Teaching speaking through discussion

Fundamental considerations in teaching writing essays. The importance of writing essays. Basic principles of teaching writing essays: writing techniques and stages. Organization of the essays. Linking words and phrases. Types of essays, essay samples.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
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Teaching speaking through discussion



Olga Baran

a fourth year student

of the English department


Larysa Viktorivna Lemeshchuk

an assistant professor

of the English department

LVIV 2009


  • Introduction
  • 1. Chapter 1. Fundamental considerations in teaching writing essays
  • 1.1 The importance of writing essays
  • 1.2 Basic principles of teaching writing essays: writing techniques and stages
  • 1.3.organization of the essays. Essay structure
  • 2. Chapter 2
  • 2.1 Types of essays. Essay samples
  • 2.2 Punctuation. Word choice
  • 2.3 Linking words and phrases
  • 2.4 Plagiarism
  • Conclusion
  • References


Written communication has become extremely important for interaction in the modern world with the instant technological development. Recently writing assessments and essays have become a vital part of a formal education. Secondary students are taught to structure their compositions in order to improve their writing skills. Both in secondary and tertiary education, essays are used to judge the mastery and comprehension of material. Students are asked to explain, comment on or assess a topic of study in the form of an essay.

What is an essay? Essay is a short piece of writing on a particular subject which presents the author's point of view. It is an organized set of ideas and reflections. This presentation of views must be done in a logical and factual manner with the use of the first person often discouraged. The leading essayist Aldous Huxley defines essay in the following way - “Like the novel, the essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything, usually on a certain topic. By tradition, almost by definition, the essay is a short piece, and it is therefore impossible to give all things full play within the limits of a single essay. But a collection of essays can cover almost as much ground, and cover it almost as thoroughly, as can a long novel”. The word "essay" originated from French word "essai" which means "effort, sketch". It reflects the essence of this notion. It is a personal attempt to give a challenging sketch on certain issues. Every attempt is different and presents versatile ideas, but people must not be afraid of writing even knowing that it is too complicated to express themselves in a proper way.

Essay should be structured in various sections that make it easy for the readers to read and follow the author's thoughts clearly. To show your grasp of the ideas studied learners have to express them in their own words. Writing essays is not the easy task. Nevertheless, it is a good way to stimulate learning and critical thinking that makes writing a valuable part of any language course. It enables learners to display the skills and abilities which they possess and remaining an important method of assessment, helps to discriminate between students, to test their intellectual capabilities. Raimes points out “Writing helps students to learn. Firstly, it reinforces the grammatical structures, idioms, and vocabulary that teachers have been teaching their students. Secondly, when students write, they also have a chance to be adventurous with the language, to go beyond what they have just learned. Thirdly, when students write, they necessarily become very involved with the new language [14, p.58]

Professor Roy Wilkinson has identified a pyramid of skills which teachers try to test with the help of essay assignment.

Tarvers explains that “Writing is a powerful instrument of thought. In the act of composing, writers learn about themselves and their world and communicate their insights to others. Writing confers the power to grow personally and to effect change in the world" [18, p.45] Moreover, the skill of writing essays is an essential tool in achieving the desirable grade in the courses studied. The basic essay-writing skills are not that difficult to acquire. The reason why so many students fail to do this is that not enough attention has been paid to teaching them. It is inevitable that schools, colleges and universities spend most of their time teaching the core subject-matter of a course, but hardly any time in advising students how to put their ideas down on paper in the form of an essay. Hedge points out that writing has been a neglected area of English language teaching for some years [11, p.101]. However, when people write down an account of ideas for others to read, they have to explain themselves particularly carefully. The leaps made while talking are not allowed. This makes writing probably the most challenging aspect of studying. White and Amdt promote that “Writing is a form of problem-solving which involves such processes as generating ideas, discovering a voice with which to write, planning, goal-setting, monitoring and evaluating what is going to be written as well as what has been written and searching for language with which to express exact meanings” [20, p.92].

The difficulties in writing essays as well as the process of teaching writing essays show the object of this course paper. The subject lies in the set of skills and hints for teaching learners to write better compositions. This coursework comprises the following tasks:

· to specify the structure of the essay and stages in writing it;

· to clarify the skills and habits necessary for the learners to write properly, clearly and persuasively, and to present the viewpoint forcefully in writing;

· to show the importance of practicing writing topic and concluding sentences, organizing the paragraphs coherently, using appropriate vocabulary, transitional devices and grammar;

· to apply key writing structures to learners' writing;

· to develop strategies for writing, revising, and editing texts that are based on audience and purpose;

· to make students aware of the impact of their choice of words, sentences and organizational techniques on the effectiveness of writing.

Learning solid essay writing skills while in school is the foundation for even the most basic education. Thus, many students do not have the slightest idea on how to begin a creative writing and how to express their thoughts. It is important for learners not to suppress their ideas, they should think widely, in various directions. The practical value lies in helping people to order their essays, to display their knowledge in the well-structured way due to the standards of essay writing, to provoke the learners to write and to believe in their own abilities, the originality and validity of their thoughts. In addition to this, essay writing is a part of a sequence designed to develop specific discourse skills.

1. Chapter 1. Fundamental considerations in teaching writing essays

1.1 The importance of writing essays

Language learning requires mastering the four basic skills a language consists of. Thus there is not only the awareness of grammatical, lexical or syntactic rules needed but the writing process demands also mental power of the writer. Writing is an effective tool to use for different purposes from sharing ideas, corresponding to persuading others. Through writing people articulate their ideas in another way than in speaking, their written product can be much more expressive and powerful. Written works are permanent; they may have an impact much later in time. Tarvers claims that “The purposes for writing vary widely, from discovering the writer's own feelings, to persuading others to a course of action, recreating experience imaginatively, reporting the results of observation, and more” [18, p.48]. Having such potential, learners should be taught all the necessary rules and conventions of writing as a skill to express themselves in the most appropriate way. Therefore writing deserves an equal part in the classroom of learning language skills. Nowadays more attention is paid to speaking and listening, developing writing skills seem to be a deprived area. White mentions that “For some time, under the influence of the audio-lingual approach to language teaching, it has been conventional wisdom to regard speech as being of primary importance, with writing being placed a poor second. Writing was regarded as being a somewhat inferior form of the language” [20, p.57]. It is no longer seen as simply a means to retell or recount information, but as a unique way to internalize and expand upon specific knowledge, to retain the information, integrate it into the existing knowledge. Neither a multiple choice test nor short answer quiz can provide students with the opportunities to develop the kind of critical evaluative skills a thorough writing assignment can. Robert Kellogg states " [Writing] is a vehicle for expanding and transforming one's own knowledge base. [It] not only demands thinking, it is also a means for thinking. By writing about a subject, one learns what one thinks about the subject. This property of transforming knowledge is a fundamental component of writing skill" [12, p.214]. Writing essays teaches students to research, plan, organize and structure their activities.

1.2 Basic principles of teaching writing essays: writing techniques and stages

Writing is an exercise of mind requiring the mastery of techniques anyone can learn. While one system may work better for some and worse for others; there are several general rules to stick to. There are many aspects that a student will have to keep in mind. The first important thing to do is to examine the title of the topic. It can be assigned or not. Sometimes it is easier to have the topic given by the teacher. On the other hand, it may be an advantage to take the topic you want. Both have their pros and cons because there are so many things to write about that you may get lost. When the topic has been assigned, you have some definite sphere to work on. Each topic can be seen from various viewpoints. The student, however, should choose the one which is neither too narrow (it will not have enough ideas to write about) nor too broad. Medecine is too general. You can take only one aspect to discuss - Euthanasia in medical practice. Then you must think about the purpose and the audience of the essay. The writer should understand the key words which will help to gather thoughts, to decide on the writing style and give some hints. It is a good rule always to write the title of the essay across the top of the opening page. It reminds you what you are supposed to be doing. An essay can be good in almost every other way and may be judged poor because it ignores the issues presented in the title. You are never just asked to write all you know about a subject, or simply describe something. You are set a specific problem to reflect upon in the light of what you have been studying. Everything you say in the essay should be relevant to that task. You have to convince your readers that the point has some bearing on the title.

Successful academic writing takes much more than just excellent writing skills and understanding of the topic. The whole secret lies in proper organization of an essay and following a certain writing procedures. The essay goal is to convey information, including the fact that you can write well. But it will not be achieved if the readers do not understand the first few sentences or paragraphs, and stop reading, or if they finish reading but fail to grasp the message. Learning how to be a clear and accurate writer will help to make your essay readable and understandable. There are some guidelines which show how to clarify writing. Moreover, it is important to recognize that you must commit yourself to a process. A finished paper is the result of the complex interaction of activities that include several stages of development (see Table1), but some of them can be omitted. Nevertheless, these stages are believed to reflect generally how successful writing develops.

