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English Language and Academic Literacy. APRIL 2010 John Masterson & Sarah Browne E-mail: [email protected] E-mail: [email protected] You can access this presentation through the English 1 blog. Address = http://witsenglishi.wordpress.com. What is 1 st Year English All About?.

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English language and academic literacy l.jpg

English Language and Academic Literacy

APRIL 2010

John Masterson & Sarah Browne

E-mail: [email protected]

E-mail: [email protected]


You can access this presentation through the english 1 blog l.jpg
You can access this presentation through the English 1 blog

  • Address =

  • http://witsenglishi.wordpress.com


What is 1 st year english all about l.jpg
What is 1st Year English All About?


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Close reading – this means EVERYTHING!

  • Texts – novels, poems, plays, short stories, newspapers, extracts, essay and exam questions, notice-boards ….

  • Designed to give all of you (NOT JUST ENGLISH STUDENTS!) some of the essential building blocks for 2ndand 3rd year study – Honours and Postgraduate study – AND THE WORLD BEYOND.


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The Dictionary – one of the most important books of all

  • Consulting a dictionary is NOT an admission of defeat but of STRENGTH AND SCHOLARLY MATURITY.

  • “My father still reads the dictionary every day. He says that your life depends on your power to master words.” Arthur Scargill, Sunday Times (1982)

  • Discuss …


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Key thing to remember

  • Writing and reading go hand in hand.

  • Why? Discuss …


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The (ab)use of Language

  • The more you read, of some of the finest writers, critics, journalists, cultural commentators, maybe even politicians, the more you will learn about the importance of being SENSITIVE TO AND WITH LANGUAGE.


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Grammar – The Basics

  • How to keep your reader onside.

  • What is the difference between ITS and IT’S?

  • Learn this rule now (and impress your friends)

  • Similar rules – possession.

  • ‘Bosman’s short story collection …’

  • Other rules - what does the apostrophe stand for in the following?

  • Examples – couldn’t, they’ll, you’re, don’t, can’t, haven’t, they’re et al.

  • Another key one – THERE vs. THEIR vs. THEY’RE.


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The function of the comma

  • And breathe – you’re not writing a stream of consciousness, modernist experiment in your essays or exams.

  • Again, you’ll learn the FEEL for commas by reading more – quality newspaper articles, critical commentaries etc.


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Exercise – SPOT THE GRAMMATICAL SLIPS

when the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved yes we can

she was there for the buses in Montgomery the hoses in Birmingham a bridge in Selma and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome“ yes we can

a man touched down on the moon a wall came down in Berlin a world was connected by our own science and imagination and this year in this election she touched her finger to a screen and cast her vote because after 106 years in America through the best of times and the darkest of hours she knows how America can change yes we can

america we have come so far we have seen so much but there is so much more to do so tonight let us ask ourselves if our children should live to see the next century if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper what change will they see what progress will we have made


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Correct version

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?


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Punctuation and Sentences

  • Major frustrations for readers – WHERE DOES ONE SENTENCE END AND THE NEXT BEGIN?

  • Don’t end an essay with an incomplete sentence.

  • What is the function of a sentence?

  • Ideal length? Discuss


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Keep a copy of the marking criteria with you as you write

  • Some of you may have had this form attached to your last essay. It’s entitled ‘Essay Analysis Sheet.’

  • There are 4 sections – CONTENT, FORM, STYLE, PRESENTATION.

  • You’re graded from 1 (Excellent) through to 5 (Inadequate).

  • THIS SHOULD BE CLOSELY READ AS WELL … look up any words you’re unsure about.


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‘Content’ Criteria from Essay Analysis Sheet

  • Focus of argument appropriate to topic.

  • Textual evidence illustrates and supports argument.

  • Evidence of critical analysis i.e. going beyond mere description and paraphrase to fully develop ideas.

  • Relevant secondary material effectively incorporated to substantiate own argument.


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‘Form’ Criteria from Essay Analysis Sheet

  • Problem and approach well defined in introduction.

  • Argument presented in a clear and logical manner.

  • Organization of material is systematically and coherently developed through clear sentence and paragraph structure.

  • Information presented consistently relates back to topic.

  • Conclusion is well-integrated with the body of the essay and relates to original thesis presented in the introduction.


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‘Style’ Criteria from Essay Analysis Sheet

  • Use of language is appropriate to context, function, and intention, i.e. avoidance of colloquialisms, inappropriately pretentious language, and unnecessary jargon.

  • Standards of academic writing have been met.


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‘Presentation’ Criteria from Essay Analysis Sheet

  • Language and Vocabulary

  • Standards of spelling, punctuation and grammar have been met.

  • Mechanics of writing do not interfere with, but rather enhance understanding.

  • Quotations are correctly acknowledged.

  • Bibliography is correctly presented.

  • Appearance of work is neat.


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Notes on the structure of an academic essay

  • Introduction – various functions.

  • To indicate the subject of question and how you will go about answering it.

  • To state or imply the thesis of your discussion as a whole.

  • To entice your reader to read on.

  • Think about your reader – they need to both care about and understand what you’re saying.

  • Length? Variable – warrants own paragraph.


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How to Start?

  • Something to capture imagination and attention.

  • Possibilities – interesting example or apt quotation. Function of epigraphs?

  • Thought-provoking question or scenario.

  • Other tips and suggestions – introduce topic broadly before setting out your particular stance.

