Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Catching up and considering directions

Catching up: 

Our Blogging English group has a new member, Eric (English nickname), who has been lurking, checking out the page and getting to know us ~ as best he can in the company of lurkers.

@Eric ~ please post your introduction as a comment to this post. Other not-so new members who have yet to introduce yourselves, please do the same. Until I either work out better ways to get you to write or give up on it altogether, I'll stick with the old, familiar standbys: nagging and posting reminders as well as asking you to write reviews, share opinions and respond to posts.

I haven't post a reply to Sadamu yet because, in addition to getting caught up in other writing and internet obligations, I've been thinking about what to write. That also means thinking about what he wrote, my overreaction, obvious misunderstandings, implications for the self-paced learning project, learning and teaching styles and strategies, and especially about writing.

There's enough for more than a post there. Too much to cover here or in a single comment. Here's the short version: I apologize to Sadamu for having overreacted. I was less disappointed in his reply (which I still think missed the point) than in the failure of the group to write and post. Needing to re-write is NOT an excuse for not writing to on the class writing blog. If I don't see your writing, I'm going to assume that you are not writing. So if you are, show me.

Revision or re-writing is another matter altogether and a complex task with many steps that even most native speaker college students don't get.  Of course you should proof-read before posting to correct basic mistakes that you notice.  You should also reread what you have written, perhaps read it out loud to yourself to make sure it makes sense.  That's your initial draft, which may be just fine for informal writing. Then share it by posting so we can give you feedback, comment, offer suggestions and so on.

This process is called peer review. In a way it goes back to and depends on introductions (the ones most of you have not posted). Why? Because we need to know your writing goals and purpose to make helpful suggestions. For example, I know that Eric plans to take the TOEFL. He will be given a limited time to write a short formal essay. Therefore, we know that Eric can't afford to settle for informal writing. What can other goals tell us?

Indirectly, this brings me to the second part of the title, considering directions...

If no one is willing to write, then what is the purpose? Should I make this blog public and just post lessons, study materials and "learning to learn" information? I made the blog private rather than public for you to have privacy and be more comfortable sharing your writing.  It's up to you.

You may be able to make some improvement in your writing just by writing alone and for yourself. On the other hand, you could end up just reinforcing mistakes and not improving but fossilizing mistakes. For sure, you are unlikely to become a proficient writer without feedback. Good writers, even great and famous ones, need feedback, to be told where they had problems and what they needed to fix. It's up to you.

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