Week 1


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

Focusing on the question

A good essay revolves around the question, and so this is the first and only place to start when developing your ideas. Even if the question is about a topic that doesn’t interest you, the essay must stay focused on it. A piece of fantastic writing is still a failure if it doesn’t address the question.

1. Circle the key words in the question. Some people say playing sports regularly is essential for the students’ physical and social development, but others feel it is a waste of time, and students should concentrate on their studies. State which point of view you agree with, and provide reasons to support your opinion.

2. Mind Map the key words, find related ideas, synonyms and antonyms (words with similar and opposite meanings), idioms and expressions.

3. Organize the ideas into logical groups. Do this visually, or on paper.
Advantages of regular sport Disadvantages of regular sport
  • fitness + good health
  • develop social relationships and team spirit
  • good health helps concentration for study
  • less time for study not productive
  • less focus on schoolwork difficult to pass exams

4. Decide on your own opinion. Write one or two sentences that outline your own opinion.
I believe that playing sports regularly is very important for young people.
Sports help students to develop their physical health, and to learn team spirit and cooperation. Moreover, physical fitness can help students to concentrate and achieve better results in other areas, including schoolwork.

5. Consider what other people’s opinions are likely to be. Think about people you know who have strong opinions, would they think the same?
Many people believe that the best way for students to pass exams and achieve good results is to spend all their time studying, and so they argue that sport is not a productive way for students to spend their time.
Others don’t enjoy sport, and think that students should not be forced to do physical activity if they are more interested in other things, like playing computer games.

6. “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes”.

When the topic is unfamiliar, try to imagine the feelings of others.
If your topic is immigration, imagine you are an immigrant to your country or another.
If the topic is crime, imagine being very poor and needing to steal, or being a police officer.

Writing Topic

For the first two weeks of this class, you should be writing argumentative essays. This is the most familiar and common essay style. An argumentative essay is one that attempts to persuade the reader to believe the writer´s point of view. The writer can either be serious or funny, but always tries to convince the reader that his or her opinion is valid for several solid, supported reasons. This essay has a rigid format. It should be at least 3 paragraphs long. The first paragraph is the introduction that presents the topic, briefly explains the writer’s ideas about the topic, and clearly states a ‘thesis’, or main opinion. Next come the body paragraphs. Each idea should be written about in a separate paragraph that contains a lead-in sentence, a clear statement of the idea, some examples or support for that idea, then a concluding sentence that transitions the reader into the next paragraph. Finally, the conclusion comes at the end of the essay. This contains a restatement of the thesis, a summary of the points the writer has made, and a general lead-out sentence or two that opens up the topic so that the reader has something bigger to think about. The last sentences should leave a strong impression on the reader.