Discursive Writing Task • Choose a topic you find interesting. Research this topic and write a discursive essay which presents a range of arguments on this topic. Step 1: Persuasive or argumentative? • Persuasive • Where you give your personal opinion on a topic or issue, and endeavour to persuade the reader to your way of thinking. Works best if you are genuinely committed to the issue. • Argumentative • Allows you to consider, in a balanced way, the pros and cons of a particular topic or issue. Useful if you feel there are strong arguments on a least two sides of the issue or topic. Step 2: Choosing your topic. • Pick something relevant to you. • You are going to have to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of your issues, as well as do extended reading and research, so it is best if you choose something in which you have a genuine interest and on which you have a genuine opinion. Possible Tasks • Choose something that matters to you e.g. – A local environmental issue – A charity you want people to support – Supporting your local high street • Or consider national issues e.g. - 16 and 17 year olds having the vote - Scottish independence - The Commonwealth Games • Or consider ‘broader’ issues e.g. – Global Warming – Cruelty to animals (fox hunting; cosmetic testing; battery hens etc.) – Mobile Phones Creating a Task • Question or Statement? • • • • • • • Have people have become overly dependent on technology? Is marriage still important? Both parents should assume equal responsibility in raising a child. Participating in team sports helps to develop good character. The production and sale of cigarettes should be made illegal. To encourage healthy eating, higher taxes should be imposed on soft drinks and junk food. • Zoos are cruel places for animals and should be shut down. Step 3: Sourcing relevant and reliable information • How do you find the information you need from books, articles in journals, magazines and newspapers, to begin research for a discursive essay? • RELEVANCE • What information do you want from the source? • Look initially at the title of the book or article, the contents page and the index if they are present. Do they indicate that the information you are looking for is here? If so your next step is to skim-read the information to see if it is useful. If it seems to be, read over it again carefully. • RELIABILITY • When you are first presented with a written source of information about the topic how you should consider whether the information is:• Accurate • Biased or balanced • Relevant • Reliable • Supported by evidence • Up to date • Internet Research • The above is particularly important to ensure the reliability of internet sources. • Always check the information on more than one site. • Access RELIABLE websites e.g. newspapers; BBC, Government web pages etc. • Use KEY WORDS to focus on relevant and reliable information and narrow your search. • Remember, to research both sides of the debate. Look at sites that contain arguments both for and against. Step 4: Recording your sources • It is essential that you give credit to information and ideas from other sources. At the end of your essay you must provide a bibliography, or a list of sources you have consulted during your research. • Make sure you keep this record as you go – you may find it very difficult to go back and find sources later. Step 5: Note-taking – WRITING Skills • You MUST NOT copy chunks of information from any text, nor can you copy or paste from a source to a word document. • This is Plagiarism: taking ideas/ passages / sentences from someone else’s work and presenting them as your own. • Instead you must: • Summarise: sum up the key points, in your own words • Paraphrase: write down someone else’s ideas in your own words. • Quote: making sure you reference the material, either with a footnote or in brackets after the actual quotation. • Also, ensure you lay out the quotation correctly. • An article in the Scotsman newspaper suggests that some bar owners allow young people to buy alcohol. However, one owner said, "it is difficult to tell if young people are over 18.“ • Do make the quotation part of a sentence and not stuck out on its own! Step 6: Planning the essay! • Structure • Introduction • Arguments & counter arguments • Conclusion • LINKING: connectives and topic sentences • • • • • Content Quality ideas Development of ideas Supporting evidence Fact and opinion • Style • Persuasive or argumentative? • Formal • Present tense • Rhetoric • Emotive Language Make a Plan! Try a paragraph plan or a table (for and against), or a mind map. Possible Structures Persuasive Argumentative • Opening statement – giving OPINION • Opening statement introducing topic and range of arguments • Series of paragraphs: – Argument 1 – Counter-argument – Rebuttal (refuting) – Argument 2 – Counter-argument – Rebuttal (refuting) – Argument 3... • Series of paragraphs: – Argument 1 • For • Against – Argument 2 • For • Against – Argument 3... • Summary/Conclusion • Summary / Conclusion • Restating key arguments – Restating opinion Step 6: Writing the essay! • • • • • • • • Key features: Tone Language Connectives Putting forward ‘for’ arguments Reformulating your ideas Presenting ‘against’ arguments Introducing evidence and examples Tone in a discursive essay • Do • Write in proper, complete sentences • Use complete words and expressions • Use proper, standard English • Do not • Use abbreviations (i.e./e.g./etc./UK/&) Contractions (isn't/don't/won't) • Slang (e.g. bloke/geezer etc) • Colloquial language (mate/bolshy etc.) You should also try to make sure that you use a decent standard of vocabulary In particular, try to avoid weak vocabulary such as 'get', 'got' and 'getting'. Relying on this level of vocabulary too often suggests that your power of expression is weak. Build up your word power! Useful Language Features • • • • • • • • • First Person Present Tense Phrases to give own opinion Rhetorical Questions – to pose the issue and involve readers Similes / Metaphors Exclamations - to make dramatic point Connectives (linking words and phrases – see SIGNAL WORDS sheet) Topic Sentences Emotive language Joined-up thinking: Connectives • WHY? • 1. To give sequence /structure to whole text • e.g. firstly secondly, thirdly etc • 2. To connect CAUSE and EFFECT, linking points within paragraphs • e.g consequently, as a result, therefore • 3. To COMPARE and LINK DIFFERENT arguments • e.g. however, on the other hand, but HOW? SIGNAL WORDS • GO • • • • • • • • • And First, second… Next Furthermore In addition Similarly Moreover Also At the same time CAUTION Thus So Therefore Consequently Accordingly In retrospect In brief As a result To conclude STOP Without question Significantly Without doubt Unquestionably Absolutely Undoubtedly Ultimately Finally Crucially TURN Yet Despite However Conversely Although Otherwise Nevertheless On the contrary On the other hand Putting forward ‘for’ arguments • • • • • • • • • • People in favour of + topic Supporters of + topic Advocates of + topic Campaigners of + topic Proponents of + topic Those who support + topic Pressure groups in favour of + topic Believers in + topic Followers of + topic Users of + topic believe that... maintain that... claim that... feel that... suggest that... agree that... argue that... Reformulating Ideas • OR is used when you want to put two different ideas together or reformulate what you have stated earlier, some alternatives are: In other words... To put it more simply... It would be better to say... Alternatively... To put it straightforwardly ... Putting forward a contrasting argument • BUT appears when you need to contrast one statement with another: However... Nevertheless ... nonetheless... Yet... In spite of that... In contrast... On the other hand... Despite the fact that... All the same... Putting forward ‘against’ arguments • People against + topic • Critics of + topic • Opponents of + topic • Challengers of + topic • Campaigners against + topic • Those opposed to + topic • Pressure groups against + topic argue that... believe that... maintain that... claim that... feel that... suggest that... agree that... Introducing Evidence and Examples • • • • • • This clearly demonstrates that... This illustrates how… There is some/clear evidence that… There is mounting evidence that… A recent study found that… Research tells us that… Refuting – the counter argument • Whilst in an argumentative essay you will present an evenly balanced view of the different sides of an issue, when writing persuasively you will need to imply the key skill of rebuttal, as follows: • 1. Give an opinion which goes against your argument – Some people believe... – It has been said that... – There are those who say... • 2. Make a statement say the opinion given is WRONG! – However this is not the case... – This is far from true... – Clearly this is unfounded... • 3. Restate your own opinion (counter-argument) • In actual fact... • In my opinion... • The truth is that... • In my view... • I believe / I feel... • I am convinced... Writing a Conclusion • • • • Sum up your main points State your point of view Give your reason for this Offer a solution if you have one Expressing Opinion in the Conclusion • • • • • • • I agree/ disagree with the above statement (that...) In my opinion... I believe that... I am in favour of... I am against the idea of... It seems to me that... I sympathise with... CONCLUSION WORD BANK • • • • • • • • • • • To sum up/ altogether On this basis, I can conclude that... Given this, it can be concluded that... Having proved this, I would like to... In conclusion, I would like to stress that… All in all, I believe that... Ultimately,... Finally I would conclude that… As outlined previously/earlier As previously stated We could conclude that.. Methods of Opening a Discursive Essay • The following methods are suggestions. It is up to you to decide which style suits your writing best. • Provocative • e.g."It is difficult to see how anyone can approve of fox hunting." • Balanced • e.g."Fox hunting is a subject about which people hold strongly contrasting views." • Quotation • e.g."Oscar Wilde once described fox hunting as 'The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.'." • Illustration • e.g."On a glorious autumn morning a terrified, exhausted animal is savaged to death by a pack of baying dogs while a group of expensively dressed humans encourage the dogs in their bloody work." • Anecdote • e.g."I have always detested fox hunting since I was almost physically sick while watching a television film of the kill at the end of a hunt." Exemplification! Cities versus the Countryside • Introduction • Section 3 • FOR the Countryside: • Section 1 • FOR Cities: Argument 1 Argument 1 Argument 2 Argument 3 • • • Section 2 • AGAINST Cities: Argument 1 • Argument 2 • Argument 3 • Argument 2 • Argument 3 • Section 4 • AGAINST the Countryside: Argument 1 • Argument 2 • Argument 3 • Conclusion Introduction • My essay is going to be about living in the town and the country. In this essay I will look at both sides of the argument. • Deciding whether to live in the town(city) or the countryside can be difficult, as there are many reasons why both locations might be attractive. However both choices also offer a number of disadvantages which can put people off. • City life: bright, exciting, challenging. Rural life: peaceful, idyllic, relaxing. How do you choose between two such different locations when making the crucial decision of where to live? Some topic sentences • The first advantage of living in the city is… • Another reason people might find living in the city a positive experience.. • As well as this, cities also… • In addition, cities offer… • However, in many cities… • But not all cities… • Nevertheless not everybody wants to live in the city because… • Another problem with living in the city is… Some more topic sentences • Given the choice, many people prefer to live in the country. One reason for this is… • The countryside also… • Furthermore, living in the country also… • Additionally, country living means that … • On the other hand , many people feel that country living… • But rural life is not always… • However not everybody agrees that living in the country is… Another problem with living in the country is… Conclusion • To finish my essay I am going to sum up my ideas for and against living in the town and living in the country. • In conclusion there are many good reasons to live in the town, but there are also many good reasons to live in the country. I think I would prefer to live in the town. • To conclude, deciding whether to live in the town or the country is a very personal decision. Whilst some people adore the hustle and bustle of the city, other much prefer the tranquil world of the countryside. Having lived in both, I can honestly say that the many amenities and the ‘bight lights’ of the city are what appeal to me most. I definitely prefer living in the city. • Now choose your topic and get started!