Helping non-native and native American English speakers improve their skills since 1990! by Sara Tusek
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Visit to Florida
Longman Language Activator
Last week I visited Florida, where I lived for 17 years. One of my stops was Seminole State College, to see my former co-workers. They were most gracious and generous, as they were when I worked for them. I came home with some wonderful books for tutoring: American English grammar workbooks, the Longman Language Activator (a combination dictionary/thesaurus), collections of short stories and essays--a wide range of books indeed.
After about 25 years of teaching and tutoring English to native speakers and to those for whom it's a second, third or fourth language, I can say with some certainty that these are the top three tricky parts of speaking, reading and writing English. Most of my examples are for Czechs, as I currently live in the Czech Republic.
1. Positive/negative (yes/no, do/don't, and so on)
This is by far the most common mistake made--you say "yes" when you mean "no," or vice versa. Why?
For one thing, English double negatives become positives--"I don't lack money" means " I have money". But in many languages, including Czech, the more negatives, the merrier--the more negatives you include, the more you really mean what you say. In fact, Czech has a large number of negative words (ne, nic, nikdo, vůbec ne, nula, etc) and Czechs use them very frequently.
Then, since the Czech language has 6 cases, you have lots of different words from one negative wo…
One thing my own career
has shown me, again and again--if you don't get a job, university place or
other competitive position you apply for, write a respectful letter to the
person who informed you of your non-selection and ask why you were not chosen. Then ask how you can make your credentials stronger to apply again at a future
date. Sometimes you'll get no response, but other times your added effort will
put you at the top of the alternates list, and maybe get you a second chance if
the preferred candidate backs out. If you can make a call on the phone the
person who rejected you, that's even better. Just be sure you don't communicate
anger or hostility. Instead, communicate humility and a sincere desire to make
changes that will make you a better candidate. I have gotten several jobs by
doing this, as well as referrals for other, similar jobs. This is called
networking--making friends in your desired profession. Naturally you will do
the same for others.
One simple method for organizing an essay is the 5-paragraph essay format. Here is an outline. Remember, a paragraph in a student essay is usually 3-5 sentences.
PARAGRAPH ONE: Intro sentence (grabber). Can be a question or a controversial statement. Example: "the Internet is harmful, and should be banned." The next 1-3 sentences can be examples that support the statement: "Intenet sites can be misleading, a waste of time or dangerous." "Young people can be fooled by cybercriminals, agreeing to meet them and then being kidnapped." Thesis sentence (last sentence): "The Internet should be banned because people can get wrong information there, people can waste hours of valuable time surfing the net, and predators can find innocent young people who will fall for their traps." (The thesis is the point you want to prove or disprove).
PARAGRAPH TWO: "People often get completely wrong information on the Internet." The next 1-3 sentneces give e…