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Thursday, 09 February 2017 17:01

Student Writing: When I realized how lucky I am

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Today I was working with a 10th-grade student in Hsinchu, Taiwan in her one on one English writing class. We have been working through my book, Write Like a Champion  (美國老師教你寫出好英文) and my student was sharing her "Narrative" essay, where she told a story from he childhood. It was powerful and clear overall. Then, we discussed her essay line by line and I gave her a few suggestions. Among them:

  • write most of it in past tense, since she is telling a story from the past
  • identify the city where it happened (to help the reader grasp the location)
  • identify her age at the time (to help the reader understand the maturity of what she did at a young age)
  • make a few changes with word choice, grammar, and punctuation.

Take a look at her first draft then the version after our in-class discussion. She is a fine writer and tells a gripping tale!

1st draft:

That night 5 years ago, I realized, what a world we are living in. It was a winter night, when the wind blows hard on my face, stinging my skin and freezing me. In the snow, I was walking on the sidewalk, trying to warm myself, but after a turn, I discovered a scene I had never seen before. A figure is rummaging in a pile of garbage across the road. And beside her, on the floor lay a baby, frozen stone. I approached them, hoping to get a better look. And when the scavenger turned, I was stunned what life has done to this poor woman. She is a girl of the age 18 or 19, yet she didn’t wear the smile that most girls at her age does, instead it was wrinkles and frost that occupied her face. Behind it, however, I could see what a beautiful girl she could have been if it wasn’t that she was struggling to live in the bitter weather. I couldn’t figure out a reason why her life is such a mess, but it wouldn’t matter. I walked toward the baby, and sees that though numb and purple, to my relief, he is still alive. The mother is too desperate to find something for her baby that she didn’t notice me standing there; the baby, wearing only a thin little jacket, is too weak to cry and notify his mom of my being there. So I stood watching them, despite the snowing falling. I could no longer feel my limb, but I could feel my heart pounding, and my mind racing. Suddenly a thought struck me, I fiddled out a few hundred RMB that was supposedly my lunch money for a whole week and put it in the baby’s hand. He didn’t cry. Silently, I retreated back to where I came from, then at that same corner I turned and started running. I was hoping to give the mother and baby some useful things so I ran straight back home, but when I came back, they were gone. Not a trace of where they went. I feel disappointed, but knowing that my money could do them some good made me satisfied on second thought. Feeling warm deep inside, I set back home in the severe cold. This time, pacing slowly and for once knowing how I lucky I am.

 2nd draft:

That night five years ago, I realized what kind of world we are living in. It was a winter night in Shanghai, when the wind blew hard on my face, stinging my skin and freezing me. In the snow, I was walking on the sidewalk, trying to warm myself, but after a turn, I discovered a scene I had never seen before. A figure was rummaging through a pile of garbage across the road. And beside her, on the pavement, lay a baby like frozen stone. I cautiously approached them, hoping to get a better look. And when the scavenger turned so I could see her face for the first time, I was stunned what life had done to this poor woman. She was a girl of only 18 or 19, yet she didn’t wear the smile that most girls her age do; instead wrinkles and frost covered her face. Behind them, however, I could see what a beautiful girl she could have been if she had not been struggling to survive in the bitter weather. I couldn’t figure out why her life was such a mess, but it wouldn’t matter; no matter what it was, I couldn’t change her past. I walked toward the baby, and saw that though numb and purple, to my relief, he was still alive. The mother was so desperate to find something for her baby that she didn’t notice me standing there; the baby, wearing only a thin little jacket, was too weak to cry and notify his mom of my being there. So I stood watching them, despite the snowing falling. Due to the cold, I could no longer feel my limbs, but I could feel my heart pounding and my mind racing. Suddenly a thought struck me: to help them with what I had. I fiddled out a few hundred Chinese Yuan that for a fifth grader was supposedly my lunch money for the whole week and put it in the baby’s hand. He didn’t cry. Silently, I retreated back to where I came from, then at that same corner I turned and started running. I was hoping to give the mother and baby some useful things so I ran straight back home, but when I came back, they were gone. Not a trace of where they went. I felt disappointed, but on second thought, knowing that my money could do them some good made me satisfied. Feeling warm deep inside, I set back toward home in the severe cold. This time, pacing slowly and for once knowing how lucky I am.

 

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Do you want to improve your writing skills? Join one of our small-group or one-on-one writing classes. Contact me today to find out how!

 

 

Read 694 times Last modified on Thursday, 09 February 2017 17:39
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

dreyercoaching.com/en/about/scott-dreyer
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