Guide for Students



Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 2 Reading ............................................................................................................................ 4
Becoming a Better Reader .........................................................................................................4 Reading Strategies (Practical and Philosophical) ...............................................................5 Reading Tips ............................................................................................................................6 Levels of Reading Literature ..................................................................................................7 Reading for Theme Rather than Plot .....................................................................................9 Effective Reading Behaviours Checklist ............................................................................10 Short Story Theory ...................................................................................................................11 Characteristics of the Short Story .......................................................................................11 Poetry Theory ............................................................................................................................12 Deriving Meaning from Poetry .............................................................................................12 Understanding and Appreciating Poetry ............................................................................13

Writing............................................................................................................................ 15
Managing Your English Assignments ....................................................................................15 Title Page................................................................................................................................16 Format for All Written Work .................................................................................................17 Writing for Theme Rather than Plot.....................................................................................18 Quoting from Literary Sources ............................................................................................19 Prose Forms That Develop Personal Response to Texts.....................................................22 The Essay ..................................................................................................................................25 The Parts of an Essay ...........................................................................................................25 Essay Writing.........................................................................................................................26 Writing an Outline for an Essay ...........................................................................................27 Hints for Writing Good Essays ............................................................................................28 The Thesis Statement: Some Caveats and Examples ......................................................29 Suggestions for Self-Editing and Peer Editing ..................................................................30 Grammar ....................................................................................................................................32 Parts of Speech .....................................................................................................................32 Sentences...............................................................................................................................33 Problems with Sentences.....................................................................................................35 Improving Your Grammar.....................................................................................................37 Punctuation Guide (Simplified)............................................................................................40 Style............................................................................................................................................43 How to Write Without Sounding Sexist...............................................................................43 Transitional Words and Phrases .........................................................................................45 Improving Your Style ............................................................................................................46

Speaking and Listening................................................................................................ 48
Overcoming the Fear of Speaking in Class............................................................................48 Listening Skills..........................................................................................................................48

Viewing........................................................................................................................... 51
The Language of Film...............................................................................................................51 The Role of Visual Communication.........................................................................................52 The Visual Elements .............................................................................................................53 Understanding Fonts ............................................................................................................53

Presenting...................................................................................................................... 60
Making Class Presentations ....................................................................................................60

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Appendix A .................................................................................................................... 66
Literary Terms for Grade 10 Students ....................................................................................66

Appendix B .................................................................................................................... 67
Commonly Confused Words....................................................................................................67

Appendix C .................................................................................................................... 70
Strategies for Taking Multiple Choice Tests ..........................................................................70

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This Guide for Students was developed by our teachers to help students learn and understand the technical skills that form the basis of a successful high school experience in the English Language Arts. Like our students, it is a “work in progress”; that is to say that it is neither a final and finished work, nor is it perfect. It will grow, change, and improve with you as you progress through your education. As you begin your first year at Sir Winston Churchill High School, we welcome you with enthusiasm and optimism. We have every expectation that you come to us prepared to work, to learn, and to succeed. The English Language Arts Department has an enduring and proud tradition of academic excellence and achievement. With the hope that you will continue to develop habits of successful scholarship, we offer you some advice based on our experience with the thousands of outstanding students who came to us before you: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Review your English notes and literary terms regularly, even if this is not assigned homework. Read actively, writing notes and keeping track of observations as you read. Articulate your learning goals. Determine the best ways of studying or preparing for different types of tests and assignments. Consciously plan the most effective strategies to approach a test or assignment. Consistently read pieces of literature that we are studying more than once, even if this is not assigned by your teacher. Enthusiastically contribute ideas in small group discussions. Willingly and frequently contribute ideas in large group discussions. Consistently use class time effectively and efficiently. Read regularly, even if reading is not assigned for homework. Read newspapers, magazines, short stories, plays, essays or novels for pleasure. Connect the ideas in the literature that we read to your own life and experiences, and connect ideas presented in the texts we study Think about the ideas presented in the literature we are studying even after we have finished discussing the piece in class. Develop a strong, clear, and internalized understanding of the ‘language of literature’. (That is, know and properly use the terms that are used to discuss literature intelligently and effectively.) Do not rely on what other people say in class to form the basis of your interpretation of a piece of literature.

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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Seek extra help when you are unsure of a concept or need some feedback on a project. Follow up with your teacher if you miss a class for any reason to find out what must be done for class that day. (Or, phone a friend you can trust.) Keep up to date on world events (by watching the news or reading the newspaper regularly) and connect these events with the ideas presented in the literature we read. Take advantage of opportunities to participate in the arts by attending theatrical or musical performances. Pay attention to the ‘details’ in the works that we read and consistently ask yourself the question “why might the author have included this?” Be familiar with at least 10 reading/reflecting strategies you can access to help you come to an understanding of a piece of literature. Regularly bring a dictionary to class. Always look up a reference in a work that you are not familiar with. Be comfortable working individually, and in small and large group settings. Understand what skills are required to make effective oral presentations. Have a valid Calgary Public Library card. Be consistently conscious of spelling and grammar. Always spend time editing and proofreading your work. Look closely at marking guidelines to ensure your work meets the necessary criteria. Understand the conventions of writing a proper theme statement. Be familiar with several strategies to use in the introduction of a piece of writing. Recognize and understand the elements of design and the strategies used in visual text. Develop strong critical viewing skills. Give every assignment your best effort. Enthusiastically accept challenges. Willingly explore new ideas and concepts. Be an active participant in explorations. Speak and write honestly and passionately about your ideas and opinions. CARE!

The Department of English Language Arts Sir Winston Churchill High School

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“Reading provides students with a means of accessing the ideas, perspectives and experiences of others. By using effective reading strategies, students construct meaning and develop thoughtful and critical understandings and interpretations of a variety of texts. They also use reading strategies to reconstruct the meanings of others.”*

Becoming a Better Reader**
Reading involves a combination of skills which must be practiced; so, read every day. You have to read a lot to become a good reader. When you read, picture in your mind what you read. This is very important. It is called "visualizing." Good readers see in their heads what is happening in a story. Many students today have a difficult time visualizing what they read because they have gotten so used to watching television and movies where things are laid out in front of them without having to think. A good reader needs to see what she or he is reading. One has to think. The more you read, the better reader you will be. When you find a reference (called an allusion) to something you do not know much about, such as a historical occurrence, a myth or a Bible story, look it up. This will help you to understand why the author has referred to that event or story, and try to relate it to the story you are reading. Remember that even when you are reading fiction you can learn. Good readers, over time, come to know a lot about many things, which they pick-up when they are reading. In addition, the more you learn, the more you will understand. It is like a snowball rolling downhill: the farther it rolls, the bigger it gets. The more you read, the more you will understand.



Alberta Education (2003) English Language Arts. Downloaded from: Adapted from documents prepared by AACTchRdg, AAC Staff. Use of this material is protected under America Online and other copyright. Any use of this material must cite AOL's Academic Assistance Center and the author as a source. (edited by AACTchrAmy) (05/99)

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Reading Strategies (Practical and Philosophical)
Maintaining Focus • While you read, avoid distractions such as conversation, music — especially music with lyrics, and thoughts unrelated to what you are reading. Contrary to popular belief, we cannot thoroughly understand multiple messages at the same time; • “White noise” is okay for most people; • If you own the book and do not mind writing in it, use a highlighter to bring out important passages you will want to review; use a pen or pencil to write interactive notes; • Keep a separate sheet, with page references, for your impressions of characters and their important actions, thoughts, values, morals, and for important quotations • If the book is not yours and you cannot write in it, use yellow “stickies” to mark and comment upon important passages; • Whenever possible, buy used books that are already highlighted and with marginalia—the thoughts of others might focus your own. Reading Habits and Preferences • Learning to approach literature in a thoughtful and reflective way is rewarding and enjoyable; however, it is also challenging. Developing the ability to take an analytical approach towards literature requires practice and discipline. • Literature’s grand themes require us to think about characters and their choices. They also require us to think about, and make sense of, these choices in terms of our own lives. “Fiction” that is action driven does not; so, it does not develop the vital ability to be introspective about one’s life and connected to the world around us. (In other words, if you are currently reading “popular fiction”, expect to think critically in order to “get” Literature.); • Television programs and other media that are “dumbed-down” (i.e., their messages are so blunt that you need not interpret them), can dull our ability to interpret ideas objectively and insightfully because they convey the simple view that there are only two ways to look at a given situation. Unfamiliar Words • Buy a dictionary and thesaurus, and use them; • Work at understanding word origins (etymology) and groupings. Seeing patterns in roots, prefixes, and suffixes, will help you “guess” meaning more accurately; • Decode meaning through the way a word is used (usage) and the words around it (context); • Read diverse material to build a varied vocabulary and to see the same words used with different connotations (associated meaning) and denotations (dictionary definitions); • Convince yourself that nothing is more important than human language, the origin of words, their meaning, and their use; • Understand that everything you want to do in life requires language; • Because English has borrowed words from just about every other culture, studying other languages will help you see the same words in a different way; taking Latin will increase your vocabulary the most, especially if you plan on entering any profession, such as law, medicine, zoology, or archaeology, that still demand more than a rudimentary familiarity with Latin words; • Learning the logic of another language’s grammar should also help you see the logic in the grammar of English.



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The Reading and Writing Connection • Your ability to read intelligently and deeply is directly related to your writing skill, especially in Thought and Detail. (How can you possibly write intelligently about a work of literature that you have not understood beyond the basics of “who does what where”?);

Reading Tips
This list of reading tips is by no means comprehensive. It does, however, provide you with a set of strategies to help you begin to develop your interpretation and analysis. 1. Size up the piece before we begin. Articulate your genre expectations and adjust your reading according to the type of literature you are reading (short story, play, novel, poetry, essay, article, etc.) 2. Examine the piece to get a sense of what it is. (Check out the cover, the print size, the title, the additional information given, the illustrations, the hook, etc.) 3. Read assuming the author is trying to reveal a truth. 4. Try to relate the literature to your own life and experiences. 5. Find key lines. Write these out (or underline, or highlight). Mark up the piece. It may be worth copying a particularly challenging story so that you can highlight important parts and make annotations. 6. Re-read. Just like a good CD gets better as you play it more, a well-written story should improve as you re-read it. Subtle complexities may only be revealed after several readings. 7. Look for the basics. Identify the setting, the conflict(s), the main characters, and the point of view. Note any repetition. 8. Determine whether or not the piece is a recollection. 9. Ask yourself whether or not setting seems to be significant. If so, what role(s) does it serve? 10. Pay attention to how language reveals characters’ personalities and motivations. 11. Turn the title into a question to help you predict what the story might be about. 12. Picture the story in your mind. Make “movies” in your head. See the setting and feel the mood. 13. Read slowly to “hear” in your head. You may need to slightly exaggerate the punctuation in order to do this effectively. 14. Identify the literary devices and try to determine their purpose and effect in the story. (For example, what is the symbol and what does it symbolize? What is the impact of the dramatic irony? What purpose does the figurative language serve?) 15. Review the questions at the end of the piece. 16. Paraphrase difficult passages into your own language. In some places, it may be useful to rearrange or reorder sentences. 17. When circumstances allow, read the piece out loud and/or discuss it with others. 18. Ask questions as you are reading. (For example, ask yourself what the author is trying to tell you. Or, ask yourself, “Why is this here?”) 19. Pay attention to word choices. Identify connotations and look up the denotations of any words that are not familiar to you. 20. Research any allusions that are not familiar to you. 21. If you are really stuck, research the author. It may provide a clue as to where to start your analysis. 22. Ask yourself if you (as the reader) are feeling what the main character is feeling. 23. Check pronoun references. (This is particularly important in poetry and Shakespeare.)

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Levels of Reading Literature
Reading occurs on three critical and equally important levels. We cannot read at the deeper levels without first understanding the surface levels, but sometimes these processes occur concurrently.

Level One: Reading for Information
Summary: When reading at this level, we are gathering information that is not open to interpretation. This information would answer some or all of the who, what, when, and where questions. Questions: • • • • • • • • Who is in the story or poem? (Character) What actions do they take? What actions are taken upon them? (Plot) Where and when does the story take place? (Setting) In what manner is the story told? (Narration) Characterization (discussed later) Plot/Conflict (discussed later) Milieu (social, religious, political, economic, and cultural influences upon setting) Narration (discussed later)


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Level Two: Reading for Understanding
Summary: When reading at this level, we are grasping the subtleties of the Conflict. (Conflict is central to literature and exists everywhere in life; without Conflict, literature would not exist as such or would be deathly dull and non-instructive.) Questions: • • • Observe: • • • • What is the story or poem’s central conflict or tension? What is the motivation of each character? (What do these characters want from themselves, others, the situation, and life?) What do their motives reveal about them? Characterization (How do these characters reveal themselves via their thoughts, words, and actions?) Plot/Conflict (What is the motive of each character?) Narration (What does the author reveal to us about character? What does the author have others say or think about the character?) Relationships between characters: • Family • Class, Status, and Power • Friends and Foes • Natural and Supernatural

Level Three: Reading for Application
Summary: When reading at this level, we are processing and then applying theme (a universal truth about or insight into humans, human behavior, and human nature); we ask (and answer for) ourselves what major idea the work explores. While doing these things, we are applying this new idea in our thoughts, feelings, and, eventually, actions. Questions: • • • • • • What would my life be like if I were like these characters? What would the world be like if everyone/no one were like them? What in the behavior of these characters do I see in myself and wish I didn’t? What in the behavior of these characters do I not see in myself and wish I did? Characters that undergo a major change, or receive a major insight, known as an epiphany. This change or epiphany will often tell you what the story or poem “is about” or “means.” (Their learning experience can be your learning experience.)