Stages of writing

Writing process




Generating ideas, strategies, and information for a given writing task.

Prewriting activities take place before starting on the first draft of a paper. They include discussion, outlining, freewriting, journals, talk-write, metaphor etc.


Reflecting on the material produced during prewriting to develop a plan to achieve the aim of the paper.

Planning involves considering your rhetorical stance, rhetorical purpose, the principal aim of the text, how these factors are interrelated, and how they are connected to the information generated during prewriting. Planning also involves selecting support for your claim and blocking out at least a rough organizational structure.


Producing words on a computer or on paper that match (more or less) the initial plan for the work.

Drafting occurs over time. Successful writers seldom try to produce an entire text in one sitting or even in one day.


Moments when you aren't writing but instead are reflecting on what you have produced and how well it matches your plan. Usually includes reading.

Pausing occurs among successful and unsuccessful writers, but they use it in different ways. Successful writers consider “global" factors: how well the text matches the plan, how well it is meeting audience needs, and overall organization.


Moments during pausing when you read what you've written and compare it to your plan.

Reading and writing are interrelated activities. Good readers are good writers and vice versa. The reading that takes place during writing is crucial to the reflection process during pausing.


Literally “re-seeing” the text with the goal of making large-scale changes so that text and plan match.

Revising occurs after you have finished your first draft. It involves making changes that enhance the match between plan

and text. Factors to consider usually are the same as those you considered during planning: rhetorical stance, rhetorical purpose, and so on. Serious revising almost always includes getting suggestions from friends or colleagues on how to improve the writing.


Focusing on sentence-level concerns, such as punctuation, sentence length, spelling, agreement of subjects and predicates, and style.

Editing occurs after revising. The goal is to give your paper a professional appearance.


Sharing your finished text with its intended audience.

Publishing isn't limited to getting a text printed in a journal. It includes turning a paper in to a teacher, a boss, or an agency.

(Table 1. Preparing To Teach Writing by James D. Williams)

Prewriting is the first step in creating a successful essay. You need time to focus and shape your thoughts which will result in a better final product. There are some prewriting strategies that may be used both to generate new ideas and to clarify those you already have. They can also be used effectively when you are faced with a number of possible essay topics and must determine which vehicle is the best to express your unique thoughts and experiences.

The following prewriting techniques can be listed:

1. Freewriting

2. Brainstorming or listing

3. Concept mapping/webbing by Lauren Starkey

4. Taking stock with the 5Ws (How To Write Great Essays)

5. Reading good writing

6. Discussion

7. Outlining by James D. Williams

8. Talk-write (Preparing To Teach Writing)

9. Metaphor

Depending on your topic some invention techniques may work better than others. The overall goal when using any method is to discover unique ideas.

Freewriting presupposes spending a predetermined period of time writing nonstop for 5, 10, or 15 minutes, focusing on a specific topic. It works best when you write in full sentences, but phrases are also effective. The key is to keep writing without regard for grammar, spelling, or worthiness of ideas. During this period, students keep generating words, even if they cannot think of anything meaningful to say. Sometimes freewriting is combined with an activity called looping, in which students stop freewriting after 5 minutes and reread what they have produced. If they find a good idea on the page, they use it as the basis for another freewriting period.

Brainstorming means jotting down concepts, individual thoughts or ideas that come into your head associated with the given topic, in note form and in random order. It involves creating a list. It will be especially helpful when you have to establish a point of view on a topic and support your position.

Mapping and webbing are visual organizers that allow you to see easily the relationships between a number of diverse ideas and are best used for exploring topics that are not complex. Put your central idea or subject in the middle, and add subtopics or related ideas around it in any order. Or draw a box with your subject written in it, and continue adding boxes, connected to each other by lines, showing the development of your idea.

Taking stock with the 5Ws technique is particularly useful for choosing an essay topic and for focusing on it. Unlike some of the other prewriting techniques, taking stock should be done deliberately, with great thought given to each question. Take a moment to give the best answer you can for each question. Concentrate on the standard W's: Who, What, Where, When and Why. These questions will help you to quickly develop a great deal of information about your subject.

Reading good writing can make a difference with your own. Reading mediocre writing won't help your essay, but if you consistently read great writing, syntax, structure, and style can improve under the influence of writers who are masters at their craft.

Discussion provides multiple points of view on a given topic. Teachers usually initiate it by asking the class questions regarding how to proceed. Discussions tend to be most helpful when they occur a day or so after students receive an assignment. The time in between allows students to begin formulating a plan that they can modify and enrich through the discussion.

Outlines can be a very beneficial invention device if used properly. However, the focus is very often on the structural details. First, group related ideas together, looking for major topics (which can be headings) and minor ones (which can be subheadings, examples or details). Outlines start with general points and shift to specific ones. Define your major points, and rearrange them until they make sense and follow a logical progression. You will be able to see the relationships between your ideas and determine their importance. If you need more supporting details or facts-subcategories-you can add them now. The outline of the possible topic is suggested below:

Talk-write technique is based on the perception that speaking, listening, reading, writing and thinking are intimately related and mutually reinforcing. It involves asking students to construct a plan mentally and to deliver an oral composition to the class. Classmates provide suggestions and comments designed to help improve and elaborate the plan. The next step is to begin writing. It is usually easier as a result and tends to be more successful because a person has to understand a topic to explain it to others. A valuable benefit is that making such oral presentations is likely to increase one's self-confidence about speaking in public [] Zoellner

Metaphor is a feature of style. However, it can be a powerful model-building device that helps students generate ideas and information. The novelist Richard Wright left in his Black Boy a valuable record of how metaphor can work as an invention technique. In the first draft of this essay Wright listed a number of books that had influenced him, and then he stated that “these books were like eyeglasses, enabling me to see my environment”, then he changed from “eyeglasses" to “eyes" (IIdraft) books were no longer “eyes" but “windows” (final draft). He told, for example, that the books that influenced him were “eyes" through which he could see the world as the authors saw it, enabling him to “understand and grasp" his own experiences. It allowed Wright to become the agent of seeing and not the others' sight beneficiary.

1.3 organization of the essays. Essay structure

Not only writing stages and techniques are important, but also there are problems with syntactic organization of a text and cohesion which are the basis for writing. Byrne describes that “Writing is learned through a process of instruction - we have to master the written form of the language and to learn certain structures which are less used in speech, or perhaps not used at all. We also have to learn how to organize our ideas in such a way that they can be understood by a reader” [3, p.98]

Learners should pay special attention to the structure and organization of the essay. It can take many forms. Understanding how the movement of thought is managed through an essay has a profound impact on its overall cogency and ability to impress. Teacher should teach students step by step how to express their thoughts on the paper, in which order, what linking words to use, what common mistakes to avoid. If you want to teach somebody to write different things, your task is to make the process of writing interesting. The problem is that very often people imagine essays just in form of boring, serious writings on scientific or educational topics. As the result, they have no desire to do such things or to learn how to do them. At first, learners can try writing without any plans, so that to be used to putting ideas into the written form. Show that essay topics can be various. Teach people creativity; show them how to use imagination. Slowly you should make this process more complex. Try to teach them to recognize topic sentences and to write their own, to conduct a substantial research on the topic, back up statements with samples, introduce how to organize paragraphs in a coherent way, what vocabulary to use; give them samples of the essays to study and then ask different questions related to them etc. When learners go through various examples of essays, these will serve as guides and help in writing the assigned task. Give them a hint to successful writing by introducing the structure of the essay which should be preserved. It is difficult for creative mind to be made to write within some definite framework; it is suppressed by structural dependence. Notwithstanding, it may be a very easy task if you are taught at the beginning of your learning process to use various writing techniques and structural models, to express yourself according to some general rules in writing essays. Structure is important in essay. It will help to follow dynamic interchange of author's arguments, supporting evidence and questions. The reader will be able to grasp the message encoded by the writer. The essay must have at least three paragraphs. Academic writing, however, usually comprises five paragraphs organized in a coherent way: introduction, body with mainly three paragraphs, and conclusion. Each paragraph should have a clear, singular focus. One of the commonest students' errors in writing essays is shifting topics within the same paragraph, rather than continuing to develop the idea they began with. If you want to start a new topic, begin a new paragraph instead. Paragraph usually consists of the topic sentence, the supporting sentences and the concluding one. A topic sentence is generally the first sentence of the paragraph. It is concise and emphatic. Topic sentence contains the main idea of the paragraph, thus orienting the reader to the purpose of this piece of writing. To attract attention they sometimes appear in the form of rhetorical questions. When you use topic sentences, your reader will find it easier to follow your thoughts and arguments. Supporting sentences illustrate the main idea with examples and explanations, give details, elaborate on causes and effects, comparison and contrasts, anticipate and respond to counterarguments. The concluding sentence finishes the paragraph by giving the final comment. The following exercise can help in teaching students to distinguish these types of sentences.

