19 September, 2016

A Step-by-step Guide to IELTS Writing Task 2 (Argument)

This post first appeared on my website www.ieltswritingcourse.com and has also been replicated on my YES! IELTS blog

It describes a step-by-step approach to writing an essay for IELTS Writing Task 2. The topic is from Official IELTS Practice Materials.
Many old buildings are protected by law because they are part of a nation’s history. However, some people think old buildings should be knocked down to make way for new ones because people need houses and offices.

How important is it to maintain old buildings? Should history stand in the way of progress?

Step 1


First, I carefully read the question and highlight / underline the key words.
Many old buildings are protected by law because they are part of a nation’s history. However, some people think old buildings should be knocked down to make way for new ones because people need houses and offices.

How important is it to maintain old buildings? Should history stand in the way of progress?
Then I think about what the question is actually asking. I create a yes-no question so that I can answer it easily.
Should we knock down old buildings to make way for new ones?
I also look at other words in the question, ones that can give me ideas for my brainstorming. Not all questions will include helpful words, but many do. In this case I make a mental note of or lightly circle/underline the following words:
  • law
  • history
  • houses
  • offices
  • progress

 

Step 2


I make two lists, one for yes and the other for no, and brainstorm my ideas. I make a note of all the ideas I have which could support answers to the yes-no question.

YES / AGREE
  • need houses - somewhere to live
  • need offices - somewhere to work
  • old buildings = unsafe in an earthquake
  • old buildings = ugly
  • old buildings - remember bad history e.g. prisons, slavery
  • new buildings = practical
  • old buildings = impractical

NO / DISAGREE
  • old buildings = beautiful
  • old buildings - remember history
  • Melbourne = quaint, pretty, historical
  • Brisbane = new, ugly, modern
  • old buildings = tourism

You can see that some of my ideas are repetitive but at this brainstorming stage this is OK. I will edit my ideas more when it comes to the next step: planning.

When brainstorming, I also think about some of the words I would like to include in my essay. In this one I think I would like to use the following words (in one form or another):  
  • cultural heritage
  • elegant
  • historical
  • modern
  • grand
  • timeless
  • architecture

In addition, I decide that I would like to use the following collocations:  
  • timeless elegance,
  • former glory
  • significant contribution
  • structurally unsound

By making a note of these words now, I can come back to them when I am planning, writing, or even when I am checking my work.



Step 3


Next, I sort my ideas into a plan:

INTRODUCTION
  • Keep the old buildings

BODY PARAGRAPH 1

MAIN IDEA 1:
  • Old buildings are beautiful
SUPPORT: 
  • Add to city’s attractions
  • Can be refurbished e.g. Shopping arcade in WGN, MEL. 
  • Local people can enjoy them
  • Architecture is timeless

BODY PARAGRAPH 2

MAIN IDEA 2:
  • Old buildings have historical significance
SUPPORT:
  • Parliament buildings
  • Tourist attraction
  • Tourists can enjoy them

BODY PARAGRAPH 3 

BALANCE / ACKNOWLEDGE:
  • Old buildings = unsafe
  • e.g. Earthquakes
REFUTE:
  • Reinforcing
  • Just as good as new buildings
CONCLUSION
  • Keep the old buildings

My plan would be in more note form than above, but in this case I want you to be able to read and understand it. You can see that Body Paragraph 1 is about aesthetics, whereas Body Paragraph 2 is about history. Both paragraphs main ideas are in agreement that old buildings should be kept.

Body Paragraph 3 mentions an opposing idea, that old buildings might be dangerous. However, this idea is then refuted, taking the reader back to my opinion that old buildings can be kept if they are maintained properly.



Step 4


After analysing the question, brainstorming, and planning, it’s now time to write. Here is my essay as I first wrote it:
A city’s old buildings should be treasured as part of its cultural heritage. Not only are such buildings beautiful but they also have historical significance. They should definitely not be knocked down in the name of so-called “progress”.

First, old building makes a city look attractive. These grand structures are beautiful to behold and their timeless elegance supersedes all modern architecture. Such buildings often define the city itself,  for example, London would not be the same without Big Ben. Even unused old buildings can be refurbished and brought back to their former glory, such as the Old Bank Arcade in Wellington’s CBD.
In addition, old buildings often play an important role in remembering history of a city. They may tell a story of the people who first built the city, historical figures who lived or worked in the building, or those who made significant contributions to the city’s architectural landscape. These types of buildings, such as Parliament House in Brisbane, are not only pretty to look at but are also now touristic attractions.

It cannot be denied that older buildings may be deemed structurally unsound and therefore may pose a risk to their inhabitants. For example, a natural disaster such as an earthquake. However, with careful reinforcing using modern technology, these buildings can be as safe as their modern counterparts.

In conclusion, old buildings play an important role in a city. These beautiful buildings should be protected by law and carefully preserved as monumental reminders of a city’s history.


Step 5


Now I check my essay and make some minor adjustments. Here is the finished result:
A city’s old buildings should be treasured as part of its cultural heritage because not only are such buildings beautiful but they also have historical significance. They should definitely not be knocked down in the name of so-called “progress”.

First, old buildings make a city look attractive. These grand structures are beautiful to behold and their timeless elegance supersedes all modern architecture. Such buildings often define the city itself, for example, London would not be the same without Big Ben. Even unused old buildings can be refurbished and brought back to their former glory, such as the Old Bank Arcade in Wellington’s central business district.

In addition, old buildings often play an important role in remembering the history of a city. They may tell a story of the people who first built the city, historical figures who lived or worked in the building, or those who made significant contributions to the city’s architectural landscape. These types of buildings, such as Parliament House in Brisbane, are not only pretty to look at but are also now tourist attractions.

It cannot be denied that older buildings may be deemed structurally unsound and therefore may pose a risk to their inhabitants in the case of a natural disaster such as an earthquake. However, with careful reinforcing using modern technology, these buildings can be as safe as their modern counterparts.

In conclusion, old buildings do play an important role in a city. These beautiful buildings should be protected by law and carefully preserved as monumental reminders of a city’s history.

While checking this essay, I made sure all my subjects and verbs are in agreement. I checked that my pronouns are not too repetitive and that it is clear who or what they refer to. I added because to the first sentence, and wrote CBD in its full form. I added the article, the, to history of a city, and changed touristic to tourist. In addition, I made the topic sentence in Paragraph 3 longer and added do for emphasis in the conclusion.


I hope you found this helpful. The next blog post will be about the same topic but taking the opposite viewpoint.


For more information about writing for Task 2 in IELTS, please take a look at my e-courses on www.yes-ielts.com.


- Tish

02 November, 2015

Melbourne Cup Flowers


The Melbourne Cup, also known as "the race that stops a nation", occurs every year on the first Tuesday in November.

There are several races leading up to and just after the Melbourne Cup. All the races together form the Spring Racing Carnival.

Each race has its own flower, and outside of the race itself you often see newsreaders and other public figures wearing the flower of the day. It can be worn in a buttonhole on a lapel (men) or as a buttonhole, as a corsage, in the hair, on a fascinator or on a hat (women).

Market Fresh says: "For the most serious punters the flower of the day is a symbol of luck and a must have item for every event. Race Day flowers are also a symbol of celebration and a great way to add style and flare to an outfit."

I think my favourite flower from the above image is the freesia. I just love the smell of freesias. They remind me of summer.

Which is your favourite flower from the above image?


The image above is from Market Fresh.