Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Successful Introductions (Task 2 Writing)

Some advice for writing an introduction for an argument topic.

A successful introduction has two main purposes. The first is to give a clear idea of what your essay will be about. The second (in argument-style topics) is to present which side of the issue you will take and/or indicate that you will give arguments on both sides.

The first sentence of your essay should always describe the topic. It’s ok to copy from the question a little bit, but make sure to use your own words and expressions.
Consider the following topic:

Creative artists should always be given the freedom to express their own ideas, whether in words, pictures, music or film, and should not be restricted by the government. To what extent do you agree with this statement?

  • The first sentence should restate the topic clearly. DO NOT assume that you can skip this step. Obviously, the examiner knows what the topic is, but you should still include this basic information so that your essay is clear and cohesive.

All of the following sentences would be excellent FIRST sentences for an essay on this topic:

Many people believe that creative artists such as writers, musicians and filmmakers should be able to express themselves in any way they see fit, while others may believe that some government restriction is required.

There has been some debate in recent years about whether creative artists should be given complete freedom to express their ideas in pictures, music and film.

There is no doubt that creative artists such as writers, musicians and filmmakers make valuable contributions to society. However, there is some debate about the degree to which these individuals should be limited by the government.

  • After clearly stating the topic, you should then present a clear opinion regarding which side you would like to take, whatever it may be. For instance:

It is my opinion that the work of creative artists should not be limited in any significant way by the government.

I completely disagree with the assertion that artists should have complete freedom to express themselves in any manner that they choose. There are many instances when this behavior can be harmful to children or wider society.
  • If you plan to write an argument-led essay, (an essay which discusses both sides) you can indicate this mixed view in your introduction. You might do so as follows.

Although there are some circumstances in which artists must be limited, I believe that for the most part, we should guarantee all people’s freedom of expression.

In most instances, artists can feel free to express themselves in any manner they choose. However, there must be limitations.

  • Remember! Even if you do not have strong opinions on a given topic, it’s still a good idea to pick one side over the other to ensure the clarity of your essay. If you feel absolutely neutral, you can still introduce your essay with a sentence such as this:

I believe that both sides of this argument are equally valid, and will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.

There are arguments to be made in favour of each of these viewpoints.
  • Next, close out your introduction paragraph with a sentence indicating your main arguments. Try to avoid personal pronouns such as “I,” “You” or “Me” by using the passive voice. Be careful not to sound too casual/conversational. Do not use the verb “talk” or “speak about.” (You aren’t talking!) Some examples might be:

The reasons for this argument will be presented as follows.

The reasons for this viewpoint will be outlined below.

Both sides of this argument will be detailed in the following essay.

  • A few things to avoid in your introduction paragraph:

·         Don’t include extremely detailed information or personal stories. Use them as examples after you have already stated your main points.
·         Be careful to accurately use the phrases “In recent years,” “for many years,” and “nowadays” because they are not always appropriate! Use these for technological issues or for issues related to recent development. For instance, it’s not appropriate to say “Nowadays, people are concerned about the best way to raise and educate children.” This is a very old problem, not a recent one!
·         When you make comparisons, be sure that they match each other. It is especially important to watch out for words such as “problem,” “concern,” “issue,” and “debate.” Make sure you use them accurately. Remember your parallel structures!

WARNING: Although the above advice is meant to guide you and help you to write introductions to a variety of topics, you should never stick too closely to a formula or try to use one sentence for every situation. Read your topic closely and stay flexible so that you can write the best possible essay.

 Think about what introduction you'd write for each of the following common IELTS topics:

Some people believe that schools should focus on teaching core subjects such as maths, science and language, while other subjects such as art and music are less important and should be taught outside of school. What is your opinion on this issue?

While many important works of art have contributed to society in the past, the quality and relevance of artistic works has been decreasing in recent history. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Technological advances have made sophisticated design technology available to everyone. This decreases the importance of artistic ability since anyone can use computers to create art. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

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