IELTS writing course – lesson #1

Academic and General Training Writing Task 2: For and Against

In some IELTS Writing tasks you need to give arguments for and against the topic. If you do not do this you may only be answering half the question and you will lose marks.

Test tip: You must keep the main topic in mind while you are writing and refer back to it all the time. You will lose marks if you do not address the issue raised in the question.

Re-Writing or summarising the question
1 Read the task 2 question below and summarise in your own words what it is that you must agree or disagree with.

Some governments try to control the way a national language is used. For example, they may restrict the introduction of foreign words, or the use of dialects, or they may demand that a certain language be used in schools.What are the benefits and disadvantages of these policies? Do you think they can ever be effective?

2¬†Write your summary in the middle of a clean page and put a circle round it.¬†‚ÄėBrainstorm‚Äô some ideas on how to respond to this question.

Making notes agreeing and disagreeing with the question
3 Organise your thoughts about the ideas in the task by writing them in your own words, and thinking of points for and against the argument.


Culture is maintained through language so it’s worth keeping it pure.
One country needs one language.
Restrictions on a national language are justified AGAINST
Language is a living thing you can’t stop it changing.
People have the the right to use their own language.

Think of two more points to add to the notes. one for and one against the main topic in the circle.

Organising you answer
4 Now you need to make a plan for your answer. Here is an example.

Expand the summary to re-phrase the question in your own words OR start
with a clear statement of your own about the policy.
Useful expressions:
The question of whether or not …
I feel that language is …
Paragraph 1
Expand the first point on the ‘For’ side about the link between language and culture. Balance it with a counter argument on the ‘Against’ side.Useful expressions:
Some people think …
It can be argued that …
However, …
Paragraph 2
Express an opinion on having a national language. Give your own view. Make it clear to the reader where you stand or express an understanding of both points of view.Useful expressions:
While …, there may be an argument in favour of …
Paragraph 3
Include another point of your own based on your idea above.Useful expressions:
I tend to think that …
Generally speaking, …
End with a clear statement on how you feel about the issue OR summarise the two main sides of the argument.Useful expressions:
To sum up …
Ultimately, it is important to consider …

Write a complete answer
5 Write a complete answer to this question, following the steps above.

Test tip: ‘To what extend do you agree’ is another way of saying ‘Do you agree … if so, how much?’ It invites you to agree and disagree.
Learning a foreign language offers an insight into how people from other cultures think and see world. The teaching of a foreign language should be compulsory at all primary schools.To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view?