In today’s reading practice we are going to work on a number of reading subskills. First, we will think about the general meaning of whole paragraphs. Second, we will search for individual words in the text and think about specific meaning.
First skim the passage to get the general gist (idea) of each paragraph. To do this, read the first and last sentence of the paragraph and identify key words/names/dates. Try to not take longer than 4 minutes to skim the whole text. When you finish skimming, complete the tasks found below.
The Origins of Champagne
I. Wines from the Champagne region were known before medieval times. The Romans were the first to plant vineyards in this area of north-east France, with the region being cultivated by at least the 5th century, possibly earlier. Later, churches owned vineyards and monks produced wine for use in the sacrament of Eucharist. French kings were traditionally anointed in Reims, and Champagne was served as part of coronation festivities. The Champenois were envious of the reputation of the wines made by their Burgundian neighbours to the south and sought to produce wines of equal acclaim. However, the northerly climate of the region gave the Champenois a unique set of challenges in making red wine. At the far extremes of sustainable viticulture, the grapes would struggle to ripen fully and often would have bracing levels of acidity and low sugar levels. The wines would be lighter bodied and thinner than the Burgundy wines they were seeking to outdo.
II. Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine, though he did make important contributions to the production and quality of both still and sparkling Champagne wines. The oldest recorded sparkling wine is Blanquette de Limoux, which was apparently invented by Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, near Carcassonne in 1531. They achieved this by bottling the wine before the initial fermentation had ended. Over a century later, the English scientist and physician Christopher Merret documented the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation, six years before Dom Pérignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers and almost 40 years before it was claimed that the famed Benedictine monk invented Champagne. Merret presented a paper at the Royal Society, in which he detailed what is now called méthode champenoise, in 1662. Merret's discoveries coincided also with English glass-makers' technical developments that allowed bottles to be produced that could withstand the required internal pressures during secondary fermentation. French glass-makers at this time could not produce bottles of the required quality or strength. As early as 1663 the poet Samuel Butler referred to "brisk champagne".
III. In France the first sparkling Champagne was created accidentally; the pressure in the bottle led it to be called "the devil's wine" (le vin du diable), as bottles exploded or corks popped. In 1844 Adolphe Jaquesson invented the muselet to prevent the corks from blowing out. Initial versions were difficult to apply and inconvenient to remove. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, Champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the initial fermentation had finished. Champagne did not use the méthode champenoise until the 19th century, about 200 years after Merret documented the process. The 19th century saw an exponential growth in Champagne production, going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850. In 2007, Champagne sales hit an all-time record of 338.7 million bottles.
IV. In the 19th century Champagne was noticeably sweeter than the Champagnes of today. The trend towards drier Champagne began when Perrier-Jouët decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage prior to exporting it to London. The designation Brut Champagne was created for the British in 1876.
|1.||The science of producing wines (noun) paragraph 1|
|2.||To do something in a better way than someone else (verb) paragraph 1|
|3.||A set of ideas than many people think are true (adjective + noun) paragraph 2|
|4.||To be able to not be damaged or broken (verb) paragraph 2|
|5.||The past tense of a loud sound caused by gas (verb) paragraph 3|
|6.||A small device that stops corks exploding out of champagne bottles (noun) paragraph 3|
|7.||An adjective which indicates that a change is increasingly rapid/fast (adjective) paragraph 3|
|8.||A preposition which indicates that a change took place up to a certain time.(preposition) paragraph 3|
|9.||A synonym for fashion (noun) paragraph 4|
|10.||An official name or categorization of something (noun) paragraph 4|
We hope you liked today's lesson. Please leave your comments and questions below.
When you are ready, we can begin Reading Practice 7 | Flow Charts and Vocabulary
Check out our other free reading exercises:
Reading Practice 1 - Short answer questions and headings
Reading Practice 2 - Matching sentence endings
Reading Practice 3 - Matching headings and sentence completion
Reading Practice 4 - True / False / Not Given questions
Reading Practice 5 - Summary and Sentence Completion, T / F / NG questions
If you haven't done the other passages in the test, try those first.
