My writing class

Our Director of Studies, Candice Gregory, talks about the writing course she is teaching here at EC Oxford IELTS Centre and gives us some useful writing tips!

Students at EC Oxford IELTS Centre attending their writing course

After years of not teaching regularly, I decided last month to step back into the classroom and offer our pre-intermediate and intermediate students at EC Oxford, the opportunity to practise their writing skills 1 hour a week with me. I did this for several reasons

• Writing is a skill I am passionate about and I believe it is not studied often enough.
• Students at this level benefit from focussing more on this skill to help them in the next levels
• I see a lot of areas in students’ writing which are ‘easy fixes’ and yet make a big difference to the impression their writing leaves on the reader
• I want to see more of our students pass their progress tests, and all too frequently, it is their writing that holds them back.

I started the first lesson by outlining why I was offering this 6-week course to a group of 12 regular students and what it is I wish to help them with. The students seemed surprised to learn that initially it is not grammar or even vocabulary which usually results in lower marks, but simple areas such as

• Lack of paragraphs
• No punctuation
• Overly long sentences
• Overly short sentences

Our first lesson was devoted to looking at these areas with students learning about punctuation (full-stops, commas, question marks, exclamation marks and quotation marks), learning about how many sentences usually form a paragraph. Do you know? The average is 3 – 8 sentences but some can be as short as 1 sentence if used well for dramatic effect.

We also learned how many words usually go in a sentence. Do you know the answer to this? The ideal sentence is comprised of 15 – 20 words. Any less, and the sentence is boring and too simple. Any more and the reader can lose their way and forget what they are reading.

Using this information carefully in your writing can make all the difference to the people marking students’ work – be it me, Rob or your teachers. It could make all the difference to whether you pass your next progress test or not.

We have also looked at descriptive language (adjectives and adverbs) and formal / informal English in email writing.

Happy writing everyone!