Practical Exercises On The Topic Discursive Essay

1 Look at the essay plans below for the three types of discursive essays, then say what features the plans have in common and how each plan differs from the others.

For and against essay
Paragraph 1
state topic (without stating your opinion)
Main body
Paragraphs 2 - 3
arguments for & justifications, examples or reasons
Paragraphs 4-5
arguments against & justifications, examples or reasons

Final Paragraph
balanced consideration or opinion

Opinion essay
Paragraph 1
state the topic and your opinion

Main body
Paragraphs 2 - 4
viewpoints & reasons/ examples
Paragraph 5
opposing viewpoint and reason/example

Final Paragraph
summarise/restate your opinion

Solutions to Problems Essay
Paragraph 1
state the problem and its cause(s)/effect(s)

Main body
Paragraphs 2 - 5
suggestions & results

Final Paragraph
summarise your opinion

2 Look at the essay topics below, and say whether each topic asks for a "for and against" essay, an opinion essay or an essay suggesting solutions to problems. Then, choose two of the topics and make a list of the points you would include in an essay on each topic.
1 "Animals should be treated with the same respect as humans." Do you agree with this view?
2 "The generation gap is one which cannot be bridged." Discuss.
3 Do you believe that equality for women means that women should also do such things as military service?
4 "One language spoken worldwide would lead to better international relations." Discuss.
5 Genetic engineering poses a number of worrying problems, both moral and practical. Discuss some of these problems and suggest what could be done to overcome them.
6 "Celebrities should be allowed to keep their private lives private, without the invasion of the media." Discuss.
7 "Fear and ignorance are the root causes of racial hatred." Discuss this state-ment and offer some possible solutions to the problem of racial prejudice.
8 "The motion picture industry is threatening to destroy culture and tradition." Do you agree?
9 "Too much money is spent on sport when it could be used to help the poor." What are your views on this issue?
10 What are the advantages and disadvantages of our ever-increasing use of computer technology?
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3 Match the following beginnings 1-3 and endings A,B,C. Then, say which technique has been used in each. Refer to beginning and ending discursive essays.

1 You may live in a comfortable house in a clean neighbourhood with all the amenities. You would probably not be so lucky in one of the cities where urban growth has been allowed to get completely out of control. This problem is virtually destroying a number of large cities, particularly in developing countries, and a solution must be found before it is too late.

2 "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" is the biblical phrase we use to refer to capital punishment, the killing of criminals in order to punish them for their crimes. But whether the neat balance suggested by the phrase is reflected by the actual practice is a moot point, and whether one human has the right to kill another in any circumstances remains a much-debated question.

3 While most people agree that a woman has the right to work as a heavy-machine operator and a man to become a midwife, is this supposed open-mindedness being put into practice? There is plenty of evidence to suggest that work¬ers are still being judged by their gender and not by their skills, and this is a situation which needs to be dealt with.

A On the whole, I believe that those cities suffering as a result of urban growth could solve their problems, given financial support. Sadly, however, the chances of this happening are slight, especially in developing countries. Should we not, therefore, be thinking about encouraging people to return to rural areas in order to shift the balance of populations?

B To sum up, gender should not be an issue in any work¬place, since a powerfully-built female is just as capable of hard manual labour as a kind and gentle male is of childcare. The only obstacles are those which exist in our own minds; as the American therapist Dr F. S. Perls once said, "We have to lose our minds to come to our senses."

C All in all, it is easy to understand the reasons behind the continued existence of capital punishment in a number of countries, in spite of this, however, I cannot personally condone it, since to my mind the act itself is simply legalised murder, the ultimate crime.

4 Read the two models and give reasons why model A is good and model B is bad. Refer to Useful Tips.
"Money is not the most important thing in life." Discuss.**
A) Money is certainly something which is often discussed in today's world. Hardly a day goes by without the subject of money being raised in most people's lives. However, it is highly debatable whether it is more important than other considerations, such as health and happiness, which some people consider to be of greater significance.
To begin with, it is often argued that having money enables people to exert influence over others. Wealthy businessmen, for example, are often the most highly respected members of society, and busi¬ness tycoons are often consulted by world leaders, who then make policies which affect the whole population. As a consequence, money can be seen as the single most important factor in daily life.
Secondly, from the point of view of the individual, money is vital for survival. Western society is structured in such a way that, without money; people are deprived of the means to obtain proper nutrition and health care. Furthermore, in some cases where state benefits are inadequate, the inability to pay heating bills can indeed become a matter of life and death. This is clearly illustrated by the fact that, according to Social Services, the majority of deaths due to hypothermia each winter occur among low-income groups.
On the other hand, many people claim that one of the factors in which is undoubtedly of greater importance than money is health. Izaak Walton said, health is "a blessing that money cannot buy.” What is more, money is of little consolation to those who are suffering from health problems. Despite the fact that money can pay for the best medical care available, this is no guarantee of a longer life.
In addition, most people would agree that personal happiness easily outweighs money in importance. Even if an individual extremely rich, this does not necessarily lead to happiness. In some cases, the contrary is true and vast wealth brings with it a whole range of problems and insecurities. Genuine happiness cannot be bought and is usually independent of financial status.
On the whole, although there are those who would rank money the single most important thing in life, the vast majority would disagree. Money, they argue, has an important part to play but perhaps the world would be a more harmonious place to live in if this were kept in proportion and society put more emphasis on moral issues.
B) In recent years life has greatly improved. The standard of living is higher and all people can afford to buy things they couldn't in the past. I truly believe that life today is better and many things make people happy.
To begin with, unless people are healthy; a person's life is unbearable and not worth living. When my father was seriously ill in hospital, I clearly remember how nothing else mattered to any of us, and we then learnt that the people we love are more important than money.
Then there's the question of your boyfriend or girlfriend. I don't think it matters if they're rich - although it would be nice! What more important is whether you see eye to eye. I once went out with a really rich guy bi we didn't get on and I finished with him. This shows that money isn't everything.
Also, statistics show that different people can be unhappy. Rich people can be just as unhappy as poor people. So why do some people always say that money is everything? I know they're wrong to think that. Money can't buy happiness.
But it's nice to live a life of luxury. Why take the bus when you can take a taxi? And why not send your children to the best schools and pay for the best doctors? There's no doubt about it, it's a good feeling being rich and powerful.
So, money is great - while it lasts! But you can't beat having a good time. So if you've got money, make the most of it and if you're happy, enjoy yourself.

Works consulted
Taken from "Successful Writing Proficiency" by Virginia Evans

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