Thursday, December 17, 2015

When you fish for reading, spelling and writing. What really happens ?

In "What Should Colleges Teach?" part 3, author and professor, Stanley Fish describes the relationship between reading and writing in terms of skills learned from one another. He first makes his claim in saying that middle school and high school English classes are not very effective at teaching students how to write . He then goes on to mention that writing skills can be improved through extensive reading, which I agree with.
There are books for everything
English is one of the most spoken languages in the whole world, without a doubt one of the most evolved languages there is. However, despite it being so widely spoken, college professors find students still struggling with forming clear and complete English in their writing. This is because the mastery of forms is something that is not emphasized enough in middle school and high school. In college, English professors, more than often, find themselves having to teach students material they were expected to have learned in high school and sometimes even middle school. This causes an increase in workload as educators have more to teach, and scholars have more assignments to complete and information to learn. This can prove to be very stressful for both parties, but what else is there to do when alternatives are pretty much nonexistent?
Does reading really help with writing? 
On the other hand, I do agree with the the thought that extensive reading could be the key to learning how to write. (Primarily due to the fact that the works being read are written with proper grammar, spelling etc.) Through repetition, students will familiarize themself with the relationships and patterns of words in sentences, as well as gain a better understanding of sentence structure. This could help improve students creative writing skills, one of those skills could be pre-writing or free-writing the work they are doing and also revising their work before turning it in. Through observation and feedback, students can expand their understanding of the English language as well as learning how to write. Not to just write how they used to write it before college but to write it correctly like a college student. After all, we learned how to walk by watching others and later practicing ourselves until we finally took our first steps. Same as anything else in our daily lives.

Others might argue against this,and say that high school students should have already learned everything and should be able to write as they speak in college. However, some argue that colleges should allow the students to write how they write, since they know some slang.
“If we teach standardized, handbook grammar as if it is the only ‘correct’ form of grammar, we are teaching in cooperation with a discriminatory power system” (Patricia A. Dunn and Kenneth Lindblom, English Journal, January, 2003). True as this statement may be, it fails to recognize that English is a language used for communication. By "correcting" someone's English, we are not discriminating against them, instead, we are trying to teach them how to use it correctly. This is also done to improve their writing skills which will not only helps with communication overall, but also in important English assignments where students are graded on how well they are able to write a paper.

The teaching  methods described  in What Should Colleges Teach? seem very interesting, especially  asking students to turn a three-word sentence such as “Jane likes cake” into a 100-word sentence without losing control of the basic structure and then explain, word-by-word, what they did. Another technique discussed was dividing the class into groups of four or five and asking each group to create its own language complete with a lexicon, and a grammar capable of conveying the distinctions (of number, tense, mood, etc.) conveyed by English  grammatical forms. And at the end of the semester each presents a text in its language and teaches the class how to translate it to English and how to translate English sentences into the new language created by the group. These all seem like great ways to improve writing skill, as well as keep students engaged in what  they are learning. But as to answer the the  question, "What should colleges teach?" , I believe  they should teach students  whatever  they may not know and to help them with anything  they don't quite  understand, as everyone learns at a different pace from one another. With that students will be well prepared in college when it comes to writing. Also when you fish for reading,writing, and spelling we all become better at the English language.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the idea of understanding how language works - I've been speaking English my entire life, and I never learned how to think about English until after I studied another language.

    That said, what about people coming to college in America with English as a second language? I finally understand how complicated English can be, but I still get the benefit of being a native speaker. Shouldn't there be ways for colleges to help non-native speakers?