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双语阅读|Application Essay写作指南

发布时间:2021-08-31 13:58:44 阅读:91 作者:致远教育 字数:5588 字 预计阅读时间:13分钟
导读:这份指导将探讨撰写个人陈述和其他大学申请文书过程中所需要用到的语言。这份指导并不会教你具体写什么内容,也不会告诉你什么具体内容会使你的潜在读者眼前一亮,而是希望帮助你思考写出这样的好文章意味着什么,更重要的是,如何将你的写作过程本身当做你在文书中想表达内容不可分割的一部分。

Writing Your Self:  The Language of Application Essays

书写真我:申请文书语言表达指南

作者:Chris Moses

普林斯顿大学历史系博士

曾于普林斯顿大学和美国顶尖高中St.Pauls School任教,曾任里德学院国际招生主任

Application Essay写作指南

Introduction引言

This guide considers language as it relates to the writing process involved in crafting personal statements and other college or fellowship application essays. It is not a guide about what to write, what will amaze or dazzle your prospective readers – rather, it is a guide meant to help you think about what it means to write such an essay, and more importantly, how to approach writing itself as an integral part of what you choose to say in your essay.

这份指导将探讨撰写个人陈述和其他大学申请文书过程中所需要用到的语言。这份指导并不会教你具体写什么内容,也不会告诉你什么具体内容会使你的潜在读者眼前一亮,而是希望帮助你思考写出这样的好文章意味着什么,更重要的是,如何将你的写作过程本身当做你在文书中想表达内容不可分割的一部分。

When you write, you are trying to communicate something, and to communicate it in a particular way. There are an infinite variety of ways to write, and we often don’t recognize the various ways language takes shape in our written words. Think about the differences between a quick email to a friend, a thirty page research paper, and a thank-you note to a distant relative. How do you approach writing in each of these cases? What aspects of your self are apparent in the ideas communicated, and how does your choice of words and the development of ideas shape each of these communications? What, indeed, does it mean to say that your “self” is present in every aspect of the language you use and the words you write on a page?

当你在写作的时候,你是在尝试着去沟通些什么,而且是用一种特定的方式沟通。这个世界上有成千上万种不同的写作方式,而我们通常也不会认识到语言在书面文字中的多种表现形式。试想一封给朋友的email,一篇30页的论文,和一个写给远房亲戚的感谢函。在这几种情况下你将如何写作呢?你的自我的哪些方面在你的沟通表达中会被展现出来,以及你的遣词造句又是如何塑造,影响着这些沟通过程的?“你的自我在你遣词造句的方方面面中体现”到底意味着什么?

Such questions have occupied many thinkers for many years, and you don’t need to resolve them with any one answer. You should, however, ponder these questions as you read the remainder of this guide, and as you write, read, and re-read your own application essays. This guide is by no means exhaustive – it attempts to raise a few key points in light of these questions, and hopes primarily to motivate your thinking about the importance of writing as such.

这些问题多年来一直困扰着很多思想家,你并不需要来给出答案来解决它们。但你应该在读这份指导剩下的部分以及在你撰写和阅读修改你的申请文书时反复思考这些问题。这份指导并不是彻底全面的,它试图提出一些关于这些问题的关键点,希望能够鼓励你去思考这样写作的重要性。

The Big Picture大局

When you start writing, you generally do not know exactly where you will end up. You may have an outline or notes about a theme, topic, or argument – but the actual words, as they build sentences and paragraphs and entire essays, flow onto the page without a huge consideration of what came before, and what will come next. This is similar to when you listen to someone, or read something for the first time.

当你开始写作的时候,通常你并不会知道你具体会写到什么地步。你也许会对主题,话题或者论点有一个大纲或草稿,但具体的文字在构成句子段落乃至整篇文章的时候,常常不顾前后地展开。这和当你第一次听某人讲话或者第一次阅读某些东西的经历是相似的。

When you craft an application essay or personal statement, you have a huge advantage over the reader: you know the big picture, the entire idea, the presentation of self that you ultimately hope to communicate. This knowledge of the big picture will itself come with time – as you first sit down to think about writing your essay, as you pause mid-sentence to think of a great adjective, and when you read your own essay for the first time. As you re-craft your essay towards the final draft, you should refine your writing with an awareness of the larger ideas you wish to invoke, while making apparent the sophistication, depth and creativity evident in your thinking, experience, and arguments. The advantage comes in that the more you begin to realize exactly what it is that you want to say, the more you can choose each word, revise each sentence, and develop each idea with an understanding of its larger purpose as a part of your essay.

