"(1) Seeing an animal, in person, in captivity is a much more realistic and memorable experience than seeing that animal in a nature documentary. (2) In nature documentaries, we may not always get to witness the truth. (3) In fact, what we see may only be what the documentary director wants us to see, his own agenda in creating the documentary, and not what goes on in nature. (4) A good zoo provides an enriched habitat in which the animals are well cared-for, and have plenty of space to live in, and gives the general public the opportunity to witness wild animals as they are and create memorable memories. (5) By bringing people and animals together, zoos also educate the public and foster an appreciation of the animals. (6) Such exposure and education motivate people to protect the animals. (7) Therefore, seeing an animal in person at a zoo would be beneficial to our society as we not only gain memorable memories, but also the motivation to protect and appreciate these animals."
Dr. A: I will not comment on the soundness of the argument, as my focus is purely on the language and ideas at this stage. This is an eloquently-written text, showing varied sentence structures and a valid, strong attempt to achieve evaluation of documentaries. The bold words "enriched" and "foster" indicate good attempts to use new words learnt. The following are elaborations on the strengths and the possible areas for improvement. (Click "Read More")
Sentence (1) starts with a gerund, which is a verb expression acting as the subject of the sentence. This is a long sentence. It is an effective Topic Sentence, which anchors the entire paragraph.
Sentence (2) starts with a preposition. This is a shorter sentence
*Sentence (3) is an erroneous confluence of a few sentences, so this is unacceptable. It may sound acceptable in a spoken discourse, but not in a written discourse.
Sentence (4) starts with a noun expression. This very long sentence is achieved by the writer's addiction to the word "and". This is acceptable, but it can be better.
Sentence (5) starts with a preposition. This is a shorter sentence.
Sentence (6) starts with a noun expression, and it is a short sentence. This is a good break from the long sentences made.
Sentence (7) starts with a cohesive marker and a gerund. Note the significance clearly highlighted in the Final Sentence.
Thus, it is clear that there is a variation in the sentence structures, so there is no monotony for the reader.
For Sentence (3), it must be made clear that commas are not used to separate sentences; semi-colons, however, can be used to achieve that purpose. Semi-colons are typically used to combine two sentences that have very closely-related ideas.
Having talked about the sentence structures, let's look at the evaluation of the documentaries made in Sentence (3). This is the second strength of the text, despite it being crafted in a slightly careless manner. Evaluation is a higher-order thinking skill, and such a use is above the routine citing of evidence seen in an average candidate's work. This candidate is saying that documentaries are written from a certain angle to highlight some ideas that serve the agenda of the director. For example, a director who supports zoos may document animals hunted to the brink of extinction by poachers, whereas a director who does not support zoos may choose to focus on the zoo animals' physiology as a result of being displaced from the natural habitats (this can be elaborated through detailed examples: a zoo-bred bear instinctively walking in circles after being released in a forest, as a result of being caged its entire life). Since we can no longer trust documentaries, it then supports the writer's argument that we need zoos to see the animals for ourselves. This is a good argument against having documentaries.
We have looked at the strengths of the paragraphs. Let's now look at the areas for improvement, which are mainly expression errors. These were underlined.
i. in person, in captivity: It is confusing to use the same word twice, each performing a different function. The first "in" functions as an adverb, whereas the second"in" functions as a preposition. There are a few ways to improve this, such as by changing the phrase or removing it altogether. Ask yourself: is it critical to say "in person" here?
ii. good zoo: Having watched the video with Mrs Hairul on Thursday (13/03/2014), you should be able to use context-specific adjectives for zoos: standard and substandard.
iii. witness wild animals: You do not witness a noun. You witness an act or a process. You can witness an animal barraging itself against the ranger's vehicle, but you do not witness the ranger. This error is specifically a misused verb.
iv. memorable memories: This is a poor choice of adjective. You can replace it with other words easily, such as "indelible". What other adjectives can you use?
v. seeing an animal in person: There is no grammar error here, but there is a second interpretation for this sentence: an animal in a human body. It is best to avoid syntactic ambiguity by using a better phrase than "in person", if the phrase is indeed critical.
Question: The strengths of the above text are the varied sentence structures and the use of a higher order thinking skill to generate a very strong point. Do you think the following text shares the same strengths? If not, what are its strengths?
"(1) Having animals kept in captivity allows the promotion of awareness of animals that are currently being endangered such as the polar bears. (2) The society would recognize the importance of conserving the natural environment and their habitats for the sake of animals. (3) This would thus lead to a higher chance of researchers receiving more funds for repopulating the specific endangered species. (4) This also prevents animals from becoming extinct and ensures that their natural habitats are being conserved and protected which is climatic for both our generation and the future's generation too. (5) Therefore, we should keep animals in captivity as it helps to promote public awareness of endangered species and helps to protect them and their natural habitat."
Pen your responses in the Comment section below!