Planning a discursive essay
The following basic structure should be employed for writing this essay.
- Provide an interesting introduction.
- Provide a clear indication of your position, your stance in relation to the topic (are you 'for' or 'against' ?).
- Present your first argument, with supporting evidence.
- Present your second argument, with supporting evidence.
- Present your third argument, with supporting evidence.
- Present your fourth argument, with supporting evidence, and so on (the number of paragraphs like this will depend on the number of arguments you can offer).
- Indicate, in a single paragraph, that there is another side to this argument, with some idea of the points likely to be made for the view(s) which are opposite to your own.
- Reiterate (state again) your position and conclude your essay.
This plan is followed in the exemplar essay provided in this revision bite.
Listen to this audio clip about presenting a balanced argument.
At high school and also at tertiary institutions you need to be able to write about different points of view. Here are some tips on how to write a discursive essay.
Discursive essays are like a debate, where you give different arguments about the same topic.
Topics can be something like:
• Should cellphones be allowed at school?
• Uniforms at school: the pros and cons.
Example of a discursive essay
Technology – good or bad?
Some people believe that technology is bad, other people believe that technology is fantastic. However everyone must agree that now it is hard to imagine the world without technology. In this essay I look at the good and bad side of technology. I believe that we cannot blame technology for what goes wrong. We should rather blame the people who use it badly.
My parents and grandparents often talk about a time when there were no cellphones. My grandmother even remembers when there was no TV anywhere. And when my great-grandparents were around, there were no cars or buses. People took the train, or rode horses or wagons. Imagine!
Cellphones are great in many ways. We can keep in touch with people easily. I can let my mother know when I am going to come home, and I can find my friends when we are in town and in different places. I can get Maths help on Mxit and also can listen to music when I want to relax.
But cellphones can also be bad. My friend’s father gets cross when we are always texting and using our phones. “In our days we talked to each other, and got out in the world,” he always says. “You are all stuck to your phones.” And it is true that it can be addictive to play games or talk on Mxit or BBM. People sometimes use this to hurt others. Last year someone put very rude comments on Mxit about all the girls in my class. The comment about me was that I’d never find a boyfriend because I was so ugly. This was very hurtful.
But the problem really is the people, not technology. People can do bad things with technology, but people can also do very good things too. Perhaps the problem is more with people. Reckless drivers can kill, but that doesn’t mean cars aren’t very useful.
Tips for writing good discursive essays
Plan and structure your essay very carefully:
• Introduction: introduces the topic and summarises the essay
• First paragraph: gives one argument supporting the topic
• Second paragraph: gives another argument that supports the topic
• Third paragraph: gives an argument against the topic
• Fourth paragraph: gives an argument against the topic
• Conclusion: summarises your point of view.
• Use examples from your own life and experience to show what you mean (for school essays)
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