Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Recommending a reading resource site

Hi all

As I promised Mark, I am working on a lesson about reading technical material. I also have another handout on reading, vocabulary in context, that is almost ready to post.

In the meantime, here is wonderful reading resource site that I found whil preparing the lesson on technical reading: WiLEARNS, short for Wisconsin Literacy Education And Reading Network Source. Check it out and let me know what you think.

So much to cover! Maybe too much? If it's too much, just pick what you need most and focus on that. You each have different learning needs and goals. I try to post materials for all that I can. (That reminds me, Rajeev promised me a precis that I am still waiting for ;)

And here's a BBC article. "Reading 'can bring social change,'" on the importance of reading.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

calling all lurkers: introductions & check in

Hi all,

This is for the lurkers. You know who you are...you joined the blog but do not post. Or maybe you posted once, long ago.

Check in again and let us know you are here. If you haven't introduced yourself yet, do it here and now as a comment to this post.

As for all you active participants, please take this opportunity to welcome the lurkers and encourage them to join in. They are possibly not posting because they feel self-conscious about their writing. Let them know that does not matter and that they are among friends. We value their opinions and want to hear from them.

Let's respond to all who check in and introduce themselves!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Reading: Big Brother, Immigration, English Only Debate

Read this and the news stories linked here. What do you think about this trend? Do those of you living in or having recently visited English speaking countries agree with what these articles say? What have you observed? Is there any culture anywhere in the world that is free of intolerance? What is to be done?

Let the discussion begin!

British values (story and link from English Teaching News)

At the height of the Big Brother racism row, education secretary Alan Johnson said that the 'ignorance and bigotry' shown on the TV show must be tackled and that the debate 'highlighted the need to make sure our schools focus on the core British values of justice and tolerance'.

Big Brother racism story – “Big Brother racism row grips Britain, India” (MSNBC)

Less than a week later, a government report on citizenship lessons has found that not enough emphasis is placed on UK identity and history. The report's author, former head teacher Sir Keith Ajegbo, warned that there was a particular issue for schools dominated by white pupils, and said that more should be done to improve children's understanding of diversity. "It is these white pupils whose attitudes are overwhelmingly important in creating community cohesion," he said. "Nor is there any advantage in creating confidence in minority ethnic pupils if it leaves white pupils feeling disenfranchised and resentful. Many indigenous white pupils have negative perceptions of their own identity." The report concludes that all pupils should study 'free speech, the rule of law, mutual tolerance and respect for equal rights' and have opportunities to explore and debate difficult or controversial topics. Alan Johnson has welcomed the report and announced that a new strand for citizenship classes, 'Identity and Diversity: Living together in the UK' will be introduced.

Schools 'must teach Britishness' (BBC)

US Immigration & English Only Debates

Not all the controversy and conflict about take place in the UK. There has been bitter, ongoing debate in the US over immigration. This debate is frequently characterized by racist assumptions and comments. Related to the immigration debate, the recurring single language controversy claims that the US should make English the only legal language and discriminate against non-English speakers. Diversity training and multicultural studies have been staples in the US schools for years. However, they do not seem to be changing basic attitudes. At the same time, US students are learning less and less about the rest of the world.

Ward: Your view excluded in immigration debate

Gingrich Backs English Official Language Push

Not is this related set of problems is unique to English speaking countries. France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and other European countries have also noted increased intolerance and growing concern over retaining traditional national identity.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Common Problems

Belive it or not, most everyone has problems with the same grammar points. Here are links to handouts that address most of them.

Be patient. These areas all take time to master.



Phrasal Verbs

Verbs with helpers

Verbals (Hypergrammar)


A quiz on verbals

Basic Punctuation

End punctuation


Grammar Tutorials

Getting started with peer review

What is peer review? How will it help you improve your reading and writing skills?

Peer reviews, where students read drafts of their fellow students' essays in order to make suggestions for revision, are common in first-language composition pedagogy. This technique fosters the idea that writing is a process of communicating to an authentic audience. How beneficial are peer reviews for ESL composition students? Many ESL students report that peer reviews help them revise their drafts. However, some students say that their peers were not able to give useful advice. These students' responses suggest that peer reviews can be helpful to students during the drafting process, but that students need to learn how to become successful critics who can evaluate writing and make good suggestions. Learning how to be an effective peer reviewer takes time and effort. It is not automatic. Learning how to look at someone else's writing also teaches you how to look at your own writing. Peer review also helps you become a more careful and insightful reader.

Here's more about peer review for you to read.

Before you review one another's writing, however, you must first read articles in English and then respond in writing to your reading. We'll start with a "reading response," which is mostly a commentary on & personal response to a reading. A reading response briefly summarizes the main ideas and comments on them, giving the reader's opinion and impressions. I'll post guidelines and links for both reading reflections and for peer reviewing.

