Essay Tip Sheet #5

Essay #5: Critique (Engfish)

The Writing Assignment

Macrorie, Clark, and Colson argue that Engfish, "the official language of the school," has been systematically taught by both teachers and textbooks, and that in this lifeless writing style, "the student cannot express truths that count for him."
In this final essay for English 101, write a critique of this basic idea of Macrorie, Clark, and Colson. Were you taught this institutional style by teachers and textbooks? If so, was that a bad thing? And (perhaps the most important question here) is "Engfish" really that far from the students' real voice? Perhaps their real voice is "pretentious, phony, and private," attempting to shut others out and provide as few details as possible.

Hints for Success

In your academic career you will need to write a number of critiques. They are often assigned in courses where you must read journal articles and scientific papers, then give your professional appraisal of the reading. (Yes, you are a member of the professional academic community now, and this sort of work is your daily meat and drink.)

If you search online, you can find several tutorials which aim at helping you write a good critique; often the articles they are discussing are more scientific or technical than the one we are working on, but several key pieces of advice still apply:

Difference between a response paper and a critique

Earlier in this course you were assigned a response essay. The two papers have a lot of similarities, but the basic question they are attempting to answer is different. The response paper asks very subjective questions: "How does this fit in with other academic studies?" "How does this square with what else I know about the world?" "What is the possible application of this material?" The critique is much more focused on whether the piece did what it was attempting to do: "Did this work the way the author intended?"

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Ashland University.
Revised 8/1/19 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: