Some students find writing tasks the most challenging and difficulties begin with writing introductions as it is a starting point and the first step in a long journey is always hard. The teacher’s task is to make this process easier. Let’s see how we can take students step by step through writing an introduction.

Step 1: Discuss what an introduction paragraph should be like and describe the purpose of each section 

Introduction Skyteach

In an introduction, we go from a general idea to something specific. Therefore, it starts with a general attention-getter sentence — a hook. Then there is connecting information, comments or background information, followed by a thesis statement. 

  • A “hook” can be a quote, an interesting fact, a personal antidote or a question that inspires an emotional response from the reader. It should be used to get their interest.
  • Connecting information (comments and background)” gives some information regarding the topic and helps to relate the general to the specific information.
  • A “thesis statement” is the last sentence in the introduction paragraph and it describes what the essay is about. It should convince the reader that the essay is worth reading. 

If your students write an academic paper, pay more attention to writing a good thesis statement. Look at the examples below, provided by Professor Larissa Fekete in her ESOL 130 course, Level 3 in Oberlin College, OH. Which thesis statement is better? 

  1. This paper will show how smoking causes cancer. 
  2. Smoking causes many cancers in several ways. 
  3. Smoking can have several effects. 

So, which one would you choose? Actually, none of them is suitable for academic papers, they are too general and need more details. Let’s try to make these non-academic thesis statements better, add details and make more specific. 

  1. Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer due to the toxicity of its ingredients. 
  2. Smoking leads to serious medical conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and cancer. 

Although these thesis statements are good, they don’t offer any analysis. When students write academic papers, they must offer a position of analysis (your negative or positive overall opinion). Here is an example of the best analytical academic thesis. 

→ Victims of smoking addiction are often unaware (‘unaware’ shows the writer’s negative position) that the toxic ingredients they breathe are the primary cause of lung cancer. 

Your students can use online thesis-generator which will help them to formulate a thesis statement.

Step 2: Identifying the Parts of an Introduction

After discussing the structure, divide students into pairs and give out examples of three introductory paragraphs. Ask them to find the parts of an introduction:

  • Hook
  • Comments, and background
  • Thesis Statement

Step 3: Defining your point of view and writing a thesis

Before writing any papers, I always ask students to brainstorm ideas, make a list, create a mind map anything like this to help them define their own view. Even though they don’t write main points of the essay in the introduction paragraph, they need to understand whether or not their thesis statement can be developed, whether they have enough arguments and details to support the thesis. Then we write thesis statements together.

Step 4: Exploring hooks

Next step will help students find the best type of a hook for their introduction. You may ask students to look through different essays in the coursebook to identify hooks. They can evaluate those hooks’ effectiveness, then choose one type and write a similar one for their essays. Here are some more ideas: 

  • Display hook strategies on the walls around the room. Ask students to work in groups of 2 or 3 to write their own example for a topic they are assigned. They can then rotate around the room with the same topic, practicing different techniques, or they can present the strategy, example, and their own writing to the class.
  • Ask students to experiment by choosing three different hooks. Have them write an attention getter for their essay for each type. Then, put students in groups and have them provide peer feedback on which approach is the strongest.

Step 5: Discuss how to add connecting information

At this step, you need to teach what to write in the middle, how to create a bridge between a hook and a thesis. Here students need to ask themselves what information the reader needs to know in order to fully understand the essay, whether the topic has an important history, maybe somebody disagrees about this topic.

Step 6: Writing introductions 

Students complete their own introductions for their topics. Students need to write the hook in all capital letters, the comments and background in bold or darker letters, and finally, the thesis statement should be underlined. Then students trade papers with other pairs to evaluate. Allow 5 to 10 minutes for discussions on ways to improve their writings. Ask for volunteers to read some good papers. 

That’s how I usually teach my students to write introduction paragraphs, feel free to write your ideas and comments in the comment box below. 

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