Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. Just Joined
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2018
    • Posts: 1
    #1

    Thoughts on Five-Paragraph Essays

    Hi,

    I would like to inform all English teachers about the consequences related to teaching the five-paragraph essay format and hopefully stop teachers from doing so. Although you might view the five-paragraph format as a starting place for students to learn how to structure their essays, it ends up hurting them more than helping them in the long run and there are much better alternatives.

    The major problem with the format is that the students get trapped using this structure for every single essay and don’t know how to structure their own work since it is the only strategy that they are taught. In both college and in the real world, 9/10 times your essay is going to need to be longer than 5 paragraphs. Since the students are only taught how to structure based on a template rather than the contents of their essay, they have no idea how to structure this new work and end up throwing paragraphs wherever they want which leads to confusing and unorganized writing.

    Along with that, making the students structure their work based off a template leaves nearly no room for tone in their essays. As all teachers who have read this structure of writing know, this makes their essays extremely boring to read and very repetitive. Nobody in the real world is going to read a piece of work that doesn't have any tone and bores them, so the fact that we are teaching students to write in such a way doesn’t make any sense.

    These are just a few of the problems related to teaching the five-paragraph format that can’t be resolved without getting rid of it and play key roles into why I believe that the five-paragraph format needs to stop being taught. English teachers should focus on teaching the students different structuring techniques instead. This will be much more beneficial for the students because it will teach them how to organize any piece of work that they create and will give them a much more natural writing style that following the five-paragraph format will never have.

    If you would like additional information on the effects of the five-paragraph format, you can visit any of these sites:

    [Hyperlinks removed]

    Please let me know if you have any comments or questions.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 27-Nov-2018 at 14:41. Reason: Removed unauthorised hyperlinks.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
    Moderator
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 47,291
    #2

    Re: Thoughts on Five-Paragraph Essays

    Welcome to the forum.

    Please don't use the forum to advertise products. I have deleted all the hyperlinks. If you want to help learners of English here, take part in the Ask A Teacher section and answer their questions.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 63,136
    #3

    Re: Thoughts on Five-Paragraph Essays

    Any formula has limitations. Essays are full of students overusing connectives. Reducing essays to a set number of paragraphs might help some, but will reduce others to cookie cutters.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 27-Nov-2018 at 19:04. Reason: Fixed typos

  4. Skrej's Avatar
    Key Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: May 2015
    • Posts: 2,914
    #4

    Re: Thoughts on Five-Paragraph Essays

    Ironically, you pretty much used the 5 paragraph format for your post.

    Teaching any sort of formulaic structure, even down to simple sentence patterns will eventually reach a limit of usefulness. However, it's a confidence booster to get them started writing (and speaking). They need a model to start with, then need to be shown ways to improvise on that base model.

    Some students are naturally more inquisitive and will proactively start trying to improvise variations, while others have to be prodded a bit to try something new. And of course there's occasionally that one you have to try and reign in a bit because they're trying verbal parkour without evening knowing how to walk a straight line, orally speaking.

    At some point in the learning process, I use a pattern or formula for pretty much any grammar point I introduce. Students start out literally plugging words into pattern until they get it internalized, then it's time to explore ways they can (and can't) improvise upon it.
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

  5. teechar's Avatar
    Moderator
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Iraq
      • Current Location:
      • Iraq

    • Join Date: Feb 2015
    • Posts: 7,660
    #5

    Re: Thoughts on Five-Paragraph Essays

    I greatly sympathize with that, especially given that many learners' interest in essay writing lies solely in passing the hurdle of IELTS, TOEFL or some similar test, which typically requires this monotonous, limited and limiting 4- or 5-paragraph structure.

  6. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 63,136
    #6

    Re: Thoughts on Five-Paragraph Essays

    And we are moving towards machine-assessed exams, including writing, which will make this worse.

  7. Newbie
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Oct 2018
    • Posts: 3
    #7

    Re: Thoughts on Five-Paragraph Essays

    Teach them the way of the 5 paragraph but... show them that there is more out there.

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] have written essays or have been writing essays
    By brianbrian in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 17-Jun-2016, 11:56
  2. (Paragraph Writing : Narrative Paragraph) The Worst Day in My Life
    By wasaloga in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 19-Dec-2013, 08:20
  3. [Grammar] Are you having second thoughts about this?
    By Ferdie11 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 14-Feb-2012, 11:06
  4. paragraph --Can you Please check this paragraph writing‎ -‏
    By soofy19 in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 13-Jun-2010, 14:43
  5. thoughts in italics, quotations and paragraph structure
    By Tybodger in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 29-May-2010, 11:40

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •