What we’re talking about today is writing essay 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.”