BRAINSTORMING TO AVOID IDEA STAGNATION IN IELTS WRITING TASK 2

In IELTS Writing Task 2, one of the biggest challenges is idea stagnation. A test taker may stuck in the similar ideas and end up being unable to develop the writing and writing less than 250 words. This particularly happens when the topic being discussed is very specific and thus requires a high level of accuracy and relevancy. Take a look at this example:


Some people argue that technological inventions, such as mobile phones, are making people socially less interactive.
Do you agree or disagree?

This is one of many examples of topic which is really specific. In your writing, you have to lists several impacts of technology, whether positive or negative, and they're all have to be relevantly related to social life. Now, compare the previous topic with this topic below:

Some people argue that technological advancements, such as mobile phones, have more negative impacts rather than positive impacts.
Do you agree or disagree?

This topic is a way broader than the last that one can easily develop his/her writing without bothering about the relevancy, since the writing should be about technology and that's all about it. There are so many negative impacts of technology that one may find an infinite example and explanations, like:

a. Technology can cause addiction


b. Cyber pornography


c. Cyber bullying


d. Hoax and internet scam


e. Cyber crime


f. Makes people unproductive (if it is not used wisely)


g. and so on and so on


It is easier to explain the topic and thus, it is also quite easy to write down 250 words. You can even make a 120 pages book if you want.

Now, let's go back to writing with specific topic. How are we supposed to tackle the problems and meet the criteria for writing Argumentative Writing?

1. First of all, background knowledge. In order to be able to talk about "things", you need to know "things". This also happens when you want to write "things". It is definitely hard to talk about cyber crime when you don't even know what it means by "cyber crime". I'd advice you to start finding a motivation to read (newspaper, online article, anything, basically) and do an extensive reading. I mean, try to enjoy reading passage of different topics. This is necessary since IELTS Writing will challenge you by presenting a Writing Task 2 with a completely random topic. It can be about education, economy, technology, etc. If you have no prior knowledge in these topics, you may find it difficult to enjoy the flow of ideas in the Writing Task 2.

2. Master some of the most common academic vocabularies in English. One of many aspects that often slow you down when doing the Writing Task 2 is the need to find equivalent words in English. Finding equivalent words for sapi, le mur (wall) or sapi, vache (cow) may be easy enough but finding equivalent words in English like erode or veritable may take some time and this will slow you down, hampering your overall work and making it hard for you to finish the writing within the time allocation.

3. Make a good planning by using brainstorming. We already have a basic layout for Writing Task 2 and this can be a guide for arranging the most basic ideas you want to present in your writing, before developing them into complete sentences. For a simple yet powerful layout for Writing Task 2, go to this link:


Now, let's try to make a brainstorming for the topic regarding technology and social life based on the layout.

WRITING TASK 2

1. Making an Overview

Make an Overview by paying attention to the keywords and give a general introduction explaining the 5W1H.

Some people argue that technological inventions, such as mobile phones, are making people socially less interactive.

Keywords:

a. Technology


- What is technology?

- Why is it created?

- How does it develop and give impact on humans' life?

b. Social life

- How is it affected by technology?


Sample Introduction

Technology is a practical implementation of humans' knowledge, usually in form of daily tools or electrical devices. Humans create technology to improve their life and make everything easier and more efficient. Technology has affected almost all aspects of humans' life, especially their social life. This is because technology brings about several changes in the way people do social interaction.

2. Stating your basis of argument (based on the question)


Question: Do you agree or disagree

Sample Sentence

I personally agree that technology has some disruptive effects on humans' social life and makes them become less sociable


3. Giving balanced argument


- People are more connected. Example: When there is a natural disaster in another part of the world, people will generally know what's going on in there and do something about it like giving donation.

- Communication becomes easier, since technology as overcome problems related to geographical boundaries.

- Technology enables us to create a virtual community that brings about positive impacts. Example: People who work as a teacher can now socialize with other teachers in the virtual world

4. Contrasting Statement


Sample Contrasting Statement

Despite the fact that technology can bring several improvements on humans' life, it is quite inevitable that the positive impacts always to come with a price.

5.Explaining your own arguments


- Technology often causes addiction and make the users neglect their surroundings. For example, when people are gathering for dinner, sometimes, there is a person who keeps looking down and taping on his/her phone instead of talking to other people.

- Because of technology, communication becomes superficial, peole are no longer talking in a real sense.

- Technology makes people more individual since they can do almost anything using their gadget. For example: People used to go to diner or food stall, but now they can just order the food using phones and this may discourage them to get along with other people

6. Giving conclusion and solution


In summary, there are always harms and benefits in the development of technology, and hence, the users have to use it more wisely to minimize the negative disruptive effects of technological advancement on their social life.

This is just the basic structure of the writing, and it can still be developed by providing more examples, evidence, etc.

For complete material on IELTS Writing Task 2, click this link


Material On IELTS Writing Task 2

IELTS READING EXPLAINED : DEALING WITH LIST OF HEADING TYPES OF QUESTIONS

"In IELTS Reading Section, there will be different types of questions we are going to have. Each type of question has its own challenge and thus require different methods. One of the most challenging type of question in IELTS Reading section is List of Headings"

Challenge in List of Headings

This kind of questions will require you to have extremely good method of keywording and paraphrasing, since the questions are not well structured as the passage and the information contained by the paragraphs are jumbled.  So, you may have to start from the middle of a passage, initial paragraph, or even last paragraph when doing the first number. Some test takers have a real serious problem when they cannot grasp the general idea of a paragraph and end up reading the whole passage (while it is actually not necessary) or even worst, read and re-read the whole passage from top to bottom back to top to bottom (which is highly not recommended since it is such a waste of time and energy). This kind of questions will also have at least two set up answers. Say, you have ten questions to answer, then twelve options will be presented and two of them are actually used to set you up. To avoid this, there will be some strategies that are necessary applied when doing this type of questions.


