THE PROBLEM WITH TASK 2 (Part 2)

The solution structure for this essay:

“Some people believe that culture and traditions will be destroyed by the money-making attractions aimed at tourists.  Others think it is the only way to save these cultures and traditions. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.”

should look like this:

There are 3 questions that must be addressed:

  1. How do the money making attractions aimed at tourists damage culture and traditions?
  2. How do they help in protecting culture and traditions?
  3. What is your own opinion on the issue?

The first step, after deciding how many questions you must answer, is to decide what your position on the issue is. Your actual position doesn’t matter, except that you must have one. Having a position tells you how to structure your essay logically and it will lead to a clearer essay that does not suffer the confusion, and often the contradictions that occur, in essays that try to give a totally balanced view.

Topic Sentence for the First Body Paragraph. (this is the side you DO NOT agree with)

“To begin with, some people argue that culture and traditions are damaged/(protected and preserved)  by the attractions which are designed to pull tourists in to an area.”

This wording implies that this is what “some people argue” – it is not the writer’s opinion. However, this allows the writer to raise some of the arguments on the other side without confusing the reader about whether it is their own opinion or not.

Topic Sentence for the Second Body Paragraph. (this is the side YOU AGREE with)

“Nevertheless, the protection and preservation of/ (damage to) culture and traditions resulting from developments intended to support tourism is immeasurable.”

This is a very clear statement of where the writer stands. The writer used the word “immeasurable” – this is a very strong word and the implication is that the writer believes there are so many arguments on this side that they are actually beyond measure. It signals a very strong opinion.

In addition, the second sentence of a two sentence introduction will clearly show the writer’s opinion and the first sentence of a two sentence conclusion will repeat (in different words) this same sentence and again reinforce what the writer believes.

As an example, suppose I am on the side that agrees that tourism can protect culture if managed carefully. The second sentence of my introduction might read:

“Although tourism and the attractions that surround it may be a threat to culture and traditions in some situations, there is overwhelming evidence that, managed carefully, tourism not only protects and preserves indigenous culture and traditions, but can also be the source of enormous feelings of pride in local people.”

If this looks too difficult, here is a much simpler version:

“Although money spinning tourist attractions may damage culture and traditions in some situations, there is absolutely no doubt that the protection they offer is far more significant.”

Don’t try to write the more difficult sentences unless your grammar knowledge will let you do it without making errors. This simpler sentence is still a subordinate clause structure and can score all the way to Band 9 depending what other sentences I use and how accurately I get the grammar.

THE PROBLEM WITH TASK 2 (Part 1)

One of the biggest tragedies in task 2 writing is when the candidate fails to completely answer the question. Look at the impact it will have on the candidate’s score.

The Public Band Descriptors say this about “Task Response”:

BAND 6:
  • addresses all parts of the task although some parts may be more fully covered than others
  • presents relevant main ideas but some may be inadequately developed/unclear
BAND 5:
  • addresses the task only partially
  • presents some main ideas but these are limited and not sufficiently developed
  • there may be irrelevant detail
BAND 4:
  • responds to the task only in a minimal way or the answer is tangential
  • presents some main ideas but these are difficult to identify and may be repetitive, irrelevant or not well supported
BAND 3:
  • does not adequately address any part of the task
BAND 1:
  • answer is completely unrelated to the task
What all this means is that:
  • if the candidate misses the topic completely, they will get Band 1 for Task response;
  • if they talk about the topic but do not answer the question that was asked they will get no higher than Band 4;
  • if they answer part of the question that was asked but not all they will get Band 5;
  • if they answer all parts of the question, even if some parts are not as completely answered as others they will get Band 6.
  • (Band 7 and 8 involve not only answering all parts of the question but giving a good detailed structured paragraph on each part of the question.)

