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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

5 Ways to Boost Your Grammar Skills

Learning English relies on mastering a complex series of definitions, principles, and rules about how everything fits together. As is the case in other languages; grammar represents the rules used to craft meaningful passages. Teachers use a variety of approaches to drive home grammatical rules, including repetitious exercises designed to cement students' understanding of English grammar. Some English language educators, on the other hand, maintain a more passive position regarding grammar, believing that other principles are more important to learning the language.

Whether you are a stickler for grammatical details, or an English language student committed to mastering words and phrases ahead of the grammar that guides them, it is important to recognize the importance of syntax, semantics and other grammatical features of the language. Use these proven approaches to guide your grammar skills to the next level:

Read English Language Books

Depending on your current level of understanding, reading books written in English may furnish your most comprehensive exposure to grammar. Even when you're not focused specifically on grammar, reading brings proper structure and other grammatical rules to the surface, as you read. And when language lessons relate to certain aspects of grammar, written material provides references, where you can see how authors applied grammar correctly.

Practice Creating Sentences and Paragraphs using Grammar Rules

While grammar plays a role in conveying your intended meaning, it is not the only force at play getting your message across. Early-on learning the language, English language students struggle to use the right words and phrases, rather than striving to join their ideas in grammatically correct ways. To boost grammar skills, successful English language students flip their approaches, at times, in order to consciously think about grammar as they express themselves.

To better understand relationships between words, phrases and grammar, think of learning language as learning to type, for example. In most cases, without any keyboarding skills, you'll still be able to get your message across. But with a concerted effort, you'll eventually learn to use the keyboard as intended, without looking at the keys. In much the same way, vocabulary and a cursory understanding of how words and phrases work within a language provide enough tools for you to communicate. However, when you consciously apply grammar to your approach, it refines your expression, allowing you to share ideas more effectively.

Study Punctuation

Grammar is a general term, encompassing several aspects of how various nuances operate within the language. Punctuation yields clues for those learning English, adding formal reinforcement to principles at play in spoken and written language.

Exceptions to Grammar Rules

While some grammatical concepts remain consistent throughout the English language, others are subject to exceptions, which can be daunting for those learning grammar. The best approach is to apply rules you learn along the way, without holding yourself accountable for all of the grammatical exceptions within the language. Mastering English is an ongoing pursuit of perfection - even for native speakers, so exceptions need not be committed to memory in the early stages of learning the language.

Set Realistic Goals

In some cases, learning English is tied to specific needs and responsibilities requiring you to use the language. Setting realistic goals helps you learn the language efficiently, in order to accommodate the ways you'll frequently use it. Specialized jargon and technical terms, for example, would not generally be included in your language lessons. If special vocabulary is required in your employment setting or in other parts of your life, account for them as you learn the language, setting realistic benchmarks for mastering the grammatical rules your situation requires.

Learning grammar is only one aspect of mastering English, so it shouldn't consume your effort to become proficient using the language. Setting goals and exposing yourself to diverse examples are sure-fire ways to boost your understanding of English Grammar.

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.
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Thursday, March 13, 2014

How to prepare for College English Essay Writing?

Preparing to write an English essay does not have to be a maddening process. You have to know what exactly you should do and then essay writing can be a cake walk for you. Do make an elaborate preparation before setting out to write an essay. Thorough research on the topic is the first thing to do before beginning to write an essay. You should become an expert in the topic you are writing an essay on. Make optimum use of the internet, the academic databases, and the library. Take notes and ponder over the words of great thinkers.

Once you have a good knowledge base, try to make an analysis of the various essays you have just read. Do make a logical connection between the sections of each of those essays; find the arguments, the reasons and the evidences. Before learning to write essays by oneself, one has to know how to analyze essays written by others. You should have your own creative insights to write an essay. Think about the topic until you come up with some original idea.

One should have a thesis to write an essay. It is the main point around which the whole essay has to revolve. The thesis needs to be expressed in a concise sentence with a clear assertion. The readers have to know where the essay is heading towards by seeing the thesis of the essay. In essence, it is impossible to write an essay without a clear thesis. Make a sketch of the essay before starting to write it straightaway. Have sentences with bullet points at least to denote what each paragraph should contain. Plan the argument properly and present it quite intelligibly. The outline of the essay should help you to write the whole long essay with a perfect logical connection between paragraphs and sections.

In an essay the introduction should be so well written that it should grab the attention of the readers. Introduction should be building up the issue you are going to talk about in the essay sometime later. Each paragraph should contain one single idea which has to be elaborated in that same paragraph. Paragraphs should begin with the topic sentences followed by substantial evidences and supplementary information. An essay should not just read like a piece of write-up, instead it should talk things out focusing on a particular argument. The conclusion should be a grand statement ending with a logical twist or something memorable which the readers would delightfully take home.

With a diligent, focused preparation and more fine-tuned arrangement of the argument, supporting evidences, instances and anecdotes; writing an essay at college should be fun. Students should master the skill of writing essays since they are required to write a big number of essays during their college education.
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tool up to improve your writing!

In my work at Grammarly, I keep an eye on writers and analyze the tools they use to enhance their English and improve their work. I use this collected information to inform the product strategy team, so that they can stay on top of current trends and provide intuitive solutions for our end-users.

These days, everyone’s a writer, so it’s important to set your writing apart from everyone else's by making it as polished as you can. Luckily, there are several tools online that can help you clean things up and put your best work forward. Here are some of my tried and true solutions for editing that novel, document, or report.

Read up! A writer is a reader, first.

First, and most importantly, writers must read—think of it as subliminal research. You pick up on important things that will help improve your craft every time you read, so you should consider putting some time into reading about writing and grammar. This way you’re bound to improve by default. If you’re not a fan of reference books, there’s plenty of information on the web that’s incredibly easy to read. Blogs like the New York Times After Deadline are a great way to sneak in these bite-sized elements of style.

Write-up! Pick your writing tools and get to writing.

A good word processing program is key for any writer. Whether you’re using Word, Scrivener, or Google Docs, these programs can point out misspelled words and sentence fragments that you might otherwise overlook. Each offers their share of pros and cons, so find something you like and stick with it—or keep looking until you find what works best for you.

While I’m not as impressed with Internet Explorer, you can find a wide variety of apps and browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. Most of these are free and can give you that editing edge:

- Grammar Apps and Extensions for Chrome
- Firefox Add-ons

Buddy-Up! Another set of eyes will do you good.

The internet is open 24/7, so finding someone to look over your work at any hour is very likely—well, if you’re connected to the right people. Join a few writers’ groups, critique groups, or editing groups on your favorite social network—Facebook, Goodreads, and LinkedIn—all have plenty of writers eager to connect with you. By actively participating in these groups, you can almost guarantee an extra pair of eyes when you need it most. Be prepared to return the favor, though, especially when the help is given freely.

Sometimes, all you need is an hour or two away from your project, to give it those last editing touches. You can come back to it fresh and ready to look at it objectively—you’d be surprised at the number of mistakes that will jump out at you after you’ve had a break and time to clear your head.

Wrap it up! Cover your assets.

Before you press publish, consider using a plagiarism checker like the one at Grammarly—not because I think you’re intentionally trying to take credit for someone else’s work, but because if you’re reading (like you should be), you may have been subconsciously influenced by another writer’s words. You might have accidentally quoted something you read earlier. This last check will give you the opportunity to further edit your work or consider properly quoting the source, adding credibility to what you’ve written.

Like everything, practice makes perfect, so the more you write and use these or any other editing tools, the easier it will get. Don’t give up, there are lots of people rooting for you, and technology will always be there to ensure your success.

This is a guest post written by Nikolas Baron
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Learn English with Pocoyo!

If you like watching cartoons you might probably know about Pocoyo and have laughed with some of his entertaining videos. We’d like to present to you today a list of Pocoyo episodes in English with which you’ll keep the children entertained while they learn and get use to the sounds of the English language.

Pocoyo - A Mystery Most Puzzling



Pocoyo - Swept Away



Pocoyo - Who's on the Phone?



Pocoyo - Fetch Loula Fetch!



Pocoyo - A Little Cloud



Pocoyo - Table for Fun



Pocoyo - Where's Pocoyo?



Pocoyo - Drummer Boy



Pocoyo - The Grace Race



Pocoyo - Don't touch!



Pocoyo - Mystery Footprints



Pocoyo - Magical Watering Can



Pocoyo - Twinkle Twinkle



Pocoyo - Hiccup



Pocoyo - Pato's Postal Service



Pocoyo - Puppy Love



Pocoyo - Bat and Ball!



Pocoyo - Elly Spots



Pocoyo - Up, up and Away!



Pocoyo - A Surprise for Pocoyo

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Don't Have Time to Learn English? No Problem!

Does this sound familiar?

Your English is...OK. As a non-native English speaker, you are able to communicate pretty well. You can go shopping or talk to someone about your favourite film. But be honest, your English isn't as good as you want it to be, is it?

You know what you have to do; you have to study more, right? Learning a language takes hours and hours of study every single week. The only way to speak a language fluently is to sit down and start studying.

So every January 1st, you pledge to finally get started and study every day. And for a few days you do it; you read English books, do free online English grammar exercises, and watch TV in English. But one day you are just too busy, and so you skip a day of studying. And the next week you skip another one. And soon all of your English things are lying under the bed, untouched for six months, and your English is worse than it was before.

That exact situation happens to far too many language learners. And unfortunately you probably blame yourself, it's just because you are too lazy or unmotivated, right? Wrong!

It simply means that you are a regular person, just like everyone else. As an adult, you have too many things to take care of already. Your job, your family, your life can't stop for an hour or two each day just because you want to learn to speak English better.

Let's dispel the biggest myth about learning English right now: You do not have to spend hours and hours each week in order to learn English.

In fact, trying to learn too much at once can actually be the worst thing that you can do. It's been shown that people can only learn about seven new things at one time. So any time spent trying to learn more than that is just a waste of time. Linguists even recommend that you only spend about 10 minutes a day studying a language[1].

Yes, that's right, you can learn a language in just 10 minutes a day. All you have to do is dedicate yourself to doing 10 minutes of free English online grammar exercises or vocabulary work each day, and you really will see your English improve.

No one is so busy that they don't have 10 minutes every day. You could do your English studying while riding public transportation, eating your lunch, or even while sitting on the toilet. Whenever you have a few spare minutes, do a little studying. You should live your normal life and then do your studying in your free time, not the other way around.

Doing it for such a short time each day prevents studying English from becoming a chore. When it doesn't feel like work and you are having fun, that is when your brain is able to learn the best. That means that it isn't only important to study for short periods of time, but also to make that studying time interesting and fun.

Do something different each day to keep it interesting. One day you can practice your English using the great free English online grammar exercises at grammati.com. This tool can also help you find out what you don’t know, so you can focus on exactly what to study and make your 10 minutes a day even more effective.

The following day you can learn new vocabulary words at vocabulary.com. And at the weekend you can watch a short video or read a news article at BBC Learning English and put your studying to good use.

While you can certainly study more than 10 minutes a day if you have a little time and are feeling good, make sure not to do too much too quickly. Studying for long periods of time won't really help you very much, and it will start to make English feel like work again, instead of like a fun break each day.

Lastly, remember that learning English takes time. For normal people with families, jobs, and social lives, it just isn't possible to become fluent in English overnight. But if you stick to a plan of 10 minutes a day, you will find that your English improves faster than you ever expected.

[1] www.mezzoguild.com/2012/03/02/short-and-sweet-study-periods
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