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Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

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Student-writers often believe that the secret of good writing is a reliance upon bigger and “better” words. Thus the haphazard thesaurus use that I wrote about last month. Another danger for student-writers involves the assumption that good writing is a matter of stuffy, ponderous sentences. Stuffy sentences might be explained by the need to make a required word-count, but I see such sentences even in writing assignments of only modest length. Most often, I think, these sentences originate in the mistaken idea that stuffiness is the mark of serious, mature writing.

A writer can begin to unstuff a sentence by looking closely at each of its elements and asking if it is needed. Here is an extreme example:

To begin, it is important to note that the theme of regret is an important theme in “The Road Not Taken,” which was written by Robert Frost, and that evidence for it can be found throughout the entire poem.

“To begin”: Like “to conclude,” this phrase is an unnecessary, empty transition. If a point is coming early (or late) in an essay, trust that a reader can see that. Removing “To begin” involves no loss of meaning.

“It is important to note”: Focusing on a point implies that the point is worth writing about, doesn’t it? Removing these words too involves no loss of meaning. (As an undergraduate, I often wrote “It is interesting to note,” until a professor drew a line through the words each time they appeared in an essay.)

“The theme of regret is an important theme”: It’s redundant to say that the theme is a theme. And is there any difference between “the theme of regret” and regret? Advertising

“’The Road Not Taken,’ which was written by Robert Frost”: Sentences with “which was written by” tend toward stuffiness. Here, the writer can refer to Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” a savings of four words.

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“Evidence for it can be found”: It’s often smart to avoid the passive voice (“can be found”). But changing the verb form (to “the reader can find evidence”) leaves a larger problem. If this theme is an important one in the poem, is it necessary to say that the poem contains evidence of it?

“Throughout the entire poem”: There’s no difference between “the entire poem” and “the poem,” especially when the word “throughout” is already in play. Advertising

A writer might rethink this 39-word sentence in various ways:

Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is, above all, about regret. Evidence that the speaker second-guesses his decision is abundant. (20 words)

A careful reading of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” shows that regret runs through the poem. (17 words)

Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is a poem about regret. (11 words)

Regret colors every line of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” (11 words)

The point of unstuffing a sentence is not to simplify thought or eliminate nuances of meaning. The point is to express a thought, whatever its complexity, with clarity and concision – the real marks of good writing. Advertising

Michael Leddy teaches college English and blogs at Orange Crate Art.

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Student-writers often believe that the secret of good writing is a reliance upon bigger and “better” words. Thus the haphazard thesaurus use that I wrote about last month. Another danger for student-writers involves the assumption that good writing is a matter of stuffy, ponderous sentences. Stuffy sentences might be explained by the need to make a required word-count, but I see such sentences even in writing assignments of only modest length. Most often, I think, these sentences originate in the mistaken idea that stuffiness is the mark of serious, mature writing.

A writer can begin to unstuff a sentence by looking closely at each of its elements and asking if it is needed. Here is an extreme example:

To begin, it is important to note that the theme of regret is an important theme in “The Road Not Taken,” which was written by Robert Frost, and that evidence for it can be found throughout the entire poem.

“To begin”: Like “to conclude,” this phrase is an unnecessary, empty transition. If a point is coming early (or late) in an essay, trust that a reader can see that. Removing “To begin” involves no loss of meaning.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at April 15, 2007 8:43 AM
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Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

Last month I showed how to unstuff a sentence by removing unnecessary words. This month I’ll offer a quick-and-dirty guide to punctuating a sentence. Nothing that follows is meant to substitute for the nuanced explanations of what’s usually called a writing handbook, the sort of book that college students purchase in a first-semester writing course. These five rules though have the virtue of being manageable, which is difficult to say of a 1,000-page book. In each paragraph that follows, the sentences illustrate the punctuation rule involved. Note that I’m avoiding almost all grammatical terminology. Instead, I’m emphasizing a small number of sentence patterns.

Rule one
If your sentence begins with an introductory element, put a comma after it. Even if it’s a short element, put a comma after it. In time, you’ll be putting this comma in without having to think about it.

Rule two
Any element which interrupts the movement of the sentence, whether it’s big or small, should be set off with commas. This sentence, like the first, also has an element set off with commas. An element that appears at the end of the sentence should also be set off with a comma, as I’m showing here.

Rule three
Items in a series should be separated with commas. What do I mean by “items in a series”? Wine, women, and song. Life, love, and laughter. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Rule four
Complete sentences that are joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet) need a comma before the coordinating conjunction. That might seem obvious, but this comma frequently gets left out. Putting it in makes a sentence more readable, and any reader appreciates that.

Rule five
Complete sentences that are joined without a coordinating conjunction need a semi-colon instead of a comma; the semi-colon shows the end of one sentence and the beginning of the next. Semi-colons are often followed by a connecting word or phrase; however, a connecting word or phrase is not necessary. Sentences joined with only a comma are called comma splices; they’re among the most common errors that come up in college writing.

(Note: In the next-to-last sentence in the previous paragraph, there’s a comma after however because it’s an introductory element in the second sentence.)

Fixing comma splices requires familiarity with two recurring sentence patterns. The first involves a complete sentence, a semi-colon, and another complete sentence:

[complete sentence]; [complete sentence].

Your argument is persuasive; it addresses every objection I had.
His research paper is plagiarized; he is going to fail the class.
The novel is a relatively recent literary form; it’s not nearly as old as epic poetry and lyric poetry.

The second pattern to look for involves a complete sentence, a semi-colon, a connecting word or phrase, a comma, and another complete sentence:

[complete sentence]; [word or phrase], [complete sentence].

(Again, the comma after the connecting word or phrase is appropriate as that word or phrase is an introductory element in the second sentence.)

I decided not to take the job; instead, I’m going to graduate school.
The proposal is flawed; as a result, we’re sending it back for revision.
She did well in the class; in fact, she did much better than she had expected.

How can you tell whether you have two complete sentences or one sentence with an interrupting element at its end? With an interrupting element (something less than a sentence in itself), the parts of the sentence can be switched and still make sense:

I’ll go to work, even though I’m sick.
Even though I’m sick, I’ll go to work.

But with a second complete sentence and a word or phrase such as instead, as a result, or in fact, the parts cannot be switched and still make sense.

Those are the basics of punctuating sentences with commas and semi-colons. I know from working with many students that any writer can get better when it comes to punctuation. The key is the ability to recognize a handful of familiar patterns. Look for the patterns in your sentences, and you too can get better. With some practice, you’ll be able to see the parts of your sentences falling into place, and punctuating correctly will become, believe it or not, a habit, one that you’ll be happy to have acquired.

Colons, by the way, function as arrows or pointers: see what I mean?

Michael Leddy teaches college English and blogs at Orange Crate Art.

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

Writing well is easily one of the most sought-after and useful skills in the business world. Ironically, it is one of the rarest and most undervalued skills among students, and few professors have the time, resources, or skills to teach writing skills effectively. What follows are a handful of tips and general principles to help you develop your writing skills, which will not only improve your grades (the most worthless indicator of academic progress) but will help develop your ability to think and explain the most difficult topics. Although directed at students, most of this advice applies equally well to any sort of writing; in the end, good writing is not limited to one context or another.

  1. Pace yourself. Far too many students start their papers the night before they are due and write straight through until their deadline. Most have even deceived themselves into thinking they write best this way. They don’t. Professors give out assignments at the beginning of the semester for a reason: so that you have ample time to plan, research, write, and revise a paper. Taking advantage of that time means that not only will you produce a better paper but you’ll do so with less stress and without losing a night of sleep (or partying) the evening of the due date. Block out time at the beginning of the semester — e.g. 2 weeks for research, 2 weeks for writing, 2 weeks to let your draft “sit”, and a few days to revise and proofread. During your writing time, set aside time to write a little bit each day (500 words is incredibly doable, usually in less than an hour — a short blog post is that long!) and “park downhill” when you’re done — that is, end your writing session at a place where you’ll be able to easily pick up the thread the next day.
  2. Plan, then write. For some reason, the idea of planning out a paper strikes fear deep into the hearts of most students — it’s as if they consider themselves modernist artists of the word, and any attempt to direct the course of their brilliance would sully the pure artistic expression that is their paper. This is, in a word, dumb. There is no successful writer who does not plan his work before he starts writing — and if he says he does, he’s lying. Granted, not every writer, or even most, bothers with a traditional formal outline with Roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numerals, lowercase letters, lowercase Roman numerals, and so on. An outline can be a mindmap, a list of points to cover, a statement of purpose, a mental image of your finished paper — even, if you’re good, the first paragraph you write. See the introduction to this post? That’s an outline: it tells you what I’m going to talk about, how I’m going to talk about it, and what you can expect to find in the rest of the paper. It’s not very complete; my real outline for this post was scribbled on my bedside notebook and consisted of a headline and a list of the ten points I wanted to cover.

Whatever form it takes, an effective outline accomplishes a number of things. It provides a ruler to measure your progress against as you’re writing. It acts as a reminder to make sure you cover your topic as fully as possible. It offers writing prompts when you get stuck. A good outline allows you to jump back and forth, attacking topics as your thinking or your research allows, rather than waiting to see what you write on page six before deciding what you should write about on page seven. Finally, having a plan at hand helps keep you focused on the goals you’ve set for the paper, leading to better writing than the “making it up as you go along” school of writing to which most students seem to subscribe.

Be sparing in your use of other people’s work, even properly cited. A paper that is essentially a string of quotes and paraphrases with a minimum of your on words is not going to be a good paper, even though each quote and paraphrase is followed by a perfectly formed reference.

Use directions wisely. Make sure your paper meets the requirements spelled out in the assignment. The number one question most students ask is “how long does it have to be?” The real answer, no matter what the instructions say, is that every paper needs to be exactly as long as it needs to be to make its point. However, almost every topic can be stretched to fill out a book, or condensed down to a one-page summary; by including a page-count, your professor is giving you a target not for the number of words but for the level of detail you should include.

Contrary to popular opinion, writing shorter papers well is much harder than writing longer papers. If your professor asks you to write 8 – 10 pages, it’s not because she doesn’t think you can write more than ten pages on your topic; more likely, it’s because she doesn’t think you can write less than eight.

