A training for writing successfully. Things we’ve learned in the past few days.

Nobody ever told us specifically how we should write an essay in English. Of course we knew it was supposed to have an introduction, a body and a conclusion, but that is definitely not enough. We attended an interesting training this week at the University. It was very helpful not only because we found out the main rules for writing successful essays, but we also practiced it, and I hope we’ll be better at writing texts in English in the future.

In high-school we learned to write long, complicated essays in Romanian. Most of the sentences in these essays were quite set in stone; we had to learn by heart information about writers, poets, currents of thought and famous novels. We had to prove how much we had learned by writing informative essays, in which we had to analyze literary texts or to compare currents of thought. It didn’t really matter if you wrote such a thing as a Thesis Statement or a normal conclusion whatsoever, as long as you included all the important information. And the introduction could be as simple as “Mihai Eminescu was a late Romantic poet, the best-known and most influential Romanian poet.” You didn’t have to state what you were going to write about, because it seemed clear that you were about to analyze a poet’s writings. However, in the English education system argumentative essays are the most commonly used type of essay. It is a very useful exercise to search for arguments for and against something, because you can discover new things every time and you can become more skillful in expressing a clear point of view and arguing for it. You can actually learn a lot from writing argumentative essays, as opposed to writing down things like a machine in an informative essay.

The most important thing that we didn’t know was that in English you must be specific. It still seems too simple to me to announce at the beginning of every paragraph what you’re about to say. But it’s actually quite practical and it sounds good, too. An other valuable thing I’ve learned is not to leave gaps to be filled in by the readers. For example this sentence might sound good in Romanian: “Marin Preda wrote the novels “The Moromete Family”, “The Most Beloved of Earthlings”, etc.” It even makes the readers think that you know many novels and that you have a good opinion about them: you believe they are well educated and that they know perfectly what you’re talking about. But it probably doesn’t seem professional in English, because it looks like you can’t remember any more novels and you just leave a gap. The readers can’t guess what you’re thinking about, unless you write it down.

At first I couldn’t imagine what we were supposed to learn at this training. We have already written some important projects in English, but our teachers and professors accepted those texts as they were. They never analyzed them in detail to help us find our mistakes and correct them. Now we learned how to put our ideas in order, how to write them down in a clear manner, and how to recognize and correct our mistakes. I realized that we really needed to be taught or reminded about these things in order to write successfully in the future.

14 comments:

  1. Mereu am urat "tehnica" fie ca era vorba de desen sau scris...
    Da` probabil asta-i firea mea usor anarhista chiar si-acum cand in mod normal ar fi trebuit deja sa fiu asimilat de sistem!:)
    Vrei sa fi..."descriptibil(a)"?
    Don`t think just feel,the rest will unfold and u`ll have billions of colors 4 ur canvas to play with!

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  2. din pacate e important sa te exprimi in asa fel incat sa te inteleaga oamenii - cel putin in meseria pe care urmeaza sa o am. nu prea e loc de o nota personala, totul trebuie sa fie clar si concis. si vreau sa invat sa fac acest lucru cat mai bine.

    insa pot sa dau frau liber imaginatiei ca sa ma distrez in jurnalul personal sau pe blog. dar din cate vezi cam duc lipsa de imaginatie in scris. asta e. bine ca am si alte hobby-uri :D

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  3. I am quite a fan of argumentative essays, but then I like arguing! Also it saves me having to remember a list of facts!

    It is interesting to hear of the different ways of doing things though, I had never thought about it before!

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  4. Thanks for the comment! :) Yes, searching for arguments is very practical, helps you realize things you never thought about!

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  5. It is very interesting how different countries have different essay writing styles. I wonder whether it reflects cultural differences in ways of thinking or behaving.

    In the first year of uni I lived with a Portugese man, a Spanish man and an Argentinian man, and as my English was a bit better than theirs (well my Portugese friend Pedro used to jokingly disagree!) I had to proof read some of their essays and it was interesting the differences, my Spanish friend just seemed to list a lot of unrelated facts and all of them found referencing everything they said strange.

    Yes searching for arguments is good - but it is not always nice or comfortable searching for arguments that disagree with one's own!

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  6. There are so many cultural differences one can discover only through language! I myself feel like a different person when I write in a foreign language. Yet there are more things in which we all ressemble.

    That must have been a very interesting year!

    Yes, it's very difficult to search for arguments against your convictions... I don't like doing that at all, but it can be very good, because you see an other point of view (and probably you'll love your own even more)

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  7. It must be great knowing several languages really well and being able to experience the world through them! Have you read George Orwell 1984? It is interesting in there where the people who run the show make a new language that is so minimal it stops people even thinking about different ways of being.

    Personally I really want to learn sign language - I find the symbols and expressions amazing, I wonder what it would be like to think in sign language!

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  8. Unfortunately I haven't read Orwell... Although I'm really curious. Blame it on technology.

    What an idea!!! Thinking in sign language! Sometimes I do have thoughts and I can't grasp them in any language. I have a notion in my head and I can't express it! It can be very stressful, but also interesting. Has it ever happened to you?

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  9. One of my friend who works as a translator for deaf people said he occasionally dreams in sign language!

    It is difficult for me to say whether I have had the same experience - I am trying to remember or imagine a thought that I couldn't put into words but as I am trying to do that with thoughts already in words it is quite self-defeating! I think I have had thoughts or feelings that I haven't been able to put into words in my mind - that when my mind tries to grasp hold of them they slip away. Some thoughts also seem more like movements in space than thoughts. Ummmmm, does that answer your question?! I think what you describe goes a bit beyond that, maybe?

    If you want to listen to 1984 you can get a free audiobook of it from here: http://www.oculture.com/2006/10/audio_book_podc.html

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  10. Wow, thank you very much! That's great!

    Of course it answers my question! I can't know if what I experience goes beyond what others do, I think these things can't really be compared. But I do enjoy experiencing unusual things I can't really explain, it feels unique! :P

    Thanks for the conversation! ;)

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  11. Yes it is hard to compare things of the mind, and that comes partly back to language again!

    And thank you for the conversation also! (which I can never work out whether is meant literally or as a alternative of saying goodbye!)

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  12. Honestly, it's both! I really need to work on a presentation for tomorrow... As much as I'd love to keep writing :P I... must... be serious and work... Hope I'll catch you some other time, though!

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  13. Cool, speak soon! All the best with your presentation

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