Today people had to bring their LoMs and questions on their Writing Test, and all of their Writing Work this year, and related resources, so they could share what they learned/learnt and review useful info about writing different kinds of texts. As it seemed far too many people were lost, I printed out examples from my own notes, but people who have been handing in their montly writing assignments also used different (old) textbooks and websites explaining how to write the kind of text they had to put together.
The list of texts we worked on is here on the page called Writing File.
My intro went as follows:
I listed the types of texts that are studied at the advanced level, and Germán noted that the PUC exams are mostly about “essays”, which mostly means “articles” depending on the accompanying tast description.
- Online forms (notice the difference in structure between a complaint online form, filling out/in boxes sticking to the topic of the box, and a complaint letter or email)
- Online texts like forum posts (no structure really, because structure is so open: you can simply reply to the previous post, or the opening post, or you can include greetings and jokes and stuff! It all depends on the kind of forum you’re posting on)
- Articles: in your tests, these are also called “essay”. You need to notice what comes in the task description: is it for a local newspaper? Then it’s an article, right? Use common sense, and your knowledge of the world. We have different kinds of articles. Articles always have a title, and it tries to be gripping, catchy, interesting, or at least descriptive of the topic. Informative articles are usually pieces with headings, too. They’re common in magazine, like women’s mags, and they are typical in travel guides, too. The headings help you visualize the structure and allow you to choose the bits you are interested in reading. Then you have articles of analysis. The analysis can be presented as an essay, like if you are an expert in Science and you write about a topic. They tend to include the present simple tense for general truths, but not only of course. Then you have argumentative texts/essays, where the writer analyzes the topic by examining pros and cons, or different approaches to the matter. The C1 Resource Pack has ideas on different structures for this, and you should consider if your personal viewpoint comes at the end, or if it is everywhere or what. Endings are interesting, they can be final comments pointing to the future, summaries, conclusions… Register should be consistent. I always recommend semiformal language if you are free to choose, but it all depends on the task and what you can do with it!
- Reviews – I gave out notes on the typical structure of this, because some people had not done this assignment.
- You might have to write a letter requesting info or as we did this year, requesting the release of a prisoner of conscience, replying to an ad (here it’s crucial you use the info in the ad in your letter, even as an outline), job or grant-application letters (in response to an ad or unsolicited), making a complaint (I gave out notes on this), you could be writing a Letter to the Editor (I have notes on talkingpeople.net). I also printed some great notes I wrote for business emails and gave them out.
- I offered an overview on Proposals and Reports, what they share in common (title, headings, structure) and what makes them different at times (proposals tend to be about the present and the future and reports tends to be about the past, but not always, it all depends on the task description). Useful language for these kinds includes things like: This report/proposal is intended to address… I gave out an example of my notes on proposals. There’s more on TP, reports for the police on an accident, for instance.
Last, I mentioned what people should do if given a statement. We don’t use it in our PUCs as an exam or essay question. We use it as an idea on the topic, which means that you need a title if the statement is connected to writing an essay for a magazine. You can use it or not, but it has to be integrated in your text. So — it’s not like an exam question. If it were so, they wouldn’t add “for a local newspaper”. So be careful. Notice what it is connected to. Statements are just intended to help you brainstorm on the topic.
I reviewed what your Writing Files should include:
- Task descriptions of what we did: type of text, word limit, topic. Your final piece.
- Notes on how to write that type of text (and attach your sources if you like)
- Notes on Useful language, particularly for formal and semiformal letter because they have so many fixed expressions in different parts of the structure, like “Looking forward to seeing you”.
- Then your LoM, so you can review your weaknesses and avoid them!
People told me they had discussed they did not want to design exams, but to take them. I said we have spent the last month doing that (Exam Training is about taking one or two tests to get acquainted with the format — I described , and that they have still two more practice tests to do (another C1 Reading and Listening, and the one they’ll do at home before their own PUC, on the Junta’s website), and that the internet is full of exams. We really need to move on to oral interactions. I consider that you are already aware of the kind of exercises we can be given in the PUC and that we need to continue learning English, being aware of how much we have improved, and simply continue with our plans for writing and oral training.
Romina has booked for a 15-min OP for next Wednesday, May 3, on storytelling. Sergio has booked for the same day to give an OP on the language in the news. Both would take max. 15 mins. and allow me to videoshoot.