Monday, November 6, 2017

Your Friend, the English Major

Peer Review

How many class periods have you spent going through a classmate’s essay and answering prompted questions given to you by your instructor, wondering whether the advice you’re giving is of any use? Peer review is something we’ve all been asked to do in the classroom but have never been taught to do.

You may think that the more input you provide the better your critique will be, but in my experience as “your friend the English Major,” I have been asked to do complete overhauls of essays, essentially rewriting the essay without the writer’s input. However, after realizing how counterproductive this method of revision can be, I can suggest that allowing the writer to guide the direction of the review session can prove as a more practical peer-review strategy.

What is the Writer Worried About?

By asking the writer questions such as, “What are your concerns with the assignment, so far?” you are giving control to the writer. Writing down potential concerns the writer may have or would like you to focus on specifically throughout the session can allow the writer to address these concerns.

Don’t Just Mark up the Essay

Often, it is difficult to conduct a peer-review session because you struggle with deciding how much to correct or add to the writer’s existing work.

However, be sure to take a backseat as they make choices about what to say and how to say it. Listen to their thoughts and feelings on the work, offering a nod here and there to encourage the writer. Sometimes taking a backseat during sessions allows the writer to develop thoughts naturally and it also allows you to learn from the writer’s work.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tips for ESL writers

As an ESL writer, I remember the pain of writing paper in America for the first timeThe paper required critical response to a book we were reading; however, my response was a single-page introduction to the book—no quotations, no citations, no critical thoughts and even no formattingThe result was that I was invited to my professor’s office to discuss it. Looking back to the writing I had, I can say that I have improvedI’d like to give some useful tips here for ESL writers who are in the same dilemma as I was  

Calm down first: 
It is common for ESL students to feel anxious when they first arrive in Americaso, you may not be the only one who is having a panic attack about writing papers. It is necessary for you to calm down first, then to figure out an effective way to solve your problems. For example, if you get a twelve-page assignment and have no idea on where to start, you could ask others for help and calm yourself down. 

Visiting professors, the writing center or asking classmates: 
According to different cultural conventions, it might be considered rude to bother professors with questions in some countries. But it is definitely okay in America to visit your professors and ask them for helpThey are friendly and willing to helpIt is very helpful to ask professors or your classmates about everything you don’t know. Visiting the writing center with your questions and concerns will also give solutions to your writing dilemmas. Your writing will be largely improved by communicating with others 

Getting to know genre: 
To know what you’re writing about before anything is very crucial. Different countries have different conventions to various genres. Thus, it is necessary to learn how different genres function in America when you first arrive. There are lots of sources about genre you could use in the library and some useful handouts in the writing center 
Learning Citation Rules: 
I know citations are alien to some ESL writers, including myself; however, understanding citations and plagiarism is crucial in American academiesNo matter what citation you need to learn, it is always a bit annoying at the beginning. Keeping a calm attitude is important. You can always visit the writing center for handouts or sessions on citation systems when you have trouble figuring it out on your own.  


Practicing Grammar: 
It takes time to improve your grammar. Some writers think having a perfect paper with no grammar errors is the best thing. But it is okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. For ESL writers, learning what mistakes you make and how to fix them is just the process of gaining experience. There is no need to be afraid of making errors, but please remember to learn from your mistakes