Author Topic: References for Teaching Writing  (Read 445 times)

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Offline Brasidas

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References for Teaching Writing
« on: April 13, 2017, 18:04:37 »
So my best friend never finished high school and has a serious self-improvement thing going on. One of the things she's working on is her communications skills.

I passed on to her some decent books on technical writing, and she's getting into it. She's pretty self-directed, but she wants to get feedback on what she's sending out and I offered to help.

I know how to write a decent memo/email/whatever, and I've proofread and tweaked stuff for friends in the past. But with some of the stuff I'm critiquing, I'm having to get into explaining why stuff does and doesn't work. The primary objective isn't to send out the best single message, its to help develop her writing skills.

For example, explaining the parallelism of information contained in lists.

Take this sentence: "I really liked walking my dog, science fiction novels by Robert Heinlein, and sleep."

I'm looking at references to better explain how I'd go about re-writing it and applying some writing rules of thumb.

I'm looking for a source for me, rather than her. She initiates things by sending me writing examples, and I'm looking for something to dig into to improve my explanations.

Any thoughts?
« Last Edit: April 14, 2017, 10:44:18 by Brasidas »

Offline Blackadder1916

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Re: References for Teaching Writing
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 20:29:36 »
I still use the slim volume that was recommended when I did Staff School over thirty years ago.  Of course, it's probably been updated by an edition or two since then.

The Elements of Style, William Strunk and E.B. White

Edited to add

You can even sample it for free.
https://archive.org/details/pdfy-2_qp8jQ61OI6NHwa
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 20:42:35 by Blackadder1916 »
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Offline milnews.ca

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Re: References for Teaching Writing
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2017, 06:11:06 »
A couple of decent online resources I use ...

"Plain English Campaign" (UK)
http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/
http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/free-guides.html
http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/drivel-defence.html ("... Nowadays, a lot of written material is produced on computer, so wouldn't it be good if the computer could help you to check it? That is exactly what Drivel Defence does ...")

Plain English Foundation (Australia)
https://www.plainenglishfoundation.com/free-writing-tools

Also, Googling "plain language" or "plain English" brings up a range of resources to try out.
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Offline Navy_Pete

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Re: References for Teaching Writing
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2017, 08:54:09 »
Wow, that plain english site is golden.  I think I might start putting a link to that in my signature block at work to 'socialize the concept of streamlining our communication in order to maximize efficiencies and ensure the narratives recieve full comprehension in the target audiences'.  Or, pass along the message so people can easily understand what you are trying to say.

Back on topic though, when I went through grade school we had this weird pilot curriculum where they never taught us grammar (in either french or english, in french immersion).  I didn't learn what a verb was until grade 8, when one of our teachers realized we couldn't get the verb tenses in french because we had no idea what he was talking about in english either.  I still have a hard time with the formal bits of grammar, but I read a lot all the time, and as a result, can write proper sentences (most of the time).

One thing your friend may want to try as well is to regularly read proper english; won't learn the rules, but will get a better feel for what a properly formed sentence looks like, so might make learning the rules easier.  Aside from books, decent news sites like BBC are good.  They have a really good phone app as well, so it's really easy to spend ten minutes on it here and there, and they seem to have pretty high standards for writing using proper grammar.  They also cover all kinds of interesting stuff from their local branches, so some neat human interest stories come out of Asia and Africa on there (including music and entertainment).

Offline milnews.ca

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Re: References for Teaching Writing
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2017, 09:44:12 »
... decent news sites like BBC are good.  They have a really good phone app as well, so it's really easy to spend ten minutes on it here and there, and they seem to have pretty high standards for writing using proper grammar.  They also cover all kinds of interesting stuff from their local branches, so some neat human interest stories come out of Asia and Africa on there (including music and entertainment).
The U.S. Voice of America also offers up news, grammar lessons and podcasts in "special English", made for people who are learning English -- sometimes a bit elementary, but when I taught at a local college a while back, I'd use some of the stories to show how simply something can be written.
“The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” -- Roy H. Williams

The words I share here are my own, not those of anyone else or anybody I may be affiliated with.

Tony Prudori
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