Concepts Learnt While Taking English Lessons English Language Essay

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It was quite the experience to take English 102 class. Although this was the first English class I have taken online, I have learned many concepts that I will carry on throughout my life. The most important concept I decided was the idea of being persistent as well as consistent in writing an essay. Since I took an online English course, parts of an essay aren't required such as the rough draft; however they still must be done to get the best essay that could be written. So when the online paper's due dates get released, I feel as if I have the most time in the world to write the paper, however days tick by quicker than I am acknowledged of and the due date is tomorrow! As the semester is ending however, I've learned the ability to control myself to manage my time more efficiently and effectively to eliminate my procrastination.

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In my first paper, I took a mental note of the due date on the paper, however this failed to serve any purpose as I saw myself writing the paper the night before it was due and it resulted in me turning in a rough draft as my final copy because I was limited on time. For the next paper, I was better at time management as I saw myself writing a rough draft of the essay weeks before it was actually due, however I did not spend enough time in the editing phase. Each consecutive paper afterwards, I was able to adjust my schedule to be flexible and efficient about it.

During my rough transformation into a more efficient person, I began to notice the problem originated from activities I would do instead of the task at hand. For example, I would choose to play online video games instead of editing my paper to further improve my score on an essay. Also, I found it very hard to take criticism. As I turned in papers and they were returned with marks and comments, I could not find myself to ever read those comments by stuffing the paper away into storage never to be seen again. In this class however, you and other peers openly helped me overcome many of these objectives. I slowly came out of my shell by taking the constructive feedback while my peers made me realize through their various comments that I am able to change and improve myself quite easily if I could just open my eyes to other's help. Although I am uncertain of some individuals' abilities to criticize my work, I will be more then welcome to accept and revise my work based on those critiques.

Incidentally, my papers began to show improvement each after another just because I was able to learn how to edit my papers. I learned that by improving these writing pieces, I have become increasingly better at conversing with my peers. I feel by opening ourselves to others, we can strengthen our mindset to overcome any task.

During the editing phase, I have become more flexible and open to learn how to fortify my writing piece. Thus, this portfolio will unfold to you the extent of my abilities. And I will show to you that I have enhanced these skills via examples of writing examples of my writing pieces from my second semester of freshman year.

RHETORICAL KNOWLEDGE

Focus on a purpose

In the task of arguing, I had to make sure to stay focused on a purpose; in one of my writing assignments, I had to be sure to persuade my audience that a year-round school education was better in comparison to a typical school schedule. I started a claim, supported this claim, stated a counter argument, and refuted it in my favor to show an unbiased approach on the subject as well as the credibility of my claim. It is very important to stay on task with a focus on the purpose. The following is one of my counter-arguments upon teen curfews and its refutation.

On the other hand, those who support teen curfews may argue that this law helps prevent crime rates and protect the innocents from harm. 146/200 Americans have curfew laws that restrict the rights of youths in society and crime rates do decrease, but it cannot prevent it. Also, communities found that parents were not effective enough when it came to keeping young people off the streets late at night" and it help parents keep control over their own children (Knight 9). This is true; however, even without curfew, it does not mean that parents will have little to no control over their children. Children getting into trouble is a normal thing and sometimes adults forget to let them just be kids. If kids truthfully desired to do drugs, drink alcohol, have sex, or cause destruction, curfew laws are rules to follow. If people will not listen, then laws and regulations are useless meaning nothing will stop them from doing what they want.

Respond to the Needs of Different Audiences

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When writing, one must be wary to all the audiences that may be present in reading you paper. Very simply, different people who read about your subject will do so from different interest levels and different abilities to respond to the subject. Your end-product, therefore, will change to address these different interests and abilities. Below is an example of my biology report responding to the needs of different audiences by providing them with information that is necessary to understand:

The most common type of attack is the so-called "hit and run" assault. When a shark takes a bite of a human, they are usually considered too bony to be a good meal; therefore they are quickly released as the shark disappears. These attacks usually involve injuries to the leg below the knee and are not usually fatal. For a shark, Hit-and-run attacks are probably most often cases of mistaken identity. They usually happen near the surface and in poor visibility. Factors such as breaking surf, heavy currents, and other factors may make it hard for the shark to see its victim clearly.