First, let's pick several topics to read and write about. Then I will look for links to articles - essays, editorials, analyses, etc. on those topics. The pieces we start with should be short and not too difficult to read. I'll post links to a selection of articles or essays for everyone in the class to read. You can't comment intelligently on what your classmates write unless you have also read the piece they are writing about. We can also discuss and comment on the readings before you write your reading responses to specific articles. Discussion shares ideas and helps you think about what you read. Sharing ideas and impressions about reading also helps you write about what you read.

What topics should we read about? One topic could be on child rearing or early childhood development. Perhaps another could be on labor, globalization, or the environment. What else?

We don't want too many because that might be too much reading. Reading commentaries all on the same piece does not seem very interesting. Having 3-4 topics for you to choose from and short pieces for you to write at least a couple of well developed paragraphs about seems reasonable.

Everyone needs to read all of the pieces. You can't comment on what a classmate has written about a piece unless you have read the piece too. Those writing reading responses will pick just one piece to write about. Some of you are just starting out in the class and not ready to write much. I still expect you to read the articles the others are writing about. I also expect you to comment on what your classmates have written.

In closing - read the peer review handout and think about topics. Post your comments on the handout and your topic suggestions as comments to this post. Please do not post them as new messages.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Finally I found you. I’m so happy for this.
Mrs Vanessa, Sadamu, Kim ,Tai and all of you..
Thank you for your help and for your patience.
I asked from a friend of mine to help me. So, I think that I’m at the right way.
Now I’m going to read all that you have write, and learn how this blog working .Forgive me if you see any mistakes
Soon I’ll write to you more ..

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dear all,

I was perplexed for a while which events have been impressed my life last year and have the merit to write about. I finally found two events.

The first one is a prolongation from 2005 and it is about sleeping. It's a long time that I don't sleep for 3 hours whitout intermission. You perhaps wonder what is the matter. So, the event goes back when I gave birth to my kid, Saad. I choiced breast-feeding instead of bottle -feeding. During the first months, Saad got up at night several times and each time I gave him suckling because as I can't measure the quantity of milk, I thought he is hungry. I thought that all will get right when I introduce him fruit, vegetables, cheese.and so on. I have wrong. Now, he has a year and half old and the same thing repeat. I think the problem will be resoluted after the weaning.

The second event is about the idea to run a food blog. Passed at the stage of the realization was not easy, especially if I don't have any technological baggage. I have to start from the beginning. I search on the net courses of web design and photography. Lapse of time I progress slowly, but I will arrive.

My 2007 goals are as following: As Ginying wrote I can say help my kids to do well at school, take care of my family health, and of corse achieve my food blog.

Friday, January 19, 2007

vocabulary: cooking and food

Here you go - many, many food vocabulary pages and glossaries. Food blogs are very popular - excellent reading practice too. There are also many internet sites about cooking and food from around the world. If you are looking for ways to write about cooking and recipes in your culture, do an internet search for English language pages about your country's cuisine.

For example, searching for "German recipes" turned up 249,000 pages, including:
and many, many more...

Try this with cooking and recipes from your country or region. In addition to "recipes," try "cooking" or "cuisine." Searching for "New Mexico cuisine" turned up 594 pages. A search for ["New Mexico" + recipes] turned up even more.

Do a search for recipes from your country. Read some of the pages that you find. Share the best sites that you find. Tell us why they are better than the other sites. Yes, this means you guys too. Of course you care about food & cooking! You eat. don't you?

Links to Food Blogs
The word "receipt" is an old form that means the same as "recipe". Both derive from Latin "recipere", to receive or take. "Receipt" was first used in medieval English as a formula or prescription for a medicinal preparation (Chaucer is the first known user, in the Canterbury Tales of about 1386). The sense of "a written statement saying that money or goods have been received" only arrived at the beginning of the seventeenth century. "Recipe" is the imperative "take!" from the same Latin verb. It was traditionally the first word in a prescription, heading the list of ingredients (frequently abbreviated to an "R" with a bar through its leg, a form that still often appears on modern prescription forms). "Recipe" has been used alongside "receipt" since the earlyeighteenth century in the sense of cookery instructions, gradually replacing it over time so that "receipt" is now archaic

Whether you are a food novice or an experienced cook, we are sure that our Glossary will help. To help you find what you are looking for, we have divided our Glossary into 2 sections: food terms and cooking terms. In the Food Glossary, you will find information on a wide range of ingredients including the different varieties and forms of ingredients (eg: fresh pasta and dried pasta) as well as suggestions on how to store, prepare or cook ingredients. In the Cooking Glossary, you will find simple explanations for a wide range of cooking techniques and skills.

Food & recipe Sites

Activities with Food & Cooking Vocabulary

HI Ginyin and Rajeev!

