Next month IELTS Advantage: Writing Skills will hit the shelves. I have to own up to a personal interest in this book as I count the two authors, Richard Brown and Lewis Richards, among my good friends and not only that but they are also exceptionally inspiring teachers whose enthusiasm for their work has certainly rubbed off on me.
You’ll get to meet them in a few weeks when I post my first PLN interviews inspired by Brad Patterson’s challenge which I’m sure anybody who has spent more than a few weeks on the teaching blogosphere will be aware of and if you aren’t, here’s the link to the idea.
However, that’s in a couple of week’s time. In this post I thought I would go through the pages that Delta Publishing have made available and give a bit of commentary on them. Each of the links below goes directly to the PDF so just right click and save.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the IELTS Advantage: Writing Skills tackles Task 2 first, reflecting the relative scoring weight of the two parts. There is some explicit focus on grammar and I think this is necessary considering who the book is written for: higher level learners, upper intermediate and above, students looking to quickly refresh for retaking the IELTS exam or simply for higher level learners who are more in need of exam preparation than English development.
I immediately loved the layout of this book. Not too busy and with a clear progression. There is no fluff here and each activity has a clear aim that leads on to the next activity. A feature of this section which I like is its focus on analysis. These pages start off with reading, getting learners to analyze and think about what makes good, cohesive and coherent writing. Working from exercises that encourage analysis of the model paragraphs, learners have the framework to build their own well-structured introductions and conclusions.
The model answer is about 100 words over the minimum 250 needed for a Task 2. This would be a struggle for those learners aiming for a 5.0 or 5.5 but, as I said, they’re not who this book is for. Again, the model answer is followed by an exercise that deconstructs the composition, analyzing the purpose and function of each sentence. This approach of starting with the finished product and then going into detail will work to keep the learner focused on what they ultimately need to produce for themselves.
In this part, learners are asked to produce a 150-word answer first of all. Again, there is more reading available but this time the purpose is to provide additional useful vocabulary and phrases that could be inserted into an composition of this kind.
One activity asks the learner to discuss changes in their home town with a partner. This may be difficult for a learner who is self-studying. Nonetheless, this speaking/discussion practice is important for writing skills as many students can keep up with their thoughts far better through speaking than through writing.
This being the case, I would encourage self-study students to use their mobile phones and record themselves as they speak about the discussion points on their own. Getting over the initial cringe factor, I know a lot of learners would benefit from listening and taking notes from what they themselves have said. The act of note-taking and transcribing their own spoken words as a framework for a written answer is an incredibly useful activity for strengthening and enriching a student’s writing skills. And it’s not bad practice for their speaking skills either!
That’s all for now.
I hope this has whetted your appetite for the upcoming book. Be sure to come back to the blog in a few weeks when it will be my pleasure to introduce the authors to you, my PLN, and the teaching blogosphere in general.
If you like what you’ve seen so far, you can ‘like’ IELTS Advantage: Writing Skills on Facebook where you can be kept up-to-date on release information.