Teach Arguments in Writing
This is another exercise that helps ESL learn how to write arguments in English. The four part framework for this activity is as follows:
- Question: Great ideas usually try to answer a question. In this speech, what is the question?
- Claim: What is the speaker’s main idea? What does he want us to believe?
- Premise: What are the reasons, or evidence, that make the main idea (claim) believable?
- Warrant: What proof or reasons does he provide to make us believe the premise is good proof for the claim?
ESL Writing Activity
Here is a practice exercise to watch, listen and write arguments. Ask students to:
- Listen to this one minute Steve Jobs speech.
- Deconstruct the argument by writing out the four part framework: question, claim, premise(s) and warrant.
- Evaluate this argument by describing his/her response (e.g. agree or disagree and why with a specific argument and warrant).
- Put the whole thing together in a well-written one page analysis.
More Writing Activities
There are other writing activities that help ESL students to recognize arguments and warrants:
- A great writing lesson that uses a 5 minute TED Talk video.
- A one hour critical thinking lesson that expands argument writing by introductory the concept of questions and criteria and asks students to write an argument that answers the question, “What is a good leader?”
- A lesson that teaches students the difference between correlation and causation.
- A quick presentation with three examples to show how warrants can be used to support arguments.
BTW, my answer looks like this:
- Question: How can we live well?
- Claim: Follow your heart when thinking about the big decisions in life.
- Evidence: There really is nothing to lose.
- Warrant: We are all going to die. Remembering this fact makes things like fear of failure, pride and outside expectations less important. When we are free from these external barriers, the only person stopping each of us from achieving something important is ourselves.
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