Teaching IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 can be challenging. At least with Task 2 candidates can give their opinion but when it comes to Task 1 it’s “Just the facts, ma’am.” Luckily for both students and teachers, lessons don’t have to be dry just because the material is.

I have used the lesson plan below several times to teach process writing but with a few tweaks it can be used to teach any genre of writing because, as
Miyamoto Musashi said,”if you know the Way broadly you will see it in everything.


Before Class:

1. Make enough copies of the picture cards1

EAP, IELTS, Writing, Academic Writing
Image via IELTS Buddy

and sentence strips 

EAP, IELTS, Writing, Academic Writing

so that each pair/small group of students can have their own set.

2. Cut up the picture cards and cut the sample essay into strips.

In Class: 


1. In pairs/small groups, students brainstorm as many
signal/sequencing/sign-post words/discourse markers as they can. After a minute or two, elicit some examples and writes them on the board.

Controlled Practice:
2. Next, each pair of students is given a set of the picture cards.

3. Students put the cards into the correct order and describe the process orally. For example, Card #1: “Cacao trees are grown in South America and Indonesia. Farmers wait until the red cacao pods are large and ripe before picking them.”

4. Students change partners. Students describe the process to their new partner as a way of comparing their answers.

5. Give whole class feedback on any lexical or pronunciation issues that students had.

6.Next, distribute the sample essay which has been cut into strips and jumbled. 2

7.Students use the pictures and signal words to put the strips into the correct order.

8. Next, use the sample essay to elicit what tense the essay is written in. Have students discuss why the essay was written passively (i.e. “The result of the process is far more significant than the agent” or “What is done is more important than who is doing it.”)

Freer Practice:

9. Regroup the students. Give each pair either another set of picture cards or a diagram, process or flowchart. Where can you find these samples? Check out ielts-exam.netIELTS WritingIELTS Buddy and/or TEFLtastic.

10. Students describe the process orally.

11. Give whole class feedback.

12. Give students 20 minutes to write their response.

13. Finally, students exchange papers and evaluate their partners papers using CAREFULLY focused criteria. For example, I highly recommend you follow teflreflections lead and have them use a checklist like similar to the one below:


14. Finally, give whole class feed back a final time, assign meaningful homework and send them all on their way.

Final Thoughts

While printing and cutting multiple bits of paper takes more prep than lecturing, it does have two clear advantages: engagement and energy. 

First, since students have an active, measurable task, they are more highly engaged than if they are asked to sit quietly and take notes. Besides, since there is a clear positive transfer between speaking skills and writing skills, why not have students practice both?

Secondly, students are more energetic because they are active in class and the instructor has more energy since it is far easier to monitor than it is to lecture and monitor concurrently.

Happy teaching!

1 Please note that these materials are designed for lower-level students; aprox. 3.5-5.0

2 You have a couple of alternatives: you can dictagloss the sentences, present them as a running dictation, or do a word jumble sentence scramble.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s