The most common mistake is for the candidate to answer only one question when they were asked two or to answer only two questions when they were asked three. This is tragic. The questions are there on the paper – often, but not always, with question marks on them, and yet the candidate fails to fully answer the question under the pressure of the exam because of the stress of the situation and because they have not read the question carefully enough.

Surprisingly, I have even seen IELTS websites that make this same mistake. It is easy to do.

Here is an example, this question was taken from www.51ielts.com :

Some people believe that culture and traditions will be destroyed by the money-making attractions aimed at tourists.  Others think it is the only way to save these cultures and traditions. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

How many tasks is the candidate required to write on?
What are they?
What could be a topic sentence for each part?

These three questions are the same three questions every candidate should ask themselves when they start to write a task 2 answer.

Talking At Length

This is especially for those about to take the IELTS test.

Do your best to relax in the speaking test and DO NOT be afraid to talk a lot even if you make mistakes in grammar – everyone, including CNN and BBC reporters, makes mistakes now and then. This is NOT the most important thing. What IS important is that you get your message across, even if it contains grammar errors.

The Public Band Descriptors at Band 6, for BOTH Fluency and Coherence AND Lexical Resource (vocabulary), refer to the ability of the candidate to talk at length. What this means is that IF the candidate DOES NOT ‘talk at length’ they will NOT achieve Band 6.

So what does “at length’ mean?

It means the ability to extend each answer with supporting material so that your answer is, say, 15 to 30 seconds long.

If you are asked for example, “What subject are you studying?” or “What work do you do?”, DO NOT give a brief answer like: “physics” or “business” or “medicine” or “I’m an architect” or “I’m an engineer”. Extend the answer so that it gives some detail about what you do so you can talk for at least 15 seconds BUT (for part 1) don’t talk longer than 30 seconds.

For example:

“Well… I’m an engineer, in fact, I am civil engineer. Although, for a time when I was young, I really wanted to study science, I found that engineering was really a fascinating field. Civil engineering in particular attracted me because it is so important for society – bridges, dams, roads … things people need everyday … civil engineers play a role in all of these.”

Or, if you are answering the question: “What subject are you studying?” you might say:

“Actually … I am studying medicine. It was not something I always wanted to do although both my parents are doctors. That might sound surprising, but I really loved music when I was young and wanted to study piano. As I grew up, however, I saw the work my parents did and was really impressed by how much they helped people so I decided I would follow in their footsteps and study medicine too.”

The answers YOU give to these questions will be highly personal, you cannot memorize the answer someone else would give. The important thing is to EXTEND your answers but NOT talk longer than 30 seconds in part 1 (in part 2 and 3 you can talk until the examiner stops you).

Overview of IELTS English

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IELTS Intensive 2A & 2B (120 hours – for band 5.5 candidates and above)

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Full Practice IELTS Speaking Test

IELTS English offers a full practice IELTS speaking test. The components of the test are:

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Full IELTS Practice Speaking Test (face-to-face Interview)

1200 baht

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Placement Test

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  • professional assessment on all English skills, including a speaking interview

 

Scheduled Classes (PLEASE CALL FOR OUR CURRENT PROMOTIONS)

IELTS English offers a number of small group classes (maximum 6 candidates per group):

Class

Days

Time

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Cost

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Each level

4 x 36hrs

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6pm-9pm

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Mon-Fri
Sat, Sun

10am-1pm
2pm-5pm
6pm-9pm

36 hours

13,200 baht

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Mon-Fri
Sat, Sun

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2pm-5pm
6pm-9pm

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Mon-Fri
Sat, Sun

10am-1pm
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6pm-9pm

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IELTS Intensive classes are offered at special discount rates to groups of 5 to 6 students studying at the same university.

CONTACT IELTS English

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“… A number of …” and ” … THE number of …”

These terms are used in Task 1 and Task 2 writing so understanding the correct grammar can be quite useful.

“a number of” is plural.AS in, for example:

“A number of people are coming to the party tonight.” (plural)

more than one will come, ‘a number’ will come. So “a number of” goes with a plural verb.

