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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Composition can refer to:

See also

  • Early Germanic law, concerning the use of the term composition, or making a payment instead of receiving a punishment. With reference to the modern period, see Ausgleich, also called the Composition of 1867.
  • Compose key, a key on a computer keyboard

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

Writing Center



Although quite dated, this essay from Alfred M. Hitchcock's 1923 book, High School English Book provides a purposeful, real-world definition of composition:

What does the word composition mean to you? What does it immediately suggest? No doubt it is a word closely associated in your mind with algebra, history, report card, graduation, and other schoolroom terms. It suggests at once a task set by a teacher, usually a written exercise to be done more promptly than is convenient and “handed in” for critical inspection. But the word has a much wider range of meaning than that. The sentence “I think so” is a composition. All the thousands of sentences which live but for an instant on the lips in daily conversation are compositions. A school corridor at recess time hums with them. Songs are compositions, and sermons, lectures, the pleas of lawyers, the weighty speeches of senators. Letters are compositions. What a grist of them goes into the mailpouches daily! All circulars, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, all books, lie within the field bounded by the word composition. Because it embraces so much, it is one of the most important words in the English language.

Dismiss at once, therefore, the narrow, school exercise idea and try to realize that the subject you are to study includes the entire business of conveying thought from mind to mind through the aid of language. It is a vast business, old as human life, wide as the world itself, a necessary ally to every possible line of human endeavor. We all share in it.

In every business there are failures, partial or complete. Failures occur in the business of thought transference. Back of every composition lies a desire to accomplish something. Sentences which fall carelessly from the lips, no less than the sharp commands of officers leading their men against the enemy’s guns, are uttered purposefully; and this is true of all words spoken or penned or typed or printed. But the purpose is not always realized. Could we follow the compositions sent forth the world over in a single day and measure what they actually accomplish in the light of what they were intended to accomplish, we should find a pathetic proportion of partial or complete failures, not a few of them unsuspected by those who sent the compositions forth. Brilliant successes we should find too; for what wonderful results are sometimes attained. An entire nation may be swayed by a single brief composition – plunged into war, for example, or adroitly turned to thoughts of peace.

Why are so many compositions weak, ineffectual things? Why are we deeply moved by one speaker and bored by another? Why do we read some letters, some magazine articles, some books, eagerly, and others with little interest? Why do we ourselves so often fail to accomplish fully our purpose when we talk or write, while others succeed admirably and without apparent effort? Why are we so often outdistanced in competition where words play an important part? Such questions rise in the mind of every young person to whom there has come even a faint vision of all that the word composition embraces and the power granted to those who are composition masters. The purpose of this textbook is to help all who are earnestly trying to find true answers.

What is writing?

Take a few minutes to think about what writing means to you. If you close your eyes, lean back, and think about writing, what comes to your mind? Do you imagine a journalist sitting behind a cluttered oak desk pounding away on an old Underwood typewriter? Do you imagine a young woman curled up in the corner of a trendy coffeeshop scribbling angrily in a tattered journal? Do you imagine a middle-aged man jotting a grocery list on a small, flip-top notepad? Do you imagine a small child scrawling page after page of jagged, swirling crayon monsters? Or a teenager flipping madly through an encyclopedia the night before a paper is due, desperate to come up with a decent 3 to 5 page paper?

In truth, writing is all of these things, but it is also much more. Writing is more than just a part of school that you dread. It's more than 5 page essays or 1 page reading responses or even 400 page bestselling novels. One thing to keep in mind is this: writing is NOT a product. Some traditional models for teaching writing have treated writing as a product that is created. An end to a means.

We, here at the Writing Center, take the alternate, more progressive view. The view that writing is a means to an end. Writing is a process, a method, a means of discovery that leads the writer to new ideas and new discoveries. Writing is thinking. Through writing you make connections between previous experiences and ideas and new areas of thought that you are experiencing. Writing should be, and can be, a transcendent experience, in which the writer leaves his/her normal mode of thinking and transcends to a new mode of thinking. It is through writing that we can achieve not only new ideas, but new ways to develop new ideas.

That's not to say that all writing is transcendental. Some writing is just writing. At its most basic, writing is communicating.

How about this. You write your composition so well that you don't need any editing!

The Writing Process

The writing process is just that: the process one goes through while writing. There are variations on the details of the cycle, but the core components never change: Prewriting, drafting, editing, proofreading, and publishing.

* Prewriting - Prewriting is exactly what the word indicates: what you do before you write. Gathering your ideas together, organizing them into coherent notes, and figuring out what you need to know. You need to know your purpose in writing as well as your audience. Knowing all of this ahead of time makes writing your first draft much easier.

* Drafting - This is the process of getting all those ideas in your head down on paper. It is not important that the spelling, mechanics, or grammar make sense. It is more than likely that many of your ideas will be incomplete, and will need severe reworking. No writer ever considered the first version of anything to be finished. However, no writer ever finished anything without a rough draft!

* Editing - Now that the ideas are all on paper, you have to see if those thoughts are anything like what you really wanted to say. A suggestion is to put your writing away for awhile and return to it with fresh eyes. This way, you will not be tempted to change things on the spur of the moment. As you edit, make whatever corrections you feel are necessary. At first, the corrections will probably be global revisions where you will move, remove, or rewrite entire sections of your draft. After corrections are made, make another draft. All good writers repeat the drafting ->editing cycle more than once. What may seem like a good idea at the time may seem completely unnecessary a few days later. Eventually, however, this repetition will result in something that you would like to consider a final draft.

