How to write introductions for IELTS task 2 essays
Welcome to my latest post, in this I write about the importance of introductions, you can see the full video tutorial below and read the transcript and examples also…
Remember first impressions count! In all things, so having a good, clear, introduction that restates the question and gives your opinion/outlines what you will say (depending on the type of question and how it is worded is very important.
However, many students make the same mistakes….
Being too vague/general/using cliched phrases.
What I mean here is
“It is a common phenomenon these days”
“The issue of…is a controversial and hotly debated topic nowadays”
“It is said that nowadays”
“Nowadays there seems to be a great deal of controversy”
Instead of making a general statement and/or introducing the topic, what you need to do is get straight down to business and answer the question….
Not including a thesis statement/making your position clear throughout the essay.
What I mean here is you need to be unambiguous about what you think (depending on the question type). If it is a “To what extent” question, then say what you think. I agree/disagree or It is agreed/disagreed, or whatever. But you have to make it clear, the criteria says throughout the essay but I would always make it plain right from the start not leave the examiner guessing.
Not including an outline sentence.
Again. don’t leave the examiner guessing, tell him/her what the essay is going to talk about. If it is a “Discuss both views” essay, don’t say “In this essay I will look at both views”, we know you are, because that’s what the question has told you to do. Tell us what you are going to say. In other words (depending on the question type) either mention in brief your two main ideas, or what the views are, or what the advantages and disadvantages/problems/causes/solutions are in your outline sentence.
So, you need to keep it brief, ….just outline what you think, and your two main ideas, the body paragraphs are the place to expand/explain what these are.
Keep it clear….as I tell my students, spell things out, say exactly what you mean, in other words assume the examiner is an idiot and write accordingly.
Say what the task is…it is “To what extent” then say, “I agree/disagree”. If it says “What are the advantages and disadvantages”, then say, “I think the main advantage/disadvantage is”…etc.
Say what you think...again, don’t assume the examiner will automatically understand you, make it clear as day. “In my view/In my opinion/I strongly believe” etc….
You may think this is too simple, too formulaic, and to some extent that is correct, but it doesn’t matter. This is not a university essay, you have 250 words to answer the question, and give reasons and examples. I won’t go through the criteria again, having done so in a previous post/video, but meeting the criteria is all that you have to do. You don’t need to be clever, or to use overly complex sentences, or over complicated language. In fact, the simpler the better, in terms of structure anyway.
Let’s see what that looks like in practice with some examples.
So, here is our sample question..
Directors of large companies often receive much bigger salary increases than ordinary workers. Employer’s organisations say that in a global market this is necessary to attract the best management talent.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge and experience.
And here is an introduction
The topic of strong distinction between directors and ordinary workers salaries, seems not to be a controversial one. Everyone knows about that difference, but usually many of us are unaware of its reasons. Although we definitely can’t say that blue collars are working less than top-managers, white collars are having huge paychecks and bonuses, whereas ordinary workers can count only on social package and average salary. Observed from that side, the issue looks more serious, and sometimes can cause an exertion in publicity.
Is this a good introduction? Not as such, let’s see why.
Well, look at the first sentence of example 1, it has one of those very general meaningless statements, “The topic of…seems not to be a controversial one”. Ok, this is vaguely about the topic. Look at the next sentence, “Everyone knows about the difference”..do we? What does that mean exactly? Then it goes on to say a little more detail about paychecks and bonuses, etc, but is there an opinion expressed here? Do we know exactly what the writer thinks? Not really. Then the last sentence, “Observed from that side, the issue looks more serious” which is kind of hinting towards an opinion.
In other words, the writer has made the three mistakes which I mentioned above. 1: being too vague, using a cliché. 2: not expressly stating a clear opinion. 3: not including an outline sentence, leaving us with no idea of where the essay is going.
Let’s have a look at a structure we might use, you will have seen this before in my other videos and on my blog.
Sentence 1: paraphrase question/restate topic.
