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Learning to Write for the Real World


This is an important skill, one many students seek as they sign up for their English 101 and 102 classes. They might wonder why the University requires students to take writing classes in the first place. Answers to that question abound. One has only to look at the workplace, home or community to find out why being able to write well is such an important skill.

Good Writers Read Well

To begin with, good writers know how to read. Reading critically is an important tool for students, professionals, parents and consumers. Students learn to look at a message (whether it is written or spoken, in print or on TV, radio or the internet) and ask key questions.

  • Who is the writer?
  • What are the writer’s credentials?
  • Is the writer being objective?
  • What does the writer want the reader to think, do or buy?

This ability to read critically helps students make good decisions for themselves, as well as their families, co-workers, and neighbors. They become better consumers, basing buying decisions on sound logic, rather than emotional responses.

Good Writers Make Things Happen

They also know how to make things happen with their words. They learn to adapt their writing to their audience, purpose, and medium. For instance, a formal letter to a supervisor will be very different from a text to a friend. Writing students learn to analyze what their readers know and feel about a topic and adjust their message accordingly. Students decide which approach is going to be most effective in achieving their purpose, whether it’s to inform, entertain or persuade.

Good Writers Create

Writing skills provide an important outlet for creativity. Some students have used writing projects to address important personal issues, such as processing grief or trauma, exploring new adventures, or leaving a legacy of memories for their children and grandchildren. One student wrote an account of her search for her biological father, then shared it with him, her adoptive parents, and her own children. The result was a celebration of familial love, a fuller understanding of tough choices, and a deep appreciation of the power of writing skills.

Good Writing Skills Last a Lifetime

Writing skills don’t disappear. Once students gain solid writing skills, they are equipped for a lifetime of improved communication, better decisions, and creative expression. Writing skills last a lifetime.

By Susan Lowman-Thomas
Full-time Instructor in English, American Public University