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In the REAL WORLD, do we practice writing skills in isolation?
With coverage of more than just basic writing skills, WORDSMITH: ESSENTIALS OF COLLEGE ENGLISH provides students with the opportunity to see the essentials of college communication in relation to each other. The text covers sentences, paragraphs, and essays and includes oral presentations and e-mails.
Throughout the text, WORDSMITH: ESSENTIALS OF COLLEGE ENGLISH also provides extensive exercises for students to practice these skills:
Practice and Review Exercises are brief, short-answer style exercises.
Editing, Group and Writing Assignments require working with or creating writing samples.
With coverage of writing, oral presentations and e-mails, and a variety of exercises, WORDSMITH: ESSENTIALS OF COLLEGE ENGLISH illustrates how the essentials of good writing are rarely performed in isolation.
Preface: To the Instructor
Thank you for choosing Wordsmith: Essentials of College English as your textbook.
Like you, we are teachers of writing. Like you, we struggle to find the best way of teaching a subject that, on its surface, seems as simple as touching pen to paper. Yet writing is remarkably complex, incorporating the personality and experience of each writer and each reader. It requires adherence to agreed-upon rules of grammar, punctuation, and form. It is, in fact, a craft that might be best taught to a small group of students in a series of unhurried sessions and individual conferences over an extended period of time. But reality is the fifty-minute hour, the class of twenty or more, the term that is measured in weeks. How best to handle that reality?
Most writing instructors constantly refine their teaching methods, striving to make difficult concepts clear and tedious details interesting. Most of all, they try to ignite the spark that will help students see writing as a meaningful, life-enriching activity. A good textbook should reinforce those efforts.
The authors have spent considerable time trying to analyze what a good textbook should do, above and beyond presenting information in a given field. Here is what we have come up with: The book should be orderly and user-friendly, with a flexible format. Explanations should be clear and supported by numerous exercises and examples. The book should contain much more than is strictly necessary: it should be a smorgasbord, not just a meal. Finally, if it includes a little bit of fun, so much the better. We have written Wordsmith with those principles in mind. SomeFeatures of Wordsmith: Essentials of College Communication
Although each of you will use the book in a different way and adapt it to your own students' needs, the following overview of each section may give you some ideas. Also, check the Instructor's Guide in the back of the textbook for ideas on using a text and model syllabi. Part 1: Essentials of Composition
Part 1, Essentials of Composition, takes the paragraph as its primary focus. The book begins with an overview of the writing process (Chapter 1), followed by a chapter on prewriting (Chapter 2). Chapters 3, 4, and 5 guide the student through the writing of the paragraph and address four principles of effective writing,: direction, support, unity, and coherence. Chapter 6 addresses revising, proofreading, and formatting.
The section continues with Chapter 7, Essays, Essay Exams, and Summary Reports" and concludes with "Communication Beyond the Classroom: Oral Presentations and E-Mail." Special Features of Part 1: Essentials of Composition
Part 2, Essentials of Grammar, can be used in a variety of ways. It can be used along with direct, in-class instruction, in a lab setting, as a supplement to lab assignments, or for independent study. It also works well for instructors who want to combine methods by addressing more difficult topics in class, while assigning easier material or material that is clearly "review" for independent study.
In the grammar chapters, explanations are clear, and each topic is taken one skill at a time, with numerous practice exercises for each skill. At the end of each chapter are review exercises in increasing order of difficulty, ending with a paragraph-length editing exercise. Special Features of Part 2 Essentials of Grammar
Part 3, Essential Readings for Writers, offers essays by professional writers. These essays model writing at its best: entertaining, challenging, and thought-provoking. Each reading is followed by a comprehension exercise that includes questions about content, questions about the writer's techniques, and related topics for discussion and writing. Diversity in authorship, subject matter, and rhetorical method is emphasized. Special Features of Part 3: Essential Readings for Writers
You open your e-mail and read a message from the human resources director at the company you hope to work for. You have been called back for a second interview. As you think back on the interview process, from the preparation of your resume and letter of application to the final handshake, you realize that interviewing is entirely a process of communication. At the second interview, you'll meet and talk with several of the people you'll be working with if you are hired. Again, strong communication skills will help you. If your prospective coworkers like you and what you have to say, you'll have a better chance at the job.
As you reply to the e-mail, you feel confident. Your college experience and your own effort have prepared you for this moment. You take a moment to proofread your e-mail, and then you press the "send" button. No Time like the Present
The ability to communicate well is not the only skill you need in college and in the workplace, but it's one of the more important ones. In the classroom and beyond, the people who do well are most often those who think logically, who consider all the possibilities, and who communicate clearly. Writing can help you develop those skills.
In the college classroom, those who stand out also tend to be good writers and speakers. They write clearly, they state their ideas completely, and they don't embarrass themselves with poor grammar or misspelled words.
Perhaps, like most people, you feel that there's room for improvement in your communication skills. Maybe you feel that your grammar is not up to par, or maybe you're just never sure where to put commas. Or perhaps you go blank when you see an empty page in front of you, waiting to be filled.
But there's good news. The ability to communicate is not a talent bestowed by fate; rather, it is a skill, like driving a car, playing a harmonica, or designing a web page on the computer. It is built through your own hard work and improved by practice.
How can you improve your communication skills? You're in the right place, enrolled in a writing course, and you are holding the right object in your hand—this textbook. But the real key is not the course, the textbook, or even your instructor. The key is you. If you take guitar lessons but never practice, how well will you play? Or think of weight training—if you buy a book about it but never exercise your muscles, how much change will occur? You have a book on writing and a "personal trainer"—your instructor—ready to help you. If you work at improving your communication skills, you will amaze yourself.
There's no time like the present to shape your future. How This Textbook Can Help
This textbook is designed to help you on your journey to becoming the writer you want to be, the writer your future demands. Read on to find out how each section can help you develop your writing skills.
Part 1, Essentials of Composition, gives you an overview of the writing process and provides step-by-step instructions for writing a paragraph, the basic building block for any longer piece of writing. It introduces the five-paragraph essay, a flexible tool that can be your admission ticket to the academic world. Shrunk down a bit, the essay format can be used to answer a question on an essay test. Expanded a bit, it can be used to write a research paper, a term paper, or even a master's thesis. Communications skills that you use beyond the classrooms, such as writing e-mail messages and speaking in public, are also addressed in this section of the book.
Part 2, Essentials of Grammar, provides wide coverage of grammar and punctuation. Some of the concepts covered are probably review for you, whereas others are new. The chapters are user-friendly and take a step-by-step approach, so that you can work with them in class or on your own.
Feel free to use the chapters in this section as a reference. If you aren't sure of a comma rule, look it up in the chapter on commas. If you aren't sure of your subject-verb agreement, check it out in the subject-verb agreement chapter. You will gain knowledge as you improve your writing.
You can also the chapters as a way to improve your grammar. If your instructor marks several sentence fragments on your paper, don't wait until the topic is covered in class; instead, work through the chapter on your own so that you can correct the problem now.
Part 3, Essential Readings for Writers, contains readings from professional writers. You will notice differences between the journalistic writing of these professionals and the academic form you are encouraged to use. Topic sentences are not always placed at the beginning of each paragraph. The language is often informal. But these are merely differences of audience-writing in the academic world is expected to be more formal than journalistic essays written for a general audience. You will see similarities, too. The essays have the same qualities you are encouraged to incorporate in your paragraphs: direction, unity, coherence, and support.
Good readers make good writers. The more you read, the better your writing will become. Just the Beginning
Writing is hard work. But it is also worthwhile. The more you write, the better you will become, all your life long. Whatever your major, whatever your vocation, writing can serve you well. May this book mark just the beginning of your journey as a writer.
1. The Writing Process.
2. Preparing to Write.
3. Writing Paragraphs: The Topic Sentence.
4. Writing Paragraph Support.
5. Writing Paragraphs: Unity and Coherence.
6. Formatting, Revising, and Proofreading.
7. Essays and Essay Exams.
II. CONSTRUCTING SENTENCES.
9. Parts of Speech.
10. Verbs and Subjects.
11. Subject-Verb Agreement.
12. Irregular Verbs.
13. Verb Tense.
14. Coordination and Subordination.
15. Writing Concise Sentences.
16. Run-On Sentences.
17. Sentence Fragments.
18. Pronoun Case.
19. Pronoun Agreement, Reference, and Point of View.
20. Relative Pronouns.
21. Adjectives, Adverbs, and Articles.
22. Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers.
23. Parallel Structure.
24. Capital Letters.
25. Words Commonly Confused.
26. Word Choice.
28. Other Punctuation.
30. Quotation Marks, Underlining, and Italics.
1. A Day Away, Maya Angelou.
2. Say “Yes” to Yourself, Joseph T. Martorano and John P. Kildahl.
3. Employment Testing, Barbara Ehrenreich.
4. Broken Windows: Crudity in Language, Leonard Pitts.
5. Incident at Register 2, Constance Daley.
6. Walking the Tightrope Between Black and White, Cecelie Barry.
7 My Dead Dog May Already Be a Winner, Lee Coppola.
8. Imprisoned by Ex-Convict Status, Walter Scanlon.
9. Borrowed History, by Snow Anderson.
10. From the Welfare Rolls, A Mother s View, Elyzabeth Joy Stagg.