There is no “I” in academic writing

Posted by on Apr 26, 2013 in Writing |

The obligation to write in the correct style does not only apply to examinations.  The author of this article is struggling with the rigid constraints of academic style.  I am having the same struggle as I complete my master’s degree.  It’s very strange having to write about what I think without being allowed to use the word “I”! But unfortunately, this is just the way things are.  This is the style and fighting against it will only get me a bad mark.  There are a number of complex social reasons behind the different styles we write in, and part of successful writing is knowing how to manipulate styles effectively.  When you’re preparing for your exam, make sure you are familiar with the type of styles that will appear on the test!  Check my writing tips for the CAE and the IELTS to be sure you are...

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Natural English explained at UsingEnglish.com

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar, Learning Websites, Vocabulary |

Using English is particularly useful for its phrasal verb dictionary, idioms dictionary and ask a teacher forum.  They have quizzes about phrasal verbs and if you have any questions they have special forums for phrasal verbs and idioms.  If you’ve heard an expression in a film or read something in a book that you just can’t understand, ask the helpful people at Using English.  I post there sometimes,...

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Advanced writing techniques for American university students

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar, Writing |

The Guide to Grammar and Writing is a resource for American college students so the language on the site is considerably more advanced than on a site for English learners.  However, the information is extensive and you may find the pages on punctuation (under Word and Sentence Level) and sentence combining skills (under Paragraph Level) particularly...

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Practicing phrasal verbs

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar, Vocabulary |

It may not always be necessary to use phrasal verbs, but they are a big part of using English naturally and fluently.  So how do you practice them?  First we need to figure out what exactly is difficult to remember about them and then find a way to isolate that and drill it in a way that we can remember.  Read my blog post about remembering phrasal verbs if you haven’t already.  Once you have examples that you want to practice, Anki is the perfect tool for the job. Anki flashcards Anki is a free, open-source software project which is designed for repetitive practice.  Remember when you were first learning the language and you made vocabulary flashcards where one side said “green” and the other said “vert/grün/verde”?  Anki is a program which will let you make these cards on your computer and practice them on your smartphone (the Android version is free but unfortunately the iPhone version is not–you will need a data connection to practice on your iPhone for free).  The software comes in many languages and has excellent online help if you have trouble.  But what should we put on these flashcards? In my previous post, we used the example of “put up with.”  Take your personalised example and put the version without the particles on the front of the card: I can’t put _____ _____ my neighbour’s noise any longer; it’s driving me mad.  On the back of the card, put the complete sentence.  I can’t put up with my neighbour’s noise any longer; it’s driving me mad. Make examples for all of the phrasal verbs you want to learn and keep the flash cards on your phone.  You’ll be able to easily practice any time you have 5-10 spare...

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Understanding phrasal verbs

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar, Vocabulary |

One of the best resources for this (besides a good monolingual dictionary) is Using English.com.  Using English has an excellent phrasal verb dictionary (also an idioms dictionary) as well as a forum where you can ask for extra information or just check that you are using them correctly. Try and notice patterns with certain particles (the prepositions or adverbs that make up the phrasal verb) and how they change the meaning of the base verb on its own.  For example, in the verbs to give something back, take it back, or pay it back, “back” indicates a return to the source.  You’re not just giving something to somebody, you are specifically giving it to the person who gave it to you originally.  Phrasal Verbs in Use has several excellent units about particles and this can be a useful way to try and guess at...

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