IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 10 with Answers | Going Bananas | Computer Provides More Questions Than Answers | Save Endangered Language
Reading Passage 1
A. The world’s favourite fruit could disappear forever in 10 years’ time. The banana is among the world’s oldest crops. Agricultural scientists believe that the first edible banana was discovered around ten thousand years ago. It has been at an evolutionary standstill ever since it was first propagated in the jungles of South-East Asia at the end of the last ice age. Normally the wild banana, a giant jungle herb called Musa acuminate, contains a mass of hard seeds that make the fruit virtually inedible. But now and then, hunter-gatherers must have discovered rare mutant plants that produced seed-less, edible fruits. Geneticists now know that the vast majority of these soft-fruited plants resulted from genetic accidents that gave their cells three copies of each chromosome instead of the usual two. This imbalance prevents seeds and pollen from developing normally, rendering the mutant plants sterile. And that is why some scientists believe the world’s most popular fruit could be doomed. It lacks the genetic diversity to fight off pests and diseases that are invading the banana plantations of Central America and the small-holdings of Africa and Asia alike.
B. In some ways, the banana today resembles the potato before blight brought famine to Ireland a century and a half ago. But “it holds a lesson for other crops, too”, says Emile Frison, who works at the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain in Montpellier, France. “The state of the banana,” Frison warns, “can teach a broader lesson. The increasing standardization of food crops around the world is threatening their ability to adapt and survive.”
C. The first Stone Age plant breeders cultivated these sterile freaks by replanting cuttings from their stems. And the descendants of those original cuttings are the bananas we still eat today. Each is a virtual clone, almost devoid of genetic diversity. And that uniformity makes it ripe for a disease like no other crop on Earth. Traditional varieties of sexually reproducing crops have always had a much broader genetic base, and the genes will recombine in new arrangements in each generation. This gives them much greater flexibility in evolving responses to disease – and far more genetic resources to draw on in the face of an attack. But that advantage is fading fast, as growers increasingly plant the same few, high-yielding varieties. Plant breeders work feverishly to maintain resistance in these standardized crops. Should these efforts falter, yields of even the most productive crop could swiftly crash. “When some pest or disease comes along, severe epidemics can occur,” says Geoff Hawtin, director of the Rome-based International Plant Genetic Resources Institute.
D. The banana is an excellent case in point. Until the 1950s，one variety, the Gros Michel dominated the world’s commercial banana business. Found by French botanists in Asian the 1820s，the Gros Michel was by all accounts a fine banana, richer and sweeter than today’s standard banana and without the latter’s bitter aftertaste when green. But it was vulnerable to a soil fungus that produced wilt known as Panama disease. “Once the fungus gets into the soil it remains there for many years. There is nothing farmers can do. Even chemical spraying won’t get rid of it” says Rodomiro Ortiz, director of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan, Nigeria. So plantation owners played a running game, abandoning infested fields and moving to “clean” land until they ran out of clean land in the 1950s and had to abandon the Gros Michel. Its successor, and still the reigning commercial king, is the Cavendish banana, a 19th-century British discovery from southern China. The Cavendish is resistant to Panama disease and, as a result, it literally saved the international banana industry. During the 1960s，it replaced the Gros Michel on supermarket shelves. If you buy a banana today, it is almost certainly a Cavendish. But even so, it is a minority in the world’s banana crop.
E. Half a billion people in Asia and Africa depend on bananas. Bananas provide the largest source of calories and are eaten daily. Its name is synonymous with food. But the day of reckoning may be coming for the Cavendish and its indigenous kin. Another fungal disease, black Sigatoka, has become a global epidemic since its first appearance in Fiji in 1963. Left to itself, black Sigatoka which causes brown wounds on leaves and premature fruit ripening – cuts fruit yields by 50 to 70 percent and reduces the productive lifetime of banana plants from 30 years to as little as 2 or 3. Commercial growers keep Sigatoka at bay by a massive chemical assault. Forty sprayings of fungicide a year is typical. But despite the fungicides, diseases such as black Sigatoka are getting more and more difficult to control. “As soon as you bring in a new fungicide, they develop resistance,” says Frison.”One thing we can be sure of is that the Sigatoka won’t lose in this battle.” Poor farmers, who cannot afford chemicals, have it even worse. They can do little more than watch their plants die. “Most of the banana fields in Amazonia have already been destroyed by the disease,” says Luadir Gasparotto, Brazil’s leading banana pathologist with the government research agency EMBRAPA. Production is likely to fall by 70 percent as the disease spreads, he predicts. The only option will be to find a new variety.
F. But how? Almost all edible varieties are susceptible to diseases, so growers cannot simply change to a different banana. With most crops, such a threat would unleash an army of breeders, scouring the world for resistant relatives whose traits they can breed into commercial varieties. Not so with the banana. Because all edible varieties are sterile, bringing in new genetic traits to help cope with pests and diseases is nearly impossible. Nearly, but not totally. Very rarely, a sterile banana will experience a genetic accident that allows an almost normal seed to develop, giving breeders a tiny window for improvement. Breeders at the Honduran Foundation of Agricultural Research have tried to exploit this to create disease-resistant varieties. Further backcrossing with wild bananas yielded a new seedless banana resistant to both black Sigatoka and Panama disease.
G. Neither Western supermarket consumers nor peasant growers like the new hybrid. Some accuse it of tasting more like an apple than a banana. Not surprisingly, the majority of plant breeders have till now turned their backs on the banana and got to work on easier plants. And commercial banana companies are now washing their hands of the whole breeding effort, preferring to fund a search for new fungicides instead. “We supported a breeding program for 40 years, but it wasn’t able to develop an alternative to Cavendish. It was very expensive and we got nothing back,” says Ronald Romero, head of research at Chiquita, one of the Big Three companies that dominate the international banana trade.
H. Last year, a global consortium of scientists led by Frison announced plans to sequence the banana genome within five years. It would be the first edible fruit to be sequenced. Well, almost edible. The group will actually be sequencing inedible wild bananas from East Asia because many of these are resistant to black Sigatoka. If they can pinpoint the genes that help these wild varieties to resist black Sigatoka, the protective genes could be introduced into laboratory tissue cultures of cells from edible varieties. These could then be propagated into new, resistant plants and passed on to farmers.
I. It sounds promising, but the big banana companies have, until now, refused to get involved in GM research for fear of alienating their customers. “Biotechnology is extremely expensive and there are serious questions about consumer acceptance,11 says David McLaughlin, Chiquita’s senior director for environmental affairs. With scant funding from the companies, the banana genome researchers are focusing on the other end of the spectrum. Even if they can identify the crucial genes, they will be a long way from developing new varieties that smallholders will find suitable and affordable. But whatever biotechnology’s academic interest, it is the only hope for the banana. Without banana production, the world will head into a tailspin. We may even see the extinction of the banana as both a lifesaver for hungry and impoverished Africans and as the most popular product on the world’s supermarket shelves.
Complete the sentences below with NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage.
In boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet, write your answers in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.
1. The banana was first eaten as a fruit by humans …………………………… years ago.
2. The banana was first planted in ………………………….
3. Wild banana’s taste is adversely affected by its ……………………………….
Look at the following statements (Questions 4-10) and the list of people below Match each statement with the correct person, A-I.
Write the correct letter: A-I, in boxes 4-10 On your answer sheet.
NB You may use any letter more than once.
4. Pest invasion may seriously damage the banana industry
5. The effect of fungal infection in the soil is often long-lasting
6. A commercial manufacturer gave up on breeding bananas for disease-resistant
7. The banana disease may develop resistance to chemical sprays
8. A banana disease has destroyed a large number of banana plantations
9. Consumers would not accept the genetically altered crop
10. Lessons can be learned from bananas for other crops
List of People
B David Maclaughlin
C Emile Frison
D Ronald Romero
E Luadir Gasparotto
F Geoff Hawtin
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
In boxes 11-13 on your answer sheet, write
TRUE, if the statement is true
FALSE, if the statement is false
NOT GIVEN, if the information is not given in the passage
11 Banana is the oldest known fruit
12 Gros Michel is still being used as a commercial product
13 Banana is the main food in some countries
Reading Passage 2
Computer Provides More Questions Than Answers
A. The island of Antikythera lies 18 miles north of Crete, where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean. Currents there can make shipping treacherous and one ship bound for ancient Rome never made it. The ship that sank there was a giant cargo vessel measuring nearly 500 feet long. It came to rest about 200 feet below the surface, where it stayed for more than 2,000 years until divers looking for sponges discovered the wreck a little more than a century ago.