当你撰写一篇申请文书或者你的个人陈述时,你相比读者有很大的优势:你知道这篇文章的大局,整体思想,以及你最终想要通过文书向外界展示的自我。对大局的感知会随着时间自然形成 - 当你坐下来思考你的写作时,当你在写完半句后停下来寻觅一个好的形容词时,以及当你第一次阅读自己的文书时。当你修改到接近终稿时,你应该带着你希望表达的宏观理念来完善你的文章,同时让你的思考、经历和论点的复杂性、深度和创造性能够凸显出来。这样做的好处是,你越开始明确地意识到你希望说什么,你越能够精心挑选每一个词,修改每一句话,然后带着大局观来发展每一个想法,理解它们作为整个文书的一部分的意义。

Ideally, you will never explicitly have to say “what your essay is about,” or “who you are”: you are your writing, and it should be as alive, and as aware, reflective, and interesting as you are. With the big picture in mind, you’ll also be able to avoid marring your essay with slow or overly detailed narratives, and digressions that detract from the power of your ideas. You should also read a variety of published essays to get a sense of authors’ differing styles, and the ways they develop their larger points: you might look over some opinion pieces from The New York Times or essays in The New Yorker or Harper’s in light of this guide.

理想化地说,你永远不需要非常直白地去介绍你的文书是“关于什么”或者“你是谁”。你的文字代表了你,你的文字应该和你本人一样充满活力,思考且有趣。当你已经有一个大局观的时候,你将能够成功地避免让一些拖拉的,过分详细的或是离题的文字毁掉你的文书。你应该读大量的书面文章来感受作者们不同的写作风格,以及他们构思大方向的不同方法:你可以根据这份指导看一下例如《纽约时报》的社论或者《纽约客》和《哈珀斯》中的一些短文。

To help with identifying the big picture, give your essay to another person, and ask: “does this sound like me?” (Do this even if your essay is not “about” you per se.) Additionally, ask them to tell you what your essay is about in one sentence. Is their response what you were hoping for?

为了更好地明确“大局观”,你可以把你的文书交给别人阅读,并且问问看这篇文章“像不像你”,(即使这篇文书不是关于你自己的也可以做么做)并且让他们用一句话概括你的文书,看看答案是否和你期待的一样。

Whatever you finally choose to write about, your most interesting, compelling and thoughtful work will be that which genuinely reflects your own self, how you think, and what you care about.

不管你最终选择写什么,只有能够反映你真实的自我,你思考的方式,你所关心事物的文字,能够成为你最有趣,最有说服力同时最有深度的作品。

Words用词

Words constitute the basic building block of your essay. As such, you want to choose your materials wisely.

文章的基本构成单位是单词。因此,要明智地挑选单词。

Above all, work with what you know. Don’t try to be impressive by digging out the thesaurus at every turn or by trying to integrate into your essay dozens of those words you spent hours memorizing before taking the SATs. Nothing ruins a piece of writing like clumsy or improper word use: it makes you, and your entire essay, seem dishonest – and a reader never comes away from a piece of writing with a good feeling if they believe that they have been deceived. This is not to say that you can’t use big words or a sophisticated vocabulary; rather, you should use such words for their precision and effect as you try to communicate an idea most effectively. When in doubt, choose a word or set of words that feels most comfortable and which honestly reflects your own vocabulary and writing style.

