the restoration plan difficult to predict. If increased salinity is the main problem, the bay’s ecology will benefit from the Everglades restoration project. If, however, nitrogen is the problem, increasing the flow of freshwater could make matters much worse.
H. If this second hypothesis proves correct, the cure is to remove nitrogen from farmland or sewage discharges, or perhaps both. Neither will be easy. Man-made wetlands, at present being built to reduce phosphate run off into the bay—also from fertilisers—would need an algal culture (a sort of contained algal bloom) added to them to deal with discharges from farmlands.
That would be costly. So too would be the replacement of cesspits with proper sewerage—one estimate puts the cost at $650m. Either way, it is clear that when, on December 1st, 3,000 square miles of sea around the reef are designated as a “protective zone” by the deputy secretary of commerce, Sam Bodman, this will do nothing to protect the reef from pollution.
I. Some argue, though, that there is a more fundamental flaw in the plans for the bay: the very idea of returning it to a utopian ideal before man wrought his damage. Nobody knows what Florida Bay was like before the 1950s, when engineers cut the largest canals in the Everglades and took most of the water away. Dr. Kruczynski suspects it was more like an estuary. The bay that many people wish to re-create could have been nothing more than a changing phase in the bay’s history.
J. These arguments do not merely threaten to create ecological problems but economic ones as well. The economy of the Florida Keys depends on tourism—the local tourist industry has an annual turnover of $2.5 billion. People come for fishing-boat trips, for manatee watching, or for scuba diving and snorkelling to view the exotically coloured corals. If the plan to restore the Everglades makes problems in the bay and the reef worse, it could prove a very expensive mistake.
Which paragraph contains the following information?
1. See grass turned to be more resistant to the saline water level in the Bay.
2. Significance of finding a specific reason in controversy.
3. Expensive proposals raised to solve the nitrogen dilemma.
4. A statistic of ecological changes in both the coral area and species.
Match the people A-C with opinions or deeds below.
A. Bill Kruczynski
B. Brian Lapointe
C. Joseph Zieman
5. Drainage system in everglades actually results in high salty water in the bay.
6. Restoring water high in nitrogen level will make more ecological side effect.
7. High nitrogen levels may be caused by the nearby farmland.
8. Released sewage rather than nutrients from agricultural area increases the level of Nitrogen.
TRUE if the statement is true
FALSE if the statement is false
NOT GIVEN if the information is not given in the passage
9. Everyone agree with “pouring water into sea is harmless enough” even in Florida Bay area.
10. Nitrogen was poured in from different types of crops as water flows through.
11. Everglade restoration project can be effective regardless the cause of the pollution.
12. Human has changed Florida Bay where old image before 1950s is unrecalled.
13. Tourism contributes fundamentally to economy of the Florida Bay area.
🔵 雅思閱讀機經Passage 3
第三篇描述了紐西蘭 少年文學家 Mahy Margaret，文中主要對 Mahy Margaret 的生活和她的主要作品進行了介紹。
Multiple Choice 選擇題
下面為根據考試回憶找到的關於 Mahy Margaret 及其作品的介紹。
MAHY, Margaret (1936–2012), the most acclaimed of New Zealand’s children’s writers, was born and raised in Whakatane, eldest of five children. Her father, a bridge builder, told stories and read to his children; his taste for adventure was to influence Mahy’s writing.
Her mother had been a teacher. With many relatives living in the same town, Mahy had a largely happy childhood, excelling at high school as a swimmer. Though regarded at primary school as academically ‘slow’, her first publications were at the age of 7, in the children’s page of the Bay of Plenty Beacon; she also entered Junior Digest competitions.
Mahy worked as a nurse’s aide for six months before going to Auckland University College 1952–54 and Canterbury University College 1955, graduating BA. In 1956 she entered the New Zealand Library School in Wellington, and with her Diploma (1958) went on to embrace librarianship with enthusiasm, taking a position at Petone Public Library.
For personal reasons she moved to Ohariu, near Wellington, and then to Governor’s Bay, Lyttelton Harbour, in 1965. In 1967 she began working for the School Library Service in Christchurch, and in 1976 was appointed Children’s Librarian at the Canterbury Public Library, a position she held until she resigned in 1980 to become a full-time writer. She lives in Governor’s Bay.
Working as a librarian and bringing up two daughters, Mahy continued to write stories and poems. Her work was rejected by commercial publishers in New Zealand (who were concentrating on explicitly New Zealand books for the local market), but many pieces were accepted by the School Journal. The Little Witch was the first to be accepted, and The Processionthe first to be published (in 1961).
In 1968 an American editor, Sarah Chockla Gross, discovered A Lion in the Meadow and in 1969 Franklin Watts in America published five Mahy stories as picture books, launching her international career. ‘It was one of those romantic things that happen,’ Mahy has said, although she in fact received another independent enquiry from America a few months later. Watts went on to publish more stories, including many which had originally appeared in the School Journal, now adapted to their new picture book format.
By the mid-1970s Mahy had added junior fiction to her repertoire; by the early 1980s she was writing adolescent novels— at least one of which (Memory, 1987) could have been marketed for adults. She has published about 120 titles (including school readers), and has written and adapted for television.
Her work has been translated into fifteen languages. Awards include the New Zealand Library Association’s Esther Glen Medal (A Lion in the Meadow, 1969; The First Margaret Mahy Story Book, 1972; The Haunting, 1982; The Changeover, 1984; Underrunners, 1992); the Goodman Fielder Wattie Award for Junior Fiction (Underrunners); the British Library Association’s Carnegie Medal (The Haunting; The Changeover); the Young Observer Fiction Prize (The Tricksters, 1986); the Italian Premier Grafico Award (The Wind Between the Stars, 1976) and the Dutch Silver Pencil Award (The Boy Who Was Followed Home, 1977).
