The Sunday News
THERE is a time before when I shared with the learners the six big blunders they should avoid in English Language in particular though they can also apply to other subjects as well. In fact researchers call these, “the six big horrible ‘No-Nos’”. We are told that hordes of people go horribly wrong with written English, they keep making these big mistakes. One of these is learners do not write properly.
Learners do not seem to understand the need for writing properly. In most cases handwriting is illegible. Work is littered with wrong spellings and wrong grammar. Learners think that failure to use correct punctuation in grammar is too negligible to be penalised. Some would go on to make noise if penalised for omitting an apostrophe, full stops or commas where applicable. They want to write without observing these simple but important basic rules of grammar.
Use correct punctuation where you can manage it learners, so as to produce lovely writing. Remember the more lovely your writing, the more lovely you will seem, and the more lovely marks you will be given by the grateful examiner. Next on these blunders, is learners do not read the question properly. If you do not read the question properly, you will not answer it properly either. Another blunder learners make is not reading the instructions.
If you do not read all the instructions, you will do the wrong thing and get no marks. I would go further and say if you do not read the instructions you would rather not proceed with that examination or piece of work given. This leads to another blunder of not answering the question. A question is an instruction itself, such that if you just ramble about other things without answering the question you will not get marks. Make sure you answer the question and leave out unnecessary details.
The worst blunder learners make is not writing their essays or compositions in paragraphs. This annoys the examiner on sight before reading that piece of writing. Obviously, if the examiner feels like that marks awarded will be thin. Learners make sure that you avoid these irritating horrible blunders.
Having mentioned writing in paragraphs, I have been forced by some learners to go back and consider some elements of composition writing again.
Learners are reminded of the following facts about composition writing: Firstly let us come to the structure of a composition where learners seem to forget key points. There are various types of compositions. Every composition has a topic on top of it. There are many cases of learners forgetting to write composition topics. Every composition should have an introduction. Every composition has a body made up of information that is placed in paragraphs.
Every composition has paragraphs and every composition has a conclusion. Every paragraph has a topic sentence which states what that particular paragraph is containing. It is the main idea of a paragraph. These are the basics of composition writing which are taught by any teacher worth his salt in the field of education. Learners go on to recite these points only to do the opposite when asked to apply them. They tend to forget these facts because they lack discipline to apply the points in their writing.
Many learners lose it in the introduction. This is where they should decide on how they are going to start their composition. The introduction is an outline of your composition in brief. It must be clear enough to give a hint of what is to follow. Let us look at some examples which could assist learners: To write effective compositions learners should choose to write a story with familiar settings. Stories in familiar settings are set in real places and are about “real life people”, their feelings and the things they do.
Such stories are close to the learner and she or he can share the same feelings with his characters. Places you know well could be exciting places like well known historical ruins in your country, well-known squatter camps with their squalor. These could also be ordinary places like a busy shopping centre, a park or even your home. You could write about holiday places like Great Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls, Matopo National Park to mention but a few.
The point is , show where the action takes place, think of a place you know well but invent a good name. Use details to make the place sound real. Think of what you can see, hear and smell. Put your character into the setting and have something go wrong. Stories with familiar settings often use the past test tense. For example, the teacher bellowed at the class. They also use the third person like: she saw the thief escape — not I saw the thief escape.
They use time connectives like, later, meanwhile, to show how time moves on through the story.
One author when asked: “How do you use the settings you know?” said, “The lovely thing about familiar settings is that they are just that — familiar.
You’re surrounded by them — where you live, where you play, where you go to school. You’ve got all the details you need”. On what he focused on when he wrote, he said he tried to focus on what gets the readers “hooked” so that they cannot bear to put the story down.
These are valuable tips from which learners can take a leaf and improve their writing. The purpose of proffering all this information is to help learners improve their story or composition writing. More information to follow in later articles.
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