Country Reports
























































































Lesson 18: Don't Teach Me, Persuade Me

You have written your first body paragraph. Congratulations. Two more and you're nearly done. But before you start your second body paragraph, let's talk about something important.

What kind of paper are you writing?

You are writing an argumentative research paper. That means that you are trying to persuade your reader that something is true, and you are backing up your claims with evidence. It's a type of persuasive essay.

Unfortunatley, some students miss this key point.

Consider the following conversation:

You: You should go to Italy.
Me: Why?
You: In the year 1865 the capital of Italy moved from Turin to Florence.
Me: Huh . . . ?


Can you feel the disconnect? You haven't really answered my question. You haven't told me why I should visit Italy.

Now, perhaps you are implying that Italy has this rich and fascinating history, and therefore it's a great place to visit. But that's far too subtle. A good paper explicetly answers the question, "Why should I go"? And a good paper uses words that sell.

Now consider this conversation:



You should go to Italy.




Italy has a rich and fascinating history. You can see buildings that date back to Ancient Rome, and in Florence you can see gorgeous architecture from the Renaissance period.


Cool. I think I'll go.



That's much better.


Inadequate research leads to unpersuasive paragraphs.

Why is it that many students find it easy to summarizing facts about their country, yet find it difficult to persuade me that I should go?

Partly, it's because they skimp on research. (Research, in this case, means finding persuasive sources). As I mentioned in an earlier lesson, many students simply type the name of their country into Google then click on the first few links that pop up. Unfortunately, if those links are bland, neutral summaries of their country, their papers also turn out to be bland and unpersuasive.

Avoid this mistake, because if you don't, I'll have to ask you to fix it. And then you'll learn that trying to fix a bland body paragraph is much like trying to "fix" an apple pie that's been made with rotten apples. Sometimes the only way to fix it is to toss it out and start over again with fresh apples. In other words, if your evidence is too bland and too boring and too neutral—no amount of rewriting is going to be able to fix that. You're just going to have to start again and find a different source.

And that is why spending a bit of extra time searching for a great source—a source that is really persuasive—can save you time in the long run.

The Best Evidence

As mentioned in an earlier lesson, some of the best evidence you'll find can be found in personal blogs written by people who have lived in or visited your country.

Consider the following conversation:



You should go to Australia.




Oh, you'll have a great time. Just listen to my friend Oscar. Oscar visited Australia last year.


Okay. Tell me, Oscar, how did you like Australia?


It was fantastic! My family and I had a wonderful time. We got to pet kangaroos and I got a chance to eat crocodile meat. I've never had so much fun in my life. And it was surprisingly cheap, too. In fact, we spent less than $50 per day!


Wow, that really does sound great. Thanks!



Your job is to find your own "Oscar", an opinionated blogger or travel writer who uses lots of words that "sell". Words such as:

  • great
  • fun
  • fantastic
  • awesome
  • love
  • cheap
  • beautiful
  • friendly
  • blog
  • awful
  • horrible
  • hate
  • miserable
  • can't stand
  • expensive
  • ugly
  • rude
  • blog


Putting words like these into the search bar (along with the name of your country) will greatly increase your chances of finding a good source.

Lesson Steps

1. Take a hard look at your first body paragraph. Does it "sell" your thesis?
2. Take a hard look at your first body paragraph. Does it simply summarize some facts about your country?

Congratulations! You're done with this lesson.