Writing Biography

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate September 2001

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I was born in Taiwan where people place heavy emphasis on academics, and as a result, there are all kinds of required courses that we as student have to take, including a few dedicated to writing. There was one writing course that focus on just the appearance of the writing, where we were graded on how orderly and good our hand writing was, and there was what I considered the real writing course, which focused on the content of the writing. The teacher always assigned heavy reading assignments and told us reading other's writings will in turn improve our own. We were awarded some candies when we turn in a good piece of writing and if we slack off and turn in a blob of nothing, we receive a few whips in the palm of our hands. So I guess that is when and how I learned to write. Maybe it was the overwhelming amount of work our writing teacher gave us in Taiwan that made writing one of my least favorite things to do, or it could just be those bamboo sticks which the teacher used to punish slackers.

But overall, I was fairly confident as a writer, that is until I moved from Taiwan to the US.

When I first moved to the US, I barely knew how to say hello. I knew maybe my name and a few cuss words in English, and I doubt that my English teacher would want to read a piece of writing full of vulgar languages, so it was basically learning to write all over for me. When my English teacher assigns a writing assignment, that is assuming I even understands the assignment, I usually write my ideas down in Chinese, then with a dictionary, translate it word for word into English. Of course Chinese and English being two very different languages, the works derived from my Chinese writings was bad and incoherent. But as my knowledge of the English language improves with time, so does my English writing, well, to some degree at least. Because of my lack of knowledge in grammar and just the small amount of vocabulary that I knew, it is still hard to express what I really had in mind. I don't really remember many classes especially dedicated to writing in the US, or it might just be my ignorance. The only extended time that an English teacher teaches writings that I remembered was when we were preparing for TAAS and maybe a few tips here and there. But I consider the type of writing that we learned in TAAS is of few use and only good for the sole purpose of passing the TAAS exam. I feel that the purpose of writing is to communicate and express our ideas, not to pass a silly little test. Anyway, what really improved my writing is probably reading books and learning from the author's use of language within the constraints of good grammar. I guess the heavy reading assignments that my Chinese teacher assigned us did have its purpose, and many things that applies to writing in Chinese are also true to writing in English. The words and grammar between the two languages might be different, but the underlying purpose of writing in both languages is basically the same.

Now, five years after the move to US, I still feel a little shaky as a writer, an English writer.