Beginning and Ending an IELTS Essay

So you’ve got a writing class coming up. Your students are eager to learn how to master IELTS writing task 2, but you don’t know what to teach them. You’ve covered grammar, punctuation, and structure. Well here’s a couple of ideas for a productive writing lesson – how to begin and end an IELTS task 2 essay.

Step 1 – Introduce the Introduction

First off, you can show your students this video about writing an introductory sentence. I don’t recommend using videos very often, but to be honest this is a really useful one. The YouTuber, IELTS Ryan, gives some great examples of introductory sentences for task 2 essays. In my opinion, these are far better than the crap they teach in training schools, like “With the development of modern society…” and so on.

Of course, you could always teach your own ideas or borrow Ryan’s and teach them yourself. But I think Ryan does a great job of explaining these sentences. Why try to fix what isn’t broken?

Step 2 – Time to Practice First Sentences

Once you’ve run through these suggestions, either by yourself or by showing Ryan’s video, it’s time for your students to put theory into practice. I recommend giving them an IELTS writing task 2 question and telling them to write 5 opening sentences. Tell them to put away their notes first, and see what they remember from the video.

Then, show them some that you have written yourself. (Or, if you’re lazy, you can use my example in the attached Word document.) Explain how you altered these examples to fit the question, and don’t forget to provide feedback on the students’ work. Remember: no IELTS writing class should be without ample feedback.

Here’s my worksheet, which you are free to print and use:

Step 3 – Skipping to the End

Ok, so your students now know how to write an opening sentence. Great. That was easy, huh? Now it’s time to skip over the whole rest of the essay and go right to the very end.

For this part, I’d run through the ins and outs of a good conclusion.

Here’s an activity you could use to teach the essentials of a good IELTS conclusion. Post these statements on the board or overhead projector, and ask the students to label them as TRUE or FALSE.

  1. You should always write a conclusion at the end of an IELTS writing task 2 essay. (T)
  2. Try to restate everything from your essay. (F)
  3. Use the same language as you did in your essay. (F)
  4. Make sure you answer the question in your conclusion. (T)
  5. You must write at least four sentences. (F)
  6. Always try to include some new ideas in your conclusion. (T)
  7. “In conclusion” is really boring so you should always try to use a more exciting phrase to introduce the conclusion. (F)

(By the way, I really recommend using this sort of guided discovery method in most classes. It helps students remember stuff better.)

You can talk this over with your students to explain anything they got wrong or to add more information about the FALSE answers. For example, for number 5 you might want to state that just 2 sentence is fine.

Step 4 – Examples

Once your students are clear on the basics of a what a good IELTS conclusion should include, show them some examples. You might want to include examples of a bad conclusion, too. Sometimes knowing what NOT to do it as important as knowing what to do.

Draw attention to how the conclusion should mirror the introduction, while referring (often indirectly) to the body paragraphs.

Here’s a heavily annotated essay that you could use as an example. It answers the question posed in the previous Word document file. (Open the file and click each sentence to see the annotations.)

Step 5 – Students Write a Conclusion

Finally, you should have your students write a conclusion to an essay. You should get a sample essay, either written yourself or taken from somewhere online, and then delete the conclusion. Have your students complete it. Here are a few I wrote:

I hope this lesson works out well for you and your students. Let me know what you think in the comments. Also, check out my YouTube channel for some more IELTS ideas. I have a growing playlist of IELTS writing advice, which is useful not just for students but also teachers:

Head Teacher
I'm the founder and editor of Beatdom Literary Journal, author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller. I'm also a teacher and operate the popular website, TED-IELTS.

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