Tuesday, December 1, 2009

starting a new class: advanced writing

Volunteer teaching for StudyCom is not without its frustrations. The freedom to change teaching topics, experiment with methods and materials, develop new classes ~ in short, teach the way you want, not what or how an administrator tells you ~ offsets those frustrations.

Over the years, I have taught or directed an intermediate class (emphasis on grammar and writing), a reading group, a self paced study group for high beginner to intermediate and, most recently, a beginner class (although one with some intermediate students). This last has morphed into a loose, blog based study/ writing group. Online asynchronous text based (no voice) classes are not well suited to absolute, beginning from scratch beginners unless they are exceptionally motivated.

I let the group lapse ... various reasons, not the least being because I could and it was so informal that doing so was easy. Also, it was time for a change ~ an new course.
I was further prompted to change by the Geocities shutdown and with it the gateway page (class description, application instructions, file manager for materials) for my ESL email/blog classes. I've been out of the academy long enough now to return to  what I taught there: college level composition.

I posted my call on the StudyCom board and to the group for StudyCom students. ... now to see what comes in with the tide...

And then to think about  academic writing ~ how to describe and present that peculiar genre to the uninitiated. Why teach academic writing in the first place? This is a question I have asked myself many times over the years of teaching it to Native Speaker college students. I have yet to come up with a better answer than "because I have to" although I have dimly, through a glass darkly, seen hints of answers.

I am starting an High Intermediate/ Advanced Writing Group (with emphasis on academic essays for TOEFL prep and academic writing). This writing intensive group will write substantial posts for class discussion, analyze and critique essays and writing samples, regularly write and revise  essays. I must limit enrollment because responding to student writing is labor intensive and time consuming.

To apply for the class, write an application letter essay and email it to me at Vanessa.87036@gmail.com. Introduce yourself and include a brief biography (paragraph #1). Describe your English learning background (paragraph #2) and evaluate your writing strengths and weaknesses (paragraph #3). Finally, state your writing goals and explain why you want to improve your writing (paragraph #4)

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