Task 2: The tradition that the family gets together to eat meals is disappearing. What are the reasons? What are the impacts?
Introduction: comment on the statement, state that you will discuss some reasons and impacts.
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Paragraph 2: reasons (1) children eat in front of the TV (2) close-knit family is disappearing – so no regular mealtimes.
Paragraph 3: impacts (1) on family life – stability of family routine impacts on upbringing of children (2) on children’s health – they develop unhealthy eating habits, leading to disorders.
Conclusion: some reasons can be identified and the impacts are serious.
It is true that the traditional family mealtime is becoming a thing of the past. There are some reasons which can be put forward to explain this changing pattern of behaviour, and there are significant impacts on family life and health.
There are two obvious reasons why families no longer share mealtimes as they used to do in the past. Firstly, children are often too impatient to eat at the table, and parents sometimes allow them to have their meal in front of the TV or sitting in front of the computer. Secondly, the close-knit family is disappearing in the face of economic pressures. In single-parent households, or in families with working mothers, it can be almost impossible to arrange regular times for meals when all the family is together.
The consequences for family life and for children’s health are serious. From the perspective of the family, meals taken together are an important feature of a stable family background. This stability of family routine is a essential factor in shaping children’s personality during their formative years. Family mealtimes are a time to share news, give guidance and to make plans together. In terms of children’s health, family meals were an opportunity to provide all the family members with a healthier diet, based on wholesome home-made food. Without this routine, children are sometimes left to have snacks, or to eat junk food at fast food chains. Health consequences such as obesity and hyperactivity often result when youngsters fail to eat a balanced diet, such as used to be provided at family mealtimes.
In conclusion, some reasons can be identified for the decline in shared family meals and the impacts are overwhelmingly negative.
Family and children:
• patterns of behaviour
Meaning: ways of acting and doing things (either positive or negative).
Example: Patterns of behaviour copied from parents often influence the way that children grow up.
• a close-knit family
Meaning: a family having strong relationships with each other, helping with problems and enjoying a lot of time together.
Example: Children who come from a close-knit family generally perform well at school and enjoy a happy childhood.
• a single-parent household
Meaning:a family in which one parent takes care of the children without the help of a husband, wife or partner.
Example: As a result of changes in society, single-parent households are no longer considered unusual.
• working mothers
Meaning: women who have a job and also have to take care of their children. Example: As more and more women have entered the workforce, working mothers have to balance the demands of home and work.
• family background
Meaning: the details of a person’s family life
Example: Criminals sometimes have a bad family background, neglected or abused by parents.
• to shape a child’s personality
Meaning: to decide or influence the form of a child’s personality.
Example: Parents are very influential in shaping their children’s personality through the example that they set.
• formative years
Meaning: A period of a person’s life, usually childhood, that has a big influence on the person that they become later in life.
Example: UNICEF states that the early childhood years from birth through age 8 are formative years in terms of intelligence, personality and social behaviour.
Food and diet:
• to provide somebody with a healthier diet
Meaning: to give somebody a diet which is more healthy than that which they have at present.
Example: Eating only fresh fruit and vegetables provides people with a healthier diet.
• home-made food
Meaning: food which is prepared at home using individual ingredients.
Example: In developed countries, the young generation must rediscover the art of preparing home-made food, as part of a healthy lifestyle.
• to have a snack
Meaning: to eat a small amount of food between main meals.
Example: Unless people are doing vigorous exercise, it is a bad habit to have a snack between meals.
• junk food
Meaning: food that is quick and easy to prepare and eat, but that is thought to be bad for your health.
Example: The consumption of too much junk food is a major factor in the increase in childhood obesity.
• fast food chains
Meaning: groups of shops owned by the same company, serving food to the public.
Example: Healthy eating means avoiding eating out at fast food chains like McDonald’s or Pizza Hut.
• to eat a balanced diet
Meaning: to eat the correct types and amounts of food.
Example: The health benefits of eating a balanced diet are obvious.
• hyperactivity (noun)
Meaning: a state in which a person, usually a child, is only able to keep quiet and still for a short period.
Examples: Children who show signs of hyperactivity cause problems for teachers and parents.
• overwhelmingly (adverb)
Meaning: in a way that is very great or very strong.
Example: they voted overwhelmingly against the plan to raise taxes.
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