In writing a four-page research paper in my intermediate level Spanish class, I came to appreciate the complexity of the Spanish language. In high school I never paid much attention to what I was writing in my Spanish classes. I would simply squish my ideas into a preconceived writing model based on what I had learned in my English classes. However, forcing Spanish into a predetermined model does a disservice to the language and to me as the writer. Sentences in Spanish are structured differently than sentences in English. This in and of itself necessitates a different writing model, one specific to the Spanish language.
The basic structure of a research paper is the same whether it’s written in English or Spanish. A thesis statement must be supported with evidence. However, it is the presentation of the thesis and evidence that must be manipulated based upon the language. This lesson – that we cannot force ourselves to work within one specific writing model – is one that will help me in tutoring non-native speakers. First, it is important to know what kind of writing model the writer has used most consistently. Once I know this, the writer and I can discuss how to best manipulate that writing model to fit the one he needs in his paper. If the writing model is vastly different, then that will allow us the opportunity to discuss the differences and to brainstorm approaches to the new or foreign model.