Linking words are my best friends… aren’t they?
Well, to be honest, not really. Over my many years as an IELTS teacher, I have marked many hundreds of essays which were full of linking words and phrases. Very often there were too many. Most IELTS students understand from the IELTS marking criteria that you do need to use linking words and phrases to join your ideas together. In fact, the criterion Coherence and Cohesion says that to get a 7, you need to use ‘a range of linking devices effectively’. But this does not mean that you should overuse them! If you do, your writing will end up sounding unnatural.
If you look at the IELTS band descriptors (click here to see a copy), you’ll see that you that if you over use these devices, you might only get a 5 (“makes inadequate, inaccurate or over use of linking devices.)
To show you what is meant by ‘over-using’ linking devices, we’ll look at an essay one of my IELTS students wrote recently. But first let’s check out the question:
In many countries today, the eating habits and lifestyle are different from those of previous generations. Some people say this has had a negative effect on their health.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?
My student wrote a pretty good answer, but one of the major problems he had was with linking devices.