Academic writing support group was something that scared me quite a bit at first. I always knew it would help me to improve my language skills remarkably but I was just afraid of facing it. However, I have been struggling with academic texts in English for so long that I had to do something about it. I have been avoiding writing in English in general because it is arduous and I don’t trust my writing skills enough. After all, I pushed myself to work for this by thinking, that if I invest in this now, it will make my work significantly easier in the future.
We only had one academic writing group session where we introduced ourselves, agreed about working methods and deadlines and started to put our minds to the matter. We decided to write two drafts of our texts. To the first one we would receive feedback from the teacher and have the chance to modify the text based on that feedback. After finishing the final draft, we would exchange feedback in pairs.
Before writing, I started by studying some of the material in the academic writing -moodle page. I watched a few videos about building an academic essay structure, referencing types and features of formal language. I scanned through some listings about linking words that I could use and made a bit of research about which words can’t be used in a formal text. Next, I started to think about the topic and found it quite easy to choose. I had another course going on at the same time for what I had to read two academic articles, the other one in English. Those were perfect to use for this purpose. So I read the professor Fred Derwin’s text about interculturality in education. It told about dilemmas we face dealing with people from other cultures, what is othering and how it defines our identities. The text also presented quite interesting perspective to racism and what kind of role it plays in our culture.
After reading the articles, I gathered my notes and made a sketch of my essay to help me to write. However, the writing process was still quite sluggish and took a lot of time. I considered closely every single sentence trying to formalize what I wanted to say as well as I could. It was hard to search which words are the most academic and fitting to each context. I spent a lot of time with the dictionary and learned plenty of new words. I also felt like it was more challenging to structure my text properly when I wrote in English. I had a bad habit of putting too much stuff in one paragraph. I really tried to follow the rule that only one argument at a time, but it was somehow difficult to keep track on my own text. Maybe I just had too much to say about the topic.
Looking back the academic writing support group now, I am very happy I did it. I could not have done it all by myself and what a waste it would have been not to utilize this kind of opportunity. I got so many valuable writing tips and much clearer idea about what does academic text actually mean. However, the most important result was the courage I gained towards writing. After the difficulties I had starting to write, I managed to get together a reasonably good text. At times, I was truly surprised about how formal sentences I managed to produce. The feedback I got from my group mate was also supportive and positive. I was told that the structure of my essay was clear and understandable. The text flowed, it provided enough evidence to support my claims and was written in good English. It felt nice to receive this kind of feedback. Now I just have to keep on practicing to reach my final goal.
My academic writing essay below:
Tolerance as a societal discourse
The immigration has widely accelerated over ten years, forcing the receiving countries to respond to that change. Several institutions have already taken action to help both the communities and immigrants to adapt to these alterable circumstances. Also people and institutions are constantly encouraged to further their tolerance and work for the equality. Even though there has been considerable improvement, the process is still in its early days. Focusing the tolerance has been yet remarkably selective at least in Finland (Rastas, Huttunen, Löytty, 2006). The societal structures are rigid and functionally sluggish. Furthermore, people’s ordinary interaction admittedly still consists discourses inadvertently forwarding racism and suspicion (Rastas et. al, 2006). In this essay I aim to introduce the basis for these statements.
On the societal level the concept of tolerance is yet quite indeterminate. When scanning the fundamentals of the curriculum, the word tolerance can be found in multiple factual connections. It seems to be considered as a remarkable virtue, something that should accompany all the actions taking place in the school environment. However, after more specific study of the curriculum, it will point out that the meaning of this virtue remains rather hollow. The curriculum shows no examples about what tolerance is or how to include it into the teaching in practice (Rastas et. al., 2006). The notion of tolerance does not get that clear definition which conducts to various types of interpretations and implementations in teaching methods.
Another governmental sector where the appearance of tolerance could be considered incoherent is the immigration policy. Finland is in the position where it can be selected who enters the country or is left outside the Finnish tolerance (Rastas et. al., 2006). Those decisions are typically performed based on ones ethnical and cultural backgrounds, comparing who would demonstrate the potential to adapt into the Finnish society in the most efficient way. However, comparing cultures also inevitably creates bi partition which makes people value some cultures more than others and creates biased ascendance and prejudice (Dervin, 2016). Therefore, when an immigrant is accepted to become a Finnish citizen, there is already a preconception who they are and what they should become. Initially, there will be a process of social integration, which purpose is to adapt people to Finnish culture, to become a plenipotentiary citizen. However, to reach that status in its highest form, one must in a way abandon his primary culture and nationality to assimilate to the new one (Rastas et. al., 2006). Additionally, the social approbation is not presented until the immigrant has become employed or begun studying something. Consequently, after arriving in Finland, immigrants are all expected to fit in the same cast, doing as the society thinks they should do to adapt (Rastas et. al., 2006). Therefore, can Finnish tolerance genuinely be considered altruistic involving all those in need of help.
Although the society does plenty of critical work to encourage people to adapt the new culture, this multicultural work is typically premeditated towards the immigrants, not for the natives to expand their minds (Rastas et. al., 2006). Many institutions arrange various types of integration programs, but amongst the society racism is however a taboo. The research about racism in Finland remain as a subject that has not been studied a lot. Racism has a countless number of definitions and there are quite many aspects that should be considered when these matters are discussed (Rastas et. al.,2006). Nevertheless, subjects like tolerance and racism should be more involved in the societal debate to influence these prevalent discourses into more approbative.
Therefore, it can be said that even though Finland does important and valuable work for immigration, tolerance is partly rather selective or limited. The societal level’s discussion about racism remains in the background and the subject is untold. After going through the integration programs, an immigrant can be accultured in a social political form but remain an outsider as a societal participator (Rastas et. al., 2006). After all identity is constantly alterable in which all the previous experiences and encounters have merged developing an own unique personality.
- Rastas, A., Huttunen, L. & Löytty, O. (2006). Suomalainen vieraskirja. Tampere: Vastapaino
- Dervin, F. (2016). Interculturality in Education: A Theoretical and Methodological Toolbox. London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
ALMS hours spent:
Studying from moodle: 1,5h
Reading the article: 5h
Planning, writing and correcting the essay: 8h
Providing feedback to another student: 0,5h
Writing this blog post: 2,5h
ALMS hours remaining: 62,5h