To launch the new forum I have set up, I’m having a little paragraph writing competition. What I’m going to do is set you a writing task here and ask you to post your response in the forum. The general idea is that I would like people to share their ideas and language and I believe the forum is a much better place to do that.
Rule number 1: a paragraph not an essay
The task is to write me a paragraph, not a whole essay. The reason for this is that one of the best ways to learn to write an essay is to make sure you can write a paragraph first. An essay is after all a collection of paragraphs. Paragraph writing matters.
One way people sometimes go wrong with IELTS preparation is that they are so busy practising essays, they forget to practise the skills they need to write essays. Write too many essays and you may never improve – just carry on doing the same thing over and again. This is your chance to step back and practise a skill.
Rule number 2: a listing paragraph
If you want to learn to write well, you need to be able to write different types of paragraphs. What I call a “listing paragraph” is when you have several linked ideas that explain the main point of the paragraph. These ideas can be reasons, causes or examples. Look at this example to see what I mean. As you read it, ask yourself these two questions:
- what is the main point of the paragraph?
- how is that main point explained?
There are a number of different reasons behind the current housing shortage. Perhaps the principal reason is that there has a been a lack of long-term planning by the central government and the effects of this are only being felt now. It should also not be forgotten that there has been a very significant increase in the general population, partially caused by longer life expectancy and also by rising levels of immigration. A third factor is that more and more people choose to live alone and the average size of the British household has shrunk considerably in the last few decades.
You should see that the main point comes in the first sentence:. This is your model “topic sentence”. Typically in a listing paragraph, the first sentence simply says that you are going to make a number of related points.
There are a number of different reasons behind the current housing shortage
Then that point is developed in three more sentences. Each sentence gives a reason why there is not enough housing:
- Perhaps the principal reason is that there has a been a lack of long-term planning by the central government and the effects of this are only being felt now
- It should also not be forgotten that there has been a very significant increase in the general population, partially caused by longer life expectancy and also by rising levels of immigration.
- A third factor is that more and more people choose to live alone and the average size of the British household has shrunk considerably in the last few decades.
Rule number 3: no first, second, third
If you read my paragraph again, you will see that I do not use “First”, “Second” and “Third”. You can do that, but I want to teach you new tricks. If you want to impress examiners, you want to show that you can different things and for high band scores your linking should not be too too obvious.
Here are some key words and ideas you may want to try out:
in the same way
Rule number 4 – answer the question!!!
The paragraph I want you to write is in answer to this question
An increasing number of young people are choosing to study abroad. What are the reasons for this and what problems do you think they may face?
Write a paragraph (not an essay) about either the reasons they choose to study abroad or the problems they may face.
Please note that the question asks to write reasons (in the plural) or problems (in the plural). Listing paragraphs are best used for this type of question.
Rule number 5 – post in the forum
If you do this, I will read it. And I have now closed comments on this post to encourage you into the forum.
The most interesting 10 I will write detailed comments on. (Note that the most interesting is not the same as the best). Don’t be disappointed if I don’t answer your response personally. I simply don’t have the time to look at all the work that is sent in.
I hope that the way this will work is that it will you give you the opportunity to share ideas and vocabulary and learn from each other.
Hope to hear from you.