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English Writing. Part 3: Thesis Focus. John E. Clayton Nanjing University, Spring, 2005. Please Turn In Your Homework. Journal 1 (name/student number/journal 1) Keep your essay for now. Syllabus. 03/02 Introduction; Overview; Writing a good paragraph

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English Writing

Part 3:

Thesis Focus

John E. Clayton

Nanjing University, Spring, 2005


Please Turn In Your Homework

Journal 1

(name/student number/journal 1)

Keep your essay for now



03/02 Introduction; Overview; Writing a good paragraph

03/09 Information Form; Essays – structure, thesis

03/16 Thesis Focus; Movie: Johnny Lingo Journal 1


03/30 Movie: Dave Journal 2


04/13 Journal 1

04/20 Mid-term exam

04/27 Business – letters, resumes, SOP Journal 2

05/04 Holiday

05/11 Journal 1


05/25 Journal 2


06/08 Final exam



  • E-mail:
  • Downloads:
  • JEC EW2S 1 – Introduction
  • JEC EW2S 1 – Introduction (smaller)
  • JEC EW2S 2 – Essay Structure

American Essay Style








Hand out:

Argumentative Essays for an American Audience


5 Paragraph Essay Structure

  • Introduction
  • Motivate and interest the reader
  • State your position - thesis
  • Tell a little more about what to expect
  • Body Paragraphs
  • Begin with a topic sentence
  • Explain, define, clarify the topic sentence with facts, examples, descriptions, etc.
  • End with a concluding sentence that draws the paragraph together
  • Conclusion
  • Say the thesis in a different way
  • “Grab” the reader, so he/she will not forget. Might include a prediction, a recommendation or a solution

Thesis – What’s the Big Deal?

American academic essays are usually "thesis-driven."

This means that you, as the writer, must explain the main pointof your essay at the start.

An academic essay is not a mystery novel - your reader does not want to figure out the plot or search for clues.


Writing Differences

The thesis-driven essay may be different from non-American writing forms, in which the thesis is often implied, delayed, or delivered at the end of the essay.

Consider the thesis statement a concise version of the entire essay, which usually appears in the introductory section of an essay. A thesis provides the reader with a "road map," clearly laying out the route ahead.


Writing Differences

Note that a thesis is an interpretation of a subject, not the subject itself.

For Example:

The subject of an essay might be Smoking, but the thesis must then offer a way to understand smoking that others might dispute.


Purpose of the Thesis

  • The thesis states:
  • - the goal of the argument
  • - the reasons to support the argument.
  • The essay must clarify or support your thesis.

Example 1

Subject: Smoking

Argument: Smoking is harmful, and should be banned

Primary goal:to ban smoking in public places.

Reasons:it’s dangerous, harmful and annoying.


“Smoking should be banned from public places, because it is dangerous, bad for health, and very annoying to other people.”


Example 2

Subject: Reading books

Argument: Books should remain a key resource for university students.

Primary goal:to encourage students to read more printed books.

Reasons:inexpensive, relaxing, always available.


“Even though we are bombarded with information today, we should continue to invest time reading old-fashioned paper books, because they are inexpensive, they can help us relax, and they won’t shut-down at 11:00pm.”


Example 3

Subject: Camping

Argument: A university club should be established to focus on outdoor activities, especially camping.

Primary goal:encourage the creation of a campus club to promote camping.

Reasons:healthy, relaxing, good use of time.


“Even though some people say the university should be for academics only, the university should establish a club to promote camping, because it is a healthy, relaxing activity that uses time wisely.”


Classroom Exercise

  • Get in a group with one or two others.
  • Find an argumentative topic on the handout.
  • Create a thesis statement as you saw in the examples:
    • Subject
    • Argument
    • Primary goal
    • Reasons
    • Thesis

Johnny Lingo


A South Pacific Island, early 20th century


Mahanna a young girl

Mo Key Mahanna's father

Johnny Lingo an famous island trader

Mr. Harris a shop keeper

Tulo the shop keeper's helper

A husband would bargain for his wife with her father, in cows – trying to pay as little as possible.


Homework Assignment

Think about “Johnny Lingo”, and the difference he made in Mahanna’s life, then:

Write the introductionparagraph only (including thesis statement)

to an essay entitled:

“I Can’t Change Someone

Else…or Can I?”