B. Inside the hull were a number of bronze and marble statues. From the look of things, the ship seemed to be carrying luxury items, probably made in various Greek islands and bound for wealthy patrons in the growing Roman Empire. The statues were retrieved, along with a lot of other unimportant stuff, and stored. Nine months later, an enterprising archaeologist cleared off a layer of organic material from one of the pieces of junk and found that it looked like a gearwheel. It had inscriptions in Greek characters and seemed to have something to do with astronomy.
C. That piece of “Junk” went on to become the most celebrated find from the shipwreck; it is displayed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Research has shown that the wheel was part of a device so sophisticated that its complexity would not be matched for a thousand years — it was also the world’s first known analogue computer. The device is so famous that an international conference organized in Athens a couple of weeks ago had only one subject: the Antikythera Mechanism.
D. Every discovery about the device has raised new questions. Who built the device, and for what purpose? Why did the technology behind it disappear for the next thousand years? What does the device tell us about ancient Greek culture? And does the marvelous construction, and the precise knowledge of the movement of the sun and moon and Earth that it implies, tell us how the ancients grappled with ideas about determinism and human destiny?
E. “We have gear trains from the 9th century in Baghdad used for simpler displays of the solar and lunar motions relative to one another — they use eight gears,’ said Frangois Charette, a historian of science in Germany who wrote an editorial accompanying a new study of the mechanism two weeks ago in the journal Nature. “In this case, we have more than 30 gears. To see it on a computer animation makes it mind-boggling. There is no doubt it was a technological masterpiece.”
F. The device was probably built between 100 and 140 BC, and the understanding of astronomy it displays seems to have been based on knowledge developed by the Babylonians around 300-700 BC, said Mike Edmunds, a professor of astrophysics at Cardiff University in Britain. He led a research team that reconstructed what the gear mechanism would have looked like by using advanced three- dimensional-imaging technology. The group also decoded a number of the inscriptions. The mechanism explores the relationship between lunar months __ the time it takes for the moon to cycle through its phases, say, full moon to the full moon -and calendar years. The gears had to be cut precisely to reflect this complex relationship; 19 calendar years equal 235 lunar months.
G. By turning the gear mechanism, which included what Edmunds called a beautiful system of epicyclic gears that factored in the elliptical orbit of the moon, a person could check what the sky would have looked like on a date in the past, or how it would appear in the future. The mechanism was encased in a box with doors in front and back covered with inscriptions — a sort of instruction manual. Inside the front door were pointers indicating the date and the position of the sun, moon, and zodiac, while opening the back door revealed the relationship between calendar years and lunar months, and a mechanism to predict eclipses.
H. “If they needed to know when eclipses would occur, and this related to the rising and setting of stars and related them to dates and religious experiences, the mechanism would directly help，,” said Yanis Bitsakis, a physicist at the University of Athens who co-wrote the Nature paper. “It is a mechanical computer. You turn the handle and you have a date on the front.” Building it would have been expensive and required the interaction of astronomer, engineers, intellectuals, and craftspeople. Charette said the device overturned conventional ideas that the ancient Greeks were primarily ivory tower thinkers who did not deign to muddy their hands with technical stuff. It is a reminder, he said, that while the study of history often focuses on written texts, they can tell us only a fraction of what went on at a particular time.
I. Imagine a future historian encountering philosophy texts written in our time ~ and an aircraft engine. The books would tell that researcher what a few scholars were thinking today, but the engine would give them a far better window into how technology influenced our everyday lives. Charette said it was unlikely that the device was used by practitioners of astrology, then still in its infancy. More likely, he said, it was bound for a mantelpiece in some rich Roman’s home. Given that astronomers of the time already knew how to calculate the positions of the sun and the moon and to predict eclipses without the device, it would have been the equivalent of a device built for a planetarium today __ something to spur popular interest or at least claim bragging rights.
J. Why was the technology that went into the device lost? “The time this was built, the jackboot of Rome was coming through,” Edmunds said. “The Romans were good at town planning and sanitation but were not known for their interest in science.” The fact that the device was so complex, and that it was being shipped with a number of other luxury items, tells Edmunds that it is very unlikely to have been the one ever made. “Its sophistication is such that it can’t have been the only one,” Edmunds said. “There must have been a tradition of making them. We’re always hopeful a better one will surface.” Indeed, he said, he hopes that his study and the renewed interest in the Antikythera Mechanism will prompt second looks by both amateurs and professionals around the world. “The archaeological world may look in their cupboards and maybe say, That isn’t a bit of rusty old metal in the cupboard.”
The reading Passage has ten paragraphs A- J.
Which paragraph contains the following information?
Write the correct letter A-J, in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet.
14 The content inside the wrecked ship
15 Ancient astronomers and craftsman might involve
16 The location of the Antikythera Mechanism
17 Details of how it was found
18 Appearance and structure of the mechanism
Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage, using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 19-22 on your answer sheet.
An ancient huge sunk 19 ……………… was found accidentally by sponges searcher. The ship loaded with 20 ………………… such as bronze and sculptures. However, an archaeologist found a junk similar to a 21 ……………………… which has Greek script on it. This inspiring and elaborated device was found to be the first 22 ……………………… in the world.
Use the information in the passage to match the people (listed A-C) with opinions or deeds below.
Write the appropriate letters A-F in boxes 23-27 on your answer sheet.
NB You may use any letter more than once
A Yanis Bitsakis
B Mike Edmunds
C Francois Charette
23 More complicated than the previous device
24 Anticipate to find more Antikythera Mechanism in the future
25 Antikythera Mechanism was found related to the moon
26 Mechanism assisted ancient people to calculate the movement of stars
The reading passage has eight paragraphs, A-H
Choose the correct heading for paragraphs A-H from the list below.
Write the correct number, i – xi, in boxes 27-33 on your answer sheet.
List of Headings
i. data consistency needed for language
ii. consensus on an initial recommendation for saving dying out languages
iii. positive gains for protection
iv. the minimum requirement for saving a language
v. The potential threat to minority language
vi. a period when there was an absence of real effort made.
vii. native language programs launched
viii. Lack of confidence in young speakers as a negative factor
ix. Practice in several developing countries
x. Value of minority language to linguists.
xi. government participation in the language field
27 Paragraph A
28 Paragraph B
29 Paragraph C
30 Paragraph D
31 Paragraph E
32 Paragraph F
33 Paragraph G
Reading Passage 3
You should ideally spend about 20 minutes solving Questions 34-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3.
Save Endangered Language
A. “Obviously we must do some serious rethinking of our priorities, lest linguistics go down in history as the only science that presided obviously over the disappearance of 90 percent of the very field to which it is dedicated.” – Michael Krauss, “The World’s Languages in Crisis”.
B. Ten years ago Michael Krauss sent a shudder through the discipline of linguistics with his prediction that half the 6,000 or so languages spoken in the world would cease to be uttered within a century.
C. Unless scientists and community leaders directed a worldwide effort to stabilize the decline of local languages, he warned, nine-tenths of the linguistic diversity of humankind would probably be doomed to extinction. Krauss’s prediction was little more than an educated guess, but other respected linguists had been clanging out similar alarms. Keneth L. Hale of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology noted in the same journal issue that eight languages on which he had done fieldwork had since passed into extinction. A 1990 survey in Australia found that 70 of the 90 surviving Aboriginal languages were no longer used regularly by all age groups. The same was true for all but 20 of the 175 Native American languages spoken or remembered in the US, Krauss told a congressional panel in 1992.
D. Many experts in the field mourn the loss of rare languages, for several reasons. To start, there is scientific self-interest: some of the most basic questions in linguistics have to do with the limits of human speech, which are far from fully explored. Many researchers would like to know which structural elements of grammar and vocabulary—if anymore truly universal and probably, therefore, hardwired into the human brain. Other scientists try to reconstruct ancient migration patterns by comparing borrowed words that appear in otherwise unrelated languages. In each of these cases, the wider the portfolio of languages you study, the more likely you are to get the right answers.
E. Despite the near-constant buzz in linguistics about endangered languages over the past 10 years, the field has accomplished depressingly little. “You would think that there would be some organized response to this dire situation.” some attempt to determine which language can be saved and which should be documented before they disappear, says Sarah G. Thomason, a linguist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. “But there isn’t any such effort organized in the profession. It is only recently that it has become fashionable enough to work on endangered languages.55 Six years ago, recalls Douglas H. Whalen of Yale University, “when I asked linguists who were raising money to deal with these problems, I mostly got blank stares.” So Whalen and a few other linguists founded the Endangered Languages Fund. In the five years to 2001, they were able to collect only $80,000 for research grants. A similar foundation in England, directed by Nicholas Ostler, has raised just $8,000 since 1995.
