It’s easy to concentrate on vocabulary for the writing themes which also appear in the speaking exams (left column), but have your students had some practice with the themes on the right?
Here are some writing prompts we like to use to help our students research some appropriate vocabulary for the tasks, we’ve also made a note of some of the traps or pitfalls that our students fall into under each one!
You are thinking about learning a new musical instrument. Write an email to your friend saying which instrument you want to learn, if you have studied music before and if you think you will have to spend a lot of money.
Email to a friend = informal
You recently had an amazing experience, write a letter to your British friend explaining what happened, why it has changed your life, and if you think you will ever have an experience like this again.
Letter to a friend = informal. This task gives students a lot of scope, students should generate SEVERAL ideas and think which they can write most fluently about (do they have the vocabulary in English?). Some students hit on one idea “meeting a long lost friend” or “spending a night in a haunted house” and try to write about it while they still lack vocabulary. Such ideas are great for expressive class writing – but not great exam strategy!
Write a review of a new type of car for a motoring website. Say why this new car is special, if there are any negative things about the car, and if you would recommend it to the readers.
Review = students draw on personal experience (often imagined 😉 ), usually to give advice or a recommendation to someone. Students should address the readers as “you”: If you want a very fast car, you should consider this option”.
Write an article about weddings in your country for a bridal magazine. Say how people usually prepare for weddings, describe a typical wedding day, and say if you think these traditions will continue in the future.
This is an article, not a review – students should talk about the subject in general, and less, or not at all about their personal experience.Write a review of a television programme for a local newspaper. Explain what the programme is about, give your opinion on the actors or presenters and say if you plan to continue watching it in the future.
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