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Ielts Essay 2 Topics To Debate

Although you never know what your question for writing Task 2 on the IELTS exam is going to be, there are often certain topics that come up repeatedly when practicing sample questions. Here is a list of common writing Task 2 topics and some strategies to become familiar with them.

Education

Education is a topic that mostIELTScandidates can relate to and it is a common theme for the IELTS Writing Task 2. Questions can range from topics such as the classroom to the curriculum.

Examples:

Many feel that the common educational system of teachers and students in a classroom will be replaced by the year 2050.

Do you agree with this view? Give your opinion.

Education should be free to all people and should be paid for and managed by the government.

Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Technology

Much of our world today is heavily influenced by technology and so many aspects of our lives are impacted by this topic. Various Task 2 questions have technology as the main idea.


Examples:

Nowadays, children watch a lot of TV and play video games. However, some think that these activities are not beneficial for a child’s mental health.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Modern technology now allows rapid and uncontrolled access to information in many countries. This is a danger to our societies.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Health

Health is another common topic on the IELTS writing Task 2 as healthcare is becoming more complex with people in many countries becoming more concerned with their health and having varying opinions on how to care for themselves.

Examples:

Doctors recommend that older people exercise regularly. However, many of them do not get enough exercise.

What are the reasons?

What can be done to encourage them to exercise more?

Health care costs are increasing and many governments are finding it difficult to balance their healthcare budget. Should citizens be totally responsible for their own health with private health insurance or should the government provide free healthcare for all?

Discuss your viewpoint on this issue.

Environment

The environment is a worldwide issue that affects everyone. For this reason, it is a common topic on writing Task 2.

Examples:

Some feel that it is impossible for a country to be economically progressive and environmentally friendly at the same time. Others disagree with this view.

Discuss both points of view and give your opinion.

Water pollution has become an increasing problem over the past few decades.

What causes water pollution?

How can we prevent this problem?

Government Spending

Government spending affects everyone within a country, so many citizens have strong opinions on how government funds are allocated. For writing Task 2, questions could discuss government spending on a wide range of topics.

Examples:

Governments should lower budgets for arts in order to allocate more money to education.

Do you agree with this view?

Some believe governments should spend more money on improving roads and highways, while some think money should be spent improving public transportation, such as buses, trains, and subways.

Discuss both points of view and give your opinion.

Sociology

People and the way they behave in different situations is the focus of many questions. This is why sociology is a common topic on the writing section of the IELTS exam.

Examples:

Many parents put a lot of pressure on their children to succeed.

To what extent do you agree?

Most societies are based on rules and laws. If individuals were free to do whatever they wanted, society could not function.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Now that you know some common topics, here are some strategies to feel comfortable writing about any of them:

Read the news

All of these topics are commonly found in the news, in various types of stories and articles. Reading the news is a good way to get a sense of each topic andthe vocabulary that is commonly associated with each of these topics.

Develop common vocabulary for each topic

Reading the news will allow you to see what words are common across these topics. Writing this vocabulary down and noting how to use it will help develop your writing skills. When you practice writing Task 2 essays, try to use this vocabulary in the correct form and in different questions.

Practice writing about these topics

Although this is not an inclusive list of topics, it's a good place to start. Look at common questions about these topics and practice writing them. This will allow you to get more comfortable with writing a Task 2 essay as well as using more advanced, topic-specific vocabulary.

Know these topics in different essay types

When you look at Task 2 questions, think about all essay types because you never know what kind of essay you are going to have to write on the IELTS test. If you read a topic about sports, think about your opinion, how you would discuss both views, what are the advantages and disadvantages of differing views, any problems or solutions associated with the topic, etc. Following this advice will help you understandhow you would answer any type of essay question and aid in your success with writing Task 2.

Introduction

This lesson will help you answer IELTS writing task 2 discussion (or discuss both views and give your opinion) questions.

These particular questions require a different approach to opinion essays because you have to discuss both sides rather than just argue in favour of one side.

This post will look at:

  • Identifying the question
  • Example Questions
  • Structure
  • Sample Answer
  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource


Many students fail to do well in these kinds of questions because they do not do what the question asks them to do and they do not use an appropriate structure. This post will help you overcome these problems and give you a sample answer.

We will also look at ‘lexical resource’ and ‘coherence and cohesion’; two of the marking criteria IELTS examiners use when marking your essays. Understand the marking scheme will help you to get inside the head of an IELTS examiner and give then exactly what they want.

Identifying the Question

Look at the three questions below and choose one you think is a discussion question.

  1. Computers are being used more and more in education and so there will soon be no role for the teacher in education.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

  1. Computers are being used more and more in education.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

  1. Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

The first question is an opinion question and we can tell this from the instructions ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’.

The second question is obviously an advantages and disadvantages question.

The third question is the discussion question. We can tell this from the typical instructions in the question ‘Discuss both sides of the argument and then give your opinion’.

