IELTS Essay – How to Write an Introduction (Using Paraphrasing)

Hi, I’m Daniel. Welcome to Oxford Online English! In this lesson, you can learn about paraphrasing in IELTS essays. First question: what’s paraphrasing? Paraphrasing means saying the same thing in a different way. But, I’m guessing you already knew that. Probably, you’re watching this video because you think you need to paraphrase the question in your IELTS essay introduction, and you aren’t sure how to do it. We’re making this video because there’s a lot of bad or inaccurate advice about paraphrasing around, and many IELTS students have the wrong idea about what paraphrasing is and how they should use it in their IELTS essay. With our IELTS students, we often have to spend time breaking down bad habits and bad ideas which students have about this. So, in this lesson, you can learn the truth about paraphrasing in your IELTS essay. You’ll see the number one mistake that IELTS students make with paraphrasing, and you’ll learn how to use paraphrase effectively in your IELTS writing exam.

Let’s start with something that might surprise you: What? But wait, I saw this video, and it said I should paraphrase the question in my introduction. But wait, I read this article, and it said I should paraphrase the question in my introduction. But wait, my teacher told me I should paraphrase the question in my introduction. Okay, we know. There’s a lot of IELTS advice out there that says, ‘paraphrase the question in your introduction.’ Why should you listen when we say you don’t need to? Don’t pay attention to us; pay attention to the official IELTS scoring scheme. To save you time, we’ve added links to the official scoring scheme under the video.

You can read it right now! Go ahead; read the scoring scheme and find the word ‘paraphrase’. We can save you some time: it isn’t there. Remember, this is the official scoring system, which the examiners use to mark your IELTS writing exam. The writing mark scheme does not talk about paraphrase AT ALL. Why not? Because you don’t have to paraphrase the question in your introduction. Okay, you think, so how do I start my essay? Surely paraphrasing the question is better than nothing? I don’t know what else to do… Here’s how a lot of students approach paraphrasing.

See if this looks familiar to you. Let’s take a question: Robots, computers, and machines are becoming more advanced, and can perform many jobs which used to be done by people. What problems does this cause, and how can these problems be solved? So, let’s practice bad paraphrasing! Let’s see now, we need to change the words. Let’s find some synonyms: robot = automaton advanced = cutting-edge machine = apparatus job = assignment people = folks Wow, great synonyms, right? Let’s plug them into our sentence to create a bad paraphrase: Automata, computers, and apparatus are becoming more cutting-edge, and can perform many assignments which used to be done by folks. Let’s change a couple of small things so it’s not so close to the original: Automata, computers, and apparatus are more and more cutting-edge, and can do many assignments which were done by folks in the past. Finished! What a great paraphrase! No, no, no! This is terrible, and it will only hurt your IELTS score. Don’t do this! This is what many IELTS students do, but it’s a bad idea. Let’s see why this doesn’t work.

First, a question: what’s a synonym? You probably said something like, “a word with the same meaning as another word.” That’s more or less true. However, a true synonym is a word which can replace another word in any sentence. So, imagine you have two words: A and B. If word A can be replaced with word B in any sentence, they’re synonyms. If word A can be replaced with word B sometimes, but not always, they’re not true synonyms. Maybe they have a similar meaning, but they aren’t the same. What’s the point of all this? The point is that there are very few true synonyms in English, or any language. Just because two words have the same meaning does not mean they can be used in the same way. The words people and folks have the same basic meaning, but that doesn’t mean that you can say folks any time you say people.

They aren’t true synonyms. Why not? Because vocabulary usage depends on more than just meaning. Register and collocation are equally important. Also, many words which have a similar meaning don’t have exactly the same meaning. Machine and apparatus are similar, but they aren’t the same. Job and assignment are similar, but they aren’t the same. So, that’s problem number one. When you use words that you think are synonyms, they probably aren’t true synonyms. That means you’re changing the meaning—which is dangerous—and also making language mistakes, which can hurt your vocabulary score. There’s a second problem: this is a really weird and unnatural thing to do. Imagine someone asks you a question. What do you do? Do you repeat the question back, using different words? Hey! How was your weekend? Ah… You wish to enquire about my recent non-working days? How’s the weather in the US? So… You want to know about the climatic conditions in North America? No! This is weird! When someone asks you a question, you answer the question.

Your IELTS essay is the same. The task asks you a question. Your essay should answer the question. Your answer starts from your first sentence. Bad paraphrase adds nothing to your answer. No paraphrase is better than bad paraphrase. A bad paraphrase is only an empty sentence with language mistakes. That’s all the examiner will see. For your IELTS score, this is only negative.

Ok, you think, so how do I start my essay? You have two options, and it depends on your target score. Let’s look. This is going to be a short section. If your target score is 6 or maybe 6.5, and you don’t know how to start your essay, here’s what you do: Write an introduction which is one sentence. Write a thesis statement. That means you explain what you’re going to talk about and what you’re trying to prove with your essay. For example: In this essay, I will discuss possible solutions to the problems caused by robots and computers taking people’s jobs. Or: I intend to show that the problems caused by robots and computers taking people’s jobs are serious, but also possible to solve. Or even: Robots and computers are replacing people at work.

This is a serious problem, and I will discuss how we can solve it. That’s all you need. But, you say, isn’t that too short? No—not at all. First of all, your introduction can be any length. Your introduction can be one sentence. Here’s an important point: your introduction is the least important part of your IELTS essay. Are the example introductions you saw above great? No. They’re not great, but they are easily good enough. Your conclusion is super-important. How you organise your ideas into paragraphs is very important.

