• Learning English Writing: Martin Luther King

    Writing in English can often be a student’s worst nightmare-but don’t worry, LOI is here to help! Who better to help us discover the best ways to combat writing than one of the greatest speech writers of all, Martin Luther King. Let’s watch the video below up to 4:00.

     

    I hope you found that inspiring! So, let’s get to work and try to match MLK’s great speech by copying some of his techniques to engage people. Your friends and colleagues will be impressed with your excellent writing skills in no time!

     

    The first point that is mentioned is alliteration that means when you begin words with the same letters or sounds. My friend Larry has a lizard who likes leaping leopards and alliteration also. Can you see the alliteration in that sentence? Alliteration draws attention to a specific line in your writing, signifying the importance of the repeated letters or words. It is often used in the media (newspaper headlines) and in advertisements to capture peoples imagination, and also in poems

    Lets look at some examples;

    • Alice’s aunt ate apples and acorns around August.
    • Carrie’s cat clawed her couch, creating chaos.

    As you can see, the examples use the letter for the majority of the words in the sentence. However, the best way to spot alliteration is to say the sentence aloud and listen for the words with the identical consonant sound- for example, the first sentence is easy- almost all the words have a short ‘a’ sound.

    Let’s try a few examples of our own- can you finish these sentences with your own words to make an alliteration? As always, write your answers in the comment section, and we’ll respond!

    1. Fred had ______________ fun with his family.
    2. Ann’s angry aunt ate the _____________.
    3. Dan’s dog _________ the drink ______________.
    4. She shook the __________ with so much strength that it _____________.
    5. Mike’s milkshake ____________ while Michelle made _____________.

    Good work! As mentioned before, alliteration is often used in advertisements-particularly in brand names such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Coca-cola. Can you think of any other brands that use alliteration? What about famous people? Another way we can use alliteration is in phrases such as neck and neck (meaning to be level in a race), write a phrase in the comment section to show your alliteration expertise!

     

    Now let’s go back to our video of Martin Luther King. As you can see, the next technique he used when writing that incredible speech was something called anaphora. That means that a word in the text/speech refers back to other ideas in the text/speech for its meaning. An easier way to achieve cohesion (that means, to stick your writing together), is to use pronouns to refer back to the noun that has already been introduced. Let’s begin with an easy example; ‘I went to the restaurant with Jo on Sunday. She looked awful.’ Who does the ‘she’ refer to in this sentence? That’s right, it is talking about Jo.  Let’s look at this example:

    John was late for class again.  The teacher put John in detention. —> John was late for class again, so the teacher put him in detention.

    Can you see how I connected the sentences together with the word so, and referred back to John with the pronoun him-as we are still talking about a John (if you have forgotten which connectors to use, look at these great posts here and here. This makes our sentence much more fluent and easier to read. That was an easy example, now let’s try some more complex sentences where we replace nouns with pronouns.

    For this exercise, you are going to join the two sentences together to form one sentence, using a pronoun to replace the noun. Write your answers in the comment section to see if you completed the exercise correctly.

    1. Laura and Sarah are going to New York. Laura and Sarah will go by plane.
    2. There are many environmental problems in the world today. Many environmental problems are difficult to solve.
    3. Thomas bought 2 cheeseburgers. Thomas ate 2 cheeseburgers.

     

    If you look at the table below, more examples are shown to change a noun phrase to pronouns. Can you create some sentences (you can connect them in separate sentences) to show you are a master of writing coherent text?

    noun phrase

    pronoun

    There are some people who think that Martin Luther King’s speech was the greatest…… One argument they make is……
    At the time, there were a number of problems in the USA The biggest of these was….
    Several scholars have analyzed Martin Luther King’s speech Some of them have given better descriptions of the language used than others….
    It is important to consider not just the effects the speech had at the time, but also the effects it has had on current generations…. Both of these effects are equally important….

     

    We hope you enjoyed today’s blog post. Sign up for a free 25 minute class with LOI English today!