Week 1

Starting the writing process


  • To practice brainstorming strategies which facilitate ideas development
  • To develop prewriting techniques, increasing the productivity of writing time.

1. Focusing on the thesis

Your thesis is your opinion, or the main idea that you wish to communicate. You need to be clear about what your thesis is before you begin writing, or your paragraph will be confusing and lack direction. However, a common problem is not being certain about your opinion, or not having strong feelings about the topic. In this case, how do you find your thesis? Let’s look at some sample questions.

Sample Question a)

What is your favorite season? Write a paragraph explaining why this season appeals to you the most. Perhaps you like winter and spring equally, and find it difficult to choose, if so, you have two choices. Firstly, you can explain why both are your favorites, or secondly, choose one randomly and pretend you are more certain in your opinion.

For example:

Personally, I find it impossible to choose a favorite season, as both winter and spring have unique and wonderful qualities that make them special for me. Winter… On the other hand spring… Without a doubt, the most special time of year for me is Spring…

Sample Question b)

Nowadays there is too much violence on television, which can be harmful to the minds of young people. Discuss.

Perhaps you do not have a strong opinion on this topic, or have never thought about it before. Try following these steps to find a thesis.

- Reflect on your personal experience with the topic. Have you ever been shocked or frightened by something on television? Have you ever felt violent after watching an action movie?

- Think about people you know? your teachers, grandparents, parents, friends or children. What would they think? Deciding if we agree with the opinions of others can often help us find our own feelings.

- Imagine you are someone whose life is very connected to this topic, for example someone who makes movies about war, or someone who decides if a film or television program should be censored. What would they think?

2. Finding supporting detail

After you have found your thesis, it’s important to support it with detail, evidence and examples. A thesis without supporting detail is like the roof of a house without walls, not very useful!

Try to find at least three distinctive points to support your thesis.

3. Extending the vocabulary

In English, it is considered very poor style to repeat the same word many times in a paragraph or essay. We need to look for synonyms, especially the central words of our topic. Imagine your question is this: In Korea, students spend too much time studying, which is bad for their health. Discuss.

The key words are students, studying and health. We need to find words and expressions which mean the same to avoid repeating them. A thesaurus can help, and a good English? English learner dictionary is also very important. Try noting as many alternative expressions as you can using a mind map.