ESL and IELTS Help 4 U

Archive for June 2010

It would be nice if we could just end our essays with a cute drawing!

But we can’t. We have to find a creative way to finish our essays.

Many students start the conclusion with the words: “In summary” or “In conclusion.” Then they repeat what was already written in the essay.

This can be quite !

You can put your reader to sleep if you use the same words you used in the essay!

If you have to repeat your points, be creative! Use new words!

Or, try a better way! Bring in an idea that takes the reader’s mind another step. Check  out my conclusion in the post, The Finished Product.

Or, ask the reader a question.

Or, if you have a creative introduction, come back to that idea in the conclusion.

In the next posts, I will give you some examples of these writing techniques for concluding your essay.

and practice your English!


The introduction of an essay is where we say hello to the reader… and where we tell the reader what the essay is about.

But first we have to get the reader’s attention. We want to get the reader interested in reading our essay.

We say in English: we want an attention grabber!

In my essay in the last post, I used a well known phrase which comes from an old song:

School days, school days

Dear old golden rule days

Reading and writing and arithmetic

Talk to the tune of the hickory stick…

You can also begin your essay with a question. I could have started my essay with, “Where did you go to school?” or “Do you know someone who goes to school at home?” or “Can you imagine staying at home for school?” Asking a question immediately brings the reader into the topic.

Another interesting way to grab your reader’s attention is to ask the reader to imagine.   For example: “Imagine this. It’s a school day. You get up and instead of rushing around trying to get ready for the school bus, you just go into another room of your home, sit down at your desk and begin to study.”

Maybe there’s a movie title or song title or something from your culture that connects with your essay topic and will grab your reader’s attention.

And this is important! Your attention grabber must have a real connection with your essay topic.

After your attention grabber, the next sentence can tell the reader about your essay topic. Check out how I did this in my essay in the last post.

Questions? Just send me an email:

Have a super day!

Good morning, super English students!

As promised, I have used my mind map to write an essay. This essay is only one of many ways to talk about the topic. There are many other points that could be made. I have just chosen a few and have written an essay at the level of English that will work for many ESL students.

As a review, read all of the “Writing a Great Essay” posts starting with #1. Then see what you think of my essay.

It would be good practice for you to write your own essay about this topic. Use your ideas. Make your own sentences. Organize your ideas in your own way. Send them on to me:

I’d love to read them!

Where do you want to go to school?

Reading, writing, arithmetic. The subjects are the same but the school is changing for more and more students. Many of the students around the world no longer go to school. School is at home. Parents are the teachers. There is great debate about home school. Is it better than going to a school where many students gather to learn?

Home school does have advantages. It can be much less expensive, and there are fewer rules. The student can have a computer at all times for research and writing. The main advantage is that a student gets more attention and can work at a relaxed pace. The student can learn in his or her own way. Some students have difficulty learning in a big school with many students. Home school can be a good way to go for this kind of student.

Public or private school has advantages that home school doesn’t have. There are more resources like labs and books. Students learn to work together. They can help each other by sharing ideas. In this kind of school, students can have many friends. They can play sports together and have more fun.

Both types of schools also have disadvantages. In the public or private school, there is a lot of stress and competition. This can be a problem for many students. There are many rules which may block creativity. There is one way of teaching which may not work for everyone. Big classes mean that individual students do not get very much attention.

At the same time, students in home schools do not get a chance to learn and play with others. They may feel lonely and bored. If a student does not learn to work in a team, it may affect the student’s career later in life. Also, without other students to add different ideas, a student may not be as creative.

No school is perfect. Home school, public and private schools are good for different kinds of students. But there will always be some minuses. The best thing about all this is that there are more choices. Students and parents can decide what is best for individual needs. This is good news for the future. All students deserve to have the best opportunity to learn as much as possible. Having more choices helps make this possible.

Time for your carpenter to come out and create some super sentences for your essay.

The carpenter takes the ideas and organization from the architect and then puts them into words and sentences.

The carpenter is very careful. He looks at details.

He makes sure that each sentence has a subject and verb.

He starts each sentence with a capital letter and ends each sentence with some type of punctuation.

He writes each sentence in a simple, clear way. If he is not sure about a word, he looks it up.

He knows that building an essay is one step, one sentence at a time.

Now, our judge can appear… The judge will look at the essay.

The judge checks for everything: spelling, sentences, vocabulary, organization, punctuation. This is called “editing.”

Most students never edit. But editing is a very important part of writing an essay. Without editing, an essay is always unfinished. In fact, editing 3 times is okay.

Put your essay away for a while, come back to it and edit.

Read it backwards, from the end to the beginning to find words that are not spelled correctly. That way you will look at each word rather than groups of words and you are more likely to catch mistakes.

It is okay to change everything when you edit. You may think of a better way to organize the essay. If you do, then write it again. This is the purpose of editing — to make your essay the best it can be.

Next week, I’ll finish my essay and post it for you. Til then have a great weekend!


We have finished planning! Our artist has done his or her job!

Time for our architect to take over….

If you will recall, the architect’s job is to

organize ideas. What should come first? Second? Last?

Sometimes we have some strong points for our essay and one point that is not so strong. I often put my strongest points before the weaker point.

What is a good way to move from one point to the next? This is about

flow…. You want to move smoothly from one point to the next.

What ideas come from the plan that will help with the

introduction and

the conclusion?  

In the last post, I offered a mindmap of a topic: advantages and disadvantages of both public school and home school. If you were going to write this essay, what point would you write about first? How would you introduce the topic? How would you move through from topic to topic?

Before I answer these questions, we will talk about the writing of the essay and editing.  Then I’ll finish my essay about school comparisons as a sample essay for you.

Have a super day and have fun with your English study!

So…we’re writing a great essay!      YES!!!!

We’re talking about planning the essay before you start writing.

In the last post, I promised you a mindmap. Here it is:

This mindmap shows ideas for an essay comparing two types of education: public school and home school. This mindmap shows just a few of many ideas about this topic.

Click on the blue box and you will see the map in full size.

Please just learn one thing about planning from this mindmap: It is important to plan fully.

Many students write one word or two when planning an essay. This doesn’t work because the idea of a plan is to get all your ideas on paper so that your brain isn’t running from idea to idea.

In order to think clearly and to organize your ideas, plan well.

So let’s start at the beginning….

You’re beginning an essay. You know your topic. You have done your research. Your “artist” is in charge. [See the post, Writing a Great Essay (1). ]

Your brain has thoughts about this topic. Get them on paper. Do not throw away any thoughts. Write them all down.

Because thinking jumps around, it might be best to write your thoughts on different places on your paper, making a mind map.

It is helpful to use one place on the paper to write down your feelings –confused, confident, worried, happy — whatever feelings you have during this task. I know this sounds strange. These thoughts will not be part of your essay. But clearing them out of your brain helps your brain to unload more useful information. You open yourself to your knowledge.

Sometimes your thoughts about your topic will come in words. Sometimes they will be in pictures.

As you write or draw your thoughts, just use a words or a simple drawing. This is not the time to think about grammar or sentences. This is about ideas.

Some of the ideas will be serious. Some may seem silly. Maybe you have only the beginning of an idea. All of this goes on your map.

Sound confusing?  No problem. I will make a sample mind map for you.

I am going away for a couple of days and will post a mind map when I return.

Til then,

practice your English….Bring the to you!