Reading Like a Writer Find the Power in Academic Text: How to Analyze & Write Articles in New Genres By Julia S. Austin and Jennifer L. Greer University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) TESOL, March 29, 2012
Instant replay Readers are fans. They read for content only. Writers are players. They read for content and a keen focus on learning how the game is played. Whey they read a really good article, they do instant replay. • Freeze • Rewind • Analyze • Model
What do writers read for? Higher-Order Concerns (HOCs) • Audience – primary/secondary, near/far, your position • Purpose – goal/content/sources • Organization – structure/components/length *Later-Order Concerns (LOCs) • Style – language/conventions/degree of formality • Flow – logical progression of ideas/general to specific • Presentation – mechanics/formatting/citations *Please note that these are later, not lower, order concerns.
First, take a genre walk • Pick a copy of the journal Science; get into pairs. • Examine the Table of Contents; compare it with the front and back of the book. • How would you describe the front? Who is the audience? Who are the writers? Article types? Purpose? Structure? • How would you describe the back? Who is the audience? Who are the writers? Article types? Purpose? Structure? • Where is the easiest place to get published? The hardest place? Why? • Where and what would you want to write/publish?
Next, read like a writer • Read the Science Brevia article quickly (like a reader) to understand the importance of the research. • Re-read it like a writer, more slowly, looking at more than just its content. • Analyze the article using the graphic organizer so that you read like a writer, noticing new and different features of the text. • Discuss your observations. Is the article a good model for a writer to use? Why or why not?
Map a model article After finding a model article, use the Outlining organizer to: • Analyze each paragraph • List its purpose and main idea • Study the overall structure and flow • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses with a partner
Outline your own article • Outline a Brevia article on a topic of interest to you • Stick to the same number of paragraphs for now. • Can you see the structure of the new genre in your own article outline? • Share your outline with a peer partner; critique each others’ outline for structure and flow
Model the new genre When writing your own article, return to you Reading Like a Writer analysis and outline to see if you can model: • Structural strategies • Transitional devices • Formulaic language • Clarity in style
Benefits of reading like a writer • Ability to analyze & evaluate articles for writer’s concerns, finding better models • Ability to outline and model the structure and strategies of good published articles • Shorter learning curves with new genres, hence, better first drafts • Higher, self-imposed writing standards • Better critiquing and self-editing skills.
Conclusion Reading Like a Writer is an independent learning strategy for teaching yourself how to write in a new genre. It can be adapted and applied to any publication and any genre at any level. Questions?
References • Carson, J. G., & Leki, I. (1993). Reading in the composition classroom: Second language perspectives. Boston, MA: Heinle and Heinle Publishers. • Grabe, W. (2009). Reading in a second language: Moving from theory to practice. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. • Hyland, K. (2004). Disciplinary discourses: Social interactions in academic writing. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press. • Swales, J.M., and Feak, C. B. (2004) Academic writing for graduate students: Essential tasks and skills. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.