IELTS Writing Task 1 - Line Graph (Material, Sample Writing and Exercise)

IELTS Writing Task 1 is one of the two writing tasks in IELTS. You will be asked to describe a graph and write at least 150 words. I have written an article on IELTS Writing Task 1 before, as well as some revised versions of that article. But the explanation is way too general. I just explained the writing structure and gave a sample writing. 

From now on, I will breakdown that article into several posts that explain how each graph (bar graph, line graph, pie chart, map, process, and combined graphs) is done. There will be a lot of posts following this initial post, because each graph, or the combination of two graphs, may vary in terms of level of difficulty and trend. We are going to start this long discussion by describing a line graph. Take a look at a sample graph below.


Line Graph

Before describing the line graph, you should remember that writing task 1 structure is described as follows:

Paragraph 1

Overview

- Giving a general introduction
- Explaining the variables
- Explaining the general trend

Paragraph 2 (first trend)

- Giving detailed information (percentage, increase, decrease, lowest/highest percentage, etc)

Paragraph 3 (second trend)

- Giving detailed information (percentage, increase, decrease, lowest/highest percentage, etc)


Now, let's discuss the whole writing step by step.


Paragraph 1

Introduction

In IELTS Writing Task 1, the first thing that you always have to do is introducing the graph. The main purpose of the introduction is to explain what the graph is about, which is pretty easy to do anyway. You just have to re-write the original title with your own words. In the sample graph above, the original title is:

The sales of six essential products on WeBuy in the first half of 2020

Suppose that we want to paraphrase most of the words and keep the sentence structure as it is, then we can re-write the title like this:




The line graph shows the number of six basic necessities being sold on WeBuy from January until June 2020.



Here is how some words in the original title are paraphrased:

  Words in the Original Title
 Paraphrase
 Sales
 Being sold
 Essential products
 Basic necessities
 In the first half of 2020
 From January until June 2020

Note: Other than paraphrasing the words in the original title, you can also change the structure of the sentence. For example, you can turn an active voice into a passive voice, or replace a gerund phrase with an infinitive phrase. 


Explaining all variables

After giving an introduction, you have to explain all variables in the graph. In the line graph above, you have to explain the months and year, the quantity, and the six basic products. Since we have explained the months and the year in the first sentence of paragraph 1, and the quantity of the six commodities will be explained in the next two paragraphs, we can just skip this part and jump to the general trend.

Explaining the general trend

General trend will help you arrange your ideas better and split the writing into three separate paragraphs. From the line graph, we can see that the sales of four main commodities (books and movies, food and beverages, cleaning supplies and toiletries, and medical supplies) increased while the other two commodities show a different trend. Hence, we can simply explain the trend as follows: 


The data indicates that the sales of electronics decreased and the sales of clothing was fluctuating, while the sales other four commodities experienced a growth.



We are going to use the idea above as a guideline for writing paragraph 2 and paragraph 3.


Paragraph 2

In this paragraph, we need to give a very detailed information. Since we have categorized the data based on the trends, we can focus on explaining the first trend (increasing) in this paragraph. Take a look at this example.


To begin, it can be seen that the number of books and movies being sold on WeBuy continuously increased. From a little below 10.000 in January, the number increased by around 5000 in the first three months, tripled in April and still slightly increased in May and June. Likewise, the sales of cleaning supplies and toiletries gradually increased from 5000 in January to nearly 30.000 in May. The number skyrocketed in the last month and reached 50.000. There was a moderate growth in the sales of food and beverages throughout the first half of 2020, with the exception of the sales between February and March which seemed to experience a sharp increase. Medical supplies is the only basic commodity which experienced high and stable growth from around 10.000 to 50.000. 



As we can see, the detailed information in paragraph 2 must explain the sales of each commodity as well as the increase. The first thing that we have to pay attention to is how several words are used to explain the increase, such as increase, experience a growth, skyrocketed, tripled etc. 

