Audience and Purpose: Teaching ESL Students to Write

Image courtesy of nuttakit /

Image courtesy of nuttakit /

As many of you know, I teach writing to English majors at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan. I am actually considered crazy by many of my colleagues because I teach a LOT of writing–by choice!

I have actually sought out writing courses because, in spite of the work, it is one of the ways I can make a difference. Most students enter my writing classes just wanting to pass. No one expects to like writing; or at least, very few do. So I love the opportunity to change their minds about it. I start by shaking up their ideas and beliefs about writing. If you want to see my first post about such things, you can visit 10 Things I Want My Students to Believe about Writing.

But now, we have a new challenge. Sadly, many most students see no purpose for writing an essay (or anything else), other than getting a grade and passing a course, preferably as simply and painlessly as possible. As someone who reads lots and lots of student papers, I can tell you what the results of this mindset are anything but interesting.

My daughter and I were discussing this situation a few months back, and she offered to give my students an audience in addition to me. From each of my four writing classes, 15 students could submit an essay. She read them, made notes, and acknowledged winners in three categories: Most Informative; Most Appealing; and Best Utilization of the Language (mechanics and grammar).

The winners were then announced in blog posts that she did in January, while my students were on semester break. As you can see in her posts (see links below), she gave examples of what she liked about the essays she chose for the honors.

Now that the second semester has started, the results will be announced in each class next week. Winners will receive a certificate and a small token of accomplishment.

This is only one step in the process of teaching my students about audience and purpose, but it has created an experience in which they can understood that their writing can go further than their teacher’s grading pile.


The Award Posts:

Monday 8:10 am Writing II class:

Monday 10:10 am Writing II class:

Wednesday morning Writing I class:

Thursday morning Writing II class:

The Sunshine Award and Some Honorable Mentions

It is with mixed feelings that I accept my final blogging award. I’ve come to realize that in spite of the great connections that come about through these awards, I can’t do justice to everything. I appreciate all of my friends in the land of blogs, and look forward to spending my time doing more reading and writing. So you will still see me, just not on award pages. That being said, I’d like to thank for nominating me for the Sunshine Award.

Sunshine AwardThe rules of the game are:

1. Nominate 10 other blogs 2. Write 11 facts about yourself.


I. I finally have some quilting back in my life. I just finished a quilt top for my daughter, and I’m starting a wall hanging for a coffee-shop/restaurant around the corner from our apartment.

2. I have made the decision to return to the US in the summer of 2015.

3. Even though it’s lots of work, I love teaching writing to students who are learning English as a second language.

4. I am going to de-clutter my apartment in the next 3 months. There I said it in public.  🙂

5. I am reimaging my life so that I spend less time doing things that keep me busy and more time doing things that make a difference.

6. I’m constructing a short bucket list for 2014 of some fun and inspiring things I want to do. Among them: flying a kite, riding a gondola, and singing karaoke.

7. My grandson, Mr. Logan, turns 3 this week!  WOW! Where does the time go?

8. My husband and I are going on an overnight trip to southern Taiwan later this week. It’s the first time I’ve been to southern Taiwan, even though I’ve been here four years already. This is a mistake that needs to be corrected.  🙂

9. I have a countdown (or rather a count-up) to the day I turn 60. I started when it was 600 days. It’s now at 485.

10. I thought I wanted to explore photography, since I find it intriguing when others do it, but I finally realized that I have so many interests, that I need to leave photography to others. Luckily, my husband doesn’t mind doing photos for me.  🙂

11. This is probably the last award I’m going to accept. They are too time-consuming, and they take away from doing the writing I really should be doing. I like letting people know I appreciate them, but I think I’m going to just make a point to try to get around to people’s blogs and do commenting instead.  🙂


Here are the ten blogs I want to nominate for the Sunshine Award. Some of them are newly discovered, while others have been recently (re)discovered.

I was also nominated for three awards by Versatile Blogger, Dragon’s Loyalty Award, and the Imagine Award. I received an additional nomination for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award from I deeply appreciate their friendship and support, and I hope they both understand when I say that I have formally accepted my last award. I’ve included them in my nominations above because they are both very special to me, and I love reading their blogs.

Congratulations to the nominees. I hope you can accept this award, but if not, know that I sincerely appreciate getting to know you through your blogs. Thanks again to for this nomination.

Dragon’s Loyalty Award

The Dragon’s Loyalty Award

The Dragon’s Loyalty Award is an award for the loyal fan/commenter, whether the recipient is a fellow blogger or just someone who follows and comments regularly.”

Thank you to my fellow blogger friend, Cate, for this award. She didn’t exactly nominate me, but she left it for any of her followers who wanted it. And since there are some really loyal people here on WordPress, I decided I would take her up on it. You can find her blog at

Rules for this award:

1. First, display the Award on your site (see Award page or sidebar!) You earned it and you deserve it!

2. Link back to the person who gave you the award in your acceptance post;

3. Nominate 15 well deserving bloggers for the Award and let them know the wonderful news by sending them a message on their site;

4. List 7 interesting facts about yourself

Seven Interesting Things About Me

1. If there was ever a question on an exam about my three favorite things, my students would all know the answers: coffee, quilting, and piano.

2. I lived in Seattle, Washington for nearly ten years–late 70 to late 80s.

3. Before we adopted our rescue chihuahua, my pet of choice was always a cat. The dog did the choosing this time.

4. I taught one class on Thanksgiving. I will teach two classes on Christmas.

5. Although I have been blogging for over a year, I’ve had more fun with it in the last six weeks than I ever would have imagined.

6. I got to join my parents and siblings and their families for part of their Thanksgiving gathering via Skype. It was awesome.

