These are often used inaccurately as they don’t translate well from other languages.
Let’s use besides to modify the following argument:
I don’t think we should go to the cinema tonight. First of all I don’t like the film. Secondly, there is an unusual amount of traffic in town. Finally, we don’t have any money.
Here there are three supports for not wanting to see the film:
- I don’t like the film.
- The traffic in town is heavy.
- We don’t have any money.
The same argument could be expressed using besides, as follows:
I don’t think we should go to the cinema tonight. Besides not liking the film and the unusual amount of traffic in town, we don’t have any money.
The second sentence (the supports) can be represented:
Besides + claim(s) [expressed as noun phrases] + , + final claim [expressed as a sentence].
In this case ‘besides’ simply means ‘as well as’.
Here the meaning is a little different:
I don’t think we should go to the cinema tonight. First of all I don’t like the film. Secondly, there is an unusual amount of traffic in town. And besides, we don’t have any money.
The claim introduced by and besides is much stronger than the preceding claims. In fact, it is so strong that it is really not necessary to consider the previous claims. If we have no money, then there’s no way we can go to the cinema!
Again, it’s useful to diagram the structure:
Weak claim(s) + And besides + very strong [and final!] claim
Here the meaning is more than just ‘as well as’. ‘And besides’ introduces a very powerful claim that makes all other preceding claims redundant.
Students, especially Indonesian students, often tell me that they would much rather watch a film than read a book. Reading is boring, they say.
I would like to invite you to think again about reading.
My teaching colleagues and I would all agree that reading novels is fun, and we all recommend this kind of ‘extensive’ reading to our students. Most of us would also agree that when a film is made based on a book, the book is always much more satisfying than the film of the book.
Let’s try an experiment. Let’s see which you prefer – the book or the film? First you’re going to read and listen to a short text. Then you’re going to watch a movie clip based on the same text. Finally you’ll reflect on the experience and think again about which you prefer – reading or just ‘watching’.
1. Read the text shown in the clip below and use your imagination to picture what’s going on in the ‘story’. Think carefully about the imagery and about characters in the story. What do the people in the story look like? Where are they?
2. Now watch the ‘movie’. Compare what you see in the film to what you saw in your mind as you were reading. Did you ‘see’ the same things? How are the images in the video different from the images you saw in your mind when you were reading?
3. So what do you think? Do you still prefer watching somebody else’s thoughts. Who is the best ‘director’? You when you read? Or someone else when they read?
I’d be very interested to know your thoughts about reading vs. viewing. What are your preferences and why? Please comment below.
And why do you think I showed a picture of an iceberg as the featured image for this post?
A student recently asked what is the difference between the topic sentence of a body paragraph and the main claim of the paragraph.
Many students have read about ‘topic sentences’ and believe that it’s essential to make a separate sentence to introduce the topic before making any kind of argumentative claim:
- sentence 1: topic only (saving police time), no opinion
- sentence 2: topic (saving police time) plus opinion (valuable police time will be saved)
This is unnecessary repetition. The second sentence already contains the topic AND the main claim of the paragraph, and so it already behaves like a topic sentence:
In academic writing it is generally a good idea to get to the point as quickly and concisely as possible. This kind of writing is much easier to read and is more likely to result in a good score in IELTS Task 2 for task response and coherence and cohesion.