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Introduction to Academic Writing 2: Comparison and Contrast Essays. Wendy M. Gough St. Mary College/Nunoike Gaigo Senmon Gakko Nagoya, Japan. What are Comparison and Contrast Essays?.

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introduction to academic writing 2 comparison and contrast essays

Introduction to Academic Writing 2: Comparison and Contrast Essays

Wendy M. Gough

St. Mary College/Nunoike

Gaigo Senmon Gakko

Nagoya, Japan

what are comparison and contrast essays
What are Comparison and Contrast Essays?

Comparing things is something we do every day when we have to make decisions. For example, you might think of similarities or differences when we are buying a new MP3 player or choosing a place to study English.

You may need to evaluate two sides of an issue you have studied in a class or two proposals for research or projects at your workplace. In these cases, you will need to write an essay or report to discuss your ideas about the topic. This is a comparison and contrast essay.

comparison contrast essay organization
Comparison/Contrast Essay Organization

Like other types of essays, a comparison and contrast essay must have a clear introduction and conclusion.

The body of the essay can be organized many ways. We will look at two organizational styles.

Point by point organization

Block organization

the introduction
The Introduction

For both types of organization, the introduction is the same.

Presents the topic or subject that is being compared and contrasted in the topic sentence.

Gives some general information about the topic

Ends with a thesis statement that tells the reader specifically what will be compared and contrasted.

point by point organization
Point by Point Organization

The body paragraphs alternate between similarities and differences.

In a short essay, one body paragraph will explain the similarities between the two subjects and one paragraph will explain the differences.

In a longer essay, one paragraph will explain similarities between one main idea in the two subjects and one paragraph will deal with differences in the same main idea, and so on.

short essay organization
Short Essay Organization

Introduction

Similarities

Differences

Conclusion

longer essay organization
Longer Essay Organization

Introduction

Similarity #1

Difference #1

Similarity #2

Difference #2

Conclusion

block organization
Block Organization

In block organization, the body paragraphs first present the similarities in the two subjects. Then, in separate paragraphs, the differences are presented.

For the short essay, the organization is similar to Point by Point Organization.

For the longer essay, the body paragraphs first present the similarities as a set then, after a transition, present the differences as a separate set.

short essay organization9
Short Essay Organization

Introduction

Similarities

Differences

Conclusion

long essay organization
Long Essay Organization

Introduction

Similarity #1

Similarity #2

Transition

Difference #1

Difference #2

Conclusion

the conclusion
The Conclusion

For both types of comparison and contrast essay, the conclusion is the same.

Restate the topic

Restate or summarize the similarities and differences between the two topics

Give your opinion or feeling about the topic make a prediction, or explain the results

a short essay
A Short Essay

Point by Point or Block Organization

From page 116 in Effective Academic Writing 2: The Short Essay

slide14

There are two places that have had a profound impact on my life. One of them is New York City, and the other is Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. When you compare them, they seem like dramatically different places, but they have some things in common, and I love them both.

There are many reasons why New York seems like my home away from home. Both cities are striking and distinctive. For example, each has its own nickname. Everyone knows New York is “the Big Apple.” Quetzaltenango is known as “Xela” (pronounced (shey-la), which is a lot easier to say! Second, both cities have a “Central Park” where people like to go and walk. Although Central Park in Xela is smaller, its tropical flowers and colonial architecture mean it is just as beautiful as New York’s. Furthermore, when you walk around Xela, you find many tourists and people from other countries, just like New York. For me, this means conversations in Xela are just as interesting as conversations in New York.

slide15

Despite their similarities, these cities are different. Life in Xela is more colorful and the pace of life is slower. For this reason, whenever I return to Xela, it is like an escape. When I arrive, the first thing I notice is the color. In New York, many people wear black to be stylish, but in Xela stylish clothing is the rainbow-colored clothing of the indigenous people. And because Xela is smaller, the beautiful green mountains outside the city are always visible. The second thing I notice is the pace of life. They say New York never sleeps, and it must be true, because I always see people walking and cars on the streets even late at night. In the evening, my Guatemalan city definitely sleeps. Some younger people go out dancing and some families take a walk in the city’s Central Park, but by ten o’clock the streets are pretty deserted. On the other hand, New Yorkers are often in such a hurry, they don’t even stop to eat. For breakfast they buy food on the street, and eat it while they are walking or on the subway. At lunch they order food from work and eat at their desks. In Xela people eat their breakfast at home and most come home from work for a much more relaxed and longer lunch.

slide16

In conclusion, these are two cities I love. For me, both are home, are unique, and are filled with interesting people. These places represent the best of both worlds. New York is more hurried and rushed when I need energy, and Xela gives me a slower pace when I need to relax. Together they keep me balanced.

the introduction17
The Introduction

There are two places that have had a profound impact on my life. One of them is New York City, and the other is Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. When you compare them, they seem like dramatically different places, but they have some things in common, and I love them both.

Introduces the topic and general information

The specific things that will be compared. It also gives the writer’s opinion about the topic

slide18

Introduces the similarities with general statements

There are many reasons why New York seems like my home away from home. Both cities are striking and distinctive. For example, each has its own nickname. Everyone knows New York is “the Big Apple.” Quetzaltenango is known as “Xela” (pronounced (shey-la), which is a lot easier to say! Second, both cities have a “Central Park” where people like to go and walk. Although Central Park in Xela is smaller, its tropical flowers and colonial architecture mean it is just as beautiful as New York’s. Furthermore, when you walk around Xela, you find many tourists and people from other countries, just like New York. For me, this means conversations in Xela are just as interesting as conversations in New York.

Examples of similarities between the two cities explain why the writer likes the two cities

slide19

Despite their similarities, these cities are different. Life in Xela is more colorful and the pace of life is slower. For this reason, whenever I return to Xela, it is like an escape. When I arrive, the first thing I notice is the color. In New York, many people wear black to be stylish, but in Xela stylish clothing is the rainbow-colored clothing of the indigenous people. And because Xela is smaller, the beautiful green mountains outside the city are always visible. The second thing I notice is the pace of life.

Introduces the differences

Specific examples of the differences

slide20

They say New York never sleeps, and it must be true, because I always see people walking and cars on the streets even late at night. In the evening, my Guatemalan city definitely sleeps. Some younger people go out dancing and some families take a walk in the city’s Central Park, but by ten o’clock the streets are pretty deserted. On the other hand, New Yorkers are often in such a hurry, they don’t even stop to eat. For breakfast they buy food on the street, and eat it while they are walking or on the subway. At lunch they order food from work and eat at their desks. In Xela people eat their breakfast at home and most come home from work for a much more relaxed and longer lunch.

More specific examples of the differences

slide21

Restates the topic and main ideas

In conclusion, these are two cities I love. For me, both are home, are unique, and are filled with interesting people. These places represent the best of both worlds. New York is more hurried and rushed when I need energy, and Xela gives me a slower pace when I need to relax. Together they keep me balanced.

The Writer’s opinion

A final thought about the topic

slide22

Notice that the introduction introduces the topic clearly and does not give too many details. It also clearly states the writer’s opinion about the topic.

In the body paragraphs, the similarities and differences are put together logically. For example, the nicknames of each city are discussed before the next similarity is brought up. The colors in each city are discussed before another difference is brought up, etc.

The conclusion restates the information presented in the introduction in different words but does not bring in new ideas about the topic.

a longer essay
A Longer Essay

Block Organization

From pages 193-5 in Introduction to Academic Writing: Second Edition

slide24

A nation’s purpose in educating its children is to prepare them to become productive members of society. Each country in the world has developed a system of education based on its needs, economic resources, and traditions. One would think that industrial societies such as the United States and the countries of Europe would have similar systems for educating their children. However, a comparison of school systems in Europe and the United States reveals several similarities but a greater number of differences.

The educational systems of Europe and the United States are similar in a number of ways. To begin with, elementary school classes look the same everywhere: There are about twenty to twenty-two pupils per class, and the classes are coeducational. Also, there is one teacher for all subjects for each grade (except in Scandinavia), and the majority of elementary school teachers are women. In addition, the subjects taught at the elementary level are basically the same everywhere: reading and writing, mathematics, introductions to the sciences, music, sports, and art. The only major difference in the elementary curriculum is that most Europeans study a foreign language in elementary school, but most America children do not.

slide25

Second, European and American students spend approximately the same number of years in school. Both the United States and most European countries require children to attend school for at least nine or ten years. Germany and Belgium have the highest requirement: twelve years of education. Also, children in most countries start compulsory schooling at a similar age, usually age six, and they may leave school at a similar age, usually sixteen.

Despite these similarities, the educational systems differ greatly in several areas. For example, the number of hours per year that children must attend school varies widely. The number of hours students must spend per day in high school ranges from a low of five in Belgium to a high of eight in parts of Hungary and Turkey. Some countries require a half-day of school, whereas others require a full day. In addition, the number of days per year that students must be in school differs. Austria requires 237 days of school per year, while Spain and Hungary require only 170. That is a difference of more than two months!

slide26

Another major difference is the types of schools available. In the countries of Northern Europe, there is no division between elementary and secondary school; school just flows from the first day of first grade until the end of compulsory schooling at age sixteen. However, in the United States, school is divided in to nine years of elementary and four years of secondary education. Furthermore, some countries require students to make a choice between academic preparatory and vocational training schools. In Germany, pupils must make this decision as early as age ten. In the United States, in contrast, they never have to make it. Anyone in the United States who graduates from high school has the opportunity to go on to a college or university.

In addition to the differences in academic and vocational schools, there are also differences in private schools. In France, Spain, Belgium, and Austria, most private schools are religious, but in most other countries, they are not. Also, in most of Europe, the government pays part of the cost of private schools: 70 percent in Hungary, 80 percent in Denmark and Austria, and 85 percent in Norway. In contrast, parents must pay the full cost in Britain, Greece, Turkey, and the United States if they want their children to attend a private school.

slide27

A final major difference between Europe and the United States is in the number of students who go on to higher education. In the United States, over 50 percent of high school graduates enter a college or university. In contrast, fewer than 15 percent of British students do so. The European average is about 30 to 40 percent.

It is clear that the experience of schoolchildren varies from country to country. Even though the United States and the countries of Europe seem very similar in many ways, their educational systems are actually quite different. No one can say if one system is better than another system, for each one fits its own needs, economies, and traditions best.

slide28

A nation’s purpose in educating its children is to prepare them to become productive members of society. Each country in the world has developed a system of education based on its needs, economic resources, and traditions. One would think that industrial societies such as the United States and the countries of Europe would have similar systems for educating their children. However, a comparison of school systems in Europe and the United States reveals several similarities but a greater number of differences.

Introduces the topic

General information about the topic and introduction of the comparison

Introduces the specific comparison

slide29

The educational systems of Europe and the United States are similar in a number of ways. To begin with, elementary school classes look the same everywhere: There are about twenty to twenty-two pupils per class, and the classes are coeducational. Also, there is one teacher for all subjects for each grade (except in Scandinavia), and the majority of elementary school teachers are women. In addition, the subjects taught at the elementary level are basically the same everywhere: reading and writing, mathematics, introductions to the sciences, music, sports, and art. The only major difference in the elementary curriculum is that most Europeans study a foreign language in elementary school, but most America children do not.

First similarity is introduced

Details and examples about the similarity show comparison between Europe and the United States

slide30

Introduces the second similarity

Second, European and American students spend approximately the same number of years in school. Both the United States and most European countries require children to attend school for at least nine or ten years. Germany and Belgium have the highest requirement: twelve years of education. Also, children in most countries start compulsory schooling at a similar age, usually age six, and they may leave school at a similar age, usually sixteen.

