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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 6; Issue 3; September 04

Student Voices

Letters about writing from students in an adult class held at Pilgrims in summer 2004

Dear Mario,

I do feel really comfortable. Happy to see that there are so many people who like writing; strange this mixture of isolation and connectedness that takes place in writing.


Dear Mario,

I feel like a disaster when I write in both my mother tongue and in English. I can write correctly in my mother tongue but I make mistakes when I write in English.

I don't like writing because I don't know what to say, so I prefer to speak and read.


Dear Mario,

I like writing and I hate it. I hate the physical aspect of writing. It is so slow. I always feel I lose thoughts as I'm writing. The difference in speed between my thinking and writing causes a lot of mistakes and a feeling of having lost what I was going to write.

On the other hand I like the inspiration writing gives me. I enjoy the shift from being focused to being in a bit of diffuse ( or difuse? I get mixed up with spelling) state of mind. I enjoy re-writing and trying to get it right for me. As a means of communication? Well, it certainly gives you as long a time as you need but the kind of writing I really enjoy is more for expression. For communication I prefer having the person physically with me. On the other hand I like sending and receiving emails- as second best to having the person with me. But these exchanges resemble oral communication.

Now I would really like to know how you see yourself as a writer.


Dear Mario,

I'm happy when I write because I feel I'm expressing something that comes automatically from my hand. Usually when I write I put my thoughts on the paper, without considering any order, just in the same order they come to my mind.

It's true what you say: when I write in a foreign language I feel freer; and I feel the same when I speak in a foreign language.


Dear Mario,

Let me say I'm particularly fond of writing and reading. I do believe that when we write, we (think) have to think before and that (let) makes our (thoughts) expressions deeper than if we just speak.

English is not my native language but I can say I'm a word lover so I like experimenting with words and looking up at (sic) dictionaries. I'm a translator, a sworn translator of English into Spanish. You know legal documents are very precise. When I can feel free to write as a creative writer, then it is nice.

Best regards,

Dear Mr Mario,

My name is Georgia and I am an English teacher.

Writing has been in my life since I have been to school. I cannot say I have ever enjoyed writing because I found it too demanding and boring. Especially the writing I had to do for the exams was a really stressful experience.

Although I don't prefer writing as a testing method of being able to develop a topic, I think it is the only way I can express myself accurately and clearly. So everytime I want to talk to a person and make myself understood, I choose to write to them. I think I would not be able to say the things I wanted to through speech.

I am not much of a writer and I do not think I could compose poems or write scripts for that matter.

Yours sincerely

[Pedagogical note: I provoked the above letters by writing to the students and sharing a bit about how one may see oneself as a writer.
At the start of a writing class the above letters are as precious as gold dust since they let me understand how the students' experience their process as writers. Georgia's letter is particularly interesting as it seems to me to be shot through with tense contradictions. One immediate task with her is to help her re-position writing in a pleasure zone, and as far as possible from any thought of testing or correction. She seems to have what Stevick calls Lathophobic (error-fearing) aphasia which, paradoxically, increases the propensity to make mistakes.

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