Renata Ponizil, IELTS Tutor
Renata Ponizil is an IELTS tutor from Serbia, currently living in Chile. Renata has been teaching English to children and adults in schools and online for about seven years. She is currently working for a Taiwanese company teaching children from China and Taiwan.
Good Writing Requires the Right Words
According to Renata, good writing is largely a matter of vocabulary; feelings, ideas and thoughts all require a great deal of expressive language. Synonyms and antonyms are crucial, the more ways you can say something, the better chance you have of being understood. There are so many ways to say the same sentence. From an IELTS perspective, this means points for lexical resource.
The Right Words in the Right Place
However, knowing words is not enough, you need to see the opportunities to use topic specific vocabulary when they arise, then you need to use the right word the right way. Renata recommends the use of a dictionary, but not in isolation. There is no point memorising the exact definition of a word, if you lack the context to enable you to use it. Read books and watch movies is her recommendation, you will pick up natural and correct language in its own context.
“Let’s eat, grandma.” or “Let’s eat grandma.”
Neglect of grammar in IELTS is a fatal flaw. Your scores for task response, cohesion and coherence all suffer badly if your assessor can’t understand your sentences. Long sentences are the worst; if your grammar is weak, shorten your sentences accordingly. The higher the band, however, the longer the sentences will have to be.
Renata illustrates grammar’s position at the foundation of communication with the analogy of a highway. “If we imagine that language as a highway, words as vehicles, and grammar is the road rules and signs. If there are no signs and no rules – communication crashes.”
Good Readers Make Good Writers
Writing and reading are interlinked, similarly to speaking and listening. The difference, of course being that whereas spoken words fly into the air and disappear, written words can last for millennia. Reading and listening focus on receiving and comprehending information, speaking and writing on producing it. First we learn to read, then to write; the greater your reading comprehension, the better your writing will be.
Engage That Brain
A useful tip is to read something you enjoy; although you may need to write academic writing, it takes discipline to read. You will pick up much more from something that you don’t find boring. Also, re- read and proofread your own writing, check for mistakes you have made before so that you can and self-correct.
Here is a list of resources that Renata has found helpful for her students:
- Audiobooks: Play the book, write what you heard, and check text.
– Macmillan online: Packed with descriptions, examples, synonyms and antonyms
– Meriam Webster: Particularly good for American definitions
– Lynguee dictionary: gives you the word in ten different contexts.
– Cambridge English Vocab News
– Cambridge English Grammar in use
When you read, be critical, think about why something is or isn’t interesting, what techniques are being used, how would you write about this topic. Read other students essays critically. Then practice: sentences, phrases and rules. It’s boring but necessary, so you may as well just dig right in and get it over with. Happy Writing (and reading.)