7. I really love teaching.

Fifteen People I Nominate for This Award

1. Cate at

2. Randee at

3. Steph at

4. Kate at



7. Belinda at

I like this aspect of the award:

The Dragon’s Loyalty Award is an award for the loyal fan/commenter, whether the recipient is a fellow blogger or just someone who follows and comments regularly.”

So I want to nominate a few people who don’t have blogs, but who are totally loyal in their support of my endeavors, starting with

8. David, my husband.

9. Rena, a great friend, who I treasure.

And finally to a group of bloggers who aren’t really into awards, but who are loyal and supportive and have made my blogging adventures so much richer. I just want them to know I treasure their friendship and the creative endeavors we attempt together. Thanks to:

10. Bear at

11. Willow at

12. Eva at

13. Johnny at

14-15. And all of you who support my creative efforts in any way. I appreciate you more than you know.

Blog of the Year -2013

I want to thank Cate at  for nominating me for the Blog of the Year Award – 2013. Please check out her blog. She has so much to say about the things that happen in life, and she maintains a great sense of humor. Reading her blog is like visiting a good friend.

The instructions for this award are simple:

  1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the Blog Of The Year 2013 Award.
  2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen- there are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required- and ‘present’ the blog(s) with their award.
  3. Let the blog(s) that you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the instructions with them. (please don’t alter the instructions or the badges!)
  4. Come over and say hello to the originator of the Blog Of The Year 2013 Award via this link:
  5. You can now also join the Blog Of The Year Award Facebook Page.Click the link here: Share your blog posts with  an even wider audience.
  6. And as a winner of the award- please add a link back to the blog that presented you with this award-and then proudly display the award on your blog- and start collecting stars!

I nominate the following blogs for “Blog of the Year.”

Congratulations to everyone! I am so happy to nominate you and to be following your blogs.

The Woman’s Skirt Award

This is a new award, created by my daughter, Kate at She remembered the director of my college writing center talking about how writing should be like a woman’s skirt, and it stuck with her. So she created this award, and I am one of the first eight people to receive the award! Thanks, Kate!  🙂


The Woman's Skirt Award

The point of this award is to acknowledge bloggers who we believe have found a good balance with their posts. Whether they’re long or short, they said what they needed to say yet didn’t go on and on just for the sake of reaching a word count or because they simply don’t know when to stop.

Here are the rules: 

1) Post the award on your blog and who nominated you

2) Share 8 things about yourself

3) Nominate 8 people and let them know

Eight Things About Me

  1. In addition to being the mother of the creator of this award, I have three other children, all male, all older than Kate.
  2. I am in the process of exploring lots of ideas and activities as I work on reimagining my life.
  3. As part of this reimagination project, I am having a count-“up” to my 60th birthday, known as 600 days to 60. I am currently at 546.
  4. This is my fifth year teaching English and Writing at a university in Taiwan.
  5. During my first two years in Taiwan, I was here on my own; since year three, I’m thrilled to report, my husband is here with me.
  6. In the last couple of months, I’ve found a way to bring quilting back into my life.
  7. I have many awesome students.
  8. The coffee shop around the corner is my home away from home. A great latte can fuel a couple hours of writing and grading projects.

The eight people I nominate for this award

This is a brand new award, and I’d like to see it take off. Congratulations to the nominees! And thanks, Kate, for the nomination and for creating this award.

Related articles:

Accepting the Inspiring Blogger Award

blogawardThank you to Shaun at Looking for Reasoning to a Complicated World for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I am thrilled to have this nomination and to have the opporunity to share it with other bloggers as well. Thanks, Shaun!

The rules: 

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Seven things about myself:

1. In January of last year, we adopted a rescue dog, a chihuahua. Truth be told, she acts more like a cat than a dog, but I wouldn’t trade her for the world. Besides, I love cats. I always thought I’d never have a dog, but here she is!

2. My maternal grandmother taught me to knit, and a college roommate taught me to crochet.

3. For many years, I was a traveling piano teacher, going from house to house. Some weeks, I had as many as 55 lessons.

4. I took ballet lessons for two years, in the third and fourth grades. In the fifth grade, my parents gave me a choice to continue dance or start piano lessons. If you wonder what my choice was, see #3.

5. My first plane trip was when I was 18. I flew from Boston (where I was attending a music conference) back home in Michigan (where I was going to play the music for a friends’ wedding).

6. I have eaten stinky tofu (a question asked of foreigners in Taiwan quite often). It’s not bad. I don’t seek it out, but I don’t really mind it.

7. My favorite movie of all time is The Wizard of Oz. I’ve watched it countless times, along and with others.

Now to nominate 15 other blogs.

I know some people accept and some don’t. For me, I love this part of community building and discovering what other bloggers are doing. So, here are 15 fellow bloggers I would like to nominate.

1. Sue Vincent at Daily Echo

2. Kate Ruiz at SincerelyKate

3. Stephanie Verni at Steph’s Scribe

4. Rick Mallery at Power Shorts Daily

5. Joycelyn Campbell at give me a daisy

6. Megan Halvorson at MegGoesNomNom

7. Penelope Jones at Bad Penny’s always to blame

8. Michelle Dicken at And That’s All She Wrote

9. Stephanie Verni at Steph’s Scribe

10, Janine Russell There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. –Ernest Hemingway

11. 52 Brand New

12. Fabulous 50’s

13. Life on a Dirt Road

14. TakingCandyFromBaby

15.80% Coffee & A Little Bit of Sass

Congratulations to all the nominees and thanks again to Shaun. Looking forward to seeing more of your blogging activities.

By Deborah Posted in awards