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English 10: Class Notes  Notes on Writer's Workshop

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This week, the class worked together in a Writer's Workshop on the essay. In it, we discussed essay titles, introductions and conclusions, body paragraphs, use of the thesis, and topic sentences. Teacher comments are in italics. See the original assignment here.

Morning Class (Afternoon Class)

Stephen’s Title: Sweat, Laughter, Tears, and More OR SWEAT, LAUGHTER, TEARS, AND MORE

Essays take a title. Titles are either ALL CAPITALS or the major or meaningful words (and not the “ands” and “the” unless it is the first word)

A title should interest the reader in reading, and encourages more people to read it. When writing a title, imagine you are a fisherman, trying to hook a fish.

The title should reflect the content, honestly. It is not a sentence; it is a phrase.

Nina’s Introduction and Title

On the Way to English

Have you ever learned a new language? We have. We are our family. Our family decided to immigrate to Canada ten years ago and came two years ago. The first problem we faced was a new language—the English language. We HAVE had a lot of difficulties as well as fun and pleasure on our way to English.

A question to begin is not always a good idea, but in this case it works well. Use the present perfect tense correctly and you will amaze your teacher. Then, a short sentence gets my attention. Use them for that reason.

We replaced the hyphen before “English language” with a dash made using Alt + 0151 (Number pad). We also made a correction to add “the” and created a nice parallel with “a new language.”

Make sure your thesis is general enough to comfortably include all your body paragraph topics. Nina’s thesis is good and needed only the addition of “have” to include the idea that the difficulties are not yet, nor ever will be finished.

Ching Ching’s Topic Sentences:

1. Depending on MY pronunciation skill, some English words are difficult to [FOR] me, especially WHEN the word MAKES ME curve MY tongue like “l,” and “r.”

This is quite specific topic sentence, including examples. However, the information on the “l” and the “r” is quite specific and should be used as a detail sentence within the paragraph.

2. Gender of pronouns is another big problem FOR me.

The body paragraph two topic sentence is a typical, good example. It is clear, effective, and the controlling idea “big problem” will be explained in the examples, I trust.

3. About two years ago, I had a chance to visit Golden with my wife. Another problem occurs when I use my English in public.

Here, it is not clear exactly what Ching Ching is going to tell us about. Actually, the example is about a communication problem that occurred while ordering food in a restaurant.

Nina’s Conclusion:

In conclusion, I can say that every person has his own way and his own experience studying a new language. But I know that we have to love this new language to be successful and we have to be ready to come through difficulties, which inevitably will BE on our way to knowledge.

The good news is that the final sentence is an excellent example of a concluding sentence to an essay on learning language. It refers generally back to your content and makes a prediction to end.

The bad news is that you have forgotten to restate your thesis. You could say the following:

In conclusion, learning English can be both difficult and pleasurable.


Afternoon Class Notes


Wendy: Like a Kid while Learning English

Inaya: Some of my Experiences in a New Language

Cecilia: Being a Fool while Studying a New Language

First rule of titles is capitalizing the first word. The second rule is to capitalize the major words of the title.

Both titles are correct in that they are not sentences, but rather are phrases.

In the real world, a title is your first and only chance to hook the reader like a fish by a fisherman.


An introduction is shorter than the body. Introduction contains the thesis, which is found at the end of the paragraph (not the beginning as in a body paragraph).

Wendy’s Introduction:

Learning English for me is just like a kid [is-omit] walking along a long way that is full of challenge, embarrassment, and excitement. From hundreds and thousands [times-omit] of mistakes, I have gradually grown up from toddler to kid. As a kid looks forward to learning more about this world by asking questions, I eagerly want to know, through studying [through the study of] English pronunciation, reading and speaking, about a new culture.

Wendy has echoed words in her title in the first sentence. This is an effective technique to alert the reader and is called repetition.

The thesis was originally in two sentences; however, the students agreed that it needs to be stated in a single sentence.

There are other, perhaps better, ways to make any sentence you write. Consider each sentence to be “plastic” in nature and not “concrete” and unchangeable.


See Teacher Sample Essay

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