Writing Discursive compositions (Secondary level) (Part 5): Introduction of Discursive essays (use of case studies)


This is my fifth post on discursive writing. For my first post, please click here.

Having discussed the technique of historical development and cause and effect, let’s take a look at writing the introduction using a case study or case studies. This is a more challenging technique since students are expected to not only have prior knowledge of the subject matter in the questions, but they also need to know specific, preferably historical or contemporary understanding of current happenings to do well in their writings.

Students who wish to use this technique should read newspapers and magazines very regularly to get a firm and all-rounded grasp of global events and specific details of incidents such that they are able to elaborate well in their introductions using specific case studies.

Consider the following discursive questions:

i. Is youth an advantage or disadvantage?

ii. Are great leaders made or born?

iii. What can we do to live healthy and fulfilled lives? Discuss.

iv.  What do friends mean to you?

v. The ideal career

Once again, let’s consider how to write the introductory paragraph from two of the above:

ii. Are great leaders born or made?


“Many have argued that leaders are made. Nelson Mandela brought an end to apartheid in South  Africa, which inadvertently brings to mind Martin Luther King Junior, who swept the crowds of thousands with his “I have a Dream” speech. Both men are giants among men, and are leaders in their own rights – forged through years of fortitude and courage. On a more spiritual perspective, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa  will undoubtedly surface in one’s mind as guardians of the nation and the underprivileged respectively. Once again, both rose to prominence through their altruistic nature and years of struggle within their domains of endeavours. Nevertheless, there are alternative voices that seek to argue that some leaders are born, of which names can be showcased but one must be mindful that doubts will also be cast upon these names, for it’s fairly uncommon for one to soar to great heights without at least undergoing a certain duration of trials and tribulations. There’s a certain truth to the term “making” in the statement “Heroes in the making“. Nevertheless, despite the overwhelming odds of the argument, let’s explore both arguments.”

iv. What do friends mean to you?


“In contemporary times, friendship is often developed on social media, of which Facebook springs almost immediately to one’s mind. By exploring the functions of Facebook and understanding why its intrinsic features work, it is not surprising why Facebook proves to be so alluring to many. Facebook’s features encompasses most aspects of what friends do when they meet up in person: exchanging updated information, pictures, videos and music, engaging in social exchanges, liking one another’s preferences and interests, getting to know one another better through in-depth analysis of interests etc. What’s more, Facebook makes such social exchanges more interesting by delivering them in real-time, which users are able to choose what to do next (converse, “like” something, write comments, provides updates etc.) at their own time, which is individualism at it best. And the great stuff? They can access all this on desktops, laptops, tablets or their mobile phones – 24/7! Nevertheless, having taken all that in, one has to question oneself if this is what friendship is all about. Are exchanges on social media personal enough as compared to face-to-face meetings? Do we really want to digest all the updates that our friends post? ”

In my next post, I will proceed to discuss the writing styles of discursive essays

Author’s background: Patrick Tay is an English Writing Specialist who lectures in various polytechnics in Singapore, and coaches students in English as a private tutor. His professional services can be found here


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s