Details and examples to explain the similarity and show the comparison

slide31

Despite these similarities, the educational systems differ greatly in several areas. For example, the number of hours per year that children must attend school varies widely. The number of hours students must spend per day in high school ranges from a low of five in Belgium to a high of eight in parts of Hungary and Turkey. Some countries require a half-day of school, whereas others require a full day. In addition, the number of days per year that students must be in school differs. Austria requires 237 days of school per year, while Spain and Hungary require only 170. That is a difference of more than two months!

Transition tells the reader that differences will now be discussed.

The first difference is introduced and explained with specific details and examples

slide32

Another major difference is the types of schools available. In the countries of Northern Europe, there is no division between elementary and secondary school; school just flows from the first day of first grade until the end of compulsory schooling at age sixteen. However, in the United States, school is divided in to nine years of elementary and four years of secondary education. Furthermore, some countries require students to make a choice between academic preparatory and vocational training schools. In Germany, pupils must make this decision as early as age ten. In the United States, in contrast, they never have to make it. Anyone in the United States who graduates from high school has the opportunity to go on to a college or university.

The next difference is introduced

Details and specific examples show the contrast

slide33

In addition to the differences in academic and vocational schools, there are also differences in private schools. In France, Spain, Belgium, and Austria, most private schools are religious, but in most other countries, they are not. Also, in most of Europe, the government pays part of the cost of private schools: 70 percent in Hungary, 80 percent in Denmark and Austria, and 85 percent in Norway. In contrast, parents must pay the full cost in Britain, Greece, Turkey, and the United States if they want their children to attend a private school.

The next difference is introduced and explained

slide34

A final major difference between Europe and the United States is in the number of students who go on to higher education. In the United States, over 50 percent of high school graduates enter a college or university. In contrast, fewer than 15 percent of British students do so. The European average is about 30 to 40 percent.

The last difference

slide35

It is clear that the experience of schoolchildren varies from country to country. Even though the United States and the countries of Europe seem very similar in many ways, their educational systems are actually quite different. No one can say if one system is better than another system, for each one fits its own needs, economies, and traditions best.

The conclusion restates the topic, what is being compared and the main idea.

a longer essay36
A Longer Essay

Point by Point Organization

Adapted from pages 193-5 in Introduction to Academic Writing: Second Edition

slide37

A nation’s purpose in educating its children is to prepare them to become productive members of society. Each country in the world has developed a system of education based on its needs, economic resources, and traditions. One would think that industrial societies such as the United States and the countries of Europe would have similar systems for educating their children. However, a comparison of school systems in Europe and the United States reveals several similarities but a greater number of differences.

One way the educational systems of Europe and the United States are similar is the elementary school system. Elementary school classes look the same everywhere: There are about twenty to twenty-two pupils per class, and the classes are coeducational. Also, there is one teacher for all subjects for each grade (except in Scandinavia), and the majority of elementary school teachers are women. In addition, the subjects taught at the elementary level are basically the same everywhere: reading and writing, mathematics, introductions to the sciences, music, sports, and art. The only major difference in the elementary curriculum is that most Europeans study a foreign language in elementary school, but most America children do not.

slide38

While the elementary school systems in Europe and the United States are similar, there are differences in the types of schools available. In the countries of Northern Europe, there is no division between elementary and secondary school; school just flows from the first day of first grade until the end of compulsory schooling at age sixteen. However, in the United States, school is divided in to nine years of elementary and four years of secondary education. Furthermore, some countries require students to make a choice between academic preparatory and vocational training schools. In Germany, pupils must make this decision as early as age ten. In the United States, in contrast, they never have to make it. Anyone in the United States who graduates from high school has the opportunity to go on to a college or university.

Even though European and American schools vary in the types of instruction children receive, students spend approximately the same number of years in school in both places. Both the United States and most European countries require children to attend school for at least nine or ten years. Germany and Belgium have the highest requirement: twelve years of education. Also, children in most countries start compulsory schooling at a similar age, usually age six, and they may leave school at a similar age, usually sixteen.

slide39

Despite spending abut the same number of years in school, the number of hours per year that children must attend school varies widely. The number of hours students must spend per day in high school ranges from a low of five in Belgium to a high of eight in parts of Hungary and Turkey. Some countries require a half-day of school, whereas others require a full day. In addition, the number of days per year that students must be in school differs. Austria requires 237 days of school per year, while Spain and Hungary require only 170. That is a difference of more than two months!

It is clear that the experience of schoolchildren varies from country to country. Even though the United States and the countries of Europe seem very similar in many ways, their educational systems are actually quite different. No one can say if one system is better than another system, for each one fits its own needs, economies, and traditions best.

slide40

A nation’s purpose in educating its children is to prepare them to become productive members of society. Each country in the world has developed a system of education based on its needs, economic resources, and traditions. One would think that industrial societies such as the United States and the countries of Europe would have similar systems for educating their children. However, a comparison of school systems in Europe and the United States reveals several similarities but a greater number of differences.

The introduction is the same as the introduction in the Block Organization

slide41

One way the educational systems of Europe and the United States are similar is the elementary school system. Elementary school classes look the same everywhere: There are about twenty to twenty-two pupils per class, and the classes are coeducational. Also, there is one teacher for all subjects for each grade (except in Scandinavia), and the majority of elementary school teachers are women. In addition, the subjects taught at the elementary level are basically the same everywhere: reading and writing, mathematics, introductions to the sciences, music, sports, and art. The only major difference in the elementary curriculum is that most Europeans study a foreign language in elementary school, but most America children do not.

The first similarity is introduced and explained with specific details and examples

slide42

While the elementary school systems in Europe and the United States are similar, there are differences in the types of schools available. In the countries of Northern Europe, there is no division between elementary and secondary school; school just flows from the first day of first grade until the end of compulsory schooling at age sixteen. However, in the United States, school is divided in to nine years of elementary and four years of secondary education. Furthermore, some countries require students to make a choice between academic preparatory and vocational training schools. In Germany, pupils must make this decision as early as age ten. In the United States, in contrast, they never have to make it. Anyone in the United States who graduates from high school has the opportunity to go on to a college or university.

The first difference is introduced and explained. Notice the topic is related to the topic of the first similarity.

slide43

Even though European and American schools vary in the types of instruction children receive, students spend approximately the same number of years in school in both places. Both the United States and most European countries require children to attend school for at least nine or ten years. Germany and Belgium have the highest requirement: twelve years of education. Also, children in most countries start compulsory schooling at a similar age, usually age six, and they may leave school at a similar age, usually sixteen.

The second similarity is introduced and explained

slide44

Despite spending abut the same number of years in school, the number of hours per year that children must attend school varies widely. The number of hours students must spend per day in high school ranges from a low of five in Belgium to a high of eight in parts of Hungary and Turkey. Some countries require a half-day of school, whereas others require a full day. In addition, the number of days per year that students must be in school differs. Austria requires 237 days of school per year, while Spain and Hungary require only 170. That is a difference of more than two months!

The second difference is introduced and explained. Once again, notice that the topic is related to the topic of the previous paragraph.

slide45

It is clear that the experience of schoolchildren varies from country to country. Even though the United States and the countries of Europe seem very similar in many ways, their educational systems are actually quite different. No one can say if one system is better than another system, for each one fits its own needs, economies, and traditions best.

The conclusion is the same as the Block Organization essay.

references
References

Oshima, A. & Hogue, A. Introduction to Academic Writing: Second Ed. New York, USA. Addison Wesley Longman, 1997.

Savage, A. & Mayer, P. Effective Academic Writing 2: The Short Essay. New York, USA. Oxford, 2005.