"With writing and reading, a scholar's spirit shines like the stars"
Category: Learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL)
Indonesian students whom I teach since 2008 are classified as EFL students. EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language. This category is created for the purpose of sharing valuable information to my students about learning English in EFL context.
On April 27, 2019, I was invited to be a speaker an event about scholarships in Indonesia. The event name was World Indonesia Festival, as the committee called it as WISH Padang 2019. I presented about Fulbright scholarship.
Berikut video presentasinya (Click the following link to see the presentation video):
The opening session of WISH Padang 2019 was filled out by the Rector of Univeritas Negeri Padang (UNP) who had been represented by the assistant of the third vice dean of Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the university. Besides, the governor of West Sumatera province also attended to open the event formally.
Mata Garuda Sumbar and LPDP Awardee also attended the event to share the views and tips as well as tricks on how to win and get LPDP scholarship. The chair of Indonesian Scholarship Network (ISN) from Jakarta also attended the event. Thus, it provided good values for students and visitors to know more about scholarship that is available in Indonesia or overseas and open for Indonesian students.
In the session of Inspiring Talk, the committee invited Prof. Saldi Isra and Prof. Mestika Zed. These two public figures increase the worthy of the event.
IELTS Coaching Clinic by IDP, IELTS Simulation by TIME Language Center, and Blajar.id also provided information on Tips and Trick of scholarship application.
Additionally, the event also has Stand and Expo that display various types of scholarship available for students who are interested to study overseas, such as Japan, Ireland, United Kingdom, USA, and Australia.
In short, the WISH Padang 2019 event was successful because many students and visitors came to the event. Almost 3000 students came to see the scholarship event. The event itself was sponsored by W-DANK LOKALATE, a product of Nutrifood in Indonesia.
Standing with Ibu Akhriani in W-DANK Nutrifood Stand (Kopi Gula Aren and Kopi Durian) So Tasty!! 🙂
Endorsement: Just to let you know, the taste of Kopi Gula Aren and Kopi Durian of W-DANK have added extra variant of taste of soft drinks in Indonesia. Ms. Akhiarni (Ani) gave me a glass of coffee with ice and it was rich of taste. I recommend drinking W-DANK Kopi Gula Aren and W-DANK Kopi Durian to enrich your taste on Indonesian traditional soft drinks but with modern packaging.
This post is designed for students who are taking Writing II course with me. The topic of this post is designed by following the course syllabus for WRITING II.
For students, please follow the following instruction in order to complete your assignment.
Type your full name and NIM on the comment.
Write your essay draft to the comment of this post.
Attach the word count beneath your text.
I will comment on each essay after submitting it in this post. You need to have a registered email address to comment on this post. Please also remember that plagiarism is strictly prohibited. If I found your essay is not authentic, or you copied it from elsewhere, your assigment score is bannished immediately.
Please attach your essay on the comment below. Good Luck!
(If you have commented once, please avoid doing it two times. Otherwise, your essay will show up here two times as well).
The following writing is shared in this blog for the purpose of sharing and for educational purposes only. Your comments and feedback are highly valued. Thank you.
Syayid Sandi Sukandi
Dr. Joel Hardman
September 13, 2012 – Week 4
ENG 544 – Reading and Writing Pedagogy in TESL
Specific Ways of Reading for Specific Cultural Texts
Reading the two articles, written by Grabe, Birsch and Eskey, brings my mind back to the times when I taught the course entitled Cross Cultural Understanding in College of Teacher Training and Education in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia. This course equips students in the college to learn how to engage with cultural concepts that are not similarly connected with their cultural background. What I could reflect after reading Grabe, Birsch, and Eskey is that there are specific ways that we should inform to the students regarding the activity of understanding texts containing cultural elements in them, even though the students might already have understood the linguistic elements of the texts.
The ESL students whose background primarily Indonesian cultures tend to view Western texts through the mindset that they already have. One of the meetings that my students and I had in the class was discussing about the concept of the melting pot and fish out of water of American’s life. These two phrases contain cultural elements. When the students read additional sources to understand those phrases, they had to read texts that explain what and how the United States of America is. Since students who are taking this course are students enrolling in the last year of their studies, they are expected to have good amount of skills to engage with Western texts, such as their grammar skill and their background knowledge. As Grabe points out, “Some of the strategies that are important for comprehension involve grammatical knowledge while others focus on processing skills and background knowledge” (51). Reading comprehension in L2 (Second Language) might not be necessarily assessed through how many cultural words, or content words they may know, but how they could get the overall meaning of the texts that they read culturally.
