The topic my students were given to discuss, civil disobedience in comparison to breaking the law, pulled out strengths in the students’ writing because they seemed to be passionate about the subject. [APPOSITIVE SET OFF MY COMMAS]. Each paper is strong in its own way. This is interesting because the students appear to come from different backgrounds. Student 1 is clearly an English as a Second Language (ESL) student [APPOSITIVE SET OFF BY PARENTHESES]. While he has a strong and interesting argument, he makes mistakes most native speakers would not. Student 2 grew up in a different atmosphere – her argument and syntax, strong and interesting, indicates that she grew up in a middle-class community, and interacted with many adults throughout her childhood [ADJECTIVES OUT-OF-ORDER]. Student 3 grew up somewhere in the middle of Students 1 and 2; he grew up a native English speaker, but in an environment with not a lot of adult speakers and writers for him to feed off of. He is a strong writer, but has some issues with verb tenses that Student 2 does not.
Paper 1: “Civil Disobedience VS. Breaking The Law”
Student 1 grew up in a household where English is not the first language; this is especially clear in some of his word choices. For example, he refers to Beth as pleading “innocence” rather than “innocent” [PRESENT PARTICIPIAL PHRASE NOT CONNECTED TO THE MAIN VERB] [USE OF ‘THAN’]. Most native speakers would know the phrase – “pleading innocent” – from simply hearing it throughout their life [APPOSITIVE SET OFF BY DASHES]. It is a common phrase in English, but not necessarily in other languages. Another common English phrase Student 1 attempts to use is “on the other hand”. He changed the word “on” to “in”. The way he changed the common English phrase is another indication that he did not grow up in an English speaking family. He had probably heard the phrase before from native English speakers, and misheard it. Young speakers have a tendency to muddle their words when speaking, so it is no surprise that Student 1 confused the phrase in his writing [PAST PARTICIPIAL PHRASE NOT CONNECTED TO THE MAIN VERB]. Other words Student 1 mixes up are: “indeed”, “been”, and “thought” [APPOSITIVE SET OFF BY A COLON]. In the context, the words he was looking for were “in need”, “being”, and “think”. Native English speakers would not make these confusions because they can be fixed by a familiarity with the spoken language. When students grow up hearing the language spoken all around them, there are certain rules they understand but can’t articulate because they can just hear what the sentence is supposed to be. How would our writing change if we weren’t hearing the language spoken all around us every day? [RHETORICAL QUESTION].
Student 1’s use of varying sentence structure indicates that he is becoming more comfortable with the English language – enough to explore [DASH TO EPHASIZE THE LAST ELEMENT OF THE SENTNECE]. He also experiments with punctuation. English punctuation is very different from other languages, so the fact that he is willing to do show also indicates his growing relationship with English. Toward the end of the paper, he uses a semi-colon and appears to be using it correctly. He says, “Chris knew what he was doing; he knew that he was risking a ticket because…” He understands that when using a semi-colon, the writer should be relating the first part of the sentence to the second part. He uses the second part of the semi-colon to expand on the first. Then, he makes sure that both sides of the semi-colon are complete sentences – it cannot be determined for sure that the second part is a complete sentence because it is cut off, but it appears as though it is going to be a complete sentence [USE OF ‘THEN’].