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Essay Writing Instructional Lexicon and Semantic Confusion
Contact Magazine
  • Amir Kalan, University of Dayton
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“Introduction,” “body,” and “conclusion” are the most accessible words in the instructional lexicon for ESL writing teachers when they want to describe the structure of a typical five-paragraph persuasive or argumentative essay or its shorter variations for standardized tests such as TOEFL and IELTS. They are frequently employed to refer to the three tiers of the hamburger essay in textbooks, on classroom boards, and in YouTube tutorials.

Not surprisingly, English learners also might give you the same words if asked what the main components of an essay are. Like ESL teachers, students usually use the same terms or their equivalents in their own languages to describe the skeleton of an essay.

However, I have learned from bitter experience that although ESL teachers and learners might use the same words to begin, develop, and end an essay, they usually refer to completely different concepts. As a result, I have disciplined myself to be extremely cautious when I address English learners and talk about the “introduction,” the “body,” and the “conclusion” of an essay. In fact I tell my students that in English essay writing the introduction is not actually an introduction, the conclusion is not a real conclusion, and the body of the essay is not what you have in mind at all. I beg them not to assume that we understand each other.

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TESL Ontario
Citation Information
Amir Kalan. "Essay Writing Instructional Lexicon and Semantic Confusion" Contact Magazine Vol. 38 Iss. 3 (2012)
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