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Do we lose our capacity to learn as we grow up?
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July 8, 2012
2:05 am
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Essay topic:

As children, do we have a natural ability and motivation to take up new interests (such as languages, sports and musical instruments) which as adults we seem to lose? Are there too many social pressures on adults or are there other reasons for the apparent decline in a human being's capacity to learn?

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As children, many of us must have experienced picking up our first musical instrument, or learning a second language without much of the stress and difficulty we face as adults. Why is that children seem to be much better motivated than adults to take up new interests? This essay is going to discuss this issue and analyze whether we just lose this ability growing up or whether there are other factors that contribute to the decline in our ability to learn. 

It can be generally observed that children are not only much keener to learn something new, but also incredibly faster at mastering it. This might be because they possess greater patience than adults. Also, children have much more free time in their hands than their parents, for example. They don't have as many obligations to fulfill either. 

Adults, on the other hand, seem to require more time to pick up new skills. It may be partly because as humans grow up, they tend to lose this natural motivation that children have. However, this cannot be the only reason- there are many other contributing factors; such as: the increasing social pressures one experiences as he or she grows up, the lack of free time to spend on hobbies or recreational activities, as well as the lack of determination required to learn something new. 

In conclusion, it is without a doubt that children do possess a greater ability to pick up new things that adults cannot match. Nonetheless, this doesn't mean that we cannot learn anything new once we are fully-grown humans, as many famous scientists, musicians and painters started their careers quite late yet excelled in them. 

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By the way, was the use of the semi-colon in paragraph 4 correct? I just hate that punctuation mark- never seem to get it right somehow :/

Also, is it okay to say: "have free time on one's hands"? I think I remember seeing it somewhere, but please correct me if the expression sounds strange!

July 9, 2012
12:27 pm
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Hi Absent Crisis and thanks for this essay.

Your essay is 277 words long which is fine for IELTS Task 2, but your average sentence length is long, at 23 words. Try to add some short sentences to lower this, or to break up some longer sentences.

Shorten/Simplify 1

You wrote:

This essay is going to discuss this issue and analyze whether we just lose this ability growing up or whether there are other factors that contribute to the decline in our ability to learn. (34 words)

Here’s one possible rewrite:

This essay will analyze whether losing the ability to learn is a normal part of aging or whether other factors contribute.  (21 words

You wrote:

It can be generally observed that children are not only much keener to learn something new, but also incredibly faster at mastering it. (23 words)

Children are generally not only much keener to learn something new, but also incredibly faster at mastering it. (18 words)

You have a 51-word monster:

However, this cannot be the only reason- there are many other contributing factors; such as: the increasing social pressures one experiences as he or she grows up, the lack of free time to spend on hobbies or recreational activities, as well as the lack of determination required to learn something new. 

You really need to break this up! This is the key sentence in your essay, and you are asking it to do far too much work. Break it up, give examples, and support and develop each idea.

Have a look at the official descriptors for IELTS Task 2 Writing (public version) here, under Task Response, and look for the words ‘ideas,’ ‘developed,’ and ‘supported.’

Here’s one possible rewrite. It’s 98 words, but the ideas are more fully developed. And there’s not a semicolon in sight (I did slip in a quick colon, though)!

However, a decline in mental capacity cannot be the only reason. The biggest contributor in my opinion is the lack of free time. Long working hours, commuting, and social and family obligations mean less time to practice or study.  A second factor is determination. Although adults might be expected to have better motivation than children, they very often give up once the gym or the new language or instrument becomes difficult. Yet another contributing factor is praise: Parents applaud the efforts of their children and help and encourage them. Adults often try to learn something without such support.

Shorten/Simplify 2

You wrote:

In conclusion, it is without a doubt that children do possess a greater ability to pick up new things that adults cannot match  (23 words)

Here are two possible rewrites:

In conclusion, there is no doubt that children do possess a greater ability than adults to pick up new things. (20 words)   

OR 

In conclusion, children are definitely faster than adults at picking up new things.   (13 words)

Try to avoid padding. Content is king, not beautiful-sounding oratory or polished sentences. So remove padding and passives and orotund phrases  and get more ideas in there. Don’t make one unfortunate sentence do all the work!

By removing some the unnecessary words and phrases you will be able to add more fully developed ideas, and still stay beneath 300 words.

July 9, 2012
7:03 pm
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Oh, I get what you're saying.. but I face this problem in essay writing all too often- the lack of ideas! I wrote this one when my nerves were almost burned so it's even emptier than usual (I realized that after reading your feedback and rereading the essay a few times). Any suggestions on how to develop a lot of ideas quickly?

 

I'll make sure to rewrite that using your suggestions! 🙂

July 9, 2012
8:13 pm
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writefix
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Just underline the question like crazy.  You've paid 200 dollars for the exam -  at least write on your question paper! 

Underline the key words. Change nouns to verbs, nouns to adjectives, adjectives to verbs. Think of the opposite word. Write it down. Write down words with the same meaning, the opposite meaning, related words, words not related at all.  Cross them off. 

Ask yourself what each word in the question means. What does it mean to you? What does it mean to an IELTS examiner? What does it mean for a 44-year old farm worker in California or a young businesswoman in Hong Kong? The topics are designed for use all over the world, not just in your exam center. Think of some other points of view.  

Find out if the essay has one question or two, and plan accordingly. Don't start until you have six ideas (3 for, 3 against) for a 3773 essay, or three very long, fully developed, and powerful ideas with lots of examples (six or seven at least) for a one-sided 35553 essay.

Think about the most obvious answers to the question and how the other 50 or 100 people in the room are going to answer it. Want to be different? Go ahead, have unusual ideas (but don't start changing your style of writing).

This will all take nine or ten minutes. By that time it's time to start writing. But have a plan. Use a thesis sentence to map your essay, and have a short, sweet topic sentence for each paragraph in the body.

And don't write more than 300 words. That's a page and a half for most people. ideas_community.pngImage Enlarger

Here's an example from a recent paper in the Philippines, along with some ideas from me.

With the increasing number of people in cities, many people do not know their neighbors and the sense of community is lost. What is causing this? How can we turn it around?

I don't know how accurate this version of the question is, but does anyone want to try?  If you do, just open a new topic.

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