Writing the Curriculum by the Block

The history of writing studies is a complex and even large timeline. From scholars of the nineteenth century to teachers of the twentieth, writing studies has been changed and altered more times than I can count on one hand. One thing that I’ve notice while reading through the docs for this week was the amount of talk about “English” Writing Studies. One thing that I want to talk about is the necessity of English as a writing language, not only in the United States, not even only in English-speaking countries, but even in other countries where English is not the local populace’s first language. When reading The New Curriculum section of The Origins of Composition Studies in the American College by John C Breton I began to think about the nature of English Writing Studies as a whole process. I wondered how people whose relationship to English is complicated would fare in these classes.

This quote is said on page 172 in the Amherst College section: “No study in our American colleges is so directly and practically important as the study of English; yet none is so beset with problems of administration and method.” The study of English in colleges is important because the primary national language spoken in every institution is English. Yet, the process of teaching the language and it’s various forms is difficult for many administrations. Why is that? Why is teaching english studies such a complex yet difficult process? We should look into the reality of english studies for many people.

Birth and Native Dialects

For people born in the United States, Canada, England, or any other english-speaking country, it’s most likely that they grew up with English as their first language. It is their mother tongue. The native local language they speak everyday. They have an intimate familiarity to English. Therefore, they are more likely to have learned how to write in english first. English Studies might have came to them easier than it would’ve otherwise.

This is not the same reality for people who fall out of that category. Most immigrants who migrate to an english-speaking country after growing up in their home country will speak a different language. Someone who grew up in Ecuador, Spain, France, Cameroon, Japan, or Haiti will not have English as their first language, barring some exceptions. As such, if they migrate to an english-speaking country after having spoken their native tongue their entire life, they will then have to learn English. Not only will they have to learn how to speak English, they must know how to write in English as well.

This is where the difficulty in teaching English comes in. A French student who moves to the US for middle school after having spoken French their whole life will have to learn how to speak, read, and write in English. Since English is not an easy language to learn, this makes the teaching and learning processes hard and worrisome.

As for native English speakers, they will have completely different problems with English studies. Speaking the language is one thing, but writing competently in it is another subject. Most english speakers struggle with writing coherently. They may struggle with grammar mistakes, quotation problems, rhetoric failure, cracks in their composition, and a lack of proper formatting. When teachers set up a curriculum they need to take these things into account.

Teaching Curriculums

I believe that the curriculum needed to rectify these problems involve looking to the needs of English speakers. When teaching English Writing educators should remember that not everyone speaks or understand English in the same exact ways. People will not only write differently, but will format differently, use grammar differently, and explain things differently. I think that the set up of the writing curriculum should remember that students of different language backgrounds will need different accommodations in their education. It is easier to just teach everyone to write in English the same way than it is to make the curriculum fluid and accessible. For me, I appreciate when teachers make their curriculums remembering that students have their own approach to writing words.


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