Structure Is Everything!

In all my travels as a teacher, I can safely say one thing is true, that structure is everything in your writing. Whether it be a Language and Power essay at A Level, or an essay about a novel at GCSE, structure is everything. It is vital to get your points across in a clear and logical fashion. If you fail to do so, then expect a D grade, or lower.

I have made play of my 5 point essay structure elsewhere on here but the thing actually works. It is one way how to keep to the task and not veer off in a tangent to some other train of thought.

Consider this, for a second. If you are asked to write an essay [on any subject] you would do so, or want to do so, clearly and logically. Hence the need to structure your writing instead of going off half cocked, rambling about anything and/or nothing. A complete waste of your time.

So what if someone asked you to analyse a speech? What if you had to analyse a famous speech, like the I Have A Dream speech from Martin Luther King Jr? Dare you unpick that beauty?

I dare!

This is how:

1. Introduce how the speech is dramatic. Explain that it nearly never came about but for the intervention of the great singer, Mahalia Jackson, who saw MLK flagging somewhat in his speech and yelled “tell em about the dream Martin!” So, he pushed his notes to one side and began with “I HAVE A DREAM!” The rest, as they say, is history. I admire his guts in doing so!

2. Analyse the language – repetition of the word “dream” and how it has differing meanings. Look for ambiguity in meaning. Analyse how he uses the language to great effect.

3. Analyse the audience he was speaking to and if he used appropriate enough language – 1960s black America – the struggles – the history etc. Link to the American Dream [if not sure what this is, where have you been?]

4. Analyse the style of words used by him. Words like “babies” when referring to his children suggest a paternal desire, a need to see improvement and also something else in him; the great preacher. [I too am a preacher and have been for 25 years so know some of the tricks for making hairs stand to attention on necks]

5. Then, a conclusion. Was he successful? MLK’s speech back then is heralded as one of the greatest speeches of all time. I think the answer is yes, he was successful, but allow yourself the freedom to suggest how he may have lost and segregated another audience at the time; the white American who supported him.

By solely concentrating on the black American, was he isolating himself off from the mainstream? This is not even hinted at in the speech but one comment about it and you make your marker [or teacher] THINK!

THAT gets extra points in the exam or in coursework!

So go for it and have that dream, to one day live in a world where getting the A grade is possible. Have that dream today!

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