I could have called this video lesson “What is a paragraph?”. A paragraph is one idea that is developed and this means that you need 2 ideas for an essay that has 2 main paragraphs and 3 ideas for an essay that contains 3 main paragraphs.
If this surprises you then you may be confusing main ideas with reasons and examples and this lesson is definitely for you.
Essay map and IELTS
In the video I use the Essay Map app from ReadWriteThink. It’s a great tool for showing you how the different bits of an essay work together. It works like this.
Start with the question – establish your point of view
You start by looking at an IELTS essay question and deciding what you think about it. It helps to try and state this in a short sentence. This will be part of your introduction and will be developed by the main paragraphs
Think of 2/3 ideas to explain your point of view
These are the ideas that will be developed to be your main paragraphs. Again it helps to try and state these ideas in a short/clear sentence. If you can’t do that they may be too complex or just supporting detail.
Now think of reasons/examples that support your main ideas
These are not main ideas. These are details. You can get these by looking at real-life examples.
Summarise your position
This is your conclusion. Note that you don’t have to say anything new here – all you are doing is summarising what you have said before.
Before you listen
I use one of my sample IELTS essays in this video. It is an essay on Libraries and digital technology. Read this question
Maintaining public libraries is a waste of time since digital technology is now replacing their function. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
decide what your position is
think of 2/3 ideas to explain that position
think of 2/3 reasons and examples to support your ideas
You can’t of course take Essay Map into the test with you. There is though a very simple and highly effective way you can help yourself in the test.
How to structure an IELTS essay: in this lesson I show you how you can use a blank piece of paper to help structure your essay.
If you are still confused about ideas then I suggest you have a look at this lesson on topic sentences. These topic sentences are where you should be stating your main ideas and are normally found right at the start of paragraphs.
An exercise for you to try
Take one of your IELTS essays and try and use Essay Map. Can you identify your position? What about the main ideas? Reasons and examples?