IELTS examiners just love paragraphs! A good paragraph should contain:
– A topic sentence
– Your opinion, view, idea about one main topic
– Evidence to support this, to include
– Reasons why
– Possible effects.
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Here is an example of a Writing Task 2 from IELTS 9 (Cambridge English test book):
Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school. Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?
You clearly need to write about the advantages and the disadvantages of starting to learn a foreign language at primary school, and if it is better than starting at secondary school.
First you need to brainstorm some ideas:
– Easier to learn a language when young
– Can learn through fun and games
– Exposure to language over a longer time
– Learn about different cultures at an early age
– Might get bored with it, if learning for a long time
– Teachers might not have the specialist skills
– Children might learn different aspects of the language in their primary school, so harder to teach them in the same way at secondary school
To develop your argument you need to question each point – why? You can also think about the effects of your point and include some examples from your own experience or knowledge. Here is an example of how to do this:
Easier to learn a language when young
– brains have more flexibility
– mouth muscles have more flexibility
– more open to learning
– curious about learning
– not so worried about making mistakes, less self-conscious
– The new language will become ingrained, and they will be able to build on these foundations later.
– I learnt English from when I was 5 and now I feel confident ….
– Children in my country learn English from when they are 5…..
If you decide to include a personal example, keep this part short and make sure it contributes well to the development of your argument, as sometimes students’ language becomes too conversational when they write about their own experience. So, for example, this would not be appropriate:
I remember the first day I started learning English. The teacher was really nice and kind.
We played games and the first thing we did was to learn how to say our names. We had some toys too in the classroom. Everyone enjoyed it.
So, now let’s have a go at writing an actual paragraph with this first advantage as its topic.
The first sentence of your paragraph should be your topic sentence. This should clearly state the main topic of the paragraph and can be very simple, for example:
There are many advantages when beginning to study a foreign language at an early age.
The examiner will then know you are going to write about the advantages in this paragraph.
To organise your work well, you could then choose what you think is the most important advantage, and then explain why you think this is beneficial, using connecting words (for example as, because, since, due to):
Perhaps the most important benefit is that it is much easier for primary school age children to absorb new words and pronounce them well, as their brain is more receptive to learning at this stage of their development, and the muscles in their mouth are more flexible
Then you can add an effect, using connecting words (so, as a result, therefore, consequently, thus, hence):
so this means they can gain fluency and confidence in speaking the language, which they can then develop more formally later.
You could then include an example:
In my country children start learning English at the age of five, as this language is considered to be very important for their future study and career.
You could then add a connected topic in the same paragraph, with connecting words (in addition, furthermore, moreover):
In addition, when learning at an early age, children are much more likely to learn through fun and games.
You can then develop this idea with a reason and an effect. Notice that this idea is linked to the other one. Don’t add a completely new topic in the same paragraph!
The topic sentence of your second paragraph needs to be linked to the first (notice the linking words, showing cause and effect: because, in this way):
Another benefit of starting learning a second language at primary school is that children can begin learning about different cultures from an early age. This is important, because globalisation means that we are likely to study, travel or work with people from other countries. In this way, children can be encouraged to become more tolerant, which will help them to succeed in the future.
The topic sentence of your third paragraph should indicate a counter argument, and must start with a linking word (however, on the other hand):
However, there are also some disadvantages about learning a new language at such a young age.
So, to recap, the trick is to
– Keep one main topic in each paragraph
– Start your paragraph with a topic sentence
– Develop your point with reasons why, possible effects, an example
– Include linking words
– Connect each paragraph to the previous one
This will mean your work is very well organised, which it needs to be to meet the writing criteria of Task Response, which requires the development of ideas, and Coherence and Cohesion, which requires the organisation of ideas into paragraphs with cohesive devices (linking or connecting words).
Practise developing your ideas by always asking yourself why, and what might be its result, when thinking about an issue, then you will find you can easily get the most out of each idea you have, rather than having to think up lots of ideas.
If you are serious about taking your IELTS writing to the next level, sign up for your FREE 3 part IELTS writing video course that takes you through both task 1 and task 2. The video lessons are led by our highly experienced UK native IELTS teacher, Katherine. We also provide you with exercises to test your understanding!
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