- For Teachers
Hi, I'm preparing for FCE exam.
Could you tell me how an English native feels when he reads the following essay?
Which are the most important subjects for young people to study at school and why?
I think that the most important subjects for young people to study at school are Maths and English.
Young people should concentrate on Maths just because every branch of science relies on Maths today. Firstly, if you want to study something related to physics, chemistry, electronics, engineering you have to study Maths a lot, in order to acquire that rationalistic mindset that you need to understand science. Secondly, you'll learn how to focus your attention on something which seems very hard and this is certainly an important thing in the everyday life.
Then you have to study English because it's simply the world language. With the help of english you can interact with people from all over the world to solve problems, learn new things, stay tuned with the news, just with an internet connection.
At the end, I'm sure that Maths and English are the most important subjects because they're the most modern and useful.
A couple of comments- there are a few errors (english) and some phrases that are not particularly natural (rationalistic mindset), but the general standard is good and fine for FCE.
PS If it's meant to be formal writing, I would avoid contractions like I'm/you'll.
Usually, people say "Math" over "Maths." Saying "I think" makes you sound unsure of yourself, and if you are writing an essay, this is the worst thing you could possibly do. Say, "The most important," since it makes you sound more firm in your position. Just pointing out that saying Math is important only to understand science is rather a poor argument because it makes it seem that you feel science itself is more important than Math and that you feel that Math is a necessary skill and nothing more, when Math has many practical uses (like bills and groceries). "Young people" is something elderly people would say and it's also quite basic. Try something like, "teenagers" or "children" to further specify age group. Avoid the transition "First" like the plague. You have decent amounts of support, but I would try to further improve specificity and details to make your argument stronger.
There are some (even if grammatically correct) phrases that are odd. Mostly just repetitive or redundant words. Try reading it again. I'm sure you'll catch them! :)
- An English Native Student :D
Many people use 'I think' in the sense of 'I believe'.Saying "I think" makes you sound unsure of yourself, and if you are writing an essay, this is the worst thing you could possibly do.I don't agree."Young people" is something elderly people would say and it's also quite basic.You've said this in another thread. Many learners are taught to use such transitions, and they are a normal part of speech and writing.Avoid the transition "First" like the plague.
You say in your profile that you are an 'academic'. We normally use this word a person who is engaged in research/writing/teaching at a postgraduate level, not of a student.An English Native Student
Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.
As for "I think...", my First Complete Certificate recommends expressing opinions that way. I don't know if Cambridge University is wrong about its own exam or about english language...
I disagree with shur2gal. There's nothing wrong with saying I think when it is used to distinguish an opinion from a fact. However, when it is overused, it is a waste of words. Some people use it several times an essay, and that is a waste of words.
I apologize for the late response. Now for the literacy autopsy.
I agree with Tdol in the respect that "I think" and "I believe" is okay when distinguishing an opinion from a fact, but there is something missing. An essay is an opinion, so there are very few cases where "I think" would be necessary since saying "Math is necessary" and saying "I think Math is necessary" are both opinions when used in an essay, and taking out "I think" establishes confidence on the writer's stand point whereas saying "I think" makes essay writing weaker, if only slightly.
I'm unfamiliar with BrE so I apologize, but it's also true that one would generally say "Math." Getting used to the natural way of saying it won't do any harm.
"Young People" works, and it doesn't sound unnatural, but using teenager or child is more natural since it's more commonly used.
My High School offers Post Graduate courses, which I take. Not sure which category to go with, but going with Student / Learner because that is what I technically should be.
The transition "First," "Second, and "Third" can only be used if they are making transitions for an essay in chronological order. This essay, and the one in my previous post do not fit this type of essay and are incorrect. I usually tell people to avoid them since most people make this mistake, but I will refrain from correcting non-natives if that is what the community wishes.
So there's your autopsy. You can bag it and tag it.
Last edited by shur2gal; 29-Apr-2013 at 01:01. Reason: I type fast and make repetitive grammar errors ~