Monday, October 15, 2012

Unique Writers, Unique Difficulties

by Marsail George 

Usually, the writing process progresses through three stages: the prewriting stage, the writing stage, and the editing stage. Although the writing process seems easy to follow, that’s not always true. Different writers, especially from other cultures, face various problems.

English as a second language (ESL) writers are always concerned about clarity and structure. And these are the problems they are aware of; in reality, they suffer greater problems when writing for a culturally different audience such as the American one. Their difficulty could stem from difficulties with language interference to educational differences.

Personally, in my writing process, creating an argument, taking one side, and supporting it with evidence were my biggest difficulties. When I was in school in Egypt, professors expected me to memorize the facts and display that I knew the topic well, as most ESL students are taught to do.

I didn’t have to analyze and state my opinion. This strategy of learning didn’t prepare me for an American audience. I didn’t know how to write a solid paper with a strong argument and justification. I also struggled with getting to the point and clarifying my purpose. In my culture, a long introduction is standard and the purpose of the writing is not mentioned early in the paper.

Over time, writing in a foreign language and culture becomes easier. As an ESL writer, I value having a number of readers read and comment on my papers, to have more than one person’s feedback. I learned how to be a reflective writer, and how to apply all that I learned in my papers. You can too.

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