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IELTS Writing Task 1: How to describe a process

IELTS Writing Task 1: How to describe a process


Hi there. My name is Emma, and in today’s video I
am going to teach you about how to write about processes. So, if you are taking the IELTS, this video
is very important for writing task 1. If you’re not taking the IELTS, you can learn a
lot in this video, because we will be covering some very important grammar and some very
important vocabulary that you can use in your everyday life also. Okay? So, if you’re taking the IELTS, this video
is great for you; and if you’re not taking the IELTS, this video is
also very good for you. Okay, so first of all:
What is a process? Okay, well, so, if you are doing the IELTS,
there are two different writing components: task 1 and task 2. Sometimes you will get some pictures and
you have to write about them on the IELTS. So, these pictures
show a process. So, a process is pretty much showing different
stages or steps on how something is made, or how something works, or how
it’s created or produced. Okay? So, the key thing here is that you’re looking
at different stages on how something is made, created, or produced. Processes can be natural
or they can be man-made. So, for natural, if you can imagine in science
you might learn about how photosynthesis works with plants. Okay? You might learn about how
mushrooms grow. Okay? How animals mate. These are all processes. In terms of man-made, an example of a process
would be how concrete is made, or even how chocolate is created
and produced. Okay? So, on the IELTS, you might, because there
are different versions of the test… You may have to look at some pictures and describe
a process, and describe what is happening in this picture. So, I’ve drawn a very simple process-okay?-and
this is the process of taking the IELTS. Okay? So, in my picture, I have a student here, and
they’re at their computer studying different videos and different things to
help them prepare for the IELTS. So, this is my first
stage or my first step. The second step in my process is actually
taking the IELTS, and the final step is the student looking very happy,
saying: “I got a great score.” Okay? Because they studied a lot
and they practiced a lot. So, on the IELTS, you will not get
something like this that’s this simple. It’d be great if you did, but usually
the processes are more complicated. They’re more complex. You might have 10 pictures of
something like how to make coffee. But the key here is you will see a bunch of
pictures, and you need to figure out where the pictures start and
where they finish. What is the final product? Okay? So in this case, the beginning is watching
this video, and the end is getting a high score on the IELTS. Okay? In making coffee, maybe the first
process is getting the beans. Maybe the last process is actually
drinking a cup of coffee. Okay? So it’s good when you see a diagram to figure
out: Where’s the beginning, and where’s the end? And also thinking about: Is it
natural or a man-made process? Okay, so if you are taking the IELTS and you get
a bunch of pictures in the writing section, a couple key things here. You will have to write 150 words
where you describe the pictures. Okay? And you have 20
minutes to do this. So, what you pretty much need to do is
summarize what is happening in the picture. So, you’re just reporting the main
features, you’re summarizing what you see. You are not giving your opinion. Okay? You do not say what you
think about the process. All you need to do on the IELTS is
say what you see and describe it. Okay? You’re also not
adding information. If you know about, for example, how to make a
cup of coffee and you have to describe this process, maybe you have a lot of
information you know about this. But if you don’t see it in the
pictures, you don’t write about it. Okay? So, in this video, I am going to teach you
about sequencers, which can really help your mark; as well as grammar, the passive voice,
which is something we use a lot when we are describing processes. So, let’s look at
those features now. Okay. So, in this video, I’m not going to tell
you about how to write your introduction, but I just wanted to be clear: It’s very important
that you have about maybe two sentences to introduce what the process is. In your introduction, you can talk about how
many steps or stages there are, and you can also say what the image, or the diagram,
or the illustration is showing. What is the process? One really important thing that you should
include when you’re describing a process, whether you’re writing the IELTS or just in
general, is you should include sequencers. Sequencers help us understand
the order of something. So, it helps us understand what is
first, second, third, fourth, and so on. So, you know which… The different stages. So, we have here a
bunch of sequencers. Okay? And I also have here… Can you guess what this is? This is a sandwich. Okay? I’m not the best artist, so I apologize,
but here is my picture of a sandwich. So, I’m going to describe how to make
a sandwich using these sequencers. Okay? So: “First of all,” is a great
one to use at the beginning. This is great on the IELTS, or also: “The
first step” or “The first stage is…” These are great to begin with-okay?-when
you’re describing a process. So, I could say: “First of all, we
take a bun or a slice of bread.” Okay? So this is bread. “First of all, we take a slice of bread.”,
“The first step is we take a slice of bread.”, “The first stage is we
take a slice of bread.” We can use the word “step” or “stage”
when we’re describing a process. Okay: “Next”, this is
another sequencer. “Next, we put down the pickles on top
of the bun”, if you like pickles. If you don’t like pickles,
you don’t put them on. But in this case, in this sandwich,
we put the pickles on the bun. “Then, we put the meat
on top of the pickles. After that, we put some
lettuce on top of the meat.” We can also say: “In the next stage” or
“In the next step”, that’s also possible. Okay. “Next, we add tomatoes. Finally, we add the top slice of
bread, and then we have our sandwich.” Or I can say: “In the final step,
we add a slice of bread.”, “In the final stage, we add
a slice of bread.” Okay? Before we have finished making our
sandwich, maybe we can put… Oh, well, I guess
that doesn’t work. Maybe we can put something
on top, like an olive. Okay? “After we finish making our sandwich,
we can eat in and enjoy it.” Okay. Or I could say: “Once we’ve finished making our
sandwich”, and notice the “ing”, “making”. “Once we finished making our
sandwich, we can enjoy it.” Okay? So, these are called sequencers, and they’re
very good to use when you’re describing a process. So, if you’re taking the IELTS, this will
help you with your organization mark. Okay? So, very, very important
that you use some of these. You don’t have to use all of them, but you should
be using some of them when you describe a process. Next, let’s look at the grammar
of describing a process. Okay, so when you are describing a process
it’s very, very important to use the passive voice. Okay? You can use other verb tenses, too, but the
most common is going to be the passive voice. So, what is the passive voice? Okay. So, I have here two… Sorry. I have here two sentences. One of them is called the passive voice,
the other one is the active voice. My two sentences are: “I make a cup
of tea.” and “A cup of tea is made.” Now, I want you to look
at these two sentences. What are some of the
differences between them? Well, one thing you might
notice is this has “I” in it. “I make a cup of tea.” Whereas this one, we don’t actually
know who made the cup of tea. So, you’ll notice that when… This is active, by the
way, and this is passive. In the active voice, the
person is not important. Okay? The person doing the
action isn’t… Oh, sorry. The opposite, sorry. In the active voice, the
person is important. “I make a cup of tea.” Who made the cup of tea? I made the cup of tea. Now, this is very different from the passive
voice, where we don’t actually know who made the cup of tea; or if we do know, it’s
not important who made the cup of tea. Okay? So that’s one major difference. You’ll also notice
with the verb. The verb themself-… The verbs themselves
are different, too. Here, we have the simple present: “I
make”, whereas if you look down here, we have: “is” and “made”. So, when we use the active voice, we’re just
using, you know, simple present, simple past. We can pretty much
use any tense. But you’ll notice,
there is no “be” verb. Whereas, here: “A cup of tea is”, we have the
“be” verb, and “made”, we have a past participle. So, the construction of the
two sentences is different. Okay? So, if you’re wondering what the rule
is: For the passive, we have an object. In this case our object
is “a cup of tea”. We have the “be” verb, so in this
case, “is” is the “be” verb. It can also be: “was” or
“has been”, or “will be”. When I say: “‘be’ verb”, it’s a form of the
verb “be”-okay?-depending on what tense you’re talking in. So, usually for processes… If you’re, like, getting really nervous or
confused by this grammar, key here is the word “is” if you’re talking about now, or
“was” if you’re talking about in the past. Okay? So, on the IELTS, usually “is” and
“was” is the main things to know. So, you have the object, the “be”
verb, and the past participle. So, the past participle
in this case is “made”. Okay? So, “made” is the past
participle of “make”. So, let’s think of
another example. Imagine I… Well, this is true. I had a bike, and I
really loved my bike. Someone stole my bike. Okay? Very sad, but
someone stole my bike. So: “Someone stole my bike.” That’s active. If I want to change this into the passive,
we don’t know who did it, and what’s really important to me is the fact
that the bike was stolen. So, the passive would be: “My
bike”-which is the object-“was stolen”. “Stolen” is the past
participle of “steal”. Okay? So, we’re going to do a lot
of practice with this. So, don’t worry if, you know, you’re
really confused by the passive. We’re going to do some more
practice questions with this. But the key point here is when you’re describing
a process, it’s very, very good to use the passive voice, not the active
voice, because you’re usually… What’s usually important is what’s
happening, not who’s doing it. Usually. Okay, so I want
you to imagine… So we’re going to do
some practice now. I want you to imagine you want to tell
someone how to make a cup of tea. Okay? I love drinking tea, so I think this
is a great example of a process. So, the kettle is what you put
the water in, and you boil. Okay? So the kettle is where
the water goes. So, if we wanted to describe the process of making
a cup of tea, we might start with the kettle. What do we do with the kettle? Well, we fill it
with cold water. Okay? So, we put cold water
into the kettle. Now, how could we make this
into the passive voice? What’s a passive voice
sentence we could use? “The kettle __________
with cold water.” Well, the first thing we know is we
need to have our “be” verb somewhere. And we’re talking about the present, we’re talking
about a process that still happens today. So, let’s put: “The kettle is”, so we have our
“be” verb, and now we need a past participle. Let’s say the kettle… We fill a kettle, so what’s the
past participle of “fill”? “Filled”. So, we can say: “The kettle
is filled with cold water.” First step. If I wanted to add a sequencer here, that
would make the sentence even better. I could say: “The first step is where
the kettle is filled with cold water.” Or: “First of all, the kettle
is filled with cold water.” Okay, what’s the second step? Well… “The kettle __________
