Better reading – look for the clues


When you read to improve your English, you want to read for pleasure. You want to choose something that’s easy and interesting, that allows you to “get lost” in what you’re reading and forget that it’s English. But sometimes you must read to learn, for example, on the TOEFL exam. What do you do then?

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Better reading – it’s in the chunks


What is reading? Very simply, reading is trying to make sense of a sentence, paragraph, essay, article, or book. It’s trying to understand what’s in the writer’s mind. And the key to making sense of what we read is in the chunks – groups of words – not individual words.

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Revising for better English


“So what is good English?” asks William Zinsser. “…it’s plain and it’s strong,” he answers. “It has a huge vocabulary of words that have a precise shade of meaning; there’s no subject however technical or complex, that can’t be made clear to the ordinary reader in good English – if it’s used right.”

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If I wanted to speak better English


Every English learner would like to speak fluently. And some have to. Most of my coaching clients, for example, are people who need to speak English fluently for business, professional, and personal success. Unfortunately, fluent speaking is often the most frustrating goal for English learners, especially those who live where English isn’t spoken. Happily, there’s a good way to improve your speaking – a way that takes time, but that’s too enjoyable to be called work or study.

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The 300-word (essay) challenge


One of the best ways to learn something is to watch a master at work. William Zinsser is a master. While his books will teach you a lot of what you need to know to write well, his writing will teach you even more. He deserves to be read – and re-read – by anyone who wants to write. This article, reproduced from The American Scholar, is a good lesson in essay writing.

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Better writing, part 2


Better writing, part 1 emphasized the importance of developing writing competence – a sense, or inner feeling, for what’s right when you write. Writing competence is what guides writers when they write, but it isn’t enough. You also need a reliable process for getting your ideas down on paper or into your computer.

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Better writing, part 1


What can you do to become a better writer? First, you can improve your knowledge about writing; and second, you can increase your ability to use what you know when you write. This article explains what you need to know and how to acquire it.

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MIT – a good source for academic English


MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – a leading American university, has just introduced a new resource that will help students who want to improve their academic English.

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Mr. Mitchell’s writing class


The best writing teachers are writers who draw you into the worlds they create, worlds filled with the most important writing lessons you’ll ever learn. Joseph Mitchell is that kind of writer and teacher.

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Better academic English for mathematics, economics, and science students


If you’re a mathematics, economics, or science student and want to improve your academic English, the Khan Academy can help you.

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Learning to write – from start to finish


Most people would not take a trip without knowing where they’re going and how to get there. Unfortunately, many writers do it all the time. If you want to become a good writer, you need a good plan, or process – like the one I describe in this article.

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Learning to write – in English


Is there any difference between writing in your language and English? The answer is “no and yes.” If you can get your ideas from your mind into someone else’s mind clearly, quickly, and economically when you write in your language, that will help you when you write in English. However, there are some differences that make writing in English different than writing in other languages.

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Learning to write – almost anything


Xurxo knows the secret of learning to write. When I read one of his essays and asked him where he learned to write so well, he said, “Reading New York Times essays.” The secret to learning to write is fairly simple – if you want to write essays, read essays. In other words, read the kind of thing you want to write.

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Learning to write – introduction


Jazz musician Paul Desmond once said that “Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can’t be taught.” Desmond understood something very important about writing: good writing doesn’t come from direct instruction. And the writers, writing teachers, and language specialists I know agree. If you want to learn where good writing comes from and how to write better, be sure to read all of the Learning to write articles.

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Better English for medical – and other – students and professionals


When you use what you learned in your first language to make English more comprehensible, or understandable, you improve your ability to acquire more English. Stanford University just made that easier for medical students and professionals. And even if you’re not in medicine, you can learn how to use what you already know in your area of study or work to improve your English.

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