In the United States her works have been included in prestige listings made by journal editors, librarians and educationalists; Memory, The Tricksters and Dangerous Spaces (1991) have all appeared on the Horn Book Fanfare list.
She has held writing fellowships in New Zealand and Australia, and in 1993 was awarded the Order of New Zealand and an honorary doctorate of the University of Canterbury. In the many accounts of her life written for children (the most substantial of which is Betty Gilderdale’sIntroducing Margaret Mahy, 1987), the no doubt complicated contours of Mahy’s past and present existence have been simplified into the archetypal narrative of the hero who is despised at first, but who—thanks to persistence and good fortune—wins through.
Mahy does in fact live (with her pets, and visited by her grandchildren) in an Edenic garden by the sea. She is a remarkably generous person, replying to all of the many letters she receives, and frequently visiting schools and libraries (sometimes in fancy dress). One of the more substantial of many published interviews is Sue Kedgley’s (Our Own Country, 1989).
Mahy’s work until 1996 has been judiciously described by Gilderdale in A Sea Change (1982) and in OHNZLE (1991, 1998). Most of the picture books and junior novels are humorous. Mahy describes impossible scenarios in a matter-of-fact tone, she parodies literary conventions, she satirises human foibles, and her virtuosity with language is such that the English poet James Fenton, advocate of ‘the new recklessness’ in poetry, rose to applaud her poem ‘Bubble Trouble’ (1991) when she recited it during Writers and Readers Week in Wellington in 1990.
Humour may however be laid aside—as in the mystical picture books The Wind Between the Starsand Leaf Magic (1976). Mahy’s modes are primarily fantasy and adventure, but her witches, dragons, pirates and millionaires do engage with the ordinary world—indeed, she focuses on this engagement.
Her fabulous characters embody the liberating power of the imagination; ‘perhaps,’ Mahy has said, ‘when I write about witches, the person I am really writing about is myself.’ But the stories nevertheless deal with more universal fears and longings. By the mid-1970s Mahy had begun to write about what she has called ‘the sort of experience that really could happen’.
In the picture book Stepmother (1974), for example, the folk-tale archetype of the wicked stepmother exists merely as a figment of a resentful stepdaughter’s imagination; it is countered by a real—thoroughly kind—stepmother. The junior novel The Pirate Uncle (1977), despite its ‘adventure story’ title, is also notably realistic. Similarly, some of the adolescent novels (including The Catalogue of the Universe, 1985, Memory and The Other Side of Silence, 1996) are based in what Mahy has called ‘consensus reality’, where nothing technically impossible happens.
But even the realistic novels have fairy-tale analogues (which Mahy emphasises through allusion and metaphor): Tycho, the awkward young hero of Catalogue, is a frog prince figure; the elective mute who is the narrator-protagonist of The Other Side of Silence resembles the archetypal sulky princess; and the old woman with Alzheimer’s disease who befriends and is befriended by the young hero in Memory is as weird as any good fairy (even though Mahy apparently based her on an aunt).
Furthermore, Mahy has continued to write in an overtly supernatural tradition—with novels like Aliens in the Family and The Tricksters (both 1986), The Changeover: A Supernatural Romanceand Dangerous Spaces (1991). The Changeover, one of Mahy’s personal favourites, features a female hero (Laura) who becomes a witch in order to save her younger brother from annihilation by a demon. Laura’s powers suggest the creative imagination, while those of the demon seem to project her fears, her insecurity which springs from the separation of her parents and her mother’s preoccupation with a new partner.
Mahy’s novels often develop in a sunny atmosphere, but her recurrent themes include marital infidelity, parental abandonment, jealousy, self-deception, lies, mental illness and brain damage, and death (the latter often tragically accidental). The novels have happy endings, however, and inspire faith in the capacity of the young to overcome quite serious difficulties.
Mahy is an astute commentator on her own work. Characteristic lectures include ‘On Building Houses that Face Towards the Sun’, published in A Track to Unknown Water (1987), and theArbuthnot lecture for 1989, published by the American Library Association in 1990.
She is preoccupied with two topics—the relationship between the ‘truth’ of the imagination and factual truth; and her failure to depict New Zealand in her earlier work. The themes are connected, since—as Mahy has explained—both her predilection for fantasy and her typically European settings derive from the fact that the books available to her as a child were set elsewhere (chiefly in England).
Mahy did include some New Zealand details in her first Journal publications, and the tension between the New Zealand setting and European traditions is both pivotal and explicit in her 1968 poem ‘Christmas in New Zealand’. But it was not until The Changeover that Mahy began to incorporate New Zealand in her commercial fiction.
The New Zealand setting has become increasingly strong in the novels, and a pohutakawa tree adorns even the largely incredible landscape of Telephone, Tuckletubs and Tingleberries (1995). Mahy is interested in science; her belief that science and the imagination ultimately validate each other is evident in The Catalogue of the Universe. Some commentators have found Mahy’s fiction feminist.
It has been noted of the picture book Jam, A True Story (1985) that it is the father and not the mother who sets about jam-making in response to an oversupply of plums. Mahy herself (although she has described her younger self as a ‘tomboy’) rejects such readings; the subject ofJam, she has said, is the ‘prodigality of nature’. Claudia Marquis takes a sophisticated feminist approach to The Haunting in Landfall 162 (1987).