* Proofreading - Now that you have your final draft, it's time to proofread. This is where you make sure that all the i's are dotted, and the t's are crossed. Each sentence must have its subject and predicate, paragraphs indented, and spelling corrections made. Any changes that must be made are made, and the piece is finally ready for the final step in the writing process.

* Publishing - The end result of your labors, publishing is the goal that you have been pushing for. Publishing does not necessarily mean "printed in a magazine." In order for a work to be published, it must simply be considered complete by the author and read by others. Handing an essay in for a grade is publishing, as is submitting a novel to your editor.

This process naturally exists for all serious writers, however, many aspiring writers may want to skip the editing and proofreading stages. This is a major mistake! While you can pay people to revise and proofread for you, there is no guarantee that these mercenaries will accurately reflect your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Every responsible writer follows these steps, and even after publication will revisit their works again and again.

Modes of Writing

Following the traditional schools of thought, there are different types of writing called modes. Each mode of writing has an individual purpose and there are several conventions for each mode.

* Exposition - Expository writing is used to explain an idea or position. Exposition usually involves a well-thought out thesis statement. Examples include literature analysis, definition of terms, or explanation of a new theory.lllllll

* Persuasion - Persuasive writing is where a writer attempts to convince the reader to take their view about a particular subject or concept. Examples include political speeches or advertising.

* Narration - Narrative writing tells a story. It uses a sequence of events with a common theme to convey or evoke emotions in the reader. Examples include autobiographies, anecdotes, or travel journals.

* Description - Descriptive writing is used primarily to recreate a particular time, place, or event for the reader. Often, descriptive writing will appeal to all five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Examples include travel literature, food reviews, or sales brochures.

* Creative Expression - Creative expression can use all of the other four modes of writing. However, instead of using the modes for the benefit of the reader, creative expression uses them to show the feelings and emotions of the author. Examples include poetry, short stories, or plays.

Modes of writing are not mutually exclusive. Each can be combined with any of the other modes, depending on the purpose of the work desired by the author. For instance, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, while primarily a method of creative expression uses narration and detailed description to frame the problems with the meat industry over the course of the novel. Travel companies frequently will use a particularly adept description of a beautiful location in an attempt to persuade you to pay them money to visit that particular spot. Many a college student use a combination of exposition and persuasion for their professors while trying to get a good grade.

The particular combination of writing modes will change based upon your writing needs. However, if you are having trouble writing, a good starting point would be to ask yourself What is my purpose in writing? Which writing mode does my purpose seem to be for? Using this as a basis for beginning, you can incorporate the different modes as circumstances require.

Real World Writing vs. Classroom Writing

There is a gigantic difference between the writing that is done in the real world and the formal writing required for the classroom. The difference lies in the purpose of your writing. Often times, real world writing is informal. We want to write a letter to a friend, keep some thoughts in a journal, or write a memo to your boss. Each of these has a purpose that will change with the situation. The letter is an informal communication. Your journal is personal. The memo to your boss is informational. However, the formality of classroom writing has only one purpose: to communicate your thought processes to the instructor. As a result of this change in purpose, there are several norms that must be adhered to.

First, your professor is looking for something specific. Whether it is an understanding of a particular theme in a novel, the philosophical treatises of John Locke, or the results of your chemistry experiment gone wrong, there is certain information that the instructor of a class wants. This information drives all classroom writing. You, as the writer, tailor your writing to the needs of the audience. Since you want to appear to be an educated person who has navigated the ways of the educational community, your writing must have spotless grammar and mechanics, as well as a dutifully constructed thesis with the appropriate support. At the end of this process, often times you have produced a work that is satisfactory for your professor and other academics, but often mundane and boring for anyone not interested in the fundamental philosophical concepts that link the theories of Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. Enter the real world.

Real world writing must engage the reader at its most basic level. If, at any point the author loses the interest of the reader, then the point of the work is lost. Should that memo to your boss digress toward the theme of how you digested your lunch, he will probably just throw it away and completely disregard the fact that your mistake cost the business $500,000. Oops. When he ends up reading the financial reports at the end of the quarter, your job is going to be a lot harder to justify than why you mentioned that sandwich two months ago. The letter to a friend is to tell about the misery that you are experiencing since you lost your job. She's probably not interested in the details of the meeting with your boss, but wants to see how you are feeling now that you are unemployed.

Purpose dictates everything in the world of writing. It is important to consider not only your audience, but why you are writing in the first place. In the classroom, your purpose is clear, while in the real world, it can be a little tricky to keep your audience under your thumb.

The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard: What Works Best for You?

As technology has changed over the years, so have writing methods. Centuries ago, clay tablets with scribes gave way to quill and inkwell, which in turn matured into the ballpoint pen. In the 20th century alone, pen gave way to the typewriter, which shifted to the word processor and the computer. Even though the nature of writing itself has not changed, the process of that writing has. What has technology brought writers in the 21st century that they did not have in the 1st?

Go Speed, Go!

