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Alice Deakins' Workshop

Page history last edited by Bonny Hart 9 years, 7 months ago

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International Linguistic Association

Co-Sponsored by the Department of English

John Jay College of Criminal Justice


Alice H. Deakins,William Paterson University 





            Some current students—both ESL and native speakers--are puzzled by the conventions of formal written English that are expected in college writing.  Not only has our culture become more casual in dress-with jeans everywhere--but so has much of our students’ written language, which is done in casual style in e-mails, IMs, texting, and tweeting.  

            For pedagogical purposes, the formal written English sentence can be taught as a series of four levels from the simplest to the most complex, with attention to both grammatical conventions and rhetorical functions at each level.  The first three levels—the core sentence, the minimal sentence, and the intermediate sentence—are for all writers.  At each level, students learn the usage errors associated with that level, such as fragments and run-ons.  At level three, students study cohesion—tying sentences together—and information structuring—placing old information at the beginning of a sentence, new information at the end.

            Level four—the most sophisticated—is for more skilled writers.  Here students learn to insert additional information into their sentences.  (In traditional pedagogical grammars such additions are called appositives, verbal phrases, non-restrictive clauses, sometimes nominative absolutes, terminology which I do not use.)  Inserts are used regularly by professional writers but rarely by most student writers.  As my students learn about inserts, their writing acquires a sophisticated texture that generally results in higher grades in their other classes. 


Saturday, December 11, 2010

11 AM

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

New address for this lecture: Room 630 T, 6th Floor

899 Tenth Avenue (between 58th and 59th Streets)

New York, NY 10019


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