Tutor profile: Matthew S.
What benefits does continuing to work on writing have for someone who already writes well?
Writing is a process of continual improvement. Someone who writes well already can always find new ways to express their point more concisely or more effectively. Even if a writer submits what they consider to be flawless work, they may find that a reader came to a completely unintended conclusion or had a completely unexpected reaction to their work. Writing is a process, but is also a dialogue. A writer thinks through and refines what they want to say in the writing and revision process but that is only half of the process. When they put their work out for the world to see, their readers provide them with insights and perspectives that the writer could not have thought of on their own. Writers and readers need each other, and writing reminds us that we can all learn from each other as long as we continue to be open and honest in our writing and our reading.
What does the study of literature offer in an era when many books are being adapted into movies and many essays are becoming Youtube video essays?
Although it is tempting to see literature as increasingly irrelevant due to the continuing shift to visual and audio based media, literature provides some unique benefits that audio and visual mediums do not. Reading literature forces the reader to choose to continue reading rather than passively experiencing something that would continue on after they press play regardless of whether or not they are paying attention. Reading fiction in general allows readers to come up with their own unique voices and appearances for the characters in their heads rather than being presented with one voice or look for that character. This allows readers to have a personal experiences with the characters and events of the book that will vary from person to person. Readers can compare and contrast their experiences with each other, and create opportunities for new friendship to form and new perspectives to be explored. Audio and visual media certainly encourage this as well, and since many movies and video essays are in conversation with or in response to works of literature, reading those works can give the viewer a new appreciation for the source material as well as for the movie or video essay they enjoy. In addition, many video essays highlight certain passages or themes from literature, and reading those works of literature helps one understand the context of that passage or theme as part of the whole text.
Why is studying English important for native English speakers in a multilingual and multicultural world?
Studying English in a multilingual and multicultural world is important for native English speakers because doing so allows those native speakers to communicate more effectively with both native and non-native English speakers as well as understand the history and context of certain words and phrases. For example, if a non-native speaker makes a mistake when using a particular phrase, a less educated native English speaker make correct them but have no exact answer as to why they are right other than to say it sounds right. A more informed native speaker may be able to tell them what part of speech they misused and how to use it properly in the future. The use of the phrase "black sheep" is another example of how education about English can be helpful. Although the average native speaker may see nothing wrong with this phrase, a more informed native speaker might recognize that using black as a way of describing negative traits might offend an African-American audience if they are used to such language subtly reinforcing racist stereotypes, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This knowledge of the connotation and history of such phrases would allow the informed native speaker to choose their words carefully and avoid offending their audience. In both of these examples, the more informed native speaker is able to communicate with native and non-native speakers more effectively.
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