The best way to improve your writing is to write, as much as you can. The tips above will help give you direction and point out areas where you are likely to find weaknesses that undermine your written work. What tricks have you come up with to make the process of writing more productive and less painful?

For students, researchers, and others interested in doing the work of political science

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The Author

Michael Nelson

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Writing begins day one. Complementary to, and overlapping with the research process, writing tends to progress in its own stages. Many of the pieces you write while initiating your research — outlines, research prospectuses, and the like — can form the basis for sections of a paper, or even the chapter of a longer thesis. But the process of writing becomes most central after the research has been completed and it becomes time to write up the results.

Typical Writing Stages

  1. Outline
  2. Draft
  3. Seek Feedback
  4. Revise
  5. Submit

Resources On Writing

On writing about politics

  • Politics and the English Language (an essay by George Orwell)
  • Essay-Writing Guide for Political Scientists by UC Berkeley Graduate Students and Michael Nelson (PDF)
  • Writing a Political Science Essay by Charles King, Georgetown University
  • Writing in Political Science by the Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Writing Political Science Papers: Some Useful Guidelines by Peter Liberman, Queens College

On writing in college

On writing techniques

  • Becker, Howard S. 1986. Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Cuba, Lee. 2002. A Short Guide to Writing about Social Science.New York: Longman.
  • Scott, Gregory M. and Stephen M. Garrison. 1998. The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.
  • Schmidt, Diane E. 2009. Writing in Political Science: A Practical Guide. New York: Longman.
  • Turabian, Kate L. 2013. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

TEFL Blog > Lesson Plan: Using should for advice

Teach your students how to understand and use should/shouldn’t for advice

Overview

Main aim:

To learn and be able to use should/shouldn’t for advice.

Secondary aim:

To discuss and come up with problem solving suggestions

Level:

Pre-intermediate – young adults and above

Lesson Length:

To access the lesson plan, fill out the form below.

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Educators have long been trying to identify the best ways to praise students and influence behavior. And new research is helping teachers understand which types of praise are most meaningful to students and, more importantly, most likely to increase motivation. So what’s going to get real results? Find out the best sentences to praise your students in the classroom to steer students toward excellence.

Best Sentences to Praise Your Students

  1. I am proud of you.
  2. I love how you did that.
  3. Spectacular! You are darling.
  4. I believe in you.
  5. Wow! way to go. Super, you’re special.
  6. You are catching on, now you have got it.
  7. Looking good, you are on top of it.
  8. You are fantastic, you are on your way.
  9. You are precious, a great discovery.
  10. What an imagination, what a good listener.
  11. You mean a lot to me, you make me happy.
  12. Outstanding performance, you are a good friend.
  13. You make me laugh, you brighten my day.
  14. You are a treasure, you are wonderful.
  15. That’s the best.
  16. You figured it out.
  17. You just blew me away.
  18. I knew you could do that.
  19. You just made my day.
  20. You are a winner.
  21. You are on fire.
  22. You have got your brain in gear today.
  23. you have just about mastered it.
  24. You are capable of amazing things.
  25. You are one of a kind.
  26. You are precious.
  27. You are out of this world.
  28. You are creative.
  29. That’s coming along nicely.
  30. You are so smart.
  31. You are the best.
  32. The best ever.
  33. You are so special.
  34. You are on the right track now.
  35. You have got it made.
  36. I am happy to see you working like that.
  37. You are doing a good job.
  38. Keep moving, you are improving.
  39. You are getting better every day.
  40. Keep up the good work.
  41. You have got your brain in gear today.
  42. That was 1st classwork.
  43. You are a real trooper.
  44. You made the difference.
  45. You are on the right path, bravo.
  46. You are a winner absolutely.
  47. You have discovered the secret, bingo.
  48. You are getting better and better every day.
  49. No one can stop you from doing your best.
  50. Do your best and forget the rest.

Also Read:

Words and Phrases to Praise Your Students

  1. Bravo
  2. Awesome
  3. Beautiful
  4. Congratulations
  5. Fantastic
  6. Good
  7. Good for you
  8. Great job
  9. Hot dog
  10. You rock
  11. Sensational
  12. Wonderful
  13. Much better
  14. Nice going
  15. Cool
  16. Unbelievable work
  17. Phenomenal
  18. Well done
  19. Super job
  20. Wow
  21. What a genius
  22. Very brave
  23. Far out
  24. Great effort
  25. Way to go
  26. You are A-Ok
  27. Right on
  28. How extraordinary
  29. That’s incredible
  30. High five
  31. You are unique
  32. Star work
  33. You are tops
  34. You are a joy
  35. Remarkable
  36. Take a bow
  37. Stupendous
  38. Bingo
  39. Clever
  40. Brilliant
  41. You tried hard
  42. You are champ
  43. Fantastic job
  44. Hooray for you
  45. You are inspiring
  46. Right on
  47. I love it
  48. Keep it up
  49. Incomparable
  50. Better than ever

You can use the above mentioned best sentences to praise your students and keep them on their toes. And don’t forget to write your views about the article using the comment box below.

Letters asking for or giving advice can be formal , informal or semi-formal depending on the situation. A letter asking for advice can be sent to a friend, a consultant or an advice column in a magazine. Details of the problem should be mentioned. A letter giving advice should contain suggestions introduced with appropriate language.

Asking for Advice
Introduction

Paragraph 1 – reason(s) for writing
Main Body
Paragraphs 2-3 – description of problem(s)
Conclusion
Final Paragraph – closing remarks
Full name
Useful Language for Letters Asking for Advice
Opening Remarks:
Formal
– I am writing to ask if you could help me with
– I would appreciate it if you could give me some advice about
– I am writing to ask for your advice
– I would be grateful if you could offer your advice
– Could you possibly offer your advice
– I wonder if you could help me with a problem

Informal
– I’m writing to ask for your advice
– Can you give me your advice
– I’ve got a problem and I need your advice
Closing Remarks:
Formal
– I would appreciate it if you could give me your advice as soon as possible
– I look forward to receiving your advice
– It would be of great help if you could advise me
Informal
– What do you think I should do?
– Please let me know what you think I should do
– Please tell me what to do

Giving Advice
Introduction

Paragraph 1 – thanks for letter/express understanding of problem
Main Body
Paragraphs 2-3 – suggestion(s) + reason(s)
Conclusion
Final Paragraph – closing remarks
Full name

Useful Language for Letters Giving Advice
Opening Remarks:
Formal
– Thank you for your letter requesting
– I am writing in reply to your letter asking for advice about
– I hope the following advice will be of some help to you
Informal
– I just got your letters and I think I can help you
– I was sorry to hear about your problem. Here’s what I think you should do
Suggestions can be introduced with expressions such as:

Formal
– I strongly recommend that
– I would suggest that
– I believe the best course of action is
– I would advise you to
– You should/You ought to/If I were you I would
Informal
– Why don’t you
– It would be a good idea to
– What you should do is
– How about. /I thin you should
– The best advice I can give you is

Closing Remarks:
Formal
– I trust you will accept this advice
– I hope this will be of help
– I would very much like to know if this was helpful
Informal
– Hope this has helped
– Let me know what happens

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

As a law student you may be required to produce a legal advice essay. Whilst like any good, well structured essay your work should have an introduction, body and conclusion, a legal advice essay has a slightly different purpose than for example, a compare and contrast, or critical review essay. It is important to remember that the core aim of a legal advice essay is to convey, in precise, plain, and comprehensible English the advice which you need to convey.

The type of language used is also crucial, an effective legal advice does not use archaic language or legalese, because the main purpose is to communicate. However, do not oversimplify the advice being given, particularly if there is a need to deliver very specialised legal advice. In effect, your legal advice essay should say what needs to be said in a clear, coherent way. Technical terms may be unavoidable but should be clearly explained so that the reader understands.

The key word for legal advice essays is clarity. Legal advice and opinions are often developed through assessment of complicated sets of facts. These need to be sorted into specific legal issues and relevant definitions at the planning stage of your essay.

Planning Your Legal Advice Essay

If you plan thoroughly you will naturally have a logical structure. You may wish to state a legal opinion to get across a point, but that point may require breaking down into sections. Before writing your essay therefore, it is important to identify each of these sections (points) so that the opinions stated are justified and explained effectively. Along with clarity, be concise.

Legal advice essays usually come with a series of questions and accompanying documents related to the case being consider. It is important on reviewing the documents to identify the recipient of the advice, from the essay title. For example, a solicitor wishing to give a client advice, or direct to the client. A key point at this stage, if considering advice from the client perspective is whether the case is viable, so that a client is not misled about the potential of success if they are requesting advice on commencing legal proceedings. In other words, pros and cons of a particular action are important in a legal advice essay but there must be clear opinion and advice provided, for example a percentage chance of success.

A subsequent part of the planning process is organisation of facts, and how the advice given will be focused on these. Once the salient facts and evidence have been identified they should be placed in an order (frequently chronological works best in law essays), and a legal framework constructed. With the planning complete, you should be in a position to understand clearly what advice will be provided, why it is provided and the format you are choosing to present the advice, enabling you to write your advice essay.

Writing your legal advice essay

Introduction

Your introduction should be clear, concise, and set out the main facts of the case, and the reasons for the need for advice to be given. The introduction should also contain an overview of the advice that will be provided, in a concise (one or two sentences), and the legal framework that will be used.

Body Text

As with all essays, the body text should be separated into one paragraph per point / fact, using the logical structure set out in your plan, which incorporates all the points and facts needed to be made. Each paragraph should have a note of the point or fact, the legal framework (where appropriate) and the opinion of the writer on the facts, along with a rationale and justification for the advice given. These should be backed up with appropriately cited references that are listed at the end of the essay.

Important Note: In all law advice works, whether essay or other reports, there are some structural rules that need to be followed to provide consistency across all legal papers. For example, liability comes before quantum and if there are multiple dependents, each one’s liability should be covered before moving to quantum.

Throughout a legal advice essay note that unless specifically required in the essay title, basic principles of law do not need to be stated. It is here that recognition of the audience for the essay is important, although where an opinion is based on a specific case then the basis of that case’s judgement would need to be included in your justification and rationale. Similar rules apply in relation to quote statute – unless there is statutory provision which deals directly with the subject of the essay there is no need to quote statute as part of the legal opinion.

Furthermore, the validity of legal argument and thus advice in law comes from the source and precedent, not from opinion. Source in law refers to who made the statement or judgement not simply what was said. In law there are two main authorities – binding and unbinding authorities. The first emanates from case law or legislation, whilst the second comes from Public Policy, Legal commentary, Dissenting judgements, Reform Proposals, and International Law. A perfect law advice essay will benefit from using binding and non-binding (or persuasive authorities) as sources, provided they are justifiable and can be defended in the final opinion/advice.

Conclusion “Next Steps”

Other essay formats will normally end with a conclusion. However, a legal advice essay should end with a “next steps” paragraph which means essentially a “call to action”. In other words, instructing the reader of what should be done next to ensure the advice given leads to legal success.

So, for a legal advice essay remember: Plan, Structure, Clarity, Conciseness, and Justification of opinion are the key components for success. To help you achieve the perfect law advice essay here are some key phrases that can help you achieve cohesion and academic excellence.

Key phrases for the introduction and body text

  • This question deals with …
  • The principal issue raised by this question …
  • The main issue is whether…
  • The issues to be considered are …
  • The problem also raises the issue of
  • On the facts presented, it can be argued that …
  • It would seem, (therefore), that …
  • It is possible that …
  • It could be argued that …
  • It would appear that…

Key phrases for the conclusion

  • From the evidence examined, it is my advice that…
  • It is therefore recommended that…
  • Based on the facts presented and their evaluation, the best course of action is to …

Help and advice

Improving your writing

Make your assignments easier to understand by using clear sentences

Sentences are the building blocks of written English. Humans communicate more than ever through writing – and being able to write clearly can help you in your career as well as at university.

Here we’ll cover some basic sentence writing ideas and explore accessible, clear and grammatically-correct sentences in academic writing. You should use other resources to inform your writing too.

This page may help you if your assignment feedback tells you to ‘check your sentences’ or ‘take care with grammar’, or if your feedback suggests the meaning of some of your sentences is unclear.

What is a sentence?

In English, a sentence has to have two elements: a subject and a verb.

Here are some sentence examples:

  1. Most students work hard.
  2. This fact notwithstanding, some people believe, probably because of stereotypes in some popular media, that most students are lazy.
  3. This perception is wrong.
  4. Stereotypes persist.

Key points

  • the subject is the thing or person performing the verb (different to the everyday meaning of ‘subject’)
  • a verb is a ‘doing’ or ‘being’ word (such as ‘work’ in example 1, or ‘is’ in example 3)
  • a sentence can consist of just a subject and verb and still make sense and be perfectly grammatical (example 4)

Breaking down sentences

Most sentences contain a complement as well as a subject and a verb. In simple terms, the complement is ‘the bit that comes after the verb’ – in examples 1 and 3 above the complement is the words ‘hard’ and ‘wrong’. Adding complements to sentences often comes naturally to writers so you don’t need to think about it consciously.

Most sentences have three main elements:

  • [subject] [verb] [complement]
  • [something] [being or doing] [something]
  • Most students work hard: [Most students] [work] [hard].
  • The clearest sentences are short and simple: [The clearest sentences] [are] [short and simple].

Even in a longer sentence with lots of extra information, you should be able to spot the main point of the sentence (something being or doing something). For example:

  • [You] [should be able to spot] [the main point].

Sentences with more than one subject or verb

Sentences can contain more than one main subject and more than one main verb. Use conjunctions (words that connect complete ideas) to move on to the next idea in these sentences. The following sentence is an example of this:

Sentences with a single subject and verb may be clearest, but academic writing often necessitates longer sentences that explain relationships between ideas, so we are not suggesting that you use short sentences all the time.

Here’s that sentence broken down:

  • [Sentences with a single subject and verb] [may be] [clearest],
  • but [academic writing] [often necessitates] [longer sentences] .
  • so [we] [are not suggesting] [that you use short sentences all the time].
  • [subject] [verb] [complement] [conjunction] [subject] [verb] [complement] . [conjunction] [subject] [verb] [complement].

The conjunctions in the sentence above are ‘but’ and ‘so’.

Remember to use conjunctions to write complex sentences with several subjects and verbs – or when there is more than one ‘something being or doing something’.

Key points to remember

Benefits of understanding sentences:

  • Knowing that sentences show ‘something being/doing something’ can help you to write clearly
  • Spotting the main subject(s) and verb(s) in your writing can help you improve your sentences when you edit your work.

Examples of good and bad sentences

Below are two versions of the same piece of writing. The sentences in the first example aren’t grammatically correct or clear. The second example addresses the problems of the first, and is grammatically correct and easier to read. We’ve also explained some of the changes below the examples.

Bad paragraph example

There are a number of ways to impress your marker with your writing, perhaps the most important goal is the importance of writing clearly because clarity allows complex ideas to be understood. Shorter sentences are often the clearest, much clearer than long sentences. Which can easily ‘go wrong’. Because ideas can appear rather disjointed however it is probably in academic writing not wise to use too many short sentences – not fluent. So a mix of short length sentences and medium length sentences is probably best, shorter sentences can be used for key points in your argument, medium length sentences up to perhaps three lines in length can be used to develop ideas. This might of course vary though. Depending on your assignment.

Better paragraph example

There are a number of ways to impress your marker with your writing. Writing clearly is perhaps the most important goal. Clarity allows complex ideas to be understood. Shorter sentences are often much clearer than long sentences, which can easily ‘go wrong’. However, it is probably not wise to use too many short sentences in academic writing, because ideas can appear rather disjointed. As a result, the writing loses fluency. Thus a mix of short- and medium-length sentences is probably best, because shorter sentences can be used for key points in your argument, and medium-length sentences, up to perhaps three lines in length, can be used to develop ideas. This mix might vary, of course, depending on your assignment.

Paragraph breakdown

The first paragraph example uses a very long a first sentence, which is also repetitive (‘important’ and then ‘importance’). The second paragraph has used three sentences which each clearly stating ‘one thing being or doing something’ to do the same thing.

The second sentence of the bad paragraph uses: “Which can easily ‘go wrong’”. This is a fragment (not a full sentence) because it doesn’t include a subject – what can easily go wrong? You should avoid using the word ‘which’ to start a sentence. The final sentence of the first paragraph is also a fragment.

The third sentence of the first paragraph makes us wait for the subject (‘it’) and verb (‘is’). In the second paragraph the subject and verb come immediately after the introductory word.

In the first paragraph, the sentence which begins “So a mix…” has three main points but the sentence ‘runs on’ and doesn’t use conjunctions. This sentence in the second paragraph still has three main points, but is grammatically correct and uses the conjunctions ‘because’ and ‘and’.

To help parents keep up with news, events, and activities, use a “communications envelope” to send school and PTO correspondence home with students on a regular schedule.

by Linda J. O’Gorman

In my house, we do our best to protect the environment. We use recycled paper for practice spelling tests and writing rough drafts of papers and a lunch box instead of paper bags. We even have cloth gift bags for birthdays and the holidays instead of using wrapping paper (my apologies to the wrapping paper fundraiser committee). So I was thrilled when my school implemented the Communication Envelope system. Now, every Wednesday an envelope containing school, PTO, and community flyers comes home with my younger daughter.

Advantages

As a parent in the school, I love having only one day per week on which to check only one backpack for important information. I’m much more likely to get the message, since it comes home in a sturdy envelope rather than as a crumpled sheet.

I’m also thrilled that we can cut down on the amount of paper and photocopy energy we consume. Our school has about 350 students from 230 families. The math is easy: Everything that goes into the one envelope per family rather than into each student’s folder saves 120 sheets of paper.

Getting Started

Sound worthwhile? Well, once you’ve gotten approval and funding, these simple over-the-summer steps will get the ball rolling for you.

Order envelopes. We get our envelopes from Coastal Publishing Group Inc., in Woodbridge, Va. The company makes tough, durable, tear-proof, water resistant, resealable envelopes that will last the whole school year, and they customize them with our school name and weekly calendar.

Recruit committee members and divide them into teams. The bigger the committee, the less often each member needs to come in to work. The committee at my school has about 40 members divided into four teams. Each team comes in once every four weeks to either unstuff or stuff envelopes. There are usually two unstuffers, five stuffers, and three who can’t make it for any given week. Each team has a leader who reminds the other members when to come. We also have a substitute list just in case a team comes up really short one week.

Label the envelopes. Get class lists from the school secretary as soon as they are available. (Hopefully, this will be in the form of a spreadsheet.) For each envelope, create a label with the family name and students’ names and homerooms listed in order from youngest to oldest. The envelope will go home with the youngest student.

Prepare the envelope boxes. We use portable plastic file boxes. If you’re using boxes from the previous year, wash them out and replace any that are in bad shape. Label the fresh boxes with homeroom name and a class list and add the labeled envelopes.

Prepare the first-day-of-school packets. It’s a good idea to stuff the back-to-school communication in the envelopes before the first day of school.

Keeping the Ball Rolling

The cochairs love that they get the bulk of their work done before the school year begins.

Collect communications during the week. Information for the envelopes comes in two flavors: reminders and full-page flyers. A one- or two-sentence notice that will appear in the Reminders section of the Weekly Cover Sheet might be enough to get the word out about an upcoming school event. PTO and school newsletters, registration forms, and community events might warrant a full-page ad.

Tuesday afternoon. The unstuffers get everything ready for the stuffers. They create a weekly cover sheet listing contents and reminders for the information packet that will go home on Wednesday. They collect the file boxes from the classrooms, remove anything from the envelopes that came back to the school (like labels for our clip-and-save programs), put the envelopes in order, and note any missing envelopes. They also create “delinquent labels.” If an envelope is missing, the student’s name is written on a pre-printed label asking the family to send it back that week.

Wednesday morning. The stuffing team makes any last minute changes to the cover sheet and photocopies it. Then they collate the information packets with a cover sheet on top, stuff the envelopes (or add a prepared label to a plain information packet for students without envelopes), and return the file boxes to the classrooms. The teachers distribute the envelopes that afternoon. A copy of the packet is also posted in the school office.

Budget

The Communication Envelope Committee needs only a small budget. In fact, the program pays for itself in terms of saved paper and toner costs. Cost for the plastic file boxes to store the envelopes drops out after the first year. The file boxes are durable but may need to be replaced from time to time. This budget is for a K-6 school with two classes at each grade level.

Expenses
File Boxes $210
Envelopes, 250 printed, resealable envelopes $300
Inkjet Mailing Labels $20
Total Cost $530

Be Informed; Hug a Tree

The Communication Envelope system is easy and efficient. I used to feel that I had to remove everything from my daughter’s backpacks to find all of the crumpled up notices at the bottom. And I’d still wonder what I’d missed. Now I feel confident I’m getting the whole scoop.

Linda J. O’Gorman is a freelance writer, mother of two daughters, and active PTO member.

The best PTO advice, ideas, and inspiration delivered weekly. Don’t miss it!

I have an assignment, and its title would be.

ADVICE ON HOW AND NOT TO ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS

My question is. What’s more accurate and appropriate to use here, “on” or “about”?

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

2 Answers 2

Both are acceptable with little difference in meaning. That’s why the two may be interchangeable in conversational English.

The word combination “advice on” tends to specifically mean “give/provide advice”, whereas “advice about something” seems to imply you want to inform someone about something.

Therefore, the former would be more accurately used.

Also, I would insert another “how” in “. how and how not to achieve . “

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

“Advice” is a mass noun (uncountable). We can refer to “advice” or “some advice”. We never say *”advices”.

If we want to make it countable, we can refer to “pieces of advice”, but this is rarely necessary. Often a piece of advice seems to suggest advice that might be unwelcome (“let me give you a piece of advice” – alternatively “some advice”), whereas when requesting advice we would say “some advice” (“please could you give me some advice” – rarely “a piece of advice”).

“Advice on” and “advice about” are both correct.

“How and not to achieve” is incorrect. You could say “how to achieve and how not to achieve your aims” or “how to achieve your aims and how not to” or simply “how to achieve your aims”.

You don’t usually “achieve” a dream. You can make a dream come true, or you can fulfil a dream.

The process of writing your personal statement can be simple if you know how to start. This is our guide on where to begin.

Make a plan

Prepare how you’re going to write your personal statement before you begin any of the actual writing. Note down how you want to structure it and what you want to say in each paragraph. By summarising what you’re going to write in a plan, you can assess whether your personal statement will flow and if you have all the things you need to include.

  1. READ MORE
  2. What to include in a personal statement

Have a structure

Part of planning your personal statement is deciding how to lay it out. Keep in mind that you’re telling admissions tutors the story of you. All stories have a structure – there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. You can use a similar method to convey your motivation for choosing the subject you’re applying for.

There’s more than one way to structure a personal statement, but you should at least have a:

  • Clear introduction
  • Strong body of five–six paragraphs that link your experience and achievements to why you’ve chosen the subject
  • Conclusion to summarise it all

A structured statement also shows admissions tutors that you can communicate effectively.

Begin with you

Tackling the introduction first? This is your chance to talk about you, your background, and your excitement for the course. It should then flow naturally into the middle paragraphs, where you can expand on why you’re interested in the subject you’ve chosen.

Tina, Lead Admissions Tutor for Adult Nursing at the University of Brighton, shared with us what she looks for in the first few paragraphs of a student’s personal statement:

They should start their application with the reason why they are applying and if they have any personal insight into a role such as being cared for when they were younger, attending hospital to visit a relative or any other experience as part of a course, volunteering, or work.

Tina, Lead Admissions Tutor for Adult Nursing at University of Brighton

Be to the point from the beginning

Your introduction shouldn’t be long-winded, so two or three sentences are usually enough. You only have 4,000 characters and about 47 lines to play with for the entire statement.

Don’t be afraid to go straight into talking about what excites you most about your subject and the motivation behind choosing to apply. Use language that’s punchy, concise, and relevant too. This will help you to show your ambition and enthusiasm to admissions tutors.

Avoid cliché opening sentences

Clichés are clichés because they’re overused. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions tutor – they’ll be reading lots of personal statements, so the ones that stand out will be those that aren’t like the others.

Make a note of any clichéd sentences you can think of or have seen online, and check you don’t include them when writing your personal statement. Some examples to avoid include:

  • ‘I have always wanted to study. ’
  • ‘I feel I’ve always had a passion for. ’
  • ‘From a young age. ’
  • ‘Since I can remember. ’

Don’t feel pressured to write the intro first

The introduction seems like the obvious place to start. But you may find it easier to leave the introduction until the end. Start at whichever point suits you best, provided you have a plan and structure in place.

Fortunately, the intro is only a few sentences, and given that the most important content will come in the body paragraphs, it may make sense to start with these paragraphs.

Just start writing! Don’t feel that you necessarily need to write your personal statement in the order in which it will be read. This is only for the author to know.

Dr Ceri Davies, Economics Director of Admissions and Recruitment at University of Birmingham

  1. READ MORE
  2. Tips for writing your personal statement

Just get words down

The most important part of writing is to get words on paper. If you’re struggling to plan, try writing down the first words that come to your head about why you want to study the subject. If you do have a plan and structure, but don’t know where to begin, try taking the same approach. You can remove or edit any bits that you don’t like later.

Once you start writing you should hopefully enter a state of flow. You’ll piece sentences together and gradually craft an impressive personal statement.

Start by writing down all the reasons why you want to study the subject you are applying for and then, when all your enthusiasm is flowing, you can decide the order you want to put it in.

Katherine Pagett, Student Recruitment Manager at University of Birmingham

Help and advice

Writing better assignments

Good paragraphs make up the main structure of essays and other assignments

Using paragraphs effectively will help you structure your assignments, meet your marking criteria and improve the quality of writing in your assessments.

There is more that one way to structure an assignment. You’ll need to check your course requirements before you submit your work because different fields and assignments can have their own requirements.

Although this page is aimed at qualitative assignments, the principles of signposting, using well-formed paragraphs, and writing a strong concluding sentence apply to most types of assignment.

The example text on this page uses the fictional essay title: ‘Chocolate is good for you. Discuss.’ This content is used to model paragraphing and citations and has been invented for these examples.

Overview of paragraphs

A paragraph should make sense on its own, address a single topic and fit into the material (paragraphs) that surround it. Although each paragraph focuses on one topic you should avoid using one very long paragraph to keep related content together.

Your introductory paragraph should outline your assignment focus. You should create additional paragraphs for sub-points, elements of a point, or a different angle.

A paragraph has three parts:

  • A signpost, sometimes called the ‘topic statement’, to tell the reader what the paragraph is about. It should be clear if you’re starting a new topic, narrowing down the focus to talk discuss it in more depth, or continuing the same topic from a different angle.
  • The paragraph body to expand on the topic. You should include evidence from experience (particularly for practice-based assignments), reflection, and talk about your reasoning using relevant texts, media, data, formulae, facts, a model, or a theory.
  • A concluding sentence or sentences to indicate whether the topic or point continues in the next paragraph, or draws to a close.

Identifying well-structured individual paragraphs

Your reader needs to be able to identify a single topic in your paragraph. If you can’t identify the topic in your paragraph, your reader will struggle to identify it.

Before you submit your assignment read your paragraphs to check:

  • your first and last sentences fit together
  • the key points in your paragraph focus on your topic/what you planned to talk about
  • the focus, flow and coherence of the whole paragraph

Identifying problems with flow: the whole assignment

Tips to check the flow of your assignment:

  • Your assignment show flow even if you only read the first sentence of every paragraph, and you should signpost any changes in focus, direction, topic, theme or point.
  • Read the last sentence of a paragraph and the first sentence of the next – check that it either flows or is clearly signposted. This helps you to check for coherence, logic and flow. If you find a problem, read the paragraphs before and after it – you might only need to tweak a sentence to put it right.

Download our paragraphs revision sheet

Download this page as a PDF for your essay writing notes.

To help parents keep up with news, events, and activities, use a “communications envelope” to send school and PTO correspondence home with students on a regular schedule.

by Linda J. O’Gorman

In my house, we do our best to protect the environment. We use recycled paper for practice spelling tests and writing rough drafts of papers and a lunch box instead of paper bags. We even have cloth gift bags for birthdays and the holidays instead of using wrapping paper (my apologies to the wrapping paper fundraiser committee). So I was thrilled when my school implemented the Communication Envelope system. Now, every Wednesday an envelope containing school, PTO, and community flyers comes home with my younger daughter.

Advantages

As a parent in the school, I love having only one day per week on which to check only one backpack for important information. I’m much more likely to get the message, since it comes home in a sturdy envelope rather than as a crumpled sheet.

I’m also thrilled that we can cut down on the amount of paper and photocopy energy we consume. Our school has about 350 students from 230 families. The math is easy: Everything that goes into the one envelope per family rather than into each student’s folder saves 120 sheets of paper.

Getting Started

Sound worthwhile? Well, once you’ve gotten approval and funding, these simple over-the-summer steps will get the ball rolling for you.

Order envelopes. We get our envelopes from Coastal Publishing Group Inc., in Woodbridge, Va. The company makes tough, durable, tear-proof, water resistant, resealable envelopes that will last the whole school year, and they customize them with our school name and weekly calendar.

Recruit committee members and divide them into teams. The bigger the committee, the less often each member needs to come in to work. The committee at my school has about 40 members divided into four teams. Each team comes in once every four weeks to either unstuff or stuff envelopes. There are usually two unstuffers, five stuffers, and three who can’t make it for any given week. Each team has a leader who reminds the other members when to come. We also have a substitute list just in case a team comes up really short one week.

Label the envelopes. Get class lists from the school secretary as soon as they are available. (Hopefully, this will be in the form of a spreadsheet.) For each envelope, create a label with the family name and students’ names and homerooms listed in order from youngest to oldest. The envelope will go home with the youngest student.

Prepare the envelope boxes. We use portable plastic file boxes. If you’re using boxes from the previous year, wash them out and replace any that are in bad shape. Label the fresh boxes with homeroom name and a class list and add the labeled envelopes.

Prepare the first-day-of-school packets. It’s a good idea to stuff the back-to-school communication in the envelopes before the first day of school.

Keeping the Ball Rolling

The cochairs love that they get the bulk of their work done before the school year begins.

Collect communications during the week. Information for the envelopes comes in two flavors: reminders and full-page flyers. A one- or two-sentence notice that will appear in the Reminders section of the Weekly Cover Sheet might be enough to get the word out about an upcoming school event. PTO and school newsletters, registration forms, and community events might warrant a full-page ad.

Tuesday afternoon. The unstuffers get everything ready for the stuffers. They create a weekly cover sheet listing contents and reminders for the information packet that will go home on Wednesday. They collect the file boxes from the classrooms, remove anything from the envelopes that came back to the school (like labels for our clip-and-save programs), put the envelopes in order, and note any missing envelopes. They also create “delinquent labels.” If an envelope is missing, the student’s name is written on a pre-printed label asking the family to send it back that week.

Wednesday morning. The stuffing team makes any last minute changes to the cover sheet and photocopies it. Then they collate the information packets with a cover sheet on top, stuff the envelopes (or add a prepared label to a plain information packet for students without envelopes), and return the file boxes to the classrooms. The teachers distribute the envelopes that afternoon. A copy of the packet is also posted in the school office.

Budget

The Communication Envelope Committee needs only a small budget. In fact, the program pays for itself in terms of saved paper and toner costs. Cost for the plastic file boxes to store the envelopes drops out after the first year. The file boxes are durable but may need to be replaced from time to time. This budget is for a K-6 school with two classes at each grade level.

Expenses
File Boxes $210
Envelopes, 250 printed, resealable envelopes $300
Inkjet Mailing Labels $20
Total Cost $530

Be Informed; Hug a Tree

The Communication Envelope system is easy and efficient. I used to feel that I had to remove everything from my daughter’s backpacks to find all of the crumpled up notices at the bottom. And I’d still wonder what I’d missed. Now I feel confident I’m getting the whole scoop.

Linda J. O’Gorman is a freelance writer, mother of two daughters, and active PTO member.

The best PTO advice, ideas, and inspiration delivered weekly. Don’t miss it!

Ideas for scaffolding paraphrasing so that students correctly learn this valuable but difficult-to-master skill.

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

When discussing text in the classroom, it’s tough for students to shift from utilizing an author’s words (copying) to accepting the challenge to express that author’s idea in their own words (paraphrasing).

But teaching effective paraphrasing is necessary because the use of paraphrasing facilitates important literacy skills: It encourages repeated reading, develops note-taking habits as students track quotes and outline text details, and expands vocabulary as they consider appropriate ways to describe the original text. The skill may seem daunting to students because it takes time to find the appropriate words to reshape a sentence, but that is time well spent.

We also need to teach paraphrasing, of course, so that students develop the skill set required to avoid committing plagiarism unintentionally.

Student Tools

One way to support students is to make them aware of tools that may help when they’re paraphrasing. Think of these as training wheels—students won’t use them forever.

Academic Phrasebank: Ready-made phrases help students organize their sentences when they paraphrase. The site provides sentence starters for defining ideas, comparing and contrasting ideas, describing cause and effect, and explaining evidence to support statements.

For instance, if a student were paraphrasing vocabulary word X, they would be able to find sentence starters such as “The word X encompasses. ” “The word X is challenging to define because. ” and “The word X is intended to. ”

Ashford University Writing Center: This website has a five-item quiz to review the paraphrasing process. It allows students to identify examples and non-examples of paraphrasing for a given text.

When examining non-examples, students are shown how replacing or rearranging words is akin to copying and pasting on a computer. Students see examples of effective paraphrasing, including a change of sentence structure or personal elaboration combined with limited quoted information.

Tone Analyzer: This tool allows students to enter a brief sample from a text and receive an analysis of the tone. When using this tool, students can request an assessment of whether the text illustrates anger, joy, sadness, etc. In addition to these emotions, the website includes language descriptors such as confident (used to describe texts that use active voice and/or words such as will, must, etc.) or tentative (texts with words such as seems, appears, might, etc.). This tool is useful in helping students successfully align the tone of their paraphrased material with the tone of the original text.

Student Self-Check Prompts

Students should outgrow the tools above, and teachers can encourage that growth by showing them how to monitor their own progress with paraphrasing. Students can self-check to determine how on track with paraphrasing they are by asking themselves these questions:

  • Can I identify elements of the text that are most significant (and thus appropriate to preserve) when I put it in my own words?
  • Can I recite elements of the text from memory in order to prepare to put it into my own words?
  • How can I adjust the sentence structure to preserve the meaning of the text?

Student Cautions

Because the journey to paraphrasing may involve a few hiccups, it’s a good idea to identify potential student challenges. When paraphrasing, remind students that they should:

  • Attempt to describe the text in their own words gradually, one component at a time (thanks to Doug Lemov and Maggie Johnson for this close reading strategy). For instance, they might first use their own words to describe significant phrases in the reading, and then make an effort to explain one or two key sentences, and finally attempt to paraphrase an entire paragraph.
  • Monitor the similarities between the text and the paraphrase. For instance, after describing specific sentences or paragraphs, they should note how many words are shared. Instead of using the same words as the author, focus on mirroring the same main idea. The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning at Yale offers easy-to-follow models for how to achieve this.
  • Ensure that there is a sufficient number of word substitutions in the paraphrased material. (Substituting only a couple of words could constitute plagiarism.) Students should focus on changing the structure of the sentence. This may involve converting a simple sentence to a compound sentence or adding a prepositional phrase.
  • Avoid adjusting special language (acronyms, figurative language, jargon, etc.). These kinds of terms are considered common knowledge, so using them in a paraphrase doesn’t constitute plagiarism. Resources such as the Purdue Online Writing Lab can help students figure out whether a particular term is common knowledge.

Teachers can push students to move beyond copying by encouraging them to see paraphrasing as the go-to reading response. When we equip students with needed resources, we make student voice the rule instead of the exception.

Quick Navigation

We are not able to live without exchanging information. We wake up and text or call our friends, asking them to meet before classes, we babble with family while getting ready, and so forth. Classmates help us prepare for tests and exams; moreover, a lot of students have internet friends.

It’s not the end – even simple gossip with a cashier at a local store is also an interaction. What if we were unable to convey information properly? It’d be hard to exist like a normal human being. It could become even harder to attend college or university and make friends. Yet, students don’t have to worry about that because there are a lot of games to improve comprehension and listening efficiency, which can be played with your friends in the neighborhood, at school, or even in a group of strangers. We’ve found several activities to improve communication skills you can implement in your daily life.

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5 Funny Activities For High-School and College Students To Improve Communication Skills

  1. Tell Me About The Time. This activity aims at helping students perform in front of an audience without fear or anxiety. A group chooses the leader who thinks of a random and bizarre sentence and tells it to a chosen person. For example: “Tell me about the time you wore a slice of cheese on your head and lived near our city’s theater.” The second person needs to start telling this story in 5 seconds and stop only when the leader decides.
  2. Silent Take. A nonverbal activity performed in class, where people usually already know each other. Put the group in pairs and give half the people a scene to reenact. The pairs don’t use the words while the other half of students need to guess what they were doing, describing it in words.
  3. Just Listen. A listening game to train comprehension. One person only listens to the other without talking and interrupting, letting them talk about anything they want. In the end, the listener should retell the whole story shortly and answer/give advice on the topic.
  4. Who Am I? A question game for speaking with the whole class. A teacher needs to prepare sticky notes with any noun on it, preferably the name of a famous person or food and stick them on students’ foreheads without them seeing the writing. One of them comes out to the front and starts asking yes or no questions until they guess who/what they are.
  5. Debates. A simple form of debate is one of the best team building activities for students and an amazing way to create an interesting lesson for youth. Learn our list of best debate topics for inspiration. Split the class in half and present them a point to discuss. One group should agree with the idea, and another disagrees. Give them some time to prepare in groups and have a debate on the issue. This one is a great example of communication skills group activities.

Easy Ways to Improve Communication Skills In College

Communication has a very wide meaning, and to have talent with it can be a challenge. Being a great friend means having a welcoming posture and gestures, cheerful/appropriate/clear tone, loud enough voice, eye contact, confidence in your thoughts and ideas, empathy, and care.

Every ability needs to be developed and you can’t just be born as a perfect orator. To get better at interacting with people, you can make use of various communication skills activities for adults including:

  1. Record yourself speaking and point out any issues or mistakes you want to change.
  2. Write your thoughts down, take part in creative writing, work for custom essay writing. Understanding yourself may become a revolutionary talent for you, and it can increase your confidence.
  3. Watch films and read literature to broaden your mind and understand different concepts. It will help you become more empathetic and understand your peers better.
  4. Listen more than you talk and try to understand everything your partner tries to convey, don’t break eye contact and get rid of all your distractions.

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English Language Teaching Global Blog

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentenceStudents need to be able to do so much more than reel off lists of vocabulary! They need to be able to manipulate the language so that it can support their communicative needs. Below are 5 ways to help students really learn vocabulary; to help them write, speak and communicate confidently and correctly.

1) New vocabulary little and often

It’s alarming how quickly students can forget vocabulary. Encouraging students to focus on new vocabulary daily is the best way to make it stick. It doesn’t have to involve sitting down for hours; little and often will help get vocabulary into students long term memory. If you can get students to commit to just 15 minutes a day of focussed vocabulary practice, they’ll soon have a solid vocabulary base. Mobile apps and short online activities are great for this, as students can log on instantly and test themselves at any point of the day – it’s really not difficult to integrate learning into their daily routine this way. Encourage students to be systematic about studying and review new words at least once every couple of weeks.

Idea for your class:

Ask students to create their own system for reviewing new vocabulary and trial it for a month. Students then give feedback to the class by preparing a presentation of how it worked.

2) Learn vocabulary in chunks

We all know that learning vocabulary in chunks is useful and improves accuracy and fluency. If we can allow students to also see how much time can be saved by learning this way, they are more likely to pick this up as something they do automatically. Words used out of context can destroy the understanding of a sentence. The moment the sentence is pre-formed, a range of vocabulary can be inserted, giving students the added confidence that their structure is correct.

Idea for your class:

At the end of the week, students write down three sentences (using new lexical chunks), two of which are true for themselves and one which is false. They practice using this language by reading the sentences to their classmates, who need to guess which is the false sentence.

3) Range of contexts

We need to build a real context for students to use new vocabulary in. By this, I’m not only talking about personalisation, but also taking the vocabulary out of the classroom. Make it real! Listen to the news, read some novels or focus on the vocabulary of student’s favourite music. The more that language is seen in different contexts, the more students will be extrinsically motivated as they’ll want to know more. The focus is then taken off the language and onto the topic. This is much more interesting for students (and teachers).

Idea for your class:

Each week a different student is in charge of ‘culture watch’ and needs to spend an hour or so researching online. This student then reports back to the class on what is happening in the world of British news, music or literature.

4) Use a dictionary

Good learner dictionaries give students so much help with getting a grasp on vocabulary. If they are taught how to use them properly they will increase their depth of understanding. With correct usage of a good dictionary, such as the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, students will know how vocabulary is pronounced. They’ll also be able to identify which words are from the academic word list, learn synonyms and antonyms etc.

Idea for your class:

Make sure all students not only invest in a good dictionary but also do all the dictionary activities, to familiarise themselves with it. The section in the middle of the Oxford Student’s Dictionary is useful, as is the Oxford Wordpower trainer which accompanies the Wordpower dictionary.

5) Extensive reading

It is better if your students read small amounts regularly, rather than large texts infrequently. (In an ideal world they would read a lot frequently)They shouldn’t use a dictionary. This means they need to be reading at the right level and understanding about 95% of the text. They will be extrinsically motivated if they are interested in the topic, so they should be choosing what they read themselves. The more they read, the more they will be reviewing vocabulary and that increased exposure will help the vocabulary get stored into the students long term memory. This in turn will enable better spoken and written production.

Idea for your class:

Bring a selection of different readers into the classroom and scatter them around the class. Tell students to circulate the room and simply discuss with each other which readers they like and which they don’t. They should just look at the cover and the blurb on the back. Based on this, they choose the reader they’d like to read.

Do you have any top tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentenceProduced by Guest blogger

To celebrate International Midwives Day on 5 May, current student Jess, shares some tips on how to write a personal statement if your applying for BSc (Hons) Midwifery.

Writing about yourself in general is hard enough but when you only have 4,000 characters to make a great first impression, mention all your transferable skills, talk about your experience, why you want to be a midwife and somehow make it exciting to read is one tall order!

Writing my personal statement I knew already how competitive it is when applying for a place on a midwifery programme. Limiting my chances by only applying to 2 university’s made the process even scarier! I started drafting my personal statement as early as I could, having been through the process before I had a personal statement to work from BUT i am so glad I scrapped the whole thing and started over. The best thing I did was get hold of a book for writing personal statements for midwifery. I made every mistake going when writing my personal statement at 17 and that truly was from a lack of research and understanding of the role of a midwife and not for lack of passion.

Here’s my top tips for writing a personal statement!

1) Start as early as you can! Even if you just start with a bullet pointed list of everything you want to put into your statement… it’s a start.

2) Draft, Draft and Re-Draft! Make the most of support from tutors or other professionals who offer to read your statement. It’s so important to make sure your sentence structure, spelling and grammar are up to scratch.

3) Read it out loud. It helps so much to read it through and you will pick up on so many more typing issues and mistakes by reading it out loud.

4) When you do start writing make sure you type it in a word document or keep a hard copy rather than typing straight into UCAS as this makes it easier for spell check and checking the word limit.

5) If your a few characters over make sure you check the end of your sentences and paragraphs as I didn’t realise that I always put extra spaces on the end which does take up characters and line space!

Now for midwifery specific tips!

1) Don’t talk about babies! The role of a midwife is about supporting women, and that should be the focus of your statement.

2) Research the skills and qualities of a midwife and try to talk about how you have those skills. Try to follow the format of what is the skill? show evidence of you having it ( talk about experience) and then why that skill is important in midwifery practice.

3) BUZZ WORDS! the 6 C’s of care are a great place to start and if you don’t know what they are go and read up about them! Also consider the importance of non-judgemental care especially in the context of the diversity of women and families that you may encounter through midwifery care.

4) The NMC’s code of conduct is a great resource and I would definitely make sure you’ve read it at some point before interviews.

5) Find something about midwifery that gets you excited and talk about it, get that passion across. Look up current ‘hot topics’ if your ensure.

6) Bring that reader in with that very first sentence! I would make use of your buzz words or show something about your understanding of the role of a midwife in that very first sentence!

7) Don’t worry if you can’t summarise why you want to be a midwife! Its not about the why its about how you’ve got to this point now, what have you done to prove that this is the career for you!

8) Remember your applying for a degree and not a job as a midwife just yet, so try and make some acknowledgement to being able to cope with the academic side of the course and your ability to manage your time especially as the midwifery course is 50% study and 50% placement.

9) Make sure you finish that personal statement with a really powerful ending. That will be the very last thing they read and if they haven’t made their mind up by that point that could be what sways it!

10) Make sure that it truly represents you and DON’T LIE! your personal statement will be the only thing they have about you when it comes to interview so they will talk about it with you if you can’t expand on what you’ve said or you seem to not know much about that 6 year placement you did in Antarctica setting up a midwifery unit for Eskimo’s they will realise it was probably a lie!

Just be yourself and if you haven’t got experience or struggle to get it that’s fine! So many transferable skills can come from other jobs. Retail work is about working with people, communicating with customers. Having patience when dealing with frustrated customers. Its all transferable skills so talk about it!

I hope these tips help anyone writing their statement and good luck on your journey to becoming student midwives!

Cambridge Admissions Office

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

When you apply to university, we want to know about you; your motivations, your academic interests, your passions, and ultimately discover whether we think you’ll be the right fit for the course you have applied for. Your personal statement is your opportunity to really sell yourself – but you only have 4000 characters to do it in. Here, we offer you some tips and advice on how to get it right and make the best impression with your application.

Where to start

Don’t let the blank page put you off. Just start writing and try not to overthink it – you can always change and refine your statement later.

You might want to begin by thinking about the following questions to help you make a list of what to include:

  • What do I know about the course and its modules?
  • Why do I want to study the subject?
  • What do I like about the subject?
  • What do I already know?
  • What have I read, watched or attended that is relevant to the subject?
  • What excites me about the subject?
  • What are my academic strengths?
  • What makes me a good fit for studying this course?

What next?

Start turning your list into sentences. Think about how each thing in your list relates to your subject, and start to form concise sentences. Aim to organise the sentences into paragraphs and form a logical structure to make a case for your suitability for the course.

Aim for one idea per sentence, and one major theme per paragraph. If you can, try to tie it all together with common themes and ideas. For example, you may have learned a topic during your A Levels, then read a book about it and independently researched more about the theory, which sparked some ideas and questions of your own. You may have read a number of books on a similar theme – think about any parallels or contrasts between them.

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

Want to know how to start a personal statement for university? Most students find that starting a personal statement is the hardest part, but our advice is not to start at the start.

Leave your opening line until last and just try and simply get some ideas down on paper. Don’t try to think of a catchy opening, instead plan what you want to say, concentrate on the main content of your statement, use our worksheet to make a draft, and write the introduction last.

So how do you go about writing the rest? If you want to write to impress, here’s five top tips to help you nail your UCAS application. We’ve even thrown in some real personal statement examples from our students.

1. Write like you

Don’t get caught up in trying to become a human thesaurus. Personal statements should look more like a record of your academic and personal achievements and less like a churning out of quotes from age-old philosophers! Your personal statement needs to show off who you are, which is easy to lose whilst rattling off your achievements or quotes from others. A straightforward sentence that demonstrates your enthusiasm is much better than trying to get their attention with an outdated statement or a quote from a historian from hundreds of years ago. We promise!

Example from one of our students

“Digital media has always been a large part of my life. From now cringe-worthy creations of my early youth to near-professional publications I now create, I have always enjoyed creating creative media using technology.”

2. Break it down

The whole personal statement may look like a mammoth task right now, so start off by breaking it into more manageable chunks. Break it up into sections and approach them one at a time – you don’t necessarily have to fully write up any of your paragraphs, in fact we advise that you brainstorm ideas before putting pen to paper! It’s also crucial to remember that organisation is key. Write lists of what you want to include in your statement and why you love the subject.

Voluntary work: This can include peer mentoring and being a prefect. Remember to say what you did/ do, then what you learned from it and why you found it useful and rewarding.

Example from one of our students

“I followed my dreams and created a clothing line named ‘MOXY’ this creation of mine grew and amassed a client base of over 1000 people on MOXY’s Facebook page and shipped over 80 of my products worldwide, one of my best achievements was organising and casting a photo-shoot involving products and models.”

Download your free personal statement guide

Get a helping hand with your university application.

3. Use examples – back yourself up!

Don’t lose sight of the task at hand. Always remember to answer the question: ‘Why should we give you a place on the course?’ Instead of writing about yourself aimlessly, check that every bit of the personal statement should be answering this question. When you are talking about your strengths and qualities, make sure you use examples to highlight your claims whenever appropriate.

4. Now write your opening line

So now you have done all the above steps, let’s get down to it: the most effective opening sentences are simple, to the point and personal to you. Remember showing your interest and enthusiasm in the course is the biggest thing. Start with why you chose it, then try and summarise this in one or two sentences. Be original and refer to personal experiences as a way to draw attention. Avoid overused opening sentences, quotes and clichés like ‘when I was young…’ They want to know about you now, not your childhood or Shakespeare!

5.Check, check, and check again!

Once you’ve started your first draft, get other people to critique your statement, especially if you know other students who are currently doing the same course you’re applying for. You can also ask teachers or professionals in the field. Use appropriate vocabulary, spelling and grammar. Use words with precise meanings, avoid pretentious language or giving the impression you just swallowed a dictionary. Read it back to yourself out loud – and get parents, friends or siblings to take a look through too.

