I chose to have English as a subject this fourth semester at Vestfold university collage. I chose English because it is a language that is getting more and more important in the global community, and because English literacy is a big part of the expected knowledge for Norwegian students. Besides this, I want to become better at speaking and writing English. To speak and write English well opens for a lot of opportunities, like studying abroad, and it makes communication with people who does not speak or write Norwegian easier.
The increase of English language in the daily life in Norway is partly caused by the increase of the use of computers, television and internet, which is causing globalization, mainly for the younger generation. In practice, this means that the common Norwegian, and every pupil, meets the English language more frequently than before. Television programs are often in English, and subtitled in Norwegian, causing us to listen to English (American-English). The most popular internet pages contain English language, such as Facebook, Google and YouTube, and a big part of the terms that is used for internet and computer use is in English. English is therefore a big part of our lives, and helps us communicate with other people worldwide. It’s not only necessary when traveling, but also in which profession you will choose. In the world we live in today, people you meet on the street, your neighbor or even your colleague may not talk the same language as you.
A lot of the English language we meet today is presented in written forms, i.e. web pages, descriptions and other common texts. Because of this, I want to focus this reflection on my development in written English from the start of the semester, to now. One of my expectations to this subject was to improve my skills in writing English, and to find out if I have reached that goal I will present a couple of written assignments. It is hard to prove development through assignments as the assignments are more difficult later in the semester than early. The assignments are not equal either, so to measure them is not easy. The examples of written work that I include as reference in this text is an analysis of the novel “Matilda” written by Roald Dahl (week 3), a grammar assignment (week 10) and the obligatory test in grammar (week 18).
The grammar assignment and the obligatory test is a plain grammar test, and “Matilda” is a hand in.
The Matilda-assignment was the first piece of written English work for me since high school. Because of that, writing a long text in English was very challenging. The text contained a lot of preposition errors, and some “norwenglish” (i.e. “…and they stand free to make the story as they wish.”). After correcting the text, I felt that I had learned a lot about writing a longer text, and I saw that the float in the text was much better. This gave me an idea of progress, and a lot of motivation for further work with English writing skills.
Further on in this semester we had a grammar assignment. This assignment measured of course only grammar skills, so it is not directly linkable to the text about Matilda, but as it measures grammar skills, it is linkable to writing skills. You have to be able to handle grammar to be able to write a good text. You will have to know about sentence structure and compositions of words. The grammar skills that were measured in the grammar assignment was mostly analyzing sentences, identifying word classes, working with present simple/present progressive, working with uncountable nouns, and singular countable nouns. I have analyzed sentences and specified word classes in Norwegian from before, and since this is very similar to Norwegian it was not a big challenge. The other topics however were a lot more difficult. I did not know the difference between present simple and present progressive, and I did not know about the uncountable nouns. After a lot of practice, and some lessons with Fredrik Borge, I went from being blank, to being able to explain the differences, and to explain what to use in different examples. I scored 64/74 on the test (86,5%).
The next test on written skills I want to include is the obligatory test in grammar. By looking at the results of the obligatory test, I could conclude with that I did not have the development that I want to document. I did not score more than 39,5/46 on the test (85,9%). The score on this second test in grammar skills was 0,6% lower than the first one, implying that my development has stagnated. Although my result went down, I want do argue for that I had a high development after all. There were several differences in the tests, for example that the first test was a hand in, allowing us to use all the aids we want. I found Fredrik Borges power points very helpful as my main aid. With that aid, I did not have to remember all the terms, because the terms were on the power points. To learn the grammar is the first step to prepare for tests like these, the next step is to supplement your knowledge with terms. On the second test, we were not allowed to bring aids, so that means I had to learn all the terms as well, not only the grammar, and there were no supporting power points that I could use as support. Besides all this, the second test was more difficult than the first one. To exemplify this, I will compare parts of the texts, and my score on the different parts. If you separate the texts into two parts, one about analyzing sentences and identifying word classes (first part) and the second part about correcting mistakes and finding possible differences in texts (second part), my results show traces of development. At the first test, I lost four points in the first part. Two points were lost in analyzing sentences, and two were lost in determining word classes. At the second test, I scored 100% (14/14), showing an increase of 16,7% from 83,3% to 100%. In this part, I did not have to learn a lot of new terms, because most of the terms are similar to the Norwegian terms for analyzing sentences and determining word classes.
My score at the second part of the last test was not as high as on the first test. As I mentioned earlier, this might be a result of aids. For the first test, I could use all the aids I wanted, but for the second test, I had no aids available. This makes me unable to control my answers with the power points, forcing me to hand in uncontrolled answers.
Another factor that may have a part in the bad score on the second part of the last test could be the limited time. The second test was put together with the obligatory test in phonetics. The phonetic test was challenging, and stole a lot of the total time for the two tests. I had to use a lot of time to formulate the answers for the phonetic test so that I could get an ok result. Because of the time pressure I had for the grammar test, my answers were not as long and explanatory as I wished they would be, and this surely affected the results. The feedback I got on the obligatory text reflects my thoughts about the limited amount of time. Some of the points are lost because of unclear answers, some points are lost because of missing factors and some points are lost because of too short answers.
Due to the factors that made the second grammar test harder than the first, I believe that I have become a better writer this semester, and that I have brought my writing skills to a higher level. Besides my development in the grammar part of written English, I have also improved my skills in writing a longer text through rewriting the text I have handed in, i.e. Matilda. Through rewriting and correcting the mistakes I did, I am now able to write texts with fewer errors.