  • Define any key terms that are essential for your reader.

  • Indication of how your argument will be presented, developed and supported.


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Intros – 2 examples

  • “Githa Huriharan (born 1954) is an Indian author and editor based in New Delhi. She was born in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu and grew up in Bombay. Her first novel, The Thousand Faces of Night, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1993. Her novel, The Remains of the Feast, concerns food and the human body.”


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Intros – 2 examples – cont.

  • “Under the entry “consume,” the Oxford English Dictionary provides four different yet interconnected definitions. It is a verb that at once refers to eating or drinking, to using up, to that which is completely destroyed (especially by fire) and to that which absorbs all the energy or attention of (especially a feeling). Githa Hariharan’s short story, ‘The Remains of the Feast,’ is preoccupied with these slippery definitions of “consume” and “consumption.” Paying particular attention to the compelling relationship between food and the human body, this essay will argue that Hariharan sketches a delicate portrait of the relationship between two protagonists attempting to come to terms with various kinds of consumption, both physical (in terms of illness and nutrition) and emotional (in terms of the grief experienced having lost a loved one) …”


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Some Notes on Thesis Statements

  • What do they do?

  • Make an ASSERTION about subject/topic – not fact – you are taking a stand. How and why?

  • Device to control and structure argument – focused and specific rather than broad and vague. Think about the time and space you’ve got to play with.

  • Giving your reader sense of what they can expect from your essay – sense of direction – giving the impression you’ve thought about and planned it.


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Notes on a good thesis statement (courtesy of Catherine Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)

  • REMEMBER:

  • A good thesis statement will make a claim. It tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter and allows you to develop a perspective that you can support and defend.


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Notes on the structure of an academic essay Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)

  • Body of argument – constituting vast majority of your discussion.

  • Function – to answer the question by building an argument.

  • Method – construct chain of paragraphs that build, present and develop your case.

  • Don’t lose sight of the question – refer back to keywords from original topic/extract to structure your argument.

  • Show off your close reading skills.


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Function of Paragraph Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)

  • To illuminate and build argument around one major point/idea/preoccupation.

  • Structure might look something like this: introduce, define, offer argument, provide your reader with evidence (support your observations – direct citations) and discuss/critically engage with that evidence, make final point to conclude paragraph.

  • Essay writing is not a science, but you might keep some of these points in mind when structuring your paragraphs and therefore piece as a whole.


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Questions asked by your reader about paragraphs Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)

  • What is it about?

  • What is the big point you’re trying to make and how does it relate to the question?

  • How persuasive is your argument?

  • How effectively have you used material, primary and (where appropriate) secondary to support your case?

  • How does the conclusion of your paragraph relate back to the specific terms of the question?

  • It is your job to keep these questions in your mind as you write and therefore to attempt to address them in your paragraphs.


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Importance of a strong conclusion Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)

  • Again, it’s not a science but you might consider some of the following:

  • Recap the main points of your argument – critical importance of COHERENCE of closing section.

  • Demonstrating that you have answered question – refer back to keywords?

  • What final impression does it make on reader?

  • Put yourself in their shoes.

  • Something that will stick in their minds/something that sets you apart from others?

  • Give yourself time to draft and redraft …


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Key concerns as you write Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)

  • Plan

  • Draft

  • Review

  • Revise

  • Edit

  • Keep marks criteria in mind

  • Submit and wait …


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Essential Things to Remember Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)

  • As English students, you’re required to be and do many things.

  • You are READERS AND WRITERS.

  • Again, proficiency at both go hand in hand.

  • Put yourself in the position of the person reading your work.

  • If you get the basics right, you’re well on your way.


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Proofreading Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)

  • GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME BEFORE SUBMITTING WORK.

  • There’s no excuse for getting author’s name or the genre of the text you’re looking at WRONG.

  • Put yourself in your tutor’s shoes …


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Make the most of the help that’s available to you Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)

  • Tutors and their consultation times.

  • Draft introductions or thesis statements.

  • Get into the habit of writing – practice makes, if not perfect, certainly better …

  • Speak to consultants at the Writing Centre in the Library (visit the library or look at web-pages for more details).


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Grammar – the building blocks of your writing Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)

  • Sentences – paragraphs – introductions – conclusions – PRESENTATION.

  • Again, put yourself in your tutor’s shoes …

  • Critical to keep in mind – NOT JUST WHAT YOU SAY BUT HOW YOU SAY IT.

  • For the sake of another couple of minutes, think about how it looks on the page.


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Comments, Questions, Feedback? Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)


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The ( Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design) ab)use of Language

  • The more you read, of some of the finest writers, critics, journalists, cultural commentators, maybe even politicians, the more you will learn about the importance of being SENSITIVE TO AND WITH LANGUAGE.


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How does this man use rhetoric? Black, Ontario College of Arts and Design)


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Excerpt’s from Barack Obama’s Election Night Address – 5.11.08

“This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.


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Obama cont. 5.11.08

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.


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Obama cont. 5.11.08

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?


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Conclusion of Speech 5.11.08

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.”


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If this is effective, why? 5.11.08

  • Look up your own definition of RHETORIC.

  • From the Compact Oxford English Dictionary.

  • Rhetoric - /rettrik/

  •   • noun1 the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing. 2 language with a persuasive or impressive effect, but often lacking sincerity or meaningful content.

  •   — ORIGIN from Greek rhetoriketekhne ‘art of rhetoric’



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