Lecture 10: The Short Essay What is a short essay?

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Lecture 10: The Short Essay

What is a short essay?

  • A short essay, also called a theme or a composition, refers to a variety of nonfiction prose of varying length or purpose, whose common aim is usually to express a writer’s viewpoint or reasoned opinion on a topic.

The Length of a Short Essay

  • It may be as short as three paragraphs with about 150 words, or as long as 300 to 500 words with five or eight paragraphs.

Tem4 writing

  • Write a composition of about 200 words:
  • - You are to write in three parts.
  • - In the 1st part, state specifically what your opinion is.
  • - In the 2nd part, support your opinion with appropriate details.
  • - In the last part, bring what you have written to a conclusion or a summary.
  • Supply an appropriate title for composition
  • Content, organization, grammar, appropriateness

Composition Topics

  • Closely related to college life/students
  • 2010: Should College Students Hire Cleaners?
  • 2009: Will Tourism Bring Harm to the Environment
  • 2008: The Benefits of Volunteering
  • 2007: Is It Wise to Make Friends Online
  • 2006: Saving money
  • 2005: Ideas & suggestions for arts festival
  • 2004: Phone will kill letter writing
  • 2003: Keep a good mood under any circumstance
  • 2002: Best way to stay healthy
  • 2001: Significance of travel
  • 2000: Importance of extracurricular activities

Diagram of an Essay

  • Title of the Essay
  • Opening remarks to catch reader’s interest
  • Thesis statement
  • Plan of development
  • Topic sentence 1 (supporting point 1)
  • Specific evidence
  • Topic sentence 2 (supporting point 2)
  • Specific evidence
  • Topic sentence 3 (supporting point 3)
  • Specific evidence
  • Summary
  • General closing remarks
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

How to write an English essay

  • 1.Standards:OCBA
  • O( organization)-C (clarity of expression)-B (breadth of vocabulary)- A (accuracy of grammar)
  • 2.Steps:
  • Finding the theme-Organizing-Drafting-Revising

How to write an English essay

  • 3.Tips:
  • Translating the phrases-Making full of sentences-Forming a simple paragraph-Connecting the paragraphs as a whole-Revising and completing.

How to write an English essay

  • 4.Types of essays:
  • Narration
  • Description
  • Exposition
  • Argumentation

How to write an English essay

  • 5.Parts of the essay:
  • Beginning-Developing-Climax-Ending

How to write an English essay

  • 6.Parts of each paragraph:
  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting sentences (major support and minor support)
  • Concluding sentence

Characteristics of a good essay

  • Unity
  • Balance
  • Coherence
  • Length
  • Emphasis
  • Style

Steps in essay writing

  • Step1 specify the topic
  • Step 2 jot down relevant points
  • Step 3 order main points as headings
  • Step 4 arrange the remaining points under main headings to get an outline
  • Step 5 develop the outline into a complete essay

Arrangement of the points

  • A
  • 1.
  • a.
  • b.
  • 2.
  • a.
  • i.
  • ii.
  • b.
  • B.

The Organization of a Short Essay

  • All essays have in common three major parts:
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Discussion
  • 3. Conclusion

The Introduction

  • Organize your introduction as follows:
  • 1. Write an opening sentence or two to attract the reader’s attention and focus his interest on the thesis.
  • 2. If necessary, write a sentence or two, either before the thesis or after it, to give background on the subject to set the limit of the discussion, or to clarify the meaning of the key words to be used.
  • 3. Write your thesis sentence or statement.

Introductory Paragraph

  • 阐述主题 --- Theme, thesis, topic
  • 好的开头能引人入胜,提纲挈领 ---attractive
  • 引起读者的兴趣 ---intriguing
  • 提供必要的背景知识 ---informative
  • 使读者把注意力集中到中心思想上---focus

Tips for Writing an Introduction

  • 1. One sentence for the topic.
  • Be clear and concise.
  • 2. Quote if possible. 引文法
  • 3. Question if possible. 设问法
  • 4. Use facts and statistics if possible.
  • 5. Refutation in argument writing
  • 悬念法
  • 2006年12月四级考试真题作文
  • Directions: For this part, you are allowed 30 minutes to write a short essay. You should write at least 150 words following the outline given below:
  • 1、许多人喜欢在除夕夜观看春节晚会
  • 2、但有些人提出取消春节晚会
  • 3、我的看法

example: Use facts and statistics if possible.

  • The CCTV Spring Festival Gala is one of China’s most popular annual television events, watched by millions of people on the eve of the lunar New Year. However, in recent years, the 4-hour show is losing its appeal, especially to youngsters.

The Thesis Statement

  • One way to make the thesis statement not only a clear sentence but a good plan is to divide the thesis statement in two or three parts. Examine the following example:
  • People who live in the suburbs are alike. (Undivided)
  • People who live in the suburbs are alike in age, race, and politics. (Divided into three parts)

Other examples

  • Pollution constitutes a serious problem to humanity. (Undivided)
  • Air and water pollution constitute a serious problem to humanity. (Divided into two parts)
  • Life on this earth may soon be wiped out. (Undivided)
  • Plants, animals and people may soon be wiped out. (Divided into three parts)

The Organization of Discussion

  • Title
  • Introduction
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • The similarities of suburbanites郊区居民
  • 1. thesis statement (People who live in the suburbs are alike in age, race, and politics. )
  • 2. (topic sentence) suburbanites are alike in age.
  • 3.( topic sentence ) suburbanites are also alike in race.
  • 4.( topic sentence) A third similarity among people who live in the suburbs is their political orientation.
  • 5. (conclusion )

The Conclusion

  • 1. Make a general statement (a sentence or two) about the subject that will signal for the reader a shift in focus from discussion to conclusion.
  • 2. Write a sentence or two that summarizes or touches on the main points of the discussion.
  • 3. If possible, end with a culminating (使达到高潮的)sentence or one that gives special emphasis to the discussion.


