Sunday, 29 April 2012

UPDATES on Creative Writing

Do you want to participate in a creative writing contest or develop your writing skills for academic purposes (exams, essays etc.)? Start practising; this will encourage you to write and maybe realize your dream of becoming a writer, a journalist, reporter etc.. If you need a coach, we are available for free consultations, so don’t hesitate to submit your questions or stories.  Until then, here are a few tips for winning contests.

Are you preparing for an international certificate exam? If you are interested to improve your English or get the latest information about the best test, books and courses, go to ESOL EXAMINATIONS.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Personal Essay (Part 3)

3. What does a common statement consist of? 

A typical personal statement will consist of the following:

◙ An introductory paragraph in which you can provide the main theme of the essay: the course of study you are applying, how you got interested, what motivates you. The first sentences are very important; whether the tone and message are provoking you might grab attention from the start. You might start by talking about how you began interested in your discipline, about some activities you got involved in and how they motivate you.

◙ 2-4 body paragraphs (according to the required length of the essay from 250 to 1,500 words) that develop your theme through examples and experiences. It is here you can give a summary of your educational background: your interests, skills, prizes, awards, your future goals.
                                                                                             Good reads
Try to persuade the admission officer that you are the kind of person they are looking for, that you are unique, that you have a distinct personality. Give reasons for wanting to attend the school. The detailed evidence will support the statement made in the introduction.

Each paragraph should have a meaningful sentence that provides the transitions. Transitions start the paragraph and suggest its theme. The paragraph ends with resolutions – statements that connect the facts in the current paragraph. The beginning and ending statements give the essay a clear, logical structure that is easy to understand.

◙ The conclusion that summarizes the most important information without repeating sentences or paragraphs. If you run out of imagination and can’t find a natural end, just mention again what your ambitions are and what you have to offer.

4. Do's and Don'ts
• Prepare an outline, create a draft or as many as necessary.
• Make sure your essay has a theme or a thesis.
• Provide evidence to support your claims.
• To draw attention, make your introduction unique, start with an unexpected sentence.
• Write clearly, logically and make sure the statement is easy to comprehend. Be concise, organized and coherent.
• Be honest, confident and mainly be yourself.
• Be interesting and positive.
• Write about yourself and use examples from your own life experiences.
• Alternate long and short sentences.
• Discuss your future goals, hopes and expectations.
• Mention hobbies, past jobs, community service, or research experience, skills.
• Use the first person (I…).
• Mention weaknesses without making excuses. Don’t exaggerate. Be positive.
• Discuss why you're interested in the school.
• Give examples to demonstrate your abilities.
• Proofread and revise your statement or ask a friend or a tutor to proofread your essay.

• Make grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes.
• Be repetitive, wordy, don’t use big words or informal language, jargon, slang or inappropriate jokes.
• Be boring.
• Generalize or include clichés. Be creative and original.
• Be defensive or arrogant.
• Complain or focus on other people.
• Discuss politics or religion.
• Give excuses for low school grades.
• Make lists of accomplishments, awards, skills, or personal qualities. Give examples.
• Write an autobiography, summarize your CV or mention information that has already been included in the application.
• Forget to proofread. Don’t rely on your computer for spell checking.
• Don’t start your essay with “I was born…” or “My name is …”.
• Don’t use a fancy font or colored background.

This list of words and phrases will help you with the right vocabulary.
Words that make a difference

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Personal Essay - The Most Common Mistakes

1. Why in most cases the essay is the most important part of the college application?

For a majority of schools your grade point average and test scores are the most important for being admitted and for earning scholarships. More prestigious schools, because of the huge number of highly successful applicants, take essays, recommendations, awards, volunteer work and different kinds of extra-curricular activities into account. Dedicated volunteer work over a long period of time can be a strong topic. A day or a week experience is just about experience not about you.

2. What are the common mistakes you can make?
Inconsistency  Your essay is not the story of your life; it’s a strategic marketing message that should add value to your application. Cover all the themes that will help the admission officer get the whole picture of you. The personal essay must fit with the overall message, not resume the aspects described in your CV.
Too many themes  Don’t jam too many topics; you don’t have all the qualities in the world. Demonstrate your potential by emphasizing the personal qualities the college admission committees are looking for.
Being broad  Using clichés and generic examples will not help you create a clear, impactful, realistic picture of yourself. Describe real situations at school or at work, give enough details so that you can explicitly communicate in written what kind of person you really are. Instead of vague generalitites, give names of people, organizations and locations, projects you’ve been involved in etc. The college admission committees want to find out about your initiatives, how competitive you are, if you can work efficiently in a team, if you can get along with the others, if you have a sense of humour, confidence, strength of character, motivated and genuinely interested in your personal development.
Flowery language Don’t be overcreative: avoid using fancy words, don’t brag about your successes. Write about them in an indirect way so that you do not appear to be boastful.
Careless errors Proofread your essay or ask a friend to do that for you; minor mistakes might make you look careless and disorganized.
Wordy, long-winded sentences Keep them short, direct and to the point. Don’t exceed the word upper limit.
Lack of structure Create an outline and follow it. Your essay needs a beginning, a middle and a conclusion. Avoid repetition and most importantly, use transitional sentences to link the paragraphs.
Inappropriate words and structures You are writing an academic essay; choose the vocabulary from the right layer of the English language (formal or neutral words).
Overuse of passives Up to a point, passive structures are recommended, but too many such sentences make understanding difficult as they are longer and harder to read. Experts say that the best balance is 20% passive voice if you want to emphasize the result. This will make the essay sound objective and the story more personal.
Grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes Don’t entirely rely on on -line dictionaries, spelling and grammar checkers! (To be continued )

Next topics:
3. What does a common statement consist of?
4. Do's and Don'ts

Thursday, 5 April 2012

What's wrong with having a conversation?

"What's wrong? It takes place in real time and you can't control what you're gonna say."
If you're excited by technology, be honest and answer this question: Has your life improved?