The TEEL formula is the standard essay structure taught by most (if not all) schools in Australia. TEEL is an acronym to help students remember the necessary steps for paragraph structure in essays.
Every paragraph in every type of essay must contain these four elements; it does not matter if the writing is an analysis, comparative, or persuasive. Albeit, when we talk about comparatives and argument alalysis, the formula becomes more in-depth. It is important to note ‘Explanation’ and ‘Evidence’ can be reversed, but they must always travel as a pair.
Let’s take a closer look at TEEL.
The topic sentence informs the reader what the paragraph is about or what is being argued. It is essentially a miniature introduction, and it is necessary for every paragraph. A well-crafted essay has a topic sentence that outlines the paragraph; this is not the place to bring in any evidence.
For example, a topic sentence for a paragraph on an essay topic like, ‘Should students have to wear a school uniform?’ could look like:
School uniforms create equality amongst students leaving no opportunity for oppression based solely on clothing.
This topic sentence very clearly informs the reader about the direction of this particular paragraph and sets the stage for the rest of the written response. In a sense, it is a brief introduction. Your topic sentence should be between one and two lines long.
In the explanation, the idea is to provide more information on the paragraphs stance. Brainstorm or research a few ideas that might help support your argument.
An explanation for the same essay question would look something like this:
Uniforms bring a level ground into schools where students cannot receive prejudice or torment based on their choice or quality of clothing. While expressing choice is an integral part of coming to understand one’s identity, the schoolyard is not the place for this demonstration as it can encourage unwanted opinions, and often damaging views of other students.
See how this section has brought in more information relevant to the topic sentence? It has made clear the authors stance, and it has brought up a few points that can be explained further. This expansion and fleshing out of ideas helps to make way for our next section.
Okay, the section above explains clear thoughts and even goes as far as to make a statement. This is where evidence is needed. Including evidence not only proves that statements and comments are sound, but it also helps to convince the reader of the point being made. The best essays are based on evidence.
Evidence for the section above could look like this:
Not only does wearing a school uniform reduce the pressure on students to wear the latest designer fashion labels and trends, but it also reduces perceived inequalities due to socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Moreover, the department of education encourages schools to have a uniform, as schools that enforce them have significantly lower levels of bullying.
Evidence is the basis of an essay; it can make or break it. Evidence in the form of analysis or comparative essays is delivered in the same way. The only exception is that the evidence, in these cases, usually comes from texts or movies.
Here is where the link (the final statement) connects to the topic sentence. This link is designed to wrap the paragraph up neatly and to help it finish on a strong and relevant point.
School uniforms are an essential part of life. They create equality among students, reduce the stress that comes from keeping up with the latest trends, and reduce bullying in the schoolyard. In all, they create a better, more pleasant school experience.
This link directly relates to our topic sentence. Moreover, it summons up the contents of the paragraph, in effect, concluding this section of the essay.
What does our essay look like altogether?
Let’s have a look at what all our TEEL sections look like together as an essay paragraph.
As you can see following this formula has created a clear and well-structured essay paragraph. TEEL is an easy formula to follow once you understand how it works and how each part functions to make the paragraph flow.
Practice topics for the TEEL formula:
- Cats are better pets than dogs (or vice versa)
- Should students have less homework?
- Sustainability is the responsibility of all humans.
Choose at least one of these topics and practice forming a paragraph using the TEEL formula outlined above.
Bonus Essay Writing Tip:
Read everything out loud before you give it to anyone to read. I cannot stress this enough. You will be amazed at the silly mistakes you pick up. Reading your essay out loud can easily mean the difference between a B and a B+.
I understand that in your exams, you will not be afforded this opportunity, but at the very least, read it through in your head. MAKE TIME FOR IT. I tell all my students to leave 10-minutes to read through every essay before they hand it in. This rule should be observed for exams as well.