Learning English Language Essay Questions

English - The Most Important Second Language Essay examples

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1. English - the most important second language Over 700 million people in the world speak English and it is the international language of diplomacy, business, science, technology, banking, computing, medicine, engineering, tourism, and Hollywood films. Furthermore two-thirds of German companies anticipate that applicants have thorough knowledge of English. Therefore teachers have to advance students' foreign language competences as early as possible to prepare them for the globalised world outside the classroom. This is a challenging mission and a lot of teachers fail to provide their students with enough language input so that students feel unsure if they are able to fulfil the companies' expectations after graduating school. So…show more content…

According to Cameron the notion of traditional syllabi is "that the most important part of the language is its grammar, and that language learning is the accumulation of mastered rules of the grammar" (2003, p. 105) As a result students are not actively involved in the learning process because the teacher decides what is done in class. Due to the fact that first a certain point of grammar or pronunciation is taught in its different forms together with some new vocabulary, this syllabus is a structure-oriented one. Once the students are familiar with the introduced form, the teacher moves to a more difficult and complex piece of grammar or pronunciation. This is a traditional and often used way to introduce language, simplifying the learning challenge for students by introducing different linguistic items separately. The focus of this syllabus is mainly on the question what is taught in class.
Holistic Syllabus Holistic approaches concentrate more on the question how language is learned in a foreign language classroom. So teachers should pay attention to the learning process rather than to specific language items. Therefore they have to work together with their students to find out what kind of language is important for them in a certain situation. "Holistic activities

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Both IELTS tests - the academic and the general - require you to write a short essay. In this episode we will learn about question topics, which can be any topic of general interest and question tasks, which determine the style of essay you need to write.


Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation. I’m Margot Politis.

Today we’ll look at question tasks and topics in the essay section of the IELTS test.

Both Ielts tests, the academic and the general, require you to write a short essay.

What are the questions likely to be about? 

  • Media, censorship, privacy or the influence of advertising.
  • Education, testing, computers or public and private education.
  • Environment, eco-tourism, global warming or pollution.
  • Health, obesity, alternative medicine, exercise or diet.
  • Communication, the internet or mobile phones.
  • Society, youth issues, juvenile delinquency or ageing populations.

There are two parts to an essay question.

First, there is the question topic, a statement like this:

Internet access should be under government control to avoid any potential harm to children.

And second, there is the question task, which will be something like:

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?


Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of government controlling Internet access.


What are the reasons for government control?

What other measures could be taken to deal with this problem?

The purpose of the different question tasks is to test a range of writing skills.

They can test your ability to identify causes and effects.

You could be asked “what are the causes…” or ‘what are the effects…”.

Or they are designed to see how well you can present a solution to a problem. For example:

What measures could be taken to deal with this problem?

Here you would need to say what can be done to stop children being harmed by material on the internet, such as using software that prevents children accessing harmful sites or keeping computers out of children’s bedrooms where they are not supervised by a parent.  

Often the question task tests whether you can present two sides of an issue, compare opinions and justify your view, such as these:

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?


Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of government control.


Here’s the question topic again:

Internet access should be under government control to avoid any potential harm to children.

Let’s look more closely at some question tasks for it. First:

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Here you would need to decide how much you agree or disagree with the issue of governments controlling Internet access and give your opinion.

Your ideas would need to be supported with reasons and appropriate examples.

Why should the government control the internet?

Try to think of situations that support what you think. 

A very similar style of essay would be required if you were asked:

With this question task you must still consider other points of view. 

And remember the instruction to give reasons and provide examples still applies.

What about this question task?

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of government control.

Here you’re not required to directly give your opinion, but to present and explain both sides of the issue. But by saying what you think is good and bad, your view of the issue should be obvious.

The question task can be more direct, like this:

What are the reasons for government control?

What other measures could be taken to deal with this problem?

You should give reasons why governments need to control the Internet and then suggest what else could be done to protect children.

This task tests how well you can identify causes and suggest solutions.

Let’s look at some more sample questions.

In some countries there are fewer doctors and teachers taking up jobs in rural areas. 

As a result, communities in these remote areas are being poorly served.

What are the effects of this and what measures could be taken to improve it?

The main topic is teachers and doctors not working in remote areas. 

Here you would need to write about the negative effects that a community experiences when there aren’t enough teachers and doctors. 

For the second part of the task  - what measures could be taken - you should suggest some ways of improving the situation. 

This question tests your ability to write about the effects of something and provide some solutions.

Let’s look at another question:

Children’s eating habits and lifestyles today are more likely to be harmful than beneficial.   

Discuss both these views.

The main topic is what children eat and how they spend their time. 

The task asks you to discuss two views – both these views. 

What are the 2 views?

The question topic says “more likely to be harmful than beneficial”, so the 2 views are:

The more likely, according to the statement, that children’s eating habits are causing harm.

And the opposite, that children’s eating habits are beneficial.  

The task requires you to compare the negative effects of what children eat these days with the positive effects. 

So it’s the sort of question task that tests if you can compare 2 sides of an issue. And it gives you the opportunity to challenge the question topic. 

You could argue that children these days eat very well and exercise a lot and that the idea that they don’t is exaggerated. 

Remember though that you can’t do this without giving good reasons and providing examples. 

Computers have changed the way children are taught. 

Some believe this means that children are missing out on a well-rounded education.

Here the main topic is the use of computers in children’s education.    

You need to decide what you think about computers in classrooms and whether they might stop children getting a well-rounded education. 

In forming your opinion, you should also write about what other people might think.

So we’ve looked at questions in the general areas of education, technology, society and health.  

The essay question consists of a statement called the question topic, which can be about any topic of general interest and a question task, which determines the style of essay you need to write. 

Remember that the same topic can be looked at from different perspectives.

Include not only causes, effects and solutions but also advantages and disadvantages when building a bank of ideas for a topic.

That’s all for now. I’ll see you next time on Study English. 

Study English S3 Ep6: Question Tasks and Topics in Writing Study Notes

Study English S3 Ep6: Question Tasks and Topics in Writing Activity Sheet

Study Tips:

  • Reading newspapers regularly and watching programs on current affairs and stories of general interest can help you build a bank of ideas.
  • Think about whether you agree or disagree with topics discussed or look out for any causes or consequences of problems and solutions to these problems.
  • Remember, you will need to state your opinion and take a position on the IELTS topic in the Writing module.

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Thumbnail credit - Flickr CC: Kevin Doncaster

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