Note: Do not use the same words over and over again because you will get a low score in vocabulary range and accuracy if you do so.

Note: We also need to avoid several words that are not supposed to be used in writing task 1, such as seem, look like, or probably. These words are less academic. Take a look at this sentence:

There was a moderate growth in the sales of food and beverages throughout the first half of 2020, with the exception of the sales between February and March which seemed to experience a sharp increase. 

I wrote it that way on purpose, just to give an illustration of how the word seemed needs to be avoided. Instead, I should have written that sentence like this:

There was a moderate growth in the sales of food and beverages throughout the first half of 2020, with the exception of the sales between February and March which experience a sharp increase. 


Remember that some of the numbers above are just an estimation because we cannot always be sure as to how many items are sold. You can use the words nearly, almost, around, estimated, a little below, and a little above, like some examples below:

The sales was just a little below 10.000 in January.

or this:

The number increased by around 5000 in the first three months [...]

or this:

[...] the sales of cleaning supplies and toiletries gradually increased from 5000 in January to nearly 30.000 in May

Lastly, we also have to pay attention to the smooth transition of ideas and sentences, by using connecting words. Take a look at how I transitioned from one idea to another using some cohesive devices:




To begin, it can be seen that the number of books and movies being sold on WeBuy continuously increased. From a little below 10.000 in January, the number increased by around 5000 in the first three months, tripled in April and still slightly increased in May and June. Likewise, the sales of cleaning supplies and toiletries gradually increased from 5000 in January to nearly 30.000 in May. The number skyrocketed in the last month and reached 50.000. There was a moderate growth in the sales of food and beverages throughout the first half of 2020, with the exception of the sales between February and March which seemed to experience a sharp increase. Medical supplies is the only basic commodity which experienced high and stable growth from around 10.000 to 50.000.



Paragraph 3

Okay now, let's move on to paragraph 3. The basic idea of paragraph 3 is pretty much the same with that of paragraph 2, only now we're dealing with different trend(s). Since the sales of electronics decreased throughout the first half of 2020, and the sales of clothing is somewhat fluctuating, paragraph 3 will probably look like this.



Unlike the other four commodities, the sales of electronics continuously decreased. It only made up 40.000 in January, and then slightly decreased to around 39.000. The number then plummeted. The sales of clothing exhibits a fluctuating trend in which the number increased from around 21.000 in January to around 45.000 three months later. There was a significant decline from May until June.



In this paragraph, I use some more new words such as plummeted, estimated, and decline, but the idea is similar to the previous paragraph. One thing that is important to note here is the use of connector unlike at the beginning of the paragraph. This connector marks the different trend between this paragraph and the preceding paragraph. So, not only do we have to jump from one sentence to another using the right connector, we also have to transition from one paragraph to another paragraph using a connecting sentence. There are some more examples of connectors that can be seen below.



Unlike the other four commodities, the sales of electronics continuously decreased. It only made up 40.000 in January, and then slightly decreased to around 39.000. The number then plummeted. The sales of clothing exhibits a fluctuating trend in which the number increased from around 21.000 in January to around 45.000 three months later. There was a significant decline from May until June.




That's it. That's how we describe a line graph in IELTS Writing Task 1. To wrap things up, I will write the whole task 1 so that we can get a better understanding of what we have discussed earlier.





The line graph shows the number of six basic necessities being sold on WeBuy from January until June 2020. 

To begin, it can be seen that the number of books and movies being sold on WeBuy continuously increased. From a little below 10.000 in January, the number increased by around 5000 in the first three months, tripled in April, and still slightly increased in May and June. Likewise, the sales of cleaning supplies and toiletries gradually increased from 5000 in January to nearly 30.000 in May. The number skyrocketed in the last month and reached 50.000. There was a moderate growth in the sales of food and beverages throughout the first half of 2020, with the exception of the sales between February and March which seemed to experience a sharp increase. Medical supplies is the only basic commodity which experienced high and stable growth from around 10.000 to 50.000. 

Unlike the other four commodities, the sales of electronics continuously decreased. It only made up 40.000 in January, and then slightly decreased to around 39.000. The number then plummeted. The sales of clothing exhibits a fluctuating trend in which the number increased from around 21.000 in January to around 45.000 three months later. There was a significant decline from May until June.

Word count: 211



Okay, so the sample writing above already looks neat, and it seems like it has met all marking criteria. But, it's not perfect, which means that there are still some issues that need to be addressed. Now, can you guess what the biggest problems are? Here are some of those problems:

1. It's too long

The recommended word count for writing task 1 is 150-190 words. You best not write 150 words because it is too risky. You will get a penalty if your writing turns out to be less than 150 words, so let's not do that. You are not supposed to write too many words either, because you still need some energy and concentration to do the writing task 2. You need to conserve your energy and manage your time, for the sake of efficiency.

2. Time management

Since you have to do both task 1 and task 2 in a timely manner, you need a very good time management. Writing 211 words for writing task 1 wouldn't be a good idea because you still have writing task 2, in which you will have to write at least 250 words. If we have one hour for the whole writing section, and the word count of writing task 1 and task 2 are 150 words and 250 words respectively, then we should spend only 20 minutes (maximum) on writing task 1. 

3. It's not just the writing (worst case scenario)

You also need to review your writing (or worse, you have to revise it) which means that some extra time needs to be allocated.



Exercise

We have learned how to describe a line graph. Now, let's do a little practice. Describe the line graph below and write at least 150 words.


IELTS Speaking Section Part 1, 2 and 3 - Dictionaries and Foreign Language Studies

Dictionary


IELTS Speaking Section Part 1 - Talking about Familiar Topics

Dictionary


Do you ever use a dictionary?

Yes, I often use dictionary. I was majoring English at the university, and dictionary was an important part of my academic life. In fact, it still is important since I'm now working as a translator and often have to use dictionary once in a while.

What do you use it for?

Now, I use it mostly for translating academic text. But the dictionary that I'm using now is not the one that I used when I was in college. The dictionary that I currently use is more specific, like dictionary that contains legal terms.

Do you prefer paper or electronic dictionaries?

I'd rather use paper dictionaries when translating a written text, like academic journal or books. I know dictionaries are heavy and will eat up much space in your bag or desk, but it is more convenient to use. Sometimes I use online dictionary because the features make it easier for me to find the meaning of a word as well as some examples of how a word is used in a sentence. The festures also allow me to understand how the word is used in certain context. But, I could spend hours translating written texts and my eyes are extremely tired whenever I use the online dictionary, for too long.

Are there a lot of people using dictionaries in your country?

Yes, of course. Dictionary is one of the most sought-after book in my country. Many people are using dictionaries that the publisher always reprint them again and again just to meet the demand. English is a big deal here in Indonesia. It becomes a compulsory course in schools, and becomes one of the most common requirements for job seekers. Google translate is also used by a lot of people in my country, students too. But, students are allowed to use gadget in classes so google translate is mostly used when you learn outside the class.

Do you think dictionaries are useful for learning a language?


Yes, of course it is. One of the most important aspect of learning a language is expanding your vocabulary. When you learn English, for example, some basic words may be found in the textbook. But when it comes to less common words, you may have look them up in the dictionary.



IELTS Speaking Section Part 2 - Self-Presentation (Cue Card)

Foreign Language





Describe a language you would like to learn.

You should say:


What language is it?

Where it is spoken

How do you plan to learn it?

How it will help you


Explain why you want to learn this language.





What language is it?

I always want to learn French. I have learned for quite some time at school and college, but I'm still not very fluent. I'm an English-Indonesian translator, actually. But mastering more than one language is always a plus for people who work in this kind of job.

