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English Study Skills

English Overview

The 3 English lessons are meant to help students hone their essay-writing skills. The videos are ordered in a way that mirrors the writing process — outline, introduction/thesis, body paragraphs.

Outlining an Essay

Many students stubbornly refuse to outline their essays before they write, which results in rambling, summary-heavy body paragraphs. This lesson shows students why outlining helps them, and it walks them through a version of the outlining process. It anticipates the most common obstacles that students face, especially the pressure to quickly craft a thesis.

Lesson [9:32]

1. Understand the Task — reminders to stay on topic and to pay attention to any special requirements; examples of analysis, synthesis, and argumentative essay questions

2. Position vs. Thesis — gives students an easy goal as the first step; position is a simple, intuitive answer to the question; contrasts with thesis, which many struggle to write

3. Structure Your Essay — advice for building out a position and creating body paragraphs; emphasizes flexibility instead of rigidly sticking to the 5-paragraph format

4. Why We Outline — metaphor of outlining as an assembly line that breaks apart the writing process; summarizes the outlining steps

Worksheet — read the Gettysburg Address; identify rhetorical devices; outline a potential essay

Review 1 [25:47]

Review 2 [26:13]

Essay Introductions

Students often waste a lot of time trying to craft a great introduction, even though their time is better spent in the body paragraphs. This lesson clears up some common advice about introductions that often gets misapplied.

Lesson [5:09]

1. Do You Need a Hook? — a hook is not necessary for most situations, so focus on your thesis

2. Avoid Platitudes — don’t waste time with empty sentences about both sides of an issue; make your position clear

3. Personal Pronouns — don’t go out of your way to avoid “I”; clarity is more important

4. State Opinions as Facts — the easiest way to eliminate “I” is to eliminate “I think”

Worksheet — practice writing clearly by revising short pieces of introductions and evaluating two longer introduction paragraphs

Review [30:00]

Body Paragraphs

Students have a bad habit of including too much summary in their essays. They describe what they’ve read and use long quotations to fill out the page, without adding much of their own analysis. This lesson looks at these macro issues and also gives advice about smaller style issues. The goal is to make word choices easier so that students can focus more on the content of their sentences.

Lesson [10:34]

1. Summarizing — strike a balance between “what” and “why” sentences

2. Quotations — contrasts large block quotes with short fragments that are woven into the student’s sentences; explain “why” the quote matters

3. Word Choice — don’t force “smart” words; write like you talk; don’t go synonym hunting

4. Concision — short, clear sentences are preferable; choose simple, active verbs; you sound smarter without needing big words

Worksheet — practice writing clearly by revising short pieces of body paragraphs and evaluating one longer body paragraph and its source material

Review [35:36]