This lesson looks at one simple way to write a good paragraph for IELTS. And the key is simplicity: it’s as easy as 1 2 3. When you have a list of points to make, I’d suggest the best way to do it is to count the points. Firstly, I give you some useful language. Secondly, I explain why it is useful. Finally, I show you how to use it in two sample paragraphs from recent IELTS papers.
Useful linking language
Here is some suggested language:
one point/argument/reason/idea is
an additional point/argument/reason/idea is
another point/argument/reason/idea is
Isn’t this too simple? Shouldn’t I use moreover and furthermore
The short answer to that is no. Perhaps the best reason to give is that this is the language I use myself and I like to teach the language I use. I don’t use “moreover” and “furthermore” The second reason is that in the IELTS exam you want to keep your structure language simple. It’s a sad truth that too many candidates make mistakes in using “moreover” and “furthermore”.
I want to emphasise that one real benefit to using this method is that it makes writing easier. Once you have written: “One reason..”, you know that you are going to begin your next sentence “Another reason”. Your writing automatically becomes more coherent.
How should I use it?
You need to be slightly careful here as it won’t always be appropriate. It works best when you have to write a paragraph and you have several ideas which you can’t develop over a sentence. What it does is make your writing more coherent – and that’s 25% of your marks.
This technique works particularly well in questions such as this recent IELTS writing topic where you are asked to discuss a plural topic: “responsibilities”.
Some people think that paying taxes is enough to contribute to society. Others argue that being a citizen involves more responsibilities. What is your opinion?
If you are a strong candidate, you might choose to write a 4 paragraph essay with one paragraph discussing paying tax and the other content paragraph discussing other responsibilities. Here is my version:
There are, however, various other responsibilities we owe our society. One is that young people should either do military service or some community work before starting their careers. A second is that in some countries citizens do not just have the right to vote but they are in fact obliged to vote by law. Again, it is arguable that the better off within a society ought to provide for the underprivileged through charity work.
This technique is also of use in essays where you are asked to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of an issue. Here is another recent IELTS topic:
Some people working abroad bring their family to live with them for a period of time. Do you think it has more advantages or disadvantages?
Here is my sample paragraph discussing the disadvantages:
Perhaps the most significant disadvantage is cost. Typically, it will be more expensive for people working abroad to support their families in the host country where the cost of living is higher. Another disadvantage is that the children’s education may be disrupted if they need to go to school in another country. Thirdly, it may be extremely difficult for the family to integrate if they are unable to speak the language.
The third example comes from my sample essay on compulsory education.
There are, however, equally strong arguments against making school compulsory until the age of 18. One such argument is that not everyone is academic and that some people benefit more from vocational training. For instance, someone who wants to become a car mechanic may find better training and more satisfaction in an apprentice scheme. Another related argument is that, in today’s world, young people are maturing ever more quickly and are able to make their own life decisions by the age of 16.
- Each of my paragraphs starts with a short simple sentence: this is an extremely good habit to get into.
- You may find yourself repeating certain words such as “argument”: this is in fact a good thing as it helps the coherence of your writing. It is not always correct to vary your vocabulary.
- There is some flexibility in how you can combine these connecting words
- Each of paragraphs contains 2/3 points. I’d suggest that that is about right if you are going to try this technique.