Friday, November 19, 2010

The Great Debaters - Movie Activity - Writing a Persuasive Essay -

The Great Debaters

This activity aims at inspiring and equipping EFL advanced students to write persuasive essays.
High Intermediate to Advanced
75' to 100'

Discuss in pairs:
What is a persuasive essay?

Read and check your answers. Add points you didn't mention.
Persuasive writing, or the argument essay, holds hand of logical and reason to convince people that one idea is more legitimate than another one. It attempts to persuade the reader to adopt a certain point of view or to take a particular action. The thesis statement needs to be supported by strong and solid evidenceby stating facts, giving logically argumented reasons, using examples, and quoting experts.

Watch the movie scene and answer the questions:
  • How would you describe the scene?
  • What are the similarities between a debate and a persuasive writing?
  • What are some steps you should follow when you debate or write a persuasive essay?

Watch a second scene and try to draw some conclusions based on it. What else do you need to do in order to plan an effective persuasive essay?

Answer key
When planning a persuasive essay, follow these steps:
1- Choose your position, Which side of the issue are you going to write bout? Where do you stand? Know the purpose of your essay.

2- Prepare yourself by researching your topic. A persuasive essay must provide specific and convincing evidence. Often it is necessary to go beyond your own knowledge and experience.

4- Stucture your essay.Figure out what evidence to include and in what order you will present.

3- Read and be well informed about your topic. Use different media to research and add your own knowledge of a topic, read thoroughly about it.

4- Test your thesis statement. It has to be debatable. If you can think of another thesis directly opposing your own, you've nailed it.

5- Support your position with evidence. Remember that your evidence must appeal to reason.

6- Disprove the opposing argument. Understand the opposite viewpoint of your position and then counter it by providing contrasting evidence or by finding mistakes and inconsistencies in the logic of the opposing argument.

7- Be courteous. Acknowledge the opposing point of view and state yours politely.

Watch a third scene and notice which different ways the debaters use to support their arguments:

( ) Facts
( ) Statistics
( ) Quotes
( ) Examples

The persuasive essay follows the following organization pattern.
  • Introduction
  • Assertion
  • Concession or rebuttal
  • Proof
  • Conclusion
Click here for an example. and write your own essay now.Remember to share it with friends and ask for comments and feedback.
Click here for the worksheet.


  1. Dear Dani, I adapted this lesson for my TDC 2 writing group. Thank you for the wonderful resource. Congratulations on your great work!

  2. Thanks Isabela! Your feedback means a lot to me!

  3. Dear Dani, I am going to use this with my Sophomore English class as we are going into debates after spring break.