Simple Ways to Teach "Writing Argumentative Compositions/Essays" in Form Four

Simple Ways to Teach "Writing Argumentative Compositions/Essays" in Form Four

Welcome to UNIT 15.4

PREVIOUSLY: In Unit 15.3, we talked about how to teach the sub topic "Writing business transaction letters" in Form Three.                                              

IN THIS UNIT 15.4, we will discuss how to teach the sub topic" Writing argumentative compositions/essays" in Form Four.

Sub Topic: Writing argumentative compositions/essays
Periods per sub topic: 8
Class: Form Four

(Also: For Literature in English Subject, Check out my Literature in English Blog. Also check out My Diary for Diary Writing Inspiration and More! )

Argumentative essays are the types of essays that aim at building students' ability to judge with reasons and critically make decisions on various pressing matters. This is the speaking or writing activity in which students have to argue for and against the certain idea by using strong evidences.

This sub topic can also be accessed via "Writing argumentative compositions/essays" in Form Three

The student should be able to present contrasting views of a given topic. The student should be able to understand how to present contrasting views of the same aspect, topic or subject matter.

This stage is about the preparation of the teacher before undertaking the lessons of the particular sub topic. These are all activities, procedures, materials, teaching aids, and games prepared by the teacher for teaching a sub topic:

  1. Putting heads together: Introducing the topic/lesson properly. Organising how students will be able to get to know what is the topic/lesson about. It is where teacher makes sure that students are going to be in his/her train. It includes brainstorming and familiarisation of the topic/lesson with the students.
This makes students stay together with the teacher. It is at this stage students can understand what is going to be discussed in the particular topic.
In this sub topic/lesson, the teacher will guide students to brainstorm and discuss how they present and defend various contrasting views on various topics.

  1. Preparation of English Language Teaching and Learning Materials. A teacher has to decide on the teaching/learning materials he/she is going to use.
In this sub topic/lesson, the teacher has to prepare his/her model argumentative essays. These model essays will make students aware of the ways used to write and present these kinds of essays.

  1. Target Practice. Show or Guide students to the practice of the functions of the sub topic. A teacher has to show or guide students to the target practice of the grammatical functions of the sub topic.
In this sub topic/lesson, the teacher will help students be aware of the appropriate expressions used when writing or presenting argumentative essays. Some of these expressions are concessions such as:
Provided that,
In this context,
On the contrary,
On the other hand,

  1. Context-Based Practice. A teacher leads students to the discussion on how the target grammatical functions practised earlier can be applied or integrated into the contexts and situations. The students are guided by the teacher to apply the learnt skills in relevant contexts and situations like school and library.
In this sub topic/lesson, people give opposing or contrasting views on the settings or contexts like school, home, and streets. For example, in our societies especially our Swahili culture, there are centres called 'Vijiweni' where people meet to play games like 'Bao'. In these centres people discuss various contrasting views about the national or societal matters.

  1. Vocabulary Building Practice. At this time, teacher discusses with the students on the vocabularies and phrases to apply in the already mentioned contexts and situations.
In this sub topic/lesson, the teacher will guide students to discuss various vocabularies and expressions such as; I am of the opinion that, I'm against the opinion, by the way, considering the fact that, on the other hand, however, it should be remembered that.... It has been observed, etc.

Guide the students to the full sub topic/lesson procedures, activities and games for better understanding of the sub topic by following these activities:

Activity One: Brainstorming. Brainstorming the sub topic/lesson through oral questions with answers, pair works, and group discussions of all important concepts to get students on track.
In this activity, the teacher will guide students to brainstorm and discuss how they present and defend various contrasting views on various topics.

Activity Two: Teacher’s Demonstration. Teacher's application of his/models or examples so as to bring the topic/lesson and the students into the real or common sense of the topic/lesson.
In this activity, the teacher will provide students with his/her model argumentative compositions/essays on a variety of issues including; corruption, early marriages, forced marriages, leaders' responsibility, democracy, and forms of child labour.

