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ielts academic writing module > lesson 3

LESSON 3 continued

IELTS WRITING TASK 2:  DEVELOPING AN ARGUMENT

Activity 6 > Analysing the question > 7 minutes

In Part 2 of the IELTS writing test you may be asked to express your opinion about a controversial issue or debate - in other words, a subject for which people tend to have strongly opposing opinions. Here’s an example:

Present a written argument or case to an educated reader with no special knowledge of the following topic.

Relying on fossil fuels such as oil and coal for our energy needs is becoming increasingly impractical. The rising cost and decreasing supply of these fuels, along with concerns about the global warming they cause, means we must find an alternative. The only realistic alternative is nuclear energy.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

You should use your own ideas, knowledge and experience and support your arguments with examples and relevant evidence.

As always, before you start writing, spend a few minutes thinking about what the question asks, and what the best way to answer is.  Read the example question above one more time, and then click here to say whether these statements are true or false.

Activity 7 > Getting ideas > 5 minutes

The example question you saw in the previous activity invites you to express your opinion about nuclear energy. One way to do this is to discuss arguments for and against this energy source.

a) Take a few minutes to jot down arguments for and against the use of nuclear power.

b) Here are some ideas we thought of. Which of these points are for and which against? Click here to do the activity.

Activity 8 > Organising a balanced discussion > 10 minutes

One way to organise a balanced discussion is simply to divide the arguments for and the arguments against into two separate central paragraphs. You would need to connect ideas using words and expressions such as those you learned in Lessons 1 and 2.

Click to connect the ideas in this example paragraph with words from the box.

However, another effective way to organise your discussion is to match argument with counter-argument in the same paragraph. This can often be a more persuasive way to present your views. You demonstrate awareness of others’ opinions, but at the same time you show why these are mistaken. Again, connecting words and phrases help to hold the paragraph together.

Click to connect the ideas in this example paragraph with words from the box.

Activity 9 > Developing a more formal style > 10 minutes

Notice that in the previous example paragraph, which contrasts argument with counter-argument, the writer uses the passive to introduce ideas:

This is one way to give your writing a more formal style.

Click here to rewrite each of these sentences by putting the main verb in the passive.

There are a number of other ways to make your writing more formal in style. As a general rule, remember that formal writing is different from spoken language, and your composition shouldn’t sound too chatty. Here are a number of things you should avoid.

a) Click here to match the rules with the examples of things to avoid.

b) Now click here to rewrite the sentences from exercise a in a more formal style.

Activity 10 > Example question > 10 minutes

Finally, here is a chance to put what you have learned in this lesson into practice.

Read the example question below twice to make sure you know what it is asking (and isn’t asking).
Brainstorm ideas and opinions - organise them into a ‘for’ and ‘against’ list.
Decide how you want to organise the whole composition - make a paragraph plan.
Write only one paragraph, but use the ‘argument and counter-argument’ format.
Check that your paragraph uses appropriately formal language and style.
When you’ve finished, click here to compare your paragraph with the example answer in the answer key.

Present a written argument or case to an educated reader with no special knowledge of the following topic.

The teaching of Information Technology (computers) has become a standard part of the curriculum in most secondary schools. The same is now happening in primary schools, where children as young as six are learning how to use computers. However, there is a danger that IT skills are being taught at the expense of more basic skills.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

You should use your own ideas, knowledge and experience and support your arguments with examples and relevant evidence.

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