Other Questions: For Gaining an Appreciation for and Understanding of Literature:
1. What are the predominant characteristics of the major characters in the story? 2. Do you know people with these characteristics? 3. How do these characteristics help or hinder them in life? (How do these characteristics solve or create conflict?) 4. If the world were “run” by the antagonist or the protagonist, what would it look like? 5. What statement about people and life is the author making through these characters and their conflicts? 6. What meaning does this have in your own life or the lives of the people around you?

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Reading for Theme Rather than Plot
It is important to note that, at the high school level, plot will rarely be the focus of literary analysis. “Theme” may be described as “the author’s commentary on the central idea of a work and the affect of that idea on our lives.”
Reading For Plot •
Plot is concrete. You can (or should be able to) read a story and say it is about a certain topic, with certain characters, features a certain plot progression, it takes place in a certain setting(s), and so on.

vs. •

Reading For Theme
Theme is abstract. When you read a story on a thematic level, it is more about you (and the people you know, or humanity as a whole) than it is about a certain set of characters and a certain plot. When reading for theme, you should ask yourself how the story affects you and what the world would be like if everyone in it were like the people in this story. When reading for theme, character, especially characters’ motivation, is vital. Why characters do what they do is as important — if not more so — than what they do. When reading for theme, conflict, and the way characters respond to it, should give us insight into ourselves, (and/or humanity). In this context conflict reveals deeper aspects of humanity. When reading for theme, the resolution of the conflict is the beginning of reflection for the reader. It allows us to see what life, especially our lives, would be like if we employed the same behavior or made the same choices as the characters in the story. When reading for theme, the end of the story signals a phase of deeper engagement with the concepts generated by the story. Anything that might have been learned may remain with the reader for years to come.

When reading for plot, character is not as important as events or action.

When reading for plot, conflict is important only because it advances the plot.

When reading for plot, the resolution of the conflict means that the story has come, or is coming, to an end.

When reading for plot, the reader’s engagement with the story ends when the story ends. There is little, if anything, learned, and no application for the story. Such stories do not tend to stick in the reader’s mind.

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Effective Reading Behaviours Checklist*
Before Reading, I… • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

activate prior knowledge understand task and set purpose choose appropriate strategies






During Reading, I…

focus attention anticipate and predict use fix-up strategies when understanding breaks down experiment with intonation and emphasis read fluently with attention to phrasing and expression use contextual analysis to understand new terms recognize important vocabulary and references use text structure to assist comprehension organize and integrate new information understand that the ultimate goal is understanding self-monitor comprehension

You know that you are stuck when…
• • • • • • After Reading, I… • • • • • • • Your “inner voice” stops its conversation with the text, and you only hear the voice pronouncing the words. The camera inside your head shuts off, and you can no longer visualize what is happening as you read. Your mind begins to wander. You cannot remember or retell what you have read. You cannot get your clarifying questions answered. Characters are reappearing in the text and you cannot recall who they are. reflect on what I read recognize that success is a result of effort summarize the major ideas of the piece evaluate the success of my comprehension and reread points where confusion occurred seek necessary outside information to clarify ask questions apply information/ discoveries to a new situation


Adapted from Tovani, Chris, I Read It, But I Don’t Get It.

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Short Story Theory
Characteristics of the Short Story
1. General Characteristics a. b. c. d. e. a fictional piece of prose, telling of an incident or event based on one character usually has three to six characters deals with a conflict, thereby creating suspense usually has, but does not require, a definite conclusion or outcome.

2. Point of View The story may be written from a variety of perspectives: a. b. c. d. omniscient – the thoughts and feelings of most characters are known by narrator limited omniscient – the thoughts and feelings of one character are known objective – from the perspective of an outside observer first person – a character within the story tells the story using the word “I”.

3. Elements of Plot in the Short Story a. Exposition – background information needed by the reader to help make sense of the story. • Exposition includes time, place, antecedent action (prior events that help the reader make sense of subsequent events and may provide motivation), atmosphere or mood. b. Initial Incident – the first incident in the conflict or suspense of the story c. Rising Action – complications that cast doubt on the resolution of the conflict. d. Conflict – There are four main types of conflict: • Man versus Man – the protagonist is pitted against another person or group • Man versus Himself – the protagonist is pitted against some aspect of his personality or nature • Man versus Nature or the Environment – the protagonist is pitted against large external forces. • Man versus Society – the protagonist is pitted against the values or ideas of his society. e. Climax – A moment of great intensity in a literary work, generally bringing events to a head and leading to the conclusion. f. Resolution / Denouement – the set of events that bring the story to a close. The author may explain the climax or what happens to the characters following the climax. There are three basic types of endings: • Happy – in which the protagonist successfully resolves the conflict • Unhappy – in which the protagonist suffers from, or is beaten by the forces against him • Indeterminate – in which the protagonist neither wins nor loses. The conflict is not solved.

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Poetry Theory
Deriving Meaning from Poetry
1. What event, situation, or experience does the poem describe or record? 2. Why has the poet written this poem? What message does he or she want to communicate? 3. What is the strongest emotion in the poem? Does it change? 4. What does the poet want those who read or hear the poem to feel? 5. Is the poem’s form important? 6. If you are having trouble applying the above questions, try the following. Poems are:

• The poem will describe some literal event. If you do not understand this literal event, you will not understand the poem and you will not be able to derive any meaning at a deeper level. Poetry is, above all, about feeling, which will almost always be personal, but it will also be universal in that any reader (with a bit of work, experience, and understanding) can identify it and identify with it. Poetry can be about situations we are not that familiar with, but it must present us with, or make us feel, feelings with which we are familiar. If it fails to do this, the poet has failed to communicate and, thus, has failed to write a poem.

and •

This literal event will probably symbolize or stand for something else. The poet might or might not give you signs as to the meaning of these symbols. If they are there, you must follow them; if they are absent, and the poem cannot be understood by working with just the literal level, you must work with the context of the poem to gain an understanding of the figurative level. Because human nature is shared and constant, poetry appeals to that which all of us, regardless of race, religion, creed, politics, wealth, gender, and so on, have in common or can understand. Thus, when it challenges us, it should challenge our ability to grasp ideas, values, moral, ethics, and so on. All of this means that you are as responsible as the poet for making meaning in poetry. As long as you can point to the concrete text to support your abstract text, your interpretation is valid

Do not forget that, in addition to interpreting the poem, if you are working with a Personal Response Question, you must keep the question in mind and look for key words in the poem and the question. Your interpretation of the concrete and abstract meanings of the poem should be reshaped by the Personal Response Question. Your response should include your interpretation shaped by the question, references to the poem, and references to your experience.

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Understanding and Appreciating Poetry
In order to understand and appreciate a poem, consider the following: 1. The Craft of Poetry • • • • • • • •


Subject – What event, situation, or experience does the poem describe or record? Theme – Why has the poet written this poem? What message does he or she want to communicate? Mood – What is the strongest emotion in the poem? What does the poet want those who read or hear the poem to think or feel? Technique – What literary and poetic techniques has the poet employed? Structure – How is the poem structured? (See Types of Poems, below). What is the poem’s metre (See scansion, also below). Language – Is the poet’s use of words effective. Are the words appropriate to the poem’s theme? Imagery – What figures of speech (see below) does the poet employ? Are they effective? Movement, Sounds -- Does the poem rhyme? What is the effect of this rhyme, or lack thereof? Does the poet use sounds such as onomatopoeia, alliteration, or assonance?

2. Figures of Speech • • • • Based on Comparison -- Look up the following terms: simile, metaphor, personification, analogy, hyperbole. Based on Association -- Look up the following terms: symbolism, metonymy. Based on Sound -- Look up the following terms: alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia.

3. Other Effects of Language Look up the following terms: apostrophe, antithesis, paradox, rhyme.

4. Scansion a. Scansion is seeing the way the emphasis falls on syllables the poet uses. This emphasis creates a rhythm the poet and reader must observe ( Stressed = / ) ( Unstressed = u ). Iamb ( u / ), Anapest ( u u / ), Trochee ( / u ), Dactyl ( / u u ), Spondee ( / / ), Pyrrhic ( u u ).

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b. Scansion is also counting metre, the number of syllables in a line. • Monometre = one foot, • Dimetre = two feet, • Trimetre = three feet, • Tetrametre = four feet, • Pentametre = five feet, • Hexametre = six feet, • Heptametre = seven feet, • Octametre = eight feet. c. Scansion is also paying attention to the length of stanzas, or groups of lines. • Couplet = two lines, • Triplet = three lines, • Quatrain = four lines, • Cinquain = five lines, • Sestet = six lines, • Septet = seven lines, • Octave = eight lines.

Types of Poems

Look up the following terms: Ballad Blank Verse Concrete Poetry Dramatic Monologue Elegy Epigram Free Verse Light Verse Lyric Narrative Ode Prose Poem Imagination of Poetry Sonnet Tercet Found Poetry

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“Writing enables students to explore, shape and clarify their thoughts and to communicate these thoughts to others. By using effective writing strategies, students discover and refine ideas, and compose and revise with increasing confidence and skill.”*

Managing Your English Assignments

When submitting an English assignment, please:

Staple and hand in your assignment in the following order: • • • • Title Page (if one is required by your teacher; note: you need not illustrate it); Good Copy (i.e., your final draft); Rough Copy (i.e., earlier draft; if one is required by your teacher); Outline (if one is required by your teacher);

2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Do not use a cover; Place your assignment where directed by your teacher, or else risk losing it; Do not staple different assignments together or place them together; Expect your assignment back within four days or four weeks, depending on your teacher’s marking load; Please note that some assignments, because of their nature or purpose, will not be returned.


When receiving a marked English assignment:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Read it with the marking criteria to see how your mark was determined; Meet with your teacher to address your questions; Take it home for your parents to see; Learn from your teacher’s comments, if s/he makes them, and make corrections (note: some teachers prefer to give verbal rather than written feedback); Conference with your teacher if you are having trouble or if s/he requests it; Appeal outside of class, not in class, unless your teacher has time; Keep all marked assignments until the end of the semester.


Alberta Education (2003) English Language Arts. Downloaded from:

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Title Page
(if required for your assignment)

How to Submit Assignments* By Your Name (or/and Your ID Number)

Teacher’s Name

ELA 10-1, Period ____ Or ELA 10-2, Period ____ Date Here

* Your title should do two things: • • Tell your reader what he or she is about to read, and; Make the reader want to read it.

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Format for All Written Work
The following are some simple guidelines for formatting your future assignments. Some of these guidelines apply to all written assignments. Others are specific to word-processed or hand written forms.


At the top right corner of the first page of your assignment, indicate the following: Your First and Last Name (or ID number, if required by your teacher) Date (e.g., October 24, 2005) English 20-1 Your Teacher’s Name


Centered, above your assignment, indicate the following: The Title of Your Paper (or Name of Assignment)


At the top right corner of the second page, and subsequent pages, indicate the following: Your last name and the page number (e.g., Doe, page 2)


Word-processing: • • • • For most assignments, use a standard font. Do not get creative with font choice unless there is a very good reason for doing so (i.e., it is a creative project.) Use 10 point Arial or 12 point Times Roman type Double space (1.5 spacing is also acceptable). Leave a 1 inch margin on all sides


Hand written work: • • • Use blue or black ink. Assignments in any other colour, or in pencil without prior agreement, are unacceptable. Double space (to allow room for me to write comments). Use white, 8½” x 11”, “clean edged” paper (i.e., not ripped from coil notebooks)


All assignments: • • • • Use only the front of the page (punched holes on the left side of the page). Correct mistakes with correction fluid or one neat stroke through the error. If you use correction fluid, wait for it to dry before writing on it. Staple or bind all pages together. Indent new paragraphs. It is not necessary to skip a line for new paragraphs.

Proofread and edit all written work!

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Writing for Theme Rather than Plot
It is important to note that, at the high school level, plot will rarely be the focus of literary analysis. “Theme” may be described as “the author’s commentary on the central idea of a work and the affect of that idea on our lives.”
Writing for Plot •
When writing about plot, there is too much summary and too little analysis of, or focus on, meaning. Remember that the reader of your paper already knows the story so you do not need to retell it to them. When writing about plot, analysis is usually incidental, and is probably there only to support the summary of the plot. This writing is derivative (in other words, it is more the author’s than it is the student’s). Writing about plot is rather shallow more often than not. By the high school level your teachers expect you to only use plot as a means of delving into deeper reflections.

vs. •

Writing for Theme
When writing about theme, the primary focus is on the meaning(s) generated by the story and the insights about these meaning(s) taken by the reader.

When writing about theme, any summary is incidental, and is there to support analysis. Such writing should be primarily about the insights and observations that the student has taken from the story. Reading for theme leads to insight into deeper meaning(s), and encourages the reader to make judgments about such insights. So, when writing with a thematic focus, the student has a far greater chance of creating a paper that is authentic and original.

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Quoting from Literary Sources*
When writing an essay based on a literary work, it is sometimes necessary to quote from the work to support or illustrate your assertions. The following is a guide for doing so.

1. Quotations have three parts:
a. You must Set the Context—tell your reader a bit about the context in which the quotation occurs. • Who is speaking? To whom is this person speaking? Why? • What will the reader of your paper need to know about the quotation to make sense of the story, the assignment, your thesis, or the particular point you are making? b. Give the Quote. Set it in proper quotation marks, ascribe it properly, and end it properly. (See below) c. Analyze the Quote. The quote is meaningless until you talk about its meaning in relation to the literature, the assignment, your thesis, or the particular point you are making.

2. A series of properly introduced, quoted, and ascribed quotations do NOT an essay

In other words, it is better to refer accurately and discuss clearly than it is to merely memorize and string a bunch of accurate quotations together without connection or apparent understanding.

3. Quotations should either be Embedded or Blocked:
a. Embedded quotations are, oddly enough, embedded into your sentence. For example:
Hemingway’s writing in The Old Man and the Sea is vivid and pulsating. For example, when describing the fishing expedition, he says “It was difficult in the dark and once the fish made a surge that pulled him down on his face and made a cut below his eye” (p.52), making readers feel the intensity of the pursuit and catch.

They can be embedded with some of your writing preceding, following, or both. b. Blocked quotations are used for quotations of more than four lines (or 40 words) and, especially, for dialogue in plays so that you can ascribe this dialogue without the bulky devices of “he said . . . and then she said . . . and then he replied . . . and then she went…”
When blocking a quote, justify it from the left and the right, singlespace it (the rest of your essay should be double-spaced, and do not use quotation marks. The fact that you have single-spaced it, separating it physically and intellectually from the rest of your essay tells your reader that it is a quotation. Place the page number at the end on the right. (p.52)


Adapted from: Mr. Jones’ Course Guide, Page 26-29

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If you are blocking dialogue, you do not need to justify: Romeo: Mercutio: Romeo: Mercutio: I dreamt a dream tonight. And so did I. Well, what was yours? That dreamers often lie.


(Act I, scene iv, lines 52-55) 4. Never begin a body paragraph with a quotation.

The Essay is a form that allows you to express your opinions and perhaps persuade readers that they should share them. The thoughts of others cannot replace yours.

5. Never end a paragraph with a quotation.

If you use a quotation, you need to comment on it.

6. Never use a quotation without good reason.

Don’t throw one in simply because you feel you have to. If it does nothing, it detracts from your argument rather than adding to it.

7. Make sure the quotation you are using is the best (the most apt) available.

The more your quotation supports your point, the more clear and forceful your point will be.

8. Do not ignore quotations that contradict your argument.

Acknowledging a portion or all of an opposing argument is an excellent way to remove it.

9. The meaning of the quotation must not be changed.

“Mr. X drinks a lot . . .” is vastly different from “Mr. X drinks a lot of water” and it is intellectually dishonest of you to fool your reader this way.

10. If you exclude words from a quote, show where with ellipsis (three dots, four in a row if they end your sentence). 11. If you add or change words, show where with square brackets.

Use these only for clarity, not because your hand or brain is tired and you do not feel like writing or typing the whole passage.

12. Quotations appear in double quotation marks, followed by the page number in parenthetical marks, followed by your punctuation, if necessary.

Punctuation is usually either a period, if you are ending your sentence, or a comma, if you are incorporating the quote into the rest of it.

13. When you are quoting a passage that includes another quotation or dialogue, use double quotation marks for the main quote and single quotation marks for the secondary quote.

For example, “Juliet said to Romeo, ‘If they do see thee, they will murder thee.’ ”

14. `When embedding poetry or a play in verse, use a slash to indicate line endings (so that you do not have to end your line every time the poet or playwright does). 15. When quoting poetry, give the line numbers, even if you have to count them yourself to do so.
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• • • •


When quoting plays, give act number, scene number, and line numbers, if the play gives them. If the text uses Arabic numerals, use them; if it uses Roman numerals, you may choose between them and Arabic numerals. Line numbers will always be in Arabic numerals. If the text is using Roman numerals, the Act will be in upper and the scene will be in lower. You can formulate it as follows: a. Act I, scene i, line 1 b. I, i, 1

16. A quick primer on Arabic and Upper- and Lower-Case Roman numerals: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 I II III IV V VI VII i ii iii iv v vi vii 8 9 10 50 100 1000 VIII IX X L C MM viii ix x l c mm

17. The titles of novels, books, plays, and longer poems are underlined.

The rule is if they can be published on their own, in their own book, they get underlined.

18. The titles of short stories and poems appear in quotation marks.

The rule is that they are so short they must appear with others in an anthology, a collection of literary works, which is then underlined.

19. The titles of films can appear either underlined or in quotation marks, NOT both.

They are, usually, in formal writing, in BLOCK LETTERS.

20. Titles of songs are in quotation marks. 21. There is never an instance or reason to both “underline a title and put it into quotation marks!” 22. “All Major Words in a Title Get Capitalized.”

Non-Major Words, such as as, a, an, or, or the, “Get Capitalized Only if They Begin the Title.”

23. Always include a page number when quoting from a literary source.
• •

If the title of the work is apparent from your title, you do not need to give it. If it is not, give it only the first time you quote from the work. If you are referring to more than one work, you may refer to them by the name of the author; unless two or more of the works are by the same author.

24. You do not need a page number if you are referring rather than quoting. 25. Buy and consult a good reference book for Examples of Bibliographic Forms. 26. Consult with your teachers; they may have personal preferences when it comes to these rules.

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Prose Forms That Develop Personal Response to Texts*
Note: all forms require a beginning, middle and an end. How each is developed and the manner of expression depends on the prose form. Ultimately, remember that there are time constrictions and that your audience is a group of educated and literate evaluators.


• Identify context, Reverse chronological order, Combines text and images, Opinion based include Title, Body, URL, Post List of songs Biography of the performer(s) Discussion of the music Identify context Discussion developed around ideas Summary Statements Identify the context and establish your opinion Examples to support opinion Reasons for opinion Restate opinion Identify context Questions and Answers Summary Statements Identify context Develop ideas Draw conclusion

Style/Tone (Voice)
Depends on audience. Who will be reading this and why? Usually some level of opinion and persuasion.

CD Inlay

• • •

Depends on the audience and the style of music.


• • •

Dependent upon participants and intended audience.

Editorial Column

• • • •

Evokes an emotional reaction Tone depends on subject matter


• • •

Dependent on interviewer and interviewee. These should reflect the intended audience.


• • •


With thanks to C.P. Hetherington from Central Memorial HS.

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Letter • • • • • • • • • • • Greeting Introduce Idea Develop with support Closing Rationale Develop ideas Draw conclusion Inverted pyramid plan Begin with the essentials 5 W’s Add details in order of importance Deceased’s full name and date of birth Recount the main events in the person’s life. Acknowledge survivors Announce when and where the funeral, burial, wake and/or memorial service will take place. Headings Identify context a few small images which contribute to the text SCP (setting, conflict, point of view) Moral / Theme

Depends on the audience. (i.e. friend, relative, business associate, editor, etc.)


Depends on audience. Who will be reading this and why?

Newspaper Article

Report objectively Limit details to the facts


sombre, nostalgic, reminiscent

• •

Pamphlets / Travel Literature

• • •

clear, concise and coherent depends on the purpose and audience


• •

Tone is a convention as are the style choices. (e.g., Characters are often animals)

Rant (Caution!)

• • • • • •

Introduce Idea Develop with support Closing Identify inspiration for reflection. Develop ideas regarding the topic. Draw conclusions

Style is still developing. Incorporates an adamant tone and usually strong on poetic devices. Writing may be developed through metaphors, personal experience, literary references, etc.

Reflective Writing (Essay)

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Script • Similar to short story in that SCPTs (setting, conflict, point of view, theme) must be included SCPT Form is with separation of dialogue and context.


Short Story

Intended target audience: Children, teens, men/women, athletes, artists, etc.


• • • • • • • •

Greeting Introduce Idea Develop with support Closing Mirrors format of Newspaper article Inverted pyramid plan Begin with the essentials 5 W’s Add details in order of importance

Depends on the audience. (club members, political rally, colleagues, family reunion, etc.) Report subjectively Details have little to do with facts Exaggeration and Rumour

Tabloid Article

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The Essay
The Parts of an Essay
The Introduction 1. The Lead a. Get the reader’s attention. b. May be an anecdote, a challenge, a joke, a shocking statistic, one person’s experience, a description, a question, or a quotation. 2. The Connector a. A transitional phrase or sentence that serves as a bridge from the lead sentence to the thesis (main idea) statement. 3. The Thesis Statement a. The most important part of the introductory paragraph. b. A generalized statement that tells the reader: i. What the topic (main idea) is. ii. How you will limit the topic. iii. How you will organize the topic. c. May be one or more sentences, depending on the complexity of the thesis. d. A thesis clearly and concisely conveys the writer's main argument in an essay, and it allows readers to clearly grasp the focus of the essay, which will be developed in the body of the work. i. An effective thesis cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. e. Example:

i. Judy Syfer's essay, "I Want a Wife," exaggerates the marital expectations facing women in our society today. Those expectations include managing a household, maintaining a career, and having a good relationship with a spouse.
Body Paragraphs 1. Topic Sentence a. Alerts the reader as to which aspect of the thesis statement you are covering in this particular paragraph. b. Usually located at the beginning of the paragraph. 2. Specific Support a. Provide details from the literary text as evidence to persuade the reader to believe what you are saying. The Conclusion 1. Rephrase or summarize the thesis. 2. Restate the key points that you covered in the body paragraphs. 3. Conclude with a statement that proves your thesis (main idea).

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Essay Writing

Lead: Get the reader’s attention with:
An anecdote A shocking statistic A question A Challenge One Person’s Experience A Quotation A Joke A Description

Use a transitional phrase or sentence that clearly shows the relationship of the initial ideas in the paragraph to the concluding thesis statement.

The last sentence of the introductory paragraph, it should clearly state the main point the paper makes


Tell the reader what to expect.

Body Paragraphs
Be sure to include all of the following components: • topic sentence • supporting evidence in the body sentences • a closing sentence. Follow this same format as you write the second and third body paragraphs. • Save your best point for the last paragraph • Start with your second-best point

Rephrase Recap Supporting Evidence
Explain what you concluded about the essay

Summarize the subject of the essay

Big Idea Related to Thematic Issue
Summarize how the information in the body of your essay proves your point.

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Writing an Outline for an Essay
“If you could sit down to write what you have thought and not sit down to think what you

will write, the difficulties in actually putting words to paper would lessen. You can do so if you approach writing gradually by planning ahead or pre-writing.”
— Harry Shaw, Handbook of English, page 381.

Brain-storming, thought-webbing, mind-mapping, and other similar techniques are great for getting your ideas flowing, but not great for putting them in logical order. All writing, regardless of type, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The Essay, however, is more formal and thus has more rigid and disciplined requirements. It also has a beginning, a middle, and an end, but certain things must be done in each section. Please note: An Essay for English and an Essay for Social Studies are vastly different. In an English Essay, your Introduction states your thesis, and the rest of the Essay proves it or, at least, explains it; in a Social Studies Essay, your Introduction explores a concept that you work toward accepting or rejecting in your conclusion.


Introductory Paragraph a. Lead Sentence (Get the reader’s attention.) b. Connector Sentence (Connect your lead sentence to your thesis statement) c. Thesis Statement (Introduce the key points, preferably at least three that you will expand further in your body paragraphs.) Body Paragraph #1 a. Topic Sentence (Identify the topic of the paragraph — the second most important key point from the thesis statement.) b. Support (Provide pieces of evidence, preferably taken directly from the text being studied, that support your topic. Ideally, use Significant Sections.) c. Transition Sentence (Indicate that you are moving to the next paragraph and topic.) Body Paragraph #2 a. Topic Sentence (Identify the topic of the paragraph — the third most important key point from the thesis statement.) b. Support (Provide pieces of evidence, preferably taken directly from the text being studied, that support your topic. Ideally, use Significant Sections.) c. Transition Sentence (Indicate that you are moving to the next paragraph and topic.) Body Paragraph #3 a. Topic Sentence (Identify the topic of the paragraph — the most important key point from the thesis statement.) b. Support (Provide pieces of evidence, preferably taken directly from the text being studied, that support your topic. Ideally, use Significant Sections.) Conclusion a. Rephrase the Thesis Statement in the first sentence of the Conclusion. b. Briefly summarize the key ideas presented in the three body paragraphs. c. Make a broad sweeping statement about the central theme of your essay.





