Many of you who were regular readers surely noticed the radio silence on As a Linguist in the past six months. Some who follow me at A Modern Day Dinosaur know that part of the reason for the silence was the Project 365 challenge I gave to myself. For those who don’t know, Project 365 is a commitment to post (at least) one picture a day for an entire year. I started on the 1st of January, 2013 and finished on the 31st of December. If you haven’t seen it already and are interested, you can find the posts here.
But it was more than just photography that kept me from more extensive writing. I’m also trying to orchestrate a career change, and that has been eating up mental and emotional resources that I previously had devoted to this blog. I haven’t stopped this process and am in fact going to be busy with classes and an internship this semester, but I also have missed writing too much. I felt the absence of that spark, that rush that writing gives me.
The writing I like to do for this blog tends to require time and research, so I can’t say that I will be posting the 2-3 times a week that I had been maintaining a while back; I simply won’t have the time. But I will certainly be going for more consistency than once every six months.
In the meantime, I thought it was time for a face lift. For the blog, of course! Though I am a creature of habit and enjoyed the theme I originally chose for As a Linguist, I felt that it was time for yet another change, so welcome to the new theme!
For the past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time reading. As much as I love to read, not all of the material in front of me was pleasurable. This is partly my fault. In the writing classes I teach, I assign a lot of homework. I have to. I can’t expect my students to improve their skills if they don’t practice them.
I really don’t let up on them until the bitter end. This means that I don’t really let up on myself, either. I reckon I will have graded 250 rough and final draft essays, and 135 short reaction papers by the time this semester is put to bed. And that is with only 2 classes, one of which is very small this semester (12 students) and the other of which has a bunch of slackers who aren’t handing in all of their work.
But it does all pay off. This last batch of grading that I finished yesterday contained essays that are far better than they were in January. Sure, the students who don’t put as much effort into their writing are still handing in mediocre work, and this makes me quite frustrated. For others who have stuck with me, however, and have read my feedback, written everything I asked, asked questions and paid attention, things are finally starting to fall into their place. And this is the light at the end of my tunnel. This is what I’ve been waiting for all semester long.
But I need breaks even from the good essays, and this often comes in the form of reading things that I want to read just for the hell of it. Here are some of my favorite things I’ve read about language over the past couple of weeks:
What great things have you read lately? Share in the comments!
To start off one of my writing courses this semester, I had my students read an article called, “Getting it ‘write’: Essay styles vary by country, creating difficulties for international students.” It explains some of the ways that writing philosophies differ in various cultures, and how awareness of this fact helps students understand their task a little bit better as they try to adapt to an American education.
We’re all in the same boat.
Many of my students have had higher education experience in their native countries and thought they knew how to write. Then they arrived here and found themselves placed in a developmental writing course. Many of them believe it’s solely due to their grammar or vocabulary but don’t realize that there are other factors involved. Having them start the semester with this article gives them a chance not only to adjust their expectations, but also to make them feel better about why they need remedial work. Continue reading