The IELTS writing is one of the hardest skills to get through for most Sri Lankan candidates.
In our opinion, the main reason as to why Sri Lankan students find the writing to be tough is the fact that they are unable to grasp the key points from the question. They get carried away with the ‘red-herrings’ the question throws at them.
With these in mind, what we as coaches do, is get our students to identify the question. We encourage them to take their time (during the coaching program) to identify the key points in the question and to understand what is required from them.
“They get carried away with the ‘red-herrings’ the question throws at them”
We hope this short article would help others improve their standards of coaching, and to produce better results. Thereby de-bunking the whole “Sri Lankan’s keep getting low scores in their writing”.
The method of helping a student to get better at their writing is to;
Get them to understand the question
The question has everything you need to start a “great” essay/answer. It is usually in 2 parts.
The Statement or the scenario where the entire answer is based on
What you need to do
Writing Task 1
The graph below shows the consumption of Fish and some different kinds of meat in an European country between 1979 and 2004. = the statement/scenario that the answer has to be based on.
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.= what you need to do.
Writing Task 2
Some People believe that there should be fixed punishments for each type of crime.others, however, argue that the circumstances of an individual crime,and the motivation for committing it, should always be taken into account before deciding on the punishment. = the statement/scenario that the answer has to be based on.
Discuss both these views and give your opinion. = what you need to do.
What we tell students is to first read, underline and make notes of the question and the graph/map/pie chart/table etc. that is presented. This way the student is able, in his/her words understand what is happening in the entre question.
“read, underline and make notes”
The standard number of paragraphs that you have to write 4-5 max.
The breakup of the paragraphs are as follows;
2.1 Paragraph 1
Rewrite the statement/scenario in your own words, “paraphrasing”,
At this point, you can give an overall view of the graph/map/pie chart/table/introduction etc.
2.2 Paragraph 2
If, there is a lot of data in the graph/map/pie chart/table/introduction etc. choose the ones that have a major
impact and make comparisons with another.
2.3 Paragraph 3
Do the same as above, but for another 2.
2.4 Paragraph 4
Give a conclusion, on what you see in the graph/map/pie chart/table etc. If you have not given an overall view of the graph/map/pie chart/table/introduction etc.in your 1st paragraph, you MUST write it here in the conclusion.
3. Structure of the answer/skeleton.
We tell students to always do a rough sketch/skeleton of the answer before they start/jump into the answer. “DO NOT RUSH” the answer is what we tell students over and over again. We spend a decent amount of time guiding our students to come up with a solid skeleton for the answer they are preparing to write.
Much like the famous saying “if you are given 4 hours to cut a tree, spend 3 hours sharpening your axe” we emphasis the value and need to PREPARE for the answer. This way they can structure it out nicely, which would help them in writing amazing answers for the task at hand.
“if you are given 4 hours to cut a tree, spend 3 hours sharpening your axe”
It is absolutely essential to write an example in your IELTS writing, especially in writing task 2.
These points might seem minor, but the chocolate chips are what make the cookies better. Make sure that you get your student to practice, practice and practice. But they have to practice the correct way, also, make sure that they do not make the same mistakes twice. Best of luck in your teaching.