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My Writing Stories as a Chinese English Learner
Writing has been a difficult task for me as a second language learner since in Chinese we have learnt to write in a difficult way. It is not only because the language and the phrases in English are different from those in Chinese. However, for the structure and logic in writings in Chinese and English, they are the completely different stories as well. For example, in Chinese writing, we are taught that it is necessary to write the topic sentence with our main ideas. Later on, it is necessary to expand in a few paragraphs, which are called bodies. In this part, we are taught to explain the issue one by one. On the contrary, in English writing, it is acceptable to leave the ideas at the end as long as we are able to create interesting hooks to attract the readers to keep reading. (Kane, 1994)
Since the language itself has been difficult and at the beginning, in the first year, I was only able to write very simple stories like the primary school students’ diary, such as what I have eaten that day, what I have done and what lessons I have had that day. However, as I have been making progress in my writing, I started to learn how to write analysis and comments on social phenomenon. However, I did not know how to use big words and big phrases to decorate my articles and to make my articles more exquisite. Therefore, my writing is similar to the writings from most Chinese students. For example, this is one paragraph written by me:
“According to a research, if there is a chance for a person to take a glance at another person’s mobile phone’s whatsapp or wechat, he or she will find out that in another person’s social networking app, he has a lot of messages which have not been replied. In fact, these messages are sent by unimportant people or those who will not be useful to that person anymore.”
Usually, when I hand in the articles like this to my teachers, my teachers will tell me that my logic is very good but the structure is too rigid that my teachers can not see any hooks or interesting points in my writing. One problem of Chinese English learners is that we focus too much on logic and try to hard to express our statements that we forgot how to make the article look more exquisite and creative in English. (Kane, 1994)
Throughout this semester, we are told by our professors to read a lot of literary works such as the classic novels from Mary Shelley like Frankenstein, The Immortal Mortal and Mathilda. Also, except for reading great novels from the last century, we are also required to read nice poems back in Shakespeare’s time as well as many thought provoking modern plays such as the Doll House. In fact, after enjoying and consuming all these masterpieces from the most talented authors of our time, I have started to learn to grasp the essence of writing. For example, I try to imitate their choice of words. I have noticed that when Chinese English are writing articles, we tend to use more adjectives. For example, we have the habit of writing “He is so timid.” On the contrary, English native writers usually write, ”He is such a coward.” It is obvious that English native speakers prefer to write nouns rather than to write adjectives. As a result, I imitated their ways of writings and put more nouns in my articles.
Here, I would like to present a few sentences that I have written when I was writing an assignment about criticizing a novel that impresses us the most:
“As the story began with the fancy auction of a dead kept woman Camellia’s objects, the grandeur and the description of all other courtesans cause aversion in me. Their display of luxurious jewelry is simply the “prize” of their shameless conduct. The courtesans’ beauty is no more than the brazen exposure of their body for me. I feel nothing but doubt while I got to the plot where the author brought up the sentimental affair between her and a man called Armand.As Armand’s infatuation of Marguerite began, he kept courting her in spite of others’ teasing and dissuasion…”
This is a paragraph written by me in a thesis and clearly, I have mastered how to use more nouns in my articles. For example, in the paragraph, I tried to use big nouns such as grandeur, aversion, their display of luxurious jewelry, the “prize” of their shameless conduct, infatuation and the brazen exposure of their body. After this, I have discovered that using nouns can help make my articles more exquisite. (Wilbur, 1999)
I think reading the articles from google books helps me a lot with my writing as well because on the internet, we are able to find a lot of modern works that are about the comments of other classic works. Also, watching TV series from UK helps me a lot too because the scripts in British TV series are unlike American shows which are filled with uncouth language. Instead, they prefer to use more elegant words that I can learn from. Also, I mentioned that we can read modern works on google because unlike the classic novels from a century ago, these modern writers tend to use more updated idioms and expressions. For example, if I learn from old school books, I would probably end up using too many old fashioned words like “seldom”and “rains cats and dogs”. However, these words are not longer popular in modern writing and they are not recommended. Therefore, to improve my writing, I need to expand my taste, which means trying to read articles from different categories and most importantly, I need to imitate their phrases and their sense of humor so that I can blend these elements in my own writing in the future.
Kane ,T S . 1994, The New Oxford Guide to Writing, Oxford University Press
Wilbur, L. P . 1999, How to Write Articles That Sell, Allworth Press