Study English – Series 3, Episode 2: Writing Task Response

{“en”:”Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation. I’m Margot Politis. Today we’ll look at the Writing Task in the essay section of both the general and academic IELTS tests. IELTS essay topics are of general interest and relate to current issues in society. You can expect to be asked about: The media, education, environment, health, communication, technology and society. Being familiar with issues in these general areas is important. Listening to English language media will help you develop a bank of ideas on topics like this. An issue in health could be about children eating too much and not exercising enough. You could be asked to discuss a statement such as: Children’s eating habits and lifestyles today are more likely to be harmful than beneficial. You should know the essay instructions. These tell you how much time you have and how much you need to write. You are instructed to spend about 40 minutes writing the essay, which has to be at least 250 words.

With practice you’ll know without counting what your 250 words look like. You will also be asked to give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your knowledge or experience. This is one of the instructions, so you need to follow it. Reasons are saying why you think something is true or not. You could write: An increasing number of children are becoming obese because they are eating too much junk food. Reasons are supported by examples, like this: For example, aggressive marketing of such foods towards children is one of the contributing factors. Relevant examples are examples like this that are clearly connected to the question. Now let’s look at an essay question, and how to analyse it before you write your answer. How well you do this will help with your task response, which is one of the criteria used to assess the essay. Let’s look at a question topic. Here’s a typical statement: The ageing populations of more developed countries are going to cause social and economic problems for society in the future, especially for the younger generation.

With this is something called the question task: To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? The essay question is always presented in this way as a statement followed by the question task. First, let’s look at the statement. Read it carefully. The ageing populations of more developed countries are going to cause social and economic problems for society in the future, especially for the younger generation. You should ask yourself ‘who or what must I write about?’ Here, you have to say something about ageing populations, developed countries, society in the future and the younger generation. Highlight these and any other key phrases, such as ’cause social and economic problems’. Think about what these phrases mean. Thinking of synonyms or words that mean something similar can help you do this. And you will need these synonyms later in your essay. Synonyms for ageing populations are: the elderly, retired people, the aged and pensioners.

They’re the people living longer or ageing. Developed countries – refers to modern industrial societies that have to financially support retired people. Synonyms are: western countries, first world countries and advanced economies. Social and economic problems are two kinds of problems. Social problems are problems that affect people, perhaps in areas such as health and education. Economic problems are problems to do with the economy of a country and its ability to pay for the services it provides. Society in the future means the country or nation or state in the future. And the younger generation are younger people or people who work. They’re the people who are not yet part of the ageing population. So you can rephrase or paraphrase the question like this: The younger generation will experience social and economic difficulties because people are living longer. The next thing to look at is the question task: To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? ‘To what extent’ means by how much. Here you’re being asked to give your opinion about the statement. You might agree with it or you might think it is wrong.

It’s a good idea to reword this type of question into a ‘yes/no’ question like this: Do you agree that the younger generation will experience social and economic difficulties because people are living longer? Yes or no? You could think, yes, I agree completely or perhaps yes, I agree with some of this, but disagree with other parts of it. But keep in mind that asking how much you agree or disagree tests your ability to look at 2 sides of an issue and present a balanced argument. Even if you say yes and agree completely, you still have to look at the other side of the argument and think about why someone would disagree. You would need to write two body paragraphs in an essay of this type, one saying what you agree with and one saying what you disagree with. In the conclusion of your essay you would state your position on the topic.

Let’s look at another question. Internet access should be under government control to avoid any potential harm to children. Who or what must you write about? The internet, government and children. Now highlight other key phrases – under government control, avoid any potential harm. Let’s think of synonyms. We know what the internet is, but what other words can we use? – the net, the web, online, cyberspace.

Under government control means controlled by the government. Other words for government are the state or the administration. Potential harm means bad things that might happen. Synonyms for potential are possible or likely. And other words for harm are: damage and hurt. So we could paraphrase this statement as: The state should control access to the web to avoid possible damage to children. The same question task we looked at earlier can be used: To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? You are being asked for your opinion. What you need to do here is say what you think.

The state should control access to the web to avoid possible damage to children. Yes or no? Now you should think about reasons for your point of view and why you don’t agree with the opposite view. So, to recap. The way you respond to the question and the instructions is part of what you are being marked on. The examiners call it task response. Make sure you follow the instructions and write the correct number of words.

That’s all for now. Don’t forget to visit our website at: australianetwork.com/studyenglish for more. I’ll see you next time on Study English.. “}

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