GUIDELINE TO COMPOSITION WRITING – FOR B1/B2/C1 CLASSES
PARTS OF A COMPOSITION
INTRODUCTION PARAGRAPH The introduction paragraph is the first paragraph of your essay. It introduces the main idea of your essay. A good opening paragraph captures the interest of your reader and tells why your topic is important. To write this paragraph:
1. Write the thesis statement. The main idea of the essay is stated in a single sentence called the thesis statement. You must limit your entire essay to the topic you have introduced in your thesis statement.
2. Provide some background information about your topic. You can use interesting facts, quotations, or definitions of important terms you will use later in the essay.
- SUPPORTING PARAGRAPH
Supporting paragraphs make up the main body of your essay. They develop the main idea of
your essay. To write a supporting paragraph you should first of all list the points that develop the main idea of your essay. Then you should place each supporting point in its own paragraph. Finally you develop each supporting point with facts, details, and examples.
To connect your supporting paragraphs, you should use special transition words. Transition words link your paragraphs together and make your essay easier to read. Use them at the beginning and end of your paragraphs. Examples of transition words that can help you to link your paragraphs together:
Like all good paragraphs, each supporting paragraph should have a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and a summary sentence.
The summary paragraph comes at the end of your essay after you have finished developing your ideas. The summary paragraph is often called a "conclusion." It summarizes or restates the main idea of the essay. You want to leave the reader with a sense that your essay is complete. Restate the strongest points of your essay that support your main idea. Conclude your essay by restating the main idea in different words. Give your personal opinion or suggest a plan for action.
The prewriting stage is when you prepare your ideas for your essay before you begin writing. You will find it easier to write your essay if you build an outline first, especially when you are writing longer assignments.
Six Prewriting Steps:
1. Think carefully about what you are going to write. Ask yourself: What question am I going to answer in this paragraph or essay? How can I best answer this question? What is the most important part of my answer? How can I make an introductory sentence from the most important part of my answer? What facts or ideas can I use to support my introductory sentence? How can I make this paragraph or essay interesting? Do I need more facts on this topic? Where can I find more facts on this topic?
2. Open your notebook. Write out your answers to the above questions. You do not need to spend a lot of time doing this; just write enough to help you remember why and how you are going to write your paragraph or essay.
3. Collect facts related to your paragraph or essay topic. Look for and write down facts that will help you to answer your question. Timesaving hint: make sure the facts you are writing are related to the exact question you are going to answer in your paragraph or essay.
4. Write down your own ideas. Ask yourself: What else do I want to say about this topic? Why should people be interested in this topic? Why is this topic important?
5. Find the main idea of your paragraph or essay. Choose the most important point you are going to present. If you cannot decide which point is the most important, just choose one point and stick to it throughout your paragraph or essay.
6. Organize your facts and ideas in a way that develops your main idea. Once you have chosen the most important point of your paragraph or essay, you must find the best way to tell your reader about it. Look at the facts you have written. Look at your own ideas on the topic. Decide which facts and ideas will best support the main idea of your essay. Once you have chosen the facts and ideas you plan to use, ask yourself which order to put them in the essay. Write down your own note set that you can use to guide yourself as you write your essay.
The editing stage is when you check your essay for mistakes and correct them.
Grammar and Spelling 1. Check your spelling.
2. Check your grammar.
3. Read your essay again.
4. Make sure each sentence has a subject.
5. Make sure your subjects and verbs agree with each other.
6. Check the verb tenses of each sentence.
7. Make sure that each sentence makes sense.
Style and Organization 1. Make sure your essay has an introduction, supporting paragraphs, and a summary paragraph.
2. Check that you have a thesis statement that identifies the main idea of the essay.
3. Check that all your paragraphs follow the proper paragraph format.
4. See if your essay is interesting.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF ESSAYS/COMPOSITIONS
THE DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY
The descriptive essay is a genre of essay that asks the student to describe an object, person, place, experience, emotion, situation, etc. This genre encourages the student’s ability to create a written account of a particular experience. What is more, this genre allows for a great deal of artistic freedom (the goal of which is to paint an image that is vivid and moving in the mind of the reader).
Here are some guidelines for writing a descriptive essay:
Take time to brainstorm
Use clear and concise language
Choose vivid language
Use your senses
Leave the reader with a clear impression.
THE DISCURSIVE ESSAY - presenting arguments and opinions.
The formula for writing such an essay is as follows:
An introduction which should:
briefly state the point of view you are going to defend.
state what you are going to do in the rest of the essay.
state two different points of view that you are going to consider.
state the question you are going to answer.
The main body which needs two paragraphs, each of which should develop one point. Depending on the essay task, you might need to describe examples, discuss different points of view, describe causes, make suggestions, and give reasons for your point of view.
A final paragraph in which you should re-emphasize the main point or points you want to make, or weigh up the opinions presented earlier in the essay. Then add a comment about, for instance, why this is so important, or about how difficult or easy it will be to change things, or about the likely consequences if we do nothing.
FORMAL OR INFORMAL ENGLISH?
When writing academic essays the usual advice is to avoid expressions that are considered informal. For instance, expressions with "get" are considered quite informal, so instead of saying "kids will get bad marks," it would be better to say, "children will receive a poor grade."
DOs AND DONTs
Do make sure you have understood the task correctly.
Do spend a couple of minutes thinking of ideas, choosing the best ones and the order you will discuss them in.
Do try to have a good introduction. This creates the first impression on the examiner, and first impressions are very important.
Do make sure that each paragraph in the main body of your essay has a clear topic.
Do develop your ideas by giving arguments for the opinions you mention, and/or giving examples, or drawing a contrast, or by acknowledging the opposite point of view (if you have not planned to do that in the following paragraph).
Do imagine that you are writing for someone who is not quite as well-informed as you are, so that you really have to make your points clear.
Do try to use a good range of vocabulary. Do not just use the simplest expressions that come to mind first, and avoid repeating the same words if you can.
Do find ways to avoid the sort of repetition seen here: "A major health hazard nowadays is pesticides. Pesticides are widely used in modern agriculture."
Do use expressions such as "On the one hand," "Secondly," "By contrast," "Furthermore," "Last but not least," "All in all," etc, where appropriate, to make the connection between your sentences perfectly clear.
Do vary the length of your sentences. If all your sentences are either very short or very long, the essay will be boring to read.
Do use some of the advanced grammar structures you have learnt throughout the course.
Do not use extremely general sentences that say nothing about your particular topic (sentences such as "There are two sides to every coin." "Everything has its drawbacks." "Nothing is perfect." etc).
Do try to write sufficiently neatly so that your essay is easy to read. As long as you manage this, it does not matter if certain words and phrases are crossed out.
Do keep one eye on the clock and leave yourself a minute or so to check your work. We all make mistakes, and if you can correct some of yours, you will save valuable marks.
G. ESSAY GRAMMAR STRUCTURES
Here are some examples of important structures which should be used:
Participle phrases and gerunds up front:
"Reducing the retirement age would create significant difficulties for pension funds."
"Having been bullied at school, I know how psychologically damaging this can be."
Conditionals with inversions instead of "If.."
"Were the government to ......... , we would .............."
"Had television not been invented, economic growth would have been slower."
"What many people would like to see is ......................"
"It is the ................. that I object to."
"Not only are landfill sites unsightly but they are also a source of pollution"
"Rarely do we see our political leaders riding bikes."
"It is often forgotten that ..................."
"............. is considered to be ............."
".......has been linked with ........"
"The conlusion to be drawn is that ............."
The advanced use of 'so'
This is so grave an issue that .....
H. SOME USEFUL PHRASES FOR ESSAY WRITING
Presenting two advantages or disadvantages together: