«Актуальные проблемы препо­да­ва­ния иностранных языков для профессионального общения». Поступившие работы

PhD Nevstruyeva A. О.

Oles Honchar Dnipropetrovsk National University, Ukraine


The basic purpose of communication is to convey thought, feeling, or both to a particular audience. Writing as a type of action involves a subject, a purpose, and an audience. A writer has a purpose, which he means to accomplish by communication – to explain, to convince, to evoke an impression, to develop, to inform, to entertain, etc. Any writer starts by asking him/herself «Who am I writing for?» It is very important for the writer to be conscious of his audience. The chief reason is that in this way he may select, for whatever he is writing, the appropriate level of usage. This is he may use the kind of language that will seem most natural to the particular audience he has in mind. By «the kind of language», we mean primarily the choice of words and the grammar. In a broader sense, certain other things may be included – the average length of sentences and paragraphs, and even the type of overall organization – but in the strict sense, the level of usage is a matter of grammar and the diction. The basic writing skills, thus, are grammar, paragraphing, spelling, punctuation.

A subject is a broad area a writer wants write about. A topic is the narrow territory within that subject area that a writer stakes out as the specific focus for the writing.

A written work of any scope may be classified under one of the three forms of discourse – description, narration, argumentation – depending on the central purpose of the whole. Frequently, however, two or more forms are combined in a single work.

The central purpose of description [2, p. 101] is to evoke the impression produced by the aspect of a person, a place, a scene, or the like; or, since the aspect is always colored by the writer’s interpretation (and therefore the writer is never entirely objective), he does not simply evoke but in a degree creates the impression. Of the three forms of discourse, description is the one that occurs least often in a pure form (for example, character sketches).

Narration aims at a recount of an event or a series of related events in such a way that meaning emerges in them. As in description, the details are communicated – in this case the details of the action – but the ultimate communication is the emergent meaning. The events may be obviously significant in themselves or the writer by his treatment of them may develop significance in them. Indeed, with narration, as with description, the writer can never be completely objective, and to a certain degree, the meaning will always reflect his interpretation.

The main task of argumentation is to convince, to persuade the audience to adopt a certain doctrine or attitude or even course of action. What is communicated is a statement of the case for a particular position on a certain issue. The persuasive writing should include: 1. An opening – where a writer states his opinion or position in the form of a thesis; 2. A body – where a writer gives well-elaborate reasons; 3. A closing – where a writer draws his conclusions, summarizes his arguments and reformulates his thesis [3, p. 181].

We have only two sources of factual information: our own experience and the reported experiences of others. Both of them represent a springboard for writing. A new text is largely based on given input. Students of English first master the forms of reproductive writing, including compositions based on previously read or discussed matter. The compositional skills that are required for texts of narration, description, process, classification, and definition are different from the compositional skills required for texts of analysis and synthesis. Minimal skills of writing undertaken at the lower levels are likely to carry over to some extent to the writing skills involved in argumentative and persuasive creative writing. Writing essays and compositions is a task for advanced students who already have a good command of English grammar and vocabulary and have had practice in writing a range of everyday text types (letters, postcards, reproductions, etc.). Inventive or creative forms of writing are likely to motivate students of English and develop their appreciation of text types.

There are two types of reasoning: induction and deduction. The process of writing reflects the process of thinking. Persuasive writing in particular can be marred by fallacies. Common fallacies in reasoning are inadequate sampling, faulty analogy, faulty causal relationships, e.g., «All stout persons are cheerful. John is a stout person. Therefore John is cheerful». If a writer slants the information, or interprets it inadequately (mixing originality and absence of logic), s/he is sure to impede communication.

Writing a good composition remains a challenge. The good composition is unified in its development of a single central idea or emotional effect; in the relationships among its sentences and paragraphs, it is coherent; in the organization and disposition of its material, it is appropriately emphatic. In addition, it has an element of originality, and a degree of distinction in style. Unity, coherence and organic relationships constitute a good composition. Usually we mean a discursive (changing from one subject to another) composition.

An essay is a series of related paragraphs that examines a single topic from the writer’s viewpoint. It has a holistic format and carefully chosen register. Its layout based on given input is concentrated on the author’s thesis. Formulation of a thesis statement requires much thought and effort. It must be specified. For instance, «Golf is the dullest sport I know». This statement about golf is too vague to be meaningful. Three essential characteristics of an essay are unity, support, coherence. Beginning – middle – end structure in an essay is not opposed, but quite different from schematic structure in a composition.

What are the typical procedures of writing either a composition or an essay? We may define the following steps: choosing a subject, focusing, mapping and outlining, writing a first draft, editing, writing a final copy, proofreading.

The first stage includes brainstorming, free writing, looping, clustering and questioning.

Free writing is a way of unlocking ideas for writing. It is writing without stopping for a certain period about a reading, topic, or question. When ideas stop coming, one can simply write, «I can’t think of anything to write» until a new idea comes into your mind. When doing free writing, a writer should not be critical. There is no need to worry about things like spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Once a person starts writing, s/he just keeps on writing until the time is up even if ideas seem out of order or unrelated.

Nevertheless, with free writing, especially if it is not a direct one, one might write off the topic. To avoid it, a writer can try looping. Looping combines free writing and kernel sentences. It is useful for finding ideas on a given topic without losing much time.

Brainstorming a list of worked out ideas can be done either alone, or with a group or a class. One person records all the ideas other students suggest in response to a topic. Group brainstorming is a good way to generate many ideas on a topic. Often someone else’s idea can prompt a new idea from you, one you might not have thought of on your own. Thus, brainstorming might be either group or individual.

Focusing may include the procedures of limiting the subject, fixing on a central idea or emotional effect, obtaining material, gathering information, selecting content, organizing the material, clustering. At this stage, the students look for patterns, schematic sets of clusters to generate the materials through wording. These are invention techniques.

The aim of mapping and outlining is to number the headings, to make multiple subdivisions, to outline sentences. At this stage the author’s ideas, gathered information and supporting facts are «tuned» with the main theme and thesis [5, p. 12].

While writing the first draft the writer formulates the title, the thesis, chooses the tone, and the degree of detail. At the stage of revision or editing, the first draft is rekeyed and revised. On the pure editing stage, experience comes into the classroom. Student read their essays or compositions with the following question in mind: «Is there a series of short or repetitive sentences that could be combined?». They examine carefully links between paragraphs; try to avoid clichés, vague words, mixed pronouns, colloquial expressions, or run-on sentences.

In order to have an exemplary piece of writing, students of English must include all the following:

1. Beginning their piece with a clear opinion statement (a thesis);

2. Including enough facts and relevant information to support their position;

3. Organizing their information in a logical way;

4. Concluding or restating their opinion at the end;

5. Using strong, effective words to portray their feelings, and opinions;

6. Varying sentence structure and using appropriate mechanics.

Students learn to use these rubrics to help them revise their own writing as well as assist others with improving their writing. Writing strategies (illustration, exemplification, comparison, classification, definition, cause-effect, etc.) can be transferred, if they were formed in the native language. Different strategies require different threshold levels of proficiency for non-native writers. The rhetorical techniques of brevity, clarity, and effectiveness, can be easily transferred. Transferred strategies facilitate composing for non-natives, but at a certain level of proficiency they may work to the learner’s disadvantage, if they are not modified, or used with caution.

«The logic expressed through the organization of a written text is culture specific» [3, p. 25]. Native English speakers have a tendency to concentrate on one or two problems only and then elaborate on the problem by including several details. The non-native writer’s subjects, on the other hand, tend to mention the major ideas with minimal elaboration. M. Clyne (1994) presents a number of contrastive analyses of various languages. His analyses is derived from a set of five cultural parameters he proposes:

– Form vs Content – English cultures more strongly foreground form while other cultures are more content oriented;

– Verbal vs Literature – English cultures stress the written language as the main medium of effective communication while other cultures stress oral languages;

– Rhythm of Discourse – English cultures tend to stress symmetry and do not stress positive politeness while other cultures function differently in both contexts;

– Directionality – English cultures tend to be unique in their emphasis on linearity;

– Abstractness vs Concreteness – English cultures tend to stress concreteness and reasoning [1, p. 31].

When learners are motivated to write something with a sense of purpose and audience, the strong force that drives the text forward will significantly reduce the chance of getting lost in the cycle. The key to success lies in motivation. «Spaghetti» text is often produced when the only motive is to meet the deadline, to satisfy a teacher, or to practice good English. Writing to a real audience in the target or local culture proves to be interesting, challenging, and educational for learners. Students’ motivation to write effectively to their readers urges them to improve their cultural orientation and hence their academic language use.

The list of references:

1. Clyne M. Intercultural Communication at Work: Cultural Values in Discourse / M. Clyne. –Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994.

2. Hedge T. Writing / T. Hedge. – Oxford Univ. Press, 1992.

3. Latulippe L. D. Writing as a Personal Product / L. D. Latulippe. – New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1992.

4. Miller T. Functional Approaches to Written Text: Classroom Applications / T. Miller. Washington, 1997.

5. Raimes A. Techniques in Teaching Writing / A. Raimes. Oxford Univ. Press, 1983.