How you support and connect your ideas is extremely important. Your introduction is not that important. You can get a high score with a very basic introduction. So, here’s a simple solution: if you don’t know what to write in your IELTS essay introduction, don’t write much at all. Write a short thesis statement, and then start the body of your essay. This is good advice if your target is 6 or 6.5, but what if you’re aiming for a higher score? So, what does effective paraphrase look like? Remember, you’re thinking about writing a strong IELTS essay here. That means an essay which scores between seven and nine. Here’s the thing: when you write a strong essay, you can’t think about it as lots of separate things. Lots of IELTS students write essays in this way: “Ok, first I have to paraphrase the question, then I need to write a thesis statement. Ok, first body paragraph: I need a topic sentence, then a supporting example, then a linking phrase, then a second supporting example… et cetera.” That can work for intermediate IELTS scores: to 6.5, but it’s not a good approach for higher scores.

For higher scores, your essay needs to be one coherent, connected piece. What does that mean, practically? And what does it have to do with paraphrasing? First point: your first sentence should be connected to everything else in your essay. That means you need to know exactly where your essay is going before you start writing. Before you put one word on the page, you need to know all the important things you want to say. Practically, that means you need to know what your conclusion is going to be before you start writing. You also need to know exactly how many body paragraphs you’re going to have, and what you’re going to put in each one.

To be clear, that means when you write your first sentence, you aren’t just thinking, “How can I find a synonym for this word?” Good paraphrasing isn’t about that. You already know the conclusion you want to reach, and you know the ideas you want to discuss. Effective paraphrasing includes this. It shows your reader—the examiners—where your essay is going. Effective paraphrasing shows how you understand the key ideas in the question, and what conclusion your essay is trying to reach. So, the main point: paraphrasing depends on planning. It’s not a simple thing; it’s not just taking some words and replacing them with other words—it’s connected to other parts of your essay.

It’s connected to your ideas and opinions. If you don’t know the conclusion of your essay, you can’t write a good introduction. To write a good introduction, you need to know exactly where you’re trying to go. Let’s see how this can work in practice. To paraphrase effectively, you need to take the ideas in the question and add your own interpretation. Here’s the question you saw before: Some questions: The question talks about robots, computers, and machines. What do these words mean in this context? Can you think of specific examples? What exactly does advanced mean? Advanced in what way? The question mentions jobs which used to be done by people. Like what? The question asks: what problems does this cause? Are these problems serious, or not? Why or why not? Pause the video and think about these. If you want to write a good introduction, you need to have clear answers to all of these questions! Now, let’s see how you could effectively paraphrase this question: Advances in technology have led to the automation of many jobs, especially low-level or manual positions.

This has led to many serious problems, including unemployment and increasing rates of poverty and inequality. This is what a good paraphrase looks like. Here’s a question: which way do you think this essay is going? Do you think the writer will be positive, negative or neutral about the effects of automation? It sounds negative. You can guess that the essay will conclude that automation causes serious problems which are not easy to solve. Someone who reads the first sentence of your introduction should be able to do the same thing; they should be able to guess where your essay is going. Remember: this starts in your head. Everything needs to be clear in your head before you write anything. Another point to notice: our paraphrase doesn’t have the same sentence structure as the task. The paraphrase is two sentences, while the task is just one. The task asks a question: “What problems does this cause?” Our paraphrase replaces this with a statement: “This has led to many serious problems.” Also, our paraphrase replaces general ideas in the question with more specific ideas. The question mentions “many jobs,” but our paraphrase talks about “low-level or manual positions.” The question mentions “problems,” but our paraphrase talks about “serious problems, including unemployment and inequality.” To review, to write an effective paraphrase, you need to do three things: One: have a clear plan in your head, with a clear conclusion, which should be obvious to your reader from the first sentence of your essay.

Two: don’t try to stick too closely to the sentence structure in the question. Paraphrasing is about ideas, not just words. Three: interpret and develop the ideas in the task, so that you replace general ideas in the task with your own more specific ones. Now, you should understand more about how to paraphrase in your IELTS essay. Good luck if you have an IELTS exam coming up soon! You can find more free English lessons, including IELTS preparation lessons, on our website: Oxford Online English dot com. Thanks for watching! See you next time! .

As found on Youtube

Learn English Expressions: JUST IN CASE

{“en”:”Hello. My name is Emma and in today’s video I am going to teach you about a very important piece of vocabulary — it’s also very important when it comes to grammar — and that is the expression: “Just in case” or we can also say: “in case”. So, we use this a lot in English, so it’s very… It’s something very important for you to learn. So let’s talk about what it means and how we use it.

So, we use: “in case” or “just in case”-we use both-when we are talking about doing something to prevent a problem. Okay? So we’re talking about… Or doing something to prepare for a problem. So, we’re looking at a problem and we’re looking at preparation or prevention of that problem. Okay? So, for example: “Tonight, I am going to a restaurant.” I’m very excited. Now, the problem is I get cold very easily, and when I’m cold I’m not a very nice person; I get very cranky, and I’m not a good person to be with when I’m cold. So my problem is I get cold easily. What is my prevention or preparation for this problem? Well: “I will bring a sweater just in case I get cold.” Okay? And that way I will have a great time at the restaurant, hopefully. So my problem is being cold, and my preparation is I’m going to bring a sweater.

So, as you can see, if you think about life, we have a lot of these types of problems and we do a lot of things to prepare for these types of problems. So let’s look at some other examples. Okay, a problem is when it rains… Okay? A lot of the times when it rains, you know, I don’t like getting wet, so what do I do? Well, my preparation or prevention is I bring an umbrella, or maybe I’ll bring a rain jacket.

Okay? So: “I will bring an umbrella just in case it rains.” Another problem is if you work at 9am, you know, a lot of the times there’s a lot of cars; everybody’s going to work at the same time, there’s a lot of traffic. And if there’s a lot of traffic maybe you’ll be late for work. So what will you do for this problem? So, traffic is the problem or maybe going to work late is the problem, but what you can do to prevent or prepare for this problem is you can leave your house early.

So: “I leave my house early every day just in case there’s traffic.” Another example of a problem is maybe you’re going to visit your friend, and your friend gives you their address. Now, if you don’t write down their address, you’re going to be lost. I don’t know where they live. I need to go to my friends’ house, I forget their address; I don’t know where they live. So this is the problem. Especially if you’re very forgetful like me or you always forget people’s phone numbers or, you know, where people live, this is a big problem.

So what do you do to prevent this problem? Well, you write down their address. Okay? On a piece of paper, your friend tells you their address, you write it down. Why do you write it down? “You write down their address just in case you forget it.” Okay? You forget their address. So I’ve just given you some examples of where we would use “just in case”. There are a lot of examples for “just in case”. I want you to think about your life.

Is there something that happens every day to you, maybe you have some sort of problem or something you worry about? So think about that for a second. Is there something you worry about every day, and what do you do to prepare for that or to prevent a problem from happening? Okay? Maybe, you know, you’re worried about failing your test, so you might create a study group just in case. Okay? Or maybe, you know, your teacher gives you homework. Maybe you will do the homework just in case they want to see it. So, you see what I’m saying? There’s a lot of problems you might have, and a lot of preventions or preparations you do for those problems.

So try to think of one in your own life. Okay, so now we are going to look at the grammar of “just in case” or “in case”. Okay, so we’ve already looked at what are problems, and how we prepare or prevent problems. Now let’s look at some examples of: How do we create this sentence in a grammatical fashion? So, I have here the sentence: “I will bring an umbrella in case it rains.” Do you remember what the problem is? The problem is it rains, and the preparation is bringing an umbrella.

I have another sentence. “I will leave my house early in case there is traffic.” So, again, traffic is the problem, and leaving my house early is the preparation or the prevention of a problem. So, I have a couple of questions for you about the grammar. Okay? I want you to look at the sentences, both of these sentences: Is the problem…? So the problem we’re talking about, do you see the problem before or after the expression “in case”? So where is the problem? So we find “in case”.

Is the problem before “in case”, up here; or is the problem after “in case”? It’s after, right? So, “it rains” is the problem, so: “in case it rains”, these go together. What about down here? “…in case”, is the problem before the word “in case” or is it after the word “in case”? Well, the problem is traffic, so the problem comes after the word “in case”. Okay? So if it helps you to remember: “in case”… So we wouldn’t write this in a sentence. This is… We won’t put these brackets in a sentence, but just to help you in your head to remember: “in case” is with the problem, so these are like one unit, if that makes sense. Okay. And so if the problem comes after “in case”, what comes before “in case”? The preparation or the prevention. So after “in case” is the problem, before is the prevention or the preparation. Okay, so what verb tense comes after “in case”? So when we’re talking about the problem, what is the verb tense that we use when we’re talking about the problem? So I want you to look, here’s the verb and here is the other verb.

Is this the past, the present, or the future? If you said the present, you are correct. We use the present tense when we use “in case”. Okay? And so: “in case it rains”, we could put this… You know, imagine if I said: “I will bring a sweater in case it gets cold”, so the part after “in case” is always in the present tense. Okay. So another question you might be wondering: “Do ‘in case’ and ‘just in case’ mean the same thing? Can I use either, ‘in case’ or ‘just in case?'” “I will bring an umbrella just in case it rains” or “in case it rains”, they’re both correct. It’s your choice; you can use whichever one you prefer.

Okay, and these two sentences use the word “will”: “I will leave my house early”, “I will bring an umbrella”, so this is talking about, you know, doing something in the future, right? “In the future I will bring an umbrella”, or “In the future I will leave my house early”. Do we always use “will” when we use…? When we’re making these types of sentences? Can I say: “I always bring an umbrella in case it rains” or “I brought an umbrella in case it rains”? Can I use the past, present, or future, or is it always the future? Actually for “just in case”, you can use “will”, you can use the past tense, or you can use the present tense when you’re talking about the preparation. So the problem… We’re talking about a future problem, this stays in the present tense; but in terms of the preparation, it depends on when you do the preparation. So the key question here is: When did you prepare, or when did you prevent the problem? So I’ll give you some examples. Imagine for this one: Yesterday I brought an umbrella to work because today I knew it would rain.

So if in the past, if yesterday or earlier today, you know, I brought an umbrella, we could change this to: “brought”. “I brought an umbrella in case it rains”. “…in case it rains” stays the same. Okay? It’s always in the present. But before the preparation we can use the past. Or what about if, you know… For example, the second sentence, imagine I always leave my house early, every day. Okay? I always do it. It’s a routine. “I will leave my house early in case there’s traffic.” If it’s a routine and it always happens, I can use the present tense here, I can say: “I always leave my house early in case there is traffic.” Okay? Or if we’re talking about something I’ll do in the future to prepare: “I will leave my house early in case there is traffic.” So, bottom line, the key point here, the thing that you really got to remember: After “in case” this is always the present.

Okay? So, after the words “in case”, the verb is the present; but when you’re talking about what you’re doing, the preparation, it depends on when you prepare. If you’re preparing… If the action of preparing is in the past, you use the past; if it’s a routine that you always do, you use the present; or if it’s something you’re going to do, use the future. Okay? So let me think if I can give you another example. Okay, if we think about a test and studying, I can say: “I studied hard for my test yesterday in case my test is hard.” Or, sorry: I studied…

Yeah. “I really studied for my test yesterday in case the test is hard”, so we have it in the past, I studied in the past. Now if, you know, maybe I always study for a test and I always really study hard for a test, I can say it in the present: “I always study for a test in case it’s hard.” Or, you know, maybe I’ve never done that before, but maybe tomorrow I’m going to study, I can say: “I will study, you know, for my test in case it’s hard.” Okay? So it depends on when you’re doing that action. All right, so we’re going to look at a couple more examples, you know, to get you more practice and more familiar with “in case” and “just in case”. Okay, so in my life I get hungry a lot. And just like when I get cold I’m not really a happy person, when I get hungry I’m not a happy person.