F. But there are encouraging signs that the field has turned a comer. The Volkswagen Foundation, a German charity, just issued its second round of grants totaling more than $2 million. It has created a multimedia archive at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands that can house recordings, grammars, dictionaries and other data on endangered languages. To fill the archive, the foundation has dispatched field linguists to document Aweti (100 or so speakers in Brazil) ，Ega (about 300 speakers in Ivory Coast)，Waima (a few hundred speakers in East Timor), and a dozen or so other languages unlikely to survive the century. The Ford Foundation has also edged into the arena. Its contributions helped to reinvigorate a master-apprentice program created in 1992 by Leanne Hinton of Berkeley and Native Americans worried about the imminent demise of about 50 indigenous languages in California. Fluent speakers receive $3,000 to teach a younger relative (who is also paid) their native tongue through 360 hours of shared activities, spread over six months. So far about 5 teams have completed the program, Hinton says, transmitting at least some knowledge of 25 languages. “It’s too early to call this language revitalization,” Hinton admits. “In California, the death rate of elderly speakers will always be greater than the recruitment rate of young speakers. But at least we prolong the survival of the language•” That will give linguists more time to record these tongues before they vanish.
G. But the master-apprentice approach hasn’t caught on outside the U.S., and Hinton’s effort is a drop in the sea. At least 440 languages have been reduced to a mere handful of elders, according to the Ethnologue, a catalogue of languages produced by the Dallas-based group SIL International that comes closest to global coverage. For the vast majority of these languages, there is little or no record of their grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation or use in daily life. Even if a language has been fully documented, all that remains once it vanishes from active use is a fossil skeleton, a scattering of features that the scientist was lucky and astute enough to capture. Linguists may be able to sketch an outline of the forgotten language and fix its place on the evolutionary tree, but little more. “How did people start conversations and talk to babies? How did husbands and wives converse?” Hinton asks. “Those are the first things you want to learn when you want to revitalize the language.
H. But there is as yet no discipline of “conservation linguistics” as there is for biology. Almost every strategy tried so far has succeeded in some places but failed in others, and there seems to be no way to predict with certainty what will work where. Twenty years ago in New Zealand, Maori speakers set up “language nests, “in which preschoolers were immersed in the native language. Additional Maori-only classes were added as the children progressed through elementary and secondary school. A similar approach was tried in Hawaii, with some success – the number of native speakers has stabilized at 1,000 or so, reports Joseph E. Grimes of SIL International, who is working on Oahu. Students can now get instruction in Hawaiian all the way through university.
I. One factor that always seems to occur in the demise of a language is that the speakers begin to have collective doubts about the usefulness of language loyalty. Once they start regarding their own language as inferior to the majority language, people stop using it in all situations. Kids pick up on the attitude and prefer the dominant language. In many cases, people don’t notice until they suddenly realize that their kids never speak the language, even at home. This is how Cornish and some dialects of Scottish Gaelic is still only rarely used for daily home life in Ireland, 80 years after the republic was founded with Irish as its first official language.
J. Linguists agree that ultimately, the answer to the problem of language extinction is multilingualism. Even uneducated people can learn several languages, as long as they start as children. Indeed, most people in the world speak more than one tongue, and in places such as Cameroon (279 languages), Papua New Guinea (823) and India (387) it is common to speak three or four distinct languages and a dialect or two as well. Most Americans and Canadians, to the west of Quebec, have a gut reaction that anyone speaking another language in front of them is committing an immoral act. You get the same reaction in Australia and Russia. It is no coincidence that these are the areas where languages are disappearing the fastest. The first step in saving dying languages is to persuade the world’s majorities to allow the minorities among them to speak with their own voices.
Use the information in the passage to match the people (listed A-F) with opinions or deeds below.
Write the appropriate letters A-F in boxes 34-38 on your answer sheet.
A Nicholas Ostler
B Michael Krauss
C Joseph E. Grimes
D Sarah G. Thomason
E Keneth L. Hale
F Douglas H. Whalen
34 Reported language conservation practice in Hawaii
35 Predicted that many languages would disappear soon
36 The experienced process that languages die out personally
37 Raised language fund in England
38 Not enough effort on saving until recent work
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
Write your answers in boxes 39-40 on your answer sheet.
39 What is the real result of a master-apprentice program sponsored by The Ford Foundation!
A Teach children how to speak
B Revive some endangered languages in California
C postpone the dying date for some endangered languages
D Increase communication between students
40 What should the majority language speakers do according to the last paragraph?
A They should teach their children endangered language in free lessons
B They should learn at least four languages
C They should show their loyalty to a dying language
D They should be more tolerant of the minority language speaker