The importance of a compelling and correctly articulated introduction cannot be overestimated. We know that we need to outline our ideas clearly in an introduction when speaking on a topic, or writing an essay.
It’s not enough at an advanced level to simply state that we are going to talk about; for example, cricket; how the game started and how exciting it was. This may be adequate for levels 3 & 4, but is it adequate enough when you are an advanced student taking an exam? I think not!
How can you develop the skills to put it all together in an impressive way? Practice, practice, practice! ♦ Listen to great speakers. ♦ Read great books. ♦ Write about something you love and then go back and try to improve your writing with richer language. ♦ Speak to English speakers. Ask for their opinions and give yours. Use new vocabulary, not the same old boring words. It takes time. Start now. Yes, now. First, watch just the first 23 seconds of the following video as Gerard Whateley introduces the world cup cricket match between Australian and New Zealand, March 2015 on the ABC TV Show OFFSIDERS.
Were you impressed by his introduction? I sure was! I have transcribed it all below:
“Hello, and welcome to OFFSIDERS. In a World Cup utterly at the mercy of the batsman, yesterday provided a timely reminder of the brilliant and bonkers nature of the low-scoring one-dayer. Eden Park rollicked to the sound of a horrid Australian collapse, and then gasped as the All Blacks went within a whisker of squandering the win that recasts the host nations.”
This is an introduction best spoken because of the passion and emphasis that Gerard adds. However, as a written text, can you see how the language jumps off the page at you? There is action and imagery galore. Gerard does not simply rely on a few well-chosen adjectives. He uses:
♦ alliteration for added impact: … brilliant and bonkers nature …;
♦ evocative verbs: … rollicked …, … gasped …;
♦ graphic nouns: … a horrid collapse …, … squandering the win …
♦ vivid collocations: … utterly at the mercy of …, … a timely reminder …, … within a whisker …
One of the main differences between how native speakers and advanced students use language is the use of collocations. If you want to improve your written and spoken English, you need to start using collocations. Follow my advice as detailed above. Watch Gerard Whateley on TV often. Also, click here for a detailed definition of collocations and an extensive list with definitions. When you have a spare ten minutes, try to learn a few, and use them. This will be more effective than reading them all at once.
Do you have a spare ten minutes now?