#7 Teach English Writing – Basic Paragraph Organization

Teach English Writing – Basic Paragraph Organization

Main Idea

Ideal for high beginner (and above) students, this writing lesson teaches English students paragraph organization. In order to present the lesson in a meaningful way, students will choose two things that will be compared in a paragraph with a topic sentence, proof and a conclusion.

Lesson Flow – 1) Explain Key Concepts

Step 1. What is a paragraph?

A paragraph, basically, is a group of sentences that describes or explains one idea. Usually, a paragraph has three parts:

  1. The main idea, the topic sentence, is normally presented in the first sentence.
  2. The next few sentences provide evidence, reasons or details to describe or support the idea.
  3. The last sentence, a conclusion, finishes the idea.

Step 2. What is a topic sentence?

A topic sentence describes the main idea of a paragraph. Usually, this is the first sentence in a paragraph, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are two sentence patterns which can be used to write a topic sentence.

a. Detailed Sentence Pattern

  • Begin with a subject: favorite food to cook – chicken
  • Three points: easy, fast, delicious
  • Write a topic sentence: Chicken is my favorite food to cook because it is easy, fast and delicious.

b. General Sentence Pattern

This sentence pattern is a little different because the reasons are not stated in the topic sentence. For example:

  1. Chicken is my favorite food to cook.
  2. My hometown and college town have several things in common.
  3. Although the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S look are similar in many ways.

Step 3. What is a comparison?

To compare means to describe the ways in which two things are similar. This is the opposite of contrast, which usually means describe the way things are different.

Step 4. What is the conclusion?

The last sentence of a paragraph is important. It is like a candle on a birthday cake. Both of them make the product look complete. How can you have a birthday cake with candles? We can ask the same question about a paragraph.

The conclusion sentence does not need to be long and it does not have to repeat every idea. Some writers use a hook, a word or phrase that is similar to the idea in the topic sentence. It could a last thought or something that you learned.

Look at this sample. How does the writer use a hook to connect the beginning and end of the paragraph? Well, the first and last sentences are about the writer’s neighborhood.

Walking down the street, I noticed a new bookstore had opened on my street. The front of the store looks like an old English book shop with a large, heavy wooden door. Inside the main door, there is a small box with used books on sale for $1 per kilogram. Near the back, great classics like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet are on a tall bookshelf. Near the cash machine, there is a magazine rack with The Economist, Time and Asia Weekly. I’ll be spending a lot of time in this book shop, which is right around the corner from my house.

Lesson Flow – 2) Task

Here is the writing task.

  1. Pick two things which might not normally be compared.
  2. Find three ways to describe how they are similar.
  3. Write a paragraph with a topic sentence, evidence and a conclusion.

If students need a model to study, click here to open a pdf with two examples.

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