March 5, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — mvervinck @ 1:33 pm

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”  —Jane Yolen

What a great quote!  I will be sharing this quote with my student later today.  I teach English as a Second Language courses, and one course that I teach is a test prep course for students who are at the advanced ESL level.  These students must attain a certain score on an English proficiency test in order to be admitted to an American university.  I had the opportunity to design this course, and I designed it so that the students work on the skills they need to be proficient in English, not just skills to pass a test.  

I encourage my students to read and write every day because I feel that the only way for them to improve their skills in English is to actually use these skills on a daily basis.  In order to illustrate this fact to them I begin the semester by asking them about the types of sports and hobbies they like to do outside of school.  Next, I ask them how much time each week they participate in this favorite activity and how good they are at it.  This usually elicits the discussion about the fact that they either spend a lot of time at it and feel they are pretty good, or that they wished that they could spend more time doing it so that they could be better.  After that, we return to our discussion about English and how, if they really want to improve, they must spend a lot of time working on their skills – outside of the classroom.  Too many students feel that they should be able to become proficient jin English ust by attending class.  I try to stress that it takes a lot of hard work in order to become proficient and that the best way to practice is to always have a book one hand and a pen in the other.   They have to practice.  There are no shortcuts.

Off to class I go!  I may deviate from my lesson plan a bit today, but that just means I’ll have something to write about tomorrow!



  1. I have a snow day today, but tomorrow, I will share it with my small groups. It will give me someone else’s voice instead of my broken record that they need to read and write every day. I love the word ‘seise’ in that quote.

    Comment by Two years and finishing strong... — March 5, 2013 @ 2:23 pm | Reply

  2. I’ve found that writing every day gives me new words. My writing becomes more expressive each day. Thanks for this quote too. I enjoy Yolen’s writing very much.

    Comment by The Purple Lady ♥ (@th_purpl_lady) — March 5, 2013 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

  3. I think you are right on. I know my own writing improves the more I do it.

    Comment by Ruth Ferris — March 6, 2013 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

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