My C2 proficiency students have just taken a full mock exam and one of the issues their writings had in common was the lack of “hooks” in their articles and reviews to draw the reader in an encourage them to keep reading. So, I put together this lesson plan, based heavily on this great article by Suzanne Davis.
The final task I set my students is on the topic of fame, so you might want to use my “The Life of a Celeb” vocabulary lesson before setting it. Download the handout below:
Have students read the opening paragraphs by Gary Provost to each other out loud and ask them to reflect on the message. Encourage them to attempt a similar range of sentence lengths in their own articles.
Have students refer to the 7 steps to success while writing their article for homework.
Lead students through the different types of hook and field questions.
Draw students’ attention to the need to use an engaging title.
Have students read the writing task and underline the content points. Then put them in pairs and have them discuss which hook would work best for this particular task. Then have them choose an expression about fame for their title.
Some possible answers could be:
Story hook: Imagine the scene, you just want to nip to the shops for a pint of milk but no sooner have you stepped out the door than a mob of paparazzi are hassling you. The constant click, click, click of the shutters, the blinding flashes fill your eyes, it’s enough to make you question if it’s all worth it.
Metaphor hook: Fame is, undoubtedly, a double-edged sword; while it bestows upon you all the riches your heart could desire, it slices away such basic comforts as privacy and anonymity.
Quotation hook: As Clive James once said “a life without fame can be a good life, but fame without a life is no life at all”
Writing Part 2 – 7 Steps to Success
- Read the task, underline content points.
- Organise content points into paragraphs.
- WHAT are you going to say? Add notes to paragraphs. STAY ON TOPIC!
- HOW are you going to say it?
- Register? Formal/informal?
- Range of structures: What impressive grammar are you going to use?
- Inversions (not only/no sooner/not until/seldom)
- Inverted conditionals (Were I to…./Had they known…)
- Cleft sentences (What impressed me most was…)
- Participle clauses (Having visited the city before, I know what to expect. Being a massive fan of cheese, I had a whale of a time in France)
- Double comparatives (The more cheese I ate, the fatter I became. The more I studied the more I understood about French culture.)
- Range of vocabulary:
- Phrasal verbs. (switch over, zone out, sit back)
- Idioms/similes (like watching paint dry/to be on the edge of one’s seat)
- Relevant vocabulary to the topic (chat show, current affairs, couch potato, remote control)
- Other expressions (Something for everyone, a smorgasbord of options, kill time, etc.)
- Forms and conventions: Report/proposal – paragraph titles, letter conventions.
An Article “Hook”
Capture the reader’s attention with your introduction, draw them in and make them want to read more.
The Story Hook
Throw the reader straight into a narrative or story related to the topic. The story should be in the 1st person, be descriptive and intriguing:
I got off the train and pulled my luggage behind me. A cab pulled up to the curb, and the driver got out. He lifted my luggage and said, “Miss, I’m just going to put your stuff in the boot.” I didn’t know what he meant until I saw him open the car’s trunk. Then I realized the boot means car trunk. I got in the cab, wondering how many other words would be different in England.
Start in the middle of the most exciting part, then go back later:
“Boom, boom, boom,” The sound of my heart beating faster and faster echoed in my ears. How on earth had I got myself into this situation? You might ask. Twenty feet underwater with nothing but a thin metal cage between me and perhaps the most terrifying apex predator on the planet, the great white shark….
Well, it had all started two weeks previously when….
The Descriptive Hook
Similar to the story hook but focus more on describing one moment/thing in great detail. Leave the reader wanting to know more about it.
The dog howled in pain and limped along the side of the road. His leg was cut and blood streamed down his leg.
Doesn’t this scene make you curious about what will happen to the dog?
The leather strap of the ancient watch was creased and faded from long years in the sunlight. Down the glass of the face ran a long, roughly vertical crack, recalling the blunt impact which had stopped the hands of the timepiece dead all those years ago.
Don’t you want to hear the story of the watch?
The Metaphor/Simile Hook
The metaphor/simile hook engages your readers because it makes them think about a topic in a different way.
A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly compares one thing to another, but these two things seem unrelated. An example of a metaphor is: Her boyfriend is a rat.
The boyfriend is not really a rat, but he behaves like one.
A simile is like a metaphor. Both compare two unrelated things to each other, but a simile uses the words like or as to connect them. For example: Writing a research paper is like running a marathon when it’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your article topic is on business blogging you could write the metaphor hook:
A business blog is a magnet pulling clients to a company.
Or the simile hook:
A business blog is like a magnet that pulls clients to a company.
|Metaphor hooks: Marriage is a journey, with its ups and downs.|
They say that silence is golden.
Laughter is the best medicine.
|Simile hooks: Love is like a fine wine, it matures with age.|
My grandmother has always been as tough as an old boot.
The dress fit her like a glove, there was no denying it
The Quotation Hook
This is a hook where you begin your article with a quotation. The quotation could be from a famous person, but it doesn’t have to be. You can quote anyone if it connects to what you’re writing about.
If you are writing about the topic of education you could begin with: Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
If you want to use a quotation for a hook, make sure you quote the words exactly. Choose quotations where the words are striking, powerful, and/ or memorable.
- “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
- “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
- “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
- “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” – Joe Kennedy
- “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
- “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West
- “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky
- “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein
- “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” – Forrest Gump
Article Titles – Keep it Catchy
Most proficiency articles require a catchy title, try to include:
- An expression/idiom/proverb:
- Taking the rough with the smooth
- Life in the limelight
- Coming face-to-face with a man-eater!
- The long arm of the law
You recently read an article from an online youth magazine on the pressures of fame for young celebrities. The magazine has invited readers to respond to the topic with a short article of their own, which answers the following questions…
- Is becoming famous worth it?
- Do male and female celebrities experience the same pressures?
- What can be done to shield young celebrities from the drawbacks of fame?