So in order to make sure I stay happy, I always try to have food with me. So, for example, I’ve made a sentence with “just in case” or “in case”: “I brought a sandwich today in case I get hungry.” So what’s the problem here? The problem is when Emma’s hungry she’s a horrible person to be around. Okay? So, we have a problem: Emma’s hungry. So, what do we do to make sure Emma, you know, stays like a happy person? Well, we make sure she takes a sandwich with her, so that’s the preparation. Okay? And, again, after “in case” we have the problem, before we have the preparation. Okay, and this, again, is in the present tense. And this one is in the past tense because I already brought the sandwich. Okay? This is something I did this morning. Now, it is possible to change the structure of the sentence around.

You don’t have to, so if you think: “Wow, Emma, today I learned a lot, I don’t want to, you know, learn anymore”, that’s okay, you’ve learned a lot. But if you’re interested, we can also change the sentence and put it in the opposite way. So what do I mean by that? Well, in this case “in case” is the second part of the sentence; we can also put it as the first part of the sentence. “In case I get hungry,”-so it’s the exact same words, we just add a comma-“I brought a sandwich”. So it’s your choice, they have the exact same meaning. You can start with “In case” or “in case” can be in the middle of the sentence. But when you start with “In case”, just make sure you remember the comma. Up here there’s no comma. Okay? So, for a lot of people this is easier because they, you know, forget their commas, but we do use both. Okay, let’s look at another example. “I always keep medicine at home in case I _______ sick.” Okay? So if you think about it, a lot of people will have medicine for headaches, or for when they catch a cold, they keep medicine at home.

So what’s the problem here? The problem is getting sick. Okay? So, the problem is getting sick, and how do we prepare for that? Well, we have medicine at home. So, after “in case” I want to use the verb “get” here. What do I need to do to the verb “get”? Is it going to be in the past tense as in “got”, do I say “get”, or “will get”? What tense do I use? If you said “get”, which is the present tense, you are correct. Yay. Good for you. I hope you got that. “I always keep medicine at home in case I get sick.” And, again, this is in the present because it’s something we do as a routine, we’re always doing this. Okay, so the last example: “I’ll go early just in case there is a line.” So imagine you’re going to the movie theatre, and you know a lot of the times with movie theatres there’s a long line up -that’s a problem.

A long line up is a problem, so what do you do to prevent that problem or to prepare for it? Well, you go to the movie theatre early so you can line up and make sure you get a good seat. So, in this case I’ve used the word “just in case”. “I’ll go early to the movie theatre just in case there is a long line.” Do I need to use, like, all of this? Can I just say: “I’ll go early just in case”, and not even say this? That’s possible. So if you don’t even want to do this, you can actually just say: “I’ll go early just in case” as long as the person you’re talking to knows, like, the context and can understand what you’re talking about, and it’s obvious, you know, what you’re doing, you can just use “just in case” instead of the full sentence.

Okay? So, even up here: “I always keep medicine at home”, you probably keep medicine at home in order… Like, in case you get sick, it’s kind of obvious, so if you wanted to, you can just say: “…just in case”. Okay? So there’s a couple of ways we can use “just in case”. You’ve learned a couple of different ways today. You will hear all of these different variations in conversation, in movies, on TV. Again, “just in case” and “in case” is very common and very important; we use it a lot.

So you might hear any of these variations of it. So, I hope you have enjoyed this lesson. And just in case you want to practice more, you can come visit our website at www.engvid.com, and there you can do our quiz. Now, in case, you know, maybe you didn’t understand the video, like, completely or maybe there’s some confusion, in case you’re confused, watch the video again.

Okay? You can get a lot from watching these videos multiple times. I also want to invite you to come subscribe to our channel; there you can find lots of other videos on things like pronunciation, vocabulary, writing, IELTS. You know, we have so many different types of videos and, you know, on a lot of useful things like grammar and, you know, all sorts of different types of topics. So I really recommend you check that out. Until next time, thanks for watching and take care.. “}

As found on Youtube

Study English in Brighton

My TOP 5 Writing Tips (for all levels)

{“en”:”Hello. My name is Emma, and in today’s video I am going to teach you some great writing tips. These tips are for both academic writing and non-academic writing. Okay? So it’s for writing in general. Now, this video is going to be in two parts, because I have so many tips, so I’m going to give five tips in this video and five tips in the next video. Okay, so let’s get started. So, there are so many different ways… Or so many different types of writing we do in our lives; we write emails, we write essays if we’re a student, we might write a Facebook post, or we might write a resume or a cover letter.

So it’s very important to develop your writing skills because you will be writing throughout your life a lot. So let’s look at my first tip. My first tip is: It’s very important to think about the genre of what you’re writing. “Genre” is a very fancy word that pretty much means type. So, a genre of writing might be an essay, or it might be a cover letter, or an email, or a tweet. These are all different genres, and each one of these has a different expectation on what you should include and how you should write it. So it’s very important, first step is: Know the genre or know the type, and know what is expected of you.

Also important in this is knowing your audience, or thinking about your audience. So, for example, if you write an email, the language you’re going to use and the way you’re going to write will be different if you write an email to your friend versus an email to your boss. So it’s important to think about: “Who are you writing to?” because this is going to help you decide what to write and how to write it.

Same with, you know, if you are on Twitter and you write a tweet, or on Facebook a Facebook post, you know, it’s important to think about your audience. You know, are you writing this post for friends to see, or is this a post your boss might see, or members of the public? You know, and that could be a problem. So it’s important to think about, especially with this and on other social media, too: Audience. Who will see this and what will they think about it, and what are their expectations? You know, some people work for companies where they’re responsible for social media, so it’s important, too, the type of wording they use when they’re writing on Facebook. If you work at a company and you’re writing for your company, it’s going to be different than if you’re writing for your friends. Same with an essay. An essay has a certain structure, you know, it’s supposed to be a certain amount of pages, it has a certain organization to it, and so knowing what’s expected of you when you write an essay will help you because it’s going to be very different than, for example, a Facebook post.

Same with in business, business reports. Understanding the format of a business report is important if this is something you’re going to be writing, and thinking about your audience. Same with executive summaries, which is a type of thing businesspeople write. If you’re not in business you might not ever write one of these, but if you are in business you need to realize that audience is important because professionals are going to be reading this, and these people are busy, so, you know, knowing your audience and knowing what is expected of you is the very first step to good writing. Let’s look at some other tips. Okay, so we’ve talked about genre or the type of writing you’re doing, and part of this is knowing the expectations for how long what you write should be.

Okay? So you want to know a bit about length expectations before you start writing. This is really important, especially in university where you often have a number of pages you’re allowed to write. It’s important, you know, in the workplace because sometimes, you know, you can’t write a lot. And it’s important, you know, on Twitter because you have a certain number of characters you can use. So length is very important because that’s going to help you decide what to include in your writing. Okay, so let’s look at this a bit more.

When I was younger I used to think long, meaning a lot of writing, was always better, but this is not the case. You know, the more you write, maybe you can include more detail, but a lot of the times the person or your audience who’s reading what you write does not have a lot of time, and so they don’t want to read long pieces of work. Okay? So it’s important to know expectations.

So, for example, I have here the word “short” and “long”, and so this is kind of like the scale. If you write a tweet it’s going to be something short; a Facebook post might be a little bit longer; a paragraph, you might write something like five sentences if in school you have to write a paragraph on something; an email might be a little bit longer than this; a cover letter you might use a full page; a resume maybe you might use two pages but nothing more; and then you might write an essay which might be 5 pages, 10 pages, depending; and then maybe a report which might be 50 pages-who knows?-depending on what’s expected.

So my main point here is that different types of writing have different expectations with length, and it’s really important to follow those expectations. For students who are writing the TOEFL or the IELTS, you only can use a certain number of words, so this is very important for you to know and to really think about. How are you going to get your message across using the right amount of words? This is a key word we often talk about in good writing, and that’s “concise”.

So when you are concise, it means you say something with as few words as possible, but still getting the meaning across. So you are communicating your idea, but you’re doing it in a short way, as short as you can while still keeping the idea there. So, in different cultures you have different rules about this. In some cultures longer is better. In English-speaking cultures usually we really want to get to the point, so we want something to be… We want to communicate our idea, but we want it to be in a concise way, so using our words very carefully so we don’t use too many words.

So main point here: Know how long something you’re writing should be, and paying attention to this when you write. All right? Now let’s look at my next tip. Okay, so my third point might be one of the most important points in this lesson, and that is: When you write something, very important to plan or to think about what you will say before you write it. This is something a lot of people don’t do because they’re busy, they feel like they don’t have a lot of time, or you know, they just don’t have any ideas.

And the thing is, though, that this will really help improve your writing. Okay? And it doesn’t matter what you’re writing; planning out an email can be important, just like planning out an essay can be important. So let’s think about some ways we can plan out what we want to write. There are… There are different ways to do this. Some people like to make a plan by brainstorming. So, for example, imagine you were writing a paragraph about cats, so you might have your subject or your key idea here, and then you might think about: “Okay, what’s something about cats? Hmm. They make great pets”, and then you might write some stuff about that. Maybe they’re quiet, so they make a good pet. They’re cheap.

Okay? And so the thing is just getting out your ideas. Okay? And then you can organize your ideas better. Or maybe, you know, you’re thinking: “Okay, cats, they eat food. What kind of food do they eat?” So you can do the same thing with reports. You can think about: “Okay, what’s the main ideas that I need to talk about in this report?” You know, where you just kind of brainstorm in advance. I usually do that when I write reports, and I find it very helpful actually, just to get my ideas down on paper, and then I organize them. So, this is one method. Another thing you can do is you can just write down everything, just like this, with a dash. So, for example, if I was writing about cats in a paragraph, I might just start thinking…

Writing anything I think: “Quiet, cute, Grumpy Cat”, okay? And I might just write down all the ideas I have. Now, of course, you’re probably not writing an essay or a paragraph on cats; you’re probably writing something very different, but the idea is the same. Okay? The idea being it’s important to plan, and these are different, great ways to get out your ideas, and to think about them before you actually write. Sometimes if you’re writing an essay you might think in advance about your thesis or what your…

The main topic and the main argument of your essay is going to be. So, for example, cats are better than dogs. Maybe that’s something I want to argue in an essay. And then I might organize based on ideas, so I might write, you know, my first main idea: “They’re cleaner”, and then I might put some details about that. My second main idea is that they’re great for apartments, and then I might write some examples or some reasons why. So, my main point is all of these can work. Find what’s… What helps you in terms of planning. There’s many different ways to plan what you’re going to write, but the most important thing is to plan and to take some time to think about what you want to say in advance, because it will really help your writing. And it’s very obvious when somebody hasn’t planned what they’re going to write, because everything’s disorganized and it’s hard to follow. Planning makes it easier for the audience to understand you. Now let’s look at another tip for how to write better. Okay, so remember I said that it’s very important to think about the type of writing you’re doing, and your audience or who’s going to read it? One of the reasons why this is important is because depending on the type of writing, you’re going to write either in a formal way or an informal way.

Okay? And I’ll explain why this is important to know and how it affects your writing. So first let’s talk about what that means. Well, when you write something formally, this means that we choose certain words and certain types of sentences, and we write a certain way, and we write this way because our audience or the people who are going to read this are usually people from work so we want to be professional, so we write formally when we’re being professional. We might write this way to strangers or customers.

Okay? If we work somewhere and we need to write an email, we might use this type of language, formal language. And we also use formal language in high school, in university, in college when we’re writing for an assignment or for our homework, or something that our teacher or professor will read. Okay? So we use formal writing mainly in work settings and in academic or school settings. Now, this is different from informal writing. Informal writing is the type of writing you will be doing with your friends, so maybe for example a text message, that’s informal; you might use this type of writing when you’re talking to children or writing something for children; and also on social media, so if you write a tweet or a Facebook post, usually you’ll be using informal language; and also with your family, too, you usually use informal language.

