In this podcast explain 5 simple ways to improve your cohesion in the IELTS writing task, specifically Task 2, the fifth point is really simple.
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For an introduction on how to start IELTS Writing Task 2 click here:
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5 easy ways to improve cohesion.
The IELTS writing task.
My name is Ben Worthington and you’ve probably heard my voice
at maybe some other English learning website.
And today, we’re going to focus entirely on improving cohesion.
And the good thing is, it’s relatively easy.
So let’s start. Let’s get straight to it.
So first of all, I want you to look at collocations. And especially four word collocations.
These are really interesting facets of the English language. Right?
First of all, I’ll go over this pretty quickly, alright?
First of all, they make you sound more natural and more cohesive
because they just flow in you.
The listener (probably a native speaker) is expecting this combination
so they don’t have to focus that much. It just flows.
So if you can incorporate these into your writing,
it’s going to sound much better and most importantly
you’re not going to make as many mistakes.
Because you’ve got a string of words which are perfect together
and therefore there’s less chance of making a mistake.
Okay? So you’re reducing the error, using grammatically perfect constructions.
This will increase your score for grammatical range and accuracy.
Now, if you have a pen, write these down.
Write these down for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it will help you remember them.
Secondly, you can use them in your essays when you start writing one.
(Hopefully today. Hopefully this afternoon maybe or this morning… whatever.)
And thirdly, it’s good practice.
It’s good practice for your listening, for associating sounds to words
and maybe if there’s a new word there,
you’ll understand how it’s pronounced first, rather than looking at it,
which can be misleading sometimes.
So copy these down.
May be due to the… Okay?
May be due to the… Alright?
This may be due to the various aspects of the new technology.
Okay? Next one.
There are a number of…
5-word collocation there.
There are a number of reasons why.
There are a number of different sources of pollution.
Is one of the most…
Is one of the most…
This is really helpful, actually because not only is it superlative
but it’s also… You can use this in the examples which we’ll look at in a second.
For example: London is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
If you’re writing these down, I’d recommend you write down
the example sentences I give as well,
so you can use then into context.
Maybe write a few sentences of you own, using the collocations.
So, next one.
Is one of the most important…
Russia is one of the most important natural energy suppliers in the world.
Okay? Next one.
Play an important role in…
Play an important role in…
The United States plays an important role in administering trade contracts,
or enforcing trade pacts (for example).
The results of this study (this is another good one)…
The results of this study…
Because if you’re given an example,
sometimes you will use studies from the IMF and then you can say,
“The results of this study (or these studies) show that
gender inequality is still a dream to be reached.”
Or something like that.
Now, I’ll go over the next ones a little bit faster.
It can be observed that…
This may be due to…
That’s just another way to say “because” but you’re saying “because” in 5 words.
This may be due to… Okay?
Then if you really want to go a little bit further, you can say
“This may be due to the fact that 9 out of 10 people in Britain love the weather.”
The results of this study… (Like we said before.)
An important role in the… Okay?
An important role in the…
Europe has an important role in the agreement of trade deals, internationally. (For example)
In the case of…
In the case of Italy, conditions were changed drastically. (For example)
In the case of…
Or in the case of the third-world blah, blah, blah. Okay?
Now, these ones… I have a list of the 10… No, I think… Of the 20 most common four word collocations
found in academic texts.
And I extracted the ones I felt most useful for an IELTS essay.
So these ones are very common in academic writing.
So another reason why you should be writing them down.
Now, let’s have a look at some of these collocations actually in the introduction
to your IELTS test 2 writing.
So we’re going to look at “is one of the most,”
and “due to the fact that…”
So we could say, “Economic development is one of the most
critical elements of government policy due to the fact that… blah blah blah.
And here, we can just change that to any topic.
If we have a question about education (public and private for example), we could say
“Public education is one of the most important challenges facing the western world today.”
“This may be due to the fact that…” blah blah blah.
And if we are going to use this in our introductory sentence to the essay…
Which I think is a good idea because in that first sentence,
50% of the words you used are going to be perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Which is a very good way of starting your essay.
Now, if you are going to use it, be careful because you have to adapt it.
So if you are talking about health issues as your topic,
if that’s the question you’re given, you would say
“Health issues are some of the most important matters facing the west
due to the fact that…” Okay?
So we adapt it.
Now, if you’ve got a question about pollution or congestion in the city or city congestion, you would say
“Environmental issues are some of the most common challenges facing developing countries in Europe nowadays.”
Just change that and say
“Environmental issues are some of the most common challenges facing developing countries in Africa nowadays.
It can be observed that…” Another collocation for your second sentence.
“It could be observed that these problems largely stemmed from mismanagement, government corruption, or whatever.”
So, good work.
And now, perhaps the most useful use of the collocation
is not only in setting off our Task 2 essay to a perfect start.
But we can also use them very effectively in the examples.
Now, examples are required for practically all of the Task 2 questions.
So it makes sense to master this skill.
Because it’s going to be necessary and you can use it for 2 of your body paragraphs.
So if you can get this skill under control and how to give a good example then you’re going to get more points in the bag.
You’re going to guarantee yourself more points.
And the good thing is that giving an example is largely…
It’s pretty much the same way you give… Let me rephrase that.
Giving an example, you’re going to give it the same style or similar structure for every essay you write
especially an IELTS essay.
So you can learn a set structure and then just adapt it to any topic.
I’ll show you how.
So we can say, “For example, it should be noted that recent studies by the IMF show that London
is one of the most important financial centres in the world.
