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Portfolio Cover Letter

Dear portfolio readers,

Before taking UWP1, I thought “good writing” was to write down normalized words and complex sentences. I used professional words and uncommon phrases in my arguments to show my readers that I was talking about a profound topic. I also wanted to show my knowledge in my papers, so I usually gave out a stack of examples and I thought these examples were enough to analyze my statements. However, I realized I was totally wrong when I start taking UWP1.

At the beginning of this quarter, I was asked to read one of the essays I wrote before. I rummaged through my shelf and found some hard copy of my essays I wrote last quarter. It was no more than one year after I wrote them. I read my first assignment for WKL57 aloud. I was shocked when reading it. Long sentences were everywhere in this paper. Examples and arguments had less connection. I had to repeatedly look back at the center sentence to ensure where I was in each paragraph. This paper was like a shitty first draft without enough analysis and clear organization. I did not remember what I wanted to write in it. At that moment, I realized that “good writing” was to write down my ideas clearly. It was to let every reader easily understand what I wanted to say in my essay. If my audiences were lost and confused when reading it, then my article must be terrible. Moreover, long sentences and specialized words just made the situation worse. Since my audiences were my peers and instructors, casual but critical words were more precise and powerful to show my thoughts.

I choose to include assignment2 in my portfolio because this is a totally new essay. Assignment1, on the other hand, is about reflecting the essay I wrote before. I write a new genre, a formal problem letter, in assignment2. Its topic is familiar to me, which is about pointing out a problem on second language education to my high school English teachers. When writing the first draft, I free wrote a lot about this thesis because English was my second language and I said it everyday in college. I made an outline, synthetize my views and experiences. In class, peer review part was helpful. I talked with my partners. They figured out my spelling errors, normalized words and grammar mistakes in my paper. In the office hour, my instructor also let me know where I should specify in my essay. Sometimes, I had thought I explained enough like, “Chinese students thought spending time on speaking English was a waste of time, because high school graduate exam did not include that part.” Nevertheless, my audiences were all Americans. Most of them had never been to China. They did not understand why not spending time on exams was wasting time. When I was explaining further to my classmates and instructor orally, I realized that was what I needed to include in my paper. My audiences knew nothing about me. My article was responsible for showing all I wanted to say and the trajectory of my thinking to my readers. Once I ensured who my audiences were, I should consider what they wanted to know and what they did not know. Then, I could chose proper words and gave out sufficient analysis in my paper, which were easily for my readers to understand and reduced their confusion. In each draft on assignment2, I changed and improved a lot. This time, I revised this paper because I received many comments from my instructor. As a reader, she pointed out several places that I did not analyze enough in the essay. She also suggested that I could have a better organization to make statements clear. In the sentence, “I hoped that English teachers in high school in Shanghai could encourage students to speak a second language, English, and add at least one oral English class every week because language was for communication, not for exams.” Here, a couple of ideas were in one sentence. If I broke my ideas apart and analyze each one, readers would feel easier when reading it. Also, in the second paragraph, the word “English” appeared a lot. Thus, I referenced this paragraph this time. In the portfolio, I improved organization, specified statements and rewrote some sentences to achieve a “good and efficient writing”.

In assignment4, I highlighted my thesis this time. My statements were vague last time that I provided a lot of ideas “the stress of college”, “how to foster grit” but I did not focus on “grit” itself. In this research paper, the sense of audience was also weak. I was like introducing the college and my paper flowed. Therefore, when I was revising it this time, I reduced many meaningless words and analyzed more about “grit”.

This quarter, I learned how to write for audiences, how to show my thinking and how to organize my paper. I hope that these “efficient writing” skills benefits me anytime when I am writing.

Thank you for reading!


Yiru Sun


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