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Hints for Writing Good Essays
1. Writing should be logically sound and grammatically correct. a. Leave out irrelevant information. b. Try not to appeal strictly to emotion (When writing Literary Essays, strive to be objective rather than subjective, and rational rather than emotional). c. Present your thoughts and supporting details clearly and coherently. d. Be concise (i.e., Economy of Style), using the fewest words necessary to convey your meaning. e. Grammar should be correct, and your “voice” should reflect usage by the educated population. 2. Diction (word choice and arrangement) should be precise and specific. a. Avoid slang. Use the correct word to convey your meaning (e.g., Do not use “paranoid” when you mean “suspicious”.) b. Anticipate questions; arrange your message so that the reader cannot misunderstand you. If the reader is confused about the writer’s meaning, it is the writer’s problem. 3. Consider your audience. a. Use words that the reader will understand and appreciate. b. Use a respectful tone to your reader and to your topic. c. Organize your points in a logical and emphatic manner. 4. Consider revising your work. a. Make as many revisions as necessary to ensure that 1. it says what you want it to say, the way you want to say it; 2. it is clear, concise, and coherent; 3. it is grammatically correct. 5. Proofread carefully a. You want the reader to take your work seriously — show that you do too!

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The Thesis Statement: Some Caveats and Examples *
• A thesis is a Statement of Opinion or Fact.

A thesis is never a question. Readers of academic essays expect to have questions discussed, explored, or even answered.

A thesis is never a list.

A thesis should never be vague, combative or confrontational. It can, however, be original, challenging, and thought provoking.

An effective thesis has a definable, arguable claim.

A thesis should be as clear and specific as possible. Avoid overused, general terms and abstractions.


Copyright 1999, Maxine Rodburg and The Tutors of the Writing Center at Harvard University

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Suggestions for Self-Editing and Peer Editing
Have you ever been told to peer-edit or self-edit without being told how to do either of these important tasks? There is, a method for editing, whether it is used for your work or for a classmate’s. If you break the work into its constitute parts and then examine those parts for certain things, you will improve the quality of your writing, your ability to edit, and the quality of others' writing. 1. Begin with the work as a whole. In other words, examine the writer's purpose and organization. Ask yourself: What does the writer want to achieve, and has the writing been organized in a way that achieves or facilitates that purpose? When editing a literary essay, ask yourself if the following necessary parts are present and doing what they are supposed to do. (Note: These tips are most suitable for the literary essay. See your teacher for the structure of other types of essays and writing.): • • • • • • • • • • Is there an Introduction that contains the Title, Author, and a Summary of the literature to be discussed? Does the Introduction have a Thesis Statement or Controlling Idea that is rational, defensible, and related to the brief summary of the literature? Does the thesis statement include, or is it followed by, Three Reasons or Hooks that show the thesis statement is the result of consideration of the literature and map the direction in which the essay will develop? Has any explanation of the reasons for the thesis statement been saved for the Body Paragraphs? Do the Body Paragraphs follow the order the writer set out in the Introduction with the three reasons? Do the Body Paragraphs develop these reasons with supporting details, examples, explanations, references, and quotations? Are any references to and quotations of the literature the best examples to prove the writer's assertions? Are all quotations commented upon and documented properly? Has the writer used transitions for supporting evidence within a paragraph and from paragraph to paragraph? Has the writer included a Concluding Paragraph that brings the writing to a sense of finality but at the same time makes the reader look beyond the paper to his or her life or the lives of others?

2. Look at the ideas in the Body Paragraphs. Are they suitable to the literature and to the thesis statement expressed about it? Are they complex and well-stated or merely straightforward and uninsightful or superficial? Do they increase your understanding of the literature, life, people around you, and yourself, or are they merely unoriginal confirmations or rearrangements of previous thoughts? 3. Examine the structure of each of the paragraphs. Are they of sufficient length to properly develop a complex topic or argument? Do the Body Paragraphs have strong Topic Sentences that are clearly related to the thesis statement and which clearly tell the reader what the Body Paragraph is to be about? Are these Topic Sentences followed by Developmental Sentences that develop and prove ideas? Do the Body Paragraphs end with a Concluding Sentence that brings the paragraph to a close?

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4. Consider the structure of each of the sentences in each of the paragraphs. Are the sentences complete? In other words, has the writer avoided sentence-fragments and run-on sentences? Do the sentences have variety? In other words, has the writer achieved a nice combination of simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences? 5. Look at the components of the sentences; in other words, examine the sentences for word choice, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization. (These are explained for you in your Course Guide or will be explained for you in class, but you should take ownership of your writing by getting guides such as The Elements of Style1 and The Elements of Grammar2). Are choices superior, and are the mechanics correct? 6. Is the writing still missing something? Then it is probably still missing something! You are going to have to develop an intuitive feel for what writing needs. This will come with practice and experience, but only if you admit writing can be improved, and only if you are ruthless in attempting to improve it.


Strunk, E.B., and White, E.B. (2000), The Elements of Style, Toronto: Longman Shertzer, M. (1986), The Elements of Grammar, New York: MacMillan


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Parts of Speech
Knowing the following terms will make your discussion of your writing more accurate. 1. Adjectives are used to modify or describe nouns or pronouns. a. Descriptive Adjectives occur before the noun or pronoun they are describing: • e.g. red book, short answer, loud noise, soft touch.

2. Adverbs are used to modify a verb (ran quickly), an adjective (a very quick answer), or another adverb (ran fairly quickly). a. Most adverbs end in "ly." b. Adverbs can be used to tell: • • • • how (carefully), when (today), where (here), or why (purposefully) an action was done.

3. Articles are a special type of adjective. There are three types: The, a, and an. a. The is called The Definite Article because it refers to something specific. • e.g. The book; the man with the red hair.

b. A and an are called Indefinite Articles because they are not specific. They refer generally to "any" or "one." • c. e.g. A dog refers to any dog; An answer means one answer.

Use a in front of a word that begins with a consonant sound (a book, a youth) and an in front of a word that begins with a vowel sound (an honour).

d. The n in an creates a glide so we do not have to perform a difficult guttural stop between two vowel sounds. 4. Conjunctions are used to join words or groups of words and/or sentences. (see “Sentences” for more detailed notes) 5. Nouns name people, places, things, ideas, qualities, and actions. Nouns can be: a. Common (boy), b. Proper (Sally), c. Concrete (book),

d. Abstract (Love)

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6. Pronouns take the place of nouns. a. Pronouns can be • • • • • personal (he), relative (who), indefinite (someone), demonstrative (those), or interrogative (whose?).


b. Use a singular pronoun to replace a singular noun (he for boy) and a plural pronoun to replace a plural noun (they for boys). 7. Prepositions are words that show a relationship between a noun or a pronoun and another noun, another pronoun, or a verb. a. The most common prepositions are "about," "above," "across," "after," "against," "along," "among," "around," "at," "before," "behind," "below," "beneath," "beside," "between," "beyond," "but," "by," "despite," "down," "during," "except," "for," "from," "in," "inside," "into," "like," "near," "of," "off," "on," "onto," "out," "outside," "over," "past," "since," "through," "throughout," "till," "to," "toward," "under," "underneath," "until," "up," "upon," "with," "within," and "without." 8. Verbs describe a. action (hit, swim, eat) or b. state of being (is, are, were, was).

(also known as clauses) 1. A complete sentence: a. has a subject. • The Subject is a noun or pronoun that is the person, place, or thing that the sentence is about.

b. has a predicate. • c. • The Predicate is a verb that states the subject’s action (or existence).

expresses a complete thought. A Complete Thought answers one or more of the “who, what, when, where, why, or how questions.

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2. Sentence Types* a. In English we have four types of sentences: • • • • Simple Compound Complex Compound – Complex.


b. Sentence types have nothing to do with sentence length; rather they are created by the use of conjunctions (or the lack of conjunctions). c. Simple Sentence (expression of one full idea, includes both a subject and predicate) • • • Bob went to the store. Bob and Sue went to the store. Bob and Sue went to the store on the corner near the centre of town to buy groceries and to get some drinks for the party.

d. Compound sentences (two complete sentences joined with either a semicolon or a coordinating conjunction (BOYFANS) Remember: BOYFANS (but, or, yet, for, and, nor, so — For and so can also act as subordinating conjunctions) • • Bob went to the store, and Sue went to the office. Bob went to the store; however, he forgot his wallet at home.

e. Complex sentences. These sentences use subordinate conjunctions to join a dependant clause to an independent clause. • Frequently used subordinate conjunctions: after, since, when, although, so that, whenever, as, where, because, than, whereas, before, that, wherever, though, whether, if, which, in order that, till, while, lest, unless, who, no matter, until, why, how, what, even though. • • • • f. Because the problem proved difficult, they decided to from a committee. They decided to form a committee because the problem proved difficult. The issue, which we thought we had solved, came back to haunt us.

Subordinate conjunctions can be found both at the beginning or the middle of the sentence.

Compound –Complex Sentences. A compound-complex sentence is made up of at least one dependent clause, and two or more independent clauses. These sentences will include both a coordinating conjunction and a subordinating conjunction. • Even if you fail, at least you tried, and you're a better person for it.


Adapted from:

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Problems with Sentences*
1. Sentence Fragments • A sentence fragment is not a complete sentence. It usually lacks either a subject or a verb, or both. • • • For example, three dogs and a goat. (no verb - what did the animals do?) Studying too hard on weekends. (no subject - who was studying?) Because I couldn't find my shoes. (contains a subject and verb, but is a dependent clause)

2. Run-on Sentences: Fused Sentences and Comma Splices • • A run-on sentence is one in which two or more independent clauses are inappropriately joined. Remember that the length of a sentence does not determine whether it is a run-on sentence: a sentence that is correctly punctuated and correctly joined can be extremely long. Two types of run-on sentences are fused sentences and sentences with comma splice errors. 1. In a fused sentence, clauses run into each other with no punctuation. • The experiment failed it had been left unobserved for too long.

2. A comma splice refers to the error of placing only a comma between two complete sentences, without a connecting word such as and, but, or because. • The experiment failed, it had been left unobserved for too long.

3. A comma splice also occurs when commas are used before adverbial conjunctions. (i.e., therefore, however, nevertheless, moreover, consequently, as a result etc.) connecting two sentences. NO: YES: The experiment had been left unobserved for too long, therefore it failed. The experiment had been left unobserved for too long; therefore, it failed.

YES: He wasn't prepared to defend a client who was guilty; however, he could be persuaded to accept a bribe. 4. To correct a fused sentence or a comma splice error, you can use either use a period, semi-colon, coordinating conjunction, or subordinating conjunction. • • • • The experiment failed. It had been left unobserved for too long. The experiment failed; it had been left unobserved for too long. The experiment had been left unobserved for too long, so it failed. The experiment failed because it had been left unobserved for too long.

* FastfactsImprovingSentenceStructure.html

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3. Wordy Sentences • •


A loose sentence may result if you use too many "and" connectives when other conjunctions would convey a more precise meaning. John had a weight problem, and he dropped out of school. • Note the difference in meaning: • • John had a weight problem so he dropped out of school. John had a weight problem because he dropped out of school?

A wordy sentence also results from weak sentence construction and the inclusion of many phrases and clauses in no particular order. For example: 1. In the event that we get the contract, we must be ready by June 1 with the necessary personnel and equipment to get the job done, so with this end in mind a staff meeting, which all group managers are expected to attend, is scheduled for February 12.

2. NOTE: Writing the previous passage as several sentences would be more effective. 4. Choppy Sentences • A succession of short sentences, without transitions to link them to each other, results in choppy sentences. (see transitions list) NO: Our results were inconsistent. The program obviously contains an error. We need to talk to Paul Davis. We will ask him to review the program. YES: 5. • We will ask Paul Davis to review the program because it gave us inconsistent results.

Excessive Subordination Excessive subordination is not an effective substitute for choppiness. NO: Doug thought that he was prepared but he failed the examination which meant that he had to repeat the course before he could graduate which he didn't want to do because it would conflict with his summer job. YES: Doug thought that he was prepared, but he failed the examination. Therefore, he would have to repeat the course before he could graduate. He did not want to do that because it would conflict with his summer job.


Parallel Structure • Parts of a sentence which are in sequence must all follow the same grammatical or structural principle. NO: YES: YES: NO: YES: I like to swim, to sail, and rowing. I like to swim, to sail, and to row. I like swimming, sailing, and rowing. This report is an overview of the processes involved, the problems encountered, and how they were solved. This report is an overview of the processes involved, the problems encountered, and the solutions devised.