So, I have here some examples of genres or types of writing that you might use the formal version or the informal version. So, under formal we have essays, if you do that at university or high school, it would be formal; a cover letter, if you want to get a job and you have to write a cover letter then this is going to be formal language you use; a report, if you work at a company and you have to write reports, you’ll be using formal language; or emails to customers you’ll be using formal language. And there’s a lot more; this is just some examples. For informal, if you write a postcard to your family you’ll be using informal language; a text message would be informal; an email to your friend you would use informal language; or maybe a birthday card.

Okay? So it’s important to think in advance what kind of language you’re going to use. Okay, so how can we make something formal or informal with our language? There’s a couple of ways to do this. The first thing you need to think about is the words you’re going to use or your vocabulary. So, different words either fit into the formal category or informal category. So, for example, if we were talking about a lot of something and we want to be informal, we might use the word “lots”. So this is an example of an informal word: “lots”; we’d use this with our friends. If we want to be a bit more formal, we’re writing, you know, at the university level, we might use the word “many”; this word is formal, whereas “lots” is more informal. Okay? Or same with if we’re writing an email and at the very end of the email we sign our name, we usually say something like “From”, but we don’t use the word “From”.

We can say “Cheers” if we’re writing an email, we can say, you know: “Cheers. Emma”, this would be informal. Or if, you know, we’re in a business and we need to be more serious and formal, we might say something like: “Regards” or “Kind regards”. Same with different words, like: “Sorry”. “Sorry” is a little bit more informal, whereas the word “apologize” is more formal. So, it’s very important when you’re choosing your words because a lot of words fit either into this category or this category, and some words fit into both. It’s good to know the level of formality for the words you’re using. Now, if you’re having a lot of trouble with this and you’re thinking: “How am I going to know if the word is formal or informal?” There’s a quick tip you can try; it doesn’t always work, but in general, longer words in English are often more formal.

So, the longer words are usually in this category. It’s not always the case, but just if you really don’t know, it’s a good way to guess. And they’re usually… They come from Latin. So, for anyone who’s watching who’s from France, from Spain, or South America, or Italy, or who speaks a Latin-based language, if you have a word that’s similar in your language, it probably is a formal word in English or it’s probably something you can use in a formal setting. Okay? So usually the shorter words are the more informal words. So now let’s look at some other ways we can look at formality; formal versus informal. Okay, so when we’re talking about formal and informal writing, another thing to think about is contractions. So, what’s a contraction? A contraction is a short form of a pronoun, like: “I”, “you”, “he”, “she”, “we”; and usually part of a verb, like: “am”, “would”, “will”. So, the short form is, in this example: “I am” becomes “I’m”. “I’m” is a contraction. Or: “you would” can become “you’d”, and that’s a contraction.

“We will” becomes “we’ll” for short, and that’s a contraction. So, contractions have an apostrophe here, and it’s where some of the parts of this word we just remove and so it becomes “will”. So, these contractions, and there’s many in English, we use them in informal writing. So if you’re texting someone, if you’re writing an email to a friend – this will make you sound more informal. Now, compare this to if you’re writing an essay or a thesis at university, or you’re writing a report – we don’t want to use contractions because these are informal. So, if we’re writing something formal, we would use something more like this; we do not use contractions for formal writing. Okay? So that’s another reason why we need to know what we’re writing in advance, because we want to decide if we’ll use contractions or not. My next point is about sentence types and sentence lengths. When we’re talking about formal versus informal, you’ll find things that are usually informal are short.

We usually use shorter sentences. And in formal writing, you’ll find sentences tends to be longer. Okay? So, we can call this… For informal we can talk about simple sentences, for example, a simple sentence: “Students are stressed.” It’s a short sentence that if you know about clauses, it only has one clause; if you don’t know about clauses, don’t worry. The point is it’s shorter. Now, compare this to something more complex. “When a student begins university, they often report feeling stressed.” This is more of a complex sentence, it’s longer, and you’ll notice there’s a comma in the middle of it breaking it up into two clauses; and again, if you don’t understand clauses, that’s okay. The main point here is this, complex or longer is usually in formal writing, whereas simple structures or simple sentences are more informal. And again, you know, it’s not always the case, but in general you’ll find longer sentences or more complex sentences are more formal.

You’ll also find informal writing we use relative clauses more. So, if you don’t know what a relative clause is, that’s okay. These are, for example, they use the word: “who”, “which”, “that”, “when” within the sentence. So, an example of a relative clause would be: “Jane Goodall, who works with chimpanzees, is a wonderful woman.” So, if you don’t know about relative clauses, I recommend looking this up. In this video we don’t have enough time to talk about them, but they can really help your writing, especially if you’re writing something in a formal situation. All right, now let’s look at some more tips on how to improve our writing. Okay, so the last thing I’m going to say about formal writing versus informal writing, and I’m talking a lot about this because it’s actually a very important part of writing, is I’m going to talk a little bit about slang, swear words, exaggeration words, and text words, and when to use them. So, slang, it’s words we use with our friends, words like: “cool”, I was going to say “groovy” but nobody says that anymore, so, you know, there’s all sorts of different types of slang.

It’s a word that’s very popular or an expression that’s popular, but it’s not a formal expression. So, “cool” is a really good one, or “awesome”: “That’s awesome”. So, slang we use informally. Same with swear words. Okay? So if you say a bad word, you know, sometimes you might say something to your friend, you might use different swear words when you talk to your friends, hopefully not with strangers, but with people you know well, but you would not use swear words in a formal writing situation. So maybe you might use it in a text, but you wouldn’t use it in a formal writing situation. Also exaggeration words.

