Friday, June 29, 2012

Page Mechanics

When you write your drafts, be sure to leave room for comments from the peer-editor (or teacher).  Traditionally, that has meant "wide margins" and "double-line spacing."

Try to leave a 3cm white space on the left and right of the page in your drafts. (This is why I suggested a notebook at least B5 size).  If you have lined paper, it probably has a line margin on the left.  It might or might not have a line on the right.  You might want to leave even more space than the line indicates.

          Double-line spacing means that you skip a line when you write     
          if you are writing with lines, or that you change the line-spacing  
          option in the word-processor so that it looks more like this.              

In MSWord, line-spacing is under the Format Paragraphs section.  However, line spacing in MSWord is dependent on the font-type you use, so Arial, Times Roman, and especially, the Korean-style (Korean-named) fonts may have more or less spacing between lines.  So if "double-space" or "1.5" doesn't give you the gap you want, you can control it by saying "exactly 20pt" or whatever. (So if your font is 10pt, 20pt is double.) There is a good grammar-check in MSWord, see

In Arae Hangul (HWP) they use a percentage system.  Standard in HWP is 160, which looks good for hangul letters but is about 1.5 for English.  110 is about right for single-space in English type, so 200 or 220 will be double-line spacing in English.  See more about line-spacing and page formatting in HWP at

Thursday, June 28, 2012

MSWord GrammarCheck Settings

There are many options in word processing, including non-processors such as simple email or the Notepad (메모패드). Among the higher end options in Korea, we have MSWord and Arae Hangul (HWP).  Each system has various advantages and disadvantages, and it's not the purpose of this page to argue those. Instead, let's look at one aspect where MSWord has a clear advantage over almost all other commercial wordprocessing systems - the Grammar Check.

Many wordprocessors have spell-check functions, some better than others. Some also have grammar-check functions. The Open Office Writer program does not come with a spell-checker (there are add-on applications you can use), and while new versions of HWP apparently have a grammar-checker (I haven't found it!) there seems to be no options in grammar.

MSWord allows the user to choose from many grammar options, both local language variations (US versus UK versus Australia, etc) and "style" (simple versus university thesis style, etc). When the grammar checker is on, it works alongside the spell-checker. Spelling errors get a red squiggly line under words, grammar problems get a green squiggly line.  And you get suggestions!

Below are some screen captures that show how you can change settings.

MSWord 2003 follows the Word '97 system.  I can show all of the steps in changing your grammar-check settings in one screen capture.

From the toolbar, click Tools then Options. Then choose the Spelling & Grammar tab, click the options you want, and click the Settings button for more options.

In MSWord 2007 and later the new ribbon system means that we now work from the Microsoft logo at top left, and then the Word Options button at the bottom. This opens a new pop-up window.

In this new window, select the Proofing button to access your choices. (These images are from a "fusion" system, so some things appear in English and some in Korean.)  Then you can select various options, including the Writing Style from the pull-down menu and/or click the Settings button to make more choices.

Hope this is useful.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Peer Editing - First Drafts

As we are following a Process Approach in this class, revising is an important part of the essay development.  Because your instructor is lazy we use peer editing.

Actually, "because lazy" is only half-true.  (Yes, I'm lazy!)  We use peer editing because as learners you learn from each other, and activate knowledge you picked up in previous classes, when you edit.

Similar to the book, I'm following a two-level peer review process.  There can be more, or fewer, levels of peer review.  And if fewer, it means that probably the writer needs to do self-editing, which can be very difficult.  (It's hard to see your own mistakes!)

Remember, we are using two colors of pens, plus a yellow highlighter.  The Green pen is for things we (editors) like, and Purple (or Red) is for things we think can be better.  Try to use green more than purple. The highlighter is more useful than underlining everything

Peer Editing, level one (after the first draft)

The peer reads the essay for general issues.  Spelling and grammar are NOT part of the job for level one peer editing. We want to make suggestions about ideas that might be changed, or general organization. Perhaps vocabulary may be commented on. Remember that we want to talk about ideas, phrases, and sentences (even paragraphs) more than little "errors."  Only comment on grammar when it actually makes things confusing, hard to understand.  Hopefully the writer has already done a basic grammar check (perhaps using MSWord's function, or just practiced their old TOEIC grammar-spotting skills).

Write your comments on the side of the page as much as possible, so it's easy to find.

After the first peer editing, the writer should re-write without copying everything from the first draft.  It's a rewrite, not a copy!  Many things might stay the same, but many things may change.

Peer Editing, level two (after the second draft)

When a peer editor reads the paper in level two, it will hopefully be easy to follow the ideas in this second draft, and the writing should be interesting and enjoyable to read. (The person doing level two peer editing may not have seen the paper before, it's better when it's a new peer editor, so no opinions from the earlier draft affect the reading of the second draft.)  We will talk more about level two editing in the future, but it can include level one issues as well as higher-level grammar issues such as choosing between two different forms (simple past versus past perfect?), developing more complex sentences (such as using dependent clauses to merge shorter sentences), or beautifying sentences that are already perfectly correct.

In a separate blog entry we will talk about using MSWord's Grammar-check tool.


Brainstorming is an ideas-creating activity where you try not to think too much.  Sounds silly, but true!

What I mean is, you want your creative mind working while your critical mind is shut off.  You want the freedom, the excitement, the energy, the "out of control" brain activity of a lightning storm up in the skies, not a nice safe AAA battery in your hand.

