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Writing and Second Language Placement

At Holy Family University, writing is at the core of everything. In ENGL101 Writing 1, you will work on developing and refining the critical reading skills and analytical and argumentative writing skills that you will need and will develop through the rest of your Holy Family education. 

All of the sections of Writing 1 emphasize the same general skills for academic writing: reading critically; writing analytically; developing and sustaining an original argument; demonstrating grammar competency; and working through steps of the writing process such as brainstorming, outlining, and revising. Assignments will ask you to summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate non-fiction and literary texts from a variety of academic disciplines. 

Selecting the ideal section of Writing 1 for you involves reflecting on your learning needs: how well do you write independently? How much support and structure would you like for your writing? Are you working on gaining key writing and reading skills or ready for the challenge of further developing and refining them? Answering these questions for yourself will help you to choose a section that provides the right balance of what support and challenge look like for you as a learner and for your reading and writing skills.  

Please read over the general descriptions of course sections and sample assignments below. Then indicate your identified section on the Advisee intake form. 

Writing 1

This section might be a good fit for you if:

  • You feel comfortable choosing your own topic to research and write about for a paper;
  • You feel comfortable developing your own argument and coming up with a thesis statement for your paper, with or without some support;
  • You have begun to develop a writing process, such as a method for brainstorming and outlining;
  • Writing 1-2 pages a week seems manageable;
  • You are ready to work on using more nuanced or complex argument types and structures;
  • You are able to move through the steps of the writing process at a quicker pace.

Below is an example of an assignment that has been used in Writing 1 sections. If this assignment feels doable with the support of your professor, then a Writing 1 section might be right for you:

Writing 1 Literary Analysis Assignment Overview:

Choose one of our short stories and write a thesis-based argument essay in response to the following prompt:

  • What does this short story say (the theme) and how does it say it?
  • What importance does this story’s theme have for a problem or current event insociety today?

Your essay will include textual evidence from your chosen short story to support your interpretation and will include cited paraphrases or direct quotations from two (2) or more articles from reputable sources to support your discussion of the issue/current event to which you are connecting the story. Be sure to develop the “so what?” factor, meaning: why should we care about the insights we gain through this story into a problem or current event today?

Your essay should be at least 3 full double-spaced pages in length with 12-point Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins, and a double-spaced MLA header (name, professor, course, date).

Writing 1/Guided

This section might be a good fit for you if:

  • You have not yet begun developing a writing process (brainstorming, outlining, etc) and would like more guidance to do so;
  • You would benefit from more support in developing your own argument and writing your own thesis statements;
  • You would like to spend more time on the building blocks of your papers, such as paragraphing, sentence structure, and grammar; 
  • You find the prospect of writing 1-2 pages per week daunting and unmanageable;
  • You find developing your argument and finding enough to say in your papers difficult;
  • You would benefit from moving through steps of the writing process at a slower pace.

Below are examples of assignments that have been used in Writing 1/Guided sections. If either of these assignments feels doable with the support of your professor, but not easy, then a Writing 1/Guided section might be right for you:

Writing 1/Guided Cause and Effect Paragraph (first assignment of the semester)

A cause/effect paragraph is one which shows either the reasons or the results of something. A paragraph giving the causes answers the question, “Why does/did this happen?” A paragraph giving the effects answers the question, “What are/were the results of this?”

What Makes a Good Cause/Effect Paragraph?

It is about either causes or effects. In one paragraph, you cannot address both. You should say early in your paragraph whether you are talking about causes or effects.

It is about a topic that is easily managed in one paragraph of 12 sentences.

It recognizes the complexity of the situation. There is often more than one cause for an event or situation, and there is often more than one result. The results can be positive, negative, or both. 

It is sufficiently detailed. As with all good paragraphs, don’t make your reader guess what you want to say. Give examples!

  • In one paragraph of 9-12 sentences, forward and support substantiation, evaluation, and policy claims.
  • Your audience is a person who might be familiar with the topic. No research is permitted--you must draw on your personal experience!
  • You are describing something. Support your substantiation claim with detailed information and value.  At the end of the paragraph, explain the call to action to the audience.
  • Any essay less than 9 sentences and more than 13 sentences will receive an automatic F.
  • You must have a clever title. You must submit the first and final drafts using APA Student Paper format with title page and page numbers: p. 400-
  • Here are sentence structures that must be incorporated into the paragraph.
  • You must use a 3 item parallelism: p. 84-
  • You must use one sentence [and only one] with a semicolon: p. 195 [do NOT use 32c]
  • You must use transition phrases to move from supporting point to supporting point: p.19-20
  • You must use at least one compound sentence: p. 252

Writing 1/Guided Literary Analysis Paper Assignment Overview:

In 750-1000 words, compose and support an argument about one of the stories we have read. Rather than trying to cover the entire story, focus on one or two literary elements (character, conflict, plot, symbol, setting, theme). This essay should be your original interpretation of the story; no outside sources—such as SparkNotes or Wikipedia—should be used.

  • Write a brief (2-4 sentences) introduction that “hooks” the reader and states the title and author of the work. At the end of the introduction, provide an original thesis that asserts your argument/interpretation of the story.
  • The body of the essay will then provide support for your thesis, using direct quotations from the story and your analysis of them.
  • Avoid summarizing the story; assume the reader has read it.
  • Each paragraph should be focused on a key point that is expressed by a topic sentence.  
  • Make sure to analyze the quotes thoroughly; in other words, explain how the quote supports your argument.
  • Conclude by explaining the significance of your argument. In other words, what can we learn from your interpretation of the story?\

Second Language Placement

As part of the Holy Family Experience, students can fulfill their Tier 2 Core requirement by studying a Second Language. 
The languages offered at Holy Family University are French, Italian, Spanish and American Sign Language.

If you choose to take one of these courses you will be placed at the level appropriate to your background and prior study. Depending on your years of study and grades, you will complete the requirements at one of the following levels:

  1. Introductory;
  2. Intermediate; or
  3. Advanced.

However, if you wish to begin a second language different from the one studied in high school, you would be placed at the Introductory level.