Transcript of Writing essays video

This page contains the transcript for the 'Writing essays' video.

Narrator: Writing essays is a skill many of us have forgotten. Here are some reminders to help you and your child.

Jane Goddard: There are some really practical ways which a parent can help their child – it doesn't matter if they don't know the content themselves.

Alix Johnson: If they are writing essays, essays can be very overwhelming for students.

Parents can help children with their essay writing by organising their thoughts. To start with they need to discuss with their child, "What is the question and what is the question really asking?"

Lisa Tonkin: They need to carefully look at the questions they're being asked. The question should always have a key term – it's usually the first word of the question, it may be later, and they are things like explain, discuss, outline, analyse, identify.

Alix Johnson: Have a conversation around that and really nut out the key points and jot those key points down.

Ian James: In each examination the verbs actually ask a really specific thing.

For example, if they're asking you to evaluate, what they're really doing is asking you to make a judgement about something.

If on the other hand they're asking you to just name and define something, they're asking you to name it and explain what that thing is about.

But they are different things, so a student really needs to understand what the verb of the question is asking for them to do it and be successful at responding to that.

Lisa Tonkin: Circle the important words in the question and make sure you focus on what they're asking you to do, not what you want to do.

Alix Johnson: Essays follow a very specific formula.

Lisa Tonkin: Practise your essay structure, so that you're following the introduction, body and conclusion.

Alix Johnson: They start with an introduction that introduces everything that's going to be discussed in the essay that will follow.

Really make sure you're addressing "What is the question asking?" and put forward your response to it.

And just in very key, short sentences, the points that you're going to be discussing in your essay to support your answer.

Those key points form your introduction and each point starts a paragraph.

Lisa Tonkin: Topic sentences which introduce what each paragraph is going to be about.

Alix Johnson: In each paragraph you need to expand on that point, to elaborate and explain – and draw upon the text or the sources – why it is that you are putting forward this point of view or this argument.

Lisa Tonkin: Knowing your language features – so metaphor, simile, personification.

You have an example from your text, and then you explain the effect of using that language feature because authors don't use language features just to pad, they use it to have an effect on the audience, so it's important that the students understand that and it's got to relate back to that question.

Every idea is a new paragraph so that they don't end up with ginormous paragraphs. One idea one paragraph. Students should be learning that from primary school.

Then your conclusion needs to sum it all up, but you never include any new information because that shows you haven't planned.

Alix Johnson: So the introduction introduces all the points of an essay, and then each point is expanded on in the subsequent paragraphs and then all of those points are rounded up and brought together in the conclusion.

We say, essay writing:

  1. Introduction – say what you're going to say.
  2. Body – say it.
  3. Conclusion – say what you've said.

Alix Johnson: One thing that parents can do to help their children in high school is to proofread their homework.

By proofreading you'll not only help your child, and offer a sense of support, that can help them feel more confident with the work that they're then submitting, but it can really help inform the parent about where their child is at.

You get to learn more about their life in high school, as well as where they're at academically and ways that you can help them.

End of transcript.

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