Cultural Insight to Australia 8: The Railway

Insight 8: The Railway

In the early days, as with many new countries, Australia prided itself on developing a railway system. Cities linked with cities, which linked with smaller towns, and it grew bigger and bigger. So what went wrong?

The motorcar! As cars and trucks grew increasingly more reliable, there were fewer passengers on the passenger trains, and most significantly, less goods to transport. It simply became cheaper to transport goods by road. And slowly, slowly, the railways began closing down. They simply weren’t economical. The 1950, 60, and 70s saw it all decline. But, as usual, there are quaint reminders.

8. Decline II, Abandoned Station8. Decline, Trestle Bridge

The left photo is a disused country train station. The right photo is an equally disused ‘trestle’ bridge. Trains once rumbled past these places, but that was decades ago.

Cultural Insights to Australia 7: Mining

Insight 7: The Mining Industry

Australia is sometimes called ‘the lucky country’. One reason for this is that it has great mineral wealth beneath its soils, and, historically, this has benefited Australia’s economy very much. Mining is still one of the primary industries, but the famous ‘gold rushes’ are long past, and many old ‘mining’ towns are now a shadow of their former selves.

There are still signs of those earlier days, and a few of the former mining towns have opened their old mines are tourists attractions, (right) allowing an insight into those times.

7. Derelict Mining building7. Inside a coal mine

Sometimes, when driving around, you see emotive sights of these past activities. The picture on the left shows an old derelict building which was once part of a coal-mining operation. In the 1960s, the coal eventually proved too expensive to mine, and everything closed. This building remains – but for how long?

Cultural Insight to Australia 6: The Deserts

Insight 6: The Deserts

Australia is actually mostly desert. It is dry, and not a place anyone would like to live in. Consequently, very few people live there.

So, Australia is a huge country, but with so many deserts, we only have a relatively small population. Most of Australia lives on the much nicer east coast, which has a long mountain range, more rainfall, and some beautiful beaches.

The desert, or ‘outback’ or ‘bush’ as we call it, had a strong influence on our history and culture, and if Australians want to look ‘traditional’ they often use elements of desert dress, food, and often aboriginal culture. You will still all these sort of objects in all the tourists shops.

Australian desertAyers rock

Still, the deserts are interesting, and many tourists visit some parts of it, especially ‘Uluru’ or Ayer’s Rock (right), one of the largest rocks in the world. Think about seeing it yourself, one day.

Cultural Insight to Australia 5: The Suburbs

Insight 5: The Suburbs

The urban design of Australia is very different to Taiwan – very different indeed.

For a start, Australia’s cities have ‘zoning’, where our houses are groups together, shops are grouped together, factories are group together, and so on. This creates ‘suburbs’ – large areas with houses and gardens, and the suburbs go on, and on, since we have so much land.

Surburbia 1



Gardening is a national hobby, and the landscape is peaceful, beautiful, and very clean. However, coming from Taiwan, you might also find it boring. Well, I found it peaceful and relaxing. Different cultures; different ways of seeing things. Who’s right? Who’s wrong. Hmmmmmm…..


Surburbia 3


Surburbia 2

Cultural Insight to Australia 4: The Coast

Insight 4: The Coast

Australia is an island, and a big one. This means that it has lots of coastline. This also means it has lots of great beaches (See Cultural Insight 2), but there is also some great eroded cliff faces, and rocky headlands and peninsulas. Melbourne, my hometown, is not so well known for beaches [the water can be freezing cold], but it has by far prettier coastlines. My brother recently toured the ‘Bass coastline’ of Victoria, and sent me some pictures. Here are three of them.

4. Eagles Nest from afar4. Eagle's Nest up close

4. 'Humpy' With a View

When one looks at this photo on the left, one wonders, who built this place? What did it look like? Who lived there? When? How? And what happened to them?

As I said in Cultural Insight 2 (The Beaches), Sydney/NSW has the better beaches, but Melbourne/Victoria has a far more interesting coastline.

Cultural Insight to Australia 3: Farmland

Insight 3: Farmland

Australia is certainly a big country, and has lots of fertile land. This means that it is an agricultural country. Agriculture – that is, growing crops or raising animals – has, historically, always been one of the major industries. Last year I drove from Brisbane to Melbourne – a huge distance – and I was struck by just how much farmland there was. It seemed endless. Cows, sheep, horses, and crops (pineapples, sugar cane, vegetables, cotton, and others). Much of this is exported. Here in Taiwan, you probably eat Australian cheese, Australian beef, and wear Australian wool.


Is this good or bad? Hmmmm. Australia is generally much more expensive than Taiwan, but the milk, meat, and chicken is by far cheaper. Milk is only $25 NT/litre. You can drink it like water. Whole roast chickens are only $200 NT. And it all tastes great. However, some complain at how expensive the electronic goods are, and how primitive the technology is (compared to Taiwan). And it can be seen as too rural, as well. To me, it is peaceful and beautiful. To others, dusty and boring.


There’s good and bad in everything. I have included a photo of a beautiful (or dusty and boring) farm sent to me by my brother. It looks picture perfect, right, but would you really want to live there?

Cultural Insight to Australia 2: the Beaches

Cultural Insight 2: The beaches

Australia is famous for … handsome English teachers? Er, actually, no.

But we are famous for our beaches. The better beaches are on the east coast, in the tropical region, and the weather is warmer there, too. Sydney has some wonderful beaches, the most famous being Bondi (shown below).Bondi beach

Bondi is big, clean, and very easy to get to. Melbourne, my hometown does not have the beaches, but it has a far more picturesque and pretty coastline, and many of the later ‘Cultural Insights’ will examine these places.

Anyhow, when you visit my country, get a taste of the beach life there. But remember, wear a hat, and use some sunscreen, since the sun can be very intense indeed.

Cultural Insight to Australia 1: Animals

Insight 1: Animals

Hi all. I’m from Australia, so I can tell you something about my country. I’d like to start with … something cute and cuddly. Me?koala

Er, not me, actually. I’m talking about my friend alongside – the koala.

Okay, can you see them in Australia? Yes, in every animal park or zoo. Can you see them in the wild? Hmmm, yes, but they can be difficult to find. They are small, and sit very high in trees, and they sleep for most of the day. Still, in some of the more ‘wilder’ parklands, you may well see them – although those fuzzy blobs sitting high in trees are not that interesting to look at.

Idiomatic Vocabulary 6: ‘~olic’

The Noun Phrase

  [Word stem]-olicalcoholic

Its Definition

Indicating that you are addicted or highly dependent on something


This phrase is useful because it can describe many more extremes of behaviour, and has a fun and upbeat feel. It all comes from the formal word, ‘alcoholic’, with the ‘-holic’ suffix now being attached to many words to show a similar dependence on various forms of goods or behaviour. Many of these now appear in dictionaries, such as workaholic, shopaholic, and chocoholic.

The suffix can be playfully twisted (with the appropriate fun intonation and facial expressions) to show even greater flexibility, giving words such as…

I’m a bit of a …







The formal forms ‘alcoholic’, ‘workaholic’, ‘shopaholic’, and a few others, can be used in writing, but all the rest (immediately above) are too playful to be in IELTS Writing.

Example Sentences

In IELTS Speaking

  • “Sometimes I think I’m a coffeeholic, the way I drink the stuff.”
  • “Stereotypically, of course, women are assumed to be shopaholics.”
  • “I’m a bit of a workaholic, I’m afraid.”

Andrew’s IELTS Courses Enrolling Now


天天提供免費試聽! FREE Observation, Anytime!

Just follow these two easy steps.

1 Line janicebihsiuhuang (our Chinese-speaking consultant, where everything can be discussed, explained, and worked out).

2 Line teacherandrewais (the teacher)

Together, we’ll arrange a FREE observation, and I’ll see you online, and then you can decide for yourself. 



