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TOPIC 9: Countryside and agriculture

About topic 9

The Countryside and agriculture topic covers social and physical changes in the countryside, rural versus urban lifestyles, ways of using the countryside, and methods of farming including animals and crops.

It may seem surprising, but agriculture is actually one of the most common topics in IELTS across the Writing, Reading, Speaking and Listening tests. This means that you should definitely learn to use agriculture vocabulary as part of your exam preparation, even if the subject is not personally interesting for you.

Topic 9 example Task

It is sometimes said that the countryside offers a high quality of life, especially for families. What are the arguments for and against families choosing to live and work in the countryside, for example as farmers? What is your own view about this?


Band 9 model essay

There can be few choices in life more important than where to settle as a family, and the question of an urban or rural location is complex. There are strong arguments for and against living in the countryside, as we will discuss now.

On the one hand, it might be said that the countryside is rather a backwater, with fewer cultural amenities than a city in the form of museums, theatres and even sporting events. This may mean that families become isolated, especially as rural depopulation leaves fewer country dwellers in the area, as we see, for example, in central France. Added to this is the scarcity of schools and colleges, meaning that children may need to travel long distances for their education. Finally, career options may be more limited in the countryside for both parents and children, resulting in rural unemployment and long-term rural poverty in the worst cases.

Conversely, life in the countryside has rewards which go beyond material considerations. For example, the abundance of natural resources such as land, wildlife forestry and water bodies means that a comparatively simple life can be lived at a subsistence level. Many country residents areself-sufficient smallholders in this sense, safeguarding them from the changes in the wider economywhich can afflict city dwellers. If the parents are farmers, children learn the importance of

animal husbandry, methods of farming such as crop rotation and irrigation, and generally may become more in tune with the natural world as a result. Finally, as technology enables children to undertake distance learning or remote viewing of cultural attractions such as museums, they should be less isolated from their cultural heritage.

Overall, it seems to me that quality of life in the countryside today is indeed quite high, with its advantages of resources, self-sufficiency and environmental awareness. This is especially true now that communications are reducing the risk of isolation in such far-flung communities.

(317 words)



Rural (vùng nông thôn) = the adjective for ‘countryside’

E.g.      I come from a rural area originally, although these days I live in our capital city.


A backwater (sự tù túng) = an area of a country where little of interest happens

E.g.      I used to live in an agricultural town, but frankly it was such a backwater that I moved to one of the larger cities.


Rural depopulation (giảm dân số ở vùng nông thôn) = the long-term trend for people to migrate from the countryside to cities, leaving the rural areas with few people

E.g.      Rural depopulation can cause huge problems with local infrastructure, as there aren’t enough people to run the services and transport.


Country dwellers (cư dân nông thôn)  = people who live in the countryside (‘city dwellers’ = people who live in cities)

E.g.      My parents were country dwellers when they first married, but now we all live in a coastal town.


A scarcity (sự khan hiếm) = a lack or shortage of something

E.g.      The worst problem I experienced in the countryside was a real scarcity of sports events and music festivals.


Rural unemployment (sự thất nghiệp ở nông thôn) = unemployment affecting rural workers specifically

E.g.      Rural unemployment has been ameliorated by innovative Internet start-ups.


Rural poverty (sự nghèo nàn ở nông thôn) = being extremely poor in the countryside

E.g.      Rural poverty is a long-term situation exacerbated by lack of infrastructure and training.


Material considerations (mối quan tâm về vật chất) = concerns about money and material possessions

E.g.      You can’t only think of material considerations when deciding who to marry, I feel.

An abundance (sự phong phú) = a very high level of supply or availability of something

E.g.      In the mountains, there’s an abundance of wild flowers and goats.


Wildlife (hoang dã) = animals living naturally in the wild

E.g.      It’s surprising how much wildlife you can see in the suburbs in Australia.



Forestry (lâm nghiệp) = the industry of growing and cutting trees

E.g.      When I graduate, I want to work for a responsible forestry company.


Water bodies (khối nước) = inland areas of water (rivers, lakes, reservoirs etc)

E.g.      My country is very arid (khô cằn) and has almost no water bodies.


Subsistence (đủ để sống) = adjective meaning ‘producing just enough to live on’

E.g.      Subsistence farmers grow their own food but have little left to sell for profit.


Self-sufficient (tự cung cấp) = not needing to import or buy resources from outside the farm or country

E.g.      During the war, our country became self-sufficient in crops and fuel.


Smallholders (tá điền) = farmers managing very small farms, usually with their families

E.g.      I worked on a project training smallholders in South America in how to lobby politicians for reform.


The wider economy (kinh tế quốc gia) = the national economy in a country

E.g.      My business is growing, despite the decline in the wider economy.


To afflict (làm đau đớn) = to affect (used for problems or diseases)

E.g.      Many forests in my area are afflicted by wood disease which attacks the trees.


Animal husbandry (ngành chăn nuôi) = the skill of keeping animals

E.g.      My sister studied animal husbandry at college and enjoyed it enormously.


Crop rotation (sự luân canh) = the process of using different fields each year to keep the soil healthy

E.g.      Some smallholders do not practise crop rotation, and so their land becomes infertile.


Remote viewing (cảm xạ từ xa/nghe nhìn từ xa) = viewing places by Internet, not in person

E.g.      I took a remote viewing tour of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and found it very impressive.


Environmental awareness (nhận thức về môi trường) = an understanding of environmental issues

E.g.      Environmental awareness is part of the school curriculum these days for most children.


Far-flung (xa xôi) = remote or far away

E.g.      My fiancé lives in a very far-flung village, but we keep in touch by Skype.