It’s true that Vietnamese and Chinese – and the Koreans as well – share the same Lunar New Year as their main festivals held annually. The reasons are, however, NOT that the majority of the Vietnamese people are of Chinese descendance, but that on their long and struggling history, the Vietnamese had several times in intermittent periods suffered from the Chinese occupation and domination. Just like in Korea and Japan, cultural influence from China has always been strongly felt.The Lunar New Year (called Tết Nguyên Đán in Vietnamese) is one of the numerous festivals celebrated throughout the whole year. The Vietnamese word Tết came from the Chinese character 節 (romanized jié) which means festival, section, segment, point, part, node, jointing...Some of the other festivals are:Tết Đoan Ngọ, in Chinese 端 午 節 [ duān wu jié ] : The Dragon Boat Festival (the 5th day of the 5th lunar month)Tết Trung Thu, in Chinese 中 秋 節 [ zhōng qiū jié ] : The Mid-Autumn Festival, which might be similar to your harvest-time Lohri.Thank you for the brief information on the main festivals in your country,Bye, Kim

The Legends of The Lunar New Year

There are some legends about Lunar New Year. It was told by generations to generations. They tell us how and why people celebrate Lunar New Year.

thousands years ago, there was a cruel lion-like monster called 'Nien'. It would go outside and eat human during the night at the end of the winter; therefore, some people get together to do something all night long to get rid of the monster: lit the fire torch, displayed the bright red color, made a lot of loud sound; some people just hid till next day. If everything was going well, they would congrated one another for having a safe year. Once people knew the monster was afraid of fires, loud sounds and bright colors, they did the same things years after years so that it became a customs.

Lunar New Year is also called Spring Festival that it begins from 12/31 to 1/15. But it actually starts a week before New Year because people believe that gods will go back celestial city on 12/24 for reporting how people were doing during the year, so everyone worship gods with a lot of foods and paper money and put something sweet around the mouth of the god of kitchen so that he will not say anything bad to the king of gods. In the fourth day of the New Year, all gods return and keep monitoring how people behave. That means that the fun is over and the life go back normal. Thus, there are many activities in the temples to welcome gods coming back.

The fifth day is an opening day for many stores, companies, and factories. They hope the god of wealth will come often and bring them prosperity all year long. although the national holiday is over, the Spring Festival will not end until 1/15.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Vietnamese and chinese lunar new year (TET).

VIETNAMESE AND CHINESE LUNAR NEW YEAR ( TET )Tet - Vietnamese and Chinese Lunar New Year, is the most important Festival of Vietnamese people. This scared Festival sometime between late January or early February (depend on Lunar Calendar ) and Tet has become so familiar to the Vietnamese that when Spring arrives, the Vietnamese, wherever they may be, are all thrilled and excited with the advent of Tet, and they feel an immense nostalgia, wishing to come back to their homeland for a family reunion and a taste of the particular flavours of the Vietnamese festivities.. Although officially a three-day affair, festivities may continue for a week or more with every effort made to indulge in eating, drinking, and enjoyable social activities. It is also a time for family reunions, and for paying respect to ancestors and the elders. Gifts of food are made to friends, neighbors and relatives in the days before Tet.The Tet of the New Year is, above all, is an opportunity for the household genies to meet, those who have helped during the year, namely the Craft Creator, the Land Genie and the Kitchen God. Tet is also an opportunity to invite and welcome deceased ancestors back for a family reunion with their descendants to join the family's Tet celebrations. Finally, Tet is a good opportunity for family members to meet. This custom has become sacred and secular and, therefore, no matter where they are or whatever the circumstances, family members find ways to come back to meet their loved ones, gather for a dinner of traditional foods like bánh chýng (a square cake made of sticky rice stuffed with beans and pork), mãng (a soup of boiled bamboo shoots and flied pork) and xôi gấc (orange sticky rice). This is followed by a visit to the local pagodasEveryone is in a rush to get a haircut, buy new clothes, spruce up their homes, visit friends, settle outstanding debts, and stock up on traditional Tet delicacies. Businesses hang festive red banners which read "Chuc Mung Nam Moi" (Happy New Year) and city streets are fes¬tooned. With colored lights. Stalls spring up all over town to sell mut (candied fruits and jams), traditional cakes, and fresh fruit and flowers. Certain markets sell nothing but cone-shaped kumquat bushes. Others sell flowering peach trees, symbols of life and good fortune which people bring into their homes to celebrate the coming of spring. As vendors pour into the City with peach trees strapped to their bicycles, the streets look like moving pink forests.The " Mâm Ngũ Quả "The "five-fruit tray" on the ancestral altar during the Tet Holidays symbolizes the admiration and gratitude of the Vietnamese to Heaven and Earth and their ancestors, and demonstrates their aspiration for a life of plenty. Legend said abot of theories but in a simpler way, the five fruits represent the quintessence that Heaven and Earth bless humans. This is one of the general perceptions of life of the Vietnamese, which is "When taking fruit, you should think of the grower".Ðào, Mai, Quất (the Peach, Apricot and Kumquat)Coming to Vietnam during the season of the Tet festival, the visitor is engulfed in an ocean of colourful flowers. Visiting flower shows, contemplating the buds and blooms, and purchasing blossoms represents one of the distinct Vietnamese cultural characteristics. The peach ( in the North ) and the apricot blossoms (in the South) are symbols of the Vietnamese Tet. The warm pink of the peach could very well match the dry cold of the North, but the hot South seems to be flourishing in the riot of the yellow of the apricot. The mandarin is symbolic of good fortune and, therefore, people tend to choose the little plants laden with fruit, big and orange, and verdant leaves for a longer display.The Giao Thừa ( New Year's eve )The Giao Thua is the most sacred point of time, the passage from the old to the new year. It is popularly believed that in Heaven there are twelve Highnesses in charge of monitoring and controlling the affairs on earth, each of them taking charge of one year. The giao thua is the moment of seeing off the old chieftain upon the conclusion of his term and welcoming in the new one upon his assumption of office. For this reason, every home makes offerings in the open air to pray for a good new year.After the giao thua is the start of the new year with many customs and practices, amusements and entertainment, all of a distinct Vietnamese folk culture. If you have an opportunity to visit Vietnam during the Tet Holidays and to welcome the Tet Festivities, together with the Vietnamese people, you will surely be profoundly impressed by the distinct traditional culture that is rich in national identity.Food specialties for TETOn the last day of the old year, the preparation of food to offer to the ancestors is of special significance. Dishes to offer to the ancestors differ in the Northern, Central and Southern parts of the country, depending on their respective weather conditions at the time and on different local agricultural products available. What is common in all regions of the country during Tet holidays are the varieties of soups, fried, boiled, or stewed dishes, meat, fish, vegetable... The foods that the Vietnamese eat at Tet are varied and diverse What they have in common is that the people throughout the country all want to have the best and the most beautiful looking food on this occasion to offer their ancestors and to treat their friends and guests.Starting Dates in Western Calendar , 2007 Feb 22, 2008 Feb 11.

English Pronunciation

English Pronunciation is an excellent site for practicing pronunciation. There are 13 units and select links to other pronunciation resources. You will need Adobe Reader, Flash, and Quick Time to use the site.

You should also have a chart of international phonetic pronunciation symbols.
What are your favorite pronunciation sites or other resources?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Thank you for your comment!

Hello Friends!
Dear my teacher,
Thank you for your comment.
‘Tet” Vietnamese and Chinese Lunar New Year is the most important Festival of Vietnamese people. “Tet” sometime between late January or early February (depend on Lunar Calendar). ‘Tet” means much more to Vietnamese-Chinese than a New Year’s celebration means to Westerner.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Call for Lesson Ideas & Learning Stories

Let's have some ideas on what you are interested in working on - most need to study - are interested in - and so on. I posted a precis writing lesson for Rajeev. Precis writing is an important skill for legal writing and graduate school. It may not be so useful for the rest of you.

Do you need workplace English? Business writing? Vocabulary develpment? Reading? Test preparation for a standardized English test such as TOEFL, IELTS, or another?

Please remember too that this class is actually a mixture of intermediate and beginner. That means I expect the intermediate to share tips and learning advice with the beginners. You've already been there - your stories about studying English will help and encourage others.

So while you are thinking about lesson ideas, share your language learning experiences with the rest of the class.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Vietnamese's New Year

Hello Friends!
I am Kim. This is my first posting. I want to tell you about the Vietnamese’s New Year in order to give you some understanding about our way of life and customs. How do we prepare for holiday? How do we enjoy it and realize its meaning?
The season of “Tet” occurs around the beginning of February (this year is February/ 18/2007). Every Vietnamese stops his daily labor for preparation of a New Year. “Tet”
has a deeper personal, religions and family.
“Tet” is a time when the family comes together under one roof at whatever cost and from whatever distance. Everybody stops working for the three big days of ‘’Tet”. During the first and the second day, visits between relatives and friends are made. It is a time when that part of the family which is no longer living is paid particular attention and especially venerated.
From town to countryside everyone cares for the “ Tet” and cheerfully welcomes the New Year, everyone hopes for a brighter life. The Vietnamese believe that the first day of the Lunar New Year is the luckiest day in the Year, and if on this day they enjoy a full happiness, they will be prosperous all Year round. Therefore they try to keep mentally gay and easy going in order to hope fortune and happiness would come true to them.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Precis Writing

Precis (pray-see, pl. pray-seez) writing is a basic and very useful skill. It has been variously referred to as 'abbreviation', 'subtraction', 'abstract', 'summary', and ;condensation'. The French gave it the name 'precis' — the pruning away of all that is inessential.

"A precis is a brief, original summary of the important ideas given in a long selection. Its aim is to give the general effect created by the original selection."

It is a concise and lucid summary that forsakes all unnecessary details (including illustrations, amplifications, and embellishments) in favor of reproducing the logic, development, organization and emphasis of the original. Retaining the substance of a fuller statement, it seeks to articulate another authors thoughts by extracting the maximum amount of information and carefully conveying it in a minimum number of words.

The Purpose:
Precis writing develops intelligent reading and clear, accurate writing. It is a skill of both analysis and genesis that critically questions every thought included and excluded, each word used to express those thoughts, and the proportions and arrangements of those thoughts — both in the original and in the precis. In its exactitude, the precis mercilessly reveals an author's wordiness and looseness or thinness of thought and construction. It should strengthen your style, sense of proportion and emphasis, and sensitivity to word meanings and an author's viewpoint,

The Object:
Precis writing is an antidote to passive reading. Its object is accuracy, completeness, clearness, and brevity. The test of a precis lies in whether it is clear to one who has not seen the original.

"Next to Latin prose composition, it is the best means of developing the power of penetration, of seizing upon salient parts in a passage, and expressing these in clear and vigorous speech." (Evans, A Handbook of Precis Writing)

Preliminary to Precis Writing:
1. Abstracting
2. Paraphrasing
3. Vocabulary
4. Punctuation
5. Indirect speech
6. Title

1. An abstract is a condensation of a passage, the important words, phrases, and sentences containing the essential thoughts being worked as simply as possible into sentences. It simply requires the ability to pick out essential facts. Exercises in abstracting will involve underscoring the essential facts in a passage and combining them into a single whole. (N.b.: Here 'abstract' is used in its narrow sense to mean a digest or running summary.)

2. "A paraphrase is a restatement of a difficult passage, stating clearly and fully in language of the simplest sort just what the passage means. Because it clarifies hidden meanings and obscure passages, it is usually longer than the original." Precis writing involves the ability to paraphrase, but adds to it concision, all the while being careful to not to lose or distort the original meaning. Exercises in paraphrasing might involve transposing poetry to prose, explaining the meaning of proverbs, etc.

3. "In precis writing it is necessary to say as much as possible in as few words as possible." A word may substitute for a phrase and a phrase for a clause. The concern is for the precise meaning or connotation of a word.

4. Effective sentence combining and the proper use of the colon and semicolon in punctuation is an aid to good precis writing.

5. Generally a precis should be written in reported or indirect speech. This means a precis will be in third person, in the past tense.

6. "A precis title must be cold and matter of fact, not attractive to the imaginative mind. It is a precis of the precis."

A Precis Writing Exercise for You Try
"You may have wondered why you fail to carry over into your writing the vigor and ease of your ordinary conversation. The probability is that when your work is criticized as stiff and formal, on the one hand, or as tame and colorless, on the other, you are in your writing simply not being fair to yourself. You have associated with the term 'composition' ideas of unreal dignity or owlishness. One often detects this tone in the letters of practical men who do not write much. Or you have been so disturbed by the notion that you must be clear, correct, and concise, and must diligently herd the 'sacred cow of composition' — unity, coherence, and emphasis — that your writing has lost all the native hue of resolution; all the joy had gone out of it; and it has become flaccid, pale, tame. all writing done without joy — or love, or hate, or pride, or other quality of earnestness — is like that. In your conversation you were not thinking of rules; you were enjoying yourself. In your writing you were miserable; and the misery shows just as plainly in the one as the joy in the other."
(Robert M. Gay, Fact, Fancy and Opinion, Little, Brown & Co.) 197 words
Now, follow the steps below to write your own precis of the above passage. Then post it as a comment to this post.

Ask of the above precis:
  1. Are the opening sentences brief and to the point? Which is best?
  2. Which opening sentence tends to show best what the passage expresses?
  3. Do the sentence following the opening sentence amplify the essentials shown in the opening sentence?
  4. Which precis clarifies the author's best thoughts? Have additional thoughts been added?
  5. Is the precis clear to one who has not seen the original?

"It will be well to remember the object of precis writing: a brief and clear summary — or precis — of what you have first carefully read. No words, phrases, clauses, or sentences which are unessential to the thought of the selection, are considered. Every unnecessary word is discarded until all that you have left is the thought, the dominating idea, of what you have read. Then in your own words, give this thought as briefly and clearly as possible. Your sentences must be carefully constructed. Do not omit any essential articles, prepositions, or conjunctions."

First Reading:
  1. Read every word slowly and carefully until you clearly understand the sense of the passage.
  2. Look up all unfamiliar words, phrases, and allusions
  3. Identify the dominating idea, the essential thought, of the passage. Ask if this idea were omitted, would the fundamental meaning of the passage be changed?
  4. Determine what emphasis and space to give the thought in each section; write a heading for each section.
Second Reading:
  1. Underscore with a pencil the important facts containing the essential thoughts. This is a process of differentiation between what is essential and what is not. Generally you will omit examples, illustrations, conversations, and repetitions
  2. Reread your selections to see that they are wise and adequate.
  3. Determine if your underscoring expresses the main ideas.
Final Reading:
Rapidly and intensely reread the origin, dwelling on the important facts selected for a precis.

First Copy:
1. Close the book/original.
2. Write a summary of the thoughts as you remember them.
3. Compare with the original and correct, asking:
  • Did you retain the logical order and development of these thoughts?
  • Did you emphasize the dominant thought or erroneously emphasize a minor thought?
  • Did you omit any necessary facts? names? dates? places?
  • Is your precis clear to one who has not seen the original?
  • Are your sentences clear and well-constructed?
  • Did you use third person and the past tense?
  • Did you punctuate and spell correctly?
  • Did you make any grammatical or rhetorical errors?
Final Copy:
  1. Read your first copy through carefully.
  2. Condense wherever you can, substituting single words for phrases and phrases for longer clauses.
  3. Use only simple figures of speech.
  4. Clearly and concisely express the essential points.
  5. Reduce verbiage while still making the point and retaining some of the flavor and spirit of the original.
  6. Be fair to the sentiments expressed, even if you don't agree with them.
  7. Rewrite neatly.
Guide to a Successful Precis:
  1. Understand the essential facts or dominating idea of the passage.
  2. In your opening sentence express what the passage tends to show.
  3. With as few sentences as possible enlarge on the essential shown in the opening sentence.
  4. Summarize only what the author says; do not add your own opinions.
  5. As far as possible, use your own words.
  6. Ask whether the precis is clear to one who has not seen the original.
A precis is usually reduced to at least one-fourth of its original length and frequently much more. How long it is will be determined by its purpose and by the nature of the original.

Alternative Precis Assignments:

1. The Single Sentence Precis:
The single sentence precise is an exercise in hard thinking and tests the unity of thought in the original. It also provides practice in the structure of long sentences and the proper use of the colon, semi-colon, and connectives.

2. The Varied Length and Repeated Precis:
Precis of various lengths can be required with assigned number of words. For example, I could ask you to reduce a passage to half its length, then to reduce that precis in half again, and, finally, to write a single sentence precis.

3. The Oral Precis:
A passage to precis can be orally dictated or taken from a sound file or audiobook. Such readings should begin short and gradually increase in length. In longer selections, you may need to take notes. A special challenge of the oral precis is to maintain a balance between a not-too-full beginning and a not-too-scanty ending. You could also listen to poem or passage and then prepare an oral precis. The oral precis is an excellent but very challenging test of listening and oral comprehension skills.
(adapted from article in Classical Co-op)

Now it's my turn - my annual letter

Hello all,

Now it's my turn. I planned to write an annual letter this year to send family and friends that I am not in regular contact with. Of course, there isn't much point in sending one to friends living here in Mountainair or those on my regular e-mail list or who subscribe to my Mountainair Arts blog

My best and probably most intersting 2006 news is not really about me. My daughter Pilar got married in late October - to another Albuquerque lawyer, Duane Brown. I was hoping to have pictures to include with the letter but I still don't have the CD. The wedding was very small - just the immediate family attended. In addition to the couple, that was Duane's two children from his first marriage (Liz and Andrew), his mother, me and Deacon (Pilar's and Duane's son). She is preganant again now and due in May.

Otherwise, my own life has been quiet - much more than usual - and probably not that interesting. On the other hand, "interesting" is overrated. It usually means all kinds of problems and upsets, as in the curse, "may you live in interesting times." I am, however, smack dab in the middle of another major life change. I'd like to be through with those as they are tiring and turn everything upside down. Death is probably the only sure fire way though, and the price tag there is way higher than I have any intention of paying for as long as possible...

I am still here in Mountainair but more or less retired. When, despite earning a bonus for high evaluations, Kaplan Univeristy did not offer me any more online classes last January, I did not send out applications to other schools. Something in me snapped - I'd had enough. So I am not teaching college either on line or in person at the UNM Valencia Campus. It's a long story I don't completely understand myself, but I am burnt out on college teaching. I don't think it is all me though. College and teaching have changed, especially in the past 10 or so years. Administrators call students "customers" and tell us it is more important to "satisfy customers" than to teach students or for students to learn. Reading discussion boards and talking with teachers all over the country, I have learned that this is common everywhere. Is it like this in your countries as well?

Anyway, teaching under those condition is very stressful if it's not just a job and you really care about learning. When I ran the numbers, I realized I could afford to retire and live here modestly. Maybe I will regret the decision and want to return to teaching college courses online but not yet. Istill crave teaching because here I now, back teaching this class after taking a long break.

I am still keeping busy though. I am trying to write more. In addition to blogging, this past fall I wrote a novel. That makes two, maybe three if I count the almost finished draft from 2004. There are more starts never followed through in my files. I don't know if any will be worth the work of rewriting, let alone readiing, but I thought it was time to make an effort. And for writing more, there are my blogs and extensive personal correspondence. I've started saving the longer letters to recycle in other writings.

The blogs are mostly essay and article writing practice. In addition to this one and Mountainair Arts, I have one about small town life in Mountainair, one about teaching, one about Welsh ponies (I used to breed them), and another, Virtual Voyages, about travel and places. So far, the last three have no more than a few posts. None are as active as this one or Mountainair Arts. This is the only private one.

I was also more active in the community this past year. Unfortunately, I overextended myself with the local arts council and especially with the Mountainair Arts Tour in May. This aggravated exisiting health problems (fibromyalgia and COPD), forcing me to reduce community involvment drastically. By the time the annual Sunflower day came around, I had limited myself just to working with the Poets & Writers Picnic at the Shaffer Hotel - and less of that than usual.

I also maintain the local Chamber of Commerce website. The Chamber pays me but considerably less than standard rates. Since some members expect development as well as maintenance for the same rate, renogiating rates with them may become necessary. Keeping up with that and the blogs has caused me to neglect my own personal web pages. Page work is interesting because it involves layout, design, graphics, and writing. A Mountainair newcomer aked me to design her a minialist site for her bed & breakfasts and gallery - really more a "web presence" page than anything else. So that may develop into something, although past forays in that area have been less than satisfactory.

I have friends scattered all over, some have drifted away because the habit of staying in touch is so fragile and hard to maintain. I do keep up many e-mail correspondences, which replace most face to face contact save for the most immediate and local ones, since I no longer travel much. This Novemer, however, I had a real treat when my best friend from California came to New Mexico for a visit. Meriel had 6 days of vacation condo time in Santa Fe so she picked me up here and we spent the week in Santa Fe. It wasn't all sightseeing: we hung out just visiting and catching up.

Then Meriel dropped me in Albuquerque on her way to the airport and I spent part of the week end with Pilar and my grandson Deacon. I don't get to see him as often as I would like but hope that will change this year now that there is rail servic from Belen to Albuquerque and rural transit bus from Mountanair to Belen.

My 2007 goals are to survive (manage health so it does not get worse before I am eligible for Medicare & to make ends meet), see my family more often, keep teaching this class & coming up with new materials & ideas, write more, not let myself get sucked into as much volunteer work as last year (more time but fewer energy reserves), stay interested in the world around me, and do what I can to help the environment and be an ecologically responsible citizen of the world.


New Year Holiday Assignment

Dear friend Vikas,

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2007 and secondly it has been quite a long time since we last spoke over telephone or wrote to each other. So, I am breaking the ice.

Last year proved very busy for me. The whole year I was busy in completing my law course and for locating a good Guide for the Dissertation work. Earlier, I had the impression that it would be very easy for me to get an LLM degree but I was under estimating the course. Now, being in the Final year I have to submit my Dissertation work. Last year, I had selected a topic after much discussion with my Professor-in-Charge, Prof. Jeyraj. After rejecting my earlier selected topics on "Theory of Natural Justice" and on "Compulsory Arbitration in Industrial Disputes", ultimately he selected my new topic "Historical Development of TradeUnions in India". It took me three months to complete the Dissertation and next week I am going to deposit the same.

Another important development that took place last year was that I paid a visit to Tsunami struck areas. That was a heart rendering scene. I saw some children sitting by the side of their dead mother. How cruel nature can be was apparent from the destruction in which thousands if not lakhs lost their lives in just 10 minutes. This tragedy should have struck not even to our enemies.

Last year I also joined a course on English conversation in British School of Languages, New Delhi. That was a 3-months course and I was much benefitted by that course. But, still I have a long way to go before taking rest.

How your studies are going on? Pay my regards to your parents.

Will write more in next letter....


Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Kindly read "satisfied" in place of "successful".



Writing Precis

Madam Vanessa,

I had posted a letter yesterday about the holiday assignment but I couldn't find it on the page. I think you have not passed it. Madam, can you help me in writing Precis. Can you teach me how to write Precis? Can you tell some sites which describes completely about Precis? I have tried several sites but am not successful.

Please help me.



Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My writing assignment, My big matters in 2006

Dear Sir,

I was very busy last year. It was due to my hobbies. I joined new contract bridge club and I developed my activity in playing ocarina. It was no doubt that my big matters in last year were both of them.

I've been a manager of a contract bridge club for aged people which has 30 members and I've held a monthly bridge party for several years. Last year I became to be interested in playing it in higher level club and I joined another club additionally. As a result, I made myself very busy. I spent full five days for playing it in a month. I have to make preparations for it in remembering bidding rules precisely before plays and I reviewed my play results. Though I made many mistakes in games, I can't stop playing it.

My second big matter in 2006 was playing ocarina. Since I began to play ocarina, I became to be able to play several songs. I mainly made a practice of playing ocarina daily for short time by myself outside of my house. I practiced it with my group members once or twice in a month. I visited several old aged homes with my group members and played ocarina in front of them. I wanted to entertain them by playing ocarina. In addition to this, I had a chances to perform my playing ocarina on the stages of halls. Although I had to practice playing ocarina before it, it was nice to play ocarina on stages.

As I made New Year's Resolution last year, I couldn't achieve some of them. To my regret, most of them were about learning English. I didn't read English novels. I couldn't continue to try to remember 5 words a day.

Fortunately I have two kinds of e-book already. I will read L.M. Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables" by this June and E.M. Foster's "Where Angels Fear to tread" by the end of this year.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Holiday letter to a friend

Hello Friends,

Here is the time to celebrate New Year we have completed one more year .I hope my all friends are doing good. I had many plans what I could not able to fulfill last year I will try to make them happen, one of them is my work. I am planning to start my catering business though my friends are continuously telling me to start by giving lot of complements about my cooking. Now I really have got courage to start. For that I need to do some search and I will have to post an advertisement.

My next plan is to reach my goal about writing and speaking English. I have to be very good in English. Knowing English like a native speaker is one of my dreams. I have to devote more time for that. I like to read health topic, current affairs etc. But I will start reading some novels or story books by grade level so that I can understand my reading level and I also can understand my improvement. I hope we can make our blog very interesting and can bring lot of new learning ideas.

I am taking some computer courses just a few semesters are left now I am planning to take some more classes about some programming language. I will try to continue my studies until I get work permit. These are the things I thought about myself.

We have a nice daughter she is in kindergaden this year she will be in first grade. She likes to draw picture so We decided to enroll her in an art class and will also try to enroll her in some physical activity class like swimming or tennis. Since she does not have any sibling we have to give her full company.

I love to travel different places so my husband is. This year we are planning to go Hawaii I have already visited Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, New York ,Washington D.C and many more I wish I could visit all over the world.

Now this the time to draw a ending line on my letter I would like to say that the mistakes we made last year we should remember them and we should not make the same mistakes again anyway we learn from our mistakes. I hope this year we will achieve something. I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Business English Links

Business English
Many if not most of you are studying English for professional reasons - to get a better job or to advance your careers. Here are a number of Business English resources for you to check out. Don't forget that every profession has its own specialized terms and language - also called "jargon." This list includes some glossaries but is not a comprehensive list of specialized glossaries. If you can't find a link to your own "workplace word needs" here, try an internet search.

  • Talk in the Office. Each lesson contains multiple sentences that you can click on to learn how to say that sentence.
  • BBC Business English. English for work and business: from writing a CV to job interview techniques, and from business travel to working abroad.
  • EnglishClub Business English. Business English Correspondence, Business English Vocabulary, Business Presentation, and Business News in English.
  • English for Work. Very good free online English learning materials for nurses, police, travelers, hotel staff, and airline staff.
  • Business English Market. The site provides an Instructor's Guide and Lesson Modules that include plans, exercises, and ideas.
  • Trading Glossary. Trading, Financial, and Business Glossary for traders of stock and investment market.
  • BizWeb. A web business guide to 46290 companies listed in 208 categories.
  • ESL Business Links. Tracy Schall's page for students and teachers. This web page serves as both a source of activities and lessons and as a guide to resources that may be adapted to business lessons for English as a Second Language or English as a Foreign Language.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007



I am just checking whether I can send blogs or not?



Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's Writing Assignment-- a holiday letter to a friend

Dear friend,

There are a couple of major changes in our family. Our elder daughter, Stephanie, has gone to kindergarten, and we also have a baby boy,Stephen, joining us. I have been busy for a year long to take care of the baby and prepare my daughter for the school.

First few days in school were terrible. Stephanie was crying and not participating any activities because she is very shy and scare; therefore, it is not easy for her to interact with many strangers without our company. I had to stay with her almost everyday to ease her anxiety. Teachers were wonderful. They tried to calm her down and gave her time to get used to it, not to push her. After she came home, we told with her about school. Same thing repeated every single day; however, her attitude started changing a little day by day. Our hard work finally paid off. Now she loves going to school and making new friends there.

Stephen just turned one year old. He starts learning to walk and speak recently and has grown and developed very well except one night in December. He caught a cold and had a fever. I gave him fever reducer to decrease the temperature, but it did not work very well. As a result, he began shaking his limbs and losing consciousness. We called 9-1-1 to take us to ER. He was diagnosed febrile seizure. Since that night, I have been very careful to manage his fever. Although he still had fevers caused by cold or ear infection occasionally, the fevers did not develop into seizure.

New year begins. I will keep doing what I was doing- help kids do well at school, and make sure each family members is healthy. I know there will be more challenges ahead of us. It will be another busy year for us. Anyway, I hope you have a joyful year. Wish the best for you and your family.


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