【明報專訊】Before New Year's Day we discussed what an introduction for a Task 2 answer should be like. It should contain three parts, the first two of which we have already expounded on before the year-end break. Now we will talk about the last component.
To refresh your memory, our question is:
Some educators believe that streaming would benefit all the students. Do the advantages of streaming outweigh the disadvantages?
And here are the first two parts of the introduction:
(1) It is sometimes argued that streaming, which refers to the practice of dividing students into different groups according to their academic abilities, will make all students better off, and there are heated debates about its merits and demerits. (2) My view is that streaming can only benefit a handful of students, and its benefits pale in comparison with its harm to society as a whole.
After that, we have to delineate how we are going to reach this conclusion. We have to use a sentence to give an outline of our entire argument. Here is an example:
(3) This essay will illustrate the detrimental effects of streaming on society, i.e. its exacerbation of inequality and prejudice in society, and how they overshadow its benefit of higher pedagogical efficiency in classrooms.
So our introduction will be comprised of three long, complex sentences. If you find this structure a bit awkward at first glance, you are in good company. Seldom do we read such a cumbersome opening paragraph in newspaper articles or magazines. But as I have repeatedly stressed, an answer for an IELTS writing task 2 question is not any ordinary article that you normally read, for it has to fulfil some very specific criteria. In the first two sentences of our introduction, we state the subject matter and give our opinion, which is about fulfilling the Task Achievement criterion. In the last sentence, we delineate the ''road map'' of our essay, thus making sure it is coherent and consistent.
Writing the introduction well is like orientating yourself before you proceed to write the remainder of the essay. It makes sure that you do not get off topic or write about things that are extraneous (無關的). If you are taking a computer-delivered test, it is even possible to write the introduction before coming up with your arguments, supporting arguments or examples. Just leave out the words or sentences that you have not yet thought of. There is no better way to make sure that you understand the question accurately than by rephrasing it in your own words.
That's all for our discussion of the introduction. In the next article, we will discuss the first argument paragraph.
Terence Yip (葉凱楓) is passionate about English more than anything else. Never has he studied or worked in an English-speaking country, but he scored 8.5 in IELTS nevertheless, and is ceaselessly honing his skills as a test taker with the aspiration to score 9 someday.
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