“Write Proper English” – Part 2
I wrote in the last issue about learning to adopt the rules of academic writing without losing my essence. When I started at Antioch, I decided to express my previous experiences and concerns rather than hide them. I shared that learning to write in a way deemed by others as “proper” felt oppressive and exclusive. I braced for impact only to find that most instructors are empathetic and open to hearing their students’ perspectives.
My first instructor was understanding and reassuring. She suggested that adopting a formal, standard English tone can be looked at as a skill that can be turned on and off, and that when it’s turned on it doesn’t mean that the writer’s own voice is absent – just tuned to a slightly different channel, perhaps. This empowered me to write things while at Antioch that connected with an academic audience while remaining true to myself, my culture, and my passions.
Now I look at writing in different tones as something similar to acting, a perspective which has helped me both in school and outside of school – writing formal letters, cover letters, and grant proposals. To be honest, there are things I’ve written that I can’t read and keep a straight face at the same time – not because what I’ve said isn’t true, but because it sounds so different from the way I speak. And that’s okay because I know that it’s still me beneath the formal language; the costume doesn’t change who I am.
Virtual Writing Center Peer Consultant