Two Pieces of Advice I Gave in the Very First Week of an Undergrad Academic Writing Course

“Thinking about meaning means thinking grammatically.”

Halliday (2005, p.74)
Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Recently, I fulfilled my dream of leading a writing subject this summer. Now I can be more autonomous with the freedom for delivering the knowledge about writing and language with a framework based on my linguistic school.

This is not experimenting; this is theory in practice: using a functional approach to literacy has been proved effective time and again in the research literature in the recent two decades.

This approach doesn’t aim to be corrective with intensive proofreading tasks. This should be a final-year student’s objective to edit her text at the lexical and grammatical level: spell-checking, using correct verb forms, avoiding contractions, and so on.

Instead I want them to consider how grammar works to make meaning in the academic context: condensing sentences into noun phrases, arranging a consistent topic in the Subject position, using different forms of modality to give opinions…

At the end of each class, I would “reduce” my teaching content into a few pieces of practical advice. By practical I mean some strategies which experienced writers will use. After all, academic writing is not creative writing; there are patterns that work.

You can jump to whichever you want to read.

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