Thread: Promising practices

The editor as teacher

Sharon Hirsch, Jerusalem, Israel

Background Graduate students writing in non-native English are often in need of instruction as well as professional editing services. Students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are offered a variety of courses and workshops and a limited number of tutorials. While these formats are helpful they may not focus on the specific errors that arise in the students' articles, theses or dissertations.

Purpose The purpose of the presentation is to show how editing can be combined with teaching to individualize the writing instruction of graduate students. The focus will be on the types of syntactic errors which frequently appear in the writing of native Hebrew and Russian speakers writing in English primarily in the social sciences. Samples of the original writing along with the edited version and examples of work done during tutorial sessions will be shown and discussed.

Solution and recommendations Periodic meetings with students while editing their work help them to focus on their language errors and apply what they have learned to future writing. Comparing the edited and the unedited versions, focusing on specific errors and providing language exercises help students internalize the rules of proper usage. Students become involved in correcting errors and in the editorial process and subsequently can become better reviewers (if not editors) of their own work. I hope that the presentation will be helpful to the community of editors and translators who may be interested in combining instruction with editing in academic settings.


Sharon Hirsch has recently retired from her position as senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she served as head of the English as a Foreign Language Department, was involved in establishing the writing center for graduate students and developed curriculum for academic courses in reading and writing. Recently, she has begun to work in editing and translating and has remained active at the writing center.