To: Leah Stahl English Dept



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Benjamin King Gelston 131 king1bl@alma.edu

15, December, 2010

To: Leah Stahl English Dept., SAC 312B Alma College Alma, MI 48801

RE: My experience, performance and progress in English 101.07

Dear Mrs. Stahl:

The abilities to write and comprehend pieces of writing are vital aspects of becoming and acting as a successful member of any community. During my first semester in English 101, I was able to hone my writing skills much more than I had initially expected. Prior to this fall I had taken two Advanced Placement English courses; I had done very well in both of these classes. So, going into this class I felt that it had very little to offer me. Initially, I believed that I was a good writer whom had very little room or need for improvement. I had written research papers, in previous year and had analyzed other’s writing. I felt that that more creative pieces of writing like the definition easy were unprofessional ways of arguing a point. However, I was entirely wrong; no matter how much knowledge an individual posses in any study or skill there is always room for improvement and growth.

As, stated earlier, I wrote a few research papers as a student in high school. However, the research paper I composed for this class was significantly more developed, than my previous essays. This essay is one of my best pieces of writing I have ever written. In comparison to my other research papers, this was much more developed and coherent. Firstly, all of my previous research papers were written on subjects that I had a solid knowledge base on prior too doing my research and writing my paper. While, this made the task of writing my essays much easier, it made them slightly biased. I had knowledge and pre-formulated opinions of these subjects, because of these factors I often times failed to delve into my research. Conversely, with my research paper “Freedom from Foreign Oil” I was forced to delve deep into the issue of the United State’s dependence of foreign oil. I had almost no knowledge of this issue prior to writing this paper. Due to my lack of knowledge on this issue I was required to look deep into the issue so that I could understand the issue myself and appear well informed on this issue. I did an immense amount of research for this paper. I read two books and numerous documents. By doing this much research I was able to make a coherent and well organized argument. Furthermore, by being required to search for more evidence I By lacking an original knowledge base I was able to understand that my audience may also not understand the issue either. Consequently, I was able to present my findings to my audience in a manner so that they might more easily comprehend such a complicated issue. In my essay I discuss the issue of foreign regimes funding terrorism thorough fossil fuel revenues. In this essay I write “Saudi Arabia, the United States’ greatest exporter of petroleum spends tens of billions each year on Islamic extremism (Stern 1654). Every time the United States purchases a barrel of oil from an unstable nation it inadvertently donates funds to Wahabism and other forms of Islamic extremism.” I explain the issue so that my audience may understand the issue, thus making my argument more effective.

In regards to my rhetorical analysis essay, my writing and my comprehension of other individual’s writing improved greatly. Prior to my writing of “Vulnerability of the Danube” I had done very little rhetorical analysis. All of my previous experience with rhetorical analysis involved analyzing poetry and fiction. A vital part of my essay was exploring Elisabeth Rosenthal’s use of logos, pathos and ethos in her New York Times article “Site in Hungary Was Listed as Risky”. Prior to this class I had never heard of these rhetorical strategies. However, due to what I learned in class about rhetorical strategies and persuasive writing I was able to effectively analyze Rosenthal’s use of these strategies. I wrote this essay in sections, each section devoted to one Rosenthal’s use of rhetorical strategies. In the second section of this essay I argue that Rosenthal uses pathos to appeal to her audience emotionally. In analyzing her article I found that “Rosenthal rouses her readers’ emotions with an effective employment of imagery. By using powerful imagery Rosenthal captures her readers’ attention.” In this essay I was able to discern how Rosenthal appeals to her readers emotions and what literary techniques she employs to convey her appeal. In learning these appeals I was able to dissect a writer’s work and apply it to my own. By critically reading Rosenthal’s article I was able to critically understand her writing. In understanding her writing I was able to effectively communicate my findings and arguments.

Throughout my high school career I was trained to write as professional as possible. This meant that I was taught to write straight forward essays without any differentiation in style. I wrote with very little creativity stating the facts and evidence as if every essay I wrote were a court room case. I very rarely tried to emotionally appeal to my audience through imagery or metaphor. However, in my definition essay “Cancer” I greatly diverged from this attitude. Employing imagery to draw a connection between the human body and the planet I wrote “Factories and industrial parks spew blackness into the sky. Like rows of cigarettes planted into the ground, smokestacks puffing clouds of tar and impurities into the air.” By exploring my creativity through metaphor and imagery I was able to make this connection for the audience. Consequently, by using these literary devices I was able to make my essay more interesting for the audience. This results in the audience being more inclined to agree with my argument, because they are intrigued by the topic matter.

The ability to learn from one’s mistakes is a vital part of emotional and scholastic growth. In rereading my midterm essay, it is apparent that I have made numerous mistakes. However, this also means that there are many lessons to be learned from and grow from. The first observation I made in the reassessment of this essay was that my writing was significantly less coherent than my other writing. There is little flow and ideas are thrown out on the paper in a panicked or frantic matter. In regards to these flaws, I have found that I must not panic when writing timed essays. It is important to control one’s thoughts when writing so that they do not appear to be rambling. Also, I found that I should improve my organization when writing timed essays. I could do this by giving more attention to the mapping and planning process. This would give the essay more coherence and organization making it easier to read and more enjoyable to read as well.



I feel that this class was beneficial to me. It aided me in the development of both my reading and writing skills. I enjoyed this class, so I worked hard in this class. These two factors are entwined in their relation. It is very difficult to have one without the other. I was fortunate to have both, thus making this class valuable to my education and development as a writer. In doggedly pursuing work that was given to me, my quality of work increased as well. While I did not work my hardest at times, I always put forth effort and pride in my work. For example, I have never liked doing peer edits. However, I thought that I should do a quality job because I would expect the same from my peer. I was fortunate to have a partner with the same sentiment. This is the most valuable lesson I learned, by working hard one actually makes less work for himself.

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