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You have one hour with a college prep specialist who can help make your admissions/scholarship essays award winning.  How can you maximize your time?  Here are five tips to get the most out of your time:   Come Prepared. - Bring the essay prompts from each of your colleges.  Bring a sample personal statement and resume.  Be sure to have any information necessary to complete an admissions essay, to include your GPA, test scores, and any major accomplishments. Know Thyself - Always know your stats.  During this time, knowing your GPA and SAT score is as important as knowing your name and birthdate.  Also, know (and have a list of) your interests, hobbies, favorite subjects, etc.  Have an idea of at least 3 possible majors and careers you would like to explore. Be on Time - There is a lot to cover!  The better prepared and earlier you are, the more likely we are to get a lot done. Also, I tend to take my time... read more

Tonight I met with one of my students, who is in 6th grade, and we are working together to tackle proper essay structure.    This can be a tough issue for students, especially the really creative ones. These are the students that are FULL of ideas, and all of them are equally good, so why can't they just put them all into one essay or story? Trust me, it's not easy to kill your darlings, but it must be done (until you get a blog, of course).    In general, all essays, or even stories should be structured in a similar fashion: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Or, a beginning, a middle, and an end.    The introduction will include the visuals, the details to get the reader completely hooked into the story. If this is an analytical essay, the introduction will include the argument, or the point you're trying to prove.    Next comes the body, or the middle of the essay/story. This will typically be the longest... read more

I remember taking some courses in my early years of undergrad that were pretty awful. The teaching wasn't that bad, and I was definitely awake for them (two key points to getting decent grades) but the subject matter just wasn't something I could ever see myself using. Sound familiar?    Interestingly though, after changing my attitude, I saw that I can indeed use most things learned in most classes, if I am looking for the beneficial parts of each subject. I'm not saying that if you hate science you'll want to start studying the makeup of dirt all of a sudden, but I can definitely assure you that there is a way to dislike things less.    So...how? We have to find ways to connect what math, science, English, or the like teaches us (even if it's under the surface) to what we love in life.    I love children with cancer. You can see more about that here. And even though I had to write that on the front of a lot of notebooks over... read more

Have you ever been in a situation when you have several alternatives for what you want to say in a second language but you are still not entirely sure which one to use? A lot of times, people find that they have several alternatives for what they want to say, and are not sure which one to choose for a particular situation. The good news for language learners is that its getting easier and easier to check exactly how to use a word correctly. Tools like corpora are becoming increasingly user-friendly and can be extremely useful for this. A corpus is a large set of linguistic data drawn from a particular area. This might be scientific journals, newspapers, novels, annual reports, or even conversation transcripts. To run a check on a corpus, simply write in your search term (go/salt/timely) and the corpus will show you the top 50 examples of this word in context. This means that one can easily read through and see not just the word, but the words which are most likely... read more

Every one of us was taught grammar in grade school. We learned the rules of writing, how to construct sentences properly, when to use commas, how to avoid run-on sentences, proper diction and word choice and tons of other rules regarding how the English language "properly" works. But there's one thing we weren't really taught. In fact, most of us unquestioningly accepted these rules, rules like you should use "fewer" for countable items and "less" for things you can't count. We know how to use these rules, and by virtue of being able to speak the language, we also know how to use the grammar. But these two concepts of grammar are not the same. This raises so many questions. Where did these rules come from? What is grammar, really, and how do we define it from a linguistic point of view? Is there some kind of supreme authority on the English language that imposes these rules on all its speakers?    In a Tarantino-esque fashion, we'll... read more

Years ago, there was never any dispute: when you listed a bunch of things in a sentence and finished with the word 'and ________.', there should always have been a comma before the 'and', i.e. "I have lived in France, Germany, Italy, and China." The modern grammarians (is that even a word, haha) seem to think that the final comma should be omitted because they claim it is redundant. They claim that without the comma, everything should be adequately clear, for example: "I have lived in France, Germany, Italy and China." Is that really clear? I beg to differ, and for two reasons. First, the comma's use is not just as a separator of things; it is also used as a pause device. Without the last comma, that sentence reads: "I have lived in France (pause) Germany (pause) Italy and China (said quickly together)." That's not correct at all and we all know it. It should read: "I have lived in France (pause) Germany (pause) Italy (pause)... read more

http://www.wyzant.com/resources/video/322097/Introducing_myself   Are you looking to learn English as a second language? Or do you want to learn Chinese? Whether you are a college student learning English or a professional seeking to learn Mandarin Chinese, I can help you make real progress in the language learning process. As a native speaker of English, I have lived abroad and experienced what it's like to learn a second language. in the process I have gained many insights into the language learning process and this experience has better prepared me to help tutor students seeking to learn English. If you're seeking to learn Mandarin, I understand where you're coming from and I share your native language and cultural perspective so that I can explain things to you in a way you will understand. I can also share tips for helping you to learn Mandarin. For Chinese-speaking students learning English I can explain difficult concepts to you... read more

Hi! I am a Miami Beach-based English Teacher and have recently joined WyzAnt to see if there are EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students who need a bit of help with their English; conversation, TOEFL, grammar, accent reduction....   I enjoy teaching as I like to meet people from around the world and help them reach their goals, and my absolute favorite topic is grammar, especially verb tenses :)   My background is in journalism and social media, but I have been teaching for a while now,  working at a language school during the daytime hours and teaching through an online school as well.    I will be blogging about learning English, and I hope to hear from you! I am available to teach over Skype, in person at a cafe in Miami Beach, or possibly come to you depending on the distance (I live on South Beach).   Have a great weekend!    

In school, teachers will tell you the exact order in which they want you to write an essay. Often times they will want you to start with an outline, develop a thesis, gather evidence, and then write your essay. However, the more essays that you write, the more that you will realize that this sequence does not work for everyone. In college, I realized that I often did not develop a good thesis until after I already finished my essay. This is just fine; you can change your thesis after you finish your essay as long as you leave yourself adequate time for revision. You have to do what works best for you.

My approach to each Physics Chapter: As I read the chapter I look for definitions - many times the text is in italics I work with 3 by 5 index cards and note the chapter and the definition of a new concept I also look for identified equations and write them on equation cards by chapter describing what the equation represents and the units I make unit cards which include the Physics term and the units and their equivalent in each unit system As I work through the chapter I read each sample question and try to do it without looking for the answer Then I check the answers and the methods used - sometimes my methods are different but the answers are the same This shows there are sometimes more than one approach to a problem When I finish a chapter I try the odd problems since they have answers in the back When I can not solve it I check the answer and try to work backwards. Unit analysis helps. Although... read more

Faced with a blank page does your brain feel just as bare?  Writing has two different processes that at times seem to be in conflict.  There is the creative side and there is the analytical side.  While both are necessary it is important to be mindful of allowing a certain separateness.  Yes, structure is important, but your voice and creativity give your writing life. Freewriting is a great tool for releasing the creative side.    Before you begin that essay or paper give yourself 10 to 15 minutes to start a flow of ideas.  I like the idea of using a pen and paper, but this works with a keyboard too.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and just start writing.  There is only one rule: keep writing until the time is up.  Any subject, any thought, no grammar check, no spelling correction, fragments allowed. You do not need to stay on topic or have any order.  Just write.  If you do have a topic that you need to explore for an... read more

Writing seems to have originated in the Bronze Age, dating from 3300 B.C. to about 1200 B.C. During the Bronze Age, multiple forms of writing emerged. These included cuneiform, hieroglyphics, and multiple scripts originating in Greece. Writing began as a way to keep accounts of trade and slowly blossomed into literature. The people of the Bronze Age evolved the use of their writing from trade records, to medicinal records, to recipes, to prayer and song, to written law, and finally to stories. In today’s society, writing is seen in poems, songs, laws, books, video games, instructions, traffic signs, menus, nutrition information, and even on TV. Writing is so universal now that we don’t even think twice about all the things we read on a daily basis. All of these words that we are constantly reading are actually written by someone who put thought behind it. In ancient Egypt, only Scribes, one of the highest ranking classes of people, were allowed to learn how to write.... read more

Statisticians say that the average person writes about 55,000 words per year. That's enough to fill a novel. This statistic measures everything from thank you notes to work emails. However, I'm sure the average college student far exceeds this number. Therefore, it's no wonder that most students I work with are seeking help with their writing. Needless to say, with such a word filled future on these students' horizon, I take this responsibility seriously.  Most students think they need to start with grammar in order to improve their writing. They are baffled by the pesky rules that spell check doesn't catch but that their teachers always find. They think that the key to their writing is unlocking the comma, semicolon, and split infinitive. However, I'd argue that unless you have the time and patience, and the student has the dedication, to teach him or her Latin (where many of these rules have been super imposed from), it will be hard for them to master grammar at this... read more

Hey everyone!     So I really wanted to talk about something I find very important, especially for those learning to master the English language. I realized that the minimal emphasis on spelling in public schools led to a major fault in the younger generation's writing skills. I found that unless a child reads often, it's hard  for them to determine what "there" one might be talking about. Often times, students may know the context of where to place the word in a spoken sentence, however not choose the correct spelling of the term in written sentences.  Being able to spell properly and maintain good grammar is something essential to children for the rest of their lives -- be it writing essays for school or applying for grants/scholarships, sending letters, filling out job applications, or even having to teach others. As parents, teachers, or educators I believe that spelling tests should still be in full effect to separate words with multiple meanings... read more

Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow, is a story about the American dream. Set in New York during the “period of Ragtime” between the turn of the 20th century and the beginning of World War I, Ragtime tells the story of three different families struggling to find their place in this new America. Doctorow makes use of an unusual writing style in Ragtime. He eschews the use of quotation marks and line breaks during dialogue, making the visual appearance of the novel one of long, blocky paragraphs. In addition, Doctorow writes the novel in third person from the perspective of not one but all of the main characters, allowing us to see the innermost thoughts and feelings of everyone in the story in turn. The characters have various degrees of name specificity, ranging from simply “Mother” and “Father” to “Sarah” (nobody knows her last name) to “Coalhouse Walker Jr.” All of these stylistic decisions come together to make a surprisingly fluid novel where actions speak much louder than words... read more

Alas! You have to take the GRE in order to get into the program of your choice. Keep in mind that if you do not prepare well, you may have to take the test again, which will cost you probably around $200 or more. If you do not prepare well and it sets your studies back a year, that could cost you a year of earning potential in your lifetime. That's not a fun math problem. Maybe you need that extra year to prepare, but if you are ready, why go at the GRE in a less than 100% manner?   Let's say you already have your fall date set and you have two months or less to prepare for the exam. Here is what I recommend. Research the GRE stats of the university you are considering. Contact your POI (person of interest) and find out how well you need to perform on the GRE. If you need to score in the 90th percentile in the quantitative portion, that's something you need to know. Your POI may say that you need to score in the 60th, but if everyone who was admitted in the previous... read more

Practicing for the speaking part of the IELTS English proficiency exam is daunting, to say the least. There are so many elements of a good speech that you have to remember to score the necessary band to get into your English-speaking university of choice. If you are not sure where to start, take a look at these tips: 1.) Don’t worry so much about your speed. More important are your abilities to speak without grammatical mistakes and to have few pauses or hesitancies in your speaking. Pronunciation is also negatively affected by speaking too quickly. So slow down, and concentrate on making yourself understood. 2.) Choose your higher-level vocabulary carefully. Many students end up sounding like they are living 150 years ago because their vocabularies are so formal. Choose a few (about three or four) words that are higher-level in your interview to use. Don’t overdo it. 3.) Use transitions. The flow of ideas from one part of the speaking prompt to another is important... read more

In 2013, I did this talk with teachers & parents, to explain very simply the many myths and misconceptions we have about learning difficulties. Come, watch me take you into the world of the child who struggles:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPD77glh2Eg

Radio shows are a great way to practice listening to spoken English. Many radio shows post their episodes online and also include the text of the show. This way you can both listen to the show and also read the show. Reading the text allows you to check your understanding of what you heard. In addition to practicing listening skills, this is also a great way to learn new vocabulary. Below are links to some of my favorite radio shows available online.     Voice of America News stories.  Easy to intermediate vocabulary. http://www.voanews.com/ For Voice of America, look for news stories with videos.  Below the video, you'll find the text of all the spoken parts.  For example, see the video of this story about the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in the United States.       NPR TED Talks  Talks by experts in technology, education, and design fields.  Advanced vocabulary... read more

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