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When teaching writing, language instructors often focus on language subskills such as drafting and revising. They may even go into the specifics and talk about what constitutes a good topic sentence and how to improve coherence and cohesion. These are all crucial writing subskills to learn. However, while students can quickly learn strategies and steps to so-called effective writing, they often lack the basic language knowledge needed to employ these subskills. They may, for example, need to learn the lexical chunks and the grammatical knowledge needed to structure their sentences.

寫作教學時,語言老師時常關注於諸如打草稿與修改等子技能(subskills)。他們甚至可能會深入細節,並討論什麼是好的主題句(topic sentence),以及如何提升語意邏輯的銜接性與字句的連貫性(coherence and cohesion)。這些都是寫作上需要學習的重要技能。然而,雖然學生可以快速地學習這些所謂有效的寫作策略和步驟,但他們往往缺乏運用這些子技能所需的基本語言知識。舉例來說,他們可能需要學習構建句子所需的詞彙語塊(lexical chunks)以及文法知識(grammatical knowledge)。

Students may know that when paraphrasing, they need to begin at a different point in the sentence, use synonyms, and change the structure of the sentence. Writing instructors often teach these steps but often neglect to teach students to focus on the language itself.


Take this paraphrase as an example.


原文: The global textile industry is producing more than ever before, but shifts from conventional materials to lower-impact alternatives have stagnated, according to a report published Wednesday by non-profit Textile Exchange.

學生改述: Textile Exchange published report say the global textile industry produce the highest, however, transferring conventional materials instead lower-impact substitutes have stalled (Deely, 2012).

We can see that the student has already tried to change the order of ideas and used synonyms. However, continually teaching this student “how” to paraphrase will not help him improve his writing. What the student needs are the collocations and even bigger idiomatic lexical chunks needed to encode his thoughts.

我們可以看到,這位同學已試著改變句構及語序,也使用了同義詞。然而,不斷地教這位學生「如何」改寫,並不能幫助他提升寫作能力。這位同學所缺乏的,是搭配詞(collocations),甚至是更大的慣用詞彙語塊(idiomatic lexical chunks)來正確地表達他的想法。

Knowledge of whether specific nouns can be paired with the verb “stall,” for example, is needed in this student sample. “Stall” here means to stop making progress or developing. Nouns that could be paired with “stall” include effort, progress, process, project, and even career.

例如,這位學生需要知道某些名詞是否能與動詞 「stall」 做搭配。「stall」在此的意思是停止進步或發展。可以和「stall」搭配的名詞包括「effort(努力)、 progress(進步)、process(過程)、project(計畫)」,甚至是「 career」(職涯)。

Using “instead” is also erroneous as it should be “A instead of B.” There are also word-choice errors: using “transferring” and “substitutes” to replace “shift” and “alternatives.” These words may be close in meaning, but they do not serve the same functions in this context. Look them up in the dictionary.

上述改寫中,「instead」的用法有誤。因為,應該要使用「A instead of B」。其中,也有詞彙選用(word-choice)的問題,像是使用 「transferring」 和「substitutes」 來取代 「shift」 和 「alternatives」。這些字的意思可能很接近,但在這個語境中它們的功能並不相同。同學可以試著在字典中查找這些詞彙的區別。

However, even if we were to correct these lexical errors, the sentence would still suffer from syntactic errors. The conjunction “however,” for example, is not used correctly. There are also verb tense and subject-verb agreement errors. These errors are seldom singled out in writing lessons, so students continuously make them without knowing their existence. Without explicit corrective feedback, students may continue to rely on translation and use their knowledge of their first language (L1) and target language (L2) to create a new set of codes (interlanguage) that others cannot so easily understand.

然而,即使我們改正了這些詞彙上的錯誤(lexical errors),上述文句仍有句法上的錯誤(syntactic errors)。比如,連接詞「however」 的使用並不正確。其中,亦有動詞時態與主詞不一致的錯誤。這些錯誤在寫作課中很少被挑出來,所以學生仍會持續犯錯而不自知。如果沒有明確的修正性回饋(corrective feedback),學生可能會持續依賴翻譯,並使用他們對於母語(L1)與目標語言(L2)的知識,去創造其他人不易理解的一組新代碼——中間語言(interlanguage)。

The solution to these problems is not straightforward, as each student’s writing needs to be carefully analyzed before advice can be given. One general piece of advice is that English learners ought to learn words in bigger high-frequency lexical chunks. For example, rather than learning “economy” and “growth,” students can learn topic-related chunks such as “economic growth,” “rapid economic growth,” or even the longer “experience rapid economic growth.” More information can be added to help students recall and be able to use the phrase in an authentic context.

這些問題並不好解決,因為在給出建議前,寫作老師須仔細分析每個學生的文章。我的建議是,在學習新字詞時,英語學習者可以在更大的高頻詞彙語塊中學習。舉例來說,與其學習「economy」和「growth」,學生可以學習與主題相關的語塊,例如「economic growth」、「rapid economic growth」,甚至更長的「experience economic growth」。可以添加更多資訊來幫助學生記憶,並能夠在真實情境中使用該片語。

In addition, cross-disciplinary set phrases and sentence starters such as “according to,” “switch from A to B,” and “efforts to…” should be continuously used to connect ideas. Last, grammar points should be emphasized through corrective feedback and clear, explicit instruction, so students can learn to understand and correct systematic errors. To help students improve their writing, instructors can use intensive and extensive reading along with focused and meaningful writing tasks.

此外,應不斷使用跨領域的片語組以及句子開頭慣用語,如「according to… 」(根據⋯⋯)、「switch from A to B」(從A轉換到B)與「efforts to… 」(努力去⋯⋯)來連接想法。最後,應該透過修正性回饋來強調文法要點,加上清晰明確的指導,讓學生學會理解與改正系統性的錯誤。再搭配精讀(intensive reading)、博覽(extensive reading)以及清晰且有意義的寫作任務,學生的寫作能力才可以開始進步。


Out of curiosity, how could the following passage be paraphrased? Leave a comment 🙂


原文: The global textile industry is producing more than ever before, but shifts from conventional materials to lower-impact alternatives have stagnated, according to a report published Wednesday by non-profit Textile Exchange.


Deeley, R. (2012, June 12). Fashion is using more raw materials than ever. Not enough are sustainable. Business of Fashion.

📌 若對我的學術詞彙課程與新聞英文課程(運用了英文詞塊學習方法)感興趣,或可參考以下的連結:

心智圖詞彙攻略: http://voicetu.be/4k5l8h

2 則留言

  1. The global textile industry is experiencing an increase in production more than ever before, but efforts need to be done to lower-impact alternatives, which have stalled and reported Wednesday by non-profit Textile Exchange


    • Thank you for your excellent paraphrase.

      Here’s an example:

      According to a report by the non-profit group Textile Exchange, global textile production has reached an all-time high. However, efforts by the global textile industry to switch from conventional materials to more eco-friendly ones have been slow (Deely, 2012).