IMPORTANCE OF LINKERS IN IELTS
While preparing for the IELTS, it’s common for learners to assume that acquiring vocabulary is the only thing they need to focus on. After all, once you memorize words, you’re ready for anything, right? Well—not quite. You’re right in that learning words is a very big hurdle. But acquiring vocabulary words makes up only three-fourths of your preparation. Think of it like this: you’ve got to cross over from one side of a riverbank to another. What connects you to the other side? A bridge.
Linkers are the ‘bridge’ that connect the ‘banks’ of your vocabulary. Let’s delve into the world of linkers and find out what they are and why you need them for the IELTS.
What are Linkers?
As the name suggests, linkers refer to something that connects or joins two objects. In the case of IELTS, linkers are joining words or phrases that help to connect sentences, ideas, and concepts so that a logical relationship is established between thoughts. Linkers make your writing flow more smoothly, thus ensuring that what you’re trying to communicate gets across to the other person without disruptions or breakdowns in understanding. Let’s look at an example.
Sentence 1: I went outside. I had to remove my car from the garage.
Sentence 2: I went outside because I had to remove my car from the garage.
You must have already understood the difference between both sentences just by reading silently. The first one has nothing grammatically wrong with it. But notice how the second sentence reads—it sounds much smoother, doesn’t it? Try reading it out loud and you’ll understand it more clearly. When we write or speak, we don’t stop and start sentences so abruptly—we talk without such unnatural ‘breaks.’ That’s precisely what the IELTS exam requires you to do in the writing and speaking sections.
Why Do You Need Linkers in IELTS?
An important fact that test-takers often overlook is that it’s not enough to know lots of words. It’s important to know how words work in the context of a sentence and how sentences work in relation to one another and the whole piece of writing. Cohesion is what holds the ideas of a piece of writing together, while coherence refers to how much sense the information makes.
These two parameters—cohesion and coherence—form an important part of the IELTS assessment criteria. When examiners evaluate the writing task 2, they examine the test-taker’s range, accuracy, and flexibility in using linking words, based on which they assign scores for Coherence and Cohesion. What’s more, the scores for this criterion form a significant chunk of your overall marks—25%, in fact—so you’ll need to ensure that your linkers are present and that they’re there in all the right places. That’s where linkers come in handy, as we’ll see in the next section.
How Do You Use Linkers in IELTS?
Now that we’ve established what linkers are and why you need them, let’s look at how they can be used in the IELTS. Linkers are useful in the Speaking and Writing sections, as we’ll see below.
SPEAKING: In the speaking section, linkers can help fill up gaps in your speech while speaking about a topic. If you’re talking about something and your mind goes blank, use linkers to fill the silence. We all falter while speaking, and use the infamous ‘ahhs, umms, and errs.’ Instead of these filler words, you can use phrases like ‘Related to this topic is…’ or ‘Therefore’, for example. Another use of linkers is to bridge the gap between two ideas or lines of thought. For example, while talking about two different viewpoints, you can use ‘On the other hand, ...’ The examiner will know that you're comparing two different viewpoints on a topic and will be impressed by your usage of linkers.
WRITING: In the writing section, linkers can be used to transition between ideas and viewpoints in the essay. Linkers can also be used in these ways—to highlight a point, to explain the reasons or causes for something, or to give your opinion, to name a few. Here, the linking words will be more formal, for example ‘As a result of’, ‘Consequently’, and ‘Nevertheless.’ These words can be used in the beginning or middle of the essay or to conclude the essay (that was also a linker, by the way!) Linkers in writing act as a support to the main points of the essay or report. They help you build up a logical argument that covers the essential points without awkward interjections of new ideas and thought processes.
How IELTS Vocabulary Flashcards’ Linkers Section Can Help
In our IELTS Vocabulary Flashcards, there is a section dedicated entirely to linking words and transition phrases. Within this section, there are linkers related to the Beginning, Concluding, Contradicting, and Supporting parts of an essay or report. Let’s look at what these linkers are briefly.
BEGINNING: These kinds of linkers are used to start an essay and express a certain viewpoint. You’ll find words like ‘first and foremost,’ ‘to commence,’ and ‘generally,’ in this section. In the speaking test, beginning linkers can be a good way to start your response.
CONCLUDING: Concluding linkers are used to sum up the points of an essay. Once you’ve presented all your points, you can use linkers like ‘to summarize,’ and ‘in the final analysis’ to conclude your essay or finish your conversation.
CONTRADICTING: While presenting two different sides of an argument, contradicting linkers come in handy. You can use ‘on the flip side,’ ‘in contrast,’ and ‘although,’ to shift from talking about one perspective to another.
SUPPORTING: These types of linkers come in useful when you need to elaborate further on a topic. In addition to this, supporting linkers give you an opportunity to fill the gaps that occur while speaking, as we’ve mentioned earlier—for example, ‘in the same manner.’ (We’ve hidden a supporting linker there—can you find it?)
Take a look at some linkers from our IELTS Flashcards:
These flashcards (352 in total) have been hand-picked by IELTS experts who know just exactly what kind of words appear in the IELTS exam. Aside from linkers and transition words, there are many word categories like Arts & Music, Healthcare, Politics & Government, to name a few. Take a look at more details of the flashcards here.
Linkers are the bridge that connects your words and sentences and makes your writing presentable and logical. In the IELTS, part of the scoring criterion examines how you use linkers and their relevance to your writing and speaking. However, linkers are not just useful for the IELTS but will help you in your writing in the future as well, so you should approach them from that perspective.