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English 13/13X

English 13 concentrates on improving the student's ability to read carefully and critically and to write basic narrative and expository prose that adheres to the conventions of standard edited English. Students read and write about a variety of essays, stories and poems, as well as one longer text. Students learn what it means to read and write in an academic context. Editing skills--including the language of basic grammar, syntax, usage, and punctuation--are introduced. English 13X is a course parallel to English 13 for nonnative speakers who need additional work in English as a Second Language.

Philosophy & Goals

English 13/13X, the first course in our developmental writing sequence, engages under-prepared students in the rhetorical activities and skills necessary for success in the academy and the workplace. Generally, students who place into English 13/13X exhibit difficulties with the fundamental conventions of academic discourse, including reading comprehension, knowledge of rhetorical elements such as audience, genre, context, purpose, and modes, and awareness of Standard English, syntax, grammar, and mechanics.

English 13/13X seeks to help students understand academic discourse through intensive reading and writing about critical and creative texts. Students read a variety of genres, including poetry, editorials, short stories, novels, essays, and nonfiction. By the end of the semester, they should attain a reasonable degree of fluency and grammatical correctness and be able to write idea-driven personal narratives in preparation for more analytical writing in English 14/14X.

Students learn invention strategies such as free writing, process writing, and informal writing; and rhetorical strategies such as narration, description, and exemplification. They review basic grammar and punctuation in relation to their writing assignments. They present their writing in a full class workshop on a regular basis. All essays should go through a process of drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. Twice in the semester, students submit a portfolio of their work that includes formal essays with drafts and revisions, in-class essays, and reflective/self-evaluative writing.

Because of social inequities, lack of familiarity with English, segregated discourse communities, and/or poor schooling, many English 13/13X students speak and write in non-standard English. Although students need to learn Standard English, they should not be taught to devalue or abandon their first languages or nonstandard dialects. Instead, students should understand that they can acquire Standard English used in academic discourse and retain their primary languages and cultures. In addition to Standard English, some English 13/13X students lack academic focus and preparation, which often results in poor retention rates and academic failure.

Given that English 13/13X is designed to promote academic success among under-prepared students, increasing student retention is a major course goal. By critically exploring themes such as education that stress the relationship between their own experiences and texts, students are primed to improve their academic awareness, motivation, and writing as they learn to compose idea-driven personal narratives.

Learning Outcomes

Reading: By the end of English 13/13X, students should be more fluent, critical readers with strategies for appropriating new language, concepts and discourses. On the continuum from English 13/13X to Core Seminar, English 13/13X students should:

  • develop skills of fluency, comprehension, and interpretation;
  • understand the need to reread and appropriately mark and annotate a text to develop a “reading”;
  • be conversant with diverse genres, including fiction, nonfiction narrative, and the personal and academic essay;
  • have practice using texts both as source material and writing models;
  • have practice using close reading strategies such as paraphrasing, summarizing, marginal notation, and locating key words; and
  • regularly access a dictionary for vocabulary acquisition.

Writing: By the end of English 13/13X, students should be able to write clear, reasonably correct, idea-driven essays. On the continuum from English 13/13X to Core Seminar, English 13/13X students should:

  • gain rhetorical knowledge of purpose, audience, context, and voice in writing idea-driven personal narratives and impromptu essays;
  • use a process approach—drafting, revising, and editing—to write formal and in-class essays;
  • learn rhetorical strategies of narration, description, and exemplification;
  • practice heuristics such as free-writing, informal journals, brainstorming, and clustering to create and develop ideas;
  • engage in peer editing and writing workshops;
  • develop control over the conventions of format and writing, including syntax, grammar, mechanics, and punctuation; and
  • study and practice editing strategies through review of student writing and formal and informal grammar exercises.

All the above goals will be adapted with sensitivity toward students whose first language is not English.

Writing Requirements

  • 3 formal (3-5-page) essays with drafts, including critical narrative and one idea-driven essay
  • 2 in-class essays (minimum)
  • Reflective/self-evaluative writing, for each formal essay or twice a semester
  • Informal writing (e.g., journals, in-class writing, free-writing, blogging)

Portfolio Requirements

  • Midterm Portfolio (optional): One finished essay, with drafts attached; in-class essay
  • Final Portfolio: Two finished essays, with drafts attached; in-class essay; informal writing; meta-text