Reading for Enjoyment Helps to Improve Writing

Dear STEM professors who are disappointed by the quality of English grammar in your students’ written work:


Is the academic style of writing found in some of the STEM articles that you assign inspiring or a bit dry?  Are there novels or short stories or plays in English that you love to read?  Would it be outlandish or radical for you to share a page from any of those novels or short stories or plays with your students on a weekly basis in Blackboard (or any other online platform so as not to use up class time)?  Would you consider making these readings voluntary and therefore stress-free?  Or would it be possible to create an extra credit activity out of such readings?  Do you want to interject at this point to ask what on earth might possibly link narrative writing or “creative writing” to expository writing and your STEM field?  Is it possible that reading enjoyable literary texts more often in the target language helps students get used to hearing and seeing what is considered to be standard grammar?  Isn’t absorbing grammar without even knowing it painless magic?  Would it then be easier for students to produce more well-written sentences?  Have you ever been unsure of whether a sentence should go this way or that grammatically, and then would say each version out loud a few times, decide to go with the version that sounds better, and end up being correct?  Why did you do all of that and not go to a dry book of grammar rules?  Are you now thinking that if you choose one of your favorite passages from Faulkner, then that might make things worse for your students?  Is that thought an attempt to get out of curating a list for your students?  Surely you must have some other passages in mind to use, yes?  Is it truly only the job of the English Comp professor to improve student writing?  Can it be that students need to keep reading good material beyond that semester of English Comp?  Is it fair for STEM professors to grumble about grammar if they don’t inspire their students with a decent number of good examples?  And doesn’t WAC pedagogy say that grammar is a lower order concern?



A WAC Fellow who is trying to help


P.S.—Would it be beneficial for professors outside of the STEM fields to read all of the above?