Where it is spoken

French is spoken not only in France, but also in several countries outside France. If I'm not mistaken, French is an official language in several countries like Canada, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

How do you plan to learn it?

So far, I have learned some grammatical rules, common vocabularies and some basic phrases and sentences. I learn mostly from textbook, so I'm better at written French than the spoken French. It is difficult for me to understand people who speak French too fast, and it is even more difficult for me to give a respond in French. So, the plan is that I will learn to have a real conversation in French. I recently watched a video called le secret poir améliorer votre Français, in which the instructor said that the best way to learn the language is to listen to a native speaker. I will try this method, and let's see if it works.

How it will help you

Listening to a native speaker will really help me with the pronunciation. Pronunciation has always been a challenge for me, because I often pronounce a French word like when I pronounce an English word, and that's why my French may sound odd for many people who are already fluent. For example, I have a problem with the final nasalized sound in the word communication. It will sound more like an English word when I say it, making it weird, especially when the rest of the sentence sounds like an actual French. I feel like I have to work on this problem so that I will sound more natural and easily understandable.

Explain why you want to learn this language.

Well, French was taught in my college although my major was English, and this is because the languages are closely related. Many words in English are of French origin. Since I focused on English linguistics, I think it's also important for me to learn French and German, or at least one of them. The proficiency of French and German is not mandatory actually, but I still feel like I have to do it, learning foreign language other than English.



IELTS Speaking Section Part 3 - Discussion

Learning Foreign Language



Why do people learn foreign language?

On a more personal level, learning foreign language will expand one's view of the world, making them more tolerant and flexible when facing cultural difference. People also learn foreign language for a more practical reason. For example, m
any people learn foreign language because they want to be able to compete in the job market. 

Language often becomes an access to the multicultural world, which means that it also becomes an important part of foreign business and trade, as well as diplomacy.

Is it possible for people to learn a foreign language as an autodidact?

Yes, they can. But it will require a lot more effort, time and commitment. People can learn a foreign language by themselves by reading textbook or online source. But it will only help them with grammar, vocabulary, and some written forms of the language. But, in order to be able to communicate orally, people need to learn the language from a native speaker or a professional teacher, because the actual usage of a language is often different from what we learn from the textbook. People use slang, slash unnecessary grammatical components in a sentence, or even use some cultural terms that can only be learned from real communication with a real person.

What makes it hard to learn a foreign language?

I think the most difficult part of learning a language is learning how to use it in a real conversation. I rarely have any problem with listening or reading comprehension. So, if someone talks to me in French, let's say, I will pretty much understand what they say. But giving a respond is always difficult, because I learn the language mostly from textbook. If I were asked to read an article in French, I would have a little problem understanding what it says. But if I have to write a short article in French, it will definitely take me several hours to do it.

Do you think living in a country where a foreign language is spoken will help you learn it faster?


Yes, it definitely will. There will be a lot of exposure to the language, we will be forced to do our best speaking the language because of the need for communication, and this will cut our learning curve. At first, we may feel a little bit frustrated because it is hard to make people understand what we are trying to say. We have to repeat our sentence just to make them understand. But, repetition can be a good way of learning a foreign language. We will be motivated to pronounce word correctly, or else, people will find it difficult to understand us. Some people may correct our grammar indirectly, or tell us certain word in their language, or how certain word is used in certain context.

Why does foreign language skill become an important these days?

Language becomes more and more crucial because the world is more globalized and people become more connected. We study overseas, we do business with foreign partners, there are more and more government collaborations, several countries rely on tourism and foreign investment, and language plays an important role in all these activities.

Are there a lot of people who speak foreign language in your country?


Yes, especially the young generations. In the past, foreign language was common only among educated individuals. But now, as there is easier access to education and foreign language becomes a compulsory course, more and more people speak foreign language. Technology also plays a crucial role because it provides access to foreign culture, free educational material and the chance for us to communicate with people from different parts of the world.