Grammar & ESL

  • Tricky Words: Past, Passed, Except and Accept

    By Rebecca Garland on June 23, 2011
    In the last week, two tricky word patterns have made it to my attention. This is particularly interesting since I’m not in the classroom over the summer, where I usually am assaulted by word problems. Here are my most recent scenarios: Scenario 1: The Email for Past and Passed I was asked via email about the words “past” and “passed.” […]
  • Grammar Police: 3 Common Grammar Mistakes

    By Melissa Breau on April 8, 2011
    Today many people learn grammar by ear and application rather than through rules and an understanding of proper sentence structure. But there are a few quick rules you can learn that will help you avoid the grammar police. Here are a few of my favorites: Which is proper English? Most people know that there's a difference between American English and […]
  • Editing: You’re the Professional

    By Guest on February 18, 2011
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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 […]