Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Day 2: Communication

It's a writing class.  So, "What's the point?"  You will write to improve your writing.  Learn by doing.

Writing is a form of communication. As with all forms of communication, never lose sight of your target. You can think of this as "form over function."  No, wait. That's backwards. Unfortunately, this is how many learners of English are taught to write. Forms.  In our class, we focus on function.

The purpose of communication is to communicate. Seems pretty obvious, right? Content--the message--is more important than delivery. However, we must remember that delivery (grammar, style, presentation) affects how the message is understood. And delivery can affect how people think about the message. Do you want to sound like an uneducated mountain-boy, or a university-educated businessman (or woman)?

Vocabulary is important. Unlike reading, where you should NOT spend all your time in the dictionary, with writing you might spend a lot of time deciding which word is best. A dictionary, as well as a thesaurus, can be very helpful. Sure, use a bilingual dictionary to help you get started, but be sure to consult a good English-English dictionary, to make sure words mean what you want them to mean.

We use rules to string words together. Syntax includes what you usually think of as grammar. Syntax is the rules and principles that govern the sentence structure. We can also talk about genre and style and... well, we won't go too far concerning those in this class. We will be working at the sentence and paragraph level. Our target, ultimately, is the full essay or business message (Email, Fax, Written Letter or Contract, Press Release, Speech, etc.).

The "Process Approach" to writing will be our methodology. This means we do not focus on the final product so much as the road to getting there.  There can be many paths, we will try a few. But you should know now, you will write and re-write and write again, some things you will write FIVE time (and I will check to make sure you do!). You will help check your classmates' work, and you will get a grade on how you do editing. So... you CAN do things with your computer in class, but it's actually easier for Everyone if you do in a notebook.  Because you will need to send me your file (by email) before class, or give me a printout in class, and bring your computer to class every day.

We use colored pens (green, purple or red, and a yellow hi-liter) to do peer-editing.  Peer-editing is when we look at our classmate's paper to help them write better, and also teach ourselves.

Today's paragraph (after reading comments) is to rewrite one of yesterday's three paragraphs.

Weekend homework:  Write a paragraph that begins with
"I hate this class because..."

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