I teach College Writing in English and here is my farewell letter to my students (Part 1)
You gave me a hard time reading your papers, do you know that? I would sometimes stop in the middle of an essay or report to breathe deeply and exhale all frustration. You make me suffer all right (except for the gems of the class). And I won’t have any excuses why you should not write well. Okay, I am harsh. But you know me very well–I have given up my “terrorism.” I don’t easily give in to anger. Only madness, of a crazy sort.
So here now is my number one tip. The HELP button of writing. The instant cure to the cancer of writing middling papers. The proven and effective solution to functional illiteracy: READ.
But let me qualify that.
Read more and read well. Fine, you read Paolo Coelho and Bob Ong and those stories of vampires and wizards. Try to go a level up then.Visit bookstores and see the titles under Philippine Fiction (not the Romance pocketbooks ok? I dont even know why they are sometimes under “Literature” forchrisake) and Award Winning Literature. Try Lakambini Sitoy and Luis Katigbak, or Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino, or Cristina Hidalgo and Gilda Cordero, or essayists Ambeth Ocampo and Randy David, or anything published by the UP Press, Ateneo de Manila University Press, DLSU Press, and Anvil.
If you can’t buy books, borrow one, because what you read is what you are, basically, in the academic world.
You can also touch the newspapers and magz, but remember, journalism has probably violated more grammatical rules than any other type of writing because of the urgency and therefore lack of time in editing rigorously. In the same manner do not rely on watching TV or browsing the Facebook because these, methinks, will train you to absorb info (read: passive), instead of practicing you to generate your info (read: active).
So read more often starting today so you will get ideas how to be understood effectively in this Age of Overflowing Insignificant Information.