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  What this course is about: what is expected of you

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Let’s look at what is expected of you in each of the six steps for writing a good essay.

The emphasis in this course is on argumentative writing and using critical thinking. However, all the steps and activities can be applied to writing a literary essay.

This lecture will give you an overview of what to do and how to do it in a step-by-step way. If you follow each of the lectures and do the quizzes and activities, you will succeed in writing a top-notch essay.

In the first step, you will learn how to focus your argument on a specific topic.

In step 2, we’ll show you how to develop your ideas doing research.

In the third step, you will practice good writing style, including using enriched vocabulary, varied sentence patterns, and good paragraph organization.

In step 4, you will work on organizing your ideas by using an outline and writing a first draft.

In the fifth step, you will learn how to self edit your draft by revising, editing and proofreading.

In the last step, we will show you how to lay-out a great-looking paper, using the MLA –Modern Language Association –Style Guide.

Step 1

In Step 1 of the course, Focus your argument, you will lay the foundation for your argumentative essay.

You will learn how to distinguish between a subject and a topic. You also come up with a debatable thesis or main idea, which is often challenging to students. You need to agree or disagree on an issue and show your reader that your opinion is correct.

In taking a stance on an issue, you'll develop your critical thinking skills.

Then we will look at writing a literary essay, which is a specific kind of argumentative writing. You need to understand what is literary analysis and the six literary elements.

Once you focused your argument, you show your evaluator that you know how to come up with a specific concrete topic, a clear original thesis and that you know what the literary elements are.

Step 2

Step 2, Develop your ideas, is the biggest section of the course. It’s all about doing proper research–what I consider the fun part of preparing yourself for essay writing.

You will find out about different note-taking techniques. You will also learn how to think critically about the primary or secondary sources you use.

You will practice the important skills of summarizing, paraphrasing and quoting from the materials you use.

Knowing how to do this will help you avoid plagiarism, the kiss of death and a surefire (certain) zero for your essay. If you get this right, you will show the evaluator or teacher that you know how to reinstate and use the ideas of others.

Finally, you will find out about using visual devices, such as tables, graphs, and charts, if they apply to the kind of essay you are writing. These devices are a great way to show information in a different way

Step 3

In Step 3, Write concisely, you’ll get to practice your English writing skills.

You will work on writing concisely and clearly. You will also learn about different sentence styles and how to link sentences with transitional devices.

You will learn how to use a topic sentence and make your paragraphs coherent.

Finally, you will review the three techniques for avoiding plagiarism, namely paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting.

Step 4

Step 4, Organize your ideas, gives you practice in writing an outline. This is a step that writers often neglect, but it is critical for writing a good essay. A step not to skip.

You also get practice in writing a first draft of your essay, another step not to miss.

Writing an outline and a draft will give you practice in laying out your ideas in a logical organized way.

It will show your reader or evaluator you know how to organize your ideas from beginning to end.

Step 5

Self-editing your text, Step 5, is often overlooked by students because they don't it's worth the effort. Bad move!

In revising your text, you ensure the overall unity and coherence of the whole essay.

In editing your text, you look to improve your vocabulary and sentence structure.

Finally, when you proofread for errors, you correct any mechanical mistakes in grammar and spelling, for example.

These three actions make for a much better score on your essay.

Step 6

In the last step of the course, Present your final paper, you learn how to use the MLA Style Guide.

Your teacher or evaluator will be looking at the ways you use in-text citations, explanatory notes, and the works you cite.

You will see the way a great-looking paper is presented. I love to see models of good work, and I think you do too.

If you follow the guidelines properly you will wow (“knock the socks off”) anyone reading your paper.

Review

There you have it: the six broad steps to master–as much as you can–and the 21 specific tasks to practice.

You now know the six rules of the writing game. You now know what is expected of you to get top scores in writing in English.

So as I quoted Stephen Covey in the previous lecture, “Know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so the steps you take are always in the right direction.”

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