Children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school – IELTS Writing Task 2
IELTS Writing Task 2
Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school. Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?
Structure of Essay 1:
Sentence 1- Paraphrase question
Sentence 2- Thesis statement (state which one outweighs the other)
Main Body Paragraph 1 (Stronger Side)
Sentence 4- Topic Sentence 1 (Advantage 1)
Sentence 5- Explain how this is an advantage
Sentence 6- Example
Sentence 7- Topic Sentence 2 (Advantage 2)
Sentence 8- Explain
Sentence 9- Example
Main Body Paragraph 2 (Weaker Side)
Sentence 10- Topic Sentence
Sentence 11- Refute this viewpoint (Explain why it is not strong)
Sentence 12- Example
Sentence 13- Summary of main points and restate position.
Band 7.0 Sample Answer
One of the highly controversial issue today relates to whether to begin learning a foreign language at primary school or at secondary school. This essay will further discuss whether extending foreign language study to the primary stages is beneficial and if disadvantages may occur in the later stages.
IELTS Actual Test Questions (August - November 2021)
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4.6 of 5
4.8 of 5
4.8 of 5
On one side of the argument, there are people who argue that the benefits of practising a foreign language at primary school considerably outweigh its disadvantages. The main reason for believing this is that the children have the golden age period when they are at elementary school. One good illustration of this is some developed countries have been implementing the bilingual language in the primary school’s curriculum for decades, and most of the children can speak the second language as well as their native language. Another reason is that children are much more enthusiastic about exploring and learning new things at a young age. The timetable for them should allow more frequent, shorter sessions for maintaining learner’s enthusiasm and progress.
Opponents reckon that the students at secondary school are better prepared than at primary school for acquiring a new language. However, there is no actual evidence to support this view and children at their early ages (ranging from 5 to 10) can even learn faster and are better at pronunciation. For example, my second daughter had started to learn English when she was five years old and can speak English more fluently compared to her older sister, who just learnt English when she attended secondary school.
In my opinion, both arguments have their merits. On balance, however, I tend to believe that learning a second language at an earlier age will have a more positive impact on most of the children around the world.
Essay Structure 2
Sentence 1- Paraphrase question
Sentence 2- Outline sentence
Supporting Paragraph 1 (Advantages)
Sentence 3- Topic sentence (Advantage 1)
Sentence 4- Explain
Sentence 5- Example
Supporting Paragraph 2 (Disadvantages)
Sentence 6- Topic sentence (Disadvantage 1)
Sentence 7- Explain how this is a disadvantage
Sentence 8- Example
Sentence 9- Summarize and restate your opinion
Band 8.0 Sample Answer
Traditionally, children have begun studying foreign languages at secondary school, but introducing them earlier is recommended by some educationalists. This policy has been adopted by some educational authorities or individual schools, with both positive and negative outcomes.
The obvious argument in its favour is that young children pick up languages much more easily than teenagers. Their brains are still programmed to acquire their mother tongue, which facilitates learning another language, and unlike adolescents, they are not inhibited by self-consciousness.
The greater flexibility of the primary timetable allows for more frequent, shorter sessions and for a play-centred approach, thus maintaining learners’ enthusiasm and progress. Their command of the language in later life will benefit from this early exposure while learning other languages subsequently will be easier for them. They may also gain a better understanding of other cultures.
There are, however, some disadvantages. Primary schools teachers are generalists, and may not have the necessary skill themselves. If specialists have to be brought in to deliver these sessions, the flexibility referred to above is diminished. If primary language teaching is not standardised, secondary schools could be faced with a great variety of levels in different languages within their intake, resulting in a classroom experience which undoes the earlier gains. There is no advantage if enthusiastic primary pupils become demotivated as soon as they change schools. However, these issues can be addressed strategically within the policy adopted.
Anything which encourages language learning benefits society culturally and economically, and early exposure to language learning contributes to this. Young children’s innate abilities should be harnessed to make these benefits more achievable.
You can also follow this outline for a 4-paragraph essay:
- Introduction: Topic = best age to learn a foreign language. Our opinion = better to learn at primary school age.
- Disadvantages of learning languages at primary age:
-Learning a new language is confusing and wastes time, could delay development of child’s first language.
-Other subjects are more important at that age (maths, mother tongue language, science)
- Advantages of learning languages at primary age:
-Young children learn faster
-They are less self-conscious or shy
-They pick up the pronunciation better
-Nowadays languages are just as important as maths
- Conclusion: repeat / summarise our answer.
Bonus essay topic:
Introducing two or more foreign languages in the school curriculum has been in trend lately. Do you think the benefits of this trend outweigh its drawbacks?
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