English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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English: skills for learning

3.1 Some useful strategies

In the next activity you will look in more detail at the challenges often faced by students and the strategies they can use to complete an essay.

Activity 5

Allow approximately 15 minutes

In the videos below, three students describe their writing process. They also mention the challenges they face and some of the strategies they use. Watch the videos and identify the challenges and strategies each student uses. Note them in the boxes below before comparing your answers with mine.

Diane

Download this video clip.Video player: swe_1_wk3_vid_diane.mp4
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Transcript

Diane
When I get my assignment, I focus my reading on what's being asked in the question. I'll highlight it and make notes of the page numbers that I think will be useful. And then I start to write everything down that I think will answer the question.
Invariably, there's too many words. So then I start working on the word processor, typing everything up. And then I start to take bits out and add bits in, until I get the answer to the question. It's very easy to think that you've answered the question and you haven't.
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Answer

Challenges

  • Writing too many words
  • Risk of not answering the question

Strategies

  • Reading the question
  • Reading in order to find answers to the question
  • First writing everything you know, then revising it

Hugh

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Hugh
While I don't enjoy essay questions, I guess I'm lucky in this course that I'm doing at the moment that you're presented with a structure that is expected for the essay, which I follow. I tend to, then, sort of look at each section of the essay, and I will read the background material, and then start writing.
I'll write down thoughts as they come. Then I'll read through what I've written, and review it. And I guess it becomes very circular then. Having reviewed it, I might do further background reading, rewrite what I've written, and review it again. And it goes round and round, until I guess I feel that I've answered the question properly and completely, and I guess I'm not going to get much more mileage out of spending more time on it. End transcript: Hugh 
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Answer

Challenges

  • Not enjoying essay writing

Strategies

  • Using the structure given by the assignment
  • Writing thoughts about each section
  • Revising the answer many times
  • Circular revision process: rereading, rewriting, reviewing, rereading …
  • Stopping when the answer has been answered properly and completely

Christophe

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Christophe
When I'm starting, I write an informal list of points I want to make, so that I can go back to these points. And then I organise myself with all these points in the paper, in proper structure. When a good draft, I mean a really very good draft, is ready, I pass it on to someone else for further corrections or just reading. Because you're so used to your text that it doesn't make any sense to read it again.
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Answer

Challenges

  • Becoming too used to his answer

Strategies

  • First, making a list of key points
  • Then, carefully arranging these points
  • Writing the first draft
  • Asking someone else to read this draft

Comment

Coping with university writing is about developing strategies that help to meet a range of challenges. These students seem to have been successful in essay writing despite the various challenges they mention. They have dealt with those challenges by adopting strategies for planning what they are going to write, structuring the content of their essays and reviewing the text over and over again.

SWE_1

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