Broad outlook and excellent skills are keys to success in any sphere. Yet, it takes time and effort to develop skills and broaden the outlook, and it also requires proficient guidance. The classes that we had throughout the quarter have really helped me to improve both. First, I have learned a range of facts and concepts from a variety of spheres, such as literature, history, and music. Second, I have enhanced my language use skills along with the skills of critical thinking, writing, and reading. This means that my development has been generally two-fold: I expanded my knowledge of the world and developed my skills of handling this knowledge.
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Essays have been an important means of learning new information. Specifically, by reading and analyzing “California Dream”, I have constructed the definition of a dream. The next essay “Images of the Dream in Music” has been informative in terms of researching seemingly the same problem in the context of art, in particular music. That was an exciting experience since music does not use words, but builds its images by its own means. Further, by focusing on prepositions and fallacies, I have learnt the theoretical background of prepositions’ use and expanded my awareness of fallacies. This will surely help me to use language more accurately in the future. By focusing on history and poetry in the essay “History and Poetry”, I have become more competent in this very sphere. Finally, my last essay on multiculturalism has been helpful in terms of its focus on the idea that is so important for our society. It has helped me to understand the idea of multiculturalism and apply it my own life experience.
Reading skills have improved in terms of mastering the major approach to the reading process known as Before, During, and After Approach. I have learned that the pre-reading strategy involves background knowledge activation, examining the structure of a text, setting a particular purpose, making some predictions as to the text contents, and clarifying some unknown words. During reading, as I have learnt, it is important to follow the set purpose on every part of what I read; to monitor myself; to sum up what I read; to remember what I read; to check back on my initial predictions and either reject or confirm them; to find out major ideas; to continuously question myself. After the reading, I have learnt it’s necessary to see if the purpose was met; to be able to reword the information that was important; find the major idea and details; connect and compare; conclude; sum up the information; and analyze.
About my writing process, I have learnt that before writing I need to generate ideas, for example through brainstorming. During writing, it is important to develop and organize the text in effective manner. After writing, I need to revise and edit what I have written.
About the writing product, I have learned that essays have their own functions and forms. On the essay level, the writing needs to be organized as follows: introduction (with a thesis statement), main body (3-5 paragraphs), and conclusion. Essays should have titles.
On the paragraph level, it is important to watch that every paragraph serves its function and logically develops the idea. Specifically, introduction creates the context for the whole essay and provides its major idea in thesis statement. Those paragraphs that are in the main body each develop one idea that was mentioned in the thesis statement. It is important to use examples, quotes, numbers, names, and opinions to support the claims made in paragraphs. Conclusion restates the idea expressed in the thesis statement.
On the sentence level, I have to watch my grammar and punctuation. Importantly, every sentence has a clear structure: a subject, a predicate, etc. Besides, I have to watch agreement between the subject and the predicate, use correct tenses, and watch out spelling. Punctuation is also important since it helps to arrange sentences and convey certain ideas. Besides, sentences need to be related to one another. If possible, they should start with some transition, so that it is easier to grasp the connection between the previous sentence and this one.
In summary, the quarter has brought lots of experience in two major areas. I have broadened my outlook in a number of fields (history, poetry, and music), and developed my reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.
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