About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3204-3209
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain

ONLINE CREATIVE WRITING IN FRENCH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND ADULTS

A. Heminway

New York University (UNITED STATES)
There is no need to justify a creative writing course, online or traditional, for native speakers or for learners of a second language. Under any circumstance, creative writing soothes the soul and strengthens the intellect. Writing in a second language takes the student a step further, for the additional effort to write in a foreign language not only opens new neural pathways but also leads the writer to territories that would have remained unknown had all the work been done in the native language. For example, in English, people generally tend to address philosophical issues in a sober fashion, sticking to empirical knowledge, and rarely straying from accepted wisdom. Suppose I ask a student to compose an essay, in English, about fatigue. If this particular student tries to replicate his or her effort in French, chances are that the flavor of the text will be somewhat different. The French version might include poetic images, flights of the imagination, even thoughts about the meaning of fatigue. There is no magic involved. This stylistic modulation can be attributed to the nature of the French language, that the student may have unconsciously absorbed to some degree. As a matter of fact, French, unlike English, does not insist on a sharp boundary between expository prose and poetic writing. When a French philosopher writes like a poet, nobody is surprised. Can all this be taught online? Absolutely. I would even venture the heretical thought that online writing classes are more effective than their traditional counterparts. Why? Because from a distance, the teacher is less apt to pass rash, and potentially damaging, criticism. There is time for reflection. Critics of online language classes have lamented the "absence of community." Yet it is often easier to create a sense of community in a virtual classroom, and I do it by exposing the students to reading covering a variety of genres and intellectual topics. As a result, students reveal their intellectual affinities, and congenial groups are formed. I further encourage this congeniality by assigning group projects, and by encouraging the entire class the express any opinion via blogs and a discussion forum. Furthermore, students are encouraged to suggest their own writing topics. But how does a virtual teacher correct copy? Certainly, there is nothing like going through a corrected copy with the teachers. That may be true in some cases, but I know many students, including mine, who actually prefer a corrected copy in electronic form. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, because of the distance, there is no huge pressure on the teacher to hurry. Secondly, the electronic format facilitates color coding, which is an excellent way of categorizing a student's errors, thereby enabling him or her to create clear mental maps of recurrent errors. For example, a student who notices and alarming frequency of wrong prepositions in his writing will think about the problem, review certain grammatical questions, thus internalizing some basic rules. In my experience, students don't have to be reminded too many times before they correct their mistakes. In essence, it is the student who corrects his or her mistake, and that is why I think my methods works so well.
@InProceedings{HEMINWAY2011ONL,
author = {Heminway, A.},
title = {ONLINE CREATIVE WRITING IN FRENCH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND ADULTS},
series = {4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-3324-4},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {3204-3209}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Heminway
TI - ONLINE CREATIVE WRITING IN FRENCH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND ADULTS
SN - 978-84-615-3324-4/2340-1095
PY - 2011
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2011
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2011 Proceedings
SP - 3204
EP - 3209
ER -
A. Heminway (2011) ONLINE CREATIVE WRITING IN FRENCH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND ADULTS, ICERI2011 Proceedings, pp. 3204-3209.
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