After being given these model argumentative essays, students have to read these compositions silently. The teacher can supervise this reading activity so that to check the students' participation.

Teacher's Model: Read Model essays, CLICK Argumentative Essay Samples.

The teacher to guide students to discuss the arguments presented in the composition used. Here the teacher can use the comprehension questions to help students discuss the ideas presented in the model essays.

Activity Three: Students’ Demonstration. Showing students how models like that of a teacher can be applied by them. Here students need to be guided on how to use given expressions, structures, vocabulary, and phrases or similar ones.
In this activity, the teacher asks students to be in pairs. While in pairs, students can be guided by the teacher to do the following tasks:
To select topics on which they have to write argumentative compositions;
To brainstorm the main ideas they will have to include in the compositions.
To write the first draft.

Other Students’ Activities. The teacher to guide students to edit their draft focusing on the content of the topic. The teacher guides students to go through their drafts and correct several grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors. In this activity, the teacher may ask students to exchange their works for more perfect checkout.

Activity Four: More Writing Activities: Taking/leading students to the real situations or contexts where they can apply what they have mastered. Here speaking, reading or writing activities are involved.
In this activity, the teacher gives students more writing activities so that they can master the argumentative writing skills.

Activity Five: Winding up the topic/lesson. Here teachers summarise the topic/lesson by emphasizing the importance of the sub topic/lesson and suggesting other related aspects of the sub topic/lesson.
In this activity, the teacher can display on a noticeboard the finished compositions for other students to read.

Additional Activity: As a teacher, what other activity can be applied in this sub topic/lesson? You can always drop your alternative activity or activities to this article so as to improve teaching and learning of O Level English (OLE)

These are expressions like; on the contrary, on the other hand, etc.
For more Concessions on Writing, Common Concessions Used in Argumentative Essays

Our societies are full of arguments on various contexts. People also raise various arguments on various topics especially the hot topics of the societies. All arguments and people who present them may become weak or strong according to the mode of presentation.
Ask students where they commonly find arguments. Ask them to mention some of the hot topics they once came across in their experiences. Ask them to discuss in groups or pairs about the topic they often experience. Once they find some common topics, a teacher may guide them to discuss or arrange a debate. However, this activity of selecting some common topics will show them that arguments are relevant in their societies as well.

The teacher should use relevant assessment tools like oral questions, drills, games, exercises, pair works, group works, and assignments so that to check if a student is able to present contrasting views of a given topic.

Assessment #01: Debate work
Present an argument like: 'Schools should have no holidays'. Divide the class in two sides and allow them to contribute from each side. It's just a debate! This will test them if they can express contrasting views. Encourage them to apply correct expressions. There should be a winner.

Assessment #02: Debate work
Also a teacher may give students the task of writing an argumentative essay like: 'Private schools and government schools both have blessings and curses'. This question can also test them.

Note: You can give students more individual works, pair works, and group works to facilitate their interaction and understanding of the sub topic or lesson. As English language teacher you have to give students more works to do. Because language is meant to be largely spoken and written, the teacher should rely on written exercises and notes. Instead students have to learn English language by vigorously exercising individually, in pairs, and in groups.

Summarise the sub topic by telling the students the importance of having argumentation skills in life. Allow them to provide their views if they have. Tell them that argumentation skills can help them in various fields like in an interview, public speaking, and in other areas.

NOTE: These stages explained above are not necessarily covered in a single lesson of single or double period. Remember that this is the guide for teaching the whole sub topic which has periods ranging from 6 to 20. So, the teacher's task is to divide these stages according to the total number of periods for a particular sub topic.

This article is about how to study and teach "Writing argumentative compositions/essays" in Form Four. As a student or teacher, what is your opinion on how to study and teach this sub topic/lesson?
Your opinion is worth and I believe that it can make these materials better for our own consumption.

You are Welcome!

Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.

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