最重要的一点就是,运用自己了解的单词。不要动不动挖出一堆同义词来试着打动考官,也不要把SAT考前死记硬背的词硬塞进文章里。笨拙、不当的用词最容易毁掉你的文章:它会让你自己、还有你的整篇文章看上去很不诚实。一旦读者认为自己被骗了,就绝不会对你的文章有好印象。这并不意味着不能使用大词或高级词汇;而是说,要为了更高效地表达观点而使用这些更精确、有效的词。拿不定主意的时候,就选择你觉得最舒服、能够如实反映你的词汇量和写作风格的某个或某组单词。

Verbs动词

Verbs are a particular kind of word or “type of speech.” Most basically, verbs communicate action. Verbs deserve their own separate heading apart from “words” because verbs are in general the most important type of word you will use in your essay, and you want to use them well. The verbs you choose will communicate what and how things happen in your essay: they are the motors which propel your writing from a simple collection of words to an active idea, experience, or personality that will come together and live in the mind of your reader. An essay with varied verb usage will also generally avoid the pitfall of being overly abstract: focus on who or what completes the action, rather than offering vague and generalizing reflections.

动词是一种特殊的单词或“表达方式”。一般情况下,我们用动词来描述动作。动词的重要性足以让它像“单词”一样另起一个标题。因为总体而言,写作中最重要的单词就是动词,必须用得恰到好处。动词可以描述一件事情的内容和发生方式:他们就像马达一样,让一篇文章从简单的词汇集合变成活灵活现的思想、经历或人格,栩栩如生地汇聚到读者脑海中。使用丰富的动词,还能防止你将文章写得过于抽象:你要关注的是什么人、什么事物让这个动作圆满完成,而不是模糊、宽泛的思考。

Rather than offer a hopelessly boring grammar lesson, here are a few tips to keep in mind when thinking about verbs in your essay. (You should, however, be careful to pay attention to grammar as it relates to verbs: things like subject-verb agreement, the use of infinitives, and how to recognize and generally avoid the passive voice are all things worth looking up in a dusty, old-fashioned grammar book.)

本书不会提供枯燥乏味的语法课,而是会给出以下建议。请牢记在心,从而在写作中用好动词。(不过,语法问题也要引起重视,因为涉及到动词的用法:主谓一致、不定式的用法、识别和规避被动语态等知识点,都值得你静下心来研读语法书。)

Brain storm with verbs:  

Before you actually start to write, make a list of verbs that come to mind when you think most broadly about your self or your topic. Be open and varied, and try to list at least 100 verbs. The variety and thoughtfulness of the verbs you use to write your essay will directly shape the power it will have to communicate your ideas. Avoid repeating the same verb over and over again.

·动词头脑风暴:

动笔之前,先围绕自身或眼前的话题发散性地思考,把脑中想到的动词全部列出来。思维要开阔,词汇要多样,尽量列出至少100个动词。动词越是丰富多样、深思熟虑,写进文章里就越能有力地表达观点。切忌反复使用同一个动词。

• Strictly limit your use of the verb “to be” (am, are, is, was, were, been, etc.):  

Often times, “is” is the quickest way to get a sentence together.  However, if you focus on using a variety of verbs to characterize and describe action in your essay, the entire piece will be far more engaging.  “To be” also has the potential to be an extremely powerful verb, yet when it’s overused its force can get lost amongst other more functional appearances.  As a challenge to yourself, try to write an entire paragraph of your essay without once using “to be.”

·严格限制“to be”(包括am, are, is, was, were, been等等)的使用:

“Is”常常是连接句子的最快方式。但是,如果你可以运用各种不一样的动词来描述一个动作,体现动作的特征,可以让整篇文章更加吸引人。“To be”本来可以成为一个非常有力的动词 ,可是一旦被滥用,就失去原有的功能和力度。不妨挑战一下自己,写一个完全不含“to be”的段落。

• Pay attention to tense:  

Because you know the big picture, you understand how, when, and in what ways the topics and events in your essay need to be communicated in relationship to the time of your essay’s narrative. Organize your thoughts so that they unfold logically, making sure that at the very least, all the sentences in any given paragraph are written in the same tense. Tense also effects the way a reader hears and thinks about ideas, so pay attention to whether or not you are speaking in the past, present, or future tense – and try to think about how the parts of your essay written in different tenses relate to each other and play a role in building your larger ideas.

