Thursday, May 29, 2008

Archive: Writing as a Second Language

The purpose of this blog is to summarize articles on teaching English/language arts, from kindergarten through college, published in English education journals from the past.

Topic: Writing As A Second Language

Title: Teaching Writing As a Second Language: Studies in Writing and Rhetoric. Alice S. Horning. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987. Reviewed in College Composition and Communication (October 1988), 327. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: “Proposes that, especially for basic writers, the written form of English is essentially a ‘second language,’ and that students learn written English as other adults develop second language skills.”

“Highlights the difficulties that writers have with the redundancy of written language.” [I’m assuming that the author means the redundancy that carries over from informal speech to writing. RayS.]

Comments: Interesting comparison. Written language is certainly both the same as, but different from, speech, the first or "native" language. Speech is full of redundancies and verbosity. Modern writing is concise.

I have already discussed my 10-minute essays, writing samples at the beginning of class which I correct that night to show students how to eliminate redundancy and verbosity.

I suggest to students to try three steps to eliminate unnecessarily repeated words; 1. Drop out one of the repeated words. Did you need it? 2. Use a synonym. This technique works sometimes. 3. Rewrite to eliminate the unnecessarily repeated word. The latter step is usually the most effective technique for eliminating redundancy and gaining precision in expression.

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