Once I understood who my audience was and what their needs are, I choose an appropriate form of writing, and approach the topic differently for each form. Each approach has its own writing process. Writing a research paper has one process, writing a persuasive essay has another, a letter to an editor has a third, and an informative or expository essay may have a fourth. Therefore, the products, or forms, of my writing change in response to the audience. Knowing your audience can lead you to choose a more appropriate and effective final form for my writing.

Respond Appropriately to Different Kinds of Rhetorical Situations

This semester, different pieces of writing were to be approached differently depending on the type of paper being written. Learning logs for example are used for its content opposed to the formal papers where it requires spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and flow.

Writing is quite different for each paper. For example in writing my report on sharks, I address the general audience:

Shark attacks often may be cases of mistaken identity. One can find species of shark capable of attacking humans in polar waters, temperate oceans, and tropical seas. However, most shark attacks occur in waters where people surf and sharks instinctively hunt for seals. Many marine biologists believe that because the outline of a person paddling a surfboard looks similar to a seal swimming near the surface, it could account for the many shark attacks in Northern California. One surfer, John Smith, was bitten by a Great White shark fifty yards from the beach in Marin County, California, but the shark, as Smith put it, 'spit' him back out again. Perhaps, as many scientists suggest, the shark was really in the mood for a seal like the ones that lounge placidly on the nearby rocks and buoys.

On the other side, in my argument towards year round education, I talk about how the situation of one side compared to the other.

Adopt Appropriate Voice, Tone, and Level of Formality

Different tones and voice are used depending on the type of genre that is currently being written. For example, when I was writing about the situation on how Tan felt about Hulan in her Alien Relative essay I had my voice expressed in the following excerpt in a very informal way:

After analyzing Tan's piece, I disliked her style. My first impression of Tan is that she was a weak lady who bottled up all her emotions. These types of people are unhealthy when they keep it all to themselves. Honestly, if she wanted Hulan to change, Tan should have come on stronger about her advice and beliefs instead of being swayed away while "pretending" to accept the criticism she receives back. On the other hand, Tan provides us with a typical setting of being how being in debt to others is a sure way to be taken advantage of. Again, without showing her reason for being in debt, it appears to the readers that she had an alternative path to this task she was put up to. But all in all, I did not enjoy the text because I felt as if the text kept repeating itself.

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Sometimes, it is unnecessary to provide more information than is required to have the material more reader-friendly to the audience. Of course, some writings require one to be technical to address any doubts or questions about the essay. These essays usually include much more depth about the subject and have a very formal approach on the topic. In my introduction of my analysis of Amy Tan's article, it uses a tone and voice necessary to the level of formality.

After much analysis of Amy Tan's article "Alien Relative," it's been decided that there is much more beyond what is said in the text to be perceived. Tan discusses her distinct memories of Hulan and her interactions between her. Gleaming through the story, one would notice all of the negative thoughts she thinks of her. It is also noted that all these thoughts were never told to Hulan, most likely because Hulan would never take the author's word seriously. Thus, all these negative thoughts were portrayed in her thoughts and nothing was ever said. Though many people would view the narrator as too conservative and, for most of the story, not caring enough toward Hulan, the narrator's fail attempts in giving advice to her are easy to understand. Often, the only way to gain a foothold in life is to ignore a person whose lifestyles or behaviors are incapable of being adjusted however, that is no excuse to ignore the ignorance of others to one's convenience.

Write in Several Genres

I learned a variety of techniques towards writing in several genres this semester. In English 102, I learned that for my analysis essay on Tan's "Alien Relative" essay. I had to begin with a strong introduction, analyze my essay, and finally synthesizing my opinions into that same essay to show my view on the topic. This in turn helped me realize that Tan was left with mixed emotions and feelings towards her friend Hulan. She not only expressed her as an annoyance but also as a friend:

Not to mention her mixed emotions of Hulan were not dealt with in turn. Tan needed to get herself in a position where she didn't have to worry too much with all the stress and disapproval that Hulan gave her and kept on coming on strong. After all, individuals follow those with great confidence and approach. And in turn with a goal in mind, one should take upon the struggles and pain it takes to get through to it.

Next, we had an assignment of persuasion and I took the path of arguing for the rights of teen's curfews. I began by stating that: In this current era, particular individuals known as teenagers are having their choice of freedom restricted. With this argumentative format, I provided the background information necessary for the audience. Then I proceeded to provide evidence as well as examples to exemplify my statement. Next was the counterarguments which were in turn refuted to provide a wider viewpoint on the issue with a conclusion following that.

For my biology report, I chose a topic that was quite misleading with a surprising twist to it:

A species that has lived with the dinosaurs 450 million years ago, the shark, is still the target of misconception with their bad reputation. Sharks are not bloodthirsty maniacal killers. As the ocean's number one predator, sharks help maintain the balance of nature by reducing animal population.

I wanted to state the general audience's view towards sharks and starting with the known background information, slowly transition it into something that they had no idea about. Then I continued to express some voice into it to conclude the report:

Steve Parker, author of The Encyclopedia of Sharks, thinks the public's image of sharks is on the upswing due to at least three factors. The first is that local and federal authorities continue to improve their efforts at controlling shark/human interactions with better sign postings at certain beaches, improved education, more stringent patrols and other solutions. The second is that more data from scientific research has been released, with countless additional studies on the way. "We can now view sharks like the real creatures that they are, in terms of behavior, feeding and courtship," Parker said. Finally, he believes many people now feel "sympathy" for sharks. "They are the persecuted instead of the persecutors," he explained. In recent years, numerous shark populations have been depleted by well over 90 percent, with some species, like the smooth hammerhead, going down in number by an unfathomable 99 percent in certain regions. Commercial and recreational fisheries kill anywhere from 26 to 73 million sharks each year. Therefore, sharks do not deserve this bad reputation from worldwide views of individuals and should not be apparent as a villainous being.

Using tactics learned from the McGraw-Hill Guide to Writing and English 102 class, I am able to apply skills learned from that book into other sources such as my Biology class, resumes, and improving my literary skills.

CRITICAL THINKING, READING, & WRITING

Use Writing/Reading for Inquiry, Learning, Thinking, and Communicating

While researching one of my essays, I was struck with a question-why do sharks have the threatening and dangerous reputation of a serial killer when they are in fact just reacting to their natural instincts. I began to ponder and read upon latest literature to find the answer to this question. Of course I later included this segment of research in my essay via the author's thoughts and my opinions.

The media gives a huge influence to the image and reputation of the shark. They have a voracious appetite for "shark bites man" stories. The summer of 2001, for example, saw an explosion of shark-attack hype and was even starred on the cover of Time magazine as the "Summer of the Shark." Yet 2001 was statistically averaged as the lowest shark attacks of the decade. "The year saw seventy-six shark attacks and five fatalities worldwide, compared to eighty-five attacks and twelve fatalities in 2000 (Time)." As these shark attacks are occurring around the world, they do not eat as much as they appear to. But the fact is that, some sharks eat only about 2 percent of their body weight each day. That's a bit less than humans typically eat.

Understand a Writing Assignment as a Series of Tasks, Including Finding, Evaluating, Analyzing, and Synthesizing Appropriate Primary and Secondary Sources

For my argumentative essay, I had the task of finding legitimate sources also known as academic journals via the internet or library. It would assist in my task to persuade that teen curfew were unjust and unnecessary and explain why it should be removed.

Sources were to be limited to only academic journal; meaning only reliable sources which can be credible are to be only used. I had found three articles two of which were for the removal of teen curfews and one which was for teen curfew. The article pro teen curfew was used for a later rebuttal which would tie the assignment together and conclude it. The following shows an analysis from my essay.

First of all, curfew laws should not be constituted is because they teach the youth of society how powerless they really are by limiting their natural rights of being a United States' citizen. Furthermore, even the word curfew means "to forbid people from being outdoors between certain hours." Those rights could not socialize to express themselves. In addition, the Ninth Amendment was also dishonored when government controlled what a child can do with or without their parents' consent. These curfew laws are now being challenged by the "Vagueness" Issue. In other words, citizens of the United States can choose to challenge vague laws in which they feel the law enforcement officials do not specify the discretions of these laws ("Teen Curfew Laws Must" 7). To sum it up, laws that contradict the rights of a human being should not be constituted when it targets only a specific group.

With my opinions on the existence of teen curfews, I conclude my essay with a powerful ending by combining the author's ideas with my own.

Integrate Own Ideas with Those of Others

This essay was written to argue the insufficient energy left in the world. I had to learn to incorporate a couple of authors' ideals into my own essays. I state that a few alternative generators such as wind power and nuclear power would be inacceptable to be considered a main power generator. Then, I would merge the two to create a strong message at the end and here is a summary of the one of them:

In David Rockwood's "A Letter to the Editor," he elaborates on several reasons why wind generated power can in no way serve as a reasonable major alternative for electrical energy. He begins stating that wind power is unreliable. Electricity needs to be a source that is available in its peak demands therefore conditions such as no wind or severe blizzard conditions would shut it down. Thus, if we were to rely on wind power it would call for an additional back up generation that would lead to more an increased loss of money and resources.

This article summary was used in conjunction with a secondary one to create a meaningful synthesis of the two in the following:

Furthermore, there is a major flaw in the wind generator's design when they need to fight 125 mph winds to generate energy. Not to mention disasters such as ice storms would nevertheless damage the rotating blades and cause the windmill ceasing to operate. Rockwood also notes that to account for all the needed electrical supply system, there is a need to construct 13,400 wind towers which will account to major adverse environmental impacts on the region. To be frank, using wind power as a major resource is a dream.

Understand the Relationships Among Language, Knowledge, and Power

Language is by far the most important thing in society today. What comes from language is communication and through communication one can gain knowledge as well as a series of networks-power. This language may be limited by the language barriers from across the world, however this does not change the fact that through language and communication, one can gain as much power and knowledge as they seek.

PROCESSES

Be Aware That it Takes Multiple Drafts to Construct/Complete a Successful Text

Although I know that by having multiple drafts peer revised and re-read I would eventually create one that will be close to perfection. However, I always found it a little troublesome to ask individuals to peer-edit my papers. Thus, in this section I concentrated on eliminating my procrastination. If my drafts were looked upon week after week I could polish it with the help of my peers into a well-refined final draft.

Develop Flexible Strategies for Generating, Revising, Editing, and Proof Reading

I was always under a misconception that revisions were only done as a part of a structure and not for anything beneficial. But, now I note that peer revisions have their own benefits. First of all, if the peer editor has anything to say about your work you can almost guarantee the teacher will note the same whether it is good or bad. This counts for grammar, sentence structure, and who the audience is.

Through peer revision, a writer is exposed to new ideas and methods from other writers and it's helpful for others and yourself. I was always successful at sentence structure and flowing, however I did not excel in content if I was writing with the right genre in mind. Thus, I had peers revise it for me and we helped each other. This helped eliminate so much stress because instead of reading the same paper over and over; another individual would be able to input their stance on my paper.

In one of my peer revision groups, I learned one of the most important concepts in writing. Be sure to make your sentences relate to one another. In other words, the sentences following the topic sentence must relate back to it. This is a key concept because it allows readers to know that you are track and not just laying out random ideas and facts.

Understand Writing as an Open Process (Using Later Invention and Re-thinking) to Revise Your Work

Writing in an open process only occurred through the discussion board this semester; however it helped immensely in the long run. Each individual has their own unique way of perceiving the world; therefore it is essential to acquire those unique constructive criticisms to improve your work.

In this class, I had a comment that my work was very vague upon expressing the actual argument upon teen curfews, thus I had to be sure to revise the introduction and strongly state out that was the argument I was against. This little detail was enough to score me points in the long run which would be the difference in a letter grade as well as more importantly reinforcing my literary skills.

Understand the Collaborative and Social Aspects of Writing Processes

By being involved in the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes, it allows both writer and reader to focus on the quality of a piece of writing looking at grammar structure as well as its ability to address the correct audience with the right tone/voice. After exposure to numerous peer review sessions, I have become accustomed to receiving advice as well as giving others helpful suggestions. Therefore not only will I get a huge bonus from participating in these peer revisions in English 102, but I will have the necessary experience of being a part of these collaborative groups working together. This will carry onto when I start a job as well as future writing samples I must produce.

Learn to Critique Your Own Works and the Works of Others

The point behind reviewing your work is to find defects in your work products and remove them quickly and easily.  So doing an effective review requires that you know what you are looking for.  How can you know what mistakes you made this time around?

The best predictor of the defects in your latest work is the defects that were in prior things you produced.  We humans tend to be very consistent, and when it comes to defects, we are painfully consistent!  But this consistency means that we can harness the information we have from prior projects to guide us in doing effective personal reviews.

What we need to do is to build a record of our personal defect history.  Most organizations use a defect tracking system, so you already have a lot of information to start with.  Go through the data and glean out the defects that were in your products.  Here is part of your defect history.  I say "part," because it does not include the defects you removed during compile, unit test, and any other activities that happened before the defect logging started.  But it is a start!

To fill in the rest of your defect history, you will need to start keeping track of the defects you find on your own, whether it was during your reviews, compiling, or unit test.  After a short time, you will have a pretty complete picture of the defects you commonly inject in you work.

Learn to Balance the Advantages of Relying on Others with the Responsibility of Doing Your Part

To balance relying on other with doing your part requires both parties in fulfilling their part of their deal. The reader must tell the writer of any possible flaws seen within the writing piece while the writer must take those comments he receives from the readers to revise and create an improved piece of literature.

KNOWLEDGE OF CONVENTIONS

Learn Common Formats for Different Kinds of Texts

It is important to know which format to use for each genre of text that is being written. One must understand the structures of the several genres available for use and apply them.

In my analysis of Tan's "Alien Relative," I take a very stern approach which an informal format. Similar to knowing all genres, I analyze Tan's paper and format it so I talk about Tan's paper in depth, analyze it, and provide my opinion towards it.

Develop Knowledge of Genre Conventions Ranging From Structure and Paragraphing to Tone and Mechanics

Throughout this course, I discovered there are different methods one should follow for each genre of writing. When I was writing my essay on sharks, I held a very formal tone because I wanted to inform the others of the surprising information they did not know and should know. This is important because formal tones help express my aggressiveness to show them the truth. Below shows such a tone:

Looking back, the fear of sharks can be traced back to 1975 where they earned their reputation from the movie Jaws and Deep Blue Sea. The movie is based on a struggle to escape the clutches of a twenty-five-foot shark. It brainwashes viewers that sharks would actually circle a small town just waiting for the next person to get in to the water. Thus, sharks are basically judged by their appearance. Just because they are big and have millions of sharp teeth, society automatically believes they are monsters looking to terrorize any one they can. So before thinking of a shark as a mindless eating machine, they are living organisms.

All in all I wanted an easy to follow writing with facts that true beyond the general knowledge.

Practice Appropriate Means of Documenting Your Work

Plagiarism has always been a huge no-no throughout my whole education life. No outside information can be included within one's paper without it being included in a works cited page usually located at the end of one's essay or an in-text citation. This includes direct quotes and paraphrased material. They even emphasized it this semester in my biology class, my first day of class, we were to take a plagiarism quiz to make us realize the severity of plagiarizing as well as any situation one may do to be considered for plagiarizing. Thus, one of the correct ways to cite from an online source is:

"From the Left: The Dungeon." Politics in American Popular Culture. Americana: The institution for the Study of American Popular Culture, 2003. Web. 1 Mar. 2011.

Control Such Surface Features as Usage, Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling

Each one of these instances is corrected to a minimum during the editing phase as well as re-reading your own work. Other individuals are more likely to find my mistakes compared to myself because it may sound right to me, however it may be different for others. In one example I was told to:

Many texts employ that point of view and yet the narrator and the author remain distinct. I could for example write from the perspective of a 70-year-old male narrator and still use the "I" point of view. This is important because we can make judgments about the character's motivations without condemning the author for the shortcomings of his/her character.

In other words, there was another whole new way to writing I was not exposed to. I did not consider the fact of putting another individual in your own shoes and writing in the form of first person narrative. This was a very interesting uptake on this new idea I may once use myself.