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Writing Descriptive Essays

A good descriptive essay describes the content so well that it brings out the five senses; smell, touch, sight, taste and hearing.  To achieve that, students must readily be equipped with fantastic descriptive phrases to facilitate their writing.  These phrases are most easily adapted from novels or narrative texts.

I have collected a list of such phrases from books and narrative writings that I have come across.  For students who are attempting descriptive essays or those preparing their PSLE, these phrases will be very useful to incorporate in your essay.

Descriptive phrases

  1. Multitudinous stirring of leaves

Describes how the leaves move, before an impending storm or when the wind blows 

2. Trees swayed and strained

Describes how strong the wind is that trees are almost uprooted

3. Wind howled like a crying banshee

Describes the blowing of the wind to that of a howling ghost to emphasize creepiness

4. Air screamed as though it was packed with attacking demons

Describes the forceful nature of wind

5. Pelting down bullets of rain

Describes a heavy rainfall

6. Roofs of houses peeled away

Describe the destructive nature of a hurricane or tornado

7. Parting traffic like a knife

Describe how a vehicle, most likely an ambulance, navigates through heavy traffic during an emergency

8. Eyes dilated in terror

Describes a terrified look of a person

9. A spasm of terror ran through him

Describes how a person is overwhelmed by terror

10. Eyes crinkled up in a wide smile

Describes how a person’s face brightens up in joy

11. A mounting pressure of tears

Describes how a person is overwhelmed with emotions 

12. Heart hammering in my chest

Describes the forceful beating of the heart

13. Body glistened with sweat

Describes the texture of the skin moist with sweat

14. Face tight with pain

Describes the expression of a person in pain

15. Heart leapt to my mouth

Describes how a person is so suddenly shocked

16. Multitude of colours

Describes a variety of colours

A brand new decade!

Happy New Year to all!

To some students, this year marks another milestone in their education journey; a new environment in a junior college or polytechnic.  And to some, the year marks a new beginning to a more rigorous upper secondary curriculum while some, will have a taste of life as a secondary school student.  

Whatever this year means to you, never stop believing in your dreams.  Continue to hold it dear to your heart and know it will manifest some some day, really.

If you notice, my website has a brand new look!  The new website would not have been possible without the hard work of my dearest wife, Aihui.  She literally had to pull her hair out to iron out some of the thorny issues.  No amount of words can thank her enough for her grit in getting the new website ready.  Still, I want to thank her from the bottom of my 

Paper 1 final component – Editing

11 October 2019

This month I would like to share the final component in Paper 1 which is Editing.  A lot of students attempt the Editing based on “gut feel” or by “trial and error”.  Most times, many are disappointed by their scores.

In fact, it is just a simple technique to follow in order to ace the Editing – look for the 7 types of errors in the text:

  1. Grammar – referring to subject verb agreement, tenses etc

Example: The child may become greedy and expects more toys – expect

  1. Preposition – such as in, on, under, through etc

Example: I am now travelling in the bus – on 

  1. Word form – any word can come in 4 different forms; noun, verb, adjective and adverb   

This is a beautiful (noun) crafted piece of work – beautifully (adverb) 

  1. Pronoun – such as it, he, they, ourselves, their etc

Example: The dog is trained to walk home by himself – itself

  1. 5W 1H – (who, what, where, when, why, how)

Example: This is the park when I will go to unwind – where

  1. Conjunction – a word that connects the whole sentence such that it makes sense

Example: Fried food is unhealthy and many people still love it – yet

  1.   Article – (a, an, the)

Some students are still unclear when to change from “a’’ to “the” and vice versa.  “A” is used when it refers to things in general and “the” refers to something more specific.
The school is an institution where students attend to gain knowledge – A
Singapore is a small country.  A country is known for its strict laws – The

Handling Situational Writing

20 September 2019

The English O-level Paper 1 begins next month.  There are still students who are unclear about the Situational Writing format.  Hence, I would like to take this chance to share with everyone the different types of situational writing and the correct format.

You may download and look the the corresponding format.

English O-level Oral Exam

12 August 2019

The English O-level oral exams starts from from tomorrow until the next two weeks.  I always tell students that the oral exam is the easiest to score.  

For Reading, just be mindful of words that appear before vowels.  Pause whenever there is a comma and full stop.  Do NOT rush through your reading.  Finally, there are commonly mispronounced words that you may counter.  I would like to share some of these words.