*04月08日平日寫作聽力課程開課, 上課時間是每週一、三&五晚上7點到10點15分, 總共5週十五堂課。

*4月16日平日閱讀口說課程開課, 上課時間是每週二&四晚上7點到10點15分, 總共5週十堂課。


*04月27日文法字彙課程開課, 上課時間是每週六晚上6點30分到9點45分, 總共10週十堂課。

*4月20&21日週末(週六&日)聽說讀寫全科班開課 ( 週六下午的寫作課或者是週日晚上的閱讀、口說和聽力課可以分開來報名 ), 上課時間是每週六下午2點到5點15分 + 週日晚上6點30分到9點45分, 總共12個週六&日24堂課。。

Note: in the Saturday/Sunday Courses, the morning session is IELTS Writing; the afternoon session is IELTS Reading & Speaking, & Listening, and they can be done separately – that is, you can choose the morning OR the afternoon (one skill, two skills, or three).


Online IELTS Correction Service!

Click on the tab at the top of the page, or just click here: IELTS Correction Service for more details.

Yes, this is a new service, allowing me to help you using distance/online methods, by correcting written work, or conducting practice/mock IELTS speaking tests via skype.


Other Thing to Know



PS. 同學可以找朋友團報的課程如下 :

1. 平日寫作聽力課程。

2. 平日閱讀口說課程。

3. 假日班全科課程 ( 週六密集班或週日密集班 )

Note 1: 由於參加Andrew老師課程而認識的同學們無法一起團報喔!

Note 2: 同學揪朋友團報必須在課程開課之前報名才算數喔!

如果你希望你的 IELTS老師有下面這幾個特質,請跟我們聯絡

  • 最有經驗
  • 最有資格
  • 最專業
  • 最敬業
  • 準備最充份

如果需要更多資訊,請點  Courses  進入

如果想了解Andrew老師的資歷,請點About AIS’ – My Credentials 進入 

  • 澳洲墨爾本皇家理工學院教育學碩士
  • 擁有英國劍橋大學英語教學證書(CELTA, 1993)和文憑 (DELTA, 1998)
  • 擁有英國劍橋大學英語教師訓練資格(2005),臺灣唯一的教師訓練師
  • 1993年開始擔任英語教師,25年的雅思考試預備課程授課經驗任教過的國家有澳洲、委內瑞拉、泰國、韓國及臺灣
  • 曾任教於澳洲Monash大學語言中心與IELTS測驗研習中心
  • 出版6本雅思著作(Practical IELTS Strategies系列-說,讀,寫作一, 寫作二,模擬試題書一&二)
  • 另外著有A Saharan Jaunt,及Promise Me, Promise Me二本書



  • IELTS是一項REALLY困難的挑戰
  • Andrew老師REALLY認真在準備教學投影片(而且根據學生的學習反應每天更新)
  • Andrew老師REALLY樂意盡他所能幫助學生


More Information about Andrew

A Quick Overview About IELTS and Me (in Chinese!)

Some facts are VERY important – especially the credentials of the teacher – so this part is in Chinese, because you should ALWAYS check credentials of anyone who claims knowledge of IELTS.


IELTS 雅思國際英語測驗系統(The International English Language Testing System),是由劍橋大學英語考試院設計用來評估欲前往英語系國家求學、移民或工作者在聽 說、讀、寫四項全方位英語的溝通能力,與托福同樣為全球廣泛接受的英語測驗。Andrew資歷簡介 [1-6證明文件 – look at the top of this page, and click on ‘About AIS‘ then ‘My Credentials‘ where everything is proven.]

  • 澳洲墨爾本皇家理工學院教育學碩士
  • 擁有英國劍橋大學英語教學證書(CELTA, 1993)和文憑 (DELTA, 1998)
  • 擁有英國劍橋大學英語教師訓練資格(2005),臺灣唯一的教師訓練師
  • 1993年開始擔任英語教師,23年的雅思考試預備課程授課經驗任教過的國家有澳洲、委內瑞拉、泰國、韓國及臺灣
  • 曾任教於澳洲Monash大學語言中心與IELTS測驗研習中心
  • 出版5本雅思著作(Practical IELTS Strategies系列-說,讀,寫作一, 寫作二,模擬試題書一)
  • 另外著有A Saharan Jaunt,及Promise Me, Promise Me二本書

Andrew老師也曾經在長庚大學, 長庚技術學院和輔仁大學任教.

To contact us

Feel free to contact the AIS  for more information about IELTS courses.

First Step

If you have enquiries, the best first contact is …

  • Line ID:  janicebihsiuhuang

… where our Mandarin-speaking consultant (my wife) can explain everything. She has been dealing with customers for many years now, and knows all the details, and can give great advice.

Second Step

Once you know the details, and would like to observe a class, you can contact me, Teacher Andrew, to arrange this observation. I need your contact in order (later) to send the invitation to the Zoom Class.

  • Line ID:  teacherandrewais

When contacting me – Teacher Andrew – you must write in English, so that I (Teacher Andrew) can read and respond. Also, writing in English allows me to judge whether your level of English is good enough to make it worthwhile preparing for the IELTS Test.

Remember, if your English level is too low, it is better to just get better at English – for example, by doing my English Grammar & Vocabulary Course.

Another First Step

You can also ring or email AIS, where our Mandarin-speaking consultant (my wife) can help.

  • 手機:        0926-067-454  (Monday to Friday, between midday to 8 pm; anytime on weekends)

  • 住家:        25788187  (contact time as above)

  • 信箱:

  • For the pixnetblog, you can scan the QR codes below.

Pixnet blog


New IELTS Listening Book // New IELTS Courses starting Monday 26th July

IELTS Listening by Andrew Guilfoyle.jfif

Hi everyone. Guess what? My latest IELTS book has just come out: IELTS Listening (see the above picture). It was really difficult to write, actually, because it required lots of recordings (unlike the other books).

Anyhow, with this book, I complete ALL the IELTS/English skills. Here’s a picture of all these IELTS books.

All IELTS Books.jpg

That’s SEVEN books in all – which is a huge intellectual effort. If you carefully read through all of these books, doing every exercise, then ….. well, your IELTS score would be amazing! However, it is obviously better to have me as the teacher, helping through these difficult skills. And on that subject ….

– the IELTS Writing/Listening Course starts Monday July 26 (MWF night).

-the IELTS Speaking Course starts Thursday 29th (every Thursday).

Contact me for details. Go to and click on ‘Contact/Registration’ Or just click here. Or you could line me directly, on 


Hope to see you in my class, but it’s online (using Zoom) for now. To tell the truth, I’m getting used to Zoom now, and the online classes have some advantages (such as you not needing to travel anywhere). Why don’t you register for a FREE observation, and see for yourself.

IELTS Mini-Readings, 25 of 25: Deep Ocean Life


Deep Ocean Life

The previous reading examined how deep, dangerous, and difficult it is to get to the bottom of the world’s oceans. Let’s keep thinking about this, but more specifically about the creatures which live down there.

For a start, let’s consider humanity’s relationship to the bottoms of the oceans. This area is so distant from human existence that for decades many countries dumped nuclear waste there. America, Russia, China, Japan, and New Zealand, and nearly all the nations of Europe freely threw drums of this stuff into the water, to sink out of sight, out of mind. After almost 50 years, this practice was banned in the 1990s, yet hundreds of thousands of barrels filled with radioactive gunk still lie at the bottom of the ocean, and we can only hope the long-term effects will be small.

The fact the human beings actually performed such horrible acts shows just how psychologically disconnected we are from the ocean depths. Even its biggest inhabitants, such as the blue whale (the biggest creature ever to have lived – look at the above picture!!!!!), which comes regularly to the surface to breathe, still has many mysteries, and is very difficult to film. As for creatures which never comes to the surface, such as the giant squid, they are still largely unknown – in fact, scientists now agree that there are still many millions of animals living in the deep sea which we haven’t discovered.

We are, actually, still largely ignorant about the ways eco-systems work in the ocean. A good example of this ignorance is in the Southern Ocean – that is, the ocean around Antarctica. Being so cold, rough, and lacking in sunlight, by any reasonable understanding, this area could not support much life, but it most certainly does. There are about 15 million crab-eating seals, four million Adelie penguins, two million Weddel seals, and half a million emperor penguins all living happily enough in an area where we, human beings, would struggle to survive. Such a top-heavy food chain would simply seem impossible to exist, but it is there, and somehow it all works. It is an interesting fact that scientists still don’t really know why.

Question Time

When was the dumping of radioactive waste banned? ……………………..……………

What is the biggest living animal? …….……………..………

Why should the Southern Ocean be unable to support much life? ……………………….……….…….