  • The following passage is incomplete with the ending paragraph missing. Study the passage carefully and write the paragraph in no more than 100 words. Make sure your tone and diction are in unity with the passage provided.
  • Living in the Present

Example: Introduction

  • Living in the Present
  • About one of man’s frailties Thomas Wolf wrote, “He talks of the future and he wastes it as it comes.” This observation is related to a principle by which I try to live. (THESIS STATEMENT) I believe in the present because it is futile to dwell on the past, to worry about the future, or to miss anything in the only reality I know.
  • Kathleen E. Sullivan. Paragraph Practice
  • It is futile to dwell on the past. What existed or happened in the past may have been beautiful or exciting and may now bring profound and precious memories; but the past is dead, and it is not healthy for living spirits to linger over a world inhabited by ghosts. The past may also be a place of horror, of regret, of spilled milk, of unfortunate deeds that “cannot be done”, of sad words like “might have been”. However, it is painful and pointless to fixate on a period that cannot be relived or repaired. It is unproductive self-punishment. The past must be kept in its place, outlived and outgrown.
  • It is also useless to worry about the future. Why fly to heaven before it is time? What anxious visions haunt the person who thinks too much about the future? He may imagine his own life going awry(扭曲的;斜的;错误的)
  • , appointments missed; advancements given to someone else; his house burned to the ground; his love lost; everything in his life as in a nightmare, slipping away from him. There is no end to the disasters a person can worry about when he focuses anxiously on the future. There are events in his future, including his own demise, over which he has little or no control, but he can ruin his life worrying about them. There are some disasters he may be able to prevent, but he must do that by living well in the present, not simply by worrying about the future.
  •   The present moment, which is even now moving into the past, is the reality I know, and I don’t want to miss it. The wild-cherry cough drop dissolving in my mouth is sweet and soothing. Even my sore throat and back-ache have meaning. The cool night air, the crackling noises of my furnace, my cat yawning and stretching——these are the tangible realities I can recognize. They exist in this moment, together with my own breathing, the warm lamp overhead, the jerking of my typewriter. Along with these are the realities of other people and of all life on this earth, which is important to me now, not at some past or future time.

Example: The conclusion

  • Living in the Present
  • Everybody needs a sense of history, I think, particularly a feeling for his own roots, but history needs to keep its distance to be appreciated. It is also vital to have some sense of direction, which means plans for the future but not becoming preoccupied with them. What is most important, I believe, is living in the present, that is, being alive now.
  • Kathleen E. Sullivan. Paragraph Practice

Here are some important phrases for you to choose

  • First, Firstly, First of all, In the first place, To begin with, To start with, Recently, Now, Nowadays, at present, In recent years, Long long ago. Once upon an old day, etc.

Here are some important phrases for you to choose

  • Second, Secondly, similarly in addition, Besides .then further more, moreover, what is more, what is worse,
  • for example, take sth for example,
  • for instance,
  • such as,
  • surely, certainly, in other words,
  • at the same time, for the most part.
  • NO doubt, on the one hand, on the other hand, for the purpose of , for the sake of.

Here are some important phrases for you to choose

  • However, on the contrary, in other words, in contrast, in this case, in any case,
  • at any rate, at any cost, otherwise, or ,
  • or else, while,
  • but,
  • in spite of,
  • yet,
  • instead of.

Here are some important phrases for you to choose

  • Therefore, then, as a result, above all, thus ,after all, Generally speaking, in my opinion, as I concerned, as we know,
  • in general. finally, at last but not at the least, hence, in short. In one word, in sum, sum up, on the whole. In my opinion.

Five Proverbs for This Session

  • Speeches by gentlemen should be the miniskirts of ladies, the shorter, the better.
  • -- Ling Yutang
  • Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.
  • --Sophia Loran
  • Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.
  • --Voltaire
  • The beautiful is to live.
  • --Chernyshevsky车尔尼雪夫斯基
  • No efficiency, no economy. --unknown

Reciting Material

  • Not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone. Nothing remains of it but memories and a fringe of dwelling houses on its outskirts. Its industrial section is wiped out. Its social and residential section is wiped out. The factories and warehouses, the great stores and newspaper buildings, the hotels and palaces of nabobs富豪 , all are gone. Remains only the fringe of dwelling houses on the outskirts of what was once San Francisco.

Writing Practice

  • Write an introductory paragraph and conclusion for the following topic:
  • "The Advantages and Disadvantages of Private Tutoring"

Example: 引言段写作方法--数据法

  • "The Advantages and Disadvantages of Private Tutoring"
  • A recent investigation shows that about 80 percent of the primary school pupils have private tutors and about half of the university undergraduates have the experience of being private tutors. Private tutoring has both advantages and disadvantages, yet in my opinion, it does more harm than good to students .

Example: 结尾段写作—建议式

  • "The Advantages and Disadvantages of Private Tutoring"
  • Generally speaking, the disadvantages of private tutoring overweigh the advantages. Therefore, greater emphasis should be laid on classroom teaching and practice, on the improvement of teaching quality and on the tapping of the pupil‘ s potentialities . Only in this way can a new generation be healthily brought up .

Writing Assignment

  • Write a three-paragraph essay in which you discuss advantages and disadvantages of setting off firecrackers during Spring Festival.
  • Thank you for your attention

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