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Improving Your Grammar*
1. Subject-Verb Agreement A verb should always agree with its subject. a. Subject and verb agree even when words come between them.
• • • • The teacher, as well as her students, was pleased with the results of the test. The design with its intricate patterns is especially clever. The group of students is meeting now to discuss the tuition increase.

b. Two or more subjects joined by “and” take a plural verb.
The teacher and the students were pleased with the results of the test.

c. Singular subjects joined by “or” or “nor” take singular verbs; plural subjects joined by
“or” or “nor” take plural verbs. • • Neither the professor nor her spouse was happy with the salary adjustment. Neither the students nor their friends were pleased with the tuition increase.

d. When a singular subject and a plural subject are joined by “or” or “nor”, the verb
agrees with the subject closer to it. • • Neither the professor nor the students were happy with the results. Neither the students nor the professor was happy with the results.

e. Words ending in one, thing, or body (such as everyone, anyone, anything, nobody,
somebody, etc.) and words such as each, either, and neither take singular verbs. • Everyone involved in implementing the company's new policies and procedures is here.


The agreement of pronouns such as any, most, all, many, more, some, who, that, and which depends on the countable nature of the word or phrase to which the pronoun refers. • • Most of the sugar is in the cup. (uncountable noun) Most of the apples are ripe. (countable noun)

g. Collective nouns can take singular or plural verbs, depending on whether the
sentence is referring to the group as a unit or as individuals. • • The jury is announcing its verdict. (as a unit) The faculty were in disagreement over their options. (as individuals)

h. When a sentence begins with there or here, or when the sentence is in inverted word
order, the verb still agrees with the subject which follows the verb in these arrangements. • • • There are several answers to the problem. There is one reason for his anger. Driving along the highway were several tanker trucks.


Adapted from:

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2. Pronoun-Noun Agreement


a. A pronoun must agree in person (I, he, it, they, etc.) and number (singular or plural)
with the noun to which it refers. Remember that who and whom are used to refer to people, and that and which refer to everything else. • • • • • • • Mr. Smith took his work home with him. Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones worked hard on their projects. Neither John nor his parents enjoyed their afternoon. (The pronoun agrees with the subject closest to it - as with subject-verb agreement with or and nor) The woman who voted for an increase in pay looked happy. The women who voted for an increase in pay looked happy. Each apple was chosen for its rosy appearance. Everyone must finish his or her work by Friday. • • NOTE: Since frequent use of his or her could sound awkward, as in the previous example, it may be preferable to substitute plurals.

Students must finish their work by Friday.

b. All pronouns must clearly refer to the noun they replace.
NO: YES: Our patients are enjoying the warm days while they last. (Does “they” refer to “patients” or “days”?) While the warm days last, our patients are enjoying them.

c. Do not mix "persons" (i.e., second person "you" with third person "he/she/it") unless
meaning requires it. NO: YES: YES: To improve one's stroke, you have to learn the basics. To improve one's stroke, one has to learn the basics. To improve your stroke, you have to learn the basics.

3. Placement of Modifiers a. Always place modifiers as close as possible to the words they modify.
Confusing: The supervisor told me they needed someone who could type badly. Better: The supervisor told me they badly needed someone who could type. Confusing: The fish was found by a fisherman floating in the river. (Who was floating?) Better: The fish was found floating in the river by a fisherman. Or: The fisherman found the fish floating in the river. Confusing: Wearing high boots, the snake failed to injure the supervisor. (The snake is wearing high boots) Better: Wearing high boots, the supervisor was protected from the snake. Or: Because the supervisor was wearing high boots, the snake did not injure him.

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4. Use of Apostrophes
a. The apostrophe is used to indicate either a contraction or possession. •


When two words are shortened into one, the apostrophe replaces the missing letter.

The rule for using an apostrophe with a contraction always holds. (e.g., it is or it has = it's; who is or who has = who's; they are = they're; will not = won't [note change in spelling]; is not = isn't, etc.)

b. When showing possession, add 's to the owner word. Then, if the word ends in a double or triple s, erase the one after the apostrophe and leave the apostrophe in place. 1. one table's leg OR several tables' legs 2. one student's name OR several students' names 3. one day's work OR several days' work 4. one woman's job OR several women's jobs (note the plural form women does not use an s) 5. one boss' house OR several bosses' houses NOTE: Some grammar textbooks recommend keeping the -s's or -ss's ending for words such as the Jones's party, boss's house, class's work, congress's motion, and Jesus's life for easier pronunciation. c. The exception to the possessive rule is that pronouns show possession without the use of 's. (e.g., my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, our, ours, their, theirs, its, whose, etc.). Compare the use of apostrophes here: • That is my book. That book is mine. (no apostrophe for the possessive pronoun mine) • That is Bob's book. That book is Bob's. (apostrophe for the possessive noun Bob's) d. Compare contractions versus possessive pronouns here: • They're hoping to increase their budget. • You're having trouble with your car. NOTE: To test whether to use it's or its in a sentence, read your sentence replacing it's with it is. If it is doesn't fit, the word you need is its. Note that there is no such word as its' with an apostrophe following the s. • It's almost time to give the cat its medication. e. Don't use an apostrophe for plurals of regular nouns. NOT: NOT: f. Several students' went to the meeting. The Smith's are on vacation.

Use an apostrophe for plurals of numerals, letters, and words being named. • He received mostly A's on the papers marked by TA's. • All she heard were no's in response to her proposal. • Exception: Technology advanced greatly in the 1990s.

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Punctuation Guide (Simplified)
The following is a guide to using common punctuation marks. It is by no means exhaustive, and has been adapted from Margaret Shertzer's The Elements of Grammar. ( . ! ? ) The Period, The Exclamation Mark, and The Question Mark are the three punctuation marks used to end a sentence.

a. The Period comes at the end of an ordinary sentence
• This is a punctuation guide.

b. The Exclamation Mark comes at the end of an exclamatory sentence ( a
sentences that shouts) • What an excellent punctuation guide!

c. The Question Mark comes at the end of interrogatory sentences
(sentences that ask questions) • Is this punctuation guide a good one? (,) The Comma is used to: a. introduce ideas, time, or place b. separate parts or ideas in a sentence c. show that the second part of a sentence is logically dependent upon the first part. • When I was a little boy, I loved English. • I like Shakespeare, Keats, and Shelley. • Because I like English, I teach it. (;) The Semi-Colon* is used to: a. link two independent clauses with no connecting words. • I am going home; I intend to stay there. • It rained heavily during the afternoon; we managed to have our picnic anyway. • They couldn't make it to the summit and back before dark; they decided to camp for the night. b. You can also use a semicolon when you join two independent clauses together with one of the following conjunctive adverbs (adverbs that join independent clauses): however, moreover, therefore, consequently, otherwise, nevertheless, thus, etc • • • I am going home; moreover, I intend to stay there. It rained heavily during the afternoon; however, we managed to have our picnic anyway. They couldn't make it to the summit and back before dark; therefore, they decided to camp for the night.


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(:) The Colon** is used to


a. introduce lists. In this case, the words in front of the colon must be a complete sentence. Correct example: My new car came equipped with many options: power windows, power locks, a sunroof, and a CD player. Incorrect example: My new car came equipped with: power windows, power locks, a sunroof, and a CD player. b. introduce an appositive at the end of a sentence. Example: He was shocked at what he saw: his reflection. c. separate a title from a subtitle. Example: I am writing Lost and Found: A Chronicle of a Mid-Life Crisis. d. substitute for a semicolon between two independent clauses if the second clause further explains the first, or provides an example. (If the material following the colon is an independent clause, it may or may not be capitalized. Choose one method and be consistent.) Example: The directions to the office are easy: once you have taken the train to Penn Station, go upstairs and grab a cab downtown to 9th street. (-) The Hyphen*** is used a. to divide words of at least two syllables which will not fit at the end of a line; the hyphen indicates that the word is continued on the next line. Make sure that each part of the divided word has at least two letters b. to show that certain compound words function as a single word. Be sure to always check the dictionary if in doubt.
• • •

Compound adjective (preceding a noun): “double-jointed” Compound noun: “head-hunter” Compound verb: “kick-boxing”


with certain combination words. Be sure to check your dictionary. Example: “mother-in-law”

d. in certain prefixes and suffixes.
• • •

Hyphenate a prefix with a capitalized base word: “un-Canadian” Hyphenate a prefix with a date: “pre-1600” Hyphenate a single-letter prefix: x-ray

e. Use a hyphen with all-, ex-, self-, and -elect: all-knowing; ex-husband; self-help; president-elect f. Use a hyphen to separate an awkward combination of letters: fall-like. •

g. Use a hyphen to differentiate between homonyms: Recover - to get back; to regain Re-cover - to cover again

** ***

adapted from: adapted from:

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(') The Apostrophe shows a. possession b. contraction. • John's book (i.e. the book belongs to John). • John's tired (i.e. John is tired). (see Improving Your Grammar) (" ") (Double) Quotation Marks show a. that you are quoting speech or writing that belongs to another


b. referring to the title of a work of literature that is too short to be published on its own. (Longer works that can be published in their own books are underlined. Film titles can be in quotation marks or underlined.) • Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." • My favourite short story is "A Man Called Horse." (' ') (Single) Quotation Marks show that you are quoting within a quotation. • Mr. Ramsay said, "Shakespeare said, 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'" (—) The Dash* is used to: a. emphasize a point or to set off an explanatory comment. Don't overuse dashes, or they will lose their impact. • • To some of you, my proposals may seem radical—even revolutionary.

b. indicate an appositive phrase that already includes commas. The boys—Jim, John, and Jeff—left the party early.

( ( ) ) Parentheses set aside parts of the sentence that are not important grammatically but are important to meaning. Overuse can be distracting. • • I like hockey (except when I fall against the boards).

( [ ] ) (Square) Brackets enclose words of a quotation that are yours and not the author's. Thinking that she is alone, Juliet muses aloud for Romeo to, “deny [his] father and refuse [his] name.”

( . . . ) Ellipsis takes the place of omitted text. • e.g. Shakespeare wrote "a rose . . . would smell . . . sweet."


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How to Write Without Sounding Sexist*
Achieving unbiased language so that readers will concentrate on what you have to say rather than how you say it is an admirable goal. It is also a necessity. For example, businesses and individuals have been sued because job descriptions used "he" and seemed to exclude women--whether or not the exclusion was intended. Therefore, gender-free language is a requirement of school and the workplace. It may be easy to avoid gender-biased nouns by replacing sexist nouns with more neutral ones: chairman with chair, mailman with postal carrier, and policeman with police officer. But, how can you avoid the pronouns he, him, and his when you refer to nouns meant to include both genders? The following five options will enable you to revise your writing so that your use of pronouns is both gender-free and correct. As you review this list, compare the biased language of the original sentences with the gender-free phrasing of the revisions.

1. Use the plural form for both nouns and pronouns. • • Biased Language: Studying the techniques by which a celebrated writer achieved his success can stimulate any writer faced with similar problems. Gender-free Language: Studying the techniques by which celebrated writers achieved their success can stimulate any writer faced with similar problems.

2. Omit the pronoun altogether. • Biased Language: Each doctor should send one of his nurses to the workshop. Gender-free Language: Each doctor should send a nurse to the workshop.

3. Use his or her when you occasionally need to stress the action of an individual. Such references will not be awkward unless they are frequent. • Biased Language: If you must use a technical term he may not understand, explain it. Gender-free Language: If you must use a technical term he or she may not understand, explain it.


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4. Vary pronoun choice when you want to give examples emphasizing the action of an individual. Ideally, choose pronouns that work counter to prevailing stereotypes. Growing Child Newsletter (1982) decided to use this strategy throughout its publication, which focused on children's developmental levels. • Biased Language: Gradually, Toddler will see the resemblance between block creations and objects in his world, and he will begin to name some structures, like "house," "choo choo," and "chimney." Gender-free Language: Gradually, Toddler will see the resemblance between block creations and objects in her world, and she will begin to name some structures, like "house," "choo choo," and "chimney." Biased Language: The kitchen can serve as a centre for new experiences, an interesting place where important things happen, and where she has a chance to learn about the way big-people things are done. Gender-free Language: The kitchen can serve as a centre for new experiences, an interesting place where important things happen, and where he has a chance to learn about the way big-people things are done.

5. Switch from the third-person (he) to the second-person (you) or a "you" understood when this shift is appropriate for what you're writing. • • Biased Language: Each manager should report his progress to the undersigned by May 1. Gender-free Language: You should report your progress to me by May 1. or

Report your progress to me by May 1.

