I was recently helping someone with a comparative essay they had to write for school. This person did not like writing—a common enough state of affairs. They felt that they had no talent for it. The process frustrated them. I could see that they were struggling in part because they were trying to do everything at once (come up with ideas, write grammatically sound sentences, discover their own thinking and opinions on the topic at hand).Read More
Hello! My name is Chris S., and I’m an SAT tutor with Cambridge Coaching. I’m also a PhD student in American poetry at Harvard. Like Mac S., who’s written about vocabulary studying, I think it’s unhelpful to worry too much about the millions of novels, essays, poems, and new words that exist—those mountains upon mountains of text. Instead, I like to de-stress vocab through the reinforcement of good habits—little fixes to the big question of improving English proficiency.Read More
A meritorious lexicon is imperative for perspicacity. Or, in plain English, a good vocabulary is important for understanding things. It helps you in your education and your career—and, for our immediate purposes, on standardized tests.
But it can be tricky to memorize a slew of words you don’t understand, especially if you don’t see or hear them all that often. When’s the last time you said to a friend that something seemed, say, “diaphanous,” “multifarious,” or “truculent”? Beyond reading widely and memorizing flashcards with fancy words on them before bed each night, what can you do to increase your vocabulary?Read More
We've all been there. The teacher is at the front of the classroom with a pile a blue books. She begins handing them out. You scrawl the name and date on the front, and wait for her to start the timer. As you open the first page, an overwhelming white page stares back at you. And you panic.
Luckily, there are ways to prepare for essay exams that make this moment easier. Believe it or not, is a matter of remembering steps -- simply master the approach and practice it, and you will do better. Promise.
So what are the steps?Read More
The blank page can be scary, terrifying even. It represents the unknown. And who isn’t afraid of what they don’t know? I, for one, feel intense insecurity and fear when confronted with an empty word document, the clicker blinking insistently at me as if impatient with my lack of progress. And I’m a writer! I’ve been writing and teaching writing for years! So, how do we conquer this fear? How do we get ourselves to write when it feels impossible?Read More
It doesn’t matter how old you are, I firmly believe that everyone can enjoy a young adult book. While they are typically targeted at teenagers since the main characters range from 14-19 years old, these stories can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their age. The following books are impactful and important stories that I firmly believe everyone should read.Read More
When taking standardized tests, especially the SAT or GRE, people often struggle with memorizing enough words for the (often tricky) vocabulary sections. When it comes to vocabulary, unlike other parts of the test, you either know the word or you don’t. So how can you ensure you improve your vocabulary memory for the test? It’s all about building good habits!Read More
It’s not unusual to get an essay back from a teacher with the feedback, “write in your own voice,” scrawled across the top. But it’s easier said than done. Here you are, writing your own thoughts and your own opinions, all according to the directions of the assignment; how can it not be in your own voice? What your teacher is actually telling you is that your writing sounds too formulaic, too stilted, or too bland. Sure, you’ve learned how to write using proper grammar and you’ve learned how to formulate and format your thoughts into an essay, but now you need to take it to the next level. Don’t stick to the formula; write in your own voice. Here are a few tips for getting started.Read More
“Miss. Look lah.”
“Girl’s bathroom,” she says. “Cikgu, you touch?”
Our state has the highest concentration of venomous snakes in the region.
“Is it poisonous?”
I mime the action of being bitten (by my hand) and then dying.
“Mm, don’t know.”
In 2017, I taught ESL, literature, and political science at a rural secondary school in a conservative, rice-paddy-laden state in northern Malaysia. To say the least, it was a year of questions.
This extended to my methodology as a teacher. Given Malaysia’s exam-centric educational system, I sought to help students develop Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). Over the course of my grant, I refined an arsenal of questions that enabled students to improve their analyses and become active question-askers.Read More
Very few rules of good writing are without exceptions, and this one is no exception, but I think it might be close:
You can always — or nearly always — make your writing stronger, clearer, and sharper if you follow the word “this” with a noun.*Read More