<2012EEC_Remarks from Judges>
Remarks from Judges
By Na Yun-hee & Nah Hee-kyung, Professors, Department of English Language and Literature
We are happy to report that this year far more students have participated in the English Essay Contest held by the Chonnam Tribune than last year. We have 86 participants in the university division and 33 entries in the highschool division this year, among whom 11 applicants are awarded prizes. Whether or not awards are won, the whole process of the competition inspired the CNU community and high schools in our region to write in English at a high level and, most importantly, to well-wrought pieces. We announced the essay topics, deadlines and guidelines on the Internet, and then we tried to make a careful screening of the students' works. Meanwhile, the event of the English Essay Contest created such an encouraging atmosphere that many students got motivated to put extra effort into composing and polishing their pieces.
The essay questions for this year's contest were on the legitimacy of banning drinking on university campuses for the university division, and the effectiveness of preserving the record of assailant students' delinquency for the highschool division, a measure taken to eradicate school violence. The applicants tried to persuade their readers into believing either that those two measures taken by the Korean government are righteous and inevitable means for the public good or that they infringe upon human rights and the freedom of an individual. Considering that the primary objective of argumentative writing is to persuade an opposing audience to adopt new beliefs and behaviors, we, judges, tried to select prize winners from the essays that are strong in opinion and lucid in writing.
We would like to emphasize the importance of taking into account the probable refutations in writing an argumentative essay. Some of the participating students tend to simply argue the pros or the validity of his or her own position, without giving enough consideration to the cons or the opposing viewpoints. One's ability to support his own opinion means his ability to cope with as many refuting opinions as possible from others effectively. Good writing does not simply mean correct writing, nor does it mean demanding writing. In fact, good writing must respond to the interests and needs of the readers, which can be obtained only through the flexibility and capacity in the attitude of the writer.
When we ask for a secrete formula for composing powerful essays in English, the most frequent answer we hear is that "practice makes perfect." Yet we do not quite understand what the notorious word "practice" means. We do not mean the literal definition of it, but we mean the pragmatic or empirical meaning of it. The visual thesaurus for the verb "practice" shows us a multi-lateral map of related words including "use, commit, do, apply, exercise, drill, rehearse, act, and perform." On a more practical level, the phrase of "to practice writing" means to develop a series of active habits such as making a note of, and memorizing, idiomatic expressions, reading as many English books, magazines and newspapers as possible, discussing some controversial topics with your friends, writing drafts, and proofreading the drafts repeatedly. In short, the secrete formula for writing good English essays becomes "just do it." Just as a professional athlete practices habitually to strengthen his muscle, a good writer must train consistently a specific part of his body, that is, his brain.