on the stove top.” Okay? What do you think we
do with a kettle? We would put the
kettle on the stove. So, if we wanted to put that in the passive voice,
again we need our “be” verb, so we’ll put “is”, and then we can put a verb
here in the past participle. “The kettle is put on the stove.” or
“The kettle is placed on the stove.” We can also say that. Okay. So these are both par-… Past participles. Now, what about if, you know, we were
using many kettles at the same time? And so, we had an “s” here, and we
were talking about many kettles. Would this still stay as “is”? No. When we’re talking about plural, “kettles”
has an “s” and it’s plural, so this would actually turn into “are”: “The
kettles are put on the stove top.” “The kettle”-because there’s only
one-“is filled with cold water.” Okay, so what’s another
step in the making of tea? In this case: “A cup and teabag
__________ from the cupboard.” So, I take a cup and a
teabag from the cupboard. So, how can I make this
into the passive voice? Well, “A cup and teabag”… So how many things
do we have here? We have a cup and a teabag, so that’s
two, so we would use the verb “are”. So, they are “taken
from the cupboard”. We take the cup and the
teabag from the cupboard. “The cup and teabag are
taken from the cupboard.” So, again, we have our “be”
verb and our past participle. In terms of past participles, these
are things you just need to memorize. Logically, sometimes,
you know… Sometimes you’ll see “ed”, sometimes you’ll
see “en”, so they have different endings. So the best thing to do is find a past participle list,
and memorize it for the words that you use a lot. Like “take”. “Take” is a common word. “Taken”,
that’s the past participle. Okay. So, there are many more stages to making a
cup of tea, but we’re going to end in the middle of making the tea. So, this is our last stage
we’re going to talk about. “Once the water boils, it
is poured into a cup.” So, we can use this in the
past participle: “is boiled”. “Once the water is boiled,
it is poured into a cup.” Okay. So, this is not the final stage. In the final stage,
we drink the tea. Okay? So, again, very important to use this type of
grammar when you’re writing about processes, especially on the IELTS because
they want to see that you are… You know different
types of grammar. You have a range of grammar. Okay? And so this can help show the range of grammar,
and that you know the appropriate grammar to use when you are
describing a process. So, let’s look at one other
tip on how to do processes. Okay, so, so far I have talked about sequencers
and the grammar of writing about processes. Now, I want to talk a little bit about the
IELTS, and something you really shouldn’t do when you write the
IELTS, especially… Well, with processes or anything, but here is
an example of a question on the IELTS that has to do with processes. Now, here in this question you don’t actually
see a diagram, but usually there would be images or a diagram
of a process. So, the question is: “The diagram below
shows the process of making a cup of tea. Summarize the information by selecting
and reporting the main features.” So, this is the type of
question you’ll get. Okay? It might be: “The diagram below shows photosynthesis”
or “The diagram below shows how concrete is made.” Okay? So, it might be man-made,
it might be natural. Now, what a lot of students do is they see this,
and they decide to write their introduction, and they copy the words from
here into their introduction. So they read this, and then
they start their answer with: “The diagram below shows the
process of making a cup of tea.” You should not copy
the question words. Okay? It’s very important that you paraphrase, that
you use your own words in your first sentence. So, if this was the question I had, a couple
things I might do is, instead of using the word “diagram”, I might use the word:
“illustration”, or “image”, “images”. Okay? And instead of using the word
“shows”, I’d use a different verb. So, instead of: “The diagram shows”, I
would say: “The illustration demonstrates” or “The diagram illustrates”.
Okay? So, it’s good to change the language, and
this is one of the easier ways to do it, is change the verb. If they use “show”, use
“demonstrates” or “illustrates”. Okay? And if you can, instead of the word “diagram”,
use the word “illustration” or “images”. Okay? Another thing a lot of students do
is they would copy the rest of it: “The process of
making a cup of tea”. You can also change this around. So, in my example, I put: “The diagram
illustrates how a cup of tea is made.” So, I’ve changed it from the
active voice to the passive voice. You don’t have to do that. My main point here is: Don’t
copy the instructions. Use your own words in
your introduction. Okay? Another tip that’s very important
when you’re describing processes is: Take a couple of minutes to
actually look at what’s happening. A lot of students, they start writing, but
they don’t actually understand the pictures they’re looking at. So, take a moment to figure out: Where
does the process start, what happens, and where does it end? What is the final product? How many stages are there? How many steps? Okay? So it’s important to ask yourself some questions
before you start writing to make sure you really understand what the pictures are showing
you, and what the illustration is showing you. So, I hope you’ve
enjoyed this video. I know the IELTS, for a lot of students,
is very stressful and scary thing. So, I’d like to
invite you to come visit our website
at www.engvid.com, and there you can do a quiz to practice what we’ve talked about
in this video, as well as there’s other videos on IELTS and on
English in general. So, I highly recommend that you come
visit our website and check those out. Until next time, take
care and good luck.

