oa Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus - Clear mind, full head, can’t lose - note

Volume 2019 Number 57
  • ISSN : 1726-541X
  • E-ISSN: 2224-3380



I worked as a consultant at Stellenbosch University’s Writing Lab from 2006 to 2008 whilst writing my doctoral thesis in Zoology. Being of French citizenship, I worked with many exchange students who, like me at some stages of my writing, needed a guiding light in the dark alley that is writing, especially in a foreign language. I could relate to these students’ angst, the fear of the blank page, of the words that do not ever feel right. During these consultations, I discovered the power of listening rather than talking, of gaining a greater understanding of what the writer in front of me was trying to portray, and the best ways to make sure his or her message would not be lost. Perhaps the greatest value I developed through working at the Writing Lab was how to be a better listener, and to actively care about the thoughts of others. I became much more sensitive than I used to be when reading and responding to the anxieties of those around me, whether it was overwhelming undergraduate students with too much information or fellow postgraduate students who had mastered the art of procrastination.

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