Do you want to find specific information about different IELTS lessons?

Question Mark by Horia Varlan via Flickr (creative commons)

Question Mark by Horia Varlan via Flickr (creative commons)

I’ve had a lot of emailed questions and comments from students  who want to find out more about a specific lesson that they have read. If  you  want to find out more about a specific topic, please use Search by Tags . You can do this 2 ways:

  1. At the bottom of each post, there is a section that says Posted in: followed by a  list of tags (topics) that you can click on. This will bring you to all the posts that have been tagged for that topic. For example, if you want to know more about how to write introductions, click on the introductions tag.
  2. On the right side of the page of each post, you’ll see a box that says “Search by Tags” under a box that says “Check my essay”. This Search by Tags box is filled with tags (topics) of different sizes – the bigger the size of the word, the more posts there are under this tag. Click on a tag to see all the posts related to that topic.

If there are topics not covered, feel free to email me or comment and I’ll try my best to write a post on it.

Good luck everyone!

(If you see at the bottom of this post, I’ve tagged everything.)

Practice your English through the news

Day Ninety Eight Dustin Diaz via Compfight

The more you listen to or read English news, this is what happens:

  • You start to recognize more vocabulary words and phrases and in different contexts (situations in how the word is used)
  • You start to recognize different sentence structures
  • You learn more about common topics that are useful for your exam. You learn about different viewpoints that you can use in writing your essays.

Here are some good general news websites:

Another useful tool is  Google Alerts. Set up alerts to specific topics or words/phrases that come up in the news or blogs and it will send you an email about it.

These are just a few news sites especially catered for English language learners. If you find some that are useful, please add them to the comments below and I’ll include them in the list.

So have a go and make it a habit to read and listen to news every day, even for 10 minutes a day. Take note of anything new that you’ve learned. This could be a vocabulary word, or an idea or viewpoint about a popular topic as you might be able to use that idea in your essay writing.

Useful websites for general knowledge on topics for IELTS

One of the rare non-Apple laptops seen in an otherwise cool park full of cool peopleCreative Commons License Ed Yourdon via Compfight

I have students that are worried that they may not know enough general knowledge on certain topics. They may know a lot about entertainment or information technology, but they may not know anything at all about sports or nuclear technology. It’s a good idea to be prepared with some ideas about different topics, and a good way to do that is to read or watch/listen to the news and online magazines.

Here are some good general news websites:

Another useful tool is  Google Alerts. Set up alerts to specific topics or words/phrases that come up in the news or blogs and it will send you an email about it.

If you know of a good one to add to the list and share, please write in the comments below. Thanks!


Writing a cohesive paragraph


A  cohesive paragraph means that your paragraph is fully developed  logically with clear progression of ideas and supporting details. Sentences are ordered in a way that’s very easy to understand and are linked with transitional phrases.

Have a look at the following paragraph that was taken from this sample Task 2 essay on suggesting measures/solutions.

 Another similar measure would be to build small government-funded remote office hubs or telecommuting centers in suburbs outside major cities. By leasing these out to corporations based in the nearby city, the government can facilitate and further promote telecommuting. What’s more, employees in even further rural areas can commute to the outlying remote office centers, thereby reducing their commute significantly. By having the option of leasing remote work space, which could also save on expensive city office space, private companies would be more likely to promote telecommuting.

Notice the logical order/sequence of sentences that develop the main idea:

  1. main idea of paragraph: a measure to build remote offices
  2. explaining a benefit of the previous sentence
  3. explaining another benefit to this idea
  4. a beneficial consequence of this measure

Notice the transitional/cohesive devices that are used (and in bold):

  • “Another” – introduced a second measure (it’s the second main body paragraph in the essay) , which is the main idea of this paragraph
  • “What’s more” – added more support to the main idea
  • “thereby” – showing a cause/effect relationship between two ideas within a sentence

The key to using cohesive devices is that you use them appropriately. Remember – don’t overuse them.

 For a useful list of transitional words/cohesive devices, see this post.

Want to get your essay writing checked? Here’s how: Essay Correction & Feedback 

Sample IELTS Task 2 essay for agree or disagree

‘Nino” Eugene La Pia via Compfight

I had written out an outline for this Task 2 question:

Many children these days have an unhealthy lifestyle. Both schools and parents are equally responsible for solving this problem.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

See my outline of ideas here

Here is my sample essay based on that outline.

In the media we often hear or read about the rising trend of children leading unhealthy lifestyles. While many believe both schools and parents share equal responsibility for solving this problem, I disagree and feel that parents are fully responsible for changing the unhealthy lifestyles of their children.

As the main caregiver and educator, parents spend the most time with their children and therefore are the biggest influence on the way their child eats and acts. The best way to solve this is to be a role model for their child, by making healthy choices on what to eat and how much activity or sports they take part in. If a child sees their parent eating vegetables or goes for a walk with them after dinner, their habits will change for the better. Besides, with parents in control of providing the child’s day-to-day food and organizing their child’s free time activities, they are the most effective ones to tackle this problem.

Because the primary purpose of school is to focus on academics and learning development, schools should not be responsible for solving the problem of children’s unhealthy lifestyles. Moreover, with 20 students or more in a classroom, teachers already have a relatively small amount of time with each child to actually influence their decisions on what to eat and what to do. In short, schools would be the least effective because they have no control or means over what each child eats or how they spend their free time.

To sum up, I believe that only parents, rather than parents and schools equally, are responsible for changing children’s unhealthy lifestyles. As primary caregivers and role-models, parents, rather than schools, are closest and most influential to each child.

( 287 words)