change the way they think

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change the way they think

Post by janie » Fri May 14, 2004 1:46 pm

I just involved in how to prevent students from losing the unity in their writing. Apart from grammar mistakes, I quite often see how incoherence many English learners think when they write. It is hard to pull them back because they cannot jump out of their own language usage. What can I do to change their way of thinking and make their writing achieve unity? As a matter of fact, there exists the polar distance between the way eastern and western thinks. Some thinks that Chinese logic is like a cabbage, which the central core, the main idea is hidden inside so you must know the answer in the end of their articles. How to train students’ logic of writing?

Carol Keeney
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Thinking clearly

Post by Carol Keeney » Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:37 pm

I teach remedial writing and suggest that you liken their outline to supporting a thesis statement like a lawyer would support his opening statement. Make sure they know the difference between a topic and a thesis statement about that topic. Only when they take a stand about what they are writing can they begin to support their stand. Of course their conclusion can be taught later. Good luck to you! Carol Keeney

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Post by CEJ » Fri Jan 06, 2006 4:43 pm

There is no 'logic' of writing. Good writers explain complex ideas so that even rather weak readers can understand. That means, in English, the responsibility is on the writer to be understood.

It's premature to have students work on a specific thesis or an introduction. Rather, they need to brainstorm a lot of related ideas and develop paragraphs on them. Then they need to be guided to help them revise for a essay structure. The key to good essays is to make connections across related paragraphs very clear, again, even for relatively inattentive readers.

It takes a lot of time, and I sometimes am bemused by observations made in ELT about student writing. Stop and think a moment: most people who use English as their native language do very little connected writing in essay form.

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Post by Superhal » Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:09 pm

First, I would check if students are able to do it. If not, forcing them to do it is not in anyone's best interests. If they can sustain multiple sentence structures in their writing, consistently and over a long period of time, then they are ready for paragraph level work that requires connectors.

Imho, if you are in 3 level curriculum (low, med, high) the students ready to enter high or already in high would be the ones who can do it.

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Post by emile » Mon Jan 09, 2006 4:17 am

I totally agree that students need to have a certain level before they can achieve a good level of coherence.

With advanced level students, I often get them to analyze articles from magazines where various devices are used to hold the reader's attention: quotes from people's personal experiences, pictures with captions, captioning quotes from the text., providing a 'hook' at the beginning. I find that if they can make it interesting, they can make it coherent.

I also get the students to read out their compositions to each other. I read that students are more likely to learn from peer-correction or peer-feedback than from teacher feedback.

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