Why I Teach Writing With a Focus on Meaning?

How prioritizing meaning over complexity leads to better writing

Rui Alves
Babel

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A drawing of a strawberry with the lettering “This is not a berry.”
“This is not a berry” | Image by the author

I’ve taught kids and adults English and Portuguese as foreign languages (FL). Over the years, this has given me a solid grasp on balancing form-based complexity and meaning-based complexity in waiting.

Second Language learning has its idiosyncrasies and a knowledgeable perspective gives you some practical insights about the complexities at play.

So, I’m always researching what science has to say and I’ve recently encountered a study by Sachiko Yasuda in which the main findings made me reflect on the question at hand.

Does more complex writing equate to better writing, particularly in FL contexts?

My standpoint as a linguist and teacher

Over two decades of owning my craft on multiple online platforms and guiding new writers as an editor, I’ve learned one crucial lesson: complexity does not always mean better writing. This realization has reshaped my teaching methods and my approach to storytelling.

After securing a degree in Modern Languages and Literatures, my academic research turned to Linguistics and second language acquisition…

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Rui Alves
Babel
Editor for

Language teacher, linguist, life coach, published author (joined the Army and worked for the EU). A publisher, digital ronin, musician and alchemist of sound.