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Argumentative Essays
Pham Vu Phi Ho, Ph.D.

1. Do you sometimes argue with your friends, husband/ wife, students,
lecturer, etc. about something? What is it about? Can you briefly state
what was going on that argument?
2. Have you ever written to argue about something? What should you do
to make your paper had strong argument?
3. In your opinion, what are the most important factors to persuade or
convince someone to believe in you?


Argumentative Essays
In an argumentative essay, the writers purpose is to persuade the
audience to agree with his or her opinion about a controversial topic.
In an argumentative essay, sometimes referred to as a persuasive
essay, the writer states his or her opinion, gives reasons to support it,
and tries to convince the audience that he or she is right.

Convincing the Reader

Your job as the writer of an argumentative essay is to convince your
readers that your opinion about a topic (your thesis statement) is the
most valid viewpoint.
Your essay needs to be balancedit must include an opposing
viewpoint, or counterargument. Even though you are arguing one side
of an issue (either for or against), you must think about what someone
on the other side of the issue would argue.
As soon as you give your opponents point of view, you must offer a
refutation of it. This means that you refute the other point of view, or
show how it is wrong. If you give only your opinion, your essay will
sound like propaganda, and your readers will not be convinced of your


The School Uniform Question

Individualism is a fundamental part of society in many countries. Most people believe in the
right to express their own opinion without fear of punishment. This value, however, is coming
under fire in an unlikely placethe public school classroom. The issue is school uniforms. Should
public school students be allowed to make individual decisions about clothing, or should all
students be required to wear a uniform? School uniforms are the better choice for three reasons.
First, wearing school uniforms would help make students' lives simpler. They would no longer
have to decide what to wear every morning, sometimes trying on outfit after outfit in an effort to
choose. Uniforms would not only save time but also would eliminate the stress often associated
with this chore.

Second, school uniforms influence students to act responsibly in groups and as individuals.
Uniforms give students the message that school is a special place for learning. In addition, uniforms
create a feeling of unity among students. For example, when students do something as a group,
such as attend meetings in the auditorium or eat lunch in the cafeteria, the fact that they all wear
the same uniform gives them a sense of community. Even more important, statistics show the
positive effects that school uniforms have on violence and truancy. According to a recent survey in
a large school district in Florida, incidents of school violence dropped by 50 percent, attendance
and test scores improved, and student suspensions declined approximately 30 percent after school
uniforms were introduced.

Finally, school uniforms would help make all the students feel equal. Students' standards of
living differ greatly from family to family, and some people are well-off while others are not. People
sometimes forget that school is a place to get an education, not to promote a "fashion show."
Implementing mandatory school uniforms would make all the students look the same regardless of
their financial status. School uniforms would promote pride and help to raise the self-esteem of
students who cannot afford to wear expensive clothing.
Opponents of mandatory uniforms say that students who wear school uniforms cannot express
their individuality. This point has some merit on the surface. However, as stated previously, school is
a place to learn, not to flaunt wealth and fashion. Society must decide if individual expression
through clothing is more valuable than improved educational performance. It is important to
remember that school uniforms would be worn only during school hours. Students can express their
individuality in the way that they dress outside of the classroom.
In conclusion, there are many well-documented benefits of implementing mandatory school
uniforms for students. Studies show that students learn better and act more responsibly when they
wear uniforms. Public schools should require uniforms in order to benefit both the students and
society as a whole.


Counterargument and Refutation

The key technique to persuading the reader that your viewpoint is valid
to support it in every paragraph.
Every counterargument that you include in your essay needs a
refutation. A refutation is a response to the counterargument that
disproves it.
From Example Essay :
Opponents of mandatory uniforms say that students who wear school uniforms
cannot express their individuality. This point has some merit on the surface.
However, as stated previously, school is a place to learn, not to flaunt wealth and

As you can see, what begins as a counterargument ends up as another

reason in support of your opinion.

Discussion for an activity

1. Do you know anyone who owns a gun? Why does that
person have a gun?
2. Have you ever shot a gun? If so, describe the circumstances
when you did this. Why did you shoot a gun? Where were
you? When was this?
3. In your opinion, should people in Vietnam have the right to
own a gun? explain your reasons!

Completing the essay

Work in group to write the missing supporting ideas
from the essay given.


No More Guns


1. The year 1774 was pivotal in the history of the United States. It marked the
beginning of the Revolutionary War, which lasted 13 years and claimed thousands of
lives. Fighting against the British, the Americans had to rely on individual citizens
because they did not have a well-organized army. As farmers and hunters, many
citizens already owned guns. These rifles proved indispensable in defeating the
British. After the war, citizens were reluctant to give up their rifles as they feared
future invasions. Because of this fear, an amendment was added to the Constitution
of the United States guaranteeing citizens the right to bear arms. Times have
changed, however. The United States has one of the largest military forces in the
world, and Americans are no longer called upon to use their own weapons in the
military. Although people no longer need guns for this purpose, there are in fact over
200,000,000 guns in circulation. Unfortunately, gun-related deaths continue to
increase every year, with many innocent people losing their lives. Despite the original
intention of the Second Amendment, the United States would be much better off if
ownership of guns by private citizens was outlawed.

No More Guns


2. The first benefit of making guns illegal is that the number of accidental shootings would
3. Another benefit of outlawing guns is that the streets would be safer

4. If guns were illegal, people would be less likely to harm loved ones in moments of anger.

5. Some people say that they feel safer having a gun at home. However, if guns were more
difficult to own, fewer criminals would have them. Fewer guns would lead to a decrease in
the number of gun-related crimes and victims.



No More Guns
Statistics show that the occurrence of violent crime is much lower in countries that
do not allow citizens to carry weapons. Although it is doubtful that the United States
would ever completely outlaw the private ownership of weapons, how nice it would be
to lower the risk of being shot. It is time for the United States to take a close look at its
antiquated gun laws and make some changes for the safety of its citizens.

Topics for writing

TOPIC 1: Consider the issue of school attendance policies. Do you think
that students should be penalized for missing classes? Write an essay
explaining your opinion.
TOPIC 2: Should a passing score on a national examination be the main
requirement for students to enter a university in Vietnam? What are the
pros and cons of this issue? Choose one side and write your essay in
support of it.
TOPIC 3: Is day care beneficial for children under the age of five? Should
one parent stay home with children for the first few years of life? Develop
a thesis statement about some aspect of the day-care-versus-home-care
issue and support it in your argumentative essay.


Interviews for collecting data

Interviews involve a researcher orally asking questions for individuals to
answer orally. In other words, interviews traditionally have been conducted
face-to-face and one-to-one, with the researcher speaking directly with one
interviewee at a time (Thomas, 2003).
Wilkinson and Birmingham (2003) provide three models of interviews to be
considered. The first one is the unstructured interview, which is a very flexible
The second model of interview is the semi-structured interview in which the
interviewer directs the interview more closely.
The third model is the structured interview in which the interviewer controls
the order of questions. All of the questions and their order are predetermined
by the researcher. Unlike the other two models, the structured interview may
provide an easier framework for analysis.

Peer response
Ask a classmate to read the questions you plan to use in your
interview and then to respond to the following:
Are the questions appropriate for the person who will be interviewed?
Will the questions help gather the information you are seeking?
Are any of the questions unclear? How could you rephrase them?
Do any of the questions seem redundant? Irrelevant?
What additional questions might you ask?


Activity for collecting data

Work in a group of four, write five questions relating to your research
topic for interviews. Each person of your group moves around the class
(exchange with other groups) to interview other peers. Use your
mobile phones to record their voices in order to obtain the data.
Interview questions
Take notes to responses

Writing from an Interview

The major challenge writers face when writing from an interview is
to find a clear focus for the paper.
To identify possible angles suggested by your notes, jot down answers
to these questions:
1. What did you find most interesting about the interview?
2. What topics did your subject talk about the most?
3. What did he or she become most excited or animated about?
4. What topics generated the most interesting quotations?


Writing Assignment
Write an argument essay from 450 to 500 words using the
data you have collected from the interview. What are the pros
and cons of the issue? Make sure that your evidence is strong
enough to convince readers.

Folse, S. K; Vokoum, M. A. & Solomon, V. E. (2010). Great Essays (3rd ed.).
Boston: Heinle.
Hartley, J. (2008). Academic Writing and Publishing A practical
handbook. New York: Routledge.
Thomas, R. Murray (2003). Blending Qualitative & Quantitative Research
Methods in Theses and Dissertations. USA: Corwin Press Inc.
Wilkinson, David & Birmingham, Peter (2003). Using Research
Instruments A uide for Researchers. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

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