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August 11, 2010


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Hi.. can we use one of the following verbs instead of 'engage':
'attract', 'enthuse' , 'stimulate' ?

Good question. I'd use "the teacher enthuses or stimulates the students" rather than "the tool enthuses or stimulates". 'Attract' gives the idea that the teacher needs to get more students to come to the class e.g. "attract more customers" is used in advertising. The technology can 'motivate' students would be the most similar to the meaning of 'engage'.

hello :) how many advanatages should each parapraph have? I got used to writing just two of them that I either support with examples or expand a bit what I mean :) is it enough?

Hi Kristina,

Good question. Two advantages is fine, especially if you support, expand and use examples.

Hope this helps,


Hi Simon
I am curious the first sentence.
I think it should be
'There are several advantages to use computers in education.'
'There are several advantages for using computers in education.'
Please advise.

Hi Jay,

This confuses many students because you learn "to + infinitive" and "for + ing".

Unfortunately, English often breaks the rules. I'm afraid your 2 sentences are wrong. We wouldn't say "advantages to use" or "advantages for using".

We do say "There are advantages to using" or "of using".

Simon - Thanks for your explaination.

No problem Jay

I imitated your style of writing and created a paragraph. Could you take a look and give me some suggestions.

The function of teachers

On the other hand, I believe it is more beneficial for students to study with teachers. Classroom interaction with teachers can never be mimicked by a computer or on-line curriculum. Such interaction allows teachers to solve their students’ problems in study or research accordingly, which leads to a more effective learning. Also, good teachers will always be necessary to draw out the knowledge and help students develop the skills needed to think critically about the information they consume, and this will never be achieved by sitting face-to-face in front of a computer.

Hi Adverb,

Well done, you've really followed my suggestions. If you can write like this, you'll get a high score.

Good work

Hi, Simon
I 've collected several arguments on the drawbacks of video games. Could you take a look at them and tell me if there are mistakes in them?
Best Regards!

Gaming is a simple addiction keeping generations locked to the screen.

Children are spending time they could have spent on real, actual education or rewarding things such as sports and socialising with people.

A large number of children and teens are playing increasingly violent games.

Various games have been accused of causing addiction and even violent behavior.

Video games increase violent tendencies among youth.

Excessive or compulsive use of computer and video games interferes with daily life.

Game players may focus almost entirely on in-game achievements rather than broader life events.

People who paly violent games will have a greater risk for carrying out destructive actions.

By the way I 've registered for the paypal. Still I cannot pay by my Chinese debit card. It is a shame! And I am going to ask one of my Canadian friends to help me to pay. I will let you know when it is Ok.
Thanks again !

Sorry to bother you again

some solutions

Parents need to keep track of how much time their children spend in front of the screen playing games.

Governments should regulate or even ban the practice of selling or renting violent video games to minors.


Hi Adverb,

All of your ideas are really good. We don't say "people have a risk for", we say "people are at risk of" or "are more likely to".

I'd change the sentence to "People who play violent games are more likely to carry out destructive actions".

PS. It is a shame that PayPal is difficult to use from some countries. It's the best system I can find at the moment. Thanks for trying.


I've found this question extremely difficult.
Could you give me some ideas?
"Some people think that advertising discourages us from being different individuals by making us all look the same. Do you agree or disagree?"

Hi Simon
Hope you are doing well.
I imitate your method of writing but I have read one model answer In Cambridge IELTS book which has absolutely different sructure. And they haven't followed like introduction or anything? It makes me a bit of confused..


Hello simon
I am writing a counter argument about this paragraph. Please correct it

Having said that teachers are still tremendous source to obtain information through interaction. In fact, they can evaluate the strength and limitation of students and give immediate feedback to improve their learning skills that would not be possible by just using computer.Another difficulty that has been felt by many students is that using computers needs certain skill. Therefore, it will not be practicable for all

Hi Adverb,

First, you need to decide what your opinion is - Do we all look the same? If we do, is it because of advertising? If you agree with the statement, you might talk about global brands that have the money to advertise their products all over the world. If you don't agree, you could say advertisers just sell the things that people want to buy - they are not TRYING to make us look the same.


Hi Jay,

I agree that some of the Cambridge model answers are confusing. The problem is that they don't follow any particular method - each essay seems to be written in a different way by a different person. For this reason, I don't think you can learn much (apart from some good vocabulary) from the Cambridge model answers. Use my method/structure, and just use the Cambridge answers for vocabulary.


Hi Ayub,

I'm afraid I never give scores or do essay/paragraph correction on this site, but I can say that your paragraph is very good - you have definitely got the right idea.

All the best,


Hello, Simon.
I totally agree with Jay like he said that the sentence of "advantages to using" makes us confused..but I understood what you answered.

Could you give us some common examples which are out of English role at some point?

Hi Simon
Should I say "much controversy" or "many controversies"? I found both versions exist after googling. Besides, is it better to say "create controversy" or "generate controversy"?


Hi Sio,

Good idea. I'll try to highlight things that seem to go against the rules.


Hi Jack,

Good question. Use "much controversy" when talking about one issue e.g. "The government's decision created much controversy".

"Many controversies" would mean that you are talking about many different controversial issues (this is much less common, so you probably won't use it in IELTS)

I'd probably use 'create' (and Google seems to have more results for this) but 'generate' is fine too.

Hope this helps

That really helps. Thanks for the detailed reply.

No problem Jack

hi Simon ,

I'm thinking why you write past participle here?

they can practise doing spoken presentations

Hi Hend,

"Spoken" is used as an adjective here (e.g. a good presentation / a spoken presentation).

road accident claim for too many lives.what can government and individuals do to reduce this problem?
send answer in 25 written paragraphs as solution to this problem at my email address.

hi dear ielts tutor,,
my topic is..
discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living at home past the age of eighteen.

send me answer as advantages and disadvantages in 30 paragraphs with conclusion at the end at my email address.. thanks

ielts tutor...
my ielts writing topic is..

(in today,s large cities flats are preferable to houses.)

send me answer in 30 written paragraphs with opinion in each paragraph and conclusion at the end at my email address. thanks

hi ielts tutor,,,
my ielts written topic is
(too much money is being spent on space exploration while people are starving on earth.)

send me answer in 30 written paragraphs with far and against paragraphs and conclusion at the end at my email address. thanks

Hi Dr Saqib,

I'm afraid I don't send materials or essays to individual students by email. I help students by writing daily lessons on this website. I hope you'll find them useful.



Hi Simon,

I am trying to follow your style of writing. Is this ok if I write one more sentence at the end of a paragraph which is a little bit "out of topic". For example, the last sentence in the following paragraph:

"Firstly, a significant drawback of globalisation is that labour exploitation often occurs alongside the advent of multinationals in the developing world. In sweatshops, where the working conditions are often lack of protections for health and safety, locally hired employees may have to work for long shifts with an intense work pace and a low wage. Also, a white-collar worker working in a bank, a shop or one of the other service industries is usually put under a lot of stress and worry. In addition, many multinationals have a high turnover of staff. Their employees thus lack job security and sometimes even get sacked on a weekly basis."

Also, could you give me some comment about the coherence and logic of my paragraph?

Thank you very much.



Hi Cuong,

I think this is a very coherent paragraph, and the last sentence is relevant.

Good work!

Hi Simon,

Thank you for your comment. That really helps me with my writing.

No problem.

Hi Simon

If I use firstly, secondly and finally on paragraph one can I use it again on paragraph two, or would you suggest something else.

Thanks is a wonderfull site!

Hi Rodrigo,

In paragraph 2, I'd use something different like "The main reason/advantage... Another reason... Furthermore"

Glad you like the site!

Hi Simon
Understanding sentences below is difficult for me can u describe what do u want to say?

Secondly, technology is a powerful tool to engage students.

Hi Mohammad,

It means that using technology is great for keeping students interested in lessons. e.g. students like doing work on computers more than just writing by hand.

What are the consequences of road accidents?
Can you pls help?

I have also read Adverb's posts and think his/her English is really good.

Keep up the good work Adverb!

Hi Simon,

Why did you write "two advantages is fine" rather than "two advantages are fine"? Is it because advantage is uncountable? I've just got confused.

Hi Braulio,

When writing in a less formal way (like I do in these comments), English speakers often miss out certain information. I suppose I used the singular because in my mind I'm thinking about "the act of using two advantages" - this "act" would be singular. This is quite normal in native speaker speech, but I'd change it for more formal contexts. For example, I'd probably write: "it is acceptable to include only two advantages..."

Good question!

Hi Simon,

Thanks for your answer!!

Your website is helpful is so many ways, I just love reading your lessons and the student's comments.

Dear Simon,
I will take ielts test in 3 days. I find it is really difficult for me to write an essay. so frustrating about myself.At the moment I read the topic, my brain went blank, and only narrow to one idea. The biggest problem is that I dont know how to express myself in English.

Dear Simon,Please give me answer to help me improving my writing
I think these supporting sentences are:
Explanation + Example:
(Firstly, students learn new skills which will be extremely useful for their future jobs. For example, they learn to write reports or other documents using a word processor, and they can practise doing spoken presentations using PowerPoint slides.)

Definition of key words + Result:
(Secondly, technology is a powerful tool to engage students. The use of websites or online videos can make lessons much more interesting, and many students are more motivated to do homework or research using online resources.)

(Finally, if each student has a computer to work on, they can study at their own pace)

Hi Samantha,
The Road accidents can left great damages: physical, social and psychological.
Consequences of a road traffic accident for vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, cyclists.
For instance,hospitalization,handicap and death.


it really confuses me a lot that I do not know when I can use "to+infinitive " and " to+V ing"
Would you please tell me the differences between this two structures. and it would be great if you can give me some advice about how to use these correctly.

Hi Simon,

I wanna ask you something about that. I began to studying with IELTS Liz videos and she was saying in a video -might be How to Write an Introduction- don't use 'Finally', never ever! So, she intended to begin to paragraph or using within body paragraph? Which one is true?


Hi Simon,

Why did you use 6 sentences instead of 5 as you guided in the videos?

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