One of my main concerns is teaching students how to write a good quality essay. Maybe because I’ve always been a big fan of writing. The hardest part about being the teacher in the process is accepting the fact that not all students find writing easy. This time it’s not about the layout or the vocabulary or some smart structures that can be learnt by heart and practised until they become familiar and easy to use. This time it’s about writing a high quality essay that means a lot more than shallow good looks. So, what is it all about?
Creating content that would make the reader say ‘oh, finally, something worth reading…’-how difficult a task can that be? Well, believe it or not, for most teenagers and very young adults it is very difficult… at least here, in Romania, where students rarely get the chance to practise essays at school, written in their mother tongue, dealing with a variety of topics that would require general knowledge about the world.
The question is: Which essay would get a higher mark? A dull one, still correct, coated with beautiful academic vocabulary, precious complex structures and containing all the other ingredients used by connoisseurs or one written in rather simple words, but giving the reader the feeling they were taken on a journey they’d so much enjoy …My answer to this is- I don’t know. What do you think? But what if that essay had both? Would that be too much to ask from a student who usually has so many other things on their mind and in their weekly schedule? Hmmm…let’s give it a try, shall we?
I think there are two types of problems students may be facing when dealing with IELTS Essay writing. The first one is related to difficult topics, that require specific knowledge. I’d mention some examples, such as space research, alternative medicine, green energy, globalization or social welfare. Opinion is not enough in these cases. General knowledge and real examples, combined with the ability to prove a mature approach and some originality would be appreciated. So, let us read and learn some information about these topics… What about the second problem? Well, that is rather a trap. When dealing with easy, familiar topics, students might feel too relaxed and write a lot about nothing, really…I’ve seen that many times and the authors were students who had great knowledge about science, geography, politics, economics, literature, psychology…So, a familiar topic could make one fall into the trap of dealing with it in a very unsophisticated manner. Like long-married couples wearing the same old threadbare clothes at home and picking their nose when watching TV together because why bother? And the adjective in both cases (essay reader and partner) is, probably, bored. Is a bored essay assessor exactly what you need?
Exploration is essential. Be it space exploration or some specific essay topic research, acquiring information, filtering and processing it is a must for evolution.
Let’s first see some past space exploration IELTS exam essay examples:
- Many people think that the government should spend money to explore the outer space, while others believe that it’s a waste of public money. Discuss both views and include your own opinion.
- It has been more than 30 years since man first landed on the moon. Some people think that space research is a waste of money. Discuss your opinion.
Before writing about this topic students should first read articles and watch videos about some benefits and drawbacks of space exploration and they may find out about:
1.Spinoffs –technologies used on Earth that were first pioneered in space exploration:
-Memory Foam (first used for airline crash protection)
-Magnetic Resonance Imaging
-Infrared Ear Thermometers
-Portable Cordless Vacuums
-Harnessing Solar Energy
2.Education and Job Creation
-encouraging students to pursue STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)
-expensive failed missions
-endangering the lives of astronauts
– pollution in space – debris that space missions leave behind, such as satellites or rocket launch boosters
More information related to the topic:
Top 5 countries spending on space exploration: USA, China, Russia, Japan, France
Historic moments in space exploration:
And last, but not least,
a brilliant Ted Talk by Physicist Brian Cox.
We’ll now focus on this first step of writing high quality essays on difficult topics that require opinion based on specific knowledge. Students will move on from ‘I don’t really care’ to ‘I actually like this’ and ‘I’d like to know more’. That’s the point. And this is the PDF with the same suggested information and links: