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Punctuating “So”

The distinction between “so” to mean “therefore” and “so” to mean “in order that” often goes unmentioned in ESL books, yet the two words require different punctuation. “So” the conjunction that expresses an expected result is a coordinating conjunction (one of the words comprising the mnemonic FANBOYS), and requires a comma to precede it, as […]

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Examination of Aptitude & Vocabulary on L2 Writing in Chinese College Students Highlights the Importance of Receptive Vocabulary

The article “Exploring the Relationship between Language Aptitude, Vocabulary Size, and EFL Graduate Students’ L2 Writing Performance” in TESOL Quarterly by Yingli Yang, Ya Sun et al. of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China examines the relationship between language aptitude and L2 writing performance. The study tested sixty-seven Chinese grad students […]

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Email Etiquette

Observing appropriate email etiquette is a perennial problem at the International Academy. Teach students to write effective emails with Grammarly’s post on best practices for writing effective emails: Every email has the same basic structure: Subject line, greeting, email body, and closing. But as with every written form of professional communication, there’s a right way […]

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Hyper-Vigilant Attribution Culture Exacerbates Academese

… the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb which carries the same meaning that is already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing […]

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The APA Style Blog on Citing Instagram and Other Social Media Platforms

If you thought the nice people over at the American Psychological Association didn’t have anything to say about your social media habits, think again. Never let it be said a medium yet exists that American style guides can’t swarm with a flurry of rules that could dissuade a grizzly from a comb brimming with viscous, […]

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Steven Pinker’s 13 Tweets for Writing Well-Written Prose

Steven Pinker is a linguist and psychologist who teachers at Harvard University. He’s most famously known for his popular-science book on linguistics titled The Language Instinct among other books on cognitive science. In my classes, however, I most often use the style guide The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st […]

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Teaching Shudder Quotes

Shudder quotes, or weird quotes as the the author Chuck Wendig refers to them in the tweet at the end of this post, can be used to indicate your are using a word with ironic intent. Consider when you refer to the “stroke of genius” upper management foisted on everyone, and how all your colleagues […]