Hello everyone, I’m Jade. What we’re talking about today is writing introductions. And I’m going to give you three ways that you can write introductions, and you can use any of these three ways to answer an IELTS exam for the discursive essay or discursive essay questions in the CAE exam. So let’s take a look at the kind of question I’m talking about. I’ll read the question to you first of all. “In Britain, elderly people may go to live in a home with other old people where nurses look after them.
Sometimes the government has to pay for this care. Who do you think should pay for this care?” And then in the IELTS question it would say: “Give reasons and support your answer with your own opinions.” So this is a discursive essay. And if you look at it, there are two…
There are two sides in the question. The first side is the government paying for the care. And the other…
The other side is implied, doesn’t… Doesn’t tell us who the other side is. But if the government’s not paying, it’s implying that it’s the… The children of the elderly people. So: “children of elderly people.” So, in all these discursive essays, there’s going to be some kind of opposition; one side and a different side.
So now we found the two sides, the two ways of looking at this question. And what we’re going to look at now is the first way that you can answer this question in an introduction. Because what happens is when you get there and you’re writing an exam, many people just get stuck and they don’t know what to write for the introduction; they don’t know how to begin. And, of course, you can waste time if you don’t know what to say. So what some people do is basically just rewrite the question and just maybe change a couple of words, but it’s not really an introduction if you do that. So let’s look at rhetorical questions.
You can use a rhetorical question to write an introduction. What’s a “rhetorical question”? I think I just made a rhetorical question. It’s when you… When you speak directly to the reader, asking a question, but of course the reader’s not going to be able to answer you, so you answer the reader in the course of your argument. So it’s taking the question and making your own question out of it, essentially.
So, an easy way to do it is by using: “should” to form your question. So remember we’ve got two sides, we’ve got an opposition. We’ve got government paying for the care and we’ve got the children of elderly people paying for the… For the care. So here we go, here’s the first example: “Should the government or family pay for the care of elderly people?” So, in my answer, I’ve called them “family” here, it’s a little bit…
It’s a little bit more direct and succinct, rather than saying: “children of elderly people”. So there’s one example. “Should the government be responsible for providing care for elderly people?” I forgot my question mark there. You don’t need to write your rhetorical question with “should”. You could use other question structures.
For example: “Is it the responsibility of government to pay for the care of elderly people?” You don’t have to use “should”, but I find “should” is an easy… Easy way to generate your question. But then, you know, that’s not the whole introduction; you need to say something else. What do you say then? Well, you follow with the context.
So, what’s the context of this? Well, it’s telling us what happens in Britain, elderly people go to homes and the government pays or sometimes the family pay, but maybe there’s a different context in other countries. For example: the country you’re from. Again, it’s implying that, that it’s not the same system everywhere in the world. So you could… You could bring this context into the next sentence in your introduction.
So here is some sentences you can use for writing about the context. And I haven’t… I haven’t finished the sentences, I’ll just improvise some endings.
For example: “This question” – talking about the rhetorical question – “generates a lot of debate because…” and now I’m going to improvise. “This question generates a lot of debate because the care for elderly people is very, very” – not very, very – “is very expensive.” Or you could say: “Opinion is divided about this issue because some families cannot afford to pay for the care of their elderly relatives.
For this reason, it’s not fair to expect them to pay.” Something like that, another improvised answer. Or what about this one?
In your subject, you can use a group. Okay? You don’t have to say: “I think”, you don’t have to use your own subjectivity. So you could say something like: “Most people” or you could, borrowing the authority of somebody else, you could say: “politicians” or we could refer to someone relevant in the answer. We could say: “Most elderly people”, for example. Here we go: “Most people think that…” Improvising here: “Most people think that the government should pay for the care of elderly people because elderly people have worked and paid taxes all their lives so it’s only fair.”
I don’t know if most people think that, but it’s your essay, you can say what you like. So when you… When you’ve written your statement with the context, that’s… Will give you a few lines and that’s enough for an introduction. And then you can move on to the main body of your… Of your essay. But what we look at next is the other ways of writing an introduction for your IELTS or CAE exam.
Let’s have a look at the second way to write an introduction. So I just left some key phrases from the question at the top here. Remember, we have an opposition: the government pays for the care or the family pays for the care. So if you are uncomfortable doing a rhetorical question, you might want to consider this way which I’m calling the “While Introduction”. And this is the structure for writing this kind of introduction, there are three parts to make your introduction.
The first part is you need to write a context sentence and you can do that in the present simple. The second part is a “While” sentence for contrast. And the third part is a statement of opinion.
So we’re going to look at those three different parts now. So, one: context sentence, present simple. So, here you’re expressing some kind of general fact about the situation. “The care of elderly people is expensive therefore, there is debate about who should pay for it.” We put commas before “therefore”. You’re not using: “I think” or anything like this.
This is just a general statement about the situation. Remember that in Britain, elderly people go to live in a home sometimes and the government sometimes pays for them. Well, you’re just adding a little bit of opinion there, saying it’s expensive, you’re… You’re sharing us what the problem is if you… If you do that. So there…
There you have your context. Then we get to the part where we need to make the “While” sentence for contrast, and this is where we show the two positions; some people think this, some people think that. Let’s have a look. So this would be your sentence or something similar: “While some people think that the government should pay, others think that the family should pay.”
So, what you do is you need to put the two sides of the argument into your “While” sentence. So here I put “some people” and I’m contrasting it with “others”, “others”. But we could… We could vary this. We could also say: “many people” or we could even say: “elderly people”. We could include… We could include the group of people that the question’s actually talking about. So, we need to make the opposition and we do that by mentioning here the other side of the situation, the family should pay like that.
When you write a “While” sentence, there will always be a comma in between your first clause and your second clause. So then what do you do? You need to give a statement of opinion to close this introduction.
So you can use… You can use this phrase to get you started, you can say: “In my opinion”. “In my opinion, there are strong arguments on both sides…” So you would continue that, saying something about why you think one side is strong. I think this kind of thing is really good for an IELTS answer. If you are at university level, you need to be writing something more sophisticated, but I’m giving you just a template you can use in your answers so that you don’t get stuck.
And if you follow this template, you’ll get a good score in your essays. Oh, well the introduction will be good at least. So here’s another option, you could say: “In my opinion, the government” – or you could choose a different subject -, “the family should pay as…” blah, blah, blah. So here, you’re including in the introduction what you actually think. You’re showing us how you’re going to argue in the rest of the essay or what you’re going to discuss in the rest of the essay. If you say something like this: “In my opinion, there are strong arguments on both sides”, we don’t really know where you’re going with your answer yet.
Maybe you don’t know yet and that’s why you’re choosing that. If you say: “In my opinion, the family should pay…” blah, blah, blah, then we know that throughout your argument, that’s what you’re going for; you’re going to make the case that it’s the responsibility of the family. So when we come back, we’re going to look at the third and final way that you can use… A template that you can follow to write an introduction for IELTS or CAE. Now we’re going to look at the final way that I have for you to write an introduction for your IELTS or CAE. So, often, these kind of questions are really set up for you to be able to bring in your own experience from your own country, so you can contrast the cultures between Britain and where you’re from, for example.
So, I’ve called this third option: “Sharing experience/contrasting cultures”. So remember the question was set up in a way that said: “In Britain, the government generally pays for the care of elderly people”? Well, maybe it’s different in your country so we can use this structure for making an introduction. The first part is a context sentence about your country. So the question told us what it’s like in Britain. What’s it like in your country?
The next part is a “However” contrast sentence, so contrasting sentence. And the last part of the introduction is you giving a statement of opinion. Which system or which culture do you think is best? Effectively, so let’s look at those sentences.
For the context sentence about your country, I’m just going to put a country here. “In ___________ the family is responsible for” – missed that word – “for the care of their elderly parents.” Well, I spent some time in Nepal and I can tell you that there, the family is responsible. They have a very different system; the way they live is very different. So, in fact, I don’t have to be from Nepal to say that. It’s not like I’m talking about my country; doesn’t have to be your country to make this kind of… To use this kind of structure.
So, for example: “In Nepal the family is responsible for the care of their elderly parents, therefore they must pay for their care.” It’s not an option for the government to pay for the care here. So there’s a context sentence.
Then show the contrast. That’s what it’s like in Nepal, what’s it like in Britain? And you can use what was said in the question to be able to answer that.
“However, in Britain the situation is different.” – Yeah, we know it’s different because the government can pay for the care – “Perhaps because family life is different.” You could go on to discuss this more in the main body of your essay. You don’t… You don’t definitely… Essentially, you don’t need that so much, that’s just like a little bit extra.
You could just leave it like that. “However, in Britain the situation is different.” And then you can give your opinion. Which way or which system is better? So whatever you think. “In my opinion, the government should pay for the care of elderly people because…” blah, blah, blah.
So what I’ve tried to do is break down the structure of an introduction for you because a lot of people just get really stuck and they don’t know what to write because you see this question there and you don’t really know how to put it together. So what can you take away from today’s lesson? You can think… You can think about an introduction as something with a beginning, and a middle, and an end, and a structure that you can follow. Plus, you can take away some of the set phrases that I’ve given you so that you can include those in your introductions in the future when you’re writing something. But what you can do now is, of course, go to the engVid website where you can do a quiz on this lesson.
So that will prepare you for writing introductions for your exams. And what I’d also like you to do is subscribe here on my engVid channel and also on my personal channel. I’ve got lots and lots of videos on my personal channel about learning English, other things as well, accents, a variety of things for you to enjoy there. So, yes, we’re finished now. I’m just going to go fishing.
I’ll see you later.