However, “THE number of …” is singular:

“The number of people dying from smoking related diseases is still far too high.”

we are talking here about “THE number”, estimated to be 500,000 in the USA, it is a LOT of people BUT it is only ONE number.

Also this:

THE number of people who came to my party last night WAS surprising.” (singular).

Knowing whether it is singular or plural can be a headache, but it is critically important for writing in the IELTS exam and many people get this wrong.

(Thanks to Artima for this question.)

The Problem with Grammar

The IELTS exam does not test candidate grammar separately in a multiple choice type test. However, it tests grammar in every module of the test. In reading and listening it gets tested in gap fill or sentence completion type questions where the answer must fit grammatically into the gap.

It gets tested more directly in speaking and writing where the examiner is looking specifically at the kinds of sentence structure the candidate is using and scores the candidate on their ability to use grammar well.

One of the most frequent errors produced by even band 7 candidates is the incorrect use of verbs in a sentence. As you all know a simple sentence in English MUST contain a subject and a verb (well … ok … imperative sentences (instructions: e.g. Close the door!) don’t require a subject because it is understood who the subject is in these sentences, but you won’t get the opportunity to use this type of sentence in the IELTS exam).

To repeat, each simple sentence requires 1 subject and 1 verb. The place where many candidates go wrong is to have more than 1 verb in the sentence. This might sound like a silly mistake but it isn’t because sentences can get quite complicated very easily. It is sometimes quite difficult to know when a word is a verb or acting as a noun (or adjective or even adverb).

So here is an example sentence and 3 questions to answer:
“Over the same period, the percentage of commuters traveled by bus was approximately 18% at the beginning and then it rose considerably reached its peak at 26 % in 1980 before falling back to the former level in 2000.”

Look carefully at this sentence and see if you can answer these three questions:

  1. How many verbs are there in this sentence?
  2. How many verbs are required?
  3. What can you do about the extra verbs to make the sentence correct?

Scroll down lower for the answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The verbs are:

  • traveled
  • was
  • rose
  • reached

Note that “falling” could have been an error as it is the present participle form of the verb “to fall” but the grammar is entirely correct in this part of the sentence and we therefore do not consider it to be a verb in its use here. However, the 4 verbs listed above are all verb forms in areas of the sentence which are grammatically incorrect so we need to look carefully to see what is wrong.

This sentence is a COMPOUND sentence – there is an “AND” in the middle of it. Compound sentences link simple sentences and so we expect there are two simple sentences joined int his long sentence. Each simple sentence needs its own verb so we expect to find 2 MAIN VERBS in the whole sentence.

So what do we do with the 2 extra verbs?

1. not all commuters traveled by bus so this is an indicator that we can describe this better; for example, we could write ” … commuters who traveled by bus ….”, using a defining relative clause, in this case we keep traveled as a verb but put it inside the relative clause and since relative clauses MUST HAVE their own verbs it is now a necessary part of the sentence. I could have also changed “traveled” to the participle “traveling” and this would have also removed this extra verb from the original sentence.

2. ” … and then it rose considerably … ” is fine the problem is with ‘reached’; we have to remove it as a verb and we have a few choices. We could use the ‘to infinitive’ “to reach” and this would solve the problem or we could use the -ing form which will also kill the verb – ” … reaching its peak …”.

We could even leave it as a verb and use another “and” to allow for another simple sentence to be added to the two we already have. In this case the sentence would read:

“… at the beginning and then it rose considerably and reached its peak at 26 % in 1980 before falling back to its former level in 2000.”

So there are three ways we could have removed the problem, in two we changed the verb into a noun form and in this last case we left it as the main verb in a new simple sentence attached to the original compound sentence with “and”.

The critical part for the writer is to realize when they have too many verbs in the sentence because this will make the entire sentence wrong and lead to a lower mark for grammar accuracy.

This is a complex issue and if anyone is confused please post a question.