Spotlight – great ideas and academic English delivered to your desktop.

07.10.2010

in Spotlight, TOEFL, Tools & Techniques

The best way to improve your writing and speaking is to read good writers and listen to good speakers! Today I’d like to spotlight three great reading and listening sources for more advanced English learners. All three of them contain a lot of academic English. And all three of them provide RSS feeds so you can feast on more great ideas and good English every time they add something new.

The American Scholar

The American Scholar (TAS) is a quarterly journal (published every three months). It’s filled with articles by and about some of the greatest thinkers of yesterday and today. Their articles focus on current events, politics, history, science, culture, and the arts.

One of my favorite writers, William Zinsser, writes regularly about writing, the arts, and popular culture for TAS. I recently recommended his book, Writing to Learn, as another good source for academic English.

TAS is in the process of putting previous issues online. When I checked, I found the last 24 issues. That’s a lot of great reading!

David Brooks, NY Times

I don’t always agree with everything that David Brooks writes, but I always appreciate his careful thought and excellent writing. He writes two columns every week about current events and American culture. New York Magazine recently ran an interesting profile (a short article about someone) of Brooks.

TED: Ideas worth spreading

TED provides a growing collection of short – 20 minutes or less – videos on important contemporary topics by many of the world’s leading thinkers, speakers, and artists. There is, literally, something for everyone at TED.

For someone who wants to develop their academic English, TED provides great variety, and each video is accompanied by a complete transcript. When you go to a video, you’ll see a link that says “Open interactive transcript” on the right side of the video. When you click on the link, the transcript opens so you can listen and read at the same time. If you want to move forward or backward in the video, you can click on the sentence you want to go to, and the video will automatically go to that sentence.

RSS feeds

RSS stands for “really simple syndication.” If you haven’t used RSS, it’s an easy way to have new material delivered to your computer whenever it is put onto the Internet. I use Google Reader to follow my RSS feeds.

Here are the RSS feeds for each of the three sources I’ve described:

Setting up an RSS feed in Google Reader is very easy. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Copy the RSS feed you want to subscribe to.
  2. Go to Google Reader and click on “Add a subscription.”
  3. Paste the RSS feed into the subscription box.
  4. Click on “Add.”

In the future, whenever you open Google Reader, you will see the latest material – videos, articles, blog posts, etc. – from the sources you subscribed to.

Warren Ediger

Related reading:

Warren Ediger July 10, 2010

This evening, after posting this article, I went to The American Scholar and had a delightful time reading some wonderful articles by William Zinsser from their archives. It reminded me that he has a very good web site, and I’d encourage everyone to visit it. Take a few minutes to look around and get acquainted with him. You’ll find links to a lot of his articles, including one called Writing English as a Second Language. It’s worth reading.

Sanaz July 13, 2010

Dear Warren,
Many thanks. Like your other articles and suggestions, this one is so great and useful.

yusmary July 13, 2010

Thank you for this article as always it’s a good one. Usually, I try to read all your articles, because I always find good tools for my learning process. I know that this is not the first time that you mentioned William Zinsser as one of you favorite writters. However, I took the time today to read his article Writting English as a second language, and I regret myself for not doing it before. I highly recommend this article to any second language learner. I identified with every single word in this article, and at the end I noticed that the process of writing is not so difficult as I thought. Thanks for your advice and your right guidance.

Warren Ediger July 15, 2010

It’s a good article, isn’t it! I like the way he helps ESL writers understand what’s unique about English; the characteristics of good writing at the end of the article are important for everyone.

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