Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lee Jaehwan / Writing Advices / Thursday, 1300-1500

Starting from What We Know


Writing is never easy in both English and Korean. For Korean students whose middle and high school education almost does not cultivate writing experience, writing an essay in English probably poses quite a difficult challenge. Overcoming this problem requires consistent efforts and trials to compensate for the lack of experience. However, practices directed to a wrong way are just pointless; what should we do? When writing an essay, a student writer always needs to keep these in mind: keep focus, avoid misusing dictionary words, and use grammar knowledge.

Writing always starts from what we have: ideas, vocabulary, and knowledge. First, we organize our initial ideas for an article and develop a detailed outline that will help keep focus in the entire process of writing. An outline should be as comprehensive as possible to have the main idea and supporting details of each paragraph. It should also ensure the coherence among the elements of paragraphs. Then, the most important thing is to adhere to the outline. Sometimes we feel like going overboard on what we like to write, but keeping the outline close will prevent that from happening.

Second, one of the easiest traps into which a Korean writer can fall is misusing words that he/she finds in a Korean-English dictionary. This often results from translating Sino-Korean words for which a dictionary provides several options. At this point, we tend to believe that those synonyms provided share the same meaning because we have just looked up one Sino-Korean word—the thing is, no, they are all different. For example, the words 'sensitive' and 'susceptible' have distinct connotations, but some Korean-English dictionaries suggest them under the same entry.

Last, the grammar taught to Korean students during middle and high school years is sufficient for them to apply it to writing in English, which, however, we have hardly ever realized. In other words, everything we need to use is supposed to be very familiar to us. We have to reverse-engineer our experience of grammar practice; we have taken apart English sentences, and now is the time to assemble them in our own ways. Even though it demands trial and error, maintaining a grip on our grammar knowledge keeps us from making minor mistakes such as the sequence of tenses, subject-verb agreement, and capitalization. Nevertheless, some grammar elements including articles and punctuations are not fairly understandable to Korean students. In that case, a writer has to double-check whenever necessary.

In writing an essay in English, staying on the right track of the outline is very crucial to maintain the whole writing`s coherence. When it comes to vocabulary, words that a dictionary offers are not necessarily correct answers. A writer needs to keep an eye on the connotation of each word in order not to misuse dictionary words. Finally, we are already acquainted with the grammar elements in English, so a writer should endeavor to incarnate those into practice. Yet, these are definitely not the only guidance that we can implement in writing in English, but what is important is that everything stems from our ideas, our words, and our knowledge—all that we have but are not aware of. The single thing that we have to do is to awaken them for their service.


  1. Oh Ga-yeong 201202029March 17, 2015 at 8:37 PM

    Hi, Jaehwan! I read your post well :) I also agree with your idea about how to write well. I also wrote in my own writing that we have to develop the detailed outline and pay attention to minor errors like grammers that you mentioned. As my feedback, I think that your writing structure was well organized. In introduction, you suggested the thesis statement which is suitable for our topic and your 3 body paragraphs also supported your thesis statement very well. In conclusion, you restated what you mentioned above but in different way so it was good. And next time if you double space your text, it would be better :) Thank you !

  2. Hey, thanks much for your high evaluation of my piece. I was not aware that the Word forms (i.e. spacing, font, size, etc.) are actually applied to this blog posting stuff, so next time I will definitely double-space it. Many thanks, again.