What’s an exaggeration word? “Very” is a good example. “He is very funny”, “She is very pretty”, “He is really handsome”, “He’s totally hot”, okay? So these types of words: “very”, “really”, “totally”, we usually save these for informal writing. So if you’re in university and you want to say something is “very”, don’t use the word “very”; there are better words, like, you know… There are a lot of other words you can use as opposed to these ones. Another thing I wanted to say is there’s a lot of words we use now, they’re short forms of words, like, for example: “lol” for “laugh out loud”, “b4” for “before”, “LMAO” for “laugh my ass off”, these are words we use informally.

Okay? We do not use these in formal writing, so it’s important in formal writing to always spell out the word correctly, to use proper spelling, and to avoid some of these words you might be seeing a lot on the internet or in text messaging or on Facebook. Okay, so we’ve covered about formal and informal writing. My last tip for this video is about the importance of using variety in what you’re writing. So what do I mean by “variety”? Well, sometimes when people write, they have certain words that they use again and again and again, and so there’s not a lot of variety in their choice of words. Or you might have somebody else who uses the same sentence structure; maybe they learned the present perfect and they love the present perfect because it took them forever to learn it, so now they use the present perfect in each sentence. So this is not good because we really want variety in what we write, because we want it to be interesting. If you use something too much, it makes what you’re writing look boring.

So, let’s look at an example. I have here a sentence: “Sales have increased. They have increased for many reasons. The increase is because people increasingly like spending money.” Can you tell me: Which word did I use too much? If you said “increase”, you’re correct. I used it one, two, three, four. Okay, so that’s too much in a piece of writing. There are a lot of other words we could be using instead of “increase”. We could be using, you know: “go up”, “rise”. There are a lot of other words. And if you’re not sure of another word for “increase”, a good idea is to check a thesaurus. There are a lot of online thesauruses that can help you add variety to your word choice. So if you make this kind of mistake where you reuse the same word again and again and again, try to learn some other words that have the same meaning. This will really help your writing and make it more interesting. The other thing I wanted to say is that we just talked about how you want variety in words. You also want variety in sentence types. So you want to make sure that, you know, sometimes you use long sentences, and sometimes you use short sentence, sometimes you use, you know, maybe words like: “although”, “when”, “despite”, “in spite of”, and sometimes you might have something a bit simpler.

So instead of reusing the same sentence type and the same sentence structure, try to use different tenses and different structures in the sentences you write. Yeah, so different tenses and try to have different sentence lengths. That will make your writing more interesting. So, thank you for watching this video. I know we covered a lot today, and I have a lot more writing tips coming soon. So, we’ve covered a lot and there’s a lot of things you can practice, so I invite you to come visit our website at www.engvid.com, and there, you can practice what you’ve learned today.

I also invite you to subscribe to my channel; there, you will find a whole bunch of other resources on different grammar points, you know, especially if you’re interested in how to add variety, different videos on vocabulary, on writing, on pronunciation, and all sorts of other topics. So I invite you to check that out. Thank you for watching; and until next time, take care.. “}

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How to write a good essay: Paraphrasing the question

{“en”:”Hi, there. My name is Emma, and in today’s video I’m going to teach you something very important for if you’re taking any type of test that has a writing component. So, if you are taking the IELTS, the TOEFL, the CELPIP, even just a university test, it can be any type of test, but if you’re asked to write something like an essay or a paragraph, this video is for you. Okay? So I’m going to teach you a very important skill that will help improve your marks when it comes to writing on tests. So, let’s get started. So, I have here an essay question. This question is actually… I’ve seen it on the IELTS. You know, you have similar types of questions on the TOEFL, sometimes in university. The question is this: “Education is the single most important factor in the development of a country. Do you agree or disagree?” Or maybe: “To what extent do you agree or disagree?” So, this is an example of a question you might be asked. Now, a problem a lot of students have is in their answer to this question.

They see this, and they think: “Okay, education is the most important factor in the development of a country, yes, I agree.” So then they… Or: “I disagree”, and they start writing. And what do they write? Usually the very first thing students will write is this: “I agree that education is the single most important factor in the development of a country because…” So, what is the problem with this? Is there any problem to start off your essay with something like this, or to start off your answer? There’s a big problem. So I want you to take a moment and think: “What could be the problem with starting your essay off with this sentence?” Okay, well, if you noticed, you have here the word: “education, education, is, is, the single most important, most important factor”.

If you notice, these are the same. They’re the exact same, except for: “I agree that” and “because”. The student, here, has used the exact same wording that is in the question. So, if you do this on the IELTS-and many students do this, same with on the TOEFL-you actually will lose marks, and same with in university, because you’re not showing your abilities; you’re just copying what somebody else has said or what the essay question is. So, in this video, I’m going to show you first off… First off, I’m going to tell you: Don’t do this, don’t copy. And I’m going to teach you ways in order to improve yourself and your answer by changing this wording. How can you change your introduction so it’s different than what the question is? Okay? So, let’s look at how to make these changes.

Okay, so what we are going to do in order to change the question into a proper answer that doesn’t just copy the question, is we are going to paraphrase. So, the word here is: “paraphrase”. This might be a new word for you. What does it mean to paraphrase something? Well, when we paraphrase, it means we take a sentence that, you know… We take somebody else’s sentence and we change it into our own words. Okay? So, we change the words of a sentence, we also change maybe the sentence structure, but we keep all the same meaning. Okay? So, the meaning from the sentence you copy, it stays the same, same meaning, but different words and different sentence structure. Okay? So it’s in your words, but this other person’s meaning. So, we are going to paraphrase this example of a question into our own words. So, first we’re going to look at how to do that using vocabulary and synonyms. So, we have here the same question: “Education is the single most important factor in the development of a country.” How can we put this into new words or our own words that keep the same meaning? Well, we can use synonyms.

So, this might be a new word for you, too. A “synonym”. “Synonyms” are words that have the same meaning, but are different words. So, for example: “big” and “large”, they have the same meaning, just like: “huge”, “enormous”, these are synonyms of each other; same meaning, but they’re different words. So, you need to use different synonyms so you don’t just copy these words. You use synonyms to have words that have the same meaning, but are different words. So, let’s look at an example. Our first word, here, is: “education”. What’s another word we can use instead of…? Instead of “education”? Well, there’s different words we can use. Maybe one could be: “schooling”. Okay? So, we could change this word to “schooling”.