This may be due to the…”
Okay? So the collocations I used there are:
it should be noted that
(then I say) recent studies by the IMF
by the WWF Wildlife Fund
by the OECD
show that London
is one of the most important cultural centers in the western world.
So that structure you can use. And once again, 50% of the words used in that example
are the collocations, and they’re perfect. Grammatically perfect.
So you just guaranteed yourself a good quantity of points by using that said structure.
Let’s have another look.
Just a word of warning:
Avoid using the same collocations that you use in your introduction that you use in your example.
So if you’ve used “There are a number of” or “The most important” or whatever,
don’t use it in your example.
Because the examiner can’t give you points in that. You have to show range.
So, let’s go to the next example.
“For instance, there are a number of”
“For instance, there are a number of studies by various governmental bodies
that show that
(In fact, that’s quite universal. You could use that in practically any essay.”
“For instance, there are a number of studies by various Governmental bodies
that show that equality in the work place…
that show that a clean-air policy…
that show that (you could put anything in there)
plays an important part in the society…
in the global economy…
in the socio-demographic makeup of the country…”
Then once again
“This may be due to the fact that…”
So if you’re writing these down, I want you do be using them in the next essays you write.
Now, another way you can improve the cohesion and coherent
And you can do this by repeating key nouns in your paragraph.
So if you are writing an essay about currency-stability, you can use a “currency-stability” quite a few times.
And that’s okay. If you’re going for a lower grade, that’s okay.
However, if you’re going for a higher grade (band 7) then what you want to do is
use the same policy by repeating it,
but use synonyms.
Ensure the examiner that you’ve got a very wide vocabulary.
So if I was writing about evolution, I would say:
This serious issue…
(For example, if I’ve ran out of synonyms I would say, “This serious issue needs to be dealt with by the government.” And then I could say, “It needs to be dealt with severely using regulations from the state.”)
(So we’ve got “fumes,” “smog,” “air contamination,” then if we’re running out we could say “This serious issue…”)
Transition signals is just a fancy word for:
“First… Second… Next… Finally…”
Like the light traffic signs; it’s just indicating where you have to go, giving directions to the reader.
And if the reader’s got directions then it’s going to be much easier to follow the actual writing.
So during your essay you can say “First…” “Second…” “Next…” “Finally…”
To introduce a conclusion you can say:
And then to introduce a result you can say:
“As a result of…”
“As a consequence of…”
A few different ones there, I’m sure you’ve heard them before.
And these ones usually go at the beginning of the sentence.
The 4th point is using consistent pronouns.
This means that you avoid changing from singular to plural.
Let me give you an example. One example might be:
“You can see how students have changed over the last decades,
in the 60s a student was often seen as struggling in economic hardship.”
If I was editing this, if I was correcting it, I would write:
“It can be seen how students have changed over the last decade,
in the 60s they were often seen as struggling in economic hardship.”
First of all, I changed it from second person to the passive.
I used the passive structure saying “It can be seen” because you can see it is quite conversational.
The next change I did was I kept it in the plural just like in the original.
‘Cause it said in the original “You can see how students have changed over the last decade.”
I kept that the same and then I changed the second one which is in the singular.
In the first version, it says “… in the 60s a student was often…”
And then I changed it: “… in the 60s they were often seen as struggling in economic hardship.”
I did this just to keep it consistent and it’s easier to follow.
If it’s easier to follow, I’m improving the cohesion.
Now this rule, you may need to bend it a little bit just to show the examiner that you’ve got a wide range of vocabulary.
But perhaps the most important thing here is just avoiding the “You can see…”
and giving it a more academic tone.
Now then, final suggestion to keep your essays very coherent and cohesive
is just to stick with one idea in each paragraph.
Because at the end of the day you’ve gonna get points for your English,
not for the quality of your ideas.
So you just put one idea that’s valid and it makes it easier to follow.
And just as a side note (this isn’t in the note but I just remembered),
one idea and even just one view point.
Because if you’ve got one viewpoint, you’re not jumping from side-to-side, from different angles,
trying to demonstrate the argument in different ways.
If you’re a very good writer then it could be an option to do this.
But in general, I tell all my students (all my online students) that just go for one point of view.
It’s easier to write,
it’s easier to follow,
and you’re going to pick up points for your cohesion and coherence.
And this is especially important because in the IELTS Task 2
you’ve got 250 words.
So it’s not much at all.
So if you do want any more help from me
just go to the website.
You can sign up to the mailing list.
I’m sending out advice, sample essays, tips to improve the clarity…
I’m sending out lots of things every week to help students.
I’m quite happy because Julia, she got 7.5.
She’s off to Cambridge. It probably helped the interview.
Vitali, he got in contact. He took his exam twice.
First, he got a 7.5. He wasn’t happy so he went back in March and got an 8.
Think like that. Before he was using the sentence guide, he just got a 6 and a 6.5.
So well done, Vitali. Excellent there.
And yes, if you also want to improve your grade and if you’re fed up, frustrated,
just send me an email.
I’ll always reply.
At the most is a day later but yeah, just get in contact and we can do it.
I’ve got lots of success now.
I’m quite happy about it.
So please just send me an email.
And also, well done, Cornelia. She got a 7.5. She’s off to New Zealand.
She might have read the review on the website.
So it’s not impossible.
You just need to get your head down,
get some work done,
get in contact if you’re having any problems,
You’re not in this alone. There’s lots of students doing it and lots of teachers willing to help as well.
So just keep going.
Alright, thanks for listening.