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Is Punctuation Obligatory? One of my neighbors is the editor of our homeowners’ association newsletter. When asked about her unusual style of writing, she indicated that a teacher had once told her that punctuation was optional. After picking myself off the floor, I became angry at this “unknown” teacher who obviously was teaching the wrong concepts to her class. Can we really believe that punctuation is optional? I can think of three fundamental reasons why punctuation is an imperative way of writing. The first is because it allows the voice to pause or rest. Without a strategically placed pause, or a period at the end of a sentence, all sentences would be run ins and wouldn’t make any sense at all. In addition, a carefully placed punctuation mark allows the voice to emphasize a word or part of a sentence. Second, punctuation invites you to write in clear, easily understandable ways of presenting your thoughts and a perfectly good way to be read. It is an integral part of... read more

I have sometimes been asked by students who originated from a foreign country to teach them English without explaining any kind of grammar. While it is tempting to try to help everyone, I find it impossible to teach English without going back to the basics. One potential student from Hungary moved to the United States and learned a little bit of English by watching TV. He found a job with a Hungarian window washing company and therefore, spoke Hungarian at work. He came to Tampa with his Hungarian girlfriend who was studying English via a Hungarian website and therefore also spoke Hungarian at home. This student had a thriving career back in Hungary but could not find any comparable work here because of his lack of understanding English. When this student insisted that I just converse with him, it became apparent that he just wanted to mimic English and was not interested at all in learning any grammar. He believed that he could learn English without having to bother with grammar and... read more

All around the United States, the same fever is spreading. The "Let's leave Winter behind" and "let's start Spring." Even people who don't have gardens are coming out of their burrows to schedule bicycle rides, walks around the neighborhood, jogs along pathways, schedule engagements across a table of an outdoor cafe. The catalogs are filled with benches, deck furniture, plants and seeds, mulch and gardening tools to entice people from their winter cocoon. Spring fever!! It's first a mental thing, where the mind thirsts for sunshine, warmer temperatures and the shedding of coats, boots and having to bring in the plants at the first sign of a threat of frost. It's an act of breathing the air, peeling off the layers that covered the body during the cold temperatures and the gloomy winter months. The mind and spirit want to breathe fresh, smell different scents, listen to chirping sounds, feel the cool breeze and the noises of people coming out of their homes to... read more

Instead of forgetting all the French you have learned in class throughout the year, why not spend several months in France without leaving your house. The stress of passing tests, studying late at night, finishing homework is over, and summer is right around the corner. Relax in your chaise-longue, drink une limonade, stroll through the Musee du Louvre, order your French baguette and select your Parisian meal while perusing a French menu. All this can happen if you continue your studies of the French language during the summer by conversing in French, going over some difficult grammar, learning new vocabulary, planning your next visit to Paris or studying the history of Montmartre or the charm of Les Marais. Stretch your French adventure through the summer, return from your visionary trip to France, refreshed from your Parisian journey, more knowledgeable than other students in your class.... just because you decided to continue your tutoring classes throughout the summer by spending... read more

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