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 Critical Thinking
 Critical Thinking
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Critical Thinking, Thoughtful Writing, Second Edition
John Chaffee et al.
Writing Projects
Chapter 5: The Impact of Language on Your Life

Write a paper in which you discuss some specific aspect of your experience with language. Analyze some way or ways in which words have affected you. You could write about a poem or song lyric that you love, about how the language of a religious ceremony or political statement influenced you, or about advertisements that made you desire or reject a product. You might tell of the impact of statements made by your parents, grandparents, teachers, or friends. You could recount one event or several situations, positive or negative effects.


Purpose: In this assignment, concentrate on showing the connection between ideas about language and your real-life experience.

Audience: In addition to your classmates and instructor, you may find you can reach a more general audience since you will likely be dealing with a phrase, lyric, advertising slogan or political statement with which many other people are already familiar. Consider the "My Turn" column in Newsweek. Newsweek is online at:

Subject: Since your subject is how others have used language, pay particular attention to how you are using language.

Writer: For this assignment, you will need to both recall an experience you've had with language, but also analyze the experience and draw implications from it. Do not just state that language has affected you, but pursue why and how.

Generating Ideas: Consider the multitude of sources from which you could draw for this assignment: language surrounds us. Also, think about using an example from a source that might not at first be obvious. Where, other than television and movies, for example, do we come into contact with language?

List a few possible topics here.

Defining a Focus: Be clear about whether you are addressing one way or many ways in which language has affected you.

In this space, define in just a few sentences what the focus of your paper will be.

Organizing Ideas: The organization of your paper should reflect whether you've chosen to explore one way or many ways in which language has affected you.

Write down how you plan to organize the paper.

Drafting: Trust yourself as an expert on this topic (it is, after all, your experience). At the drafting stage, don't discard ideas, even if they do not seem immediately relevant. You might be able to integrate them at some point.

Revising: At the revising stage, try to organize ideas which belong together; eliminate those that don't fit or which are redundant. Try this revising strategy: revise on the "big" level (your whole paper), on the "medium" level (paragraph by paragraph, for example), the "small" level (sentence by sentence), and finally the "picky" level (word by word).

Editing and Proofreading: Even after revising your paper on the "picky" level, look again for errors in formatting, grammar, speling; and punctuation.

Submit your answers
Either print your answers out for submission or email them to your instructor.