Discussing ‘nature’ vs ‘nurture’ in IELTS Writing and Speaking

If you are very familiar with the IELTS test, you will probably already know that it is more or less theme-based. You would do well to gather enough information to not only be more acquainted with the vocabulary or have adequate background knowledge when following the information given in IELTS Listening or Reading texts, but also argue your points in the IELTS Writing Task 2 or Speaking Part 3

Here are two examples of IELTS essay questions that my students and I discussed in one of our lessons recently:

It is generally believed that some people are born with certain talents, for instance for sport or music, and others are not. However, it is sometimes claimed that any child can be taught to become a good sports person or musician.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

~ Cambridge IELTS 7

Some people say we are born the way we are and we can’t change ourselves. Other people say we learn from our experiences and our environment. Do you think people are born naturally ‘good at music’ or naturally ‘good at maths’?

~ New Insight into IELTS

You can see that both these tasks are on the issue of nature or nurture, so the logical step for the IELTS candidate would be to form an opinion on this. You can, of course, agree with both or don’t agree with any at all, but you should be prepared to have some strong ideas on this in your 5-minute planning time. Remember, you WILL be marked for content. For both questions, you should try to discuss the key words (ie. sports, music, or maths) although you can introduce other examples of talent to further compare or enforce your arguments.

Here is a little background reading to help you with ideas on what to say about the subject:

When you read these articles, bear in mind that you need to stay relevant to the task. Most of the websites above discuss a connection between genetic inheritance and behaviour development, so if you ignore the key words (eg. talent, learning), you WILL be penalised for this. Read intelligently for ideas, but think about how you can tie these to your arguments with regard to the two tasks above.

Until next time,

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2 thoughts on “Discussing ‘nature’ vs ‘nurture’ in IELTS Writing and Speaking

  1. Thank you so much for information. Those are very useful website and advise. The main problem for me is I always get confused about how many idea do we need to present in one paragraph?

    Please kindly give me more details about essays structure and format if I am aiming to get band 7 in ielts writing task.

    Yours sincerely

    1. Hello Vanessa,

      Thank you for your message. How many ideas you want to present depends on which side you are on (if the task is an opinion essay). Your paragraph should contain one main idea with perhaps 2 supporting ideas with some explanations and examples for each supporting point. You don’t have time to write more, so plan carefully. Ideally, the proportion of your essay should be 50-50 but this depends on which side you are on so you may end up doing 60-40 instead.

      I hope this helps.

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