【明報專訊】As this column draws to an end, we will speed up matters and squeeze our discussion of the rest of the essay into a super-compressed space and time-frame.
First, we will be talking about the second argument paragraph. As we already know, it should be about the disadvantages. Here is an example:
These advantages, however, matter much less if compared with the disadvantages of streaming. (a1) The first disadvantage is the (c) detrimental (有危害的) effect on students' ability to work in teams. (b1) Every component that constitutes the fabric of our society — be it companies, government departments, or even families — is composed of people of different abilities, and training the next generation to feel comfortable only around those as smart as them — which streaming achieves — is bad education. (a2) The second disadvantage concerns the definition of ''ability''. (b2) It is a broad concept that encompasses a huge variety of attributes, something that has been borne out by Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Streaming, however, (c) predisposes (使易於) learners to the misconception that academic capabilities are the only (c) yardstick (準繩) to which their or their peers' worth is measured. Such a (c) myopic (短視的) view is harmful not only on a personal level, but also a social one.
As with the argument paragraph about the advantages, we need to include (a) a topic sentence, (b) arguments and examples in the argument paragraph about disadvantages. We also opt for c vocabulary of higher register to demonstrate our lexical resources.
Finally, it is the conclusion. What should we do here? Firstly, we have to summarise the points we have made in the essay in a different way. Secondly, we can offer some suggestion, prediction or observation as the closing sentence. What is important is that the conclusion should normally begin with the words (d) ''In conclusion''. You might find this somewhat regimented or formulaic, but this is what actually works. Here is an example:
(d) In conclusion, although streaming might enhance efficiency in classrooms, it makes students ill-prepared for a world that has always been an eclectic mixture of people of different strengths and weaknesses. I strongly believe that schools that still adopt the practice should abandon it in order to create an environment more reflective of the world where we live.
The key to success in writing the conclusion is the avoidance of repetition. As you can see, we state and briefly explain our position in the introduction, repeat it in the topic sentences, and summarise it again in the conclusion. This really puts the range of vocabulary to the test. In this example conclusion, we also offer a suggestion but stop at going further, since this is not too related to the question we have to deal with.
Terence Yip (葉凱楓) is passionate about English more than anything else. Never has he studied or worked in an English-speaking country, but he scored 8.5 in IELTS nevertheless, and is ceaselessly honing his skills as a test taker with the aspiration to score 9 someday.
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