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Building Up a Thesis Statement

by Fulya İçöz Narlı | 08 Jun 2021
Resource Description: This is a part of essay writing exercises that I developed for my ENG 101 classes. 
Audience: Adult, Secondary, University
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced, Intermediate
Duration: 50-60 mins
Materials and Technology:

Materials created by the instructor


To elicit ideas, check knowledge of essay writing, and build up coherent thesis statements 


Students should be able to write coherent thesis statements.

Activity Description:

The activity will:

-focus on essay writing – coherent thesis statements

-look at do’s and don’ts of writing thesis statements

-improve pair / group work


01. Prepare (5 minutes)

The activity starts with an essay question. This can be changed to suit the teaching context. In our ENG 101 lessons, we start with the theme of education and we want our students to develop essays on this theme.

02.Guided practice (25-30 minutes)

It is followed by a pair work activity.  Students are expected to discuss the questions given. It leads to a solo activity for a mind map for the problems of education. Afterwards, students come back together again to find solutions to the problems in pairs / groups.

The next step focuses on the form of thesis statements. Students learn / revise the fundamentals of producing main ideas for a thesis and having a controlling idea as well.

The next exercise is a controlled thesis statement exercise. Students try to find the errors in given sentences and explain why they are wrong in groups and then in plenary.

Example questions:

“Focus on the first sentence. Is it a proper thesis statement? Why / why not?”

03. Practice ( 10-15  minutes)

This is followed by producing thesis statements answering the original question asked at the beginning. They use their notes in brainstorming exercises.

04. Closure (15 minutes)

Provide students with a checklist and engage them in a peer review of their thesis statements




Boardman, Cynthia & Jia Frydenberg. Writing to Communicate 2. NY: Pearson, 2008.

Fava-Verde, Amanda. Essay Writing.  Reading: Garnet, 2015.

Folse, Keith et al. Great Essays. NY: Heinle, 2010.

Folse, Keith & Tison Pugh. Great Writing. Boston: National Geographic, 2015.


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TESOL Interest Section: English as a Foreign Language, English for Specific Purposes, Higher Education, Materials Writers, Second Language Writing