Teaching Basic (Persuasive) Essay Writing to Korean Students

Teaching Essay Writing Skillls to South KoreansFor many Korean students, essay writing is a daunting task that requires attention to details and understanding of essay structure. 

Essays can be broken down into the following structure:  Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Simply explaining this foundation, however,  doesnt make the writing process any easier.  It is important to break down each and every component for students to realize that an essay practically writes itself.

About the author: Melissa Alvia is a graduate from the 120-Hour Advanced Certificate Course.  She  has been teaching English for 7 years. Melissa spent one year in Japan as a public school teacher, and she currently teaches English to Korean students in Toronto, Canada

 

Choosing Meaningful Topics

I use topics that give choice between different perspectives. I also choose meaningful topics that spark interest. In my experience teaching English to teenagers, topics on global environmental problems were of great interest. 

After I have selected the topic, I give them a question such as Do you agree or disagree with animal testing?”.

Brainstorming the Thesis

Teaching English essay writing using a mind mapOnce students choose their side (thesis), the brainstorming process starts. A basic thesis would be Animal Testing is Necessary”.

At this stage, the students will come up with two-four points (bodies) to explain their thesis.

This is our starting point in the essay. A body paragraph contains the following:

  1. Topic sentence
  2. Evidence
  3. Elaboration of evidence
  4. Relate the point back to the thesis

 

Example:

(1) Animal testing has saved and continues to save millions of peoples lives around the world. (2)  Anesthesia, which numbs pain during surgery and insulin, is most commonly used for the treatment of diabetes, were developed through animal testing. These two drugs were a breakthrough in medicine, prolonging and improving peoples lives. (3) In order to develop drugs, scientists must identify the medical value of substances or side effects. Prediction is not accurate by theory alone, so experiments are needed on animals, which share similar genetic properties as humans. (4) With this in mind, animal testing is needed in order to find solutions for serious diseases such as cancer, AIDS and malaria.

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Essay Breakdown

By the time students finish writing all body paragraphs, they will have had enough time to reflect on the topic and it will be much easier to introduce and conclude it.

Introduction breakdown:

  1. A hook in the form of: a story (whether personal or historical), statistics, a quote, or a rhetorical question.
  2. Background information
  3. Thesis + body points

(1) In 1937, 107 people died from side effects of a newly developed medicine, which wasn’t tested on animals. This went down in history as the “Sulfanilamide Attack of 1937”. (2) There is a long history of debate for animal testing, with different opinions clashing. Some people argue that it is an evil force that needs to be eliminated. But upon closer inspection, questions arise as to why this practice still continues to this day.  (3) Animal testing may not be the most optimal practice but it has certainly had a profound impact on society, as it (body 1) saves people’s lives. (body 2) It is also the most realistic option of testing for now, (body 3) delivering fast results, and (body 4) offering safe products for people.

Conclusion breakdown:

  1. “Ending hook”/ explaining the reality of the topic
  2. Summary (restating the thesis and body points)
  3. Call of action/ final message

(1) Animal testing comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. (2) However, keeping in mind that it has helped society progress by saving millions of people’s lives, making it a realistic option for delivering fast results on drugs and providing safer household products, the pros greatly outweigh the cons. (3) Animal testing has had an undeniably powerful impact on society. That is why it is still practiced to this day. With its power, it will most likely continue to be practiced.

Practice Makes Perfect!

The process shown above makes the essay writing process more manageable. With practice, the students’ ability to organize their ideas and articulating their thoughts improves thus improving their communication skills.

Related Articles on Teaching Writing Skills:

Teaching Writing Skills in Exam Preparation Courses: Attacking the Question and Brainstorming

Teaching Writing Skills — How Did You Learn to Write

Strategies and Techniques for Teaching Writing Skills