Wordsmith: Essentials of College English (2nd Edition)

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9780131876101: Wordsmith: Essentials of College English (2nd Edition)

Direct, conversational, and user-friendly, this book is broader in scope than most sentence level books, and contains clear explanations supported by numerous examples and exercises. KEY TOPICS It focuses on paragraphs, includes no rhetorical modes, and has chapters on writing e-mail messages and making oral presentations. A three-part flexible format mixes and matches writing chapters, grammar chapters, and a selection of ten readings. For individuals who want to improve their written communication skills.

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From the Back Cover:

In the REAL WORLD, do we practice writing skills in isolation?

With coverage of more than just basic writing skills, WORDSMITH: ESSENTIALS OF COLLEGE ENGLISH provides students with the opportunity to see the essentials of college communication in relation to each other. The text covers sentences, paragraphs, and essays and includes oral presentations and e-mails.

Throughout the text, WORDSMITH: ESSENTIALS OF COLLEGE ENGLISH also provides extensive exercises for students to practice these skills:

Practice and Review Exercises are brief, short-answer style exercises.

Editing, Group and Writing Assignments require working with or creating writing samples.

With coverage of writing, oral presentations and e-mails, and a variety of exercises, WORDSMITH: ESSENTIALS OF COLLEGE ENGLISH illustrates how the essentials of good writing are rarely performed in isolation.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Preface: To the Instructor

Thank you for choosing Wordsmith: Essentials of College English as your textbook. Like you, we are teachers of writing. Like you, we struggle to find the best way of teaching a subject that, on its surface, seems as simple as touching pen to paper. Yet writing is remarkably complex, incorporating the personality and experience of each writer and each reader. It requires adherence to agreed-upon rules of grammar, punctuation, and form. It is, in fact, a craft that might be best taught to a small group of students in a series of unhurried sessions and individual conferences over an extended period of time. But reality is the fifty-minute hour, the class of twenty or more, the term that is measured in weeks. How best to handle that reality?

Most writing instructors constantly refine their teaching methods, striving to make difficult concepts clear and tedious details interesting. Most of all, they try to ignite the spark that will help students see writing as a meaningful, life-enriching activity. A good textbook should reinforce those efforts.

The authors have spent considerable time trying to analyze what a good textbook should do, above and beyond presenting information in a given field. Here is what we have come up with: The book should be orderly and user-friendly, with a flexible format. Explanations should be clear and supported by numerous exercises and examples. The book should contain much more than is strictly necessary: it should be a smorgasbord, not just a meal. Finally, if it includes a little bit of fun, so much the better. We have written Wordsmith with those principles in mind.

Some Features of Wordsmith: Essentials of College Communication

  • A direct, conversational, student-friendly approach is used throughout.
  • The book is written on an adult level that appeals to both nontraditional students and traditional-age students.
  • Lighthearted chapter openings encourage a positive and playful approach to learning.
  • A flexible three-part layout allows you the freedom to mix and match writing chapters, grammar chapters, and readings as you wish.

Although each of you will use the book in a different way and adapt it to your own students' needs, the following overview of each section may give you some ideas. Also, check the Instructor's Guide in the back of the textbook for ideas on using a text and model syllabi.

Part 1: Essentials of Composition

Part 1, Essentials of Composition, takes the paragraph as its primary focus. The book begins with an overview of the writing process (Chapter 1), followed by a chapter on prewriting (Chapter 2). Chapters 3, 4, and 5 guide the student through the writing of the paragraph and address four principles of effective writing,: direction, support, unity, and coherence. Chapter 6 addresses revising, proofreading, and formatting.

The section continues with Chapter 7, Essays, Essay Exams, and Summary Reports" and concludes with "Communication Beyond the Classroom: Oral Presentations and E-Mail."

Special Features of Part 1: Essentials of Composition

  • A student paragraph is presented in all drafts and stages along with a transcript of a student writing group's discussion of the work in progress. (Chapter 1)
  • A section "For Right-Brained Writers" gives tips for students who tend to think in terms of "the whole" rather than in terms of a step-by-step process. (Chapter 1)
  • The five steps in the writing process are presented in the order in which most writers address them: prewriting, planning, drafting, revising, and proofreading.
  • One entire chapter and numerous exercises are devoted to writing a topic sentence and planning the paragraph. (Chapter 3)
  • Topics for paragraph and journal writing provide a basis for assignments and encourage further practice.
  • A chapter on essays, essay exams, and summary reports prepares students for the types of assignments they will encounter throughout their college career.
  • A chapter on e-mail and oral presentations prepares students to communicate both in the classroom and in the workplace.

Part 2: Essentials of Grammar

Part 2, Essentials of Grammar, can be used in a variety of ways. It can be used along with direct, in-class instruction, in a lab setting, as a supplement to lab assignments, or for independent study. It also works well for instructors who want to combine methods by addressing more difficult topics in class, while assigning easier material or material that is clearly "review" for independent study.

In the grammar chapters, explanations are clear, and each topic is taken one skill at a time, with numerous practice exercises for each skill. At the end of each chapter are review exercises in increasing order of difficulty, ending with a paragraph-length editing exercise.

Special Features of Part 2 Essentials of Grammar

  • Explanations are clear, logical, and user-friendly.
  • Step-by-step, easy-to-understand presentation is suitable for classroom discussion or independent study.
  • An abundance of practice exercises allows instructors to assign as much or as little as they wish, without having to hunt for supplemental exercises.
  • Text boxes—"Real-world Writing," "Grammar Alert!" and "Punctuation Pointers"—add liveliness and interest.
  • Practice exercises allow immediate review of each skill, while review exercises at the end of each chapter allow practice on increasing levels of difficulty.

Part 3: Essential Readings for Writers

Part 3, Essential Readings for Writers, offers essays by professional writers. These essays model writing at its best: entertaining, challenging, and thought-provoking. Each reading is followed by a comprehension exercise that includes questions about content, questions about the writer's techniques, and related topics for discussion and writing. Diversity in authorship, subject matter, and rhetorical method is emphasized.

Special Features of Part 3: Essential Readings for Writers

  • High-interest readings provide professional models, reinforce reading skills, and serve as springboards for discussion and assignments.
  • Questions help students understand both the content of the essays and the writer's techniques.
  • Suggested topics for writing connect students' writing to ideas they have explored in the readings.

Preface: To the Student

A Look at the Future

You open your e-mail and read a message from the human resources director at the company you hope to work for. You have been called back for a second interview. As you think back on the interview process, from the preparation of your resume and letter of application to the final handshake, you realize that interviewing is entirely a process of communication. At the second interview, you'll meet and talk with several of the people you'll be working with if you are hired. Again, strong communication skills will help you. If your prospective coworkers like you and what you have to say, you'll have a better chance at the job.

As you reply to the e-mail, you feel confident. Your college experience and your own effort have prepared you for this moment. You take a moment to proofread your e-mail, and then you press the "send" button.

No Time like the Present

The ability to communicate well is not the only skill you need in college and in the workplace, but it's one of the more important ones. In the classroom and beyond, the people who do well are most often those who think logically, who consider all the possibilities, and who communicate clearly. Writing can help you develop those skills.

In the college classroom, those who stand out also tend to be good writers and speakers. They write clearly, they state their ideas completely, and they don't embarrass themselves with poor grammar or misspelled words.

Perhaps, like most people, you feel that there's room for improvement in your communication skills. Maybe you feel that your grammar is not up to par, or maybe you're just never sure where to put commas. Or perhaps you go blank when you see an empty page in front of you, waiting to be filled.

But there's good news. The ability to communicate is not a talent bestowed by fate; rather, it is a skill, like driving a car, playing a harmonica, or designing a web page on the computer. It is built through your own hard work and improved by practice.

How can you improve your communication skills? You're in the right place, enrolled in a writing course, and you are holding the right object in your hand—this textbook. But the real key is not the course, the textbook, or even your instructor. The key is you. If you take guitar lessons but never practice, how well will you play? Or think of weight training—if you buy a book about it but never exercise your muscles, how much change will occur? You have a book on writing and a "personal trainer"—your instructor—ready to help you. If you work at improving your communication skills, you will amaze yourself.

There's no time like the present to shape your future.

How This Textbook Can Help

This textbook is designed to help you on your journey to becoming the writer you want to be, the writer your future demands. Read on to find out how each section can help you develop your writing skills.

Part 1, Essentials of Composition, gives you an overview of the writing process and provides step-by-step instructions for writing a paragraph, the basic building block for any longer piece of writing. It introduces the five-paragraph essay, a flexible tool that can be your admission ticket to the academic world. Shrunk down a bit, the essay format can be used to answer a question on an essay test. Expanded a bit, it can be used to write a research paper, a term paper, or even a master's thesis. Communicat...

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