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.


  1. Mrs. Vanessa,

    As I have already stated, I would like to learn about Precis etc. but without having a good vocabulary, it is quite difficult. So, I think, to write a good precis, I need to improve my vocabulary.

    Madam, I have joined some vocabulary sites which send one word daily in my e-mail along with its history, meaning and usage. If anybody wants the names of those sites, I can share the names.

    I have also downloaded a dictionary (Eng-Eng) from wordweb.info. It is a big dictionary and helps me in understanding the legal meanings also besides medical meanings etc. It is free.

    To improve vocabulary I have also prepared cards which I often refer whenever I am free.

    Madam, first of all, I think we should improve upon our vocabulary. Can we do something more to improve?



  2. Rajeev

    I prefer to be addressed as "Ms Vanessa" or just Vanessa.

    I posted the precis lesson on your request. Now, I'd like to hear from others in the class. Althogh I'm sure everyone can use more vocabulary, it's not fair to them if you are the only one to ask for special lessons.

    Besides, just asking for "vocabulary lessons" is too broad a request to be useful. There are many different kinds of vocabulary and vocabulary lessons. Not everyone needs the same kind of vocabulary.

    Kim might need workplace vocabulary; whereas Sadamu could probably use hospitality voaculary. Nandita, Ning, and Khadija would no doubt enjoy learning cooking vocabulary, and so on.

    But again you've put the cart before the horse. You need reading skills more than lessons in either vocabulary or precis writing. Reading is the best way to build vocabulary. The precis lesson would have answered some of your questions if you had read it better.

    Since most of your precis writing has to do legal writing, you should read briefs in English and articles in English language law review journals.

    In general, I do not find word a day subscriptions particulary useful for ESL learners as they tend to send esoteric, rarely used words instead of useful ones.

  3. Ms. Vanessa,

    Thanks for your quick reply. If you want to be addressed as Ms. Vanessa, from now onwards I would address you that way.

    Thanks again for telling me about vocabulary lessons. Madam, as a law student I must go for legal vocabulary but I have one dictionary for that purpose. But, I want to improve general vocabulary of everyday use. A vocabulary by which I can express freely and without writing more words than necessary. I go through your writings many times and find that you write to the point whereas I use the words which, most of the times, not required.

    These words sites like Oxford etc. are helpful in that respect.

    I want to improve my vocabulary to that level where I can understand the various judgement given by Hon'ble judiciary of USA and Britain in particular. Can you suggest some sites for that?

    I hope you would understand my need.

    Thank you very much,


  4. Hi teacher Vanessa,

    you are right. I'd like to learn about cooking vocabulary in hope to be able to write and read easily a recipe in English.
    Thank you in advance for your help.

    On the other hand, I made a draft of a holiday letter and I think it's too poor in the comparaison with the holiday letters written by the others contributors. That's let me to abstain from sending it.

  5. I agree with teacher Vanessa that reaing is a best way to learn vocabuary. I actuallyl learn some new words from reading. It is really effective. Writing is another to learn and improve my English as well.

    I foun out I felt less fear after I wrote more. I am not afraid of making mistakes anymore. I can turn mistakes into a good learning experiences. Writing needs a lot of brainstroming to come up a good topic and context. Is it possible that me can make a peer review group to give the writer some suggestions or comments to one's writing? I think it will benifit everyone who involve this activity.

  6. Hi Ginyin,

    How are you?

    I like you idea of having a peer review group. But, can you explain little a bit more.

    I am ready to join that and kindly comment on my writing.



  7. Hi,Rajeev,

    My idea is that we can read a short story and write an article about it once a month or every other month; the context can be our personal interpretations , feelings or something we learned from the story. After the first draft, we can exchange our comments or suggestions including words usage, clarifying the ideas, structures,...etc on other peer's writing. Once every members have reviewed it, writer can start revising one's writing. I think we can build up more vocabuaries, practice to read efficiently and practice how to write down our owe thoughts by doing this way.

  8. Ginyin & all

    Writing about literature and then peer reviewing what you write does not work well as a class assignment. In fact, not assigning essays about literature is a New Year's Resolutions for this class. Mata, Khadija, Irfan, Rajeev, and Sadamu will no doubt be glad to hear this. hahahah...

    But you can apply peer reviewing to any kind of writing. Since you all want to read better, writing about something we have all read is a good idea. We can use essays, articles in online magazines or newspapers, and so on. Those still unwilling to share writing can read the articles/essays and comment on what others in the class have written.

    First, though, you need to understand better what peer review is in writing groups and how it works.

    Sharing writing and commenting on one another's writing is a good way to work on writing skills. But you must be very careful how you comment - you are not "correcting" anyone's writing or pointing out grammar mistakes. You comment on content, clarity, organization - does the piece of writing make sense? You also point out what parts are most effective (what parts you liked best) and what parts are especially confusing (without telling the writer what to do)

  9. Teacher Vanessa,

    Thanks for telling us how we should give comments on the other's writing. That's very important to know. Now I know more rules about peer review in writing groups.

  10. Hi Ms. Vanessa and all of my friends,

    It is a good idea to have a peer review group but Madam, kindly do not give us a passage like poem (The Train) which still today is a great puzzle to me.

    Kindly give us something said by great thinker, statesman etc.



  11. Rajeev

    If you still find "Night Train," actually a relatively straight forward poem to read, "a puzzle," what makes you think you would do better with a complex prose text? Trust me. Plato, Descartes, Plotinus, Husserl, etc. would give you even bigger headaches.

    At this stage, pieces by "great thinkers" (and what a cliché at that!) would not be our best choices. Master more basic texts first.

    To start, I think we should pick several topics. Then I will look for links to articles - essays, editorials, analyses, etc. on those topics. Eventually, 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.

    Then each of you picks a piece to write about.
    I don't think reading commentaries all on the same piece would be very interesting.

    Let's start with a "reading reflection," which is mostly a commentary & reflection on a reading that briefly summarizes the main ideas and comments on them, giving the reader's opinion and impressio. I'll post guidelines for both reading reflections and for peer reviewing.

    So now let's think about and pick a several topics to read about. I think one topic should be something on early childhood development, and perhaps another could international labor movements or globalization. What else? We don't want too many because that might be too much reading.

  12. Teacher Vanessa,

    For beginner, like me, The topic we are familiar with or experience it everyday could be a good one, such as the issues about environment, human development, or some health article.

  13. Hi Ms. Vanessa,

    I don't know why but right from the days of my graduation when I used to read Plato's and Aristotle's thoughts on politics in my Political Science(Honours), I love their original thinking.

    During those days of studying Western Political thoughts, I came to know that Plato was the first person/thinker in the world who advocated dictatorship i.e. everything should be controlled by the state.

    I like globalization topic.



  14. How can you "love" a writer's "original thinking" without knowing why. That is not only illogical but also makes no sense.

    OK then - here's a writing topic for you: apply Plato and Aristotle to contemporary globalization theory, comnparing as well the views that your application claims for them. Be sure to support with direct quotes and paraphrased passages from each.

    Don't forget to cite correctly according to an approved documentation style such as APA. APSA, MLA, NLRB, Chicago Manual, or other.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...