Learn English Writing
Most ESL students learning to write an English passage have a hard time understanding the purpose of a thesis statement.
Here’s a simple approach: one thesis sentence pattern suitable for intermediate+ level students.
Part 1. What’s a Thesis?
A thesis has a few important features:
- usually one sentence
- tells the reader the main idea
- is the focus of the essay or story
Everything in the story, passage or essay explains and proves the thesis. If someone asks what your essay is about, the best answer is to say the thesis.
Bad Thesis Examples
I asked a group of students to write an essay. The subject was poverty. I gave them a question to start their thinking:
- What is the best way to stop poverty?
Their job was to write the introduction paragraph with a clear thesis sentence. Here are some of their answers.
- “My essay is about poor people.”
- “My essay is about Iran.”
Well, none of these answers are good.
Part 2. How to Write a Thesis Statement
Here is a four-step process to write a thesis sentence using the above example about poverty.
First, choose a narrow topic. Poverty is a big idea. Be specific. So let’s pick an area. Poor villages in Africa is a good start.
Second, find the key parts of the topic. In this case, the question is, “What is the best way to stop poverty in a poor African village?” There are two parts in the question:
- a) stop poverty and b) the best way.
Third, change the two parts into two questions. Here is an example:
- a) how can we stop poverty in a poor African village? and b) why is it the best way?
Fourth, create a thesis by answering each of these questions in one sentence. I suggest a sentence pattern like this:
- HOW (your idea about what to do) because WHY (the benefit or reason)
Two possible thesis sentences:
- Donating money to World Vision is a great way to stop poverty in poor African villages because this organization helps children by giving them food, clothing and shelter.
- Helping people in poor African villages start their own businesses is a good way to stop poverty because it builds independence, creates wealth that stays in the local communities and reduces their need for donations from charities.
In each thesis sentence, we have described two parts:
- the way to stop poverty
- why it is a good idea
Part 3 Practice the Sentence Pattern
Here are a few practice questions. Download the worksheet here and try writing some thesis sentences.
Ask students to chose one of the thesis sentences from the worksheet and write a 3 to 5 paragraph essay or story.
Part 4. More Practice
Another writing activity to apply this knowledge. Here’s the task.
- Watch the video below.
- Work with a partner to brainstorm a thesis. Use the sentence pattern described above.
- Think about reasons, evidence and details.
- Make notes.
- Individually, write a 1 to 2 page story or essay with a clear thesis plus reasons, examples and details.
- Be sure to include a paragraph or two which describes your response. Do you agree with the thesis in the video?
blind from YUKIHIRO SHODA on Vimeo.
a Decade from Treehouse Studio on Vimeo.
Most Shocking Second A Day Video
How to start an essay
While essay writing is important in and outside schools the standards of writing are low that some students do not know how to start and tackle the essay. As one learns how to start an essay on poverty they need to establish the context and use the appropriate tone. The writer informs the readers what the essay addresses and this is framed within a context. Poverty refers to the state of people having low income, wealth and being unable to meet basic necessities. Poor people tend to be the lowest earners. Furthermore, poor people lack proper housing, medical services, and schooling as it is more expensive to pay for them. Measures to assess poverty have focused on income and consumption levels and states have different poverty lines depending on the standards of living. Poverty levels are closely tied to socioeconomic variables as there is a lack of adequate income.
How to write body paragraphs for essay on poverty
In the body paragraphs, the writer further explores the topic by elaborating on the main ideas and topic sentences. The supporting ideas are then written followed by elaboration, and this includes using textual evidence to support the ideas or claims made. For instance, when writing about the impact of unemployment on poverty, the students need to elaborate on the link between the two. Unemployed people are at higher risk of falling into poverty if they no other sources of income like investments. Families without regular sources of income have higher poverty levels, and this is both for the urban and rural residents. The decline in automotive and mining industries in the U.S. has increased poverty among individuals and families that previously received higher incomes and job skills in these industries are not transferable.
One needs to highlight how efforts to fight poverty have been effective or ineffective and the underlying reasons for this. Demographics have a profound impact on the people’s socioeconomic status. If you point out that two-parent families are less likely to live in poverty compared to single-parent families this is backed by census statistics. Income inequality affects poverty rates more than people care to admit, as two-parent families have higher incomes as both parents contribute. Even as poverty rates in the U.S have fallen over decades, progress is uneven as single-parent and minority families are more likely to live in poverty.
Like any other essay, it is important to plan prior to the writing process where you set goals for yourself and tackle the topic. For the poverty essay requirements this includes searching for information on poverty and planning ahead is important since if you do not have the appropriate information, the essay will be unconvincing. You need to ask yourself whether you fully understand the topic and whether you need outside sources to complete the writing. One could use personal experiences and personal opinions to raise valid points on poverty, but if there is evidence backing the claims this makes the writing stronger.
Many of the economic policies have not worked since those the number of those living in abject poverty is still high. Those with low paying jobs also have low work flexibility, but this has largely been ignored in research on poverty. This is further worsened by the number of workers stuck in low paying jobs. The authors need to evaluate how this derails efforts to combat poverty. This is because improving skills require long term solutions, and improved productivity is one of the factors that result in increased pay. For us to address the problem of poverty, then we need to identify effective policies that will spur growth and increased employment. Each country is unique, and in the case of China, the leaders have focused on manufacturing as the nation has low labor costs, abundant labor and a rapidly developing industrial production.
There are various factors that influence poverty levels, including the social, political and economic factors. Hence, the students need to identify the cause-effect relationships that explain poverty and impact on their physical, social and mental wellbeing. Factors like concentrated poverty make it difficult for individuals to improve their economic well being. While upward mobility and higher incomes indicate reducing poverty, one needs to use statistics and data as evidence of changes in poverty levels. After writing the whole essay the writer needs to proofread the text to ensure that it is free from errors and is clear.
How to conclude an essay on poverty
One of the ways to conclude an essay is highlighting the future direction and implications while reiterating the main points of the essay. Low income pay and lack of skills or productivity are common factors among the poor and their situation worsened when there is family disintegration. Policymakers ought to identify the capacity to improve growth and development. Long-term solutions are more sustainable since those living in poverty are worse off economically and health wise. Poverty is a persistent problem in diverse societies, and the challenge is how to address the problem effectively and improve the greater well being.