Writing in English

Keep it simple

When you write, particularly when you are writing a finished product such as an essay, book report, or speech, etc., use the structures you know.

Remember the old adage, “Write about what you know.”  Well, this works with technical aspects as well.

There is no need to artificially complicate your sentences just to seem more academic or “more intelligent.”

To be honest, when writers do this, they tend to reduce the quality of their writing rather than enhance it.

I have seen students who spend a great deal of time trying to “perfect” very weak arguments or assertions with complicated language and massive (and unreadable) sentences.  This method does not work!  But don’t worry, as you learn a wider variety of sentence structures and paragraph structures, you will be able to effectively incorporate them into your finished products.

In the meantime, write well with the tools you have.

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Focus on the goal

Keep your mind on your goal.

What do you want the reader to gain from your article?

If it is an essay, you are arguing for a certain point of view or supporting your opinion.

If you are writing a speech, you might be informing the reader or trying to persuade him/her to take a certain action.

(Often written work can have more than one purpose, but there is generally a dominant one.)

If you need to write an essay or report for a grade – again, keeping your mind on the goal is important.  Don’t worry about the grade.  If your writing is well done and you have conveyed the message you intended, then the grade will follow.

Remember that the goal is the whole point of your writing!  Don’t let it slip through the cracks.  Your message is far more important than fancy language and complexity.

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But how do you improve?

You might be asking this question, “How do I improve if I don’t try to write in a more complicated manner?”

There are multiple answers, but let’s start with the improvement bit.

With each new article, you can “stretch” yourself.  While working on rough copies or drafts, you can experiment with longer sentences or new structures.  Always read your work aloud to “hear” if it sounds right. You can also ask yourself this question: “If someone walked up to me and said this, would I know what he/she was talking about?”  (If the answer is “no,” then you still have some work to do.)

Of course, reading to someone or having someone else read your efforts can be helpful. If the person has no idea what your sentence means, then it is generally the wrong way to write that sentence.

(I have read many students’ articles for courses or information that I have never studied myself.  Of course, I might not understand very technical details of an obscure course; however, the sentences and language should still be understandable.  Basically, anyone should be able to read your paper and gain some insight from it.)

Another great idea is to record yourself and then listen to your article with your eyes closed.  Does everything make sense to you?  Do the sentences move smoothly from one idea to the next?  Is there a satisfying conclusion that leaves you feeling that your main point has been adequately explored?

Your journal writing is another awesome place to experiment.  It isn’t so important if your sentences fall apart or if they lack the finesse of a finished product if the writing is just for yourself.

Reading back over old journal entries you can see how much you’ve improved but also how much you might still need to improve.  I know people who have read their old writing and have no idea what a particular sentence means!

Of course, you can take courses that specifically address writing skills.

Ron033    Ron – well, a slightly younger version!  🙂

You could hire a tutor to give you some specific direction and help along the way. A good tutor will assess your current abilities and then provide you with a program that will bring you the results you desire.

Here is a great place to start:  Paragraph Writing Lessons

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

Video: Writing – Keep it simple!

 

Ronald J. Johnson

Director – L.T.L. Tutoring Central

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A Brain is a Terrible Thing to Waste!

A brain is a terrible thing to waste!  So don’t let that happen.

Be A+ Student

Summer learning can help stop this critical loss.

Research dating back 100 years confirms the phenomenon often referred to as “summer slide.”

                       W. White, Reviews Before and After Vacation. American Education, 1906, 185-188

Research consistently shows that students (aka people) who continue to access learning material and opportunities over the summer months retain more of the foundation they gained during the school year.

Summer slide or summer loss affects all students but particularly those who are struggling in the first place.  Those who continue to learn over those long weeks show dramatic improvement in the retention of information and the ability to reason and complete math problems as well.

            “Differences in a child’s summer learning experiences during his or her       elementary school years can impact whether that child ultimately earns a high   school diploma and continues on to college”

                             Alexander, Entwistle, & Olson, 2007.

Not only can students slow or stop the summer loss, but they can learn new material to be better prepared for next year.

Imagine your child going back to class having kept the foundation from last year.

Walking proudly into school with the full knowledge that he or she is prepared to take on the challenges to come.

Over twenty years of tutoring children has taught me that their confidence and belief in themselves (that is honest belief – not bravado) provides the strongest impetus to improvement and success compared to anything else.

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But wait – There’s more!

You can be any age to learn something new, refresh your knowledge, or gain brain synapses – improving brain function.

Yes, students can “train their brain.”  Our brains are malleable – they can be adjusted.  The way our brain communicates is complex; however, in very simplified terms, the dendrites and axons make connections via synapses (small gaps) between them.  These synapses will grow and build when stimulated – in other words, when they are asked to do so through some kind of effort and performance!

Similar to your muscles, if you don’t exercise them – they weaken.

                                     If you don’t use it – you will lose it!

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How to avoid summer learning loss: 

       Read!

This cannot be overstated
Reading is so important.  The choice of reading material is less a factor than the act and the follow-up.
Don’t read “blindly” – engage yourself with the material by talking about what you’ve read with others, look to learn more about the topic, write about what you’ve read, comment or blog about it.  Use any method you like to make sure that you aren’t forgetting as fast as you are reading.
Also, remember the library – often free reading material of all kinds there!

       Write !

Write a journal.
Write about what you have been reading (see above).
Start a blog about your favorite topic.
Write letters (astonish your friends and the world!).
Write some poems.

        Visit!

Visit museums, zoos, landmarks, grandparents, science centers, etc.

Yes, visiting and discussing the new facts, ideas, theories, and so one can be very helpful. This kind of learning stimulates multiple styles of learning including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic / tactile.

Why grandma & grandpa?  Don’t forget the wisdom of the entire family.  I’m only using these as representatives.  Different points of view (acceptable to you or not) are important to develop stronger reasoning and decision making skills.  People’s stories provide a different kind of context to the learning process.

Parents

Ask for opinions and comments on T.V. shows or Internet/video games, etc.
NOTE:       Be sure to ask open questions not closed questions.
An open question invites more conversation, whereas a closed question generally elicits only a “yes” or “no” response.
Example:   
            Open question –   “What did you like about the main character?”
            Closed question – “Did you like the main character?”

Don’t be too quick to judge opinions (despite the lack of logic or maturity). It is just important to keep paying attention and engaging with material.  A great deal of learning comes from talking it out and hearing one’s own ideas aloud.  Self-correction tends to happen in stages.

Tutoring

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Of course – a couple hours of tutoring per week can also help retain past lessons and help to prepare for the next year!

Note:  This is not school!   Students often complete more in a couple of hours a              week than they did all week in the school year – leaving lots of time to                play, ponder, lie on the grass and look at the sky – etc.

Come see what a professional tutor and personalized program can do for you or your child!

In-person and online tutoring available.

www.tutoringcentral.com

 

E-mail:  tutoringcentral@inbox.com

Phone:  519 824 0982

Video for Summer Learning

References:

Alexander, K., Entwisle, D., and Olson, L. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72, 167-180.
Borman, G.D. (2001). Summers are for learning. Principal, 80(3), 26-29.
White, W. (1906). Reviews before and after vacation. American Education, 185-188.