The trouble with writing has always been getting the ideas from the brain to the paper. In ancient times, one sentence might take quite some time to write down (due to the physics of clay and stone). As a result, people thought about what they wanted to say more, then wrote it down. Today, many people can type close to (and faster than) 150 words per minute. That's a lot of writing to be pushing through into the world. However, does that necessarily make it better writing? No.

Just because we can write faster, does not mean that we write better. However, now it's easier to see what you're writing before you publish it. Drafts can be written and rewritten much faster than before. Many writers find it easier to punch out a quick draft now, then put it away and polish it later. The time saved by using a word processor in drafting alone makes it a much more productive tool than was ever in use before. However, many people still use the time-tested pen and paper for their drafting. What gives? Isn't it time they moved into the technological age and gave up such archaic methods?

Slow Down, Pardner!

While writing faster may be useful for some people, the blank screen can be just as intimidating as the blank piece of paper. In order to overcome this writer's block, many writers feel comfortable with their pen in hand, and pad on the table. The feeling of writing becomes solid to them, as if they are sculpting words instead of just pushing them out of their heads. The time it takes for them to write becomes a comfortable pause as they take time to massage each word with the gentle push of their fingertips instead of the harsh push of a button on a keyboard.

In addition to the comfort factor, there are many times where writing with laptops, Palm Pilots, or other technological gadgets is simply too cumbersome. Having to type with thumbs on a crowded train may not be as easy as scribbling down a few lines of prose on the back of a newspaper or coffee napkin. Sometimes the need to write strikes when the only thing handy is a chewed down pencil and the envelope from last month's rent receipt. When writers want to write, they must write!

You Have Chosen Wisely

Whatever method you choose for writing, it must be comfortable for you and your writing style. If you are the type that thinks fast and types faster, then a laptop might be the perfect writing tool for you. If you like to ponder your words before writing, then give pen and paper a try. More likely than not, you'll use a combination of the two. You'll type when you like it, and you'll write when you want to. Even though it seems like an extra step, transferring handwritten lines to a computer may be that drafting step that moves your rough stony work along the path towards that literary diamond that you've been polishing in your head for ages.

Don't be afraid to try your hand at any method that comes your way. One day, something will come along to replace the word processor, and writers will yet again have to adjust to another method of writing. However, until that day comes, many of us feel comfortable with pen in hand and paper on the table, waiting for inspiration to strike. At least we won't have to go back to those absurdly tedious stone tablets.

See also

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Welcome to the Composition Wikibook, where you can learn about the skills required for various kinds of composition writing and can practice planning, drafting, redrafting and proofreading compositions.


Things to remember before you get started:

Writing should be seen as a process that involves several stages, from formulating your ideas through planning, drafting, redrafting and proofreading. An in depth guide to process writing is available at: Rhetoric and Composition Wikibook. The focus in this wikibook is on practical exercises to provide students with opportunities to apply the writing skills that they can learn about by following this and other links in the book.


Be aware of the layout which you are expected to use when writing for different purposes. The layout of a formal letter to a newspaper will be very different from that of a postcard to your best friend.

Audience and Purpose

Make sure you have a good idea of who you are writing to/for and why. Are you trying to persuade, argue, inform, advise, or narrate a story? Are you writing to someone you know well or someone you have never met? Are you writing to someone in a position of authority, or as someone in a position of authority? To one person or many?


Plan. Decide on the main ideas that you want to include and the order in which they should be included. This can be done in the form of a list, but a mind-map may be more helpful. Traditional outlines work well for longer essays.

More about mind maps: Wikipedia Mind Map Article


Write a rough draft. Get your ideas down on paper (or onto your computer) as quickly as possible. Remember, at this stage your writing doesn't have to be perfect - so don't get stuck on how to form the ideal phrase.

It helps at this stage if you remember the golden rule of writing: KISS: "Keep it simple, stupid!"

The following guide is very useful for helping you to keep your writing clear, simple and to-the-point:

Plain English Guide


Read through your work. Underline places where grammar or phrasing seems awkward, where you feel you could add more detail or description, or where you feel it would be more effective if you were more concise. While doing this, try to imagine that you are the person for whom the writing is intended. If you received this piece of writing in the post, saw it in a newspaper, or had to hear it being delivered as a speech, would it make sense to you? Would you respond positively to it?

Do you overuse any particular words or sentence patterns? Using a variety of linking phrases and sentence structures - i.e. simple, compound and complex sentences - will make your writing more varied and less boring.

These guides will help: Sentence Types Guide and Exercise

Sentence Types - Guide and Quiz Bonesaw

A thesaurus such as can help you to avoid repeating words, but be careful that you are choosing alternative words that have the right tone and fit the context.


Ask yourself: is the writing coherent (does it make sense when you read it)? Does it have a beginning, a middle and a conclusion? Does each paragraph focus on one main idea, clearly marked by a topic sentence (the first sentence of the paragraph- it explains what the rest of the paragraph will be about) and the effective use of linking phrases? If it doesn't, fix it!


Go through the parts of your work that you have underlined and rewrite them. You should do this as often as possible.


Check for grammar and spelling mistakes. Sometimes it helps if you do this by working backwards from the bottom of your composition. That way, your attention on proofreading is less likely to be distracted by the flow of ideas.

Easy proofreading practice

Focused proofreading, looking for specific errors.

More advanced proofreading practice.

Editing Pages in this Wikibook

The sample compositions in this Wikibook are rough first drafts. They contain many errors and need to be extensively edited and enhanced. Please do not make changes to improve the first draft - but rather, do your editing work on the most recent draft on the screen. As many students may be working on these compositions at the same time, please edit by selecting the section you wish to edit and then clicking the edit icon on the right hand side of the screen directly above it. Please do not edit by selecting 'edit this page' at the top of the screen, as this will make it difficult for other people to work on the compositions at the same time as you.

Advice on Style

Keep your writing simple. Each sentence should contain one main idea. Sentences do not need to be long or complicated in order to do this.

Write complete sentences.

Avoid pretentious, silly language. Try not to use a long and difficult word when you can express the same idea more clearly with a short, easy word. Try not to use unusual, confusing metaphors.

Avoid biased, opinionative writing. Report objectively on events and let the facts speak for themselves.

Avoid the passive voice unless you have to use it.

Avoid obsequious, lengthy acknowledgments of advisors, teachers in charge of activities and so forth.

Avoid exaggerating or lying. Do not write simply for the sake of filling space. If there is very little to say about something, then say very little about it.

Avoid writing anything rude, offensive or vain.

Many of these ideas are taken from George Orwell's essay, Politics and the English Language - a must read for anyone interested in writing professionally. Read the essay here: [1]

Here’s an example of bad style:

A touch of lipsticks, a pat of powder on our so beautiful faces, eyebrows plucked, hairs all in place. A final look into the mirror: perfect faces for the evening. Dressing in lavish, shimmering gowns, as beautiful as angels on the tops of Christmas trees, the F. 5 girls sallied forth into the Conrad International Hotel for the celebration of their magnificent schooldays. There was an air of excitement filling the air in addition to the scrumptious aroma of the exquisite selection on the buffet counter. It was the much anticipated Graduation Dinner.

Far better would be:

The F. 5 Graduation Dinner took place on Friday, 26th June in the Harbour View Ballroom of the Conrad International Hotel, where graduating students enjoyed a sumptuous buffet. The F. 5 girls wore formal evening gowns for the occasion, and also put a lot of effort into preparing their hair and make-up. Everyone looked splendid.

Another example:

The stamp-collecting club has as its aim and objective to promote interest in stamp-collecting. Although being the co-ordinator of stamp-collecting club has not been an easy task for me because of I had to organise many activities that related to stamp-collecting, but I learnt about leadership skills. This has been a very fruitful year for our club and all our members successfully collected stamps. I would like to thank my members for their eager stamp-collecting skills and my dearest vice-chairlady, secretary and PRO for their tireless efforts in trying to assist me in running this important activity. Also, we must express our sincere and heartfeltest gratitude to our teacher advisor, Mr. Terence Stamp. Without you our club would not have been so successful!!! We LOVE you, Mr. Stamp!

This would be far better:

This year has been very successful for the stamp-collecting club. We were able to attract more than 50 students to join the club, and our increased membership has made it possible for us to organize a wider range of activities than in previous years. Students particularly enjoyed the visit to the General Post Office in December and the talk on first-day covers by Mr. Wally Tang, the chairman of the Hong Kong Philately Society, in March. We are very grateful to Mr. Stamp for his help in organizing these activities.


Guidelines for Proofreading (First Draft)

(Please do not correct this version - work on the latest draft.)

Tips for Proofreading

Cross out of unnecessary words. Mark the position a missing word with an upside down letter y. Then write the missing word above symbol. Underline words which need to be changed. Then write the correct words above it. If a sentence is correct, write a tick beside it. Pay attention of mistakes like wrong prepositions as well as the watching out for unnecessary articles. Look out missing prepositions, too. One of the mistakes are likely to be subject-verb agreement. Next most common mistake is a missing article. You are also likely to notice of unnecessary prepositions. Is easy to spot missing pronouns and you should also spot The use of plural noun instead of singular nouns Or when the examiner had used the wrong tense. Try to read through the passage for several times. Each time you can focus at a different kind of mistake. Remember to make changes which change the meaning and that the passage should be logically inconsistent. Remember that because the proofreading task is at the end of the paper, you should never allow sufficient time to complete them.

Guidelines for Proofreading (Second Draft)

Tips for Proofreading

Omit unnecessary words. Mark the position of a missing word with an upside down letter v. Then write the missing word above the symbol. Underline words that need to be changed. Then write the correct words above. If a sentence is correct, write a tick at the end of it. Pay attention to mistakes like wrong prepositions as well as watching out for unnecessary articles. Look out for missing prepositions, too. One of the mistakes is likely to be subject-verb agreement. The most common mistake is a missing article. You are also likely to notice unnecessary prepositions. It is easy to spot missing pronouns and you should also spot the use of plural instead of singular nouns or when the examiner has used the wrong tense. Read through passages several times. Each time you can focus on different kinds of mistakes. Do not make changes that alter meaning. Passages should be logically consistent. Although proofreading occurs at the end of the paper, prepare appropriate time to complete it properly.


How would you turn these rough notes into compositions?

A Person I Admire

Where can you find answers to these questions? How would you make sure that you present the information in your own words? Stephen Hawking - Scientist (what discoveries?) - Overcame disability (which one? how long? how severe?) - Background - where born? when? what did he study? family life? - Why I admire him: What we can learn from his example:

My Favourite Restaurant

In what order should the points be made? How would you divide this into paragraphs? How can you use descrip[tion to make the place sound appealing? When I visited: Service: Atmosphere: Name of restaurant: Decoration: Value for money? Who should go: Types of food: Location:

Draft your answers here:

A Person I Admire

A Person I Admire: David Beckham

I admire David Beckham because he is very handsome and his football skills is (s/v agreement) very good!

As he gets older, he finds that his good looks can only carry him this far. Moving to LA to play football was a strange move, especially (spelling) since soccer is hardly a popular sport in the US. Was that a publicity move instead? Perhaps he and his skinny wife wants to get into Hollywood? Perhaps he should rely on his mean goal kicks...... In short, I admire (why past tense?) David Beckham. (is this conclusion just a repetition?)

This makes a few interesting observations, but a lot is missing - an outline of his career and specific details about his achievements, for example. For a piece of writing on why you admire Beckham, it also seems rather negative!

My Favourite Restaurant

Newspaper Article (First Draft)

(Please do not correct this version - work on the latest draft.)

A Dog Jumped Into A Pool

On Friday 29th April there was swimming gala. All the students cheering for there house and singing school song when someone shouted that she can see a dog. And that dog jumped into the swimming pool. Then Mr. Jones was very brave he was the announcer for the swimming gala and he saw the dog swimming in the pool.

Immediately he didn’t think and he jumped into the water to rescue the dog. After that the dog was very afraid and bit him so he had to go to hospital. A doctor told us that Mr. Jones bit the dog and drank the water in the swimming pool. Mr Jonnes is lucky because the St John’s Ambulance workers could bring him out the pool. Or he would drown.That naughty dog ran away.

Also some students were chewing gum at the swimming gala. People who live near the park complained to the police because the cheering teams were very noisy.At last, Jupiter came first with 650 points. Yeah! Jupiter Forever!

Newspaper Article (Second Draft)

This has fewer grammar mistakes, now, but does it have the right tone for a newspaper article? Is it unbiased and objective? Does it have all the important information for a news story? Could some less important information be left out?

Dog Bites Teacher at Swimming Gala


A dog attacked a teacher April 29 during the Marymount swimming gala at Victoria Park public pool. The incident took place as students cheered and sang for their respective houses. Witnesses, including the victim, Mr. Jones, claimed they saw the animal jump into the pool and swim.


Mr. Jones said the frightened dog bit him after he jumped into the pool to save the animal. Jones was transported by ambulance to ABC hospital, where staff treated his wound and cleared his lungs of excess water.


Furthermore, some students were cheering too loud during the swimming gala. People who live near the park complained to the police that the Marymount cheering teams were very noisy, disturbing them. The principal punished the whole school after the swimming gala. At last, Jupiter came first with 650 points. Obviously the students of Jupiter are strong and good.

Letter to a Newspaper: Cyber Cafes (First Draft)

(Please do not edit this version - work on the latest draft)

I am writing to express my views towards the increasingly common of cyber cafes, karaokes and electronic game centres. According to the violent cases happened recently in a cyber cafe, two form three students were being injuried. Although no people died in this accident, we should not ignore the bad effects behind.

For computers, we cannot live without being insulated with them. If students got addicted to lingering in cyber cafes, and enjoy exposing too much to the computer world, infers that less time will be spent on students’ own studies and this may cause low incentive in studying. Following will be poor performances at class, appalling results in exams and poor relation with teachers. Instead of entertaining, they should focus more on their acadamic.

Secondly is about the problem of health. The number of students are found to be buried themselves in cyber cafes. Cyber cafes are usually found in the old buildings or in some of the commercial buildings. There is no window found. As a result, the ventilation of air is poor enough to cause the non-smoker feel sick. According to my biological knowledge, breathing in too much smoke disposed from the cigarettes would become more easily to be suffered from cancer. Another problem is the safety. Many cyber cafes are opened without lifeguard equipment. This can be fatal if fire accident happens.

As there is a new cyber café opens near my school, I decidied to go there to a try. The services of the waiters were bad, and the food, Oh my god! You just can’t put them into your mouth, they were not for humans. Due to the reasons there were someone stearing at us, we therefore keep silent. When I passed through the kitchen I saw crouchates everywhere. (What I think is I’m in a black shop!)

When we decided to pay the bill, to our surprised it costed as almost $80 per person, even they said to have discounts.

Moreover, children under 18 are inquisitive during purberty and may get some wrong and indecent knowledge from computer. We should give a correct guidance to youngsters. And they should be forced to ban any pronographic webpage. This is not just a need, but a must.

Students may know some bad guys in the internet, too. Many bad businessmen make good use of the trend and do guilty things. They do not concern about students. There will be stealing, bullying and sexual disturbance. Goverment must monitor cyber cafes inorder to avoid these people to control the cafes leading to any other crimes.

Letter to the Newspaper - Cyber Cafes (Second Draft)

This is improving, but there are still many grammar mistakes and problems with awkward, unidiomatic phrasing - I have highlighted these. Could the message be conveyed more simply and directly? Is there a clear conclusion?


I am writing to express my views about the increasing number of incidents which happen in cyber cafes, karaoke bars and electronic game centres. According to (wrong expression) the violent cases (missing pronoun)happened recently in a cyber cafe, two form three students were injured. Although nobody died in this accident, we should not ignore the bad effects behind. (wrong expression)


We cannot live without computers.However, if students get addicted to lingering in cyber cafes, and enjoy being in the computer world, this will interfere with students' studies and they will have a lower incentive to study. This will also lead to poor performances in class, unsatisfactory results in exams and poor relationships with teachers. Instead of entertainment, they should focus more on their studies.


Secondly is (what is?) about the problem on (wrong preposition) health. Students are found to be burying themselves (sounds a bit extreme!) in cyber cafes. Cyber cafes are usually found in old commercial buildings. There aren't any windows (is this always true?). As a result, the ventilation of air (can anything other than air be ventilated?) is so poor that (missing subject)causes the non-smokers to feel sick. According to my biological knowledge, (do you need to sound so technical?) breathing in too much smoke disposed by the cigarettes (is it? how would cigarettes do this?) would be likely to suffer (parallelism: who would suffer? from lung cancer. Another problem is safety. Many cyber cafes are opened without lifeguard (sounds like they are swimming pools!) equipments. This can cause fatal (word form) if fire accidents happened. (awkward: one word is redundant and the tense seems wrong) Bold textSECOND IS THE PROBLEM OF HEALTH.STUDENTS OFTEN FOUND THEMSELVES BOURING IN THE CYBERCAFE.CYBER CAFE USUALLY HAVE NO VENTILATIONS AND NON SMOKERS OFTEN FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE AS IT HAS NO WINDOW AND IT IS IN COMMERCIAL COMPLEXES.SOMKING IN PUBLIC PLACES CAUSES LUNG CANCER TO MEN.SAFETY IS THE OTHER THING WHICH THE CYBERCAFE DOESNOT HAVE AS IT OFTEN OPEN TOWARDS SWIMMING POOL AND HAVE NO LIFE SAVING EQUIPMENT CAUSING ACCEDENTS.


As there is a new cyber café opened (stick to subject+verb+object) near my school, I decided to go there for a try (wrong expression). The waitors (spelling) are (tense) unfriendly, and the food, Oh my god! (tone) You just can’t (tense) put them (agreement with uncountable noun) into your mouth, they were certainly not for humans! Due to these reasons (which reasons, there was someone staring at us, we therefore kept silent. When I pass (tense) through the kitchen (seems unlikely that they'd let you!) I saw cockroches (spelling) everywhere.


When we decided to pay the bill, to our surprise it cost us almost $80 per person, even (missing word) they (who?) said to have discounts (awkward).


Moreover, children under 18 are inquisitive during puberty and may get some wrong and indecent information from the internet. We should give suitable guidance to youngsters. And any pronographic (spelling) webpages should be banned. (sounds too formal and general - not specifically related to cyber-cafes This is not just a need, but a must (is there a difference?).


Students may know (wrong word) some bad guys (tone) through the internet, too. Many bad (in what sense? are they incompetent?) businessmen make good (really?) use of the trend and do guilty (wrong word) things. They do not concern (should be passive) about the students. Thery commit crimes like stealing, bullying and sexual disturbance (paralellism). The government must closely monitor cyber cafes in order to avoid (wrong word) crimes.

Reply to Letter of Complaint: Practical Skills

Please do not correct this version:

Dear Mr. Kwok

I am sorry about you are unhappy with your holiday in your letter on 5th September but I think that we have some misunderstandings. You recently went on one of our tours to Cebu and you can only say you had a terrible time and hold our company responsible, but isn’t this unfair?

Some of those matters are beyond our control. First of all, the flight was delayed and the airline and airport should be responsible for that, so we are sorry about the inconvenience this caused to you. Also, you can’t expect us to make the weather sunny while you are on holiday. Didn’t you know August is the rainy season in Philippines? Anyone could have told you that. Then, we don’t decide how much duty to pay – the Hong Kong Government is responsible for this and information is provided in every duty free shops. We are sorry about that and will try to prevent this from happening again in future. Finally, we didn’t lose your luggages. When you saw that you should have reported to the airport staff immediately. If I were you, I would read the back of my ticket more carefully next time. ______________________________________________________________________ Unfortunately, you didn’t read our tour pamphlet as it states that economic transport is being offered. We apologise that we did not fly first class because it is not economical enough and group member wants to have single room preferred must pay $500 in advance because this is the low season price. According to our records you are male and 41 years old but you are not allergic to seafood because other passengers can remember to make a special request such as Muslim no pork and vegetarian single room etc. but not you.

Tours and excursions have to pay 24 hours advance, so if you cannot. Perhaps if you don’t like seafood you shouldn’t go to Cebu next time as our brochure stated that you can have your breath taken away by the corals and enjoy nightly seafood barbecues, succulent shrimps and lobsters fresh from the sea. ______________________________________________________________________

Let me refer you to our medical policy about your doctor in Cebu with an old kidney problem. It states that all members of the tour are covered by a group insurance policy but the policy does not cover any illness or medical conditions known to the tour members before the tour, and the insured must pay the first $1000 himself. The insurance company will pay any further receipted expenses up to $50000 and in the event of death will pay up to $80000 in funeral expenses, but since you are not dead and your doctor charged you less than $1000 this is not necessary.

Finally, I would like to apologize to the tour guide about he has been incredibly rude and nasty to you. We have taken appropriate disciplinary measure, but when we fried him he told us you are a real pain, that nobody liked you and that you never stopped complaining. Don’t you know that you are on a cheap low season package? I am sorry that you are frustrated, but everyone else was happy and reasonably priced.

Yours sincerely

Second Draft

Please correct this version:

Dear Mr. Tai


We are sorry that you are unhappy with your holiday in Cebu as stated in your letter on 5th September. However, having read your complaints I think that you may have some misunderstandings about the nature of the tour and our liability to you.


We would like to point out that some of the matters which you complained about are beyond our control. First of all, while we regret the inconvenience caused by the flight being delayed, the airline is responsible for this, so if you wish to seek compensation for the delay, you should pursue the matter with the airline rather than with us. Also, the weather is clearly not something which we can be held responsible for. We have already included the weather facts of the Philippines in 'Guide Book to the Philippines' which has stated very clearly that the Philippines has heavy rainfall in summer, so that our customers can be awared of it. And we assumed that it was clear enough for our customers. We will be more considerate in the future and will make sure that everyone who goes on the tour is clearly awared of that.


The Hong Kong Government decides how much we need to pay for stamp duty and this information is provided at every duty free shop. Finally, when you realised that you had lost your luggages, you should have reported to the airline ground staff immediately. This information was printed on the back of your ticket.


Unfortunately, you did not read our tour brochure as it states that the economy class is being offered. We apologise that we did not provide the first class flight, but it's clearly stated in our brochure that if customers wish to make an upgrade to their transportation, booking should be done 24 hours in advance, and it also states that if group member wants to have single room, they would have to pay $500 as a supplement. According to our special requests list, there are no special requests being made by you. Special requests should be made if you have any sorts of food allergy, or have other requests such as requesting for a single room etc in advance.


We regret to tell you that you are not eligible to get the refund of the medical service related to your kidney problem. As stated in the medical policy note issued before departure, any illnesses or medical conditions known to the tour members before the tour will not be covered. As your condition is an old problem, the insurance company does not have the responsibility to cover the cost in this case.


Finally, we would like to apologize for the rudeness of the tour guide. Your feedback of the tour has been taken into consideration and we have already taken appropriate disciplinary measures. We are sorry that you are frustrated.

Yours sincerely,

Walter Kwok

Letter to a Friend Looking for Work (First Draft)

(Please do not edit this version. Make changes to the latest version. I have highlighted some of the things that need to be fixed.)

Dear Pat,

Hi there! I’m Chris. How are you? I know that you are studying overseas but plans to return to Hong Kong during the summer holidays to look for a summer job and not sure how to find a suitable one. Is it right? It cannot be denied that this is a crucial decision. My dear Pat, I hope you will allow me to be frank: the moment I read your letter it became apparent to me that you are at a critical turning point in your life and, to coin a phrase, you are on the horns of a dilemma. I hope that what I have to tell you will assuage your anxiety.

First, for what types of jobs are suitable. I think you can become a salesman because if you work in a department store or a shop, you can meet a lot of people in the society. Or if you work as an assistant officer, it may be a good choice because you are comfortable to work in an office. You are good at English, Geography and Mathematics and passed your GCSE successfully. You can be a tutor and teach the younger children. Or you can work as a surveyor for the Lands Department during the summer holiday.

Then, how to get them. Hong Kong is suffering an economic depression and unemployment rate becomes higher and higher. Even university students can’t find a job for their living. Don’t expect it to be easy to get those well paid jobs. But if you tried hardly, I think you can get some jobs that are suitable to you.

First, you must decide what is your interest and ability. You must apply a job that suits these. Look on the newspaper for adverts of the recruitment session or visit to the Labour Department. Write a CV which says your qualification and experiences. If you are asked to conduct an interview, remember to dress up smartly and do researches about the company. Remember to ask about training opportunity and your promotion prospect. (in a summer job?)

About which ones should be avoided. First of all, if you are just returned from studying overseas, I don’t think you know enough about local culture – so don’t get a job as a tourist. Reject those jobs like modelling agencies that ask you to pay a training fee before you start work. Many teenagers are attracted for this and it is a trap. And don’t take up those black jobs like sell private CDs. You don’t want to hold a criminal record at your age.

Good luck with finding for a job. Please contact me when you arrive in Hong Kong. Then, we can find for a job together. I am looking forward to receiving your reply. Thank you for your kind attention.

Yours sincerely, (are you writing to a friend?) Chris Wong

Letter to a Friend Looking for Work (Second Draft)

This is much better than the first version, but there are still occasions when the tone is condescending and unfriendly, when phrasing is awkward, or when excessive use of cliches makes the letter sound silly. Also, is the advice realistic, given that the letter is supposed to be about temporary summer jobs?


Dear Pat,

I hope that you are doing well and that you have been having a good time in London. Have you finished your A Levels yet? In your last letter, you told me that you are planning to go back to Hong Kong during the summer holiday to look for a summer job. Unfortunately, you aren't sure how to find a suitable one. It cannot be denied that this is a crucial decision. My dear Pat, I hope you would allow me to be frank: the moment I was reading your letter it became apparent to me that you are at a critical turning point in your life and, to coin a phrase, you are on the horns of a dilemma. I hope that what i am going to tell you will comfort you.


