English & EAL

4 ways to transform your Context introduction from bland to captivating

by
Lisa Tran

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Everyone knows that it’s boring to start an expository essay with a sentence paraphrasing the prompt. This should be easy to change….right? The goal is simple, but when trying to transform our introduction into something that will immediately catch the examiner’s attention, the task can become difficult, and even frustrating for some.

The key to unique, interesting and captivating introductions is to be creative. The essay structure for an expository Context piece is not as rigid as that for Text Response, so you do have room to make some changes. In fact, examiners urge you to avoid ‘too formulaic’ responses (VCAA examiner’s report 2010). Below are four methods you can adopt to add a little spice to your introduction. I have decided to focus on one prompt to show you the different ways you can tackle this problem:

Conflict inevitably changes us‘ 

1. Personal anecdote

Beginning with a anecdote (a personal short story) can demonstrate that you have first-hand experience with something related to the prompt and therefore provide some interesting and credible points about it.

Although few know of him, his name is Pol Pot – the ruthless Cambodian dictator from 1975 to 1979. In those four years, over a quarter of the Cambodian population died under his leadership. Most of the deaths were merciless executions imposed by the leader against his own people. My parents suffered under the terror of Pol Pot. They have told me stories of how under impossible situations they escaped near death, not once – but innumerable times. When individuals encounter conflict, many find themselves in unfamiliar situations where they must face new challenges and struggles. It is in these moments that we can experience a change, for we may come to a sudden realisation, understanding or insight of ourselves.

2. Real life example

Sometimes another’s experience may be more suitable for the topic. Use examples from history, literature and current media to demonstrate your understanding of the prompt.

When we think of ‘The Stolen Generation,’ we think of the extensive pain, grief and suffering inflicted upon the Indigenous people by the Australian Government. Since this devastating conflict began slightly over a century ago which, in some aspects continues now, Australians’ attitude has changed signficiantly as they have realised the considerable damage they caused to Indigenous people’s families and friends. When individuals encounter conflict, many find themselves in unfamiliar situations where they must face new challenges and struggles. It is in these moments that we can experience a change, for we may come to a sudden realisation, understanding or insight of ourselves.

3. Quote

Quotes from key people in particular field such as philosophers or even an insightful message spoken by your grandparent can help answer your prompt effectively.

“Conflict builds character. Crisis defines it.’ Those were the words of Steven V. Thulon, which demonstrates how conflict can change us. When individuals encounter conflict, many find themselves in unfamiliar situations where they must face new challenges and struggles. It is in these moments that we can experience a change, for we may come to a sudden realisation, understanding or insight of ourselves.

4. Rhetorical question

Rhetorical questions urge the reader to be involved with your ideas and think about the unique points you present.

What propels us to continuously change our identity, beliefs and morals? What is it that urges us to grow, understand and become wiser as we age? When individuals encounter conflict, many find themselves in unfamiliar situations where they must face new challenges and struggles. It is in these moments that we can experience a change, for we may come to a sudden realisation, understanding or insight of ourselves.

There are many other ways you can begin a Context expository essay. Figure out which one you think stands out best and apply it!

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