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April 02, 2017


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Thank you so much, Teacher Simon!

Hi Simon,

you are doing a great job and I appreciate it very much.

I have two dilemmas:

First, could you explain the difference between while and although in a simple way. Very often while means "during the time" and I am afraid of making mistake, since I use while frequently in my introductions.

Second, I am confused with some "to what extend do you agree questions", to be precise, when there are two statements in the topic. Well, sometimes, the first statement just introduce the topic, while sometimes it is a part of a question. Do you have any advice how to be sure not to miss some points and therefore not to completely achieve task response.

Here is one of the questions I found confusing in this manner:
"Some countries have come to rely on tourism as their major source of income. However, many people believe that the problems caused by tourism are more serious than those it has solved. To what extend do you agree or disagree whit this opinion?"

So, should we write about both: why tourism is important for those countries(such as reduce unemployment, increase revenue and overall economic progress), and what problems can tourism cause (environmental issues...)?

And our conclusion should be like: I believe that tourism can have both positive and negative impact in almost equal measure.

Dear Maja,
As far as I know:

+ "While" has 3 meanings:
1) "During the time" ( like you said above)
Ex: While I was playing video games, my mom was cooking.

2) Introduce something quite surprising. In this case, "while"= "although"
Ex: Although/ While she sings so well, she doesn't win that singing contest.
Although/ While I had studied day and night, I didn't pass the exam.
Although/ While tourism has brought many economic benefits, I would argue that it has far more drawbacks/ caused far more problems.

3) Contrast 2 subjects:
Ex: While I am optimistic, my sister is quite pessimistic.
While the number of men playing sports doubles, the figure for women has seen a considerable fall.

+ In the question you posted, I think that " Some countries... source of income." is a fact, which means that it is 100% true, right, so there is nothing to argue about. I think that you just need to paraphrase this sentence as the first sentence in your Introduction, and don't write your opinion ( that's just my opinion^^)
From " However, some people believe that ... it has solved", it is just a belief, an opinion of somebody else, which means that you have to argue whether this view is right or wrong. If you think it's 100% wrong, in your body, talk about its advantages, especially economic advantages. If you think it's 100% right, talk about its problems, as much as possible, to prove that tourism caused far more drawbacks than benefits that it brings. If you think it's write but you want to write in the style "While I accept that ...A.., I favour ...B..." , for example, " though I accept that tourism has brought many economic benefits, I agree that it has caused far more problems". I think that this is the easiest way to write, because it allows you to write about benefits of tourism in body paragraph 1, and drawbacks in body paragraph 2.

I remember that Teacher Simon has done a lesson on how to differentiate betweeen fact and opinion, I have been searching but I can't find it. Maybe you could go through his Writing Task 2 lessons and you may find it.

Thanks a lot Nam Anh!

I also think that there is a lesson about the second question I have asked about, but I couldn't find it too, and then I wasn't sure if I saw it here on the blog.

Anyway, thanks again, it is now more clear to me how to organize my ideas!

Hi, Simon
I've got a question about listening. If I'm not sure to write capital letter or not. Can I write the answers in all capitals?

Hi, simon
I've heard about four criteria of writing IELTS test. One of them is grammatical range and accuracy.In some writing books, i have seen that the authors have a opinion to use varieties and complexities of sentence structures, namely cleft sentences, inversions, repetitions of key words, cliches... I think they are not sentence structures that you usually use for writing.Would it be ok to have a wide range of structures like this? And can i make a good impression on examiners by using some uncommon grammatical structures?
Thank for your considerations and hope to see your replies soon.

Dear Son, I think that Teacher Simon has answered a question like yours in this lesson:
It's maybe what you are looking for.

Hi All
Greetings from New Zealand
Just back from the IELTS test & the Task 2 writing question was

Consumers are troubled by the increase in number of advertising companies.
To what extent can they be influenced by these companies (or advertisements) 🤔
What measures could be taken to protect their interests

hi,simon.I am qiqi from China.I ask your very simple question but i can explain it through cheching an english dictionary.among"engage face-to-face with",face-to-face is an adj.why can it be used in that way???


It's also an adverb.

Yes, I understand what you mean, I do realise the difference in the tone when we write and when we speak. I also realise that informal words that native speakers use are something so beautiful, so natural, so cool and absolutely not something to be sneezed at. I have to memorise and use them just as often as formal words. To me, each kind of vocabulary has their own beauty and importance. I used to love really big big big words, but now they are just nightmares to me. I used to be quite proud if I could show off those words in front of others when I spoke, but now, I just feel they are so stupid and awkward. It only shows that I haven't listened to conversations between native speakers enough.

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