Writing Argumentative Essays

Showing you are aware of both sides of the issue - questions

The text you have just studied on the previous page is an expanded version of the argumentative text on childcare that you studied in the previous section. It still has the same number of paragraphs but the paragraphs are all longer (except for the conclusion). Make sure you print a few copies of the text out before you complete the following tasks - you'll be writing on them when you complete the tasks.

If you need to return to the original copy of the text click here.

Task 1: The Main Premise
First we will look at paragraph 1: the introduction. In the previous version of this text paragraph 1 was made up of only one sentence. This sentence was the main premise. Now the paragraph is much longer but the main premise is still only one sentence. What is the main premise? Draw a circle around it and write Main Premise in the margin next to it

Check your answer here

Task 2: Paragraph Topics
Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 all cover different topics related to the issue of childcare. Describe the topic of each paragraph in four words or less and write the description in the margin next to each paragraph (The topic of paragraph 2 is: Effects on early learning)

Check your answer here

Task 3: Opposing Arguments and Supporting Arguments
Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 don't just contain arguments that support the main premise. They also contain arguments that oppose the main premise. It is important to include opposing arguments to show your reader that

1.you have considered both sides of the argument; and
2.you are able to anticipate and criticise any opposing arguments before they are even stated.

Draw a circle around the opposing arguments in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4. (They are in blocks of 1-3 sentences at the beginning of each paragraph). Then write "opposing arguments" in the margin next to each.

Check your answer here

Task 4: Problematising the Opposing Arguments
Its important that the reader knows that when you write opposing arguments you do not agree with them. You have to make it very clear that you are presenting these arguments only to show that you understand the issue from both sides, that you have anticipated the opposing arguments and wish to criticise them.

In order to signal this you need to use special phrases to problematise the opposing statements. (To problematise something means to make it seem like a problem, to make it seem untrue). We can problematise arguments by making them appear to be debatable opinions and not facts (see Debatable and non-debatable statements earlier in this unit) A common way to do this is to explicitly mark the statement as an argument.

Example (sentence 1, paragraph 2)

It has been argued that children who attend childcare centres at an early age miss out on important early learning that occurs in parent-child interaction.
By including the phrase "It has been argued that" in the above statement the writer is problematising the statement below:

Children who attend childcare centres at an early age miss out on important early learning that occurs in parent-child interaction.
When there is no problematising phrase, the statement appears non-debatable.The writer is presenting it as a fact.

Find the other problematising phrases in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of the text. They will all be in the areas of the paragraphs where the opposing arguments are located (i.e. in the first part of each paragraph). Draw a circle around them.

Check you answer here.

You can find more problematising phrases on the next page

Task 5: Shifting from Opposing Arguments to Supporting Arguments.
You can also signal the difference between opposing and supporting arguments by clearly marking the point in each paragraph where you shift from one to the other. You can use contrasting connectives to mark this point. The most common of these contrasting connectives is "However".

Find the point in each of paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 where the writer shifts from opposing arguments to supporting arguments. Draw a circle around the contrasting connective used to mark the point in each paragraph.

Check you answer here.

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