Which creature there is the most numerous?  ………………………………

Word-Learning Time

Do you know the meaning of the underlined words?

A drum

A barrel



An inhabitant

A food chain

By the way, you can find out more about me at .

IELTS Mini-Readings, 24 of 25: Oceans & Seas


The Oceans & Seas

Did you read the previous post? Did you realise what material I was referring to? Yes, it is water! In fact, water is SO important, I thought I would finish this set of readings by looking at water in depth. [There’s a joke there; do you get it? ‘In depth’? Water? Get it?]

So, let’s continue thinking about water.

All the water on the earth is in a closed system, which means that the total amount cannot increase or decrease – and this water exists in …

– the oceans and seas, as salt water,

– lakes, rivers, dams and reservoirs, as fresh water,

– ice sheets, mostly in Antarctica, as ice,

– clouds, or as water vapour in the sky.

The overwhelming bulk (97%) of the earth’s water lies in its oceans – hence the above picture. There are three major oceans: the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Indian. The Pacific is by far the biggest and the deepest, and consequently holds over half of all the water on the earth.

We know about the surface of the ocean, where the friction of the wind over large areas causes constant motion in the form of waves which we can all see (again, the above picture), but it is interesting to note that we, human beings, still know very little about the deepest parts of the ocean. These parts are called the ‘abyssal plains’, and cover more than half of the planet’s surface, and are still very mysterious places. The reason for this is that it’s dark and extremely difficult to get down there.

The biggest problem being in the depths of the ocean is the pressure of the water. ‘Submersibles’ [the general name for craft that go down to the bottoms of the oceans] are hollow, and if there are people inside, need a supply of oxygen. They also need to be controlled carefully and need scientific instruments, which presents great technical challenges.

The deeper the submersible goes, the greater the weight of water which rests on top of it. If you go down to the deepest part – the Mariana Trench, near the island of Guam in the Pacific – the pressure of that water is enormous, about eight tons per square inch (which is over 1000 times greater than at the surface). This is similar to having 100 large elephants standing on your head, and just one reason why this spot has only been visited by people four times.

Question Time

Can you explain the double meaning of ‘in depth’ in the first paragraph? ……………………..……………

Where, specifically, is most of earth’s water? …….……………..………

What is the greatest challenge about travelling to the bottom of the ocean? ……………………….……….…….

What is the name of the deepest part?  ………………………………

Word-Learning Time

Do you know the meaning of the underlined words?

A dam

A reservoir


To be mysterious

To be enormous

By the way, you can find out more about me at .

IELTS Mini-Readings, 23 of 25: Can You Guess What This Is?

Mother and son.jpg

[You Guess What This Is About]

Let’s think about dihydrogen oxide. This material can often kill you, or hurt you badly (depending on what people have done to it previously), but it is absolutely necessary to keep the human body going. This material can combine with other material to make something very nasty which, if thrown into your face, will burn you horribly. If you have enough of this material together in one place, and make it move a lot, it can cause huge problems, destroying buildings and killing thousands of people. It does this everywhere, all over the world, every year.

This material has no taste, yet people love the taste. It has no form – that is, it is formless – yet people love watching it and the way it acts. This material is so ordinary, yet people travel thousands of miles (and spend thousands of dollars) just to be beside it. Every year, tens of thousands of people die in it, yet millions of people are always eager to be immersed in it.

This material comes in three main states, but we mostly want it and like it and absolutely depend on it in just one of those states. Without this material, the human body quickly breaks down and goes into crisis. Take this material completely away and within a few days, people’s lips will crack and shrink and all but disappear. The nose will do the same, the body will weaken, and a painful death soon follows.

Yet, despite the body’s desperate need for this material, the overwhelming majority of it on earth is deadly poisonous, and if it is put into the human body, seizures, unconsciousness, brain damage, and death will quickly follow.

So, what material am I referring to? The next post will confirm your guess.

Question Time

What is the chemical name for this material? ……………………..……………

How far will people travel to be beside this material? …….……………..………

Without this material, how many days can we live? ……………………….……….…….

