A process paragraph is a series of steps that explain how something happens or how to make something. It can explain anything from the way to enrich vocabulary to overcoming insomnia to the procedure of operating a machine. It may also give tips for improving pronunciation or for answering a telephone call. Because such explanations must be clear, the process paragraph must be written in chronological order, and it must include a topic sentence that clearly states the paragraph’s purpose. It must also include transition words and phrases such as “first,” “next,” “finally,” that connect each of the steps.
There are two kinds of process paragraphs: directional and informational. A directional process paragraph explains the directions to perform a task. It provides the reader a set of instructions or a step-by-step guidance. The following is an example of a directional process paragraph:
How to Make a Good Cup of Tea
Making a good cup of tea is exquisitely simple. First, the teapot is heated by filling it with water that has just come to a boil. This water is then discarded, and one teaspoon of loose tea per cup is placed in the teapot (the exact amount may vary according to taste). Fresh water that has just come to a boil is poured into the pot. A good calculation is six ounces of water for each cup of tea. The tea must now steep for three to five minutes; then it is poured through a strainer into a cup or mug. A pound of loose tea will yield about two hundred cups of brewed tea. Using a tea bag eliminates the strainer, but it is still best to make the tea in a teapot so that the water stays sufficiently hot. The typical restaurant service—a cup of hot water with the tea bag on the side—will not produce the best cup of tea because the water is never hot enough when it reaches the table and because the tea should not be dunked in the water; the water should be poured over the tea. Although tea in a pot often becomes too strong, that problem can be dealt with very easily by adding more boiling water. (From: Scarry S. and Scary J., 2011: 422)
An informational process paragraph explains how something works or how something worked in the past. Its purpose is purely to provide information. Such writing could be found easily in history books. For instance, if you described how General Diponegoro planned his battle strategy, this would be informational process writing. The following example explains the developmental phases of the use of literature in the second or foreign language teaching. In the paragraph, the transitional words that signal the steps or stages of the process have been italicized.
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