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Judges’ Remarks on the 2013 English Essay Contest2013 English Essay Contest 심사평
Shin Keun-young & Nah Hee-kyun  |  tribune1968@cnumedia.com
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승인 2013.12.09  14:34:42
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▲ A poster of 2013 English Essay Contest

   It has been our pleasure to judge the 2013 English Essay Contest hosted by the Chonnam Tribune. This essay contest is a yearly competition that is open to all graduate and undergraduate students at Chonnam National University regardless of their academic major. This year 44 students including 6 international students managed to submit their essays, although far more students registered for the contest online.
   Essays should meet contest requirements to qualify for evaluation. Out of 44 entries, 32 essays were actually evaluated by the committee. No personal identification information appeared on the essays to assure objectivity in the assessment process. Each essay was scored using the essay contest rubric which is comprised of five categories: (i) coherence, (ii) cohesion, (iii) communication of the main idea, (iv) grammar; and (v) logical organization of ideas. The highest overall average scores were chosen as winners.
   The 2013 theme focused on the impact of digital technology on our lives and our brains. Students were asked to address one of the two following issues: whether using laptops and other electronic devices in class should be banned, and whether digital gadgets impair human intelligence and make us dumber. Many participants in the contest gave very convincing and wonderful reasons to support their position. The evaluation committee agreed that reading the essays was a delight and it was not easy to choose the winning entries. We hope that all the participants felt rewarded by the process even if their entry was not selected.
   We often ask or are asked what good writing is and how to improve our writing skills. If you google “good writing” or “good essay”, you can find an enormous number of websites providing writing tips and strategies. Ironically, most of them say more or less the same things. In particular, when it comes to an argumentative (or persuasive) essay, there seem to be norms of good writing. The grand-prize winner of the 2013 English Essay Contest also followed the basic principles of argumentative essay writing. For example, the introduction of the essay provided background information on the topic and clearly told the reader the main argument of the essay. Furthermore it was interesting enough to catch the reader’s attention. Each body paragraph focused on one aspect of his or her argument and presented appropriate evidence that could help the reader understand the argument. The opposition’s view was also discussed to strengthen his or her argument. The final paragraph of the essay restated the main premise and reviewed the central ideas. In addition, it had some freshness and originality.
   It must have been a challenge for all the participants to write an essay in English, a foreign language. Awkward expressions or grammatical errors can impede understanding and weaken an essay’s clarity. In order to write a good English essay, therefore, you need to improve both language skills and writing skills. How can you do that? This is a cliché, but practice makes perfect. We would like to encourage every student to practice writing in English for next year’s contest.

By Shin Keun-young & Nah Hee-kyung, Professors, Dept. of English Language and Literature

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