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IGCSE ESL Writing Skills

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Imogen Morgan

on 9 June 2014

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Transcript of IGCSE ESL Writing Skills

There are 3 writing tasks, which are Parts 4,5 and 6 of Paper 1 (Reading and Writing).

Together they are worth 50% of the marks for the paper, so you should spend around an hour on them.

Part 4 is worth 10 marks, so you should only spend up to around 15 minutes on this part.

Parts 5 and 6 are worth 20 marks each, so you should spend 20-25 minutes on them. (Part 6 involves reading and summarising, so you will probably need a bit more time for this section).
Key Points to remember:

stick to the word limit (75-100 in Part 4, 100-150 in Parts 5 and 6): anything above the word limit will NOT be marked.
make sure you have included all the information asked for in the bullet points.
make sure you set out work in a clear, organised way - there are 5 marks per question for this. Use paragraphs, titles when appropriate, and transition words.
use a range of sentence structures and vocabulary to gain more marks (see handout 'Possible Syntax' to see some examples)
proofread your answer: look for mistakes that you might tend to make (e.g. have you used the right verb tense? have you made verbs singular or plural? have you used a comma when you need a linking word?).
remember your audience (are you writing a letter, article or report, or summary?), and use the correct phrases and structure, and decide you should be formal or informal in your style.
do not copy words or phrases in Section 6, and try not to copy exact phrases from the question in Section 4 or 5 either.
General Overview
Part 5 - Report or Article

This will be quite formal, but is often for your teacher or school magazine, so can be semi-formal: do not use lots of slang!

Use a title (and sub-headings if you like).

You should try to write a very short conclusion/final sentence summing up your ideas, to show good organisation.

Make sure you include all the information asked for in the question.


This will probably be for your school magazine, so should be lively but semi-formal.

Include a headline: try to make it engaging and interesting, but also relevant to the main topic.

Use adjectives/adverbs, rhetorical or real questions, and a mixture of sentence structures and lengths.

Part 6 - Summary
Part 4 - Correspondence
Part 4 will be a letter, fax or email.

Check whether it is an informal letter/email (to a friend) or a formal one (to a business or customer), and decide on your style.

Look at the handout guidance for more information on formal/informal style of writing, especially for a letter, and how to begin and end it. For example, you will probably write 'Love from Tim' or "Best wishes, Tim' at the end of an informal letter.

Remember that Part 4 is only worth 10 marks and the word limit is 75-100 words, which is quite short.

However, you will need to make up some details (e.g. about new clothes you bought, or a film you want to see), so be creative so you have enough to say to write 75-100 words.
IGCSE ESL Writing Skills
Part 5 Questions

2012: An article about your home town or city for your school magazine

2013: A report for your school magazine about the benefits of walking
Part 4 Questions

2012 - A letter to a friend about buying new clothes

2013 - An email to a friend arranging a trip to the cinema
You will read one or two short texts (about 500 words in total). Then you write a summary, paraphrasing some of the information in the original text.

To do well in this section, you must use your own words and phrases: pupils do less well when they copy whole chunks from the text. You can use key words: if the text is all about Vitamin D, you can say 'Vitamin D' or 'This vitamin' as often as you need to.

Structure your summary clearly, using a title, and a separate paragraph for each section of information. Don't forget transition words such as 'However,...' or 'Consequently,...'..

Alter the structure of sentences and grammar:
e.g. turn the sentence 'It is important to eat lots of vegetables' into 'Eating a lot of vegetables is very important.
Find synonyms for repetitive words:
.e.g . 'It is good for you to stay active' could be 'It is beneficial...'; 'advantage' could be 'plus point', or 'pro', whereas 'disadvantage' can also be 'drawback' or 'negative aspect.'
Additional Resources
Look at:

- 'Possible Syntax for IGCSE ESL' to see a range of sentence structures to express different ideas.
- 'Connectives as Signpost' to see some good linking words to use in the middle of sentences or at the beginning to show the reader where you are going.
- 'IGCSE info -writing' to see some useful
phrases for letter/email writing, some
Top Tips to remember just before the
exam, and to look at the Assessment
Criteria to see how marks are
Useful Things to Do

- play http://www.freerice.org, or search 'esl vocabulary games' to try different activities. Merriem Webster online has games for more advanced vocabulary.

- read letters or emails (check for examples by searching online), or articles in newspapers/magazines, or in fact read anything!

- read any English grammar books you have or do online games to practise. The British Council have a range: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/grammar-exercises

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