Simplifying the Art of English Writing

Simplifying the Art of English Writing
Apr 18, 2016 By thabet_sava ,

“Give a person a fish and he/she will eat a meal, teaches him/her how to fish, he/she will eat for life”

A few weeks ago, I began to contemplate about the above adage when my students expressed their inability to grasp the concept of English writing.

Their fear of failing their English writing exams aroused my curiosity and led me to venture into the task of simplifying the process of composing a stimulating and thought provoking piece of penmanship.

To ease their concern, I recited, and wrote on the board, the above adage. At first, it didn’t accomplish its intended objective. Actually, it turned my students into baffled and confused young individuals.

That prompted them to question my logic and insanity. With anger apparent in their voices and puzzled looks on their faces, they shouted “What does fishing have to do with English writing”

To calm them down, I requested that they should be patient and permit me the chance to elaborate. I informed them that the adage stands true for English writing. Impatiently, they asked me to explain to which I was more than delighted to oblige

I explained to them that writing should be taught as a concept and not as a subject. The title of the course should be “The conceptual art of writing”. Of course, they asked me about its meaning.

Passionately, persistently and persuasively, I told them that it means treating all kinds of writing as a concept that would apply to any topic.

It leads the students to come up with a format that would allow them to easily compose a piece of writing about any issue in English or any other language.

The process should be done systematically according to the following steps:

    • Students must create an intriguing title, which should be neither too short nor too long

    • They should make an outline for their topic of interest. The number of items in the outline indicates the number of paragraphs.

    • Each item of the outline ought to be expanded into ideas. The number of ideas in the item shows the number of sentences in the paragraph.

    • The paragraphs are combined bearing in mind paying attention to coherence.

    • Revision must be made to create an eloquent, stimulating and thought provoking piece of writing.

Of course, writing for academic purposes, especially essays, compositions or research papers, should follow the format, which includes introduction, details or main and conclusion.

Introduction should casually mention or refer to the focus of the composition or the essay. The introduction must focus on general ideas pertinent to the topic.

The transition from one sentence to the next must be done smoothly, which could be accomplished using conjunctions.

The details or the main ought to explore the issue at hand from various perspectives including the writer’s own views.

The points of views must be supported by persuasive and valid arguments and examples from the writer’s own life experience and learning.

The conclusion could the summary of the key points of the composition or the essay, the general views regarding the topic discussed or the writer’s own opinions pertinent to the issue at hand.

Articles differ from academic writing. Article writers take advantage of the “Poetic license” that grants them the freedom to ignore the standard format and be flexible in composing their articles in order to be able to put their points of views across to their readers.

I hope that my article will be published and printed to be used by writing teachers to open forums of discussion with their students bearing in mind that final and international exams are approaching.

Helping the students to get rid of the irrational fear of writing exams is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of teachers everywhere especially the Chinese English teachers.

Guiding their Chinese toward acquiring optimistic attitudes pertinent to writing exams would be playing a major role in securing the future of China.

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Keywords: pander English writing teaching english


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If there was ever proof that China isn't regulating its teachers enough it is this. China seriously needs to enforce on their schools regular staff training. Even the qualified teachers that are coming over are not teaching to the high standards that would be expected back home. I don't blame the teachers it's not their fault that they are having to learn on the job. China needs serious reforms in their education system. The bureaucracy is ridiculous. I imagine it's a backlash from WW2 where their bureaucracy was virtually non existent. They have now gone the other way. The problem is they don't address their old rules and update them. They just slap on more rules on top of the old. Meaning that anything that is good for their education is met by red tape and road blocks. I equally I don't think that they even do their homework. The requirement to have a TEFL is ridiculous. TEFL courses are not providing teachers with the knowledge they need. It's surely better to just enforce the schools to give them the 120 hours of training then require them to have a certificate from an unknown source.

Apr 18, 2016 23:00 Report Abuse



China is producing English teachers that, to be honest, are not proficient in the language and are using English teaching methods more suitable for the early 20th century. So it is a vicious circle in terms of Chinese teachers being taught by Chinese teachers who are not themselves proficient. And on and on. Then if they hire FT's what they really want is cheap 'edutainers', not professionals. It is Chinese recruiters and schools who do the hiring, not foreigners, so they will go for the cheapest they can get away with (backpackers), and if they can get away with illegal teachers then they will. It is the Chinese bureaucracy that has created the problem and then they blame the foreigners for poor teaching if professional teachers stay away. They then tie the hands of any professional who slips through and tries to teach. Of course they are not going to admit this is the main problem with English teaching in China is China itself.

