Learning writing and composition

General discussion about learning languages
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Axon
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Learning writing and composition

Postby Axon » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:10 am

I learned to read early and pretty much never stopped. Thanks to that and about 17 years of school, I feel confident in writing on different subjects and for different audiences. In English.

When I write in other languages, though, it always feels very stream-of-consciousness and is never as clear as I want it to be. I wrote a quick little thing in Chinese on iTalki and was proud of myself until I got two separate corrections that both said "this is really confusing and hard to follow, maybe next time put some English in so people can understand." :cry:

I know that I have to master the basics first, and the basics in English started from weekly paragraphs about "My Family" and "What I Did This Summer." I'm thinking I probably need to keep doing short compositions until I can regularly write at the level of an elementary schooler, and perhaps even buy a composition textbook for children. I don't care if my style remains basic - I just want to be able to communicate ideas in writing and have them understood.

Is good target-language writing style something that can come from massive exposure alone? What are your experiences with improving the quality of your TL writing?
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Flickserve
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Re: Learning writing and composition

Postby Flickserve » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:45 am

What Chinese grammar have you done before? It would be good to write in an English version.

I had the same issue as you have had. In the end I gave up writing for a while. Improved my listening, which then improved my spoken expression and my writing has improved without going much past basic grammar structures.

Note the following points with Chinese corrections:

- Spoken Chinese can sometimes be quite different from written Chinese.

- Some corrections are superfluous. I had some people private message me saying that some corrections by other people were not needed.

- Occasionally the correction can be wrong.

- Sometimes Chinese people like to show off a bit and give some over eloquent corrections.
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Axon
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Re: Learning writing and composition

Postby Axon » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:59 am

Flickserve wrote:What Chinese grammar have you done before? It would be good to write in an English version.

I had the same issue as you have had. In the end I gave up writing for a while. Improved my listening, which then improved my spoken expression and my writing has improved without going much past basic grammar structures.

Note the following points with Chinese corrections:

- Spoken Chinese can sometimes be quite different from written Chinese.

- Some corrections are superfluous. I had some people private message me saying that some corrections by other people were not needed.

- Occasionally the correction can be wrong.

- Sometimes Chinese people like to show off a bit and give some over eloquent corrections.


I took some Chinese courses in school and read through some Chinese grammars then, but I haven't studied grammar for a long time. I can read informal articles that are a step up from spoken Chinese yet not quite to the complexity of a book - stuff like "Things You Shouldn't Bring To Thailand" and "This Third Grader's Essay Shocked His Parents." I have no trouble with the structures in those, and no trouble using Chinese all day with my boss at work.

And yeah, I think snowflake's log especially shows that there are tons of opinions about correct writing style. I know that some of these articles are likely to have typos or strange sentences. The same thing happens with that genre in English. At the very least, though, I'd like to get to that standard of understandability.

Perhaps it's that I usually try to write things about myself and my experiences, and what I read is rarely that genre?
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Flickserve
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Re: Learning writing and composition

Postby Flickserve » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:19 am

Might be worth revisiting a little how to structure a sentence.

Person, time, place etc
因为...所以
如果...就

See how you get on with that.
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Aiya.Lianxi
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Re: Learning writing and composition

Postby Aiya.Lianxi » Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:49 pm

Ultimately, middle grade and high school textbooks in TL can help. If you can find books targeted at language learners studying to get into Chinese colleges, they will go over essays, and other things we learned in middle school and high school.

This is the book I used for Japanese. If you have a Chinese or Taiwanese friend, ask them if they can help you find a middle grade or high school essay or writing textbook. Or even websites they use as references, like Purdue OWL is for every college student anywhere.

Read short stories and articles in your target language, and analyze the sentence beginnings, connections, modifiers, and ending patterns. And if you're truly adventurous, try a Chinese creative writing or nonfiction writing book, where they can lay out the standards and the do's and don'ts.
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: 0 / 25 Pgs/comics read : 12 / 100 Sentences written
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