The Six Biggies in Writing

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 readable. Learning more about how

Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here!

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 talking about when I refer

Pronouns, Antecedents and Other Quirks

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 an anonymous him. That’s the

Everyone Get Their Red Pen – This Is a Big One!

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 problems: “Their” means MORE than

Want to Improve Your English? Please Skip MTV

It’s a joke on too many shows these days that the alien or the foreigner learns English by watching MTV or the equivalent. It might have been marginally funny the first time, but it’s way past time for that joke to be over, and the underlying message is actually rather dangerous for those who are trying to sound like professionals. It’s hard to learn real

Simple Sentence Basics for ESL Writers

If you’re looking for an easy way to dress up your writing and to improve its readability in English, your sentences likely hold the answer. The fluent reader chunks text as she reads. This means that sentences should flow naturally as she’s reading and be easy to put together into sections or phrases. If the sentences are malformed or worded unnaturally, they become a challenge

Learning the Two Types of English

I’ve been certified as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher for at least six years (I’ve lost track of the official date on that certificate), and in that time I’ve worked primarily with those whose first language is Spanish. I’m not bilingual, which is a common misconception about ESL teachers. Instead I use special methods along with the English language to help students