Find the topic, concluding and supporting sentences in the paragraph given:

A stitch in time saves nine. My mother, who likes sewing, used this simple saying to teach me the value of working on problems when they are still small. Originally, the saying referred to sewing - if you have a small hole in a shirt? You can repair it with one stitch. But if you wait, the hole will get larger, and it will take you nine stitches. This simple example reminds me to take care of small problems before they become big problems.

When the learners know how to form topic, supporting and concluding sentences, they are ready to start to write introduction. It is the first and very important paragraph in the essay. It is here that the writer will have to get the attention of the reader, introduce him to the theme and focus his attention on the main argument by presenting a thesis statement. The introduction should always begin with something interesting. The writer may begin his essay by giving an anecdote, posing a question to his readers, presenting some interesting facts or by an exciting quotation relevant to the essay. The topic should be introduced clearly. You must avoid repeating the exact words of the topic, paraphrasing them will display your language skills. Concerning grammar the introduction will normally be in the present tense (e. g. people complain), or the present continuous (people are gradually becoming aware), or in the present perfect tense (people have pointed out). It is normally organized by giving first general ideas and leading to the more specific one, which is the thesis statement. The latter should indicate the point of discussion. For example, if you write an essay on hunger, you might say: World hunger has many causes and effects. This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, "world hunger" can't be discussed thoroughly in five or ten pages. Second, "many causes and effects" is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. Hunger persists in Africa because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable is a strong thesis. It narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger. This thesis statement is a transitional "hook" which moves the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the essay.

The main body explains and supports the thesis statement, develops and illustrates the points you wish to make. It should be the easiest part to write. Using your outline and notes, try to rank ideas in order of importance. The first paragraph of the body should include the strongest argument as well as the second one. The third paragraph, however, usually presents the weakest argument. The main body is characterized by different evidences and examples, it is necessary to discuss positive and negative aspects. The writer can display power of analysis, personal understanding of complex topics. Do not feel you have to put in everything you have learned. Relevance and independence of thought are of importance. Take all the time you can to fully develop your ideas. If you stop writing too soon, it may be because you have not explained yourself completely, or backed up your assertions with examples. Do not simply state that something is true, prove it. There may be several ideas which must be supported. Not every supporting point will have details, though, some will have several details. Those make your essay stand out. You should include, however, only information that pertains to your topic. Qualify your answers for accuracy. If you cannot remember an exact date, approximate-“late eighteenth century" is better than 1988 if 1988 is incorrect. When you feel that you expressed everything you wanted, your thoughts are backed up by evidences and examples, you may proceed with concluding part of your essay.

The concluding paragraph must summarize the entire essay and reiterate the thesis statement presented in the introduction. It must be remembered that new facts and data cannot be presented here. A strong concluding statement at the end helps to convince the reader. You can effectively reinforce the points, made in the body but remember to reword them and keep the conclusion fresh. It's not enough just to restate your main ideas - if you only did that and then ended your essay, this part would be flat and boring. You should not use phrases such as “I wrote about" or “This essay was about. ” Drawing a conclusion often involves summarizing of the main points already made. A common mistake is to write the end that does not follow logically from what has been written before. This is sometimes called a `non-sequitur'. If you have the time, end with something more interesting giving a thought-provoking quotation, talking about consequences or implications, stating what action needs to be done. A speculative conclusion refers to a future possibility or prediction, such as “perhaps years from now. ” If you write about a problem, try to offer a solution. If you have a fitting quotation, use it to finish your essay. The person quoted does not have to be famous, but the quote should help you to make your point. Although be aware that you cannot overcome a weak essay with a clever conclusion. Your conclusion is the final impression left with your reader. Author need to say something that will continue to simmer in the readers' minds long after they have put down this essay.

2. Chapter 2

2.1 Types of essays. Essay samples

The information to use and the tips for writing depend on the essay type. Essays consist mainly of assignments set by instructors for the students to test their understanding and knowledge levels on a particular topic, abilities to present the balanced comprehension of it. There are many different types of essays a professor may choose from. The teacher may ask students to write a discursive essay to check their analytical skills or may instruct them to write a descriptive essay to simply test the power of expression and logical thinking of his students. Choice of essays also to some extent depends on the subject studied. Different purposes and types of writing aim at various members of the discourse community.

It is easier to teach at first descriptive essays and then discursive ones. The former are personally relevant to the students. They may focus on people, places and buildings, objects and events. It is not so simple to describe what you observe. The best way to create a vivid experience for your readers is to make use of senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. They enable readers to imagine or experience something by themselves. Sensory details appeal to their emotional, physical or intellectual sensibilities. Description uses tools such as denotative and connotative language, metaphors and similes to arrive at a dominant impression.





Paragraph 1

Brief information about who the person is, where/how you met

Paragraph 1

Name/location/population/state the reason for choosing this or that

Paragraph 1

Set the scene, name/type, time/ date, place, reasons for.

Main body

Paragraph 2

Physical appearance: height, age, facial features, hair, clothing etc.

Paragraph 3

Personality/behavior with justifications and examples

Paragraph 4

Life/lifestyle, hobbies, beliefs, interests, everyday activities

Paragraphs 5-6

Explanations and examples

Paragraphs 2-3

General features and particular details: surroundings, facilities, exterior/interior, places to go, free-time activities

Paragraphs 4-5

Explanations and examples

Paragraph 2


Paragraph 3

Description of event itself: food, atmosphere, activities

Paragraphs 4-5

Explanations and reasons: its significance


Final paragraph

Comments, feelings and opinion about the person

Final paragraph

Feelings, opinion and give a recommendation

Final paragraph

Comments, feelings and opinion

Consider the topic carefully and describe things relevant to it, some points may be unnecessary. When writing on the topic “Describe a person who has done a great deal for others, and explain how he or she has managed to achieve so much”, it will be irrelevant to describe appearance. The description must be supported with examples; use a variety of adjectives to make a composition more interesting. The adjectives must be ordered in the following way: opinion, size/weight, age, shape, colour, pattern, origin, material. It is advisable not to use them one after another; it will sound unnatural.mild language should be used when the learner wants to describe some negative qualities (e. g. tend to, seem to, can occasionally etc. - Peter tends to be impolite). To avoid simple sentences and same structures, different linking words are to be introduced.

There are various descriptive types of essays. Three main of them are presented below and suggested by Virginia Evans.

Essay samples


My next-door neighbour

Mavis has been my neighbour for six years. I first met her when she knocked on my door and asked for a spade because she hadn't yet unpacked hers. She had only moved in two days before.

Physically, Mavis looks younger than most other women in their late sixties. She is of average height, neither fat nor thin. Her plump round face is framed by a mass of wavy white hair and her sparkling blue eyes show her humour and friendliness. She prefers wearing casual, comfortable clothes. I don't think I have ever seen her in a perfectly ironed suit.

As for her personality, Mavis's most striking characteristic is her generosity. My house, as well as most of our neighbours', nearly always has a vase of flowers from her garden in the living room. Mavis is very good - natured and always has time for a chat. She is also patient. She hardly ever gets annoyed about anything, except when children pick her favourite roses and lilies. However, she tends to be quite stubborn - once she has made a decision, nothing can change her mind.

Mavis always seems to be busy doing something. She spends a lot of her time looking after her garden and often participates in local flower shows. When she is not in her garden she is usually off somewhere raising money for one charity or another.

All in all, Mavis is the perfect next-door neighbour. Since the day she moved in, we have grown very close and I am very fond of her, even if I am woken up by the noise of her lawnmower early in the morning!


London and its curiosities

Set in the heart of southern England, London is one of the biggest and busiest cities in Europe. A truly international city, London attracts millions of visitors every year from all over the world, yet never loses its own unique charm.

London has many impressive sights to see, ranging from the historical beauty of St. Paul's Cathedral and Big Ben to Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. In this city of contrasts, you can be walking along one of the busiest streets, yet still be less than a mile from one of the many huge, peaceful parks. London is a great cultural center, too; the National Gallery contains one of the finest collections of classical paintings in the world.

London is also well-known for other things apart from its monuments and art galleries. Shoppers will enjoy visiting the department stores on Oxford Street or they could try Harrods, the most exclusive shop in London. For evening entertainment, the choice of theaters is enormous. From the famous Southbank Theater complex to the smaller theaters on Covent Garden, there is no end of plays to see. Soho and its pavement cafes are also worth visiting.

