An ESL Student’s Checklist for Systematic Self-Editing of Written Work (aimed at high school and university but should be used earlier).

Writing is difficult for the beginner and doubly so in a foreign language. My checklist covers the basics. This page was developed in South Korea, at Honam University, but can be adapted for writers the world over.

Korean English teachers (and the droves of instant ESL teachers) do not have the time and often do not have the skill to edit (correct and critique) their students’ written work. This is a fact of life in crowded high schools, colleges and universities. Editing written work is so time consuming because the quality produced by students is often very low. A full re-write is often needed and that is not the teacher’s job. The problem is being passed through the school system and goes uncorrected. Yes, class size is too large in the high schools and universities but I see the main problem being teachers who are not organizing students to self-edit their own and their classmates’ work. Every class should make and boldly display the following checklist on the wall, and every student’s notebook should have a copy pasted on the first page for reference. Teachers cannot expect students to guess their way through the editing process. Let’s all be systematic.

1. Use spell-check or a dictionary.

2. Capitalize: names, countries, states, provinces, county, business names, 1st letter of a sentence, days, months, etc.

3. Punctuation marks: .,”!?/{[(:;

4. Plurals: leaf/leaves horse/horses this/these a/an.

5. Check sex/gender: My mother he is a hard worker.

6. Check positional (prepositions) and article words (in, on, under, at, of, to, a, an, the).

7. Tense: present, past, future (or general past with had and have). Simplify: Avoid using have and had as it is more complex.

8. Eliminate redundancy: e.g… It was a big, large, gigantic, sizable house.

9. Shorten sentences: Avoid long rambling statements; old fashion and may confuse.

10. Avoid overuse of a word. Check the thesaurus and avoid being a bore.

11. Avoid too much generality. Give specifics. Give useful data in your compositions.

Wrong: I have a brother and two sisters.

Right: I have three siblings, Jennifer 2, Cindy 5, and Bob 14 years.

12. Your composition (story/ report) must have logical flow. Check logical order (see #11 next).

13. Use paragraphs and headings. Headings will give logical order and flow. They are like an artist’s sketch lines or a movie maker’s story boards.

14. Avoid ambiguity (words with 2 or more meanings). Ambiguous words/expressions confuse your readers. Eg.. article means a thing and a story in a magazine.

15. Think of your readers, your audience, when you read your own work. Who will read it? Will they be confused?

16. Think of the tone or message. Is the writing meant to be funny or serious?

17. Korean grammar is quite different from English so students cannot construct common English grammatical sentences unless they read, listen to and use 2-step translations.


Korean: Ad-u-she, kim-bap du-gay jusa-yo.

step#1 Direct translation: Mister, rice-rolls two give me.

step #2 English grammar: Mister, give me to rice rolls (please).

Students get mixed up when they try to go directly from Korean to step #2.

Poetry often breaks all the rules, so disregard the above!

University graduates

White teenagers are less likely to apply to university than youngsters from any other ethnic group, according to research.

Fewer than three in 10 white 18-year-olds have applied to start degree courses this autumn, while applications from black pupils have increased significantly since 2006, data published by Ucas shows.

It also provides evidence that women are outnumbering men at university, with young women nearly a third more likely to apply this year.

The statistics come in a Ucas report looking at the demand for university courses, based on applications made by 24 March.

The findings show that 29% of white, state-educated 18-year-olds in England applied by the March deadline this year, compared with more than 50% of those from a Chinese background and 40% for those from an Asian ethnic group.

Application rates for black 18-year-olds have risen from 20% in 2006 to 34% this year, the report says.

In total, around 44% of young people in England apply to go to university by the time they are 19, but there are differences between the sexes, with young women 29% more likely to apply this year than men.

The report also shows that 18-year-olds from the richest areas are still 4.3 times more likely to apply to one of the UK’s most selective universities – those asking for the highest entry grades – than teenagers from the poorest areas. In 2004 they were six times more likely to apply to these institutions.

Eighteen-year-olds from London are the most likely to want to study for a degree, with 42% applying this year. At the other end of the scale, the north-east has the lowest application rate, at 31%. The north-west has recorded the biggest proportional increase in youngsters wanting to go to university, with 35% applying this year compared with 26% in 2004. The smallest increase was in the south-west, where rates have risen to 31% this year from 28% in 2004.

The Ucas chief executive, Mary Curnock Cook, said: “Young application rates for higher education are rising again after falls in 2012 and the gap between rich and poor is closing as disadvantaged groups are applying at record levels.

“Our new analysis of demand by ethnic group shows that white pupils at English schools now have the lowest application rate of any ethnic group. There has been significant growth in demand from black pupils.

“There are eye-catching regional variations in demand, with the north of England generally showing higher growth rates than the south.”

The Department for Education said that guidance for teacher disciplinary panels would be toughened up to protect schoolchildren.

The move follows outrage over a decision to allow a teacher who downloaded child abuse images back into the classroom.

Geoffrey Bettley was sacked from St Mary’s Catholic school in Menston, West Yorkshire, after being cautioned by police who found almost 200 indecent pictures on his computer.

But a professional conduct panel – set up by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) – ruled that the religious education teacher should be allowed to return to the classroom because the images were “not at the most serious end” of the scale.

The decision was also signed off by a senior official at the DfE.

Any savvy high school student has known that he or she should take Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses if he or she wants to be a competitive applicant to top universities. College admissions are definitely getting more and more competitive, but high school students are getting more and more strategic, even the ones who can’t afford to go to the elite prep schools that are essentially breeding grounds for the Ivy League.

And while it’s certainly in the student’s interest to take as many Honors, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses as he or she can, it’s also important to be reasonable. It’s unlikely that any student can handle a full course load of AP courses, especially if he or she wants to participate in the extracurricular activities that admissions committees really like to see (oh and maybe see their friends and have some fun occasionally, too).

Students should think critically about their skill set when choosing which AP courses to take. It’s rare to find someone who excels at every single subject to the degree that that he or she can score a 3 or higher on the Advanced Placement test for that subject. (And it must be really hard to like the people who are.) Students should think about what classes they’ve loved and succeeded in in the past. Does she love to read? Does she recite Othello quotes in her sleep? Then maybe the AP English Language course is a good one to take.

Students should consider both if they will get a strong grade in the course (“B” at the minimum, preferably an “A”) and if they can earn a passing grade on the AP exams. Admissions committees look at the rigor of a student’s course load (how many advanced courses they take, over how many different disciplines), the overall grade point average (top colleges are turning away truckloads of students with un-weighted 4.0 GPAs), and also if the student is taking an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams, and what scores the student is earning on those exams.

Admissions committees want to see that students are challenging themselves in their course load, but they also want to see that the students are succeeding in those more challenging courses. This is why it’s not advantageous for a student to just take as many AP or IB courses as his or her school offers, unless he or she is truly certain of earning a high grade in the course. If the student doesn’t know if he or she will earn a passing grade on the AP or IB exam, that’s less of a deciding factor.

Taking the exam and not earning a passing score is not a deal-breaker for most colleges. A passing score is considered icing on the cake, and not-passing score is not a detractor. University admissions departments don’t want to discourage students from attempting the AP Microeconomics test just because they’re not sure if they’ll earn a score of a 2 or 3. Students are rewarded for taking the challenging courseload, as well as the exam, and if they earn a high score, it’s great, but if they don’t, they shouldn’t stress about it, at least as far as getting into college concerned.

Teachers of EFL, English as a Foreign Language, are almost constantly strapped for time and fresh materials to use in their English classes. If they teach in a non-English speaking country, the situation can reach critical proportions quickly and often. With the advent of the internet, however, authentic readings in English are now only a few mouse clicks away. But what to do with these snippets of information can be perplexing – even overwhelming, especially to fairly new, inexperienced EFL teachers. ESL, English as a Second Language teachers in an English-speaking country usually have a much easier time of getting materials. But, let’s look at a short historic passage of authentic English and explore some ways it could be used and re-used multiple times for a variety of didactic purposes. Here’s a 175 word complete article for starters:

A Day Well Spent

Business boomed in Cooperstown, NY. on the July day in 1805 when George Arnold, a local resident, was to be publicly hanged for murder. Merchants and street vendors did a capacity trade with the thousands of visitors from the countryside who came to witness the spectacle. At noon a brass band enlivened a procession of uniformed troops, noted citizens, and the condemned man, who was riding in a cart, to the newly erected gallows. There, a minister preached a sermon, dignitaries made speeches, and Arnold spoke his last words. The sheriff put the noose around the condemned man’s neck – and then announced regretfully that this was as far as the ceremony could go. A reprieve from the governor had come early that morning, the sheriff explained, but the town officials had let the preparations go on because they hadn’t wanted to disappoint anybody. While the crowd howled, Arnold collapsed and was carried back to jail – there to serve a life term – and Cooperstown counted the day (and the visitors’ money) well spent.

So, what could be done with this piece? Lots, that’s what. For example:

o Extract key vocabulary to make crossword or word find puzzles

o Take out the key vocabulary to create a fill-in-the-blanks exercise

o Create a cognitive pairs or matching exercise

o Work with a grammar point like reported speech based on the passage

o Use the passage for regular or irregular verb exercises

If you’d like to use the passage elements for further research you could easily:

o Create a web quest for students online

o Recommend additional related readings on history or topical information

o Have students write a different ending or plot twists for the passage

o Use the passage or its elements as a spring board for further discussion

o Investigate related themes such as methods of execution

o History and geography of the locale are other good possibilities

o Look for pictures and photos related to the passage and topic areas

But there’s more that might be done with even this short, basic piece. To generate speaking you might want to use activities

o to promote pronunciation practice

o to have students generate dialogues based on information in the reading

o have students enact scenes generated from elements in the reading

Then there’s always the possibility of making up some “standard” exercises based on the reading passage like:

o multiple choice questions

o true – false questions

o sentence or word unscrambles

o re-ordering of the sentences

o give sentences from the passage as “answers”, students write the questions

Additionally, you can always have students write a composition or opinion essay on the passage itself or some particular aspect of the passage. Had enough yet? Well you get the idea. Deepen and expand on one or any number of related topic areas to extract the maximum from any piece you come up with and you’ll be a lot less hard-pressed for ideas and materials. Don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it too.

Avalos and her colleagues published an article in the December 2007 issue of the Reading Teacher that discussed how they modified guided reading groups (MGR) for English Language Learners (ELLs). 

Certainly many of us follow a Balanced Literacy framework of Modeled Reading, Shared Reading, Guided Reading, and Independent Reading to teach reading in our classroom. The question now is how to accommodate for our ESL students in our guided reading groups?

ESL and ELL students can benefit from some very specific instruction (delivered by guided reading):

   1. detailed vocabulary instruction,

   2. information (variables) concerning second-language (L2) text structure (i.e. semantics, syntax, and morphology)

   3. Targeted (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP, i.e. academic language vs colloquial / social language) instruction

   4. cultural relevance

   5. reading, speaking, listening and writing practice.

As teachers, the reality is that we have many Special Education students and ESL students integrated into our regular classrooms. Here is one way to modify a guided reading lesson for our ESL students:

   1. Determine objectives based on instructional needs

   2. Group students by name and oral L2 instructional reading level

   3. Select guided reading book based on objective and reading level

   4. Analyze the text and identify challenges for ELL students

         a. Semantics: vocabulary, figurative language, homophones

         b. Grammar: complex syntax, punctuation

         c. Text structure: narrative, expository

         d. Concept (cultural relevance)

         e. Strategy instruction (think alouds, prediction, etc)

Although many of us with ESL training will automatically by finding ways to adapt our reading program for our Engilsh Language Learners, it’s still important to remember that explicit instruction of reading strategies is best practices for everyone – ranging from ESL students to our Special Education students to our mainstream students in the regular program.

Those who are interested to get a master’s degree in English are looking for a career in teaching or writing. Most of the programs related to this course focus mainly on genres connected to technical or creative writing or topics related to literature as well.

You can expect that someone who graduated with an English master’s degree is very well versed in American literature and in the language itself. They would sharpen their critical thinking since they will be given a lot of opportunities to criticize the masterpieces of most famous writers and even the prose from their fellow students at the same time. However, before they get to graduate, there are a couple of requirements that they should pass with flying colors including a well-researched thesis. But you can ask if you have other options such as getting teaching certifications while you are still studying at the same time.

There are different career opportunities that a holder of master’s degree in English can choose from. Of course, most of these careers are related to publishing and writing such as journalist, publisher, editor, or a professional writer. On the other hand, if you want to be a professor in secondary level or in universities, you are required to get a doctor’s degree or gain more certification in order to teach.

Just because you already got your English master’s degree does not mean that you are no longer welcome to pursue your doctor’s degree in English. Even though you can already have a lot of jobs to choose from after getting your master’s degree, you can have a wider range of career opportunities if you would pursue your Ph.D.

And if you want to continue your studies simply because you want to teach higher levels, make sure that you check the requirements of the local state since it varies from one state to another.

Ever noticed how many opportunities have you passed up because you could not understand/speak/write English? How many times you have apologized for not knowing English?

Learning English has become essential to boost your confidence in your work life or social life. Success in today’s competitive world lies in learning English. If you aspire to make a difference to yourself and bring changes to the people around, you have to learn English.

English is a second or a third language for most people around the world. But, as the world is turning to be global village where English is the mode of communication and web is the medium, learning English online has become a necessity. English is one language that is used in communication of any kind, be it social, political or job related. Keeping this issue in mind En101 has started out a mission – “One World, One Language”. En101 aims that no one should feel left out, everyone must feel confident and comfortable in presenting oneself in English.

In fact, many want to learn English but they are not sure as to which is right way to learn English for business and career benefits. Many have doubt over what is the affordable, fast and sure-shot way for learning English? Well, En101 [] opens new vistas for learning English online. The best thing about it is that you can learn English and earn big money from referring others to En101.