There are numerous tricks to help make this work.  Here are a few:

A.  Group brainstorm (quick version)
  1. Work with two or three other people who agree to help you
  2. Set a time for the event - 5 or 10 minutes maximum (more people can go longer, two people, even 3 minutes is a lot of work!)
  3. Don't allow even one second of silence, people must talk all the time.
  4. Don't judge (rate) the ideas, just write them all down (time for evaluation is after the brainstorming)
B.  Group brainstorm (slow version)
  1. Use Post-it notes on a wall so that each time you walk by you must add two notes (two new ideas)
  2. Ask everyone who walks by that wall to help add ideas (no judging, no taking down, no revising)
  3. Maybe no time limit, although after two or three days people will probably quit
C.  Self-brainstorming

  • Some people use a mind-map (ideas-web), so that each idea gets new ideas connected to it  (this method is a bit more "controlled" than some other ideas) See for another example.
  • Some people can just sit down with a piece of paper and write everything that comes to their mind for 5 minutes
  • Some people daydream and just write down the odd thoughts that come to their head over a 15 or 30 minute period of time
  • Some people (like me) think about something before they go to bed (any of the above types of brainstorming could be used, or reading an article or hearing a discussion or seeing a TV show about the topic) and then wake up at night with ideas -- be sure to have a paper and pen next to your bed!
D. Techno-storming
  • Some people just type key words into Google or other search engine, and quickly read the results page (not opening the linked pages)
  • Some people send an email or SMS (or other social media) to their dozens/hundreds of friends asking for quick ideas.

After you have a bunch of ideas, you'll want to sort them out into three or more groups

  • This is a neat idea, I think I'll use this
  • This idea might be useful
  • This idea is not going to be useful, I don't think.
Don't throw any ideas away.  You might discover later that your first sorting isn't perfect!  I like to use memo cards (10x15cm size) or big Post-its so I can move them around a table-top or on the floor to sort, because I'm a visual person, but other people use computers or other ways).

As you prepare to write...

Most people like to organize their notes into order, how they think these will be best presented in their writing.

That could be into groups inside paragraphs, with separate paragraphs and even separate chapters.

Some people like to develop formal plans, often called "outlines," other people just loosely sort the cards and mix them around a little as they write.  (See outline sample below)

Me, I like to sort the cards into groups on the floor or stick to the wall, and then write according to how it feels - I let sentences find their own way instead of following an outline closely.  After all, it's just a First Draft, it will get changed!


A paragraph is ...

Classic US University Freshman English Composition class requirements for a paragraph
  • 60 ~ 125 words
  • 5~7 sentences
  • topic sentence (often first, or second, or last)
  • transition sentence, maybe first or last, if there are several paragraphs
  • supporting info within the paragraph
      *  Intro or shocking sentence in single paragraph writing?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

UPDATE! 2012-6-26 Pens and Notebook

There is a change concerning pens and notebook.

We should provide you with the textbook and a notebook and some colored pens

Sorry!  New info.  You must buy your own pens and notebook.  Sorry!  I was just told of this change (Tuesday, June 26, 11am).

We use colored pens (green, purple or red, and a yellow hi-liter) to do peer-editing.  Peer-editing is when we look at our classmate's paper to help them write better, and also teach ourselves

You provide your regular (black or blue) pen or pencil.  and your BRAIN

The notebook should be B5 size or larger (176mm x 250mm), with at least 20 sheets (40 pages when you count front and back of each sheet).  You can choose a "spiral" (wire) binder or a sewn book type.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Reading #2: My secret life with the Rolling Stones

My secret life with the Rolling Stones

See what she is talking about!

Rolling Stones on Ed Sullivan Show (1966?)
Rolling Stones Concert 1997

And of course, we've heard the story in a different way...

Reading #4: The secret life of Walter Mitty

The secret life of Walter Mitty

Reading #3: Why I want a wife

Why I want a wife.

Reading #1: Sherlock Holmes

The Science of Deduction.  (pdf)

Introduction to the course

Welcome to our class!

I'll use this blog to provide information, readings, and feedback to you (both classes).

We may do things in different order, and the blog postings are not in the order I want - so we'll say things like "Reading #23."  (Don't worry, there is no reading #23.)

Feel free to contact me via email, SMS, Kakao or other social media -- or even through the telephone.  Please be sure to identify yourself as a student in my Writing class, because I'm terrible at names. (I'm pretty good with faces.)  But please don't call me after 10pm!

We should provide you with the textbook and a notebook and some colored pens. Sorry!  New info.  You must buy your own pens and notebook.  Sorry!  I was just told of this change (Tuesday, June 26, 11am). We use colored pens (green, purple or red, and a yellow hi-liter) to do peer-editing.  Peer-editing is when we look at our classmate's paper to help them write better, and also teach ourselves

You provide your regular (black or blue) pen or pencil.  and your BRAIN.

The textbook is Reason to Write (Intermediate).  It's the book with the yellow cover.  Other classes are using lower-level books in the same book-series (all different colors), or a different book. We are the Yellow book.

You will also have additional readings accessible from this blog. (Other classes are using additional books.)

My office is in Dongyeong-kwan -- the building for this programs main office, also known as the KAC building or Center for International Education.  Room 434.

One additional note.  I'll be leaving Korea for vacation July 20th - the last scheduled day of class.  So we will need to do a "make-up" class in advance. We can decide together precisely when, but I guess it will be from 4pm to 5:15 one day during the last week of classes.  (I usually buy pizza when I have make-up classes.)

Prof. Rob Dickey
Kakao - robertjdickey
Skype - rjdickey