Apr 19, 2016 02:17 Report Abuse



I think my chinese students are great. I'm impressed by their skills.

Apr 18, 2016 20:18 Report Abuse



A teacher's job is to make the difficult seem simple in order for students to understand. But from what you wrote you created an elaborate and confusing maze to just teach them how to use an outline. You were more interested in trying to make yourself seem intelligent as opposed to just teach the damn lesson.

Apr 18, 2016 15:17 Report Abuse



Every Chinese essay ever: "In today's modern society, with the development of technology, ...... Every coin has two sides. ...... Everyone has their own opinion. ...... Only in this way can we make our society better and better. This is my speech." ----- Chinese students: Feel free to plagiarise this. It will save you a whole evening and produce the same inevitable result.

Apr 18, 2016 11:53 Report Abuse



..yes, it's true, these and many other snippets are peppered throughout student essays in every country of the Anglophone world. Students in China should adopt them more and more, and so then more closely approximate those student drivellings common to the lands from whence their estimable teachers have come.. eh. FFS

Apr 24, 2016 12:13 Report Abuse



Sorrel beat me to it but after reading what this English teacher wrote on the board and again in this article, I feel it necessary to add that unqualified foreign teachers are also screwing up students' English.

Apr 18, 2016 08:08 Report Abuse



I would be inclined to agree with you if it wasn't for the fact that the average British or American 16 year old, who are taught by qualified teachers, write like shit. It doesn't help that the average qualified teacher, myself included, cannot write well.

Apr 18, 2016 22:18 Report Abuse



Speak for yourself. I know plenty of students and teachers that can write very well.

Apr 19, 2016 11:20 Report Abuse



Yeah, the same can be said for both unqualified foreign teachers and Chinese teachers and students. I'm not denying the fact that there are plenty that can indeed write. But I stand by what I have said in regards to the average student not being able to write well despite the fact that they are being taught by qualified teachers. I think it's very easy for people to throw the blame at Chinese teachers or unqualified teachers when it's clearly a universal problem and not a set groups. Literally my entire family are teachers. When my father retired after 20 years of teaching he decided to release a book. Bare in mind my father and myself are not English teachers. Well, my father self published his book using amazon he did not hire an editor. The book was ridiculed not because of the quality of the story but because of the large amount of grammatical errors that my father made. When I was at university my peers and I decided we would form a study group and help each other write our essays. Most of that group are now qualified teachers and you will be amazed by how many of the teachers with poor writing skills have become English teachers. Yes, there are plenty of students and teachers that can write well but equally there are plenty that cannot.

Apr 19, 2016 11:53 Report Abuse



Then... don't teach! (well, English writing... if you're teaching math or physics, then obviously fine!)

Apr 23, 2016 11:28 Report Abuse



Errr, Mr nzteacher80, maybe try recasting a little nugget like "I know plenty of students and teachers that can write very well" to read "..students and teachers who write very well". Ha, omfg really, the thick reefs of irony in these fora are scintillating.

Apr 24, 2016 12:02 Report Abuse



it would help if the writer of this article was indeed a native speaker and not a bouncer of english everything in the opening lines tells you all you need to know, the most dangerous english of them all INDIAN ENGLISH

Apr 18, 2016 07:18 Report Abuse



You never 'teaches' a student?

Apr 18, 2016 08:03 Report Abuse



That's interesting

Apr 18, 2016 05:12 Report Abuse



questioning my INsanity...

Apr 18, 2016 04:04 Report Abuse



By the time any foreign English teacher gets near a Chinese student's writing, the damage has already been done by the Chinese teachers of English. You should address your remarks to them about the over use of adjectives, cliches that no native English speaker would use, convoluted vocabulary taken straight from dictionaries with no idea of how to use the words correctly, poor punctuation, the list goes on. I have had to try and undo years of damage that was caused by Chinese teachers who have a poor grasp of the language. I could add the prevalence of 'text speak', and the words 'gonna' and 'wanna' in what are supposed to be academic essays. Also the over-use of 'in my opinion' followed by trite, rote learnt answers that are not original at all.

Apr 18, 2016 03:15 Report Abuse



Teachers with writing (and reading) skills would help, but, too much influence from foreigners might threaten social stability.

Apr 18, 2016 04:09 Report Abuse