En101 is an ideal option for you, as it gives you a business opportunity along with the learning experience. However, you can try for others where they provide the kind of hand-holding that one can rarely find, and where learning is really fun and practical. Most importantly, learn English from an organization that gives full multimedia supports and where you can do real time interaction.

Bear in mind, learning English online should not be a difficult task at all. Remember how you learnt your mother tongue? It is by real life interaction. You should also learn English by real life interactions with your peers and courseware experts. In my opinion learning everyday English should be your first priority than reading the epics. You should have an undercurrent of doing things the English way, i.e., take note of the peculiar usages and pronunciations. Besides, take online one-to-one pronunciation tests, and guidance from an English.

While learning English, the worst part is spelling and pronunciation. If you mistake those things or you are misled to pronounce the wrong way, you have fallen into pitfall. But you won’t face this problem with the organizations of international repute like En101. They make learning easy. And you learn English online from home in a comfortable and relaxed manner.

En101 employs a personalized (one-on-one) teaching method to give each person a sense of “specialized” learning experience. It is so real that it seems like the teachers are in the same room with you.

Despite its world class standard quality education, it has kept the costs at a minimum. En101 owns and maintains the product, and, since the product can be delivered online (globally) in a matter of seconds, there are no shipping and handling costs. That’s why it has made learning experience not only affordable, enjoyable too. Once you Enroll in – everyone in your household learns – at a very affordable price!

The author is a social worker. She is heading an organization to teach English to the underprivileged.

It takes a long time for students of English-as-a-second-language to learn to read
well. This is not because they have a reading problem: They can read perfectly well
in their own language. The problem is just that they don’t know the meaning of
enough English words. In other words, they don’t have a big enough vocabulary.

It’s not easy to build a vocabulary that allows you to read as well, or almost as well,
as people who grew up speaking and reading English. It’s quite easy to build the
basic vocabulary of 1000-2000 words that you need in order to speak English to
other people and understand what they’re saying. You’ll probably pick up that many
words, without really trying, during the early stages of your study of English. And if
that doesn’t happen, you can always sit down with a good vocabulary list and a
dictionary and start memorizing.

However, to be able to read English well, you need to know a lot more than 2000
words — about ten times that many, in fact. You won’t learn all these words without
trying, even if you spend a lot of time taking English courses and talking to English

Learning the most basic words in English, or any other language, is easy because
these words are used so often. ‘Second-level words’ — words that are not necessary
for basic communication, but which are necessary for reading — can only be learned
by the hard work of studying. But what sort of studying is most effective and most

One method is to take the direct approach and learn words ‘out of context’ — by
studying word lists, doing vocabulary ‘exercises,’ or even by reading through a
learners’ dictionary. There are plenty of textbooks around to help you with this job
and you may find English courses that concentrate on this sort of vocabulary

It’s also possible to take a more ‘natural’ approach and try to build up your
vocabulary by reading English books, newspapers, and magazines — looking up
words in a dictionary as you go along and taking notes.

Both the direct and the indirect approach can work, but both have serious
disadvantages. Most people find studying word lists and reading dictionaries quite
boring, and a boring method of studying is likely to be ineffective. In addition, even
if you’re not bored, you may find it hard to remember the words you try to learn in
this way. It seems that words, and other things, stay in our minds better if we see
them for the first time while we’re doing something interesting — like reading an
enjoyable story or article.

The disadvantage of the natural approach is that for intermediate learners — ones
who are trying to build their vocabulary up to the 20,000-word level — the most
readily available texts tend to be far too difficult and, therefore, they are ineffiicent
learning tools. Books, even if they are quite easy to understand, tend to be much
too long for someone who is reading slowly while using a dictionary and taking
notes. Magazine and newspaper articles, on the other hand, almost always contain a
lot of language that is unnecessarily difficult because it is idiomatic or metaphorical
or because it includes unusual words that are not really needed. This slows down
learners and also makes the experience of reading less interesting and therefore
less effective.

The best method of vocabulary building is one that combines the
advantages of both approaches while avoiding the disadvantages. One way to do
this is to learn vocabulary in context, through reading, but with texts that have been
specially written for vocabulary building. This makes for natural, efficient, and
enjoyable studying.

Finding this kind of reading material can be difficult, unfortunately. The reading
passages in ESL texts can be a good source, but they’re often few in number and
very short. Moreover, the readings in books for beginners’ are often quite
uninteresting and the ones in books for more advanced students are often about
quite difficult ‘academic’ ideas. To succeed with this method of vocabulary
enlargement, you need long and interesting texts. The best sources are probably
‘simplified’ versions of famous works of English literature written specially for
learners. Books of this kind are not used as often in ESL courses now as they were in
the past, but, if you’re taking an English course, your teacher may able to lend