100 thoughts on “IELTS Writing Task 1: How to describe a process

  1. may I use boils instead of is boiled in the sentence : once the water is boiled, it is poured into a cup?

  2. Hi Emma, it´s very important this kind of topic. Congratulation, Great video and very Helpfully. I propose if you could make a video like this " How to describe a Project Plan" for Project Managers. Thank you again.

  3. Hi! I am looking for someone to talk to since I am still practicing my english skills. I’ll be taking the ielts exam few months from now. 😬

  4. Question: When should you worry about a conclusion and is it wise to rush a conclusion if you think you might need one but it might go over the 20-minute mark a little bit?

  5. Emma, a very good video as always! But in my opinion you shouldn't have spent that much time on the passive voice… People who are taking the IELTS are usually confident in English and just need to know the methodology and the necessar vocab

  6. congratulatıon,nıce descrıptıon of a process for makıng tea,health for your hand and mouth emma,

  7. Hi Emma! Can you please make a video on how to use better paragraph transitions? And also how to structure a paragraph?
    Thanks is advance.

  8. You are that beautiful teacher that we always like the videoz before watching them cause we just know they are certainly helpful

  9. We are looking for IELTS preparation but u teaching Passive voice
    How do u think is there someone who dont know passive voice((((

  10. Emma, you are an amazing teacher… looks like you are really enjoy teaching 🙂 I dream if all the teachers would be like you. Sorry for your bike 🙁

  11. First of all, I gave up studying IELTS. Next, I destroyed the plan to live in europe. Then I don't need to learn English anymore. Finally, I burned series of IELTS textbooks to forget all of these nightmares. (Is this good way to write a sequential story?? )

  12. You are best teacher bcz you are teach about process as well as grammer mistakes thx a lot..love from india 👍👍👌👌👌👌

  13. You could take the picture of a real sandwich. It could be easier for us to us to understand. Congrats!

  14. If one is not supposed to write any "own opinions"..
    Can we write, "We should… We need to.." As in can we used the letter "we"?

  15. Thanks a lot teacher God bless you and your great videos are sincerely inspiring me a lot. And your explanations are deeply clear I wish you long life teacher Iam one who having financially problem to attend to school so you really helping me by your fabulous videos ♥️♥️🤝

  16. Thank you Emma mam for explaining describing process. I think i never for get it. Excellent explanation once again thanks for helping me a lot 🤓🙌🏻👌🏻👏🏻 Really a great teacher👌🏻👍🏻👏🏻

  17. I thought that your picture is Jupiter 😀 , you are great teacher in English but you need more classes in drawing 😀 :d

  18. Hi, Despite of having some similarity in ielts and toefl exams it would be very helpful to have some information/lessons supporting viewers whom might be candidates of Toefl exam as well. Thanks Emma.

  19. I will do IELTS exam soon, I hope i can get some benefit from your videos , thank you and i appreciate your hard working !

  20. Pls mam …upload a video on how to write a procceding of a metting …or how to make written procceding..of a formal metting (not
    business metting)

  21. MADAM, CAN WE USE 2ND OR 3RD FORM IN PASSIVE VOICE? LIKE ''IS FILLED"' AND '''ARE TAKEN "? U USED…PLZ CLARIFIED

  22. Can you please throw some light on about arranging information, given in processes, in paragraphs? Usually, it's told that the paragraph must have one topic statement. By implying that, when describing these processes, you are telling the steps which should result in one paragraph. However, I have seen in examples, people using more paragraphs. Therefore, I'm asking how should be information of proccess arranged.

  23. If I have no right to add my opinion then how can I add, At the time 8:20, that I enjoy the sandwich. May be I give it to my friend ))) or may be it won't be tasty and I won't enjoy it.

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