ENGLISH ESSAY WRITING FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS 1. GENERAL ADVICE a. READ the title of the essay carefully and make sure that you understand it. If necessary, underline key words in the title. REMEMBER: if your essay does not cover the topic(s) proposed in the title, your mark will be very low. b. WRITE AN ESSAY PLAN. You can do this in English or in your mother tongue – but remember that you must be sure that you can express your ideas easily in English. In your essay plan you should note down specific vocabulary related to the topic. You should also write down any appropriate CONNECTORS (linkers). At first, you will find writing an essay plan difficult and time-consuming, but with practice it will save you time in the end and will also help you to organise your ideas in coherent paragraphs. EXAMPLE OF AN ESSAY PLAN: What are the advantages and disadvantages of mobile phones? 1. INTRODUCTION: Now everybody has a mobile. What happened in the past? There are pros and cons. 2. PARAGRAPH 1: Advantages Immediate contact with family and friends. Good in emergencies. Many news uses – technology is developing. 3. PARAGRAPH 2: Disadvantages Bad for our health; addictive. Not sociable? What happens in schools? 4. CONCLUSION: Good and bad aspects. My opinion. KEY WORDS: technology, technological, developments, to keep in touch with someone, text messages, (on) the Internet, health, healthy, unhealthy, good//bad manners, to be banned. POSSIBLE LINKERS: Contrast – however, nevertheless, on the one hand………..on the other hand, although, despite//Adding Information – also, in addition, moreover, furthermore//Giving your opinion – as far as I am concerned, in my view, etc.
c. PRESENTATION. Your essay should be presented neatly and should be easy to read. It is always a good idea to write an initial draft and then a clean version. The following instructions are important: Use blank A-4 paper. DO NOT use lined paper. Write your full NAME at the top right-hand corner of the page. Write the TITLE of the composition (exactly as it is written in the exam). Leave a wide MARGIN on the left. Leave SPACE between each line. Clearly indicate the beginning of each paragraph by INDENTING the first line (DO NOT use lines or dots). If you make a mistake, cross it out neatly with one line: mistake. 1
d. REVISE your text when you have finished your first draft. This is extremely important as you will always find common mistakes and words or expressions that you are unsure of. COMMON MISTAKES. You should make sure you are familiar with the following points of grammar and check you have used them correctly in your essays: Adjectives - position/number Gerunds and infinitives Much/many/a lot of Word order Another/other/others Prepositions Use of the definite article Agreement of subject and verb Correct use of verb tenses Punctuation Spelling False friends
**See below (section 3) for a list of some common mistakes. e. FINALLY, remember these GENERAL RULES: Avoid very long, complicated sentences (with these, it is easier to make mistakes), or sentences which are too short. DO NOT TRANSLATE from Spanish into English. If you do this, you will inevitably make mistakes. It is better to think how you can express your ideas in a clear, simple way in English, using vocabulary and grammatical forms that you are sure of. Try and incorporate grammar which you have studied in Bachillerato into your essays, for example, the passive voice, relative pronouns, indirect speech, etc. Make sure that you use appropriate connectors so that your text appears to be more coherent. The best way to write well in English is to have read a wide variety of texts in English, which will both improve your level of comprehension and help you to form opinions and have ideas about which you can write. There are many websites to help improve your reading comprehension, for example:
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