Genre of Argument and Discussion

Activities: Part 1


What kind of text is an argument or discussion?

What is its purpose?

What makes it different from other texts?

Activity 1

Read the essay on the hand out.

1. What is the topic of the essay? What facts do you learn?

2. What is the author's perspective? How can you tell?

3. How is this text written? What is the tone? Why is it written in this way?

Today, we will look at how the author presents information and shapes their argument. First, let's look at the discourse structure, or (in other words) how the text is organised.

How would you label each paragraph? What is the job of each one?

We typically organise essays like this into three parts:

1. Introduction (Paragraph 1)

2. Main body (Paragraphs 2, 3, 4, 5)

3. Conclusion (Paragraph 6)

In the next activity, mix and match each section with what the elements it contains. Drag the cards together to connect, and double-click to break them apart.




Activity 2

Re-read the introduction paragraph.

Discuss: What should a well-written introduction contain?

Introductions should contain background information and a thesis statement.

1. What background information is given in the introduction?

Omicron was spreading quickly, scientists were worried, the government decided healthy children should not be vaccinated, Omicron is known to be less dangerous, the government have changed their mind

What does thesis statement mean? What is the purpose of a thesis statement?

The thesis statement gives an overview of the writer's point of view or position. All the other topic sentences and paragraphs are written to back up this opinion.

2. Underline or highlight the thesis statement (hint: it is a clause in a sentence, not a full sentence itself!)

it is the correct decision to make jabs available to 5-11 year olds.

Activity 3

After the introduction, we see the main body paragraphs (2, 3, 4, 5). Each main body paragraph contains a topic sentence.

1. What is the job of a topic sentence?

2. Highlight or underline the four topic sentences in this essay.

Here are the four topic sentences:

  • Firstly, the spread of the disease has disrupted education and brought chaos to schools.
  • Secondly, the vaccine is very safe.
  • Thirdly, vaccines reduce the risks to health for both children and adults.
  • However, there are some arguments against vaccination for 5-11 year-olds.

What features do they all share in common? Test your knowledge in the next slide.

Read the three statements about topic sentences below. Are they true or false?


Activity 4

Topic sentences: are the first sentence of a main body paragraph, give an overview of the argument, are usually single-clause sentences, and have an adverbial placed at the start to guide the reader.

What is the grammatical term for placing a word or short phrase at the start of a sentence (before the Subject)?

fronted adverbial

A fronted adverbial is a word or phrase that comes before the Subject. Usually, a comma is used between the fronted adverbial and the Subject. In an argument or discussion essay, these fronted adverbials are useful for connecting and organising ideas.

You might hear the terms connector or connective to describe these words since they are used to connect ideas.

1. Highlight or underline any other fronted adverbials you can spot in the text.

2. What is the job of each one? How are they connecting or organising the ideas?

Let's check if you can spot thefronted adverbials!

Identify the fronted adverbials in each example. They could be adverbs or preposition phrases. To select a sequence of words, click on the first and last words.



In an essay like this, the important job for fronted adverbials is to organise the writer's ideas and arguments. In the table below, match the words to the way they are organising ideas.

In December
Even if

Activity 5

Some of the sentences behave a little differently from the others. Look at the two examples below which start with Although and Even if. What is special about these two sentences?

  1. Although a heart disease, myocarditis, may be caused by the vaccine, it is extremely rare.
  2. Even if this does not seem to make sense, (...) it is the correct decision to make jabs available to 5-11 year-olds.

Look carefully at the structure of the sentences. How many Subjects and main verbs are there in each one?

These two are both multi-clause sentences, meaning they have more than one Subject and main verb. Words like Although and Even if are subordinating conjunctions. In both sentences, the second Subject is the pronoun it followed by the verb is.

  1. Although a heart disease, myocarditis, may be caused by the vaccine, it is extremely rare.
  2. Even if this does not seem to make sense, (...) it is the correct decision to make jabs available to 5-11 year-olds.

Activity 6

Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 provide distinct arguments that back up the thesis statement. What is the main argument or idea of each paragraph? The topic sentence should tell you!

Thesis: It is correct to use the vaccine on children because of:

Disruption to education

The safety of the vaccine

Reduction of health risks

Read paragraph 5 again. What is the job of this paragraph? Why does it start with the word However?

To show counter-arguments which go against the thesis statement

Why would the author include a paragraph like this?

To show the writer has considered both sides of the argument

So far, we have looked at how discourse structure is used to make a well-organised and convincing essay

What were the main discourse features we looked at in this lesson?

Introduction, main body & conclusion paragraphs, Thesis statement, Topic sentence with adverbials, Counter-argument paragraph


In the next part of this lesson, we will look at register and language features and see how the author uses language to write a persuasive and informative essay.

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