The impersonal it
One strategy you can think about is using IT phrases to start your sentences when you are about to give an opinion. This has two effects: * it makes what you say sound more intelligent/plausible
* it gives you some ready-made English to use that is grammatically complex * you don’t always need to say “Some people say”
Here are a few alternatives for you:
The impersonal THERE
Another alternative is to use a THERE phrase to be more impersonal. This works for the same reasons as IT does and nearly all these phrases are also for giving opinions:
ONE and WE
This one is slightly trickier. Personally, I rarely use either of these structures but some academics do. So here are a few:
How to practise
Learning phrases is a very efficient way to learn a language. Indeed, we tend not to use words by themselves but groups of words when we speak or write. However, this language will not make you Band 9 overnight. What you need to do is to experiment and try using these phrases for yourself in your writing. I’m not sure that the best way to learn these phrases is to try and use them in essay immediately. This is what I would suggest: 1. look at some of your old essays and find the opinions in them – rewrite those opinions with some of these phrases 2. look at some sample IELTS essay questions and practise writing YOUR opinions about them using some of these phrases in one or two sentences
Short forms of verbs
We don’t use short forms of verbs (don’t/can’t etc) when we write more academically. So this example doesn’t work: I don’t think it’s very important for small kids to learn English.
Start sentences with “and” and “but”
A difficult one. If you read almost any language course book, you are almost certain to find sentences that begin with “and” and “but” in the reading texts. Language changes and it is becoming more and more acceptable to do this. However, in academic writing for second language speakers, this should be avoided. So this is unacceptable for most teachers: But the most important thing is that the government find outs what the real needs are. And needs to be transformed into:
The immediate priority, however, is for the government to conduct a needs analysis.
IELTS academic writing essay topics are very varied. You could be asked about anything from Architecture to Zoology, and you may feel you know nothing at all about the subject. Nevertheless, it is very important that you keep to the topic. Don’t stray onto something else. So, how can you get ideas about a question that you know very little about? Firstly, divide your essay up into manageable sections. If it is a ‘discuss’ question, these sections will be ‘Agreement with the statement’ and ‘Disagreement with the statement’. If it’s an ‘evaluate’ question, they will be ‘positive aspects’ and ‘negative aspects’. Next, spend some time brainstorming. On rough paper, note down any ideas you can think of. If your mind goes blank, try some of these ideas. 1. Consider the question from other people’s points of view. What would a parent’s opinion be? What about an elderly person or a teenager? Would a man’s opinion be the same as a woman’s? Would people from different countries have different opinions? How would the point of view of a politician differ from that of a conservationist or a businessperson? 2. If you’re still stuck for ideas, think about the question from these different angles. * The economy: Is the issue expensive to solve? Who will pay for it? Or can this issue make money? * The environment: How will animal life, soil, the air and water supplies be affected by this issue? * Society: How will the issue affect people’s lives, their health and relationships? Don’t spend too long brainstorming. You only need two or three ideas for each paragraph. However, it’s worth trying to come up with some examples to support your ideas. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert. You may have read...
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