You may also be asked to ‘Discuss both views and give you opinion’ or ‘Discuss both sides of the argument and give your opinion’.

Each of these questions is asking us to do different things and we therefore need a different structure for each question.

Example Questions

Here are a few other typical discussion questions:

  1. A growing number of people feel that animals should not be exploited by people and that they should have the same rights as humans, while others argue that humans must employ animals to satisfy their various needs, including uses for food and research.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

  1. Blood sports have become a hot topic for debate in recent years. As society develops it is increasingly seen as an uncivilized activity and cruel to the helpless animals that are killed. All blood sports should be banned.

Discuss the main arguments for this statement and give your own opinion.

  1. Some people think that the best way to reduce crime is to give longer prison sentences. Others, however, believe there are better alternative ways of reducing crime.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

As you can see, they typically state two opinions and then ask you to discuss both and give your opinion. Make sure you do these things in the essay. If you only discuss both views and fail to give your opinion you will lose marks.

Structure

For discussion questions, I suggest you use the following four paragraph structure.

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- State Both Points of View

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement

Sentence 3- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State first viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss first viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State second viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss second viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Conclusion

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- State which one is better or more important

Practice  

Here is a sample answer but I have mixed up the sentences. Can you match the sentences below to the structure above?

This exercise will help you understand the structure.

  1. In conclusion, while the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap into limitless sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new phenomenon and not allow it to curb face to face interaction.
  2. There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom.
  3. It is clear that the internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before.
  4. Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button. It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education.
  5. However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction.
  6. Human interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy.
  7. Despite this, human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be dismissed for this reason.
  8. This essay agrees that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view.
  9. For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact in ways that were never before possible.
  10. Wikipedia is a prime example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge quickly and easily.
  11. However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.
  12. It is often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead to adverse ramifications.

Example Answer

Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom. It is often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead to adverse ramifications. This essay agrees that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view.

It is clear that the internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before. Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button. It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education. Wikipedia is a prime example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge quickly and easily.

However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction. Human interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy. Despite this, human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be dismissed for this reason. For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact in ways that were never before possible.

In conclusion, while the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap in to limitless sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new phenomenon and not allow it to curb face to face interaction. However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.

(266 words)

Task Achievement

This is one of the four areas you will be assessed on in the IELTS writing test.

Task achievement refers to your ability to address all parts of the question and present a fully developed answer. By following the structure above, we have fully discussed both sides of the argument and given our opinion. This is exactly what the question asked us to do, no more, no less.

Coherence and Cohesion

Discourse markers (words like ‘however’, ‘despite this’ and ‘In conclusion’) are also referred to as ‘linking words’ and ‘linking phrases’, or ‘sentence connectors’. They are quite formal and are used more in academic writing than informal speech.

You gain marks for using these under the ‘coherence and cohesion’ section of the marking scheme. These words ‘stick’ the other words together and lend continuity to sentences and paragraphs.

If you do not include discourse markers in your IELTS writing, your answer will appear illogical and it is more difficult to understand.

However, this does not mean that you should try to insert as many of these words in to your writing as possible. This is a common mistake in IELTS writing.  Using too many of them, or using them inappropriately, can make your writing sound too heavy and unnatural. They are important, but must only be used at the appropriate time.

Practice

Try to identify any discourse markers in the essay above? Don’t look at the essay below yet. How many can you find?

Sample Answer with Discourse Markers

Here is the sample answer again with the discourse markers in bold.

There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom. It is often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead to adverse ramifications. This essay agrees that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view.

It is clear that the internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before. Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button. It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education. Wikipedia is a prime example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge quickly and easily.

However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction. Human interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy. Despite this, human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be dismissed for this reason. For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact in ways that were never before possible.

In conclusion, while the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap in to limitless sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new phenomenon and not allow it to curb face to face interaction. However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.

Lexical Resource

This is also one of the four criteria you will be marked on and it refers to your ability to use a wide range of accurate vocabulary.

A common mistake is to repeat the same words over and over again. You will lose marks if you do this. A solution to this problem is to use synonyms. You can either think of synonyms as you are writing or leave time at the end to add them in.

Practice

Can you identify any synonyms in the essay above?

Here are some examples:

Computers- technology

Computers- the internet

Education- in the classroom

Education- students and teachers

Positive trend- positive development

Negative Consequences- adverse ramifications

By varying your vocabulary in this way you are demonstrating that you have a wide vocabulary and this will boost your band score. However, like discourse markers be careful not to use inappropriate/inaccurate words. Only use words you are confident about. Mistakes will lead to fewer marks.

Next Steps

Do you need me to correct your essays and give you feedback on them? Check out our essay correction service.

I hope this post helps you with discussion questions and if you have any questions please comments below.

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