Tutor profile: Soh K.
How can I become an excellent writer?
Most people struggle with writing. When I teach a writing course or work with a student as a tutor, many confess that they are not good at writing and do not know how to become a better writer. Indeed, writing is a hard task. It is not a simple skill that they can quickly master. There are tips and formulas with which students can get help, but the mechanical use of them would not make their writing good automatically. I’d like to tell you that the best key to become a good writer is becoming a critical reader and thinker. Writing is a conversation with others. To make a conversation successful, you need to come prepared with not only a solid understanding of topics but also your own thoughts on them. Otherwise, you are not making a conversation; you just listen to what other people tell you. Critical reading and critical thinking are, therefore, a foundation to make your writing persuasive and informative. As a tutor, I can help you to deepen your inquiry and articulate your thoughts in writing successfully, besides assisting technical elements that will make your writing academic and professional.
How can I read literature critically and closely?
Students who are less familiar with literary analysis often misunderstand that reading literature is figuring out what an author meant to tell in their work. Thus, they find biographical and autobiographical references as a way to discover a hidden intent and symbolic meaning behind a literary work. Or, they focus on analyzing literary forms and devices such as analogy, metaphor, or imagery of characters and events. However, critical reading of literature requires more than learning the author’s intent or examining literary devices. While the two are very significant elements in understanding literature, knowing the historical context in which such work was born and reached (or failed to reach) to their contemporary readers and the changing reception and criticism of the work over time also matters to understand literary works richly. To do so, you need to not only read a literary text closely but also study its criticism written from multi-faceted perspectives. It will lead you to see what is happening both within and outside a text.
I am not interested in English. I don’t have a plan to major in English in college, either. Why should I keep studying it?
English as a discipline includes but is not limited to the following fields: rhetorics, grammar, composition, creative writing, and literature. As one of the most foundational and important subjects, you (have) studied English throughout primary and secondary education. This often could have tired you out. However, English is closely related to our daily life and ways of thinking. If you can become a more eloquent and persuasive speaker and writer by studying rhetorics and composition, creative writing will allow you to express your feeling and thought and share them with others. Literature opens the door to the wide range of imaginaries by making us dwell upon “what if.” In short, these skills are transferrable to whichever study you’d like to do besides English. As a successful business person, you will want to read people’s needs well and deliver a message to them effectively. As an engineer, you will need logical but also creative thinking in generating innovative technologies. While English may not seem to give you any immediate benefits, it is highly instrumental. You certainly do not need to major in English. But studying English will help not only your study in other disciplines but also your future career.
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