Writing an academic paragraph can be an easy task if you follow specific instructions. There are 11 steps, which help to develop different parts of the paragraph:
1. Define the general topic/subject.
2. Develop the specific topic (ST).
3. Decide what you want to say about the specific topic (Main idea)
4. Identify the controlling idea (CI).
5. Write the topic sentence (TS = ST + CI).
6. Change the topic sentence into a question.
7. Answer the question exactly, using transition signals, for the supporting sentences (SS).
8. Chose at least three supporting sentences.
9. Give supporting details to every supporting sentence (SD).
10. Arrange supporting details logically.
11. Develop a concluding sentence (CS) – it should restate the main idea.
12. Add a concluding comment (CC) if necessary.
Here is the example of how to develop a paragraph following the steps given above.
Step 1: Define the general topic/subject.
The general topic/subject is what or who the paragraph is about.
For example, the general topic for the paragraph we are going to write is Kyiv.
Step 2: Develop specific topic of the paragraph (ST).
The specific topic is the part of the general topic the paragraph is going to be about.
The general topic Kyiv is too wide to be able to be covered in just one paragraph. The topic needs to be narrowed; for example, to the specific topic living in Kyiv.
Step 3: Decide what you want to say about the specific topic. (What is the main idea of the paragraph?)
The main idea is what you want to write about the specific topic in the paragraph.
What do you want to say about the specific topic of living in Kyiv?
The possible variants could be pros and cons of living in Kyiv, reasons for living in Kyiv, etc.
You could decide that in this paragraph you want to write about the main reasons for living in Kyiv. Notice that the main reasons for living in Kyiv is not a complete sentence.
Step 4: Identify the controlling idea (CI).
The controlling idea is the word or phrase in the main idea that defines what you want to write about the specific topic in the paragraph.
The controlling idea in the main idea above is main reasons. For academic writing you need to be as specific as possible. Ask and answer the questions like: What exactly reasons I want to talk about? How many reasons do I want to discuss?
Try to ask and answer questions like these when you are deciding on the main idea and the controlling idea to make sure you are being as clear and specific as possible. For this paragraph we will use the controlling idea three main reasons.
Step 5: Write the topic sentence (TS=ST+CI)
The topic sentence (TS) is the main idea expressed as a single sentence containing the specific topic (ST) and the controlling idea (CI). The formula for a topic sentence is TS=ST+CI.
The three main reasons for living in Kyiv (the main idea above) is not a complete sentence, and so it cannot be used in the paragraph. You need to write the main idea as a complete sentence combining the specific topic (living in Kyiv) and the controlling idea (three main reasons). The topic sentence for this paragraph becomes: There are three main reasons for people choosing to live in Kyiv.
Step 6: Change the topic sentence into a question.
A topic sentence aims:
· to introduce the main idea of a paragraph to the readers,
· to persuade them to read the paragraph,
· to help them understand it.
For this reason topic sentences are statements that cause the reader to unconsciously ask a question; the reader is then drawn to read the paragraph to find the answer.
This question is also used to identify the suppoting sentences.
Here is the topic sentence changed into a question:
What are the three main reasons for people choosing to live in Kyiv?
Step 7: Answer the question exactly, using transition signals for the supporting sentences (SS).
By answering the question made from the topic sentence you will get the supporting sentences (SS). These sentences give specific details about the topic. When answering the question use transition signals (e.g. first, second, third, etc.) in your answer; it will help later.
What are the main reasons for people choosing to live in Kyiv?
1. closeness to important events in Ukraine (the first reason is closeness to important events in Ukraine)
2. climate (the second reason is the climate)
3. educational opportunities (the third reason is educational opportunities)
4. employment opportunities (the fourth reason is the employment opportunities)
5. spending leisure time (visiting cultural events) (the fifth reason is leisure time)
Step 8: Choose at least three supporting sentences.
Out of the five main reasons listed above it is necessary to choose three. You have to decide which reasons are weak or do not fit the logics of the paragraph. Probably, climateis not a good reason – first, Kyiv is not situated in a very favourable climactic zone (in comparison to other Ukrainian regions, Crimea, for example), and, second, climate does not fit the paragraph logically. You migh also want to cross out closeness to important events in Ukraine because it is not a very clear statement (What events? Why is it important to be close to them? Are they important to everyone or to some people only?).
Step 9: Give supporting details (SD) to every supporting sentence.
Supporting details may be necessary to prove, explain, or give examples or illustrations to further clarify the supporting sentences.
The supporting details are found when you ask questions about the supporting sentences like What do I mean by this? or How can I prove this? or What are some examples or illustrations of this?
Following on from the example above, the questions for each supporting sentence become, what do I mean by the educational opportunities, what do I mean by the employment opportunities, and what do I mean by spending leasure time? Write the answers to these questions in note form:
1. Educational opportunities: many prestigious universities, the best universities in the country.
2. Spending leisure time: many good theatres, exhibitions, interesting events and celebrations.
3. Employment opportunities: low unemployment, many new jobs, the highest wages in Ukraine.
Step 10: Arrange supporting details logically.
It is important to arrange supporting details logically – from most important to least important or vice versa. In the model paragraph the details could be arranged this way:
1. Employment opportunities.
2. Educational opportunities.
3. Spending leisure time.
Step 11: Develop a concluding sentence (CS).
The concluding sentence (CS) may be a restatement, summary or conclusion of the main idea. It signals the end of the paragraph.
The concluding sentence should be an objective statement and can only be based on what is written in the paragraph. You cannot introduce any new information.
Based on the information above, the concluding sentence could be something like
Kyiv has a lot to offer in terms of jobs, educational establishments and entertainment.
Step 12: Add a concluding comment (CC) if necessary
A concluding comment (CC )is a final comment or opinion about the subject of the paragraph. However, most paragraphs will not need a concluding comment.
The concluding comment can be your opinion (subjective). As long as you have reasons for your opinion, the reader should accept it, even if he or she has a different opinion. Always try to give reasons for your opinions so they have more chance of being accepted.
The final comment, based on the example paragraph, could be
Kyiv will continue to attract people from other parts of Ukraine.
· Following the steps we can produce an academic paragraph:
Living in Kyiv
There are three main reasons for people from all over Ukraine choosing to live in Kyiv. The first reason is the employment opportunities. At present, there is a lowest level of unemployment and many new jobs are appearing due to expanding markets. Today Kyiv businesses offer employees the highest wages in Ukraine. Second, Kyiv is the biggest educational centre in the country – here you can find the oldest and most prestigious universities. The third reason is spending leisure time. Kyiv offers its dwellers and visitors many goos theatres, exhibitions, interesting events and celebrations all year round. In conclusion, Kyiv has a lot to offer in terms of jobs, educational establishments and entertaiment, and I believe it will continue to attract people from other parts of Ukraine.
The example paragraph has the following structure:
First the topic sentence (TS=ST+CI)
Then supporting sentence 1 (SS1)
Followed by its supporting details (SD)
Then supporting sentence 2 (SS2)
Followed by its supporting details (SD)
Then supporting sentence 3 (SS3)
Followed by its supporting details (SD)
Then the concluding sentence (CS)
And finally the concluding comment (CC)
NOTE: As it has been noted above, each paragraph should have at least a topic sentence and supporting sentences. Not every paragraph you read or write has, or needs, all eight parts; the supporting details, the concluding sentence and the concluding comment are optional. The model paragraph about living in Kyiv could be much shorter without the supporting details, the concluding sentence and the concluding comment. Then it’ll be a two sentence paragraph and look like this:
“There are three main reasons for people choosing to live in Kyiv. The first is the employment opportunities, the second is the educational opportunities and the third is different ways for spending leisure time.”
A. Read and analyze the model paragraph. Answer the following questions.
Problems of Using Word Processing in the Classroom
Using word processing in the classroom has a few problems. The first is that many elementary school students are not familiar with computers. The second is that not all students are able to type. And, even when students can type reasonably well, the third problem is that word processing requires a lot of individual computer time and few elementary schools have more than one or two computers per classroom. The fourth problem is that when something goes wrong on the word processor students and teachers can become frustrated. These problems mean teachers need to carefully consider if and how they introduce word-processing into the curriculum.
1. What is the general topic/subject?
2. What is the specific topic (ST)?
3. What is the main idea?
4. Where is the controlling idea (CI)?
5. Identify the topic sentence (TS = ST + CI).
6. Identify supporting sentences (SS).
7. What are the supporting details for each supporting sentence? (SD)
8. What is a concluding sentence (CS)?
9. Is there a concluding comment (CC)?
10. What transition signals are used in the paragraph?
B. Underline in the paragraph the elements of the academic paragraph (TS, SS1+SD, SS2+SD, SS3+SD, CS, CC).