Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Professional Journals on Writing 03

Question: What can be learned from professional educational journals about teaching and learning to write?

Answer. Note from RayS: I will shift my Q & A on Writing column to summarizing the more interesting ideas from professional educational journals on the teaching of writing. While these articles will be primarily of interest to teachers from kindergarten through college, they might also be useful for the general reader.

What are the differences between writing and speaking? 1. Writing is learned behavior; talking is natural behavior. 2. Writing is an artificial process. 3. Writing is a technological device; talking is organic. 4. Most writing is slower than talking. 5. Writing is stark, barren, naked; talking is rich, inherently redundant. 6. Talking is based on environment; writing must provide its own context. 7. With writing the audience is absent; with talking the listener is present. 8. Writing produces a visible product; talking does not. 9. Because writing produces a product, writing is more responsible and committed than talking. 10. The written word is permanent; talking is ephemeral. 11. Writing is a source of learning with its product; talking is easily forgotten. J Emig. College Composition and Communication (May 77), 123-124.

…people read about twice as fast as they speak, which means that you can read something in about half the time it will take a speaker to tell you the same thing. TM Sawyer. College Composition and Communication (Feb. 77), 45.

How do writing and speaking to an audience differ? “The speaker can relate to the audience with a fairly certain knowledge of its response, while the writer can never know for sure what his or her readers are like or what they next expect.” RJ Connors. College Composition and Communication (Oct. 79), 286.

Thomas Sawyer points out that ‘because the listening audience is sure to miss portions of live speech and cannot preserve it for review…communication must be redundant—repetitious—to be memorable.’ RJ Connors. College Composition and Communication (Oct. 79), 288.

Writing also has the advantage over speech in the precision it allows in word structure…. RJ Connors. College Composition and Communication (Oct. 79), 289.

What should we look for when revising? We’re all guilty of padding (“at this point in time” vs. “now”). Each of us uses certain phrases without thinking. The trick is to identify them so we can eliminate them. Start by searching your copy…. Once you know your pet phrases, get into the habit of using your computer’s “find-and-replace” function to eliminate them. GA Workman. The Writer (Sept. 04), 10.

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