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Transitional Words and Phrases*
Transitional words and phrases provide the glue that holds ideas together in writing. They provide coherence by helping the reader to understand the relationship between ideas, and they act as signposts that help the reader follow the movement of the discussion. Transitional expressions, then, can be used between sentences, between paragraphs, or between entire sections of a work. Examples of Transitions: Illustration Contrast
Thus, for example, for instance, namely, to illustrate, in other words, in particular, specifically, such as. On the contrary, contrarily, notwithstanding, but, however, nevertheless, in spite of, in contrast, yet, on one hand, on the other hand, rather, or, nor, conversely, at the same time, while this may be true. And, in addition to, furthermore, moreover, besides, than, too, also, both-and, another, equally important, first, second, etc., again, further, last, finally, not only-but also, as well as, in the second place, next, likewise, similarly, in fact, as a result, consequently, in the same way, for example, for instance, however, thus, therefore, otherwise. After, afterward, before, then, once, next, last, at last, at length, first, second, etc., at first, formerly, rarely, usually, another, finally, soon, meanwhile, at the same time, for a minute, hour, day, etc., during the morning, day, week, etc., most important, later, ordinarily, to begin with, afterwards, generally, in order to, subsequently, previously, in the meantime, immediately, eventually, concurrently, simultaneously. At the left, at the right, in the center, on the side, along the edge, on top, below, beneath, under, around, above, over, straight ahead, at the top, at the bottom, surrounding, opposite, at the rear, at the front, in front of, beside, behind, next to, nearby, in the distance, beyond, in the forefront, in the foreground, within sight, out of sight, across, under, nearer, adjacent, in the background. Although, at any rate, at least, still, thought, even though, granted that, while it may be true, in spite of, of course. Similarly, likewise, in like fashion, in like manner, analogous to. Above all, indeed, truly, of course, certainly, surely, in fact, really, in truth, again, besides, also, furthermore, in addition. Specifically, especially, in particular, to explain, to list, to enumerate, in detail, namely, including. For example, for instance, to illustrate, thus, in other words, as an illustration, in particular. So that, with the result that, thus, consequently, hence, accordingly, for this reason, therefore, so, because, since, due to, as a result, in other words, then. Therefore, finally, consequently, thus, in short, in conclusion, in brief, as a result, accordingly. For this purpose, to this end, with this in mind, with this purpose in mind, therefore.




Concession Similarity of Comparison Emphasis Details Examples Consequence or Result Summary Suggestion


Adapted from: and

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Improving Your Style*
Choose an appropriate tone. The level of formality depends on the kind of assignment, the reader, and the purpose.

Informal tone is personal, simple, and direct. Active voice is used more frequently than is passive. Sentences may be somewhat shorter. Personal pronouns (I, we) may be used. This style is used in more casual writing assignments, journal entries, and class work which are designated as informal. Remember, however, that writing informally does not necessarily mean you should use slang, colloquialisms, and contractions. • Researchers believe there may be a link between vitamin A and cancer, but they

do not know exactly what it is yet.

Formal tone is impersonal, uses a fairly learned vocabulary, and longer sentences, and avoids personal pronouns. This style is used for academic articles and essays. Remember, however, that writing formally does not mean that you should use unnecessary jargon, clumsy structures, awkward vocabulary, excessive verbiage, or pompous phrases such as this author believes in order to avoid using I or we, or that you should overuse the passive voice. • Research has shown an interesting connection between vitamin A and cancer, but

the exact nature of the connection has not been conclusively determined.
Whatever tone you use, always be clear, direct, and comprehensible.


Avoid using the passive voice unless absolutely necessary.

Passive Voice: the object is being acted upon by an actor (e.g., "The man was bitten by the dog"). Use the wordier passive structure only when the identity of the "actor" is unknown or is less important than the receiver or the act itself. • All beef has been marked down by the butcher. (i.e., the beef is the most important idea.) • The water was boiled for ten minutes. (The actor is unidentified; i.e., the water was boiled by whom?) Active Voice: an actor acts upon a receiver (e.g., "The dog bit the man"). • The butcher has marked down all the beef. (i.e., the butcher is the most important idea.) • I boiled the water for ten minutes. (The actor is identified: "I".)


Be simple and concise in your writing.
• • •

Choose a short word instead of a long one when the meaning is the same, and avoid jargon. Cut out unnecessary words. Avoid starting a sentence with empty passive phrases such as: “it should be noted that”, “it is recommended that”, or “it was found that”. • Wordy: Poor living accommodations give promise of incrementing the negative side

of the morale balance so far as new personnel are concerned.

Better: Poor living accommodations lower the morale of new personnel.


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Be precise in your writing.
• • •


Avoid clichés and overused words or expressions. Do not use vague words Avoid words or expressions that are ambiguous.


Avoid starting a sentence with the pronouns “this” or “that” unless it is followed by a noun or refers clearly and directly to a noun in the previous sentence. These pronouns should not be used to refer to the concept of the entire sentence (or paragraph, or essay) preceding it.

A scientist's work has no value unless he shares his thoughts with the scientific community. That is the cornerstone of science. (What is “that”? Try "That


Use verbs effectively.
• •

Ineffective: The bacteria had an influence on the morphology of the plant. Effective: The bacteria influenced the morphology of the plant.

7. 8.

Avoid the use of empty modifiers such as very, quite, and fairly.

Instead of “very large”, consider “huge”, “enormous”, or “gigantic”.

Avoid redundancies in the qualification of words.

“absolutely perfect”, “completely surrounded”, “conclusive proof”, “green in colour”, “serious crisis”

9. 10.

Watch out for dangling or misplaced modifiers. (see Improving Your Grammar) Find out the proper usage of words that can be confused. (see Commonly Confused Words)

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Speaking and Listening

Speaking and Listening
Overcoming the Fear of Speaking in Class*
1. One of the easiest ways to begin controlling your fears is to start with "comfortable communication" — speaking up briefly in non-risky environments. For example, you might begin by asking one question in class each day or saying at least one thing in every group discussion or trying to answer at least one of the teacher’s questions each day. You will not feel as if you're in the spotlight, but you will be speaking up and getting practice in presentational skills. 2. A second technique to manage your fears of speaking in class is to concentrate more on your message than on yourself. 3. Most of us are afraid of speaking in public because we are afraid we might do something embarrassing. You may have experienced all the embarrassing things that can happen when public speaking fears take hold: dry mouth, shaky knees, and losing your train of thought. While these can be embarrassing, people in the class tend to overlook them or nod empathetically because they have had similar experiences. People have come to hear what you say, rather than how you say it. So, if you concentrate on delivering a relevant and organized message, your selfconsciousness becomes less important. 4. One of the best ways to become an accomplished communicator is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE. Good communicators are not made overnight. The more you practice, the more your fears will subside. Then public speaking will no longer be your number one fear.

Listening Skills**
Listening is not the same as hearing. Listening is a communication skill that takes practice. By becoming a better listener in class, you will become a better note-taker and a successful student. Listening is an art and a gift. It is a tool that is essential to your success as a student, an employee, and a friend, yet most of us have never been taught how to listen. Most of us listen poorly. We concentrate more on ourselves than on what other people are telling us. Becoming a better listener requires improving behaviours and attitudes. Listening is an active process. A long time ago Epictetus told his Greek friends, "Nature has given us one tongue, but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak!" Weak listening skills lead to misunderstanding. In industry millions of dollars are lost every year as a result of poor listening. It has become standard practice at most major companies to "write it down" to improve the possibility of being understood. Xerox, a leading corporation, has developed and now markets to other industries its own listening improvement course.

* **

Adapted from: Adapted from:

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Speaking and Listening

Daydreaming is probably the most common listening problem because it affects everyone. Frequently a speaker will mention some person or thing that triggers an association in our minds, and off we go. When we return to reality and start listening again, we may find that the third point is being discussed, and we have no recollection of points one and two. There are lots of opportunities for daydreaming because the speaker's speed of talking is so much slower than our speed of thought. While the teacher is talking at 125 words per minute, your mind is racing along at several times that speed.

Closed-mindedness is a fault that happens more outside the classroom, especially when we are arguing. We often refuse to listen to the other side of the argument, especially when we have already made up our minds. We think there is no use in listening since we know all there is to know! Anytime you fail to listen with an open mind, you may lose valuable information. Closedmindedness interferes with learning and relationships. Besides, it is not fair to the speaker — your family, your teacher, your minister, your friend, your co-worker, your partner. If your point of view is the correct one, opposing arguments will only reinforce your beliefs. If, on the other hand, your position is wrong, refusing to listen won't make it right!

False attention is a protection technique that everyone uses from time to time to fake out the speaker. When we're not really interested in what someone is saying, we pretend to listen. We nod our heads and make occasional meaningless comments and eye contact to give the impression that we're listening. Usually our minds are a million miles away. Sometimes the fake-listener has no choice; a boring person may be talking, and the listener cannot escape. Maybe the listener is seated at a table or in a room with relatives when some very important personal matter comes to mind. Conveniently, this listener can go through the motions of listening, even make an occasional comment, while giving real attention to something of a higher priority. This habit of false listening can become a problem for you if it becomes a routine procedure, a technique to use whenever something not very interesting comes your way. Remember that boredom is a state of mind. Do not let the bad habit of false attention become a part of your life.

Intellectual despair means giving up before you even get started. Listening can be hard to do sometimes. In school, you have to sit through many discussions that are hard to understand. Expect it; that is why you're going to school — to learn what you do not understand. Occasionally, you may feel the urge to give up. You may say to yourself, "No matter how hard I try, I don't get it. I just can't learn this stuff." With this type of thinking, it's easy to stop trying. This listening despair is a self-defeating behaviour and may lead to a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. Obviously, you will never understand it if you give up. The thing to do is to listen more carefully than ever. Take notes in class; it will help you focus. It is your responsibility to ask questions when you do not understand something. Discuss the material with another student. Attack the problem as soon as you identify it. Try not to let several weeks go by before you take some action! Procrastination is not the answer to intellectual despair. Catch up right away, and you will feel more in control of your learning process.

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Speaking and Listening

Memorizing is a problem that happens when listeners try to memorize every word the teacher says. These are usually students who are stressed, and in their goal to listen well; they commit this listening fault because of their anxiety and come away from class remembering less. There is no way to remember everything a teacher says. When you try, you miss the overall sense of the class, and you are worse off than ever. A student who has this listening problem does not seem to know any other way and may never have been taught techniques for effective listening.

Personality listening is something we all do. It is natural for listeners to evaluate a speaker, but our impressions should not interfere with our listening. The content (what the speaker is saying) should be judged on its own value to you and the speaker. Sometimes you may be tempted to tune out the speaker because of his or her appearance. If an instructor is sloppily dressed and careless about his or her appearance, you may conclude that what s/he is saying is not worth listening to. Avoid the temptation and do not let your personal feelings interfere with your learning.

• Prepare to listen. Your attitude in attending class is important. If you feel that a particular class is generally a waste of your time, you obviously will not be in a good mood to listen. Use some positive self-talk by deciding before class that this time will be well spent. Commit yourself to this learning experience. Watch the speaker. Do not take your eyes off the speaker! Eye contact is a very important part of the active listening process. Of course, taking notes is recommended to help you maintain your focus; however, when you look away, you will be aware of visual distractions that compete with the teacher for your attention. You have to listen with your eyes and your ears! Try to develop an awareness of your instructor's mannerisms. Gestures, tone of voice, and other body language usually emphasize a speaker's remarks. Some experts say that tone of voice and body language are 95% of the listening communication process. All speakers communicate physically as well as orally, so you must watch as you listen. • Note questions. If you listen with a questioning attitude, learning will be easier for you. When the teacher asks a question, pay close attention. This is usually a signal that the instructor thinks this is important information. You have to realize that the teacher knows the answer, so there is nothing he or she can learn from the answer. S/he is asking it so you will learn. S/he wants you to understand and remember the answer. Speakers' questions are designed to help you listen and learn. Also, be sure to notice questions asked by others in class. Student questions signal the teacher about how the information is coming across to students. At this point, the teacher will often give a more detailed explanation, repeat the point, or give examples to help the class to understand better. Questions from both the teacher and students are valuable; pay attention to them. Listen creatively. You should not be listening and thinking about other things at the same time, but you should be evaluating and organizing the speaker's words by taking notes. If you sit passively, like a sponge, expecting to soak up knowledge, you are really only half listening. To listen totally, you have to react by putting your mind to work. Like a computer, start to process the data coming in. This causes you to think ahead and anticipate what is coming up.

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“Visual imagery is an integral part of contemporary life. By developing viewing strategies and skills, students come to understand the ways in which images may be used to convey ideas, values and beliefs. Critical viewing enables students to acquire and assess information, appreciate the experiences of others, and understand and evaluate others’ ideas and perspectives.”*

The Language of Film
Low angle shot

What camera records/ eye sees
• Camera looks up to subject Camera looks down on subject Depicts a vast area from a great distance Shows an entire area

Effect on Viewer
Makes subject or object appear larger, stronger, or superior Makes subject or object look smaller, weaker or inferior Establishes setting and mood, records action on a grand/ epic scale Establishes setting/ context, records action of one or more subjects Reveals actions, gestures, facial expressions of several subjects Facial expressions convey emotion/reveal character Subtle facial expressions convey emotion/reveal character Reveals action in two different places, juxtaposition, contrast Smooth, peaceful transition from one scene to the next

High angle shot Extreme long shot (or establishing shot) Long shot

• •

Medium shot

Subjects are viewed from above the knees Camera focuses on the upper body of one subject The face of one subject dominates the frame Two shots on screen at same time One scene fades out as another scene fades in


Extreme close-up

Superimposition Dissolve

• •


Alberta Education (2003) English Language Arts. Downloaded from:

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Cut Composition (arrangement of subjects/ objects within a frame) Lines

What camera records/ eye sees
• • • • • • Instantaneous change from one shot to the next Subject- middle of frame Subject- off to one side Vertical Horizontal Diagonal Dark tones- serious Bright tones- light From above- spirituality From below- mystery, danger Three tracks: voice, music and noise

Effect on Viewer
Frequency of cuts influences pace/tempo Strength, prominence Weakness, marginalization Strength, inspires awe Restful, implies order Suggests action, conflict excitement, disorientation Affects mood, may add symbolic meaning Direction/ intensity establishes mood, reveals or conceals information Creates mood, provides information


• •


• •


The Role of Visual Communication
Even though we have five senses, humans rely largely on their sense of sight as a means of navigating and understanding the world. As such the ability to read visual images effectively and create effective visual images is of great importance. Artists and designers use visual elements, fonts, and compositional elements to create pieces of visual communication (photographs, paintings, drawings, graphic layouts, illustrations, etc.). Even if you are not an artist or a designer you are familiar with these elements. You may not have formal knowledge of the elements and how they work but you have seen them millions of times. Chances are you used the visual elements when you created all sorts of masterpieces with your trusty crayons as a child. The activities covered in the next few pages will introduce you to the basics of the visual elements, fonts, and the compositional elements. Once you understand these basics you will be able to analyze and create visuals at a higher level.

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The Visual Elements
There are typically six elements of art that can be found in most art or design. These elements function as a "visual alphabet." Line Line is the most basic element of art; a continuous mark made on a surface can vary in appearance (length, width, texture, direction, and curve). Five varieties of lines: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, zigzag Colour is produced when light strikes an object and reflects back in your eyes. This element of art has three properties: • • • Hue -the name of a colour (ex. - red, yellow. blue) Intensity -the purity and strength of a colour (ex- bright red or dull red) Value -the lightness or darkness of a colour


The use of colour is a complicated and subjective topic. The following websites will provide a wealth of information. Introduction to Colour Theory Color Maters – Design Art The Basics of Colour Theory Shape Form Space Texture Shape is two - dimensional (circle, square, triangle, rectangle) and encloses space geometric, man-made or free form. Form is three-dimensional and encloses space and takes up space made or free form. -geometric, man-

Space is defined and determined by shapes and forms. Positive space is where shapes and forms exist; negative space is the empty space around shapes and forms. Texture refers to the surface quality or "feel" of an object - smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures may be actual (felt with touch - tactile) or implied (suggested by the way an artist has created the work of art -visual).

Note: An artist or a designer uses the visual elements (or the “visual alphabet”) to make a visual composition in a similar manner as a writer uses letters and words to make a story. Just like the way a writer uses words matters in literature the way an artist or designer uses the visual elements matters in art and design.

Understanding Fonts
“Type is speech made visible, with all the nuances, inflections, tonalities and even dialects of the human voice. It is one of humanity's most precious possessions.” - Jan White author of Editing by Design

Where do fonts come from?
In addition to the visual elements, an artist or designer often uses text (words) to complete a visual piece. Any use of text that is not hand created can be called a font. In times before computers and desktop publishing fonts came in the form of lead blocks used on printing presses or as rub off transfer letters like Letraset. However, computers for the most part have replaced these technologies.

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Who do we have to thank for the thousands of fonts we can choose from?
Typography is the science/art of designing typefaces, and believe it or not a typographer may spend up to five years designing one typeface (font)! If you take a close look at a basic font you can see why. Every letter has to relate in space to every other letter, number, and symbol in the set. Each part of each letter has to be in harmony and balance. Each word has to work in space with all other words in a line. And each line has to work in space with all of the other lines. Who knew that fonts were so complicated?

The Anatomy of Fonts

Abcde… Abcde…
This simple little font is actually a complicated mechanical and mathematical construction (as you can see in the second set of letters). A typographer is a lot like a doctor and as such has names for all of the different parts of a letter shape. If you want to know more about this go ahead and do a little research.

Some Important Categories of Fonts
In addition to type families (types of fonts) there are other categories of typefaces that we need to consider.
Types of Text Used in Layouts • Display Faces

Display faces are used for headlines, subheads, drop caps, pull quotes, etc. requires the reader to look at the words letter by letter. Accordingly display faces are usually bold and large.
• Body Text

Headlines grab your attention and body text conveys the details. Think of the headline and the story in a newspaper article.
Main Styles of Fonts • Serif Serif typefaces use small decorative marks to embellish characters - Times is a serif typeface. Serif fonts are commonly used in North America for the body copy of books, magazines, and newspapers. As such serif fonts tend to have a conservative look and feel.

The little bits at the ends of the letters are called serifs. • Sans Serif Typefaces without these decorative marks to embellish characters are called Sans Serif - Helvetica is a sans serif typeface. Sans serif fonts are commonly used in Europe for the body copy of books, magazines, and newspapers. In North America sans serif fonts are usually reserved for headlines. If serif fonts have a conservative look and feel then sans serif fonts tend to have sleeker and more contemporary look and feel.
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See how this font does not have the little bits at the ends of the letters. • Script

Script typefaces resemble calligraphy or other hand written text – Edwardian Script is a script typeface.

• Ornamental Ornamental typefaces cover a very wide range of looks and styles; in fact they can even be from the serif, sans serif, or script families. However, ornamental typefaces are really only meant for use as large sized text blacks like headlines and titles. They do not work well as body text since they are hard to read. There are far too many ornamental fonts to list any names here, but take a look at the samples below and you will get a good idea of the variety of styles that can be used…

Ornamental Fonts can have all sorts of looks and “voices.”
Fonts in the Digital World • Digital Text Digital text is quite different from printed text. The nature of the pixels used in digital devices (monitors or projectors) decreases the legibility of text forms. Therefore it is of critical importance that clear typefaces are used. It is also important to keep in mind that for a digital font to work in many digital files like word processing documents and layout documents it has to be installed on the computer that is using the document.

Choosing Fonts
Anyone who has used a computer knows that there are a lot of typefaces (or fonts) to choose from. Some may even ask why we need all these typefaces anyway? There are so many different fonts because we humans have so many ways of communicating. Each font has its own personality and meaning. Some fonts are serious, some are bold, some are silly, and some are outright crazy. Do you remember what Jan White said? He said that, “Type is speech made visible, with all the nuances, inflections, tonalities and even dialects of the human voice. It is one of humanity's most precious possessions.” The font that is used in a visual composition ad offers a certain kind of “voice” to the page.

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fig. 2

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fig. 3

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fig. 4

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fig. 5

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“Representing may be envisioned as the expressive counterpart of viewing. Visual representation enables students to communicate their ideas through a variety of text forms, including posters, diagrams, photographs, collages, video presentations, visual art, tableaux and mime. Representing, however, extends beyond the visual. For example, representations may have an oral component. A speaker’s tone of voice can convey, or represent, his or her feelings and attitudes. Music and sound effects that are selected to accompany a dramatic monologue, a dialogue or a readers’ theatre presentation may be representational in that they set a mood and convey an atmosphere. Representing is also manifested in print. Tables and figures that accompany informative texts may suggest spatial relationships, time sequences, and relationships between and among concepts and ideas. Posters and other examples of promotional print texts typically employ design principles, such * as alignment and repetition, to represent relationships and to create emphases.”

Making Class Presentations**
1. Typical Problems with Presentations • Class is bored with presentations • Speaker is nervous • Speaker is talking too fast • Speaker does not speak loud enough • Speaker avoids eye contact with audience • Speaker gives the impression that s/he would like to be somewhere else. • Other students do not know about subject 2. How to Make Presentations Enjoyable • This is not a “performance” in which you are being judged • It is a communication; people listen to what you have to say • "Your only task is to get something transferred clearly from your mind to the mind of your listeners." • Put your self in the position of your listeners. What is the best way to get your message across?



Alberta Education (2003) English Language Arts. Downloaded from: Adapted from Student Achievement Series No. 6, Counselling Service, McMaster University – downloaded from:

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3. Preparation • Identify the scope of your topic (What do you need to cover?) • Organize it into sections • Select information to present • Practice the presentation • Find out how long you are expected to talk • Avoid large topics; • Choose a small number of points which listeners can digest • Explain each point carefully, with examples • Narrow your focus in your preparation.


4. Visual Aids • Visual Aids help listeners understand your points o Blackboard: problem of writing down all your points; takes time; distracts listeners o Transparency sheets: prepare material ahead of time (see more below) o Blank Transparency sheets: write on them; special pens (see more below) • Prepare photocopies; hand out • Aim for simplicity and uncluttered visual aids. Use only important information; don't overload with too much information. • Visuals must be seen clearly by the whole class; don't make them too small. (see more below) • Use several sheets, each with small number of points. 5. Speaking from Notes or Writing It Out • Speaking from notes is more effective than reading them. This helps create a sense of direct communication with audience. • Reading from text can be "absolutely deadly". It sounds memorized. 6. Making Your Topic and Organization Clear • Start by telling your audience what you are going to talk about • List the points or subjects you are going to talk about • Start slowly • Clearly explain your topics and include any background necessary for your listeners to grasp your topic • Organize your points clearly • Use a natural sequence of points that flow • Show the relation of your points to each other and to your overall topic • Failure to do the above means you will lose your audience 7. Helping Your Listeners Understand • Listening is more difficult than reading; • Your audience may be easily distracted; • Your audience cannot go back and check things they missed; therefore, you must help them understand what you are saying. • Restate important ideas in different words to help your audience grasp them • List your points • Use frequent summaries • Show connections between one part of your talk and another • All of this helps your audience form mental pictures of your subject matter.

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8. Practising the Talk • After preparation is done, practice your talk — repeatedly. • Time yourself; o If it is too long, shorten it o Don't talk faster to cover your material; you will lose your listeners o Do not run overtime; that shows poor preparation o Better to be too short than too long • Practice in advance, not five minutes before your presentation • Each practice from notes will be a bit different; that's OK. • Anticipate questions, especially objections, and how you might answer them. 9. The Common Anxieties • We naturally feel nervous speaking publicly in front of an audience • We assume our audience will criticize or ridicule us. • Our audience might wonder whether we really know our subject • The class may be watching for our mistakes • The audience may be judging us as poor speakers • We think our audience will detect our nervousness — our shaky voice and hands. • Some of us think we have to adhere to some image of “the public speaker”, and follow formal, professional guidelines for speaking Coping With These Anxieties: • Be ourselves, and relax. • Remind ourselves that our audience is just like us, not a pack of critics • Our audience is not looking for faults in our speaking; they will ignore minor slips and mistakes. • The class is here to obtain some information from our presentation • Do not act embarrassed over slips and mistakes you might make • Show you are interested in your own topic; if you display boredom with your topic, so will your audience • Show your audience that you have something important to communicate to them. They will respond positively. 10. Nervousness • A little bit of nervousness: o Shows that you are not too arrogant. o Gives you extra energy to give a really good presentation; channel your nervousness into positive energy. o Your feelings of nervousness will not be evident to your audience; examples Increased heart rate Sweaty palms Shaky hands Butterflies in your stomach • Combat nervousness by thorough preparation; the day of the presentation should then be easy.

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11. Being Yourself and Acting Naturally • Act naturally, speak the way you would in normal everyday conversation • Use your normal voice, gestures, and expressions • Do not "Make a Speech". That would be artificial; your voice will take on a strange pitch and tone. • "People are most effective as speakers when they allow themselves to be the people they are naturally…" 12. Showing Interest in Communicating • Show your listeners that you have something important or interesting to say. • Show that you are personally are interested in the topic of your talk • Talk to the whole group, or the entire class • Do NOT talk to the teacher or instructor. 13. Eye Contact • If you do not look directly at your audience, they will feel left out, and so pay less attention to what you have to say. • Do not look at the ceiling or the far wall • Look directly into the eyes of your audience o If it is a small group, you can do this individually o If it is a large audience, you will have to look directly at groups or sections of your audience • If maintaining eye contact makes you lose your place in your notes, use your finger on the margins of your notes to keep your place. • If you read your notes, it is difficult to maintain eye contact; so this is not advisable • Be spontaneous; • Do not talk in a monotone; • Slightly slow down to emphasize points • Look directly at your audience when you want to emphasize particular points • Add impromptu comments as if they just came to your and were not part of your prepared presentation that you practiced on. 14. Volume, Speed, Confidence • Speak loudly enough so that your audience can hear you. • For a large audience or room, you may wish to use a microphone; test it out before your talk; you do want to fool around with adjusting the mic once your talk begins • If you are nervous, you may start to talk fast; slow it down. • If you are reading any text directly from a page, go slowly; prepared written text tends to be more packed with information, more tightly worded, and more formal; it will take your audience longer to digest it than if you were to speak more informally. • Pause at the end of sentences and sections. • Speak with confidence; it helps to convince your audience of what you are trying to say. • Do not raise your voice at the end of each sentence as if you are asking a question, and seeking assurance from your audience. • If you lose your place or get tongue tied, act “normal” about it; do not appear nervous. At this point a one-liner that pokes fun at yourself is sometimes quite effective in breaking the ice in an awkward moment.

