Review ~ Engaging Writing 1 + 2

Texts focused on academic writing that provide students of intermediate to low advanced proficiency levels relevant, well-structured, and flexible learning material.
Reviewed for Teflnet by Sara Randrianasolo
Engaging Writing

Engaging Writing

Engaging Writing: Essential Skills for Academic Writing 1 andare designed to teach academic writing skills, with the two texts comprising a total of eleven thematic chapters. Topics range from level one’s accomplishments, occupations, and growing up in different cultures to level two’s units on role models, culture, identity, and homeland, and marriage and family. The textbook is designed for students of American English who have attained an intermediate (level one) to high intermediate or low advanced (level two) proficiency level.

Engaging Writing 1 contains six chapters, each of which begins with a reading and is followed by sections on the writing process and revising. The text does a fine job of preparing students for the respective reading passages, afterward providing exercises to check reading comprehension. Vocabulary related to the chapters’ themes is also introduced in the readings, with the expectation that students utilize their new lexicon in their writing assignments. For the writing section of each chapter, students are provided with a list of potential topics, all related to the earlier reading. Students then complete several exercises on the writing process in preparation for their own assignments. The final section of each chapter focuses on revising the students’ written work. Earlier chapters discuss the placement of a topic sentence and transitions, for example, while latter chapters discuss paragraph unity, point of view, and writing a thesis statement. Engaging Writing 1 also contains two appendices, one focused solely on grammatical points, including a section on capitalization and punctuation, with the other featuring useful peer review forms that coincide with each chapter.

Engaging Writing 2 is almost identical in its layout, which would certainly make for a smooth transition for students graduating from the first text to the second. The difference, however, is that the focus moves from the paragraph level to writing essays. Essay types discussed include logical division, cause and effect, comparing and contrasting, and argumentation. Again, this is paired with reading passages related to the chapters’ themes, with work in revision included, as well. Unlike Engaging Writing 1, though, the second text is divided into two sections, with Part II shifting its focus to specific academic writing skills. These include practice with quoting, paraphrasing, citing sources, and summarizing. Finally the appendices appear similar to Engaging Writing 1, with the differences being that the grammar is at a much more advanced level and the enclosed peer review forms require the students to provide more in-depth analysis of one another’s writing.

One feature of the Engaging Writing series that sets it apart from other academic writing texts on the market today is the well-designed sequencing within each chapter. The associated readings introduce relevant vocabulary that can be used in students’ subsequent written assignments, which then undergo revision within a given focus area. In this sense, each chapter is packaged to work independently of the others. This, coupled with the texts’ thematic nature, allows for flexibility for course instructors. Depending on students’ needs, instructors could conceivably begin either textbook at a later chapter or choose to move through them out of sequence without any problems.

Comparing these titles to other books focused on developing academic writing skills, Fitzpatrick excels in keeping the Engaging Writing series relevant and appealing in content. Not only would students find the readings interesting, but the subjects covered would also serve as great catalysts for students’ own work. For an intermediate to low advanced student, the Engaging Writing 1 and 2: Essential Skills for Academic Writing texts should not disappoint.

Reviewed by Sara Randrianasolo for February 2012
Sara Randrianasolo is a Ph.D. student in Purdue University’s Second Language Studies/ESL Program and is the International Student Services Administrator for Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts. Her research includes the application of distance learning technologies to ESL courses.

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