The Writing Program

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WRITING 121: Introduction to College Writing in a Second Language

Course Description & Objectives

Entering freshmen who have a combined SAT Critical Reading and Writing score below 1100 or an ACT English score below 24, and International Students who complete certain American Language Institute courses, take USC's Composition Placement Examination.  Those who score below a specified level are required to complete Writing 120 or 121 before enrolling in Writing 140.  Writing 120 and 121 are graded Credit/No Credit in order to allow students the opportunity to develop their writing skills and to prepare for success in Writing 140 without the pressure of grades.

Writing 120 and 121 introduce students to the rhetorical strategies used to produce college-level expository prose.  Toward this end, these courses encourage students to develop an effective writing process and a flexible repertoire of composing techniques that will permit them to generate concepts, to develop these ideas in an initial text, and to revise and reshape this text so as to articulate their position more completely and make it more accessible to their audience.  Students will practice methods of critical analysis that will help them to explore topics and to use writing as a means of thinking and learning, and they will become acquainted with fundamental techniques for organizing and supporting academic discourse.  Students will also become familiar with the criteria used to evaluate college writing and will learn to apply these standards to improve their own writing.

Writing assignments in Writing 120/121 foster critical thinking by asking students to examine alternative viewpoints on significant issues.  At the conclusion of Writing 120 or 121, students should be able to compose an expository essay of 4-5 pages that effectively conveys the writer's position and thoughtfully engages the complexities of the assigned issue while displaying logical development, adequate support, and grammatical and mechanical competence.  Writing 121 has the same objectives and requirements as 120, but it offers specialized instruction for non-native speakers of English.


120/121 Course Requirements


The following requirements are specific to Writing 120/121.  Requirements common to all writing courses, such as attendance and participation standards, are discussed on pages 5-7.

  1. Five formal out-of-class essays written in response to different assignments.  Each essay should be 4-5 typed pages (for a total of approximately 7,000 words during the semester) and should be portfolio-eligible.
  2. Two or three timed in-class essays written in response to a previously discussed topic or as prewriting for one of the out-of-class assignments.
  3. Regular informal writing assignments (e.g., journals, short responses to readings or class discussions, etc.).
  4. Two substantially revised essays selected from the required out-of-class assignments and an impromptu essay which will be submitted for the final portfolio.
  5. Reading assignments that provide a context or alternative perspectives for a writing assignment, or introduce the student to different types, genres, or styles of writing.
  6. Regular attendance throughout the semester and active participation in class discussions and workshop activities.
  7. A minimum of one conference with a Writing Center Consultant.  However, instructors often encourage students to schedule additional conferences.