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

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Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

Download for free: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Statements

Not sure how to write your personal statement? Download your free guide which includes real examples from our students.

  • STRING_SPLIT
  • CROSS APPLY

Problem:

You want to split a string in SQL Server.

Example 1:

You have a sentence, and you’d like to split it by the space character.

Solution 1:

The result looks like this:

value
An
example
sentence.

Discussion:

The STRING_SPLIT(string, separator) function in SQL Server splits the string in the first argument by the separator in the second argument. To split a sentence into words, specify the sentence as the first argument of the STRING_SPLIT() function and ‘ ‘ as the second argument.

STRING_SPLIT() results in a column named value. To get each part of the string in a separate row, select value from STRING_SPLIT(string, separator) . For example,

Of course, you can split a string using some other separator, e.g., the comma. You can also rename the column just like any other column.

Example 2:

In the texts table, there are some sentences.

sentence
This is the first sentence.
And here’s the other one.

You want to split the sentences by the space character.

Solution 2:

The result looks like this:

value
This
is
the
first
sentence.
And
here’s
the
other
one.

Discussion:

Just as in the previous example, the STRING_SPLIT(text, separator) function splits the string given as the first argument by the separator. This time, you have a few sentences to take care of; these sentences are stored in the texts table. This is why you need to use CROSS APPLY; more specifically,

Use it in the FROM clause. It means that the right side ( STRING_SPLIT(sentence, ‘ ‘) ) is applied to each row of the left-side table ( texts ). This is why the right side can use the columns from the left-side table (here, the sentence column from the texts table.) Here’s the query you get.

Example 3:

In the texts table, there are two columns: id and sentence .

id sentence
1 This is the first sentence.
2 And here’s the other one.

You want to split the sentences by the space character and also show the IDs of the sentences.

Solution 3:

The result looks like this:

id value
1 This
1 is
1 the
1 first
1 sentence.
2 And
2 here’s
2 the
2 other
2 one.

Discussion:

This example is very similar, but you also want to see the id column. To see this column, just add it to the SELECT list and remember to include the comma. You’ll see the ID of the sentence along with the parts of the sentences in the result. For example, the first sentence is split into 5 parts and has the ID 1 . Hence, the ID for all 5 parts in the result table will be 1 . The next sentence, with the ID 2 , is also split into 5 parts, and each of these parts will be shown with id = 2 .

My Advice for First Steps in High School

I sincerely congratulate you on your admission to start high school. As you begin, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions: What is my overall goal in this school? What friends will I have? Will I participate in extracurricular activities? How will I respond to my teachers and relate to my colleagues? Think deeply about these. Pause for a moment to give answers to some or all of them. And see if you can align your responses with my advice.

High school calls for more responsibility from you than was required in lower grades. Now is the time to see life more clearly and get closer to choosing your interests. Education at this stage offers you an opportunity to discover yourself: explore it. Build on your strengths while you work hard on diminishing your weaknesses.

I strongly advise you to set specific goals for yourself. Define your academic objectives. Aim to be the best student in your class throughout the grades. Start preparing for college. Write down these goals as you want them and post your write-up where you can always see it. You may also want to participate in one or two extracurricular activities, go ahead. Get as many awards as you can both in class and on the playing field. Look for friends that share these goals, and cooperate with them. Develop a team spirit as you work with your friends will help you later in life.

Set out time to identify your talents and gifts. Explore them for the benefit of yourself and others. You can do it! This will build you up for the challenges ahead and prepare you for college. You can get the best out of the high school experience.

Critiquing Three Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Foreign Language Learners’ Use and Perception of Online Dictionaries: A Survey Study In the article entitled Foreign Language Learners’ Use and Perception of Online Dictionaries: A Survey Study, Jin and Deifell (2013) discussed the function, the role, and the importance of online dictionaries to support foreign language learners. Both authors identified the initial problem in…

How to Write 5 Paragraphs Essay

Five-paragraph essay is one of the classic formats for compositions. Of course, it is not the only model for creating an essay, but it is rather useful one, especially for the beginners. First of all, any classical essay will contain introduction, body text and conclusion. For five-paragraph essay the body text will consist of three…

Why I Want To Do Early Childhood Education Essay

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Simple ESL Activity for Giving Advice / Making Suggestions

ESL Level: lower-intermediate & intermediate

Target skill: giving advice

Class Time: 10 minutes

Background: This is a simple speaking activity where students practice using the most common structures for giving advice / suggestions.

Activity Execution:

1) Write the below five (or seven) sentence patterns for giving advice on the board:

You should.
I suggest.
Why don’t.
If I were you.
How about.
[Optional: My advice would be. ] [Optional: Have you thought. ]

2) Tell your students that you have a problem, e.g. one of your teeth hurts. Ask them to give you some advice. One will likely say “You should go to the dentist.” Great. Write the suggestion “go to the dentist” on the board beside “You should. “. Next, get the students to fit that idea (go to the dentist) into the other sentence patterns. e.g:

I suggest (that) you go to the dentist.
Why don’t you go to the dentist?
If I were you I would go to the dentist
.

Make sure they understand the how to use each pattern for giving advice (especially suggest, which tends to be the hardest).

3) Tell them to get a piece of a paper, and write down two (or more) problems that the following type of people might have:

  • students
  • workers
  • the elderly

They can write it down in point form in their own native language if they’d like. It’s not important how they write it down. Give them one minute.

4) When ready, tell one student to start by saying his/her first problem. Have the student say something like : “I am a student. I have a problem. I am failing all of my courses.” Next, get the other students to give advice using one of the patterns on the board. When a student gives a suggestion using one of the patterns, put a check mark on the board beside that pattern for him/her. Then get the next student to tell his/her problem to the class and get advice. The activity is finished when every student has given advice using all of the patterns.

This is a simple speaking activity but practical. If your students are lower-intermediate or intermediate, I suggest that you give it a try.

Matthew Barton of EnglishCurrent.com

Related Pages

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7 comments on “ Speaking Activity: Giving Advice (ESL) ”

what is your problem I am a person the give advice

I am a person that give you advice

I am hungry but I am too lazy to make food. What should I do?

Great warm up for an advice-suggestions lesson! Involves everyone in the class and that is important, thank you!

its OK in my opinion.

Hi, I’m a student and I’m having problems with my school supplies, there are many things that I do not understand, the exam period is approaching and possibly I get very low grades.

– You should take some extra courses
-I suggest you study more topics that you do not understand
– Why do not you ask for advice?
-If I were you, I would ask someone who understands the subject to help me study
-What if you study the subject on your own

#3: I recommend using a contraction (“don’t”). The expression is always ‘Why don’t you…?” I’ve never heard it with “Why do not you…?” (it sounds strange!)
Otherwise, great!
MB

Grads and current students offer words of wisdom

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

It was a little back-to-school question that resulted in a huge response.

As U of T News planned different ways to tell a few of the many stories inspired by the start of a new year at the University of Toronto, we reached out to some of our oustanding recent grads as profiled in our 2013 Convocation feature, “Where the grads go,” and asked “What advice do you wish you’d received in first year?”

After those grads were so eager to offer words of wisdom, we thought we should open the conversation to the University of Toronto Facebook group. The outcome was an avalanche of advice for new students, posted in one of U of T’s most-commented-on Facebook threads of all time.

What follows are the best, most interesting, and most useful pieces of advice for first-year students.

1. GET INVOLVED

“Welcome to U of T! You made it!” said Oloruntobi Ogunbiyi, a recent Computer Science graduate now working for Toronto startup, Divnotes. “Feeling excited and overwhelmed is inevitable as there are so many students with lots to do. Settling in shouldn’t take too long,” he said, so long as students take the initiative to get plugged-in to the university community through volunteering and clubs, and make an effort to introduce themselves to professors and teaching assistants.

2. MAKE USE OF OFFICE HOURS

“Profs hold office hours for a reason, so use them!” echoed Emma Cancelliere, an alumna from the Biological Anthropology program who convocated last June. “All of the best answers, advice, and opportunities that I got at U of T, I got during office hours.”

“I know it can be insanely intimidating to go to office hours at first, but it’s worth it. Once I actually started crying after leaving my prof’s office, feeling completely shaken and disheartened by the critique my assignment had needed. I kept going back every week, though, and my grade skyrocketed as I listened to the suggestions and advice being offered. That same prof became somewhat of a mentor to me, and even wound up being one of my references when I applied to grad school,” she said.

“Office hours are also a great chance to dive into meaningful, one-on-one conversations with experts in your field. My professors were all so passionate about what they did, and I learned the most brilliant, interesting things about their work by talking to them during office hours, since there’s never time in lecture!”

3, DON’T STRESS ABOUT GRADES

“In terms of marks, try your best to find a balance and to not fall prey to over-confidence and/or fear,” says Chesarahmia DojoSoeandy, an award-winning alumna who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from U of T last June.

4. JOIN A CLUB

“Also, trying out new things definitely adds to a positive experience at U of T,” she suggests. “U of T has a variety of different clubs and activities. Maybe you have always wanted to try martial arts or learn to make origami or photography or dance– U of T probably has a club for whatever you have in mind. If not, start one!”

The remaining pieces of advice were all gathered via the following Facebook thread:

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

5. MANAGE TIME WISELY

6. ACTIVELY SEEK OUT NEW FRIENDS

7. DON’T GIVE IN TO PROCRASTINATION

8. KEEP FOCUSED ON YOUR END GOAL

9. GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

10. GET STARTED ON READINGS RIGHT AWAY

11. LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR STRESS

12. KNOW THAT YOU’RE NOT ALONE

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

13. UNDERSTAND THAT EDUCATION IS MORE THAN A DEGREE

14. KNOW THAT STRESSING OUT IS HARMFUL, NOT HELPFUL

15. VOLUNTEER

16. ALWAYS TRY YOUR BEST

17. STAY AFTER CLASS

18. TAKE QUALITY STUDY NOTES

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

19. PLAN YOUR SNACKS

20. JOIN A SPORTS TEAM

21. REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Step 1 – Analyze the question

  • Offer to help your friend find somewhere to stay
  • Give advice about what your friend should do in your country or region
  • Give information about what clothes your friend needs to bring

Begin your letter as follows: ‘Dear……,

Step 2 – Think of details

​Step three – Think about the tone

Now we know the letter is informal, how will this affect the salutation and sign off?

The salutation should be ‘Dear + first name’. For example, ‘Dear Sally,’. Don’t use Mr. or Mrs. with a family name as this is much too formal.

To end the letter, you could use one of these informal sign off expressions – regards, my warmest regards, take care

The letter is informal so contractions such as shouldn’t or won’t are acceptable. Contractions may be used in informal writing but not in formal writing.

If you feel confident with it, you may use some colloquial or slang vocabulary in your letter. If you don’t use colloquialisms, you will not lose marks so only use it if you are sure you can use it correctly.

An example colloquialism is ‘How are things?’ rather than ‘​How are you?’

Step 4 – write your letter

Step 5 – Check for Mistakes

​Let’s practice our letter writing language with some interactive activities.

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

We’ve all been there… teaching students how to write complete sentences is tricky, frustrating, and just all around problematic! Today I want to share with you my favorite activities to teach students how to write complete sentences AND how we transition to writing detailed, descriptive sentences.

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

Writing Complete Sentences: The Basics

In the beginning, I always teach students the two basics: Every sentence must have a WHO (a naming part aka subject) and a WHAT (a telling part aka predicate)!

We talk about how even two or three words can make a sentence.

The dog ran.

Sure, it’s a terribly boring sentence that lacks detail, but it’s a sentence. Remember, this is just the beginning. 🙂

Building Complete Sentences

Students MUST truly understand and practice what makes a complete sentence before moving on to writing their own. I love letting my students build silly sentences.

In this activity, students “stitch” together complete sentences by choosing a subject and predicate.

I love this activity for a few reasons:

  1. Students love creating silly sentences!
  2. This activity gives students exposure to detailed sentences!

Advice for students How to unstuff a sentence

One activity that’s fun to try after doing this activity is letting students write their own subjects and predicates. First, grab some index cards, and split your class in half. Tell one group to write their own SUBJECTS, and tell the other group to write their own PREDICATES! Now students build silly sentences with ideas they’ve created!

Writing Descriptive Complete Sentences

Once students have a solid understanding for complete sentences, we move on to making them detailed and descriptive.

First we start with just a small “dose of detail” by adding adjectives. Students take sentence strips and choose various adjectives to add to the sentence.

Finally, when students are ready, have them create descriptive, complete sentences with a fun Sentence Surgery day! I have a bunch of cards that contain different parts of a sentence: naming parts, telling parts, adjectives, etc. *Note: Copy each part on different colors!!

With this activity, students can rearrange the words easily to make sentences in a variety of ways.

For example, we could have made the sentence say, “In the morning, the fast clown jumped on the school bus.”

If you’re ready to start your writing complete, descriptive sentences lessons, you can find all of these activities here!

Do you want to know how to improve your English writing skills? Do you want to know how to write correct sentences without it being a painful task?

Here are some tips to help you feel more confident with writing, and improve your English writing skills:

1. Read as much as you can

Just as we say that listening is closely related to speaking, reading is closely related to writing so our number 1 tip for improving your English writing would be to read as much as you can! This will help you improve your vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, and show you there are many different ways to communicate ideas. For example: If you need to write a description of a house or a bio of yourself, a great idea is to read some other bios or house descriptions, from books, magazines, brochures, the internet or whatever source you can think of. After having read others, then you can attempt to write your own. You’ll realize it’s much easier than trying to write without any previous input! Why not read some more posts on our blog to start?!

2. Keep an English dictionary

You’ll be able to look up words to clarify their meaning and to learn antonyms and synonyms so as not to repeat words or phrases, which will better your communication skills.

3. Brush up your grammar

Even though you don’t have to “study” grammar, your English writing will improve a lot if you work on grammar exercises. Also, remember that grammar is more important when you write than when you speak because it is usually more formal and more structured.

4. Check your spelling before and after writing

How do you feel when you read something full of spelling mistakes in your own language? Poor spelling can spoil an otherwise interesting piece to read, and we generally write for other people to read what we’ve written.

5. Keep a diary in English

It will make you write every day to turn writing into a routine activity. Besides, you are “writing to yourself”, which can make you feel liberated and satisfied. You don’t need to write elaborate sentences: you can keep them as simple as you want.

6. Learn how to expand your basic sentences into more elaborate ones

There are five basic sentence structures in English:

  • Subject – Verb (John studies; My friend is playing )
  • Subject – Verb – Object (I like apples; Mary reads novels)
  • Subject –Verb – Adjective (Jenny is happy; Linda is pretty)
  • Subject – Verb – Adverb (She speaks fluently; These flowers are everywhere)
  • Subject – Verb – Noun (My father was a chemist, You are a student)

Here are a few examples of how you can expand them:

  • John, my brother, studies at home. My long-life friend is always playing.
  • These small white flowers are everywhere during the summer. My father, who passed away several years ago, was a well-known chemist.

7. Learn how to organize a paragraph

An useful way to improve your English writing skills is to start your paragraphs with a topic sentence: i.e. a sentence that explains what you are going to write about. Continue with supporting sentences: i.e. sentences that provide more information about the topic. Finish with a conclusion: i.e. it is generally a summary of the ideas developed in the body of the paragraph. Learn how to make transitions between paragraphs to signal relationships between ideas so as to create a fluent body of text.

8. Write an outline

Even in a very simple piece of English writing you have to keep some kind of an organization to convey the message you want in a clear orderly way. There are many different ways to write outlines and these have much to do with the way you organize things in your mind.

9. Try to get someone to read what you’ve written

A teacher, a tutor, a native speaker: whoever masters the language and can help you understand and correct whatever mistakes you may have made both in grammar or spelling and in the way your paragraph text has been organized.

Writing in English is not really something you can achieve immediately, but with hard, efficient work and gradual improvement you should definitely get there. Start writing very simple sentences and then get the challenge to write more elaborate pieces. Just give it a try!

Why not try our English Test to find out how good your English skills are?

1
Be Gentle When Blowing Your Nose
If your nose is blocked then you may think it wise to blow your nose and clear the mucus.

If your nose is blocked then you may think it wise to blow your nose and clear the mucus. As mentioned, stuffy noses are caused by inflamed membrane lining, and forcefully blowing your nose can lead to further damage of the membranes. When the mucus is running and you feel like blowing your nose, ensure that you do it gently, and blow one nostril at a time.

2
Try Nasal Spray

A saline nasal spray can be made with salt and water, put inside a suitable delivery/spray apparatus. Saline nasal spray can also be bought at most pharmaceutical stores.

To use, first stand over a sink with your nostrils pointing toward the sink/drain. Spray the solution into one nostril, and allow the liquid to drain from your nose into the sink before spraying the second nostril. This method can be repeated up to three times a day.

3
Ease Congestion with Steam

Steam can be helpful when trying to ascertain how to unstuff your nose, and can be used as much as required to attain relief. This method works to moisten the air, increasing humidity. Inhaling moist air helps to soothe swollen blood vessels within the sinuses, helping to eradicate stuffy noses.

There are numerous methods of exposing your nasal passages to hot steam, including having a hot shower, turning on a humidifier, or inhaling steam from boiling water.

4
Apply a Warm Compress

Simply wet a washcloth in hot water, as hot as you can tolerate, and place the dampened cloth over your nose, ensuring to keep the airways of the nostrils clear. It may take a while for this method to have any positive effects, and you may have to re-heat/re-dampen the cloth numerous times when it becomes cold.

5
Try Acupressure

Acupressure can help to reduce sinus pressure and give you relief from a stuffy nose. This method involves applying pressure to certain areas of the body to attain relief from ailments; in this case, the sides of the eye cavities are the site of pressure. To do this, follow the steps below:

First, place both index fingers in the corner of each eye socket beside the nose, slightly below the eye-brow, then gently massage in outward circular motions for around thirty seconds.

Next, place both index fingers on the outer side, just below the eyes, and repeat the same massaging motion.

Lastly, use your thumbs to repeat the same massaging motions on your cheek bones, but for around thirty-five seconds.

Repeat this process until relief is attained, which may take four or five times.

6
Increase Fluid Intake

When it comes to how to unstuff your nose , some simple fluid intake can help a lot. Ensuring to remain hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids such as water, warm soup, tea or juices, they can help to clear congested nasal passages by thinning the mucus and decreasing the pressure inside sinuses, which in turn, reduces swelling and irritation.

7
Try Using Eucalyptus Oil

This is thought to be one of the most effective home remedies at treating stuffy nose. Simply place a few drops of this oil onto a small piece of cloth/handkerchief and inhale the oil’s fragrance through your nostrils. You can also drop a few droplet of this oil onto your pillow to inhale whilst you sleep.

8
Consume Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits have decongestant properties to clear a stuffy nose with the synephrine they contain. There are a plateau of tasty citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes. These fruits can be eaten, made into juice and drank, or used as an aromatic, giving natural help at eradicating a stuffy nose.

9
Other Remedies

If you want to know how to unstuff your nose, you may have by now realized that there are numerous natural ways to do so. Below are some other remedies that may prove effective:

Garlic : Consuming garlic can work tremendously well in decongesting a stuffy nose. You can either eat fresh cloves, or preparing a simple garlic soup by crushing three cloves and adding them into a cup of boiling water.

Apple cider vinegar : Make a natural solution by mixing 2 tablespoons of ACV with one tablespoon of honey and one cup of warm water, and drink the mixture to get relief from congested nasal passages.

Basil : Either chewing leaves of the basil plant, or making and drinking a tea made from them by adding basil leaves to boiling water can help to resolve a stuffy nose.

Honey : Mix two teaspoons of pure, organic honey into a lukewarm glass of water and drink the mixture. Do this daily until you attain relief from nasal congestion.

Ginger : Ginger tea can be consumed to help ease a stuffy nose, and even better when honey and lemon is mixed in also. Alternatively, you can add some powdered ginger to a glass of lukewarm water, and drink the solution.

The video below will provide you with further information on methods to un-stuff your nose: