Define the term ‘essay’, list the types of essays? What is discursive essay? Explain its features?

An essay is perhaps the most common form of writing that people encounter. It is therefore, important to understand what an essay is and learn the technique of writing a well-balanced essay. Sometimes, even well-known written essay fail to meet the expectations because they lack an awareness of the requirement of the genre of essay that was assigned The word essay comes into the English language from Latin through French, and it means ‘’to examine, try, test or weigh’’. This etymology helps us understand the essential quality of an essay: that an essay is an attempt to test or examine one’s ideas about a particular subject. Essay writing involves a number of skills:
  1. Close reading
  2. Analysis
  3. Comparison and contrast
  4. Persuasion
  5. exposition
Essays should be concise and should have clarity purpose and direction. There is no room in an essay for the writer’s thoughts to wander or stray from their purpose.

There are four main types of essays:

  1. Narrative essay
  2. Descriptive essay
  3. Discursive or expository essay
  4. Argumentative essay or persuasive essay
A discursive essay is one that involves discussion. A discursive essay requires the writer to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea and set forth an argument concerning that idea, in a clear and concise manner. The exposition can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, and so on.

The writing process

Any piece of writing involves three stages
  • Pre-writing
  • Writing
  • Post-writing
The pre-writing stage This can be further split into various steps/sub-tasks: Step1: Think and brainstorm on the given topic Step2: jot down the ideas that emerge from the thinking/ brainstorming. Step3: Make an outline of the structure and select the ideas—introduction, body, and conclusion. You may label the ideas jotted down as ‘’Table of Contents’’.Introduction: Clearly state the topic to be discussed, often with a topic sentence(one paragraph)
  1. Body: Clearly state points and exemplify/justify them in (one or three) separate paragraphs.
  2. Conclusion: summarise or conclude by restating your ideas ( one paragraph).
  3. Step4: Check the following:
  4. All the points you wanted to make have been included.
  5. There is no point that is not necessary/irrelevant.
  6. There are no repetitive ideas.
The writing stage: the first Draft The following are some useful tips for writing effective essays:
  • Use a style/tone appropriate to the kind of essay being written. (A discursive essay is a presentation of ideas, facts in a logical, neutral and balanced tone)
  • Use an impersonal and formal style.
Avoid contractions (e.g., ‘aren’t’, ‘he’s’ etc.), short forms, idioms, colloquial expression and so on.
  • Avoid strong, emotional language (e.g., ‘’I love English’’)
  • Avoid generalisation (e.g., all students lack communication skills)
  • Avoid clinches, proverbs etc.
  • Use reliable source of information for reference
  • Be neutral and make general statements even if one differs in opinion
  • Use linkers/connectives/discourse markers to bring out the logic, connect the sentences and paragraph
  • Use, if appropriate, direct or thought-provoking question, a quotation or a striking statement to begin the essay.
Post-writing stage
  • After the first draft, do some basic editing—check spelling, grammar, vocabulary, sentence construction etc.
  • Check the topic sentence
Check for cohesion and effectiveness through the use of connectors
  • Check against the outline prepared in Stage I and the draft in Stage II to check whether all the points are covered.
  • Check the length, style, points covered and add or delete to make it effective.
  • Write the final draft.

Look at the writing process of the essay “ The advantages of English language

Step I and II: brainstorming and jotting ideas:
  1. Access to the internet
  2. Benefits of proficiency in English language
  3. Advantages of technology
  4. Development of nation
  5. Employment opportunities
  6. English as a source language of internet
  7. Knowledge and awareness
  8. Language empowerment
  9. Link language
  10. Disadvantage: mother tongue influence
  11. Source/resources on the internet
  12. spread of the English language

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