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Practising IELTS General Training Writing Task 1

Contents

A. TEACHERS NOTES ...........................................................................................................2


A1.

Lesson Plan ...............................................................................................................2

A2. Classroom Handout 1 ................................................................................................5


A3. Classroom Handout 2 ................................................................................................6
A4. Classroom Handout 2 Answer key (suggestions) ...................................................7
A4.

Classroom Handout 3 ................................................................................................8

A5.

Classroom Handout 3 Answer key (suggestions) ...................................................9

B. GUIDANCE FOR FOLLOW UP ACTIVITIES.....................................................................10

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Practising IELTS General Training Writing Task 1


A. TEACHERS NOTES
Description
Time required:

60 minutes + homework and follow-up in a subsequent lesson

Materials
required:

Classroom Handout 1 (1 per student)

Classroom Handout 2 (1 per student)


Classroom Handout 3 (optional: 1 per student)
Classroom Handout 3 Answer key (optional: 1 per student)

Aims:

A1.

To prepare students for IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 by

raising students awareness of register when writing transactional


letters

practising alternating between formal and informal register and


using formal/informal expressions.

Lesson Plan

1. Discuss with the class if anyone has studied English in an English-speaking country
before. Questions could include:
Where?
When?
What was the experience like? Positive/ Negative?
Would they recommend it?
If no-one has studied in an English-speaking country, then ask what they imagine the
experience would be like, or if family members or friends have.
Explain that in this lesson, theyre going to imagine they have just finished a course in
an English-speaking country.
Timing: 5 minutes
2. Give out A2 Classroom Handout 1, or show the situations on the board.
Look at situation A. Divide the class in two. Half the class are students, half are
teachers. Explain to the class that instead of writing the letter they will have a meeting
with the teacher and so they will be discussing the points from situation A.
Allow 5 minutes for students to work in pairs to brainstorm ideas for what they are
going to say at the meeting. The students should plan what they are going to say for
each point. The teachers should prepare some questions they would like to ask the
students about the course and plan how they are going to lead the conversation.
Timing: 8 minutes
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Practising IELTS General Training Writing Task 1


3. Re-organise the class so that you have one student meeting one teacher. They
should keep their notes/questions with them.
Allow 5 minutes to role-play the situation. Monitor, making a note of typical informal
language used by the students. This should include vocabulary, functional language,
contractions and structures that are considered more informal.
Timing: 8 minutes
4. Discuss the following questions with specific pairs and the class as a whole:

Was your meeting successful? Why/ Why not? (answers depend on each
pairs experience)

Was it easy to talk to the teacher? (the answer should be yes)

Was the situation formal or informal? (informal)

Do you think you would know the principal of the school well? What would you
relationship be with him/her? (they probably wouldnt know the principal well;
the relationship would be more formal, less relaxed)

How would this make the situation different when you speak to the principal?
(the student would feel more constrained and would try harder to be more
polite; the register of the language would be more formal)

Would the content of what you say be different? (no, probably not)

Timing: 5 minutes
5. Write on the board some of the informal words, phrases and sentences you noted
down while monitoring the students role-plays.
Alternatively, give out A5 Classroom Handout 3.
Elicit what makes the first word or phrase informal rather than informal. Students work
in pairs to identify and underline the words which are more informal.
After a few minutes, elicit some of the answers to check that students have identified
the same aspects of the language. Elicit some of the key features of formal and
informal language (see A3 Classroom Handout 2 for key points).
Timing: 7 minutes
6. Give out A3 Classroom Handout 2, which summarises the key differences between
formal and informal language. Allow a few minutes for students to read through the
worksheet.
Point out that only some examples are given. In pairs, students find examples for the
other aspects of language given in the table.
Feed back ideas, accepting all that are appropriate. (See A4 Classroom Handout 2
Answer key suggestions).
Timing: 7 minutes
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Practising IELTS General Training Writing Task 1


7. Ask students to look back at the informal language they worked on in Step 5, and to
work in pairs to decide how they could express the same ideas in a more formal way,
using the guidelines on Classroom Handout 2.
Feed back their suggestions, accepting any that are suitable.
If you are using Classroom Handout 3, give out A6 Classroom Handout 3 Answer
key for students to compare their answers to those given. Point out that these are just
suggestions, and there is more than one way to express yourself formally.
Timing: 10 minutes
8. Focus on A2 Classroom Handout 1 again, situation B.
In the same pairs as Step 3, students role play the meeting between the student and
the principal. Students may swap roles, or keep the same roles as previously.
Encourage students to use as much formal language as possible.
Monitor, noting down good uses of formal language, and any difficulties students
encounter to work on in a future class.
Allow 5 minutes to role play the situation.
Feed back on the experience of this second role play. Remind students that in Part 1
of General Writing, they will be asked to write either an informal or formal letter.
Timing: 7 minutes
9.