“Schooling is the single most important factor in the development of a country.” What’s another word we can change? Well, maybe “most important”. Instead of using the word “most important”, maybe we could use: “most significant” or “most essential”. Okay? So: “essential”, “significant”. There are many words you can use. But the point here is: Find a word that has the same meaning, but is a different word. Okay, here’s another word: “factor”. Can you think of another word for “factor”? Well, sometimes “factor”, it can be an “aspect” or an “element”.

Okay? You can even say sometimes: “a significant role”. Okay? Or: “a part”. So, there’s different words we can use that have similar meanings. In terms of the word “development”, we can change the word “development” to “advancement”, “progression”, “evolution”. Okay? And in terms of the word “country”, another word for “country” is “nation”. Okay? So, these are all synonyms, and this is what you want to do. When you look at the question, think about some new words you can use that have the same meaning. This is also important throughout your essay, because one problem a lot of students have is they keep using the same word again, and again, and again in every sentence. This does not help you with your marks. It’s better to use different words that have the same meaning. At the same time, you have to be careful, here, because some students, they find a new word, they think it’s a great word, but there is a little bit of a difference in meaning. So, you need to be really comfortable with the word you choose, and you need to know what it actually means so it doesn’t sound strange.

Okay, so if we wanted to change this now, instead of saying: “Education is the single most important factor in the development of a country”, our paraphrase… Our first step in our paraphrase could be changing these words to: “Schooling is the single most significant element in the advancement of a nation.” Okay? So that’s just one example. So, now, let’s look at another thing you can do in order to paraphrase the question on a test or exam.

Okay, another way we can paraphrase is by changing the structure of the sentence. So, for example, you might have a verb and, you know, which is an action, and you might change that into its noun form. So, for example, if your verb is “developing”, you might change that into “development”. You might change, similarly, a noun into a verb. Okay? So, for example, we just said “development” is the noun, it can turn into: “develop” or “developing”. You can also change things into adjectives. So, if, for example, you’re talking about “technology”, which is a noun, you can change this into the adjective form which is “technological”. So, changing the form of the word can help you with paraphrasing.

Also changing placement of the words can help you out. So, for example, in our original sentence or the question was: “Education is the single most important factor in the development of a country.” So, I’ve now changed some of the wording, as well as the order. Okay? So, here: “Education” is at the beginning. In my sentence: “The most essential element of a nation’s development is education.” I’ve changed the order of the sentence, so now “education” is at the end, instead of at the beginning. I’ve also started out with: “The most essential”, as my beginning; whereas here, it was in the middle. You’ll also notice we have, here: “in the development of a country”, I’ve changed this to: “nation’s development”.

I could also change this to: “country’s development”, instead of “the development of a country”. So, changing the order of the sentence and changing some of the structures can really help you in terms of paraphrasing. Now let’s learn one other way in which we can improve our marks by paraphrasing. Okay, so the last tip I have about paraphrasing a question is using concessions. So, what is a concession? Well, I want you to look at what the question actually says and my new answer to it. The question, again, same question as before: “Education is the single most important factor in the development of a country.” My answer… Okay, so I’ve changed some words and I’ve also changed the structure a bit, but there’s one other thing I’ve added. “Although many would argue that the economy is the most important factor in nation-building, I think education has a far greater impact.” So, what I’ve done here is I’ve added a concession.

A concession is where you say what the opposite opinion is, and then you say what your opinion is. So, you’re giving two opinions; you’re giving your opinion and also what other people might think. This is a great thing to do, especially in essays, and this is something you can do at the beginning of your answer. So, we use here the key word: “Although”. Okay? And you’ll notice that this has two clauses. I don’t want to get too technical with grammar on you today, but what I mean is: If you see, we have the red part: “Although many would argue that the economy is the most important factor in nation-building,” and then we have a second part. So, we have two parts to this sentence. “…I think education has a far greater impact.” So, the first part of the sentence is in red and it’s the “Although” part, and the second part of the sentence is in purple-okay?-and that’s: “I think education has a far greater impact.” And they’re separated by a comma.

So, a concession has two parts to it. You say what the other people think first, in this case: “Although many”, “many” meaning people, we could also say: “many people”. “Although many would argue that the economy is the most important factor in nation-building,” okay? So, this is what some people would say. Now I’m going to say what I think. “I think education has a far greater impact.” So, why is this a good idea? Well, one reason is because when you write a concession, when you’re showing what the opposite opinion of yours is, you’re showing that you’ve thought about the issue.

Okay? You’re looking at both sides. You’re not just looking at your opinion. You’re looking at both sides, and then you’re making a judgment. So this shows that you’re thinking about the question, and you’re really giving it some thought. And by representing both sides, you’re really showing critical thinking. So this is a very good idea to do. Okay, so the three things we’ve talked about today in terms of paraphrasing the question is: Changing the words using synonyms, we’ve talked about changing the sentence structure, and we’ve also talked about adding the other perspective using concessions. Okay? So, these are three things you can do in order to change the question so you’re not just copying what is on your test paper. Again, great thing to do if you’re writing a high school essay, university essay, TOEFL, IELTS, CELPIP, all of these things – this skill will really come in handy for you.

Now, you might be wondering: “Okay, this is great, but I don’t know any synonyms. Or I… You know, I don’t know much about this.” Well, what you can do is you can come check out our website at www.engvid.com. There, you can find a lot of other resources, including improving your vocabulary, we even have a video on how to make concessions, you know, we have videos on sentence structure, too. So, there’s a lot of videos you can check out and a lot of resources. You can also come visit our website where you will find a quiz, and by taking that quiz, you can actually practice your paraphrasing skills so you can see, you know: “Am I doing this right? Is this…? You know, is this the right way to do this?” and get more practice. So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. And until next time, take care.. “}

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