To illustrate the linear nature of academic writing in English, try using the image of the train.
Draw a train engine on the board to represent the introduction to a piece of writing. The engineer driving the train is the one who knows the train’s destination. The introduction to an essay should tell the reader where the writing is headed by displaying a topic or thesis statement.
The cars attached to the engine represent the paragraphs that support and develop the topic or thesis.
The caboose, of course, is the conclusion.
The couplings that connect the cars represent transitions and other connectors that link sentences and paragraphs.
Provide a cultural context as well. Writers of English tend to want to get directly to the point of a piece of writing, just as a train needs to get to its destination without unnecessary detours. Different cultures organize ideas and communication differently. If students understand what the difference is between their culture’s organization and that of English speakers, they will understand English better and will become more proficient at organizing their own communication in English. It’s important to emphasize that, although linear structure is important for effective communication in English, this doesn’t mean that one culture’s system is better than another, only that it is different.