For Spoken Interaction, when presented with a visual stimulus (picture), link it to a theme.  The O-level oral is based on a thematic approach.  For example, if you see a picture of children playing at a playground, the discussion would most likely be centred on childhood, play, outdoor fun etc.  Examiners are NOT there to assess how intelligent your ANSWERS are.  Rather, what is important is how relaxed and confident you are.  Are you able to hold a conversation relating to the topic?  Remember, it’s best to share your personal experiences as it helps to keep the conversation going and it’s uniquely yours!  When you are sharing, don’t forget your grammar!

For those who would like to have more practice and tips on tackling the exams, you may grab a copy of my O-Level English Oral book from The Popular bookstores.  The book also includes the official assessment criteria by the Exams Board.  Good luck!

Writing Expository Essay

21 July 2019

Expository Essay
The purpose of an expository essay is to present and explain a situation or issue by providing readers with the relevant information.  An example of an Expository essay – “How has technology improved lives?”.  

An expository essay is usually a five-paragraph essay or longer.  Below is the structure of an Expository essay.  

The Introduction paragraph provides an overview or background information.  For instance, students can write about how life is different now compared with the past when technology was not readily available.  Consequently, how lives have improved in various aspects such as lifestyle, work and entertainment because of technology.

Body Paragraphs
Each Body paragraph should cover only one point.  Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence.  Remember to use an example; preferably a real-life one, to substantiate a point.

Paragraph 2 – Point #1 how technology improves lives.  Support with one example or statistics

Paragraph 3 – Point #2 how technology improves lives.  Support with one example or statistics

Paragraph 4 – Point #3 how technology improves lives.  Support with one example or statistics

Finally, the Conclusion paragraph can offer a final thought or solution to the topic or issue being discussed.

Writing Argumentative Essay

28 June 2019

Argumentative Essay
The purpose of an Argumentative essay is to convince the reader (the examiner) to agree with the writer’s point of view relating to a topic.  An example of an Argumentative essay – “Technology brings more benefits than problems.  Do you agree?”.  Below is the structure of an Argumentative essay.

Present an overview of the topic.  For instance, how technology has become an integral part of our lives.  After the overview, present an opposing view.  If you agree that technology brings more benefits, then first present why critics would say that technology creates more problems.  After that, state why you feel that technology brings more benefits instead.  Then you are ready to indicate your stand; that is – “I agree that technology brings more benefits than problems”.

Body Paragraphs
Give two supporting points and one opposing point.  For upper secondary students, you also need to give one rebuttal to the opposing point.  Remember to support each point with a real-life example or statistics.

Students are encouraged to organise their paragraphing as follows:

Paragraph 2 – Supporting Point #1 and one example or statistics
Paragraph 3 – Supporting Point #2 and one example or statistics
Paragraph 4 – Opposing Point and one example or statistics.  Rebuttal (if required) can be in this paragraph.

The Conclusion paragraph reiterates why reader should agree with the writer by showing how all the arguments and evidence fit together.

Writing Discursive Essays

12 May 2019

Many secondary 2 students have learned writing the Discursive essays.  When the new term starts after the June holidays, they will be exposed to writing the expository and argumentative types.

Some parents have asked me about identifying the different types, more importantly, the structure for each type.  So, I shall share with everyone; beginning with Discursive essay this month.  

Discursive Essay
The purpose of a Discursive essay is to present both sides of an argument relating to a topic.  An example of a Discursive essay – “Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of technology”.  Refer below on the structure of writing the essay:  

Present an overview of the topic.  In this case, present how technology has become an important part of our lives.  After the overview, present a balance view – how technology is good, and how it can also be a problem.

Body Paragraphs
Give two advantages of technology and the two disadvantages of it.  Remember to support each point with a real-life example or statistics.

Students are also encouraged to assign each point and the example to one paragraph.  As such, you can have

Paragraph 2 – Advantage #1 and one example or statistics
Paragraph 3 – Advantage #2 and one example or statistics
Paragraph 4 – Disadvantage #1 and one example or statistics
Paragraph 5 – Disadvantage #2 and one example or statistics

A good conclusion may offer suggestions to the issues discussed.  Students may also present a personal opinion to the topic.