To be honest, though, Eskey’s article resonates with all dimension of understanding that I had since I was working as an English lecturer. He mentions that, “As human beings, we have what could fairly be called a biological instinct to learn to speak, but we must be taught to read in some particular culture that employs written language for some particular purposes” (7). This statement, to me, does make sense. A basic cultural text that we discussed, for instance, is the idea of technology. The value of technology in Indonesia might not be that similar with that in the United States. Technology is a tool for making life easier in terms of daily basis. For the society that already engage with “technology”, this word might mean something else. Another text that we discussed was about religion and faith. The idea of religion and faith in the Western society are not that strong compared to those in Indonesia I perceive. When I took current news dealing with religion and faith from the Western media, the definition of these words become different from what my students have understood in Indonesia. As a teacher, I gave them specific explanation that the discourse of such texts may not be correlated what they already know, but to some extents, they should be able to differentiate things that they should comprehend with the things that they could take as new definitions. Many specific words also are interpreted as political words, when they are being used in specific contexts. This notion draws my mind to see that specific ways of reading are for specific cultural texts. These modes help the students more in understanding different texts throughout their lives.
Misunderstanding in this expanded worldly communication can happen because of the lack of reading skills worldwide. Even when critical thinking comes to play, many students are not ready to face texts that are written outside their common circle, or to put it simply, their personal background. When they are asked to understand such texts, they resist. They also mention that the texts were wrong or the author has been misled in his or her mind. When this situation emerged in the classroom, I emphasize to my students that the frame of mind that we already have could be implemented to think critically for they read. However, to come into a better conclusion about particular ideas, they must read many texts with different topics so that they do not have narrow view toward many specific topics. “Poor readers avoid reading and lack of reading practice means they do not improve” (Birsch 9). Birsch’s idea is clear at this point. Our life improves when we could adjust ourselves with new things, especially when it deals with our students. Their ways of life are different from us. We might be used to typing with typing machine. Now, they have all these equipment. Our task is to lead them to better and meaningful ways of life. One of them is to help them “read texts” in different ways in order to get meaningful “image”, right?
Birsch, B. English L2 Reading. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 2002. Print.
Eskey, D. “Reading and the Teaching of L2 Reading.” TESOL Journal, 11, 1. 2002. Print.
Grabe, W. “Research on Teaching Research.” Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 2004. Print.
“Easy reading is damn hard writing” Nathaniel Hawthorne “Difficult reading is always a form of the writer’s ego to show off his credibility, which is not needed by the readers” – Syayid Sandi Sukandi
This post has been discussed in one of my classes in Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. It turns out that I even fall in love with writing. “The more I read, the more easier how to understand my writing is. The more I discuss with open-minded people, the more I can feel what the magnificent use of writing is” – Syayid Sandi Sukandi, A Fulbright Scholar of English
To those of you who love to write, putting your ideas into writing would seem to be easy to do, especially when you have gained a lot of experiences in writing and jotting down your ideas into a meaningful piece of text. However, sometimes, before writing something, please ask yourself these questions, “Why should I write? What is it for?”
The questions of “Where are my readers? Who are they?” are connected with “Why should I write? What is it for?” These four questions are actually connected with the essence of the purpose of why we write. This is where the process of humanizing writing starts. From a novice writer into an advanced one, readers are always involved in certain ways. Peter Elbow, a distinguish Professor of English in the United States has stated that someone may write well, even without a teacher. It does not mean that the person does not need a teacher. What it actually means is that the teacher is only a facilitator. The one who should write more is the person him or herself. Understanding grammar well is not enough if someone wants to write well for the readers, except for him or herself per se. If you could answer the two questions above, you will have a sense of to whom your writing will be intended. In other words, your writing will have a purpose. Eventually, your writing will likely be successful.
Therefore, writing something complicated by using an easier written expression, help the readers understand our writing well. Briefly, specific words are for specific readers. As Georges Gusdorf mentions in his book, Speaking (La Parole), translated by Paul T. Brockelman in 1965, p.44, “…language cannot justify anything and everything. It is up to each person to assure the responsibility for his own language by searching for the ‘right word’”. Words will work better if the words can work well in the mind of the readers. If the readers do not have the same meaning as what the writer perceive about the word, the use of the word will create chaos in the mind of the readers. Eventually, what happens is, your writing becomes useless and meaningless. You don’t want that happens, do you? Or, after you wrote something, and suddenly said, “That’s it! I am done!” Is that all? In fact, writing is more than that.
What about writing for public? Writing for a larger audience? If you are a native speaker of English, what about writing for second language speakers of English? The specific “form” of language is used for specific “purposes”; even English has its specific form that is known as English for Specific Purposes. Namely, there are several words that can only be used within the context of business. For instance, “The bank has set its interest rates”. The word “interest” here is not the same as it is found in, “She interests me”. Consequently, we need to adhere that the words we use in expressing our ideas should be properly chosen for the readers. If you speak or write something interesting in your mind, but your listeners or readers do not understand what you are saying, the communication turns into a deathly hollow. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee mentioned in his writing Why Billinguals are Smarter in New York Times, “Nobody ever doubt the power of language. But who would have imagined that the words we hear and the sentences we speak might be leaving such a deep imprint?” Then, the question is, “Will a writer’s work be read if the writer writes with words that people rarely use?”
To make it brief, it can be stated in this simple phrase, “Think deeply; write simply”. Whatever we write in our writings, always consider the readers. Making our thoughts easier is a lot more useful than making it complicated for people. In this digital world, writing has become a life-style. Readers are the people whom our writings will take us to the next level. Humanizing writing sounds a pretty good thing to do by everyone, if they are in need of being understood well in this enchanting world.
“A student without having an ability to show his or her credibility in an appropriate occasions will look like never learning anything” – Syayid Sandi Sukandi
This writing is intended for all students and learners wherever you are
Attending a university degree, either in bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree needs the ability of writing a good essay. This ability is considered as a must. Before you write an essay, of course, you need to understand what the essay actually is. In this writing, the points that will be explained are what an essay is, parts of an essay, how to write an essay, function of an essay, and characteristics of a good essay.
What an essay is
Before we begin writing an essay, we need to understand what an essay is. Essay is defined as a piece of writing, usually short, on any one subject (Hornby, 1995: 392). Meanwhile, Anderson explains that:
“An essay is made up of a number of paragraphs that develop and support a single idea, impression, or point. Although the term ‘essay’ may be used to refer in general to writing that explores a topic or presents factual information, in the context of most college writing, essay refers to a composition that is carefully structured and contains particular parts that work together to communicate the writer’s main idea” (2002: 23-4)
The above quotation means that an essay has specific idea, impression or point. It also has specific structure and part. Obviously, an essay must be coherent, in a good cohesion, and unity. Moreover, Peters in the Cambridge Guide to English Usage stated that:
“The classic essays of the past were written by philosophers and gentlemen of leisure—from Montaigne and Bacon to Russell and T.S Eliot—exploring ideas and views on a personally chosen subject. Today’s university and college students who write essays and papers are their heirs only in the sense that they use them as a vehicle for a discussion. Their essays/papers are usually written on prescribed topics, and few would risk “flying a kite” in an assessable exercise. Having duly mastered the art of essay writing, students graduate to positions in which they never use that form of communication, and letters, reports and memorandums are the order of the day. The only professional equivalent to the traditional essay is perhaps the signed editorial column produced by celebrated journalists, who do indeed enjoy the essayist’s license to explore ideas and speak their minds.” (2004: 189)
The keyword of the above quotation is that in the past, essays were related to “exploring ideas and views on a personally chosen subject”; meanwhile, essays have been recognized as in the journalists column in which the basis is “explore ideas and speak their minds”. Although these two things are distinctive, the core idea is the same. It is that essays have “exploring ideas” as its vision but the mission is different, where the former essays were written through the chosen subject while the latter essays are written in order to provide what someone think in his or her mind to be written into a thing called as an essay.