First, you should look for jobs that are suitable for you. I think you can be a saleswoman because when you are working in a department store or a shop, you will have a lot of opportunies to meet a lot of people in the society. Being an assistant officer is also a good choice. You can work comfortably in an office. If you are good at English, Geography and Mathematics and passed your GCSE successfully, you can be a tutor and teach those young children. Or you can work as a surveyor for the Lands Department.


Then, how to get them. Hong Kong is suffering from an economic depression and the unemployment rate is becoming higher and higher. Even university students can’t find a job to make their living. Don’t expect you will easy to get those well paid jobs. But if you tried hardly, I think you can get a job that is suitable to you.


First, you must decide what are your interests and to consider your ability. You must apply for a job that suits you most. Look for the recruitment session in the newspaper or visit the Labour Department. Write a resume which includes your qualification and experiences. If you are being interviewed, remember to dress up properly and do some research on the company.


About which one should be avoided. First of all, if you are just returned from studying overseas, I don’t think you know enough about local culture – so don’t get a job as a tourist. Reject those jobs like modelling agencies that ask you to pay a training fee before you start working. Many teenagers are attracted to this but it is a trap. And don’t take up those black jobs like selling private CDs. You don’t want to hold a criminal record at your age.


Good luck with finding a job. Please contact me when you arrive in Hong Kong. Then, we can find a job together. I am looking forward to receive your reply. Thank you for your kind attention.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Wong

1998 Section E Practice: Task One

Poster 1

Artist's aim

The artist drew a boy and a girl to draw both boys' and girls' attention to his message. The artist wants to tell everyone not to copy the characters in poster by showing how the boy behaved dangerously and how the girl wore unsuitable clothes.

The artist wants to tell everyone not to dress improperly or drive dangerously on a motorcycle like the boy and girl in the poster.

Teachers' reactions

The careers teacher, Miss So, thinks that some immature students might want to copy the dangerous acts as the artist seems to suggest that the behavior is smart and trendy. She suggests that the artist should redraw the poster to remove this idea.

The English teacher, Mr Fung, similarly criticizes the language used in the poster for being too wordy and complex. He suggests that the caption ought to be simplified as "Dress properly!".

Student questionnaire results

Most junior form students (approximately 80%) like the poster. It was equally popular with junior boys and girls. However, fewer than half of the senior students like the poster. Around 40% of senior boys and only around 25% senior girls like it.

Junior and senior students' comments during interviews

Two of the Junior form students find the words on the poster confusing.

Two senior form students said that they think that the characters on the poster set a negative example for the junior students.

The drawing

The drawing should be redesigned so as to avoid suggesting that dangerous driving is fun. The artist should rephrase the message to be more direct and simpler.

Poster 2

Artist's aim

The artist wanted to show that young people should be actively involved with road safety and they should set a good example for others to follow.

Teachers' reactions

The careers teacher, Ms So, understands the artist's messages of drawing attention to the difficulty that many old people have when trying to cross a busy road. However, she feels that the helpful teenager should not be only a girl, boys should be included also. The English teacher, Mr Fung, thinks that the caption should be rewritten as he's not sure who is saying it and it's not appealing.

Student questionnaire results

The poster appeals more to the senior forms. A clear majority of senior boys and girls like the poster, while a majority of junior girls and about a quarter of junior boys like it. Within both the junior and senior forms, there is a higher percentage of girls liking the poster than of boys.

Junior and senior students' comments during interviews

Most junior and senior students think that the aim of the poster is to show that girls are helpful but boys are not, instead of showing the importance of road safety. Some students think that the poster contains elements of sexual discrimination. The message of the poster is not clear for junior students.

The drawing

The poster should be redesigned so that it shows both girls and boys being helpful. The caption should be rewritten as well to show that road safety is important for everyone.

Poster 3

Artist's aim

The artist shows teenagers not paying attention to useful advice. The artist wants to point out that everyone (including students) should learn about the importance of road safety.

Teachers' reactions

The careers teacher, Ms So, thinks that it is not fair for the teacher to only scold girls as both boys and girls are not paying attention in the poster. The caption suggests that only the girls need to pay attention in class, which is also discriminatory against girls.

Mr Fung, believes that the poster should clearly state that it is a road safety lesson, and because the wording of the poster is biased, it distracts people from the intended meaning.

As the artist wants to bring out the importance of road safety to both boys and girls, both teachers think the caption is inappropriate and should be changed.

Student questionnaire results

The results of the questionnaire show that more boys like the poster than girls do. There are fewer than 50 percent of boys and nearly 20% of girls in the junior forms who like the poster. In the senior forms most students dislike the poster. Only around 20% of boys and 10% of girls said that they liked it.

Junior and senior students' comments during interviews

Some students seem to think that the message brought out by the poster is rather unclear and confusing. They don't know whether the point of the poster is about 'road safety' or about 'paying attention in class'. They also seem to think that the poster contains elements of sexual discrimination, as the teacher emphasizes that it's the girls who have to pay attention and they asked why this did not apply to both boys AND girls?

The drawing

The caption of the poster should be changed so that it doesn't have a biased implication. Also the wording should state clearly the subject of the poster, which is road safety.


Based on the above findings, poster 2 would be the most suitable as it was the most popular poster among students according to the questionnaire, and both teachers liked it more than the other designs. However, it needs to be improved by redesigning the picture to show that both boys and girls can contribute to road safety and rephrasing the caption to show that everyone should be involved.


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