Writing Skills
Writing
5 ways to improve your IELTS Writing skills

Writing is a difficult skill and not just for people learning English or doing the IELTS test but for a native English speaker as well. In our day-to-day life we don't often have to write essays or describe graphs. We’re more used to writing text messages or emails. But there are things you can do to practise and improve your writing. Here are 5 ways to improve your writing skills every single day: 1. Read! That’s right, you read that correctly! To improve your writing skill you need to read – everyday! By reading widely, you’ll be introduced to a wide range of words and phrases that are used in a variety of contexts. You will also come across a lot of different grammar structures without actually having to focus on grammar. By being exposed to (presented with) words and grammar used correctly and in context, you too will pick up new words and start using new grammatical structures. When you learn new words or structures, copy and paste them into a document to help you remember them.  There are lots of freely available reading resources online. Some examples are: BBC World Voanews (these have the added advantage of being organised by beginner, intermediate and advanced level.) Breaking News English It doesn’t have to be just news, you can read about any topic you’re interested in as long as it's in English!   2. Make your writing POW! So, you’ve read an interesting article and now you can practise writing about the topic. Imagine you read the following article:   Spaced Baked Cookies Why not write an essay about space explorations and the challenges faced by astronauts? Or perhaps you could discuss whether you agree or disagree with spending millions of pounds/dollars/yuen on space exploration. Whatever you decide to write about – make sure you use POW!   3. Linking words In the Writing test, the examiner will be looking at how ideas are linked together within sentences and paragraphs. Additionally, they’ll look at how your writing flows. Your ideas need to be organised logically into paragraphs so it’s easy to understand and follow them. This is called coherence.  The examiners will also be looking out for cohesion. This refers to the use of linking words which link ideas and paragraphs.  Some examples of these are: Firstly, Additionally, Similarly, On the otherhand,  When you’re reading the article you’ve chosen, highlight all the linking words you can find. Just double-click on the word and highlight or print off and use a good old-fashioned highlighter pen. Organise the linking expressions you find into groups with similar meanings. For example/for instance, In addition/Additionally/Moreover.  This will mean you have a wide range of words which you can use to avoid using the same ones over and over.   4. Checklist When you’ve finished writing make sure to leave a bit of time at the end to edit (check) your writing. Check for spelling, correct subject + verb agreement (They think; Celebrities are; Technology has advanced), paragraphs and most importantly your own common mistakes that you know you make quite often.  Here’s a checklist for you to use: Download editing checklist You can do this every day by looking at:  restaurant menus (these often have mistakes in English – see if you can spot some), social media posts, emails, magazines – the list is endless. 5. Writing circles Writing can be a sociable thing (really – it can!). The ideas described in this blog are more fun if done with a friend or group of friends. Create a ‘writing circle’  – a group of people who can sit down together to:  read each other’s work using the ‘editing checklist’  share new vocabulary you’ve found when reading (see tip 1) use my POW technique.  Each person can plan a different task and then pass it on to the next person in the group to write an outline, then pass it on again to write an introduction, then paragraph 1, etc. At the end, you can use the editing checklist to review the piece of writing. See, we said writing could be fun! I hope this blog has been useful (please feel free to use the editing checklist to review this blog ?).  Happy writing! Liz

Liz Marqueiro

4 April, 2020

5 ways to improve your IELTS Writing skills

Writing Skills

Writing is a difficult skill and not just for people learning English or doing the IELTS test but for a native English speaker as well. In our day-to-day life we don't often have to write essays or describe graphs. We’re more used to writing text messages or emails. But there are things you can do to practise and improve your writing.

Here are 5 ways to improve your writing skills every single day:

1. Read!

That’s right, you read that correctly! To improve your writing skill you need to read – everyday! By reading widely, you’ll be introduced to a wide range of words and phrases that are used in a variety of contexts. You will also come across a lot of different grammar structures without actually having to focus on grammar. By being exposed to (presented with) words and grammar used correctly and in context, you too will pick up new words and start using new grammatical structures. When you learn new words or structures, copy and paste them into a document to help you remember them. 

There are lots of freely available reading resources online. Some examples are:

It doesn’t have to be just news, you can read about any topic you’re interested in as long as it's in English!
 

2. Make your writing POW!

So, you’ve read an interesting article and now you can practise writing about the topic. Imagine you read the following article:  

Spaced Baked Cookies

Why not write an essay about space explorations and the challenges faced by astronauts? Or perhaps you could discuss whether you agree or disagree with spending millions of pounds/dollars/yuen on space exploration.

Whatever you decide to write about – make sure you use POW!

POW Writing Skills - 3 steps

 

3. Linking words

In the Writing test, the examiner will be looking at how ideas are linked together within sentences and paragraphs. Additionally, they’ll look at how your writing flows. Your ideas need to be organised logically into paragraphs so it’s easy to understand and follow them. This is called coherence. 

The examiners will also be looking out for cohesion. This refers to the use of linking words which link ideas and paragraphs. 

Some examples of these are:

  • Firstly,
  • Additionally,
  • Similarly,
  • On the otherhand, 

When you’re reading the article you’ve chosen, highlight all the linking words you can find. Just double-click on the word and highlight or print off and use a good old-fashioned highlighter pen. Organise the linking expressions you find into groups with similar meanings. For example/for instance, In addition/Additionally/Moreover.  This will mean you have a wide range of words which you can use to avoid using the same ones over and over.

 

4. Checklist
When you’ve finished writing make sure to leave a bit of time at the end to edit (check) your writing. Check for spelling, correct subject + verb agreement (They think; Celebrities are; Technology has advanced), paragraphs and most importantly your own common mistakes that you know you make quite often. 

Here’s a checklist for you to use:

Editing Checklist

Download editing checklist

You can do this every day by looking at:  restaurant menus (these often have mistakes in English – see if you can spot some), social media posts, emails, magazines – the list is endless.

5. Writing circles
Writing can be a sociable thing (really – it can!). The ideas described in this blog are more fun if done with a friend or group of friends. Create a ‘writing circle’  – a group of people who can sit down together to: 

  • read each other’s work using the ‘editing checklist’ 
  • share new vocabulary you’ve found when reading (see tip 1)
  • use my POW technique. 

Each person can plan a different task and then pass it on to the next person in the group to write an outline, then pass it on again to write an introduction, then paragraph 1, etc. At the end, you can use the editing checklist to review the piece of writing. See, we said writing could be fun!

I hope this blog has been useful (please feel free to use the editing checklist to review this blog ?). 

Happy writing!

Liz

Liz Marqueiro

Liz has been teaching IELTS around the world for over 25 years.

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