Thursday, 5 February 2015

Essay Writing For ESL Learners

If you have a choice of essay topics, then choose the one that is most interesting to you. If none of the topics interest you, then choose the topic that you think will be the easiest.

There are many different topics that form concepts as part of a course of study. When reading the list of essay questions/ topics you will know which one is the easiest and most interesting because it is the one that you remember after reading and found the easiest to read.

Analyse the essay topic's statement or question.

What are you required to do? Are you required to compare and contrast, explain, describe, argue or discuss. There are many of these types of verbs used in essay topic questions. You need to make sure you know what is required of each, because each one is different. If you don't know then ask your teacher to explain it to you. Ask for a sample essay or to see a past students essay.

Writing your essay.

There is no ONE way to write an essay. Everyone is different and every essay statement/ question is different. Here's what I like to do:


* Write down broad ideas- what I think I would like to write about in a general sense. Then from that I form bullet points and a rough draft of an introductory paragraph.

* I focus on the points on my introductory paragraph. Have I been succinct? Will the points flow into each other and make a logical order? Sometimes people try to write too much. I think about the word limit and what my priority points are (easiest points to write about and the points that answer the question most effectively).

* If the essay topic is difficult and I have very little idea about what to write, I still initially write out at least four or five points as well as an introductory paragraph that has buzz words from the essay topic. For instance, if the question said "describe blah blah"... I make sure that the word describe is in my introductory paragraph with such supporting sentences as "By looking at "a" it is clear that a description can be made about blah blah". Later on I find out what "a" is and insert that into my essay. (Markers want to see an introductory paragraph that addresses the topic statement/ question).


* Read and find relevant references. Don't think that you need to read the whole book or article. Just skim "control f" for key words and paragraphs that give you ideas. Or skim read, looking at the introductory and concluding paragraphs first to get the gist and see if it is worth your time reading. If it is an offline book, then use the glossary and look up chapter summaries. If you think the book or article isn't going to help your essay, then move on.

* How to find books and articles for essays? Look at reference lists of books and articles that your lecturer or teacher has suggested. If you are stuck, then ask your teacher and fellow students. If you like an article or book, then look at the reference lists in those articles or books for more ideas.

* Where people go wrong in PART 2 is that they spend too long reading and collecting references and they leave the writing of their essay until it is too late. Don't do that. Write as you read.


* Write paragraphs that expand on the topics you introduced as sentences in your introductory paragraph. Make sure your ideas are presented well so that you begin and end your paragraphs with thoughts. What I remind people is that a paragraph is the beginning of a new idea. BUT the ideas must flow nicely between each other. This is the tricky part of essay writing.

* Write your conclusion and make sure you add any critiques/ limitations as well as things for further research/ discussion. Most markers appreciate an essay written that admits research limitations. After all, you are a student with limited time and resources.

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