Cohesive devices | IELTS Writing

Source: Swooshenglish

► Sometimes less is more!

This article will focus on giving advice and exercises to help you use cohesive devices correctly.  In the IELTS exam, to reach a band 7 or above you need to be able to use a range of cohesive devices accurately. Linking words are a great way to join your ideas together and make your sentences and your paragraph much more coherent, but their use can cause several problems for candidates and bring their score down in this section. Below are some examples of how to (and how not to) use them and a task to help you practice.

► What are cohesive devices?

We use cohesive devices to link our writing; in sentences, paragraphs or parts of text. Used well, they make our writing coherent, used badly, they can have a negative impact on the reader, which in this case is the IELTS examiner – and this is not something you want to do!

Words like ‘furthermore‘‘moreover’‘as a result of’ and ‘additionally’ are all examples of cohesive devices and together with coherence, this cohesion provides 25% of the marks in task 1 and task 2 of the writing. Striking the right balance between correct use of the linking words, in terms of both grammar and meaning, and the amount you use, is something that you need to grasp if you want to achieve a higher band in IELTS.  You need a range of linking words, but you don’t want to use them in the wrong way, to not use them at all, or to over use them.

These words can be used to do many things: explain the sequence of something, the result or consequence of something, provide evidence to support your statement, show an opposing opinion – all very useful things you want to do in a good paragraph and essay. The key is use the in the right way and in a way that doesn’t attract to much attention. Confused? Well, let’s look at how the incorrect use of linking words can impact on your writing and what you can do about it.

 ►Inaccurate use

 The first problem students have in this area is that they learn a wide range of cohesive devices and don’t learn the exact meaning of how to use them in sentences. Incorrect use of these words can make your answer difficult to understand, which will mean that your score will come down. Often students will confuse the meaning of the linking word and use it incorrectly.

You really don’t need to learn a lot of cohesive devices, you need only learn a few and be able to use them well. You only give one conclusion, so learn one phrase. Even in a cause and effect essay, you will only be covering a few ideas, so you only need a few phrases to show the consequences of something. Just make sure you can use them in the correct context and with the correct punctuation.

 ► Overuse

 The biggest challenge for candidates in the writing and speaking is not the inaccurate use of cohesive devices but the overuse. Candidates often think that using discourse markers and linking words make their writing seem more academic. As such, will bring them a higher mark. But this is not the case. The overuse of such devices will make your writing seem mechanical and less ‘native speaker’ like. It can have a significant impact on your score in the cohesion and coherence section of the marking.

 This can often be difficult for students to understand, but take a look at the above paragraph. How many cohesive devices can you see? Not that many, right? Now, let’s consider how a lower level candidate might write such a paragraph…

The biggest challenge for candidates in the writing is not the under use of cohesive devices but the over use. This can affect the speaking score too. Moreover, candidates often think that using discourse markers and linking words make their writing seem more academic. As a result, will bring them a higher mark. However, this is not the case. On the contrary, overuse of such devices will make your writing seem mechanical and less ‘native speaker’ like and furthermore, can have a significant impact on your overall score in the cohesion and coherence section of the marking.

The overuse of the linking devices here. Whilst used correctly within the paragraph, make it difficult to read and this a good example of why candidates receive a 5 in this area. Band 5 for coherence and cohesion states that a candidate ‘makes inadequate, inaccurate or over use of cohesive devices’.

Have a look at another example taken from a student and try to rewrite it to reflect a much more natural style of English.

►Remember that sometimes, less is more!

On the one hand, schools have an important social role for the general population. Moreover, they are, for example, a place where people get a range of information and additionally start to socialize and acquire habits. Therefore, it is crucial that schools introduce the concept of having a healthy lifestyle and physical activity as some of its main influences. Certainly, a child who has extra and interesting classes of physical education will understand its importance. As a result, they will include this habit in their lifestyle, thus becoming a healthier adult and besides this, it may encourage other family members to exercise as well.

If you are serious about taking your IELTS writing to the next level, sign up for your FREE 3 part IELTS writing video course that takes you through both task 1 and task 2. The video lessons are led by our highly experienced UK native IELTS teacher, Katherine. We also provide you with exercises to test your understanding!

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