The following information is reprinted from my book, Teaching English, How To…. (Xlibris, 2004).
Question: How can teachers help students learn to use Standard Written English?
Answer: Ten-Minute Essays
The Ten-Minute Essays and Standard Written English
The second time around in the school year, I had another purpose for the ten-minute essays: to demonstrate the meaning of Standard Written English.
What Is Standard Written English?
For me, one of the most important questions I had to answer for students was what I meant by “Standard Written English.” Most of the students in the beginning used informal, conversational expression in their writing. They wrote as they spoke. They really did not understand what I meant by “Standard Written English.” I tried to explain to them that the more they wrote as they spoke, the farther they were from Standard Written English.
The characteristics of conversation are the use of contractions. Needless repetition of words. The use of “there” and “it” as the subjects of sentences. Failure to use clear references for the demonstrative pronouns, “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those.” Imprecise word choice, represented by the noun “thing,” and the verbs, “get,” “getting” and “got.” Problems with dangling and misplaced modifiers, and problems with parallel structure. I also emphasized use of the direct, active voice rather than the indirect, passive voice.
With the second round of the ten-minute essays, I began to show students how to use Standard Written English.
Next Blog: How I Used Ten-Minute Essays to Demonstrate Standard Written English.