How to Write a Well Organized Essay for School
Advice from Teachers
Writing from Personal Experience
Writing from personal experience follows most of the rules for other types of essay writing:
1: You must have a thesis statement. Identify your subject. If it is an assigned topic, write it down. Why are you writing this essay? If it is an assignment, the assignment should include the essay type expected. Use this to guide you to your subject. (That your teacher requires it is not enough unless you wish to debate the issue of the requirement.) Your thesis should be a question you will answer, an issue you wish to examine, a point you want to prove or disprove, or something you wish to illustrate. It should be expressed in one sentence before you begin. That way you can stay on track.
2: You must identify your audience. To whom or for whom are you writing? Generally even school papers should be aimed at a particular audience aside from your teacher. Once you have identified your audience you can adjust your writing style and vocabulary accordingly. Try to pick an audience that would be interested in your topic, unless you want to try the extremely difficult task of interesting and entertaining an audience that is not generally interested as an exercise in compelling writing.
3: You must organize your material. Have any research materials available. Even when writing an essay based upon personal experience, it is good if you can back up your opinions with facts.
4: You must present a conclusion. This is what knits your essay together, and gives the reader a feeling of closure. Essays with ambiguous endings are seldom successful.
- The first step in writing an essay or any other type of document from personal experience is to pick your subject.
- This is followed by creating your thesis statement.
- The next step is to simply sit down and write until you have nothing more to say on the matter. Don’t worry at this stage about spelling or grammar or even organization. Just write.
- Next create an outline with the 5 line formula while the preliminary writing “rests”. You will usually have a really good idea by this time what your thesis statement should be. Sometimes I use a shortened version as a working title, as in the paper I will include here.
5 point essay style works as follows:
- Write one sentence that is introductory.
- Write three sentences that are points you wish to cover that contribute to the “proof” of your thesis statement. (these are point 2,3 and 4)
- Write one sentence that is a conclusion.
Next take each of these sentences and apply the same formulas above, using the sentence as one of the five: write one introductory statement, three explanatory statements or expansion points, and one conclusion. (You should now have 25 sentences in 5 paragraphs. Apply the same treatment to each of these sentences until you simply have nothing more to say under that section. Proceed through all the sentences in this way until there is nothing more you can say. Now go back to your first writing, and see if there is anything you forgot.
Once you are done with this, do some research if applicable to your topic, and integrate your results into the work wherever they fit to prove or illustrate a point. (Don’t forget to cite your sources in the bibliography, or in APA style within the document.
Finally: Look to see if you have proven your thesis statement. Then read the entire paper out loud to find the flaws in your style. Anything that becomes difficult to read aloud should be changed. Check your spelling and grammar. Create a final title. Cite your sources. Then you have finished. You should have a well organized essay with a beginning, middle and end. It should state a theses, prove it with three points which are elaborated and make conclusions concerning what this means and how important it is.
The following is an example of an essay I wrote for someone who asked me the question in the title:
(What is) The Present and Future of Canadian Immigrants
Are Canadian Immigrants better off than they were in the past, and what does the future hold for them? This is a question that only seems to trouble sociologists. Few prospective immigrants really get valid information, even if they know what questions to ask. Most of them have simply worked too hard to make it to the golden shore to question its value. The problem stems from cultural differences. Very few people know how to evaluate a new cultural environment, and relate it to their past life style. We all know what is wrong with our present situation, but we are ill equipped to judge what may be wrong with a change.
One good example is one I know of first hand. A Young Chinese couple emigrated from Beijing with their two year old daughter. They stayed in my home for about three months until they found a suitable apartment. Now anyone who knows anything at all about life in Beijing would naturally assume that they were much better off in Canada, and they were, by our (Canadian and American) standards. They had educational opportunity, free medical, payment to help raise their child, free dental treatment for the child, a clean environment and clean air by comparison, a capitalist/socialist society where they could earn what they were worth, freedom to speak as they wished, political freedom, and business opportunity.
However, they could not adjust to all the differences, and were back in Beijing within a year. They did not trust our traditional medicine, and nearly caused harm to their child because they did not understand that penicillin must be given as prescribed. In China their herbal medicine is used until the child improves, and then is discontinued. The idea that they must have licenses for things they were used to doing in China was incomprehensible to them. The cost of housing and utilities was surprising to them. In China these things are free or very low cost. Even though the housing and utilities there are far inferior to here, the fact that they were cheap made them better. It was one less thing to worry about. Perhaps the greatest cultural shock to them was the morality difference. It is understood that, since nobody will admit to not knowing something in China (that would be admitting inferiority), you must ask several people for the same information, and decide which answer is right by which one you get most often. However, they did not understand our legal way of cheating people by selling them something at highly inflated prices that won’t work like you expect from the ad or the pictures. They did understand packaging for sales appeal, but did not understand government regulatory agencies on drugs and food. In all they simply could not make the required adjustments to integrate into North American society.
So were they better off? From their point of view they were not. They could not hope to realize the dreams they had held from childhood in Canada, and they could not find new dreams to adopt. Many immigrants from many countries come to Canada with a history of success in their countries, by their standards, and are suddenly unable to practice trades in which they were highly respected professionals at home. They cannot practice medicine, for example, with even years of experience, until they undergo re-education, and pass many tests. While I do not disagree with this practice, because it protects the Canadian public from those with possibly inferior educations, it does work a hardship on immigrants who come here with skills.
Happily this is not the case for most immigrants to Canada. Most of them are coming from very poor countries, and restrictive societies. Most of them do make the necessary cultural adjustments to integrate into the Canadian mosaic. Yes they often have to change certain practices because they are either unacceptable or illegal here, as in the case of female circumcision. The older immigrants often miss their homes terribly, and wish they could return to what they know. However, they realize that the future for their children will be much better here than they could ever offer them in the old country, so they stay. They know that our free education system will acculturate and help their children to integrate, even as it also influences them with our own brand of political and social propaganda.
So are immigrants to Canada better off? If your yardstick judges this question by their health, freedom and opportunity, yes. They have superior health care to most other places in the world. Politically, Canada is one of the most free places, even though it is more a socialist democracy then the US. Immigrants are not melted into the pot. They can remain a distinct cultural piece of the Canadian cultural mosaic. Differences are even protected by law. However, they may be also exchanging a certain amount of security that is found in totalitarian states for the freedom to be poor, as compared with their neighbors. The future for their children, though, is bright, because they will be allowed to develop into free thinking adults. They may not have all the free education offered only to the talented in their former homes (as in Russia), but they do have superior education offered to everyone equally. Many of them would not have had more than six years education at home, because they are average, where only geniuses are valued.
One question that has not been asked is : Is Canada better off? The answer is a resounding “Yes”, and most Canadians know this. It is for this final reason that immigrants are way better off, because, for the most part, they are valued, and that makes all the difference.
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