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15. Movements and Gestures • Do not focus or think about what to do with your hands, or facial expressions; these will come naturally if you focus on your talk. • Do not fiddle with your hair or your jewellery, pace back and forth, or swivel in your chair, as you speak. If you are doing some kind of repetitive movement, try to control it. It distracts your audience. It can be extremely irritating to your audience. • Sit or stand straight. Place both feet on the floor. But do not be too stiff; relax your body. 16. Answering Questions • Tell your audience whether you will accept questions during your presentation, or prefer to hold them to the end. • Treat a question and answer session at the end of your presentation as an informal discussion of your subject rather than as a series of challenges of things you have said. Your audience is primarily interested in seeking more information, clarification of points you made, and the raising of related points. These can add to your presentation. Welcome such questions and statements. • Make sure you understand a question before answering it; if you do not understand it, ask the questioner to repeat it, or to express it in some other way, or to give examples. • Answer a question as simply as possible without being long winded, or going off on unrelated tangents. • If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. Your audience does not expect you to know everything. Ask your audience whether they have the answer. Tap into the knowledge of your audience. 17. Audio Visual Aids (additional points) • Do not overwhelm your audience with your audio visual aids. Glitz can overwhelm and drown out the content of your message. • Make sure that your visual aids can be seen from all parts of the room. • Overhead Transparencies o Keep the sequence of your transparencies in order. Do not mix them up. You do not want to go searching for the correct transparency in the middle of your talk. o Do not photocopy onto your transparencies normal typed pages (say in 10, 12, or 14 font size). Your audience will not be able to read small text. o Put only a few points on each transparency. Make each point large enough so that the person in the back row can see it. o Make sure the text and visuals are dark enough that they can bee seen by the audience. o Do not use tables or charts with small statistics on them. They are very hard to read. o Use a sheet of paper to control which points the audience sees. Cover the points at the bottom which you do not want your audience to see until you get to them. o Writing on blank transparencies with a black felt pen is a way to record feedback from your audience so that everyone can see it. It helps interactivity. • Video and Film o Video and/or film can be an effective way to create impact. o Use video sparingly only to illustrate a point. You do not want to have a video or film take over the major portion of your talk. o Integrate the video clip seamlessly into the rest of your presentation. o Ensure the video quality is high or acceptable. o Ensure that the sound track works properly. o Do not fiddle with video equipment in the middle of your talk. Have it set up and ready to go before you begin your presentation.

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Computer-Aided Presentations o Computer-generated slides, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, have become standard in many professional presentations. They are used increasingly by students in classroom presentations. o One advantage of computer-generated slides is that they can be revised right up to the beginning of your presentation. o Make sure your slide show fits on a single diskette, CD, DVD, or memory key for easy transfer to the computer you will use in the classroom. o Try to ensure a good balance of text and graphics. o Use a modest number of computer slides. Do not overwhelm your audience with a Multimedia show that emphasizes format over content. o Test the slide show on the computer you are going to use and in the room you are going to use before your presentation. o Follow the guidelines for transparencies and slides. In particular, make sure that the text on the slides is viewable from all parts of the room. o Always use colour contrast between foreground and background. Never put text on a noisy background. This drowns out the text. o Make sure you prepare a hard copy handout of your slides in case something goes wrong. You can fit three to six slides on a single sheet of paper for photocopying and hand out.

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Appendix A
Literary Terms for Grade 10 Students
Acronym Alliteration Allusion Analogy Anecdote Antagonist Antecedent Action Archaic Language Archetype Aside Assonance Ballad Blank Verse Character Foil Cliché Climax Coherence Colloquial Concrete Poetry Connotation Consonance Context Controlling Idea Conventions Couplet Denotation Denouement Deus Ex Machina Diction Dilemma Direct Characterization Dramatic Irony Dynamic Character Elegy Eulogy Euphemism Exposition Figurative Language First Person Point of View Flashback Flat Character Foreshadowing Free Verse Hyperbole Imagery Indirect Characterization In Medias Res Juxtaposition Limited Omniscient Point of View Literal Meaning Lyric Malapropism Metaphor Metonymy Monologue Mood Motivation Narrative Poetry Narrator Objective Point of View Octet Omniscient Point of View Onomatopoeia Oxymoron Paradox Parallelism Personification Plagiarism Plot Point of View Prologue Prose Protagonist Pun Quatrain Rhetorical Question Rhyme Rhythm Round Character Satire Setting Sestet Simile Situational Irony Soliloquy Sonnet Stanza Static Character Stock Character Symbol Synonyms Theme Thesis Tone Verbal Irony Verisimilitude

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Appendix B
Commonly Confused Words*
Words that sound alike or nearly alike but have different meanings often cause writers trouble. Here are a few of the most common pairs with correct definitions and examples: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
ACCEPT: to receive: He accepts defeat well. EXCEPT: to take or leave out: Please take all the books off the shelf except for the red one. AFFECT: to influence: Lack of sleep affects the quality of your work. EFFECT: n. result: The subtle effect of the lighting made the room look ominous. v. to accomplish: Can

the university effect such a change without disrupting classes?
A LOT (two words): many. ALOT (one word): Not the correct form. ALLUSION: an indirect reference: The professor made an allusion to Virginia Woolf's work. ILLUSION: a false perception of reality: They saw a mirage: that is a type of illusion one sees in the

ALL READY: prepared: Dinner was all ready when the guests arrived. ALREADY: by this time: The turkey was already burned when the guests arrived. ALTOGETHER: entirely: Altogether, I thought that the student's presentation was well planned. ALL TOGETHER: gathered, with everything in one place: We were all together at the family reunion

last spring.
ASCENT: climb: The plane's ascent made my ears pop. ASSENT: agreement: The Martian assented to undergo experiments. BREATH: noun, air inhaled or exhaled: You could see his breath in the cold air. BREATHE: verb, to inhale or exhale: If you don't breathe, then you are dead. CITE: to quote or document: I cited ten quotes from the same author in my paper. SIGHT: vision: The sight of the American flag arouses different emotions in different parts of the world. SITE: position or place: The new office building was built on the site of a cemetery. CONSCIENCE: sense of right and wrong: The student's conscience kept him from cheating on the

CONSCIOUS: awake: I was conscious when the burglar entered the house. COUNCIL: a group that consults or advises: The men and women on the council voted in favour of an outdoor concert in their town. COUNSEL: to advise: The parole officer counselled the convict before he was released.


adapted from:

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• • • • • • • • • • •


ELICIT: to draw or bring out: The teacher elicited the correct response from the student. ILLICIT: illegal: The drug dealer was arrested for his illicit activities. EMINENT: famous, respected: The eminent podiatrist won the Physician of the Year award. IMMANENT: inherent or intrinsic: The meaning of the poem was immanent, and not easily recognized. IMMINENT: ready to take place: A fight between my sister and me is imminent from the moment I enter

my house.
ITS: of or belonging to it: The baby will scream as soon as its mother walks out of the room. IT'S: contraction for it is: It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood. LEAD: noun, a type of metal: Is that pipe made of lead? LED: verb, past tense of the verb "to lead": She led the campers on an over-night hike. LIE: to lie down (person or animal.): I have a headache, so I'm going to lie down for a while.(also lying, lay, has/have lain—The dog has lain in the shade all day; yesterday, the dog lay there for twelve hours). LAY: to lay an object down: "Lay down that gun, Bubba!” the sheriff demanded. The town lay at the foot of the mountain. (Also laying, laid, has/have laid—At that point, Bubba laid the gun on the ground.) LOSE: verb, to misplace or not win: Mom glared at Mikey. "If you lose that new lunchbox, don't even

• •

think of coming home!"
LOOSE: modifier, to not be tight; verb (rarely used): to release: The burglar's pants were so loose that

he was sure to lose the race with the cop chasing him. While awaiting trial, he was never set loose from jail because no one would post his bail. • • • • • • • • • • • •
PASSED: verb, past tense of "to pass," to have moved: The tornado passed through the city quickly,

but it caused great damage.
PAST: belonging to a former time or place: Who was the past president of Microsquish Computers? Go

past the fire station and turn right.
PRECEDE: to come before: Pre-writing precedes the rough draft of good papers. PROCEED: to go forward: He proceeded to pass back the failing grades on the exam. PRINCIPAL: adjective, most important; noun, a person who has authority: The principal ingredient in chocolate chip cookies is chocolate chips. The principal of the school does the announcements each morning. PRINCIPLE: a general or fundamental truth: The study was based on the principle of gravity. QUOTE: verb, to cite: I would like to quote Dickens in my next paper. QUOTATION: noun, the act of citing: The book of famous quotations inspired us all. STATIONARY: standing still: The accident was my fault because I ran into a stationary object. STATIONERY: writing paper: My mother bought me stationery that was on recycled paper. SUPPOSED TO: correct form for "to be obligated to" or "presumed to", not "suppose to" SUPPOSE: to guess or make a conjecture


Do you suppose we will get to the airport on time? When is our plane supposed to arrive? We are supposed to check our bags before we board, but I suppose we could do that at the curb and save time.

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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


THAN: use with comparisons: I would rather go out to eat than eat at the dining hall. THEN: at that time, or next: I studied for my exam for seven hours, and then I went to bed. THEIR: possessive form of they: Their house is at the end of the block. THERE: indicates location (hint: think of "here and there"): There goes my chance of winning the lottery! THEY'RE: contraction for "they are": They're in Europe for the summer—again! THROUGH: by means of; finished; into or out of: He ploughed right through the other team's defensive

THREW: past tense of throw: She threw away his love letters. THOROUGH: careful or complete: John thoroughly cleaned his room; there was not even a speck of

dust when he finished.
THOUGH: however; nevertheless: He's really a sweetheart though he looks tough on the outside. THRU: abbreviated slang for “through”; not appropriate in standard writing: We're thru for the day! TO: toward: I went to the University of Alberta. TOO: also, or excessively: He drank too many cocktails and was unable to drive home. TWO: a number: Only two students did not turn in the assignment. WHO: pronoun, referring to a person or persons: Jane wondered how Jack, who is so smart, could be

having difficulties in Calculus.
WHICH: pronoun, replacing a singular or plural thing(s); not used to refer to persons: Which math class

did you get into?
THAT: used to refer to things or a group or class of people: I lost the book that I bought last week. WHO: used as a subject or as a subject complement: John is the man who can get the job done. WHOM: used as an object: Whom did Sarah choose as her replacement?

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Appendix C
Strategies for Taking Multiple Choice Tests
General Rule: Get an understanding of the stem before considering and choosing an alternative. Underline key terms and clue words in the stem. Some students find it effective to read the stem and anticipate the correct alternative before looking at the alternatives. If you generally do better on essay exams, this strategy may help you. Research shows that one in three students scores better with this strategy alone!

Read the questions for the selection. This allows you to read the passage with a more discerning eye. Knowledge of an impending question directs your focus as you read the passage. Read the passage and try to identify the most important parts of the text. As you read, consider sources of information aside from the passage itself: o o o o Title: may give you a clue about the subject of the passage. Author’s Name: may be helpful if you have read anything else by the author. Author’s date of birth and/or death, and country of origin: may be helpful in establishing the setting of the passage. Epigraph (a quotation at the beginning of a reading): may give you a clue about the theme of the passage.

• •

• • • •

Use all of the allotted time and answer every question. Eliminate the unlikely responses and then choose the best answer from those that are left. Do not look for patterns in the answer key. (The examiners have already examined the answer key and made sure that there are no patterns to the answers.) Do not leave any answers blank. If you find a question that is too difficult, mark it and leave it for later. The confidence that you gain by doing some easier questions first will often help in dealing with the more difficult questions later on. If you are not certain of an answer, guess — but do so methodically. Do not guess too soon! You must select not only a correct answer, but the best answer. It is therefore important that you read all of the options and not stop when you come upon one that seems likely. Eliminate the choices that you know are incorrect; then, relate each alternative back to the stem of the question to see if it fits. Narrow the choices to one or two alternatives and then compare them and identify how they differ. Finally, make an informed guess. If a question contains line references, then reread those lines before answering the question. Read the selections in order. The examiners will have carefully considered the difficulty of each reading and in order to help students will have placed easier readings after harder readings. Use the true-false technique to detect decoys. To use the true-false technique, you make a complete statement from the stem and each of the options. An option that results in a false statement is eliminated as a distracter. One that results in a true statement is probably the correct answer. Do not dismiss an alternative because it seems too obvious and simple an answer.
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• •



Do not be wowed by fancy terms in the question (i.e., Do not say to yourself, "That sounds impressive, so it must be the right answer!") Use context clues or your knowledge of common prefixes, suffixes, and word roots to make intelligent guesses about terminology that you do not know. Be wary of options which include unqualified absolutes such as “all,” "never," and "always". Such statements are highly restrictive and very difficult to defend. They are rarely (though they may sometimes be) correct options. The less frequently stated converse of the above is that carefully qualified, conservative, or "guarded" statements tend to be correct more often than would be predicted by chance alone. Other things being equal, favour options containing such qualifying phrases as "may sometimes be," or "can occasionally result in." If time permits, review your answers, but change an answer only if you feel that you have a better understanding of the passage after a second reading.

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