Writing Letters

Many English learners are familiar with writing essays for school or casual messages with friends. An often overlooked writing style is letters! Depending on the situation or need, a letter’s tone or vocabulary can be very different–formal, thankful, questioning, entreating, urgent, and so on. How can you write a letter to someone effectively to express the appropriate tone and get your point across? Here’s an interesting Android app English Letter Writing that can help you with that. As their page says, “English Letter & Application Writing Offline is completely free and offline English letters writing book with over 2000+ letters & applications for students in multiple categories.”

Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 300 to EAP/800 and business students).


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Postcards Going Digital

Students studying abroad are focused on the new culture and schoolwork, but it’s also important to keep in touch with family and friends. Sure, there’s the usual way of emails, phone calls, videos, and messaging. But there’s another interesting way that people might not think of first–postcards. Especially with all the easy digital ways of communication, postcards are often overlooked. However, they have a charm to them–they capture the spirit of travel, exploration, and new experiences. Now, there’s a way to send postcards easily and digitally with the app TouchNote. This is done in 3 simple steps:

  1. Choose a photo
  2. Add a message and address
  3. They print and mail it anywhere in the world

ACE - touchnote

Especially language learners, try sending a postcard in English. Share new things you learned. It’s a great way to combine English practice and fun!


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Connectors and Comparisons

Have you heard of “linking language”? These are words that connect two sentences. It’s important to know how to use linking language because they help you change the flow and rhythm of your writing style. More importantly, they connect two ideas. In other words, linking language helps you explain more complex ideas and express more nuance. If you don’t use linking language, your sentences are possibly short or disconnected in terms of rhythm and ideas. Mastering linking language shows you know how to logically connect ideas.

Below is a chart of linking language, or connectors, you can try. Read the original  article by Kenneth Beare for more explanation about what connectors are and how to use them: Sentence Connectors and Sentences – Showing Comparison. Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400+).

TYPE OF CONNECTOR

CONNECTOR(S)

EXAMPLES

Coordinating Conjunction and…too High level positions are stressful, and can be harmful to your health too.

Customers are satisfied with our sales, and they feel our marketing team is friendly too. 

Subordinating conjunction just as Just as high level positions are stressful, they can be harmful to your health.

Just as students need a vacation from studies, employees require some downtime in order to bring their best efforts to work.

Conjunctive adverbs similarly, in comparison High level positions are stressful at times. Similarly, they can be harmful to your health.

Students from Asian countries tend to be excellent at grammar. In comparison, European students often excel in conversational skills. 

 

Prepositions like, similar to Similar to other important professions, high level business positions are stressful at times.

Like the healthy pursuit of free time activities, success in the workplace or at school is essential to a well-rounded individual. 

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The Colon and the Dash

Has the colon and the dash often confused you? When and how should you use them? Here’s a quick writing tip on exactly that, from englishonline.net. So the next time you write something, give these two things a try!

ACE - colon dash

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Useful Emailing Phrases

As you learn English, you’re not only communicating in person. You also communicate via email. Oftentimes, English learners don’t focus on expressing themselves fluently via email, or they are not sure if they should be using formal or informal language. English in emails also often has different kinds of phrases compared to when speaking in person or writing for classes. So learning how to communicate fluently via email is great progress to mastering English in all contexts. Check out this article with a list of 100 useful emailing phrases that is “essential language for the beginning, body and ending of formal and informal English emails.” Recommended for intermediate learners and above (Levels 400+).

List Preview:

ace-emailing-phrases

Go to the article to read the entire list.


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How to Write a Summary

For English students learning how to summarize, check out this video on how to write one; it explains the things you should and shouldn’t do for an effective academic summary. Apply these tips the next time you read a text. Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400+).

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That Missing Comma!

Commas often go missing in many learners’ writing because grammar rules are confusing! It’s hard to remember all the rules, and commas can be especially confusing–they’re so small, but they have a major impact on the flow and meaning of a sentence. Here’s a great video that focuses on one specific topic–commas for compound sentences. Watch the video (it’s great for listening practice with a native speaker too). The next time you write compound sentences, you’ll know where that comma should go! Recommended for intermediate learners (Levels 300-400).

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Getting ideas out of your brain

Welcome back to Fall quarter! After the school break, maybe it’ll be hard to get back into school mode. One thing that may be difficult to start again is writing. I’m sure everyone has experienced writer’s block–that’s when you can’t seem to write anything. Your ideas are blocked. Well, then how do you unblock them? Luckily, there are 3 useful writing exercises that can help you gather ideas:

  1. Brainstorming (also known as mapping or clustering),
  2. Listing
  3. Free-writing

This stage of the writing process is known as Pre-Writing, when you gather ideas before you actually write your paper. Watch the video to learn how to use these 3 exercises. Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 300+)

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How to Read Literature Critically

With language, we can express many different meanings. The difficult part is how to read those meanings because language can be literal and figurative. For language learners especially, it may be difficult to understand foreign literature because it goes beyond literal meanings and often conveys multiple meanings and complex ideas.

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For English learners, you can practice with eNotes‘ useful 6-step method on how to read literature critically. The steps focus on the following points:

  1. Figurative language
  2. Structure
  3. Influence
  4. Archetypes
  5. Symbolism
  6. Read and reread

eNotes explains in their article:

Even if you’re taking your very first literature class, it’s easy to read critically if you follow our 6-step method. But before you get started, always keep this in mind: reading critically doesn’t mean tearing a work of literature apart. Instead, it means understanding what the author has written and evaluating the success of the work as a whole.

Get started on reading How to Read Literature Critically to understand how to use the 6 steps! Recommended for advanced learners (Levels 600-800/EAP).

ACE - read lit critically 2


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Writing for a North American Academic Audience

Audiences from different countries also have different standards for everything, from music and movies to books and yes, even writing. How you write in one country may not match the standard of another. So when you go to America to study, it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with American academic criteria and expectations.

For writing in particular, not only do you consider your own ideas, but also readers–the audience. With your writing style, can you convey your ideas successfully to American academic audiences like your professors or classmates? Read Purdue OWL’s article on this topic and review your style! And be sure to check out the other useful information on writing at their website’s left menu (e.g.: Stance and Language, Tone and Purpose, etc.). Recommended for advanced learners (Levels 600-800/EAP).


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