This passage contains the question types:
- Matching information / headings to paragraphs
- Identifying the writers views (yes / no / not given)
- Summary completion
Helium's Future up in the Air
B) Helium itself is not rare; there is actually a plentiful supply of it in the cosmos. In fact, 24 per cent of our galaxy’s elemental mass consists of helium, which makes it the second most abundant element in our universe. Because of its lightness, however, most helium vanished from our own planet many years ago. Consequently, only a miniscule proportion – 0.00052%, to be exact – remains in earth’s atmosphere. Helium is the by-product of millennia of radioactive decay from the elements thorium and uranium. The helium is mostly trapped in subterranean natural gas bunkers and commercially extracted through a method known as fractional distillation.
C) The loss of helium on Earth would affect society greatly. Defying the perception of it as a novelty substance for parties and gimmicks, the element actually has many vital applications in society. Probably the most well known commercial usage is in airships and blimps (non-flammable helium replaced hydrogen as the lifting gas du jour after the Hindenburg catastrophe in 1932, during which an airship burst into flames and crashed to the ground killing some passengers and crew). But helium is also instrumental in deep-sea diving, where it is blended with nitrogen to mitigate the dangers of inhaling ordinary air under high pressure; as a cleaning agent for rocket engines; and, in its most prevalent use, as a coolant for superconducting magnets in hospital MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanners.
D) The possibility of losing helium forever poses the threat of a real crisis because its unique qualities are extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible to duplicate (certainly, no biosynthetic ersatz product is close to approaching the point of feasibility for helium, even as similar developments continue apace for oil and coal). Helium is even cheerfully derided as a “loner” element since it does not adhere to other molecules like its cousin, hydrogen. According to Dr. Lee Sobotka, helium is the “most noble of gases, meaning it’s very stable and non-reactive for the most part … it has a closed electronic configuration, a very tightly bound atom. It is this coveting of its own electrons that prevents combination with other elements’. Another important attribute is helium’s unique boiling point, which is lower than that for any other element. The worsening global shortage could render millions of dollars of high-value, life-saving equipment totally useless. The dwindling supplies have already resulted in the postponement of research and development projects in physics laboratories and manufacturing plants around the world. There is an enormous supply and demand imbalance partly brought about by the expansion of high-tech manufacturing in Asia.
E) The source of the problem is the Helium Privatisation Act (HPA), an American law passed in 1996 that requires the U.S. National Helium Reserve to liquidate its helium assets by 2015 regardless of the market price. Although intended to settle the original cost of the reserve by a U.S. Congress ignorant of its ramifications, the result of this fire sale is that global helium prices are so artificially deflated that few can be bothered recycling the substance or using it judiciously. Deflated values also mean that natural gas extractors see no reason to capture helium. Much is lost in the process of extraction. As Sobotka notes: "[t]he government had the good vision to store helium, and the question now is: Will the corporations have the vision to capture it when extracting natural gas, and consumers the wisdom to recycle? This takes long-term vision because present market forces are not sufficient to compel prudent practice”. For Nobel-prize laureate Robert Richardson, the U.S. government must be prevailed upon to repeal its privatisation policy as the country supplies over 80 per cent of global helium, mostly from the National Helium Reserve. For Richardson, a twenty- to fifty-fold increase in prices would provide incentives to recycle.
F) A number of steps need to be taken in order to avert a costly predicament in the coming decades. Firstly, all existing supplies of helium ought to be conserved and released only by permit, with medical uses receiving precedence over other commercial or recreational demands. Secondly, conservation should be obligatory and enforced by a regulatory agency. At the moment some users, such as hospitals, tend to recycle diligently while others, such as NASA, squander massive amounts of helium. Lastly, research into alternatives to helium must begin in earnest.
Matching Information / Headings to Paragraphs
Sometimes you must match a heading to a paragraph. If you must do this then the heading must present the main focus of the paragraph.
- Step 1: Read the instructions carefully.
- Step 2: Familiarise yourself with the numbered list of information by skimming each item quickly.
- Step 3: look for and underline keywords in each piece of information. As you do this think of synonyms for the key words. This will help you to identify the information in the passage.
- Step 4: Now you know what you’re looking for and you should have an idea where in the text it is roughly - beginning, middle or end, as you have already skimmed the passage. Now scan over the part of the text you think is correct and find the answer.
Try these steps on the questions below, then check your answers with us.
Questions 27 - 31
Reading passage 3 has six paragraphs, A–F.
Which paragraph contains the following information?
Yes/No/Not Given (Identifying the Writer's Views)
It is often easy to understand the writer’s view when it is stated directly, but sometimes it is implied (suggested). Careful! The writer’s opinion might not be the same as the facts. Also, the writer’s opinion might be different to yours.
- Step 1: Read the instructions carefully.
- Step 2: Skim through all the statements to get an idea of the views you will need to look for.
- Step 3: Read the first statement again carefully. Note the main point or opinion in the statement. Underline the key words.
- Step 4: Skim the passage to find the part which refers to the point/opinion in the statement.
- Step 5: Read this part very carefully. Compare the writer’s view with the statement. If the statement agrees with the writer’s view, write Yes on your answer sheet. If the statement contradicts the writer’s view, write No. If the writer doesn’t give an opinion which agrees or disagrees with the statement, write Not Given.
Let's try out these tips on the following questions.
Questions 32 - 35
Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading passage 3?
Answer Yes, No or Not given to questions 32-35.
33) Helium is a very cold substance.
34) High-tech industries in Asia use more helium than laboratories and manufacturers in other parts of the world.
35) The US Congress understood the possible consequences of the HPA.
We are on to the last part of the IELTS reading test now.
There is a summary of a part of the passage or maybe all of the passage. All of the information in the summary is contained in the reading passage but the words used in the summary will be different. The summary contains gaps and your job is to fill in the gaps with the appropriate word(s) EITHER from a list OR from the passage.
If you are given a list of words, there will be more words than gaps. Only one word choice will be suitable for each gap (the answer) but other words may appear suitable to distract you.
If you are asked to complete the gaps using words from the passage, you must find the appropriate word(s) in the passage. The instructions will tell you how many words you can write in each gap.
- Step 1: Read the instructions carefully. Remember that every IELTS test is different, so the instructions might be different from the example given below.
- Step 2: Skim through the summary to get an idea of the topic.
- Step 3: Decide which section(s) of the passage the summary covers.
- Step 4: Read through the summary.
- Step 5: Predict what kind of information is missing and where in the text you can find it.
- Step 6: Predict what part of speech you need to use. Noun, verb, adjective, etc.
- Step 7: Scan the part of the text you think contains the answer. Find the answer and make sure it fits into the summary grammatically.
- Step 8: Double check your spelling. Bad spelling loses points!
Questions 36 - 40
Complete the summary below.
Choose no more than two words from the passage for each answer.
|Sobotka argues that big business and users of helium need to help look after helium stocks because (36) will not be encouraged through buying and selling alone. Richardson believes that the (37) needs to be withdrawn, as the U.S. provides most of the world’s helium. He argues that higher costs would mean people have (38) to use the resource many times over.|
|People should need a (39) to access helium that we still have. Furthermore, a (40) should ensure that helium is used carefully.|
Academic Reading Test IELTS Band Scores
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About The IELTS Test
Academic Writing Task 1
Academic Writing Task 2
Cause And Effect
Coherence And Cohesion
Complete The Notes
Complete The Table
Frequently Asked Questions
General Training Reading
General Writing Task 1
General Writing Task 2
Listening Section 1
Listening Section 2
Listening Section 3
Listening Section 4
Problem Solution Essay
Speaking Part 1
Speaking Part 2
Speaking Part 3
True / False / Not Given