Routes to Writing in Southern Africa By Brenda Leibowitz and Yasien Mohamed. (Cape Town, South Africa: Silk Road International Publishers, 2001. p. 285. ISBN 1-875047-050)

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Amber Haque

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Abstract

Writing is certainly one of man's greatest inventions, and good writing is a
skill which elevates one's position in the society of the learned. The other
side of the coin is poor writing that leads to poor communication and often
miscommunication between the writer and the reader(s). Writing in the
academic world is all the more important, as it is the only means of
scholarly expression. The quality of good writing skills is a cause of
concern for many teachers at various stages of education, especially at the
tertiary level. This is perhaps more true of students whose native language
is not English, and for lecturers who have to teach such students.
The book under review is a collection of essays written by lecturers and
writing specialists primarily at the University of Western Cape (UWC).
It is divided into six major parts and fourteen chapters. The essays are
written on various themes that provide guidelines for developing writing
skiUs in the academic setting. The book is edited by Brenda Leibowitz,
Director of the National Center for Curriculum Research and Development
at the Department of Education, and Yasien Mohamed, a senior lecturer in
the Department of Foreign Languages at UWC.
The editors have compiled this book with the aim of providing insight,
reflection, and guidelines that would empower lecturers to teach their
subject more effectively and especially to help students with the writing
aspect of their university study. Mohamed, who wrote the introduction to
the book, comments that writing and its development should be viewed as
a "humanistic" activity, which recognizes the natural and creative forms of
personal narrative writing, as opposed to a scientific approach, where
writing is viewed as a product rather than a process. Actually, this
empathetic approach to writing development is evident lhroughout the
book.
Part I of the book consists of one chapter only and deals with the
importance of writing and teaching in the academia, emphasizing the need
for lecturers to be evaluative of their own writing practices. Basing the
advice on many years of experience as a trainer of writing, the author
suggests many useful writing strategies including the use of dialogic
materials, mind mapping, free writing, and writer's support groups.
Part II deals with diversity, culture, and writing, and consists of chapters ...

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