What proportion of this material is poisonous to people?  ………………………………

Word-Learning Time

Do you know the meaning of the underlined words?

To be nasty

To immerse

A state

A crisis

A seizure

By the way, you can find out more about me at .

IELTS Mini-Readings, 22 of 25: The biggest of them all


Mount Everest

The above picture shows Mount Everest. This is the Earth‘s highest mountain, with its peak being 8,848 metres high. The mountain was given its name by the British, who controlled India at the time when this new mountain was discovered. Since it is the highest, many people want to climb it – yet it is a very dangerous mountain to climb.

When Everest was first discovered, and its height calculated, British climbers were the first to get there. In 1921 they hiked to the mountain to take photographs. The next year, in 1922, they tried to climb it, reaching above 8000 metres for the first time ever – although seven helpers were killed by an avalanche.

This same British team returned in 1924 for another try. After failing a few times, two climbers, named Mallory and Irvine, made a final try. They started from a camp high on the mountain, heading for the top, but were never seen alive again. No one is quite sure whether they reached the top or not. 75 years later, in 1999, some climbers found the body of Mallory, but they did not find Mallory’s camera and could not prove whether he got to the top or not.

For many years after Mallory and Irvine, it seems that Everest was simply too high for human beings to climb. Yet technology got better, and in 1953, two climbers – Hillary and Tensing – with more advanced oxygen equipment and warmer clothing, finally reached the top. Now, in this modern age, many people can climb Mount Everest with the help of climbing companies, which offer support climbers, all the food and equipment, and who put in special ropes along the climbing path to make it safer. This has made climbing Everest very popular – but people still die, regularly, on this dangerous mountain. 

Question Time

Which people were the first to try to climb Everest? ……………………..……………

How many people died when people first tried to climb it? …….……………..………

Do we know if Mallory got to the top of Everest? ……………………….……….…….

When did the first person get to the top? ……………………………….……………….

What has made climbing Everest popular these days?  ………………………………

Word-Learning Time

Do you know the meaning of the underlined words?

To discover

To calculate

To hike

An avalanche

A camp

To prove



By the way, you can find out more about me at .

IELTS Mini-Readings, 21 of 25: Amazing places, but Dangerous Also


Mountain Ranges

A mountain range is a place where there are many mountains, usually in a rough line. But they are certainly not regularly arranged but usually mixed and broken, with a variety of rock types.

But why do we even have mountains? The answer is that they are a result of the movement of the pieces of the earth’s outer layer. These pieces move slowly, hitting each other, pushing some parts up, other parts down, and sometimes creating volcanoes. These volcanoes can grow higher, forming their own mountains. This has happened a lot around the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’.

The longest mountain range in the world is the Andes in South America, at 7,000 kilometres, but it is the Himalayas in Central Asia which contain the highest mountains, including Mount Everest, highest of them all. [See the above picture].

Although high mountains look wonderful in photographs, they are not particularly nice places. The weather on mountains becomes colder as you go higher. The air gets thinner, and there is less greenhouse effect holding in the heat. For this reason, the highest mountains have snow, sometimes all the time, and many important rivers in the world begin from the melting snows in higher mountain ranges.

With such cold weather, and the unpredictable weather, people usually avoid living on mountains. Another reason is that the ground is not flat, which makes it difficult to grow food or raise animals. However, in recent times, tourism has become important to many villages in the higher mountains.

For the really high mountains, the activity of mountain climbing helps generate income for the local people who live there. Climbers feel that getting to the top of a really high mountain is a very special achievement, despite the dangers of extreme weather, low oxygen levels, and falling from the steep mountain slope.

Personally, I don’t intend to ever go that high, but I agree that these mountains certainly look beautiful, from a safe distance, right.

Question Time

  1. How are mountains formed? …………………………………………………….…….……
  1. What is the world’s longest mountain range? ………………….………………………….
  1. Why does it get colder as you go higher? …………………………………..…….……….
  1. Why don’t people like living on mountains? ……………………………………………….
  1. Why is raising animals difficult on mountains? ……………………………………………

Word-Learning Time

Do you know the meaning of the underlined words?




To melt

To be unpredictable


To be steep

A slope                

By the way, you can find out more about me at .