Three Principles of Writing
December 17, 2021
Fall 2021 was my first semester as a Writing Tutor, and it was a wonderful one. I sought out this position as I hope to become an instructor for international students in Canada. I want to support those who are still developing their English skills but have come to this country to study and experience a new life. My previous experience has been with young learners who were just emerging as writers. They were still learning the basics of how to form a sentence, both in their speaking and their writing. There was quite a gap between my past experience and where I wanted to be, and I believed this job would help me bridge that gap. I approached this role with a sense of responsibility, I wanted to be there for students who wanted to improve their writing. In my new role, I was guided by my three main principles pertaining to writing: exploration, empowerment, and joy.
When we are asked to write, it is usually in response to something, be it a text or our personal experiences. Exploration allows us to engage with the materials that can act as a model in our own writing. Often times instructors provide various texts with the purpose of them serving as an example; these resources grant us accessibility to a wide amount of information about writing (Hirvela, 2003). All learners are individuals who learn in different ways and although some may be capable of acquiring the necessary language to process academically through natural and indirect ways, many require explicit awareness of language structure and the time to explore and better understand it. It becomes the job of the writing tutor to help demonstrate, guide, and then provide learners with an opportunity to slowly integrate these skills into their own writing.
My second principle is empowerment. Words contain a hidden potential that only those capable of reading and writing are privileged of having. Without the necessary linguistic knowledge, the written word loses the majority of its meaning and along with that, its power. As such, it is crucial for learners to be aware of the incredible power and knowledge that they are gaining through their education. It is important to empower learners, especially those that are only beginning to develop their academic voice in a new environment. Learners should be aware of what they can accomplish through writing as this can help them feel more in control of their lives. Being an author can be a personal and intimate thing, or it can be shared with many; it is up to the individual to decide the words and stories that they choose to share. Simple grammar choices, such as commas, can transform and affect our writing; even simple changes can have a profound effect on what we want to convey to our readers (Ehrenworth & Vinton, 2005).
The final principle, and a crucial one, is that writing should be an enjoyable process. This can manifest in various ways from just playing with language, enjoying the content, or experiencing positive emotions from expressing oneself in a way that was previously impossible. Although this principle will look differently in various contexts, it can be incorporated in almost any setting. Learners should be able to engage with their writing and make an emotional connection to it, instead of writing simply because ‘they have to’. I believe that there is joy in expression, and I wish for the learners that cone to me to feel even a semblance of that. Many learners experience frustration when their ideas are not coming across clearly, but when learners are able to get a step closer to being able to truly express themselves, it leads to true enjoyment (Weissberg, 2006).
I hope that during my time as a Writing Tutor, I was able to help those that came to us. I truly hope I was able to empower the learners that aimed to improve in their writing. Most importantly, I hope I was able to bring joy and make others feel good about the effort that they exerted this semester.
Ehrenworth, M., & Vinton, V. (2005). The power of grammar: Unconventional approaches to the conventions of language. Heinemann.
Hirvela, A. (2004). Connecting reading & writing in second language writing instruction. The University of Michigan Press.
Weissberg, R. (2006). Connecting speaking and writing in second language writing instruction. The University of Michigan Press.