Improve Your Writing with English Language Peer Support

Hi there!

My name is Michelle Vacarciuc and I’m a Master of Management student who is ready to help you improve your English writing, editing, and speaking skills this semester! When I am not studying or working, I love to travel, learn about psychology, write, play piano, and communicate.

 

What you need to know:

Together, we will help build your confidence in the English language throughout the semester.

Now that we’ve gotten introductions out of the way, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: before, and maybe while, I loved writing, I was really, really bad at it.

The first essay I wrote in a university setting received a grade of 65 per cent. In response, I distraughtly visited my TA’s office hours with the hopes of figuring out where I went wrong. My TA gave me extra feedback and agreed to mark a supplementary essay that wouldn’t be counted towards my course grade. I took my essay, tried to apply her comments purposefully, and handed it back in. The second time around, my supplementary essay, which I assumed was a great improvement, received a grade of 70. It was a higher grade than the original 65, but it was definitely not the best I could produce. I finally had to admit that I actually had no idea how to write an essay. Sure, I had ideas about books and themes and connections that I conceptualized for hours on end, and sure, I loved to read and write poetry; but ultimately, I didn’t know how to write an essay.

I spent the remainder of the semester in writing centers and editing drafts. I visited my professors’ office hours and analyzed theoretical essays to figure out what exactly made them clear and stylistically powerful. Along the way, I explored my writing’s strengths and weaknesses and started to have fun tinkering with my bad writing. I started to value writing outside of a classroom setting, focusing on the clarity that the process of writing offered my thinking. Here are a few tips that I discovered on how to develop the components of good writing and that I try to share in all of my tutoring sessions:

Remember that your reader isn’t a mind reader.

A piece of writing that is clear to you may only seem clear because you are the one who wrote it. In order to fully grant the reader access into your thinking, you must develop your ideas and explain them effectively by anticipating points that may weaken the reader’s understanding. 

Example: I went to visit my friend and I was upset because her dog was there. She should have known because I told her beforehand.

Better: I went to visit my friend and I was upset because her dog was there. She should have known that I was allergic to dogs because I told her beforehand.

Every word must have meaning.

Every word should serve to communicate your message. Unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, and nouns can confuse your reader and detract from the message you’re trying to communicate through your writing.

Example: My clear and in-depth understanding of the current political environment is deeply influenced and controlled by my knowledge and understanding of macroeconomics.

Better: My understanding of macroeconomics influences my understanding of the current political environment.

 Every word must be accurate.

Increasing the complexity of a sentence does not make it a better sentence; rather, focus on using words that most accurately communicate your message.

Example: I interrogated my father to engage in detective analysis; he divulged that he had not consumed the cookie substance. 

Better: I interrogated my father and he admitted that he did not eat the cookie.

 Read your writing aloud when you edit.

When you read in your head, your brain can automatically fill-in words by anticipating the message that the sentence is leading towards. As a result, you’ll imagine certain words where they do not exist, and you will not be able to see the errors in your writing. Reading aloud slows your brain down and allows you to digest every single word you’re reading.

Physically edit your writing on paper.

Similar to tip #4, printing out your paper will allow you to physically see the writing on the page. With a pen in hand, you’ll be able to process the words more slowly, allowing you to catch more errors than you’d otherwise catch.

Happy writing!

Michelle Vacarciuc

2018-11-13T10:48:59+00:00 November 1st, 2018|Categories: Academics, International|Tags: , , |

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