Grammar & ESL

  • Editing: You’re the Professional

    By Guest on February 18, 2011
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    The following is a guest post from CJ Arlotta. Every word is chosen carefully; every sentence is structured for perfection. Paragraphs are crossed out, and pages are destroyed; commas are added and omitted. Careless spelling errors are picked up by spell check, but another set of eyes is needed, for spell check does not pick up the wrong version of […]
  • Organization in Writing: A Lost Art

    By Rebecca Garland on December 18, 2010
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    Remember the days of the five-paragraph essay? We started in elementary school learning about topic sentences and then main ideas. We threw in some supporting details, restated that topic statement and rounded that paper out. It was clean, it was simple, and yet it is fast becoming a relic we need to bring back! When you’re learning to write in […]
  • Help! I Is Missing Again!

    By Rebecca Garland on December 4, 2010
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    At lunch the other day, a group of English teachers were laughing about some of the things we find funny in student papers. Note that we weren’t laughing at students, but at how often we see the same mistakes, and one of the funniest is that we often have no idea who is writing a paper. I fully understand why […]
  • The Six Biggies in Writing

    By Rebecca Garland on November 20, 2010
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    There are six key strategies I teach students as they improve their basic writing skills. As a writer, it’s interesting to me how well these six elements still translate to improving my work at a professional level. When you’re paying attention to these areas of your work, you’ll start to see ways to tweak your work to make it more […]
  • Slang and Other Nonsense in the English Language

    By Rebecca Garland on November 6, 2010
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    There was a request in the comments of a previous post about understanding and using more idioms in the English language. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to dig into some of the slang and other odious expressions we bandy about – you know, the crap we say – or the words we speak that really don’t make much sense. […]
  • Using Academic Language to Improve English

    By Rebecca Garland on October 23, 2010
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    There is a strong correlation between how well you know your native language and how well you can write in English – at least formally. In essence, being highly educated in one language will make it far easier to become proficient in the English language. The root of this is the academic language that is surprisingly common throughout the world […]
  • Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here!

    By Rebecca Garland on October 9, 2010
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    Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here. Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, got some adverbs here. Come on down to Lolly's, get the adverbs here! I’ll admit I’ve used it in the classroom more than a few times although I don’t know how much good Schoolhouse Rock really does to teach teenagers anything about the parts of speech. Don’t know what I’m […]
  • Message to Non-Native Writers: Market Yourself, Not Your Country

    By Rebecca Garland on September 25, 2010
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    I just spent more than thirty minutes looking for an example to use in this post. The original plan was to take a comment or sales thread from a popular internet forum and point out some areas where the English phrasing could be improved to make this series a bit more “real-world”. I’ve abandoned that plan for the moment because […]
  • Pronouns, Antecedents and Other Quirks

    By Rebecca Garland on September 11, 2010
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    Here’s one you don’t think about all the time – do your pronouns match your antecedents? Consider the following sentence I used today in class: The squirrel attacked him, and he was frightened. Yes, yes – the old attacking squirrel trick. Subject aside, the pronouns are words like him and he. The antecedent in this case is the squirrel or […]
  • Everyone Get Their Red Pen – This Is a Big One!

    By Rebecca Garland on August 28, 2010
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    It’s easy to get frustrated with the complexities of the English language, especially when it becomes clear that many native speakers still struggle with certain words and phrases. How is a non-native speaker supposed to handle herself with the language when the supposed experts can’t? So native and non-native English speakers alike - be aware of this (very) common usage […]