Friday, 30 March 2012

Writing Argumentative Essays on Social Issues

Social issues are issues related to experiences, problems, challenges, crisis, dilemmas and struggles that people face in their society. Some social issues are quite common, because they are a part of or a result  of  cultural practices while others  are more "contemporary" and "temporal"due to the changing social economic factors happening in the society. 

Some social issues can be quite controversial and sensitive for casual discussion. But they make us think about issues around us, about life and problems. They also challenge students' creative and critical thinking skills.  As a results, social issues are often used as stimulus for writing tasks in examinations all over the world. 

People always think that writing about social issues is easy as the angle and the scope of discussion is more liberal if compared to other more rigid types of writing tasks. However, you need certain skills to write good argumentative essays on social issue topics. 

Here are some popular social issue topics that often come out in upper secondary examination ( Based on MUET, Malaysia and IELT, International Examination):

1. Women make better parents than men. What do you think of this statement? Discuss.

2. Education is the most important factor in the development of a country? What do you think of this statement? Discuss.

3. Friendship is the most important thing in life. Do you agree? Discuss.

4. Money is the root of all evil. Do you agree? Discuss.

5. People who are responsible for causing fatal road accidents must be sent to jail. Do you agree? Discuss.

6. Sex education must be taught in school. Do you agree? Discuss.

7. If children behave badly parents should be blamed. Do you agree? Discuss.

8. Youths are the greatest asset of a country. What do you think of this statement? Discuss.

Here are some tips that I often share with my students:

1. Read the situation carefully.
2. Identify the key words and the task.
3. Decide on a stand.
-this is where you choose either to support (agree) or  to oppose (disagree with) the statement.

4. Think about why you choose that particular stand. Come up with strong reasons.
Topic: Women make better parents than men. What do you think of this statement? Discuss.

Stand: I think women do make better parents than men.
 Why: Well, generally women just seem to make better parents than men and there are reasons to support this such as women are naturally more caring and nurturing than men, women spend more time with their children if compared to men, women share a strong biological bond with their children and men can never reach the depth of closeness that women could have with their children. 

5. Draft the introduction and the thesis statement. 
-There are many ways to write the introduction. It doesn't have to be long, 3 to 5 sentences would suffice.
You can use situation or opinion style to write your introduction.

Sample: Using Situation Introduction

Parenting is a challenging job and many parents struggle to be good parents. Some people think that women make better parents than men while there are also people who think that men can be great parents too. In my opinion, I also think that women make better parents than men. This essay will outline 4 reasons why women make better parents than men. 

6. Support the introduction and the thesis statement using explanation and further elaboration. Add in some relevant examples too.

7. Whatever you do, make sure the discuss the issue by providing pros and cons instead of merely describing it. After all you should be writing an argumentative essay. One way to develop  a sense of argumentativeness in your essay is by :
-acknowledging what others might think about the topic and then to prove why you are taking the opposite stance on the topic. For example: Women make better parents than men. What do you think of this statement? Discuss.

" While some people might  think than men can make great parents too but these men are just a few exceptions. In general, women are just better than men at being parents to children. Even the legal system of most countries in the world acknowledged this fact by awarding most custody rights to the mothers in most divorce cases. This is because women are perceived by most people are the best persons to be the guardian and parents to their children.".

8. Develop each paragraph with enough explanation and elaboration. Keep writing , add  in details and examples until you run out of ideas.

9. Write a simple conclusion.

9. Finally, read your essay as a whole, read it to yourself (aloud, if you are at home or silently, if you are in the exam room). Make sure the essay flows smoothly. If you are happy with what you have written or when the exam time is over, pass your essay for grading. :-)

I hope the tips above can help you with your writing. All the best from me.
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