·注意时态:

因为你对全局是有把握的。叙述每个话题、事件的时候,你知道该用怎样的形式、时态、手段来让它们与整篇文章的时态协调。组织好观点,有逻辑性地展开叙述。至少在每个段落内部,所有句子的时态要一致。时态也会影响到读者对文中观点的接收和认知方式,所以务必要注意,究竟该用过去时、现在时还是将来时。然后,仔细揣摩你用不同时态写出来的各个部分,看它们彼此间有何联系,对表达中心思想起到什么作用。

SENTENCES句子

Sentences comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You should use different types of sentences to effect the ways in which you communicate, keeping in mind that sentences need to flow together coherently to communicate the ideas of your essay. Try to keep the following in mind as you revise and rework you essay:

句子的形态和长短各异。为了高效地表达观点,应当运用多种句型,句子之间也必须严密、连贯。对自己的文书进行修改和改写时,请记住以下几点:

• Make it short:

Often times long, drawn out and unnecessarily exhaustive sentences are mistaken as a sign of erudition. Big sentences usually end up just confusing readers, and important points or great thoughts are lost in the clutter of word after word after word. As a general rule of thumb, the importance or complexity of an idea should be inversely related to the length of the sentence in which it makes its appearance. Use multiple sentences to build big ideas or create a detailed picture. Short, crisp sentences can be extremely powerful, and will stay with a reader as they continue through your essay.

·长话短说:

人们读到冗长无比、废话连篇的句子时,经常误以为这是博学的象征 。其实长句只会让读者摸不着头脑,啰里啰嗦只会埋没掉重要的论点与杰出的思想。通常的经验法则是,越是重要、复杂的观点,越是要用短小的句子去表述。阐述重大观点和描绘细节时,应该多用短句。简洁的短句其实可以非常有力,让人读完后文也不会忘记前文。

• Vary sentence structure:

Be aware of the types of sentences that you are using.  Try not to overwhelm your reader with one big sentence after another, or bore them with consecutive and unrelated tidbits.  If you are writing a list, try to avoid including more than three or five items; don’t put lists in the middle of a sentence or have a long list as the beginning or end of an otherwise long sentence.  As an exercise, you might take your entire essay and write out every sentence with two or three blank lines between each and see how it looks.  Also, you might map out a given paragraph in terms of how it is constructed based on the first, middle, and last sentences.

·丰富句子结构:

培养句型句式的意识。既不能用一连串长句把读者弄晕,也不能用连续的片言碎语让读者无聊透顶。罗列清单的时候,尽量不要超过3~5点。切忌把清单放在句中,或者把很长的清单放在长句的开头和结尾。练习的时候,可以把一篇文章拆开,在每一句之间留出两三条空行,看看结果会如何。你也可以找一个段落来推敲结构,看它的首句、中间句、末尾句是如何组织起来的。

• Be aware of sentence constructions:

Beyond run-on sentences, you should also respect subject- verb agreement, pronoun usage, and other basic grammatical conventions. Don’t get excited with multiple or dependent clauses, and use commas appropriately. Only use semi-colons if you normally use them in your writing and you understand their function. Dashes, colons, parenthesis, and other sorts of sentence- and line-breaks should be used sparingly and for particular effect. Write with dialogue only if you are comfortable doing so. Quote correctly. (Give citations whenever appropriate.)

·注意句子构成:

写句子的时候除了词意连贯,还要注意主谓一致、代词的用法等语法规则。使用复句、从句时务必保持冷静,恰当地使用逗号。除非你经常使用分号而且对它的功能十分了解,否则不要擅用分号。通过连字符、冒号、括号等符号进行分行、分句时,应当恰到好处,不可滥用。不要刻意采用对话体,除非你写得很顺手。引用时注意不要出错。(只要时机恰当,就可以插入引文。)

STYLE AND REVISION文章风格与修改方式

Your essay should come to life over the course of a series of revisions, with each re-read helping you to identify and refine the “big idea” that you hope will remain with your reader when they finish your essay. Don’t be afraid to shift the style of your essay to better fit the content you wish to include, and vice-versa. The ultimate goal will be having successfully manipulated the challenging, contradictory and often defiant tool that is language to create an essay that expresses the fullest potential of your ideas and your self. Here are some final thoughts about brining your essay to completion:

经过一系列的修改,你的文书应该能颇具神采。每一次重读,都能帮助你辨认和界定“中心思想”——就是你希望读者读完全文后能记住的内容。只要能与你想写的内容更加契合,就不必害怕变换写作风格。反之亦然。语言作为一种工具,不仅充满了挑战性和重重矛盾,往往还很棘手。写作的最终目标,就是成功地操纵这个工具,写出一篇能充分表达你自己的文章,尽情展示你和你的想法中所蕴含的潜力。以下几条箴言,能让你的作文至臻完善:

• Read your essay aloud:  

Hearing your own essay is a great way to identify confusing, unclear or awkward areas in your writing. It’s especially helpful to read your own writing aloud while someone else listens, and to have someone read your essay to you. This will help identify more style-type revisions like flow, coherence and sound that can be tweaked to turn a good essay into a stellar one.

·出声朗读:

亲耳听听自己的文章,可以非常有效地识别出文中有歧义、模糊不清、或者别扭的地方。如果有别人在旁边听着,那出声朗读就更有帮助了。你还可以请别人把你的文章读给你听,这样有助于你做些文风方面的修改——像语流、连贯性、语音等等,只需稍加改动,就能把一篇好文变成神作。

• Take a break:

You can often become too familiar and too confident with what you have written simply because you’ve read the same thing over and over again. Put your essay away for a few days or even a week, and then come back to what you have written.

·放松一下:

对于自己写下的内容,你往往会太过熟悉和自信。因为你已经把相同的东西读了一遍又一遍。不妨把自己的文章丢在一旁,几天甚至一周后再回过来读一读。

• Be economical in your writing:

Your essay is not meant to be a re-writing of War and Peace, and precise, concise, and clear writing will distinguish your essay far beyond any attempt at “saying everything.” Always make sure that each sentence and the essay as a whole works to portray a coherent, organized and understandable “big picture.” Recognize that admission or scholarship review committees will probably be reading hundreds if not thousands of essays, and strive for an essay that invigorates rather than exhausts.

·用字经济:

你的文章不需要写成《战争与和平》一样的鸿篇巨制。与其“事无巨细”,不如写得精准、简洁、清晰,这样反而能脱颖而出。永远要注意:每句话、以及整篇文章都是为了表现一个连贯、有条理、通俗易懂的“大方向”。要知道,招生办或者奖学金评定委员会很可能要读上百乃至上千篇文章。所以你写的文章要令读者神清气爽,而不是劳神费力。

• Be yourself:  

If you’re funny, don’t be afraid to be humorous. If you’re witty, let that come through. Yet don’t bury yourself in humor or wit, and use literary techniques like metaphor, simile, allusion, alliteration, foreshadowing, etc., with caution. As important as sophisticated writing is to your essay, language use is always just a tool and not the true point of this type of writing exercise. Believe in the self that comes to be reflected in your final essay, and enjoy having taken the time to share your thoughts, ideas and creativity with others. While daunting, writing an application essay should ideally be a rewarding experience: if things seem too overwhelming or foreign, take a moment to ground yourself, and the entire process, in a space and context in which you feel comfortable.

·做你自己:

如果你是个有趣的人,不妨表现得幽默一点。如果你非常风趣诙谐,那就把这方面展示出来。当然,也别通篇都是幽默诙谐。使用隐喻、比喻、典故、头韵、铺垫等文学技巧时,务必谨慎。写作自然需要深思熟虑,但同样重要的一点是:语言永远只是个工具,并不代表这类写作题真正的意义。要相信你在文中展现出来的自我,享受这段与他人分享思想、理念和创造力的时光。申请文书虽然令人望而生畏,但最好把它当做一段回报丰厚的经历:如果你觉得文书太难写或者太陌生,不妨花点时间让自己回归一下现实生活,熟悉下整个申请过程,找一种让自己觉得舒服的空间和环境。

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