Today we’re going to look at a typical IELTS writing task 2 question about immigration. I will show you how to analyze the question, generate ideas and examples, structure your essay, and then finally write it. This question type is “discuss both views” but remember that the topic of immigration could be addressed in various ways for IELTS writing task 2.
Analyze the Question
Here is the question we will answer today:
Some people claim that immigrants should adopt the local culture when immigrating to a new country. While others think that they can establish a minority community instead.
Let’s look first at some of the key words that can help us to understand what we should do:
- immigrants – people who have moved to a new country
- immigrating – the process of moving to a new country
- adopt – to begin to use something
- minority – meaning less than half; a small proportion of something
So what is this question about?
It is about whether or not immigrants should adopt the local culture or establish a minority community.
What do you need to do?
You need to (1) discuss both views and (2) give your opinion.
Choosing the Right Language
By now you have read the question and should be familiar with its meaning. You should have already noted down useful vocabulary from the question that you may want to use in your essay.
Remember: Don’t copy from the question. You can use some words or a short phrase, but don’t repeat the question in your essay.
Changing Word Form
In the question, we can see the words “immigrant” and “immigrating”. These are different forms (noun, verb) of the same root word. You should attempt to make more of these to help you vary your language.
- immigrant/immigrating -> immigration
- culture -> cultural
- adopt -> adoption
Think of Synonyms
It is also very important to have some synonyms handy to avoid repetition. It also makes your writing look much better to have a few carefully chosen synonyms for key words in the question.
- immigrants -> new arrivals/ newcomers
- local -> native/ regional
- establish -> create/ set up
A word I think is really, really useful for the topic of immigration and culture is “assimilate” or “assimilation”. This means the same as “adopt the local culture”.
And Don’t Forget Antonyms
Everyone knows that you need to be good with synonyms to do well in IELTS, but it also helps to know a few antonyms, too. (Antonym means the opposite of synonym.)
- minority -> majority
- adopt -> reject
- immigrating -> emigrating
By the way, it’s really useful to have a good dictionary or thesaurus for this sort of thing.
Generating Useful Ideas and Examples
When writing an IELTS writing task 2 essay, you need to be able to explore complex topics in an intelligent manner. As such, you need to be able to generate useful ideas and examples to use in your essay. It shows logical thought and will impress the examiner.
The first step is to fully understand the question. You cannot begin planning an answer until you fully comprehend the task. Go back to step one if you are unsure.
Next, you need to brainstorm. Brainstorming means thinking of lots of ideas. You can quickly think about or note down any ideas related to the question.
Here are my notes on the above question:
For – good for local culture (multiculturalism)
– makes life easier
– more job opportunities
– people will trust you more
– learn more about new country
Against – safer
– preserve traditions and language
– scary to mix
– fear of other people
– fosters strong sense of identity
If we look at the above list, we can clearly see some good ideas, and some bad ones. There are also some that would be easy to write about and some that would not be easy to write about.
When choosing ideas for your essay, ask yourself whether you (1) know enough about the subject and (2) have the language to describe it.
Pick just your very best ideas and then think of how to explain them. Can you cite examples, or give details? You must be able to elaborate in order to write a fully-developed paragraph.
Remember: It is better to describe one thing in detail than four things briefly. This is because it shows your ability to construct arguments and usual transitional phrases.
Here are some of my ideas from above, with the worst ones removed:
For – good for local culture (multiculturalism)
makes life easier
– more job opportunities
people will trust you more
learn more about new country
From the remaining two ideas in favour of adopting the local culture, I would probably choose to write about job opportunities.
But what could I say about job opportunities? What are some ideas relevant to immigration and culture?
- I could explain that assimilation to the local culture would increase job opportunities.
- This would then result in better quality of living for the immigrant.
- It would also be beneficial to society and the economy.
- I could then give a real or hypothetical example.
Learning to structure an IELTS writing task 2 essay is really easy. It have lots of articles on this topic here:
- IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay Structures
- Selecting Ideas and Structuring an Essay [IELTS Writing Task 2]
- Structuring an IELTS Task 2 Essay
- How to Structure a Paragraph
- IELTS Writing: Should I Write 4 or 5 Paragraphs?
You should be able to master the basics of essay structure in under a day. Just follow these instructions:
- Analyze the question
- Choose 4 or 5 paragraph structure
- Generate several good ideas
- Decide on the order of your ideas
- Make notes on the content of each paragraph
- Write the essay
In the above sections, I have outlined steps 1-3, and now I will show you my notes, which make up steps 3-4.
Introduction – paraphrase question
- essay outline
Para #1 – in favour of assimilation
- main argument: job opportunity
Para #2 – in favour of minority community
- main argument: preserve traditions and language
Conclusion – state my position and review para 1-2
Here’s a useful video about structuring IELTS essays
Here is my sample answer to the above question about immigration.
As the world population grows and people become increasingly mobile, people are divided over the extent to which immigrants should attempt to assimilate into the local culture. This essay will look at the main argument from each side of the debate, and then suggest that a compromise is needed, wherein immigrants both assimilate and form a strong community.
The people who argue in favour of immigrants assimilating into the local culture often point out that it increases the number of job opportunities available to the newcomers. Immigrants often find it difficult to find a job when they move to a new country, but by becoming part of the wider community, they open themselves to more possibilities. The immigrant will be able to improve his quality of life, as well as to contribute to the economy, so there are clear benefits from both the perspective of the immigrant and the local society.
On the other hand, the people who think immigrants should form minority communities point to the preservation of cultural traditions and language. They believe that adopting the local culture would cause a loss of the immigrants’ original language and culture. Indeed, this is something that has happened all around the world, and it is not hard to find a Little Italy or Chinatown far from Italy or China. Therefore, it makes sense that immigrants form tight-knit communities in their new countries.
In conclusion, it is clear that a balance needs to be sought between these two approaches to immigration, and so neither is entirely correct. Without assimilating into the local culture, immigrants may find it difficult to get ahead in life, but if they become completely immersed in the new culture, they might forget their roots and their language may disappear.
A Final Note
If you have followed my instructions above, you should have a pretty good essay!
Remember to leave a few minutes for editing at the end. Here’s a good checklist:
- Have I spelled all the words correctly?
- Is my grammar correct?
- Did I stray off-topic in any paragraph?
- Is my position clear from beginning to end?
- Did I completely answer the question?
If you are struggling with #2, you can pick up a FREE copy of my grammar textbook: