Once you have stepped away from your writing and allowed your ideas to cool, it is time to check your work for errors in organization, grammar, and mechanics.

Use pencils, pens, or even crayons to identify parts of your paragraphs.  Use the different colors to distinguish elements of the paragraphs from each other.  Mark the topic sentences with one color, the main ideas with another, and so on for details/support, examples, and concluding sentences.  Do your paragraphs flow from general to specific ideas?  Have you tried to use abstract nouns in your topic sentences?  Using a variety of colors to “code” your paragraphs should help you to identify places where your reader may have to work in order to understand you.

Grammar is the way that we make sense with language.  Have you used a variety of grammar tenses?  Did you use them correctly?  While we can use a variety of colors to identify parts of a paragraph, this may not be a useful strategy when we are addressing grammatical issues in your text.  Due to the fact that text looks differently on paper than on a screen, print out your paper so that you can get your hands dirty.

Writing your paper may have been an experience that was both fulfilling and frustrating.  As you look over the pages, do you remember what you were feeling while you wrote different passages?  Identify the places that came easily to you.  Identify the places where you were struggling.  Select a paragraph from each section and read them sentence by sentence.  Is there a comparable difference in sentence structure?  Are there differences at all?  What can you learn about yourself as a writer and thinker from comparing your writing based on the attitude you had while you were working?  It’s food for thought!

Inaccuracies in grammar and mechanics can be time-consuming to deal with but completely possible to resolve without an excess of suffering.  Do you best to look at your paper line-by-line.  Be on the lookout for subject-verb agreement, word forms, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, sentence fragments, and any language item which you have concentrated on in your English studies.  Second, have someone else read your paper with a critical eye.  Does someone owe you a favor?  At times like these, many ESL students realize the value of being more helpful in general, so that they can call on the sentiment in others when the end of the term rolls around.


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May 30, 2013 · 8:25 pm

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