London is an exceptional place, a truly modern city that has managed to keep its traditional style and sense of history. You may get exhausted in London, but one thing is certain; you will never get bored, as Dr. Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. ”


Describe an annual event that you attended and explain why you enjoyed it

About four years ago I was invited to a Halloween party at the home of a friend. I was reluctant at first but I decided to go to help out with the arrangements.

On the afternoon of the party, I drove to my friend's house with a huge box of materials which I thought might be useful for the preparations. The children were full of enthusiasm as they worked on their masks and costumes. But the best part of all was making the lanterns. I was amazed at the imagination that the children showed when cutting grotesque faces out of the hollowed-out pumpkins. The mood of anticipation was so intense that, by the time the last costume had been made, I was as excited as the children.

By six o'clock, the party was well under way and the house was full of screaming children, with me running around in a mask trying to scare them. At one point during the evening, prizes were awarded to the children who made the best costumes. Games were organized, including one where the children had their hands tied behind their backs while they tried to pick apples out of a barrel of water using only their teeth. When the party finally ended, the children left in a noisy group, running ahead of their parents and doing their best to scare any unfortunate passers-by.

Rediscovering what it is like to have fun without feeling embarrassed was a fantastic experience. My initial hesitation disappeared once I had decided to get involved. Helping with the children's games enabled me to enter into the party spirit. I saw it as an opportunity to experience the sheer joy that comes so naturally to children.

Another thing that made it particularly enjoyable occasion was that it bought back memories of my childhood experiences. I remembered my own excitement when we were dressing up in scary costumes, and the thrill of going from house to house, bags held open for whatever goodies would be put in when we shouted, 'Trick or treat! ' I also remembered the time we had been chased by a stingy neighbour after spraying his windows with shaving foam.

Since those days I had nearly forgotten about Halloween, but this party gave me so much pleasure that now it is a regular fixture in my diary. I think everyone should have the chance to feel like a child at least once a year.

Discursive writing is a good way to learn how to logically structure an argument and how to anticipate and counter the arguments of the other side. There exist various types of discursive essays:

Ш For and against essay is a formal piece of writing where the writer should consider the topic from various perspectives. Arguments are to be presented in a fair and objective way with as many justifications, examples and reasons as possible.

Ш Opinion essay requires the author's opinion on a topic stated clearly from various viewpoints, supported by reasons and/or examples. An opposite point of view should also be presented. It comprises a combination of personal and argumentative approaches. The writer's main task is to persuade the reader of author's rightness and to make readers take the same position.

Ш Essay suggesting solution to problems makes a thorough analysis of the problem, states its causes clearly, giving possible ways of solving it at the same time. The consequences and the results of the suggested actions are also specified.

For and Against


Solution to Problems


Paragraph 1

State topic (without giving your opinion)

Paragraph 1

State the topic and your opinion

Paragraph 1

State the problem and its causes/effects

Main body

Paragraphs 2-3

Arguments for and justifications, examples or reasons

Paragraphs 4-5

Arguments against and justifications, examples or reasons

Paragraphs 2-4

View points and reasons/examples

Paragraph 5

Opposing viewpoint and reason/example

Paragraphs 2-5

Suggestions and results


Final paragraph

Balanced consideration or opinion

Final paragraph

Summarize/restate your opinion

Final paragraph

Summarize your opinion

Virginia Evans gives the following samples of these types:

Essay samples

For and against essay

Censorship is necessary in modern society

Censorship is an issue which frequently generates a great deal of heated debate, with supporters maintaining that it is vital in order to protect society, whilst opponents claim that it is an unjustifiable restriction of public access to information.

Firstly, all countries have secrets which must be safeguarded for reasons of national security. For instance, if an enemy country were to acquire such highly sensitive information, the effects could be catastrophic. Consequently, governments have to have the power to restrict access to information concerning areas such as the armed forces or particular aspects of foreign policy.

Secondly, it is often argued that censorship is necessary to prevent the broadcast and publication of obscene material which is considered offensive or harmful to public morals. Many people feel that, without censorship the public would be constantly subjected to material that the majority would find offensive. For this reason, the government has a duty to impose certain restrictions on the mass media by censoring films and texts which contain explicit scenes of sex, violence or foul language.

In contrast, opponents of censorship point out that when it is abused by governments, censorship becomes an instrument used to misinform society and maintain power. In order to control the flow of information which riches the public, repressive regimes try to put constraints on the media, thus denying citizens the right to information owing to the fact that governments believe it may lead them to seek greater freedom.

Furthermore, it is generally felt that mature adults are able to make informed choices about what they watch, read and listen to and should, therefore, be permitted to make their own decisions. For example, some comedians make use of offensive language taboo subjects in their performances. Critics of censorship argue that the only people who will watch or listen to such material are adults who have made a conscious decision to do so. Thus, it is claimed, it is unjust to censor material like this since it is not forced upon people who may subsequently be offended by it.

All things considered, it can be concluded that a certain degree of censorship is always necessary. The best course of action would be to attempt to achieve a balance between the requirements of the country and the public on the one hand, and individuals' rights on the other.

Opinion essay

Although the position of women in society today has improved, there is still a great deal of sexual discrimination.

Throughout this century, the role of women within society has changed, and the majority of people feel that this change is for the better. More women work than ever before, and it is accepted in Western culture that many women now have careers. Nonetheless, in my opinion there is still a great deal of sexual equality has been achieved is not altogether accurate.

To begin with, many women find it very difficult to return to work after having children. The main reason for this is that there are rarely any provisions made for childcare in the workplace and, in these cases, women are forced to find someone to look after the children while they are at work. Obviously, this can prove to be a time-consuming and expensive process, yet it must be done if mothers are to be able to resume their careers.

Secondly, the traditional views of the position of women within society are so deeply ingrained that they have not really changed. For instance, not only is the view that women should stay at home and look after their family still widely held, but it is reinforced through images seen on television programmes and advertisements. An example of this is that few men are ever seen doing housework on television, since this is traditionally thought of as “a woman's job”.

Thirdly, since families often need two incomes in order to enjoy a good standard of living, a woman finds herself doing two jobs: one at home and one at the office. So, it could be said that a woman's position has, in fact, deteriorated rather than improved, with the result that women carry the burdens of equality but get none of the benefits.

In contrast, there are some people who claim that the problem of sexual discrimination no longer exists. They point out that women do, after all, have legal rights intended to protect them from discrimination. In addition, a few women are now beginning to reach top positions as judges, business leaders and politicians, while a number of other previously all-male professions are opening their ranks to women. Nonetheless, these examples are not the norm and discrimination is still very much with us.

Taking these points into consideration, I would say that the position of women has improved only slightly. While, rules and laws have changed, it is the deep-rooted opinions of people within society which are taking a longer time to evolve. Needless to say, until these attitudes have changed, sexual discrimination will remain a problem which we all need to face and fight against.

Solutions to problems essay

What could be done to improve the lives of the elderly?

For many elderly people the latter part of their life is not a time to relax and enjoy retirement, but rather a difficult and unhappy period, owing to financial worries, failing health and loneliness. As life expectancy increases, the average person lives well beyond the age of retirement. As a result, the elderly make up an ever-increasing percentage of society, which makes it more important than ever for a real effort to be made in improving the lives of senior citizens.

One way to deal with the situation would be to ensure that the elderly have enough money on which to live. Obviously, when a person stops working, they still require a source of income to cover their basic needs such as food, accommodation and heating. A clear solution to the problem is for the government to make sure that the state pension is adequate for these needs. Furthermore, free financial advice should be made available to retired people so that the stress of worrying about money could be reduced as far as possible.

Steps should also be taken to overcome problems the elderly face as a result of deteriorating health due to old age, and inadequate health-care provisions. Again, the responsibility should fall to the government to provide access to the best health care available, which may necessitate paying for residential homes where the elderly can have round-the-clock nursing, or, at the very least, providing medication free of charge to all people over a certain age. As a result, old people would enjoy not only better health, but also peace of mind from the knowledge that they need not fear falling ill and being unable to pay for treatment.

The lives of old people could also be improved if attempts were made to address the problem of social isolation which so many of them face. If we organised trips for the elderly to community centers, visits from social workers or free bus passes to allow pensioners greater mobility, the effect would be alleviate the problem of loneliness which marks the lives of so many old people living alone far from their families.

One final suggestion, which would help enormously, is to change the attitude of the community towards its older members, who are all too often seen as a burden on society and dismissed as having little to do with modern life. We need to be taught from an early age to respect the views of old people, and appreciate their broader experience of life. This would help society as a whole, and encourage appreciation of the role that old people can still play today.

To sum up, there are several measures which could be taken to improve the lives of old people. If the government and individuals alike were to help, it would make retirement and old age a time to look forward to, rather than dread.

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