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How to write a Simple Persuasive Essay (SPE)

Mar 17, 2020 | 0 comments

At Englist, one of our goals is to train students how to write academic essays. Many of our students have never been asked to write an essay before, and those who have tried to write one before probably never learned any type of structure or concrete method for how to do so.

Understanding this, we have developed a system that trains new writers. We call it the Simple Persuasive Essay, or SPE, and it is just like it sounds – an easy-to-write persuasive essay. Students learn how to compose 16 total sentences in a strict logical format. By learning how to write with this pattern, students learn the basics of essay writing, but in language they can understand.

The SPE is not a real essay. Real essays do not follow a set pattern. Students should never write an SPE and turn it in to a teacher in any other class. The point of the SPE is to introduce students to the different elements and tools required to compose an essay. Thus, once students have mastered the SPE, we move past it into more formal and fluid forms of writing. (Note: the SPE is based off of the Jane Schaffer paragraph methodology.)

But before we get there, we need to start at square one. Read on for how to write a Simple Persuasive Essay.

 

Introduction Paragraph

The introduction paragraph, or just introduction, or even “intro” for short, is the most important paragraph in an essay. This paragraph introduces the reader to the purpose of the essay, as well as provides background for the topic. It should be the most interesting paragraph to read which means you will need to use all of your creativity to write a good one.

  • Hook (H): cleverly introduces the topic of the essay while grabbing the reader’s attention. 
  • Background and topic sentence (BTS): tells the reader what the essay is going to be about and provides necessary background information. 
  • Thesis (T): the main idea, opinion, or stance of the essay. This is the most important sentence of the whole essay.
    • Loose thesis (LT): this is a simple, note-style version of your opinion. You should think of this before doing anything else.

Body Paragraph (x2)

These paragraphs are the “meat” of the essay. You need two of them for the SPE. They tell the reader why the thesis is true and provide your reasoning and thinking regarding your opinion. Each sentence supports the one before it.

  • Topic sentence (TS): this sentence has two jobs – first, it tells the reader what the paragraph is going to be about. Second, it is a reason why your thesis is true. Every other sentence in the paragraph of a topic sentence needs to be about this topic!
  • Concrete detail (CD): the “for example” sentence as it is usually a specific example of your TS. This explains to the reader why your TS is true, or is evidence for your TS. Is always a true fact. Numbers, data, and quotes are best here.
  • Commentary 1 (CM): answers “why should the reader care about the TS or CD? Why does it matter? What do you think about it.. These are your opinions, thoughts, and reasoning about the TS and CD. 
  • Commentary 2 (CM): more commentary about the first CM, or the CD, or the TS, as long as it all flows and is supporting the sentence before. Writers should use two sentences of commentary for every CD.
  • Concluding Sentence (CS): this sentence “wraps up” the paragraph. It is often a summary of what the paragraph has been about to remind readers and reinforce ideas, but using different words and phrases.

Concluding Paragraph

Like a concluding sentence in a body paragraph, the purpose of the concluding paragraph (or “conclusion”) is to finish your essay. It reminds readers what they have read, the implications of the thesis being true, and any final information the writer might need.

  • Summary (S): a brief summary of the body paragraphs as a transition into the conclusion. It should remind readers of the thesis and the topic sentences.
  • Ultimate Outcome (UO): a restatement of the thesis and what it means that you have proven your thesis to be true. It should extend beyond the thesis, explain the implications of your argument being correct, or make the thesis more forceful.
  • Final thought (FT): whatever else you need to say. It should finish the essay and act as something of a closing note.

Notes

This explanation alone is not enough to know how to write an SPE – each of these sentences and paragraphs is covered in Englist’s Basic writing program, along with: 

  • Transitions between sentences and paragraphs
  • Outlining, planning, and writing order
  • Imagery and descriptive writing
  • Style, tone, and audience
  • Prompt analysis

 

However, there are a few more basic rules writers should remember when composing any academic essay, but especially an SPE:

Always write in third-person perspective. Do not use “I” or “you” or any other first- or second-person pronouns

  • Third-person perspective is objective, the others are subjective
  • Never say “I think that” or “I feel that”. This is clear – you’re the one writing it! These phrases also make you sound unsure.

Avoid phrases like “because of this” or “for these reasons” in your conclusion or CSs. Say the reasons again using different words and phrases.

Don’t ask questions in your essay. Do not use rhetorical questions. Your job is to explain, not offer more questions. 

  • Many teachers say you should ask a question so you can answer it as a rhetorical device. They are bad teachers.
  • In more advanced or stylized writing, this rule can be dismissed, but it is important students adhere to it while they are learning academic writing or they come to rely on questions.

Avoid contractions, slang, and informal language, at least on formal work

Avoid using punctuation to show meaning. For example:

  • Multiple question marks to show confusion or frustration (???)
  • Multiple exclamation points to show emphasis or shock (!!!)
  • As a matter of fact, never use exclamation points at all in academic writing
  • Ellipses, or “dot dot dot”, to show implication or a trailing off of a thought (…)
  • Text message informalities like “haha” or “lol”
  • Emoticons, emojis 🙁, or other punctuation art –  🙂 🙁

Example essay

Hook: In Taiwan, thousands of academic and extracurricular programs – sports, music, coding, “design-thinking” – compete for every spare hour of student time.

Background and Topic SentenceThese programs are all fine and good, but considering the actual needs of students in Taiwan, almost all of them fall short.

ThesisThere is one organization, however, that offers both the skills students need and the engaging environment for them to master these abilities – that school is Englist.

Topic SentenceThe first reason why Englist is such a useful academic program is that the skills students learn here are practical and applicable to their lives. 

Concrete DetailFor example, Englist students learn communication skills, how to organize their thoughts, how to write essays, and they get ready for college. 

Commentary 1: Students will need to have organized thoughts, know how to communicate, and know how to write reports and essays in their future careers, in college, and in their day-to-day lives right now.

Commentary 2Other classes can be a lot of fun and offer valuable experiences with courses in things like robotics, coding, design, or music, but the topics covered in these classes are highly specialized and not generally practical. 

Concluding SentenceEnglist offers education in practical, fundamental skills and thus is the most useful program in Taiwan.

Topic Sentence 2: While learning practical skills is great, even more beneficial is the fact that Englist cultivates critical academic skills most other programs either neglect or don’t understand. 

Concrete Detail: For example, Englist students pride themselves on their capacity for critical thinking, analysis, and reasoning. 

Commentary 1: They develop these abilities through writing and by reading thought-provoking books and articles, all while students develop language proficiency. 

Commentary 2: More importantly, however, is the fact that these skills – critical thinking and analysis especially – are the skills that colleges, major tests like the SAT, and elite programs need to see in students.

Concluding Sentence: In short, Englist is such a robust academic program because it instills in students the most important academic and intellectual skills students need for success.

Summary: By offering students a chance to develop their minds, Englist has established itself as the most useful and rewarding school in Taiwan. 

Ultimate Outcome: All students with high expectations and strong minds would do well to enroll, as Englist is built specifically to sharpen the intellects of top-tier thinkers. 

Final Thought: For any English learner in Taiwan who wants to transcend the normal tedium of test prep and cramming vocabulary, Englist is the answer.