Sentence 2: Thesis/opinion statement.
Sentence 3: outline statement/main idea 1 (for paragraph 2), and main idea 2 (for paragraph 3).
And let’s look at another example which utilises this structure..
It has been argued that although in many companies directors pay is considerably larger than most other employees, the reason for this is to recruit the most able managers to a particular company. I strongly disagree with this opinion as in most cases, company performance is not always about the decisions of management but about other factors such as the global economy. This essay will firstly, consider just how effective directors are, and secondly how the vagaries of the markets and currency fluctuations affect stock price.
Ok, sentence one seems to paraphrase the question/topic in a single sentence, using the “It has been argued” introductory expression. You don’t have to use this, you can use anyway you like so long as it is a paraphrase. I use this from years of habit writing essays at various universities. Sentence two has a clear statement of opinion, “I strongly disagree with this opinion”, no room for misunderstanding there. You can use third person if you don’t like using first person, it doesn’t matter, just so long as the meaning is clear. Sentence three has an outline, it tells us in brief what the writer will use to give reasons and evidence for their opinion. No need to say too much, you will do this in the body paragraphs.
Let’s use another question type to illustrate this further, the two part question.
Here is the question
People prefer to go shopping in the supermarket rather than small shops or local markets. Why has this happened? Do you think it is a positive or negative development?
The typical structure for this is:
Sentence 1: paraphrase/restate question
Sentence 2: answer both questions (in brief)
So in our introduction we need to firstly (as we need to do for every essay type) paraphrase the question. Then for the second sentence we need to briefly answer both questions, we need to say why this happened and then express our opinion and say if we think it is a good thing or a bad thing.
Well, obviously here there is some paraphrasing, but then the author has confused the essay type and says there are some advantages and disadvantages. Even if that were so, we would still need to say in outline what they were and express an opinion.
A better example is below.
An increasing number of shoppers are doing their shopping in supermarkets instead of small local shops. It can be argued that the main reason for this is the cheaper price of the goods for sale. In my opinion this is a positive step which will benefit less well off people and allow them to eat good food cheaply.
Why is it better? Easy, sentence one is a good brief paraphrase, then sentence two answers the first question, then sentence three answers the second question and includes an opinion.
Let me show you some more good examples to expand on this point some more….
The best way to solve the world’s environmental problems is to increase the cost of fuel. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
It has been argued that the most effective way to solve today’s environmental problems is to raise the price of fuel. I disagree with this proposal as the world faces many problems and reducing fuel consumption may only have a limited effect. Secondly, this approach places responsibility for the environment on governments and doesn’t take into account individual actions to protect the environment.
In the past lectures were the traditional method of teaching large numbers of students. Nowadays new technology is increasingly being used to teach students.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this new approach?
It can be argued that technology in the classroom is increasingly replacing the traditional way of delivering information to students previously given in the form of lectures to large groups of people. This essay will argue that the main advantage is the flexibility that such a delivery system offers, and that the main disadvantage is a lack of familiarity with such technology for some students.
Computers are being used more and more in education these days. Some people say that this is a positive trend while others argue that this move will lead to negative consequences.
Discuss both views and state your opinion
In the modern classroom technological devices such as computers are being increasingly utilised. Some argue that this is a positive trend, while others believe it is a negative one. This essay will consider the ease of access to information that computers can bring, and secondly, consider how an over reliance on technology may harm students critical thinking abilities.
In some countries the average weight of people is increasing and their levels of health and fitness are decreasing.
What do you think are the causes of these problems and what measures could be taken to solve them?
In several countries there has been an increase in the average weight of the population along with a related decrease in the general levels of fitness. I believe these problems are caused by poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. This essay will describe how fast food and the way work has changed as the principal causes, and suggest a joint government and employer initiative as a possible solution.
There you have it…..in summary, make it brief, keep it simple, spell it out, don’t make assumptions.
As always, any questions, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org