Advanced writing skills are essential to your success at Red River College. This is also true at work, where writing skills help you communicate with colleagues and customers, and help you express innovative ideas to managers. Good writers are good communicators, and communication skills are an integral part of the modern workplace.
If you need personalized assistance with your writing, please visit the Academic Success Centre for an EAL Writing Tutor.
Here is a list of important steps to remember when working on writing assignments at RRC:
Develop your message first
When writing, many EAL students try to perfect their grammar and spelling during the first draft. Correct grammar and spelling is important, but it should be addressed and edited in the final stages of writing. Your first draft, your first stage of writing provides a time to explore and experiment with what you want to say. Your first draft will always contain errors and needed changes. This is true for all writers, and is a necessary and valuable part of the writing process.
Ensure you put enough thought into the development of your argument or thesis. Before correcting the grammar in your paper, complete the structure of the presentation of your idea. Make sure you are happy with the arguments and have finalized all your main points. Once you have a good first draft you should go back to check for spelling errors, grammar and the appropriate use of vocabulary. It can be frustrating and a waste of time correcting errors in content that you will end up cutting as you revise and edit in the end stages.
Take time to edit
Time is one of the most important keys to good writing. This is true for all writers, and is especially true when writing in a second language. Leave yourself enough time to plan, write, edit, and write again. You will need more time to complete a paper than your peers whose first language is English. Know that you will not write perfectly the first time. All good writers need to go through a series of drafts before they are happy with the final product.
When you are ready for the final edit, it is important to play close attention to:
Try using Camosun College’s self-editing checklist to ensure you’ve addressed these points. This is perfect to use in your final writing stages: http://camosun.ca/services/writing-centre/editing-checklist.html
Dr. Karen Gocsik at Dartmouth (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/esl/) identifies a top ten list of common EAL errors when writing. They are listed below, with links to Purdue’s ESL web resources to help you work on understanding their proper usage:
4) Using the Wrong Parts of Speech
6) Verb Tense and Forms
7) Active and Passive Voices
8) Sentence Structure/Sentence Boundaries
10) Style – or “how we say things here”
Use your experience
The more you write and read, the faster your skills will develop
Canadian college language expectations
Different genres, different expectations
Finally, use RRC student support services.
The RRC Academic Success Centre has an EAL Writing Tutors program and EAL workshops that may be of help. Visit the centre to learn more. EAL Writing Tutors help you identify the writing issues you need to improve, and will help you set up a learning plan to address them. They can also act as a guide, assisting you in understanding your writing assignment.
RRC’s office of Diversity and Immigrant Student Support has a number of programs that can help you better understand Canadian culture and College expectations. They also offer a mentorship program that gives you one-on-one time with a Canadian-born student, allowing you to ask questions about Canada and the college in a relaxed setting, in your own time.
There are also many excellent web resources that deal with ESL / EAL writing issues. Please take a look:
Grammar and Resources: