- The Difference between Writing and Speaking
- and the Importance of Writing Effectively:
Have you ever wondered if there was a difference between writing and speaking? Our immediate response may be yes, and the difference may be that spoken language has sound. Well, that is true, but not everything.
In conversations we use our body language to add to our meaning. In addition, in a conversation we have an opportunity to explain ourselves, to insure that the listener is following, and to provide immediate responses to the listener's questions and need for clarification. In writing, we do not have this luxury. We have only one chance to make our point. If we are not clear and succinct, we will lose our one and only chance.
Consider the following:
When you talk with people and make assertions, the people you are talking with do not always challenge you to give reasons for your statements. They may know why you say what you say, or they may not want to put you in the spot, so they do not always question your reasons for the way you feel. On the other hand, the people who read your writings may not know you, agree with you or know why you think the way you do. Consequently, if you want to communicate with them effectively, you must support any point you make with strong and solid evidence. So, any idea that you write must be supported with reasons, evidence and details.
English as well as any language has to be flexible and responsive to a variety of conditions related to the user and to the purpose of which the language is used. Our primary goals are to provide our group with the skills needed to have good command of what is called Standard English.
Professor Schultz, CSUF, tells us that because the written language changes more slowly than any spoken dialect, standard written English tends to be less subject to change and less tolerant of variety than is current American speech. This helps explain why the task of learning it occupies so much school time, and why all [students] may have to struggle to master some of its arbitrary rules. Yet standard written English carries with it great benefits for those who develop competence in using it, for it is the language of public life.
The ability to handle easily the language of books, newspapers, magazines and public institutions brings with it access to power.
We as ESL students ought to be offered this powerful tool, Standard English, to succeed in college and in the world of work. To do well in college, one must be able to understand and write in Standard English. In addition, to accomplish economic success, one's language must shift to the pattern of the Standard English, which I urge my students to acquire.
Like in speaking, not all writings have to be formal. In speaking, for example, we all shift our language to suit the situation; if we are speaking to close friends, we are more relaxed and we can use a non formal style such as Wannave a cupa coffee? In contrast, if we are talking to a person of higher status, we say, Would you like to have a cup of coffee?
Learning to Write:
A big question that all of us ask at one point or another is: What can I do to write better? There is no easy answer. Writing in itself is a process which one learns more and more about one's skills and how to enhance such skills. There are, however, some ways that may help you develop a better sense of progress and at the same time may help you discover new techniques and styles.
Keeping a daily journal is an excellent way to practice writing and at the same time check your progress. Some writing professors ask their students to keep a daily journal and these professors read and comment their entries. If your teacher, in future writing classes you may be thinking of taking, assigns such a task, take full advantage of it. Write everyday and pay attention to your teachers remarks. If, on the other hand, you are not required to keep a journal, do it anyway do it for your own benefit.
Another sure way to enhance your writing skill is reading. Read what interests you. Read what you have time for. Read newspaper, read advertisements, and read books. Read as much as you can and try to think about the way it was written rather than individual words that puzzled you. Through reading you will acquire several skills that you will find helpful. When I was studying English as third language, I would read any paper I found. I would write new vocabulary and check in the dictionary or ask friends about their meaning and use.
Some writing professors will ask their students to maintain a portfolio throughout the semester. A portfolio is a folder, which contains various kind of information that has been gathered over time. For your purpose in the writing class, a portfolio shall be a collection of all you pre-writing clusters, outlines, revisions, hand outs, and all other materials used in and out of class including journals entries. A portfolio provides concrete examples of a student's abilities and growth over the time period of the course. It tells both the professor and the student how much improvement is taking place. It shows what the student has acquired, and what needs to be worked or more. At the same time it allows the student to evaluate what has been learned, to set goals for future learning, and to monitor progress toward the individual goals.
Of course there are other ways to enhance your writing style that you may find more suited to you, such as watching documentaries, watching films or the news and paying attention to style, vocabulary and grammar. Whatever it takes to reach your goals, do it.
Writing Your Essay:
Writing is done in several stages. Only very few writers, if any, can sit down and write a well-written essay at first trial. For most of us, we have to think, write, rethink and rewrite several times before we can produce an effective paper. The process is done in these steps:
This is the first stage inn the writing process. The writer attempts to listen to the inner voice. This is accomplished through brainstorming, clustering, debating, outlining, and any other means to focus the thoughts around the controlling purpose.
The actual writing of the first draft involves the formation of the idea or ideas developed in the previous stage. More attention is paid to the purpose and focus of the work.
Revising - In this stage, the writer gives a final form to the writing. The voice of the composition whether serious, intellectual, or funny, is formed. In revising, the body and the conclusion, the writer refines what he/she really wants to say.
Once the revision stage is complete, the essay is now formed and the author moves to the next stage. In this editing stage, the writer checks for the effectiveness of the transitions between ideas and between paragraphs. The writer checks for the development of generalization, he checks the supporting information such as details, illustration, and examples. He checks sentence structure, clarity in the forms and word choice, making sure there are no fragments, run-on sentences or commas splice, or clichés. In addition, the writer checks for such grammatical errors as verb tenses, subject-verb agreement, plural and singular nouns etc.
Now the essay is in its final draft and ready for reader evaluation