As homework, students draft a letter covering the same points as their role-plays. You
may want to specify if the letter is for Situation A (informal) or for Situation B (formal),
or allow students to choose.
Allow some time in a subsequent lesson for editing, redrafting and finalising the
letters (see B. Guidance for Follow-up Activities).
Timing: 3 minutes

UCLES 2011. This material may be photocopied (without alteration) and distributed for classroom use provided no charge is made. For further
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Practising IELTS General Training Writing Task 1


A2.

Classroom Handout 1

A
You recently completed an English language course in a school in England. Your
experience at the school was a very positive one.
Write a letter to your teacher on the course. In your letter
thank the teacher for all his/her help
explain why your experience was important to you
suggest what he/she can do to make the experience even better for future

students.

B
You recently completed an English language course in a school in England. Your
experience at the school was a very positive one.
Write a letter to the principal of the school. In your letter
thank the principal and staff for all their help
explain why your experience was important to you
suggest what he/she can do to make the experience even better for future

students.

UCLES 2011. This material may be photocopied (without alteration) and distributed for classroom use provided no charge is made. For further
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Practising IELTS General Training Writing Task 1


A3.

Classroom Handout 2

Informal language

Formal language

Aspect of
language

Examples

Aspect of
language

Examples

Commonly used
words

get, really, good

Less commonly
used words

receive, extremely,
pleasant

Phrasal verbs

Words with French


and Latin origins
(often longer
words)

Repetition of the
same words

Synonyms and a
wide vocabulary,
avoiding repetition

Abbreviations and
contractions

Full words and


verb forms (written
English)

Active verb forms

Passive verb forms

Immediate and
personal, e.g.
modals

have to, can

Remote and
indirect, e.g. past
tenses of modals

should, could

Verb phrases

We learned a lot
through the games

Noun phrases

The games provided


good learning
opportunities

Simple sentences
and conjunctions

Complex
sentences and
conjunctions

UCLES 2011. This material may be photocopied (without alteration) and distributed for classroom use provided no charge is made. For further
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Practising IELTS General Training Writing Task 1


A4.

Classroom Handout 2 Answer key (suggestions)

Informal language

Formal language

Aspect of
language

Examples

Aspect of
language

Examples

Commonly used
words

get, really, good

Less commonly
used words

receive, extremely,
pleasant

Phrasal verbs

get over, set up

Words with French


and Latin origins
(often longer
words)

recover, initiate

Repetition of the
same words

I liked , I really
liked.., I didnt like

Synonyms and a
wide vocabulary,
avoiding repetition

I enjoyed, I very
much appreciated, I
was unimpressed by

Abbreviations and
contractions

He wont, Ive, Wed


love to..;
etc, e.g.,

Full words and


verb forms (written
English)

He will not; I have; We


would love to;
and so on, for
example/such as

Active verb forms

She took us to a
museum

Passive verb forms

We were taken to the


museum

Immediate and
personal, e.g.
modals

have to, can

Remote and
indirect, e.g. past
tenses of modals

should, could

Verb phrases

We learned a lot
through the games

Noun phrases

The games provided


good learning
opportunities

Simple sentences
and conjunctions

I enjoyed the classes


and improved my
English

Complex
sentences and
conjunctions

As well as enjoying the


classes, my English
improved significantly

UCLES 2011. This material may be photocopied (without alteration) and distributed for classroom use provided no charge is made. For further
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Practising IELTS General Training Writing Task 1


A4.

Classroom Handout 3
1.

I really liked ...

2.

I wanted to say ...

3.

It was really good when ...

4.

I learnt a lot from the writing exercises.

5.

When we started, I didnt like all the reading. But then I realised my vocabulary
was getting better.

6.

Youre a really kind teacher.

7.

I think Im ready to study in English now.

8.

I couldnt have passed the exam without this course.

9.

Itd be good to meet some students who are already studying at university
here.

10.

Perhaps you could have some extra classes to help with difficult things like
phrasal verbs.

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A5.

Classroom Handout 3 Answer key (suggestions)

Informal

Formal

1. I really liked ...

1. I very much enjoyed .../ X was very


enjoyable

2. I wanted to say ...

2. I would like to tell you ...

3. It was really good when ...

3. A highlight was ...

4. I learnt a lot from the writing exercises.

4. The writing activities were extremely


instructive.

5. When we started, I didnt like all the


reading. But then I realised my
vocabulary was getting better.

5. Initially, the reading load was very


demanding. However, it led to a
noticeable improvement in my
vocabulary.

6. Youre a really kind teacher.

6. You are a very supportive and patient


teacher.

7. I think Im ready to study in English now.

7. I now feel well-prepared to begin my


university course.

8. I couldnt have passed the exam without


this course.

8. If I had not followed this course, I would


not have achieved the same high score in
the exam.

9. Itd be good to meet some students who


are already studying at university here.

9. One suggestion is to arrange a meeting


with some overseas students already
studying at university here.

10. Perhaps you could have some extra


classes to help with difficult things like
phrasal verbs.

10. Additional classes to help students with


areas of specific difficulty, such as
phrasal verbs, would be very welcome.

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B. GUIDANCE FOR FOLLOW UP ACTIVITIES
1. In this lesson, the situations on A2 Classroom Handout 1 were performed orally
before students needed to write. Combining speaking and writing skills not only gives
practice in two skills areas, but also helps to prepare students ideas for writing tasks.
It is especially helpful for students who find it hard to think of ideas for their writing.
You can also try:

discussions about topical or controversial issues

debates based on a reading or listening text

brainstorming activities, e.g. advantages and disadvantages, problems and


solutions, causes and effects

ranking activities, e.g. greatest advantages, most common problems

describing or narrating personal experiences.

2. The situation on A2 Classroom Handout 1 was of a student giving feedback to a


school. Other situations can be found in course books, IELTS past papers and
practice papers, and websites aimed at ESL teaching. Here are some other
situations:

writing/speaking to a college accommodation officer about requirements for


accommodation

writing/speaking to a new employer about time management problems they


are having

writing to a local newspaper/speaking to a local radio station about a plan to


lower the speed limit in the town/ build a new out-of-town supermarket/
increase the prices at the local sports centre

writing/speaking to a friend about how to choose accommodation at university

writing/speaking to a rental agency to sort out problems with a rented


flat/house.

Some situations may adapt easily to more formal and more informal registers, while
others may be more suitable for one specific register. Make sure students get practice
in a range of formal, semi-formal and informal letters.
3. When you create your own situations, make sure that the following information is
made clear:

who the students are writing or speaking to. This should make clear the level
of formality that they must use

the information that students must include. There should be 3 separate points
to cover.

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the functions that are required, e.g. informing, requesting, explaining,


suggesting, complaining, etc.

4. Good writing is a process. Most writers need to write and rewrite their work to achieve
a good result. Encourage your students to take the same approach to their writing in
English.

In the lesson following this one, students swap the letter they drafted for
homework.

Students read their partners letter and check that the letter has an
appropriate beginning and ending and answers each of the bullet points.

Pairs discuss any changes and redraft their letters.

Swap letters with a different partner. This time, they focus on the language
used and consider if the letter is too formal or too informal.

Again, pairs discuss any changes or suggestions and then write a final draft of
their letter.

5. The features of informal and formal language on A3 Classroom Handout 2 can be


referred to for further work on this area. To focus on the changes between formal and
informal language, ask students to write an informal letter, e.g. for situation A. They
should now think about adapting this to a more formal context, e.g. situation B.
Students highlight/underline the parts of their informal letter they will have to change
in order to write the formal letter, e.g. to the principal.
Remind them of the features of formal language on A3 Classroom Handout 2.
Students write the formal letter, and follow the editing process described above.
6. You can also use A3 Classroom Handout 2 when working on listening or reading
texts, asking students to identify examples of the features of informal or formal
language listed on the worksheet. The act of noticing these examples will increase
their awareness and ability to use appropriate register.

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