"In List of Headings type of questions, the questions are not well structured as the passage and thus keywording and paraphrasing will be extremely important"

Strategies for List of Headings


1. Read the options and find the keywords

2. Read the passage (do not read it all the way trough) starting from the first paragraph and focus on the first and last sentence of the paragraphs, since they are the main idea.

3. Find the paraphrase keywords in the passage

4. If you cannot find the answer, then it is probably found in the middle of the paragraph, or you may need to re-check the answer to avoid choosing the set up options


Take a look at this example



Reading Passage 1 has five paragraphs, A-E


Choose the correct heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below

Write the correct number I-VII on your answer sheet

Passage 3

Recession and Its Meaning to Investors


Paragraph A


When the economy is crumbling apart, there may be several symptoms like a decline in the number of new housing, rising unemployment, and the shrinking of the overall economic output. For investors, these symptoms are just the onset of something bigger, determining the state we are currently living in: A period of expansion or a period of recession .


Paragraph B


Economic condition is closely related to business cycle which is usually divided into four periods of activity lasting for months, or even years. The first period is the peak period, in which the economy is running extremely well. Employment is reaching its maximum levels, real gross domestic product (GDP) is healthy and incomes are rising. However, life is like a wheel. It is certainly not possible to always be on top since life keeps evolving. After a period of significant growth and success, both employment and income start to decline for some reasons like supply shock or an extreme decline in consumer spending caused by inflation that eventually lead to massive layoff and unemployment, leading to trough period. This is the time when economic output and employment reach its lowest level.

Paragraph C

Trough period leads to next period in which prices and wages are being pushed down by the fact that spending and investment are cooling down. This is considered as the period of re-balancing, in which consumers are attracted to new purchases and firms are interested in new investment. Expansion is a period of recovery, indicated by betterment in economy. The increasing demand from consumers result in a significant growth in production, causing the need for labors. Competition for workers will benefit the people looking for a job –who are also the consumers themselves, and enable them to earn more money. As demand keeps increasing and production is at its peak, companies will then start increasing prices, causing a mild inflation that eventually make the cycle restarts from its initial position.

Paragraph D

How does recession affect investors? It depends on the situation and what type of investor they are. First, it is important to note that there is always a way to make money even in a collapsing market. Some investors seem to be happy to sell short selling stocks when the market is falling. Their case seems to be in contrary with everybody else’s, since they earn much more money during economic downfall, but have lower earning when the economic condition starts improving. This technique is the privilege of certain investors, considering its anomaly as well as uncertainty. It is also important to note that the losses from short selling stocks are potentially infinite because it is really hard to know when their values is going to rise.


Paragraph E

Another method that may be taken is value investing, in which investor will take advantage of the degrading prices of high quality stocks from reputable companies and wait for the better time to gain a better bargain for their previous purchase. This is another means of investing that will require sophistication and pose investors to a great risk since it is more like gambling rather than investing. There is another type of investor trying to take advantage of the period of recession. These are the ones who focus on the long term, buy-and-hold strategy, investing on stock whose value will probably rise within 20 to 30 year span.


I. A different way of coping with economic downturn

II. An explanation on the initial stages of the economic sequence

III. Several characteristics of the decline of economy

IV. Significant improvement leading back to the initial phase

V. A method requiring a great deal time of waiting

VI. An example of a case in investment lasting for 30 years

VII. Explanation on how GDP affects global investment


Discussion


1. Read the options and find the keywords

I. A different way of coping with economic downturn

II. An explanation on the initial stages of the economic sequence

III. Several characteristics of the decline of economy

IV. Significant improvement leading back to the initial phase

V. A method requiring a great deal time of waiting

VI. An example of a case in investment lasting for 30 years

VII. Explanation on how GDP affects global investment

Red indicates  keywords*

2. Read the passage (do not read it all the way trough) starting from the first paragraph and focus on the first and last sentence of the paragraphs, since they are the main idea.

3. Find the paraphrase keywords in the passage

I. ...there is always a way to make money even in a collapsing market. Some investors seem to be happy to sell short selling stocks when the market is falling. Their case seems to be in contrary with everybody else’s, since they earn much more money during economic downfall...

II. Economic condition is closely related to business cycle...The first period is the peak period, in which the economy is running extremely well. Employment is reaching its maximum levels, real gross domestic product (GDP) is healthy and incomes are rising...

III. When the economy is crumbling apart, there may be several symptoms like a decline in the number of new housing, rising unemployment, and the shrinking of the overall economic output.

IV. As demand keeps increasing and production is at its peak, companies will then start increasing prices, causing a mild inflation that eventually make the cycle restarts from its initial position.

V. Another method that may be taken is value investing...These are the ones who focus on the long term, buy-and-hold strategy, investing on stock whose value will probably rise within 20 to 30 year span.

VI. There is no explanation on specific case of 30 year investment explained in the passage, so this is a set up option

VII. There is no explanation on how GDP affects global investment, so this is a set up option

Red indicates  paraphrased keywords*


4. If you cannot find the answer, then it is probably found in the middle of the paragraph, or you may need to re-check the answer to avoid choosing the set up options

For other types of Reading question, please go to these links