Rethinking College Writing Instruction

Slow reading aloud in the bathroom

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Many students who commit truly ugly sentences are just not paying close attention to their own words.  They have skimmed the meaning of emails and text messages for years without needing to attend to every syllable. Then when they come into a comp course they don’t know how to pay attention to words at the level needed.

 

To counteract that lack of attention, slow reading is needed.

 

I sometimes assign students to take a short passage home, and to go into the bathroom or some other quiet place, and read it aloud, slowly, twice.  “Just read it slowly and notice the words going by as you say them,” I say.  “Read every syllable and all the small words. Noticing words is important to being a writer.”

 

The assigned passage may be from a well-written professional or student essay. When I see the student next, either in class or after class, I ask him or her to tell me what the experience was like. “What did you notice when you did that?” I will ask.

 

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John G. Maguire
307 Market Street, #306
Lowell MA 01852
maguirejohn@comcast.net
978-761-4515