Bài giảng Tiếng Anh - Writing a paragraph - Trương Văn Ánh

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  1. WRITING A PARAGRAPH Trương Văn Ánh Trường Đại học Sài Gòn
  2. References 1. Alice Oshima & Ann Hogue, Writing Academic English, Fourth edition, OUP. 2. Vu Thi Lan (2000-2001), Writing 1 - 2, Teacher Training College – Foreign Language Department. 3. Regina L. Smalley’ Mary K. Ruetten, Joan Rishel Kozyrev Refining Composition Skills, MacMillan Publishing House Company, NY, 2000. 4. Dorothy E. Zemach and Lisa A. Rumisek, College Writing from Paragraph to Essay, Dong Nai Publishing House, 2009.
  3. Writing paragraphs Describing things Describing people Describing places IELTS description Writing letters
  5. Introduction to the paragraph A paragraph is a group of sentences the first of which is indented. But it is not enough to say that a paragraph is a group of sentences. How do these sentences relate to each other? How does a paragraph begin and where does it end? What constitutes a good paragraph?
  6. The topic of a paragraph A paragraph is a group of sentences that develops one main idea or a topic. A topic is basically the subject of the paragraph; it is what the paragraph is about.
  7. The following paragraph is about the habit of smoking Smoking cigarettes can be an expensive habit. Considering that the average price per pack of cigarettes is seventy-five cents, people who smoke two packs of cigarettes a day spend $1.50 per day on their habit. At the end of one year these smokers have spent at least $547.50. But the price of cigarettes is not the only expense cigarette smokers incur. Since cigarette smoke has an offensive odor the permeates clothing, stuffed furniture, and carpet, smokers often find that these items must be cleaned
  8. More frequently than nonsmokers do. Although it is difficult to estimate the cost of this additional expense, one can see that this hidden expense does contribute to making smoking an expensive habit. Do the exercises on pages 4-5.
  9. Narrowing down a topic The topic you are assigned to write may be too general. For most practical purposes, a paragraph will range in length from about seven to fifteen sentences. You will need to narrow down your topic to a more specific one. Vietnam Hue citadel Historical sites Khai Dinh Tomb
  10. Of course there are many ways you could narrow down this topic. Here is another way: Vietnam Tourist destinations Nha Trang Vinpearl Do the exercises on pages 6-7.
  11. The topic sentence The topic of a paragraph is usually introduced in a sentence; this sentence is called the topic sentence. The topic sentence can do more than introduce the subject of the paragraph, however. A good topic sentence states an idea or an attitude about the topic as well. This idea or attitude about the topic is called the controlling idea; it controls what the sentences in the paragraph will discuss. All sentences in the paragraph should relate to and develop the
  12. controlling idea. Identify the topic and the controlling idea: Smoking cigarettes can be an expensive habit. The topic: smoking cigarettes The controlling idea: an expensive habit. Of course there are many other controlling ideas one could have about the topic of smoking cigarettes. Indeed, one of the most popular is that it is hazardous to health. Do the exercises on page 8.
  13. Improving the topic sentence A topic sentence = the topic + the controlling idea. The controlling idea should be clear and focused on a particular aspect. A topic sentence: Drinking coffee is bad. The topic: drinking coffee; the controlling idea: bad. The controlling idea is rather vague.
  14. In what way is coffee bad? For whom or what is it bad? Is drinking only a little coffee bad, or is drinking a lot of coffee bad? As you can see, this topic sentence leaves a lot of questions that probably cannot be answered effectively in one paragraph. This topic sentence needs more focus, and that focus can come from the controlling idea. Drinking over four cups of coffee a day can be harmful to pregnant women. In this version the topic itself is narrowed down some more, and the controlling idea is more precise. Do the exercises on pages 9-10.
  15. Recognizing the topic sentence A topic sentence has a particular function: to introduce the topic and the controlling idea. Where is the topic sentence? Because it plays the role of introducing, it is at or near the beginning of the paragraph. However, depending on the kind of the paragraph it is in, the topic sentence may be placed near the middle or even at the end of the paragraph. Sometimes the topic may be implied. Do the exercises 1-6 on pages 10-12.
  16. Formulating the topic sentence You are given a topic and you must find your own controlling idea. You should see what your own feelings and attitudes are about it. First you begin by making a detailed list of things that come to mind about the topic. You may write full sentences or you may take brief notes. Then you pick out an aspect of the topic that seems worthy of development. Topic: Saigon University Notes: position, campuses, faculties, students, etc. Do the exercise on page 14.
  17. Support When you have the topic and the controlling idea, you extract from your notes the material you can use to develop the paragraph. Support comes from the information you get from newspapers, magazines, books, etc. We often ask a lot of questions to generate more notes. The answers to these questions will serve as a foundation for the support for your paragraph. Read the examples on pages 14-15. Do the exercise on page 16.
  18. Unity Each sentence in the paragraph has to relate to the topic and develop the controlling idea. If it does not, it is irrelevant and it should be omitted. Topic: Smoking cigarettes can be an expensive habit. If a sentence in the paragraph had shown that smoking cigarettes is harmful to livers, lungs, etc., it would have been out of place. A paragraph with this sentence lacks unity. Do the exercises on pages 17-18.
  19. Coherence A paragraph must have a topic and controlling idea, support and unity. Another element that a paragraph needs is coherence. A coherent paragraph contains sentences that are logically arranged and flow smoothly. Logical arrangement refers to the order of your sentences and ideas. There are various ways to order your sentences depending on your purpose. For example, if you want to tell a traffic accident, you have to tell about it chronologically.
  20. In a paragraph we use expressions: another, also, in addition, finally, etc. to bridge the gaps in ideas. Combining sentences and adding transitions make the ideas and sentences easier to follow. If the sentences are not logically arranged or if they do not connect with each other smoothly, the paragraph is incoherent. Coherence is an important quality of writing. Do the exercises on pages 21-22.
  21. Paragraph checklist After you write a paragraph, check to see is you can answer yes to these questions: 1. Is your topic sufficiently narrowed down? 2. Does your paragraph have a topic sentence? It not, is the topic sentence implied? 3. Does your paragraph have a clear, focused controlling idea? 4. Is your paragraph unified; that is, do all of the sentences support the controlling idea? 5. Is your paragraph coherent; that is, are the sentences logically arranged and do they flow smoothly?