Monday, May 4, 2009

Reflections on English 111

TCC’s English 111 course has been an interesting experience. I entered the course expecting to be constantly tested on the things that have been drilled into every students head since preschool; grammar, punctuation, and writing structure. (Due to modern word processors most grammar and punctuation mistakes are a thing of the past.) I didn’t really expect to get anything out of this course. In the first week I was pleasantly surprised when my instructor showed the class Rhetorical Analysis.

Though its value wasn’t immediately visible, Rhetorical Analysis is something I use almost daily now. I often find myself looking to catch people using one of the appeals. If you want to see the Rhetorical Appeals in use just turn on your TV and watch the commercials. If there is a hidden gem to be taken away from English 111 Rhetorical Analysis is it. The beauty of Rhetorical Analysis is that it’s simple and applicable. When someone tries to persuade you, they’ll do so through use of the Rhetorical Appeals.

The Rhetorical Appeals are as follows; Pathos, Logos, and Ethos. Pathos is an attempt to win you over through your emotions. Anytime somebody asks you “How would you feel if,” they’re using a Pathos appeal. Logos works through your intellect. When you see the statistics on an anti-smoking advertisement you’re seeing an appeal through Logos. Ethos is a way to convince you through credibility and trust. If someone asks you to do something with no reason other than you trust the person, then that person is using an Ethos appeal.

The way a person uses the appeals can tell you a little about their argument. A strong argument will use all three. If a person is heavily using Ethos they’re probably relying on the fact that you trust them. If they use a lot of Pathos they likely don’t have enough research. If the person uses Logos while ignoring Pathos and Ethos, they’re either not interested in opinions, or they’re trying to avoid them.

English 111 wasn’t what I’d imagined it would be. Instead of focusing on how to write, (though there was a little of that too) English 111’s main focus was on presentation. Most of the lessons were about research, putting an argument together, or source citations. Near the end of the end of the course I learned how to use Microsoft PowerPoint, and made a presentation with it. A lot of these things are good for most jobs, especially jobs that involve conducting research, and writing reports. It’s important to understand that English 111 also sets the standard for the reports that you’ll write for the rest of your time in college.

Looking back on the semester, the point of English 111 seems to be preparation for the more advanced classes. I can’t see the point of a PowerPoint presentation in a class teaching English itself. However, I can see its importance in preparing students for a course in public speaking. English 111 seems to be a kind of business English. Most of the assignments (research, argumentative essays, presentations, and blogs) use skills that are commonly used by businesses. With that being said I feel a lot more confident looking for a job.

I have taken a few things away from English 111. Another side benefit is that my computer skills have improved significantly. Before this course I had never used Rhetorical Analysis, Microsoft PowerPoint, or even a Blog. I can’t overestimate the value of knowing these things. After taking English 111 I feel equipped to handle whatever my studies require me to do. There is no essay I’m not ready for.

My Diagnostic Essay


I wanted to sleep until noon. But, that wasn’t going to happen today. I’d rolled off

of my bed and worked my way downstairs. I was never a morning person. My Dad

brother and I threw a few bags, a cooler and three fishing rods into the back of his truck

and drove away. After a pit stop at the gas station, we turned onto the interstate. The trip

had officially begun.

The next five hours were uneventful. In Colorado you get used to hills and slopes.

As we entered the mountains things started to get amusing. Due to altitude, you start to

feel pressure on your head. This happens while you’re going 70 mph through and around

mountains. The deeper you get into the mountains; you start to see signs warning you

about falling rocks.

We got off the highway. For a second I think were done driving, and I let my

guard down. Then I see another ‘falling rocks’ sign with over a dozen holes in it. This

did not bode well. It wasn’t hard to imagine some idiot with a shotgun, and an orange

vest shooting it. Whoever did it was long gone, and clearly as bored as I was. Another

half mile up the trail we passed an outhouse. I was beginning to wonder if camping was a

bad idea.

Driving up the mountain itself was not the same as driving around them. Now we

were going 30 mph, and hoping not to slide off the trail and fall to our deaths. Slowly but

surely we made it. Now at the top of the mountain we still had to find a campsite. After

another hour we found the lake and our site. I stepped out of the truck to stretch my legs.

That’s when I discovered the air was colder than anticipated. We didn’t bring jackets.

August in Colorado is usually 80 degrees. The mountain temperature was closer to 40. A

thousand feet makes all the difference in the world.

By this time we were all hungry. We assembled the camping stove with no

trouble. Then we almost blew ourselves up using it. For future reference, know how

much propane to use before igniting it. After eating we unloaded our stuff, pitched the

tent, and went fishing until nightfall. It was pretty nice. We didn’t catch anything.

Between two novices and one guy out of practice, we didn’t expect to. After dinner we

built a fire. We would have told stories if we had any, instead we just tried in vain to

amuse ourselves.

We tried to sleep when we realized we set the tent on top of rocks. That and my

dad’s snoring ensured my brother and I didn’t sleep on that trip. When morning finally

came along we went fishing again. Dad planned on the trip lasting three days. After

another hour we decided to go home. The ride back wasn’t too horrifying. Three grown

men in a truck, reeking of dirt and body odor, sunburned was still a sad sight. Next time

I’ll stay in a hotel.



Revised Diagnostic Essay


My Last Camping Trip


On any other weekend I would have slept until noon, but my father had

other plans today. He rounded up my brother and I, got us into the truck, and

we drove away. We picked up a few items at the local gas station, and double-

checked our things. I was surprised to see a tent packed in the back of the truck.

Usually my father’s idea of camping was the Holiday Inn. I guess he was serious

about camping on this trip. After that we turned onto the interstate. This marked

the beginning of our trip.

It’s hard to get bored when you’re on a highway in the mountains. After

you pass the first group of mountains, you start to feel the increased air pressure.

One side of the highway shows the side of a cliff, with the other side showing a

hundred foot drop. Occasionally you’ll see nets on the side of the mountain to

ensure loose rocks won’t fall into the highway. All of this happens while you’re

going 70 miles per hour. The next five hours were spent with my dad driving,

me enjoying the view, and my brother asleep in the back seat.

It was almost noon before we turned off of the highway. For a second, I

let my guard down and thought we were finished driving. Then we passed the

eighth falling rocks warning. This one had a half dozen bullet holes in it. It

wasn’t hard to imagine somebody in camouflage and an orange vest getting bored

and shooting at it. Whoever did was clearly as bored as I was. After another half

mile we began to drive up the mountain.

Driving up the mountain wasn’t the same as driving around them on the

highway. The trail leading to the top could barely fit one truck. You couldn’t

pull over to the side, you had to find a spot to pull over to and let the people

going down through. We were nervous on the way up, because parts of the trail

had no rails to protect against falling off. Little by little we made our way up

the mountain. As we reached the top we could see the highway over a mile


After reaching the top, we quickly found our campsite. For the first time

in eight hours we stepped out of the car and stretched out. That’s when we

noticed the change in temperature. Nobody brought a jacket along. Being August

in Colorado, we expected the temperature to be around 80 degrees. At the

campsite it was around 50. An extra thousand feet of altitude makes all the

difference in the world. After setting up the site we almost blew ourselves up by

using too much propane in the camping stove. We ate lunch and went to the


Fishing can be very relaxing, especially if you’re looking to get away from

people for a while. We didn’t catch anything, but we didn’t expect to. We went

on the trip to chill out, actually catching a fish was really an afterthought. We

kept fishing until nightfall. After nightfall we went back to the camp, built a fire

and ate dinner. We amused ourselves for a few hours and called it a night. It

wasn’t until we tried to sleep that we realized that we set the tent over a bunch

of rocks. That with my father’s snoring guaranteed my brother and I didn’t sleep

on that trip.

When morning finally came around, we went fishing again. After an hour

we decided to go home. My father planned on the trip lasting three days, but the

lack of sleep and boredom were too much even for him. We packed up and left

as quickly as we could. The drive home wasn’t too bad, but three sunburned

guys in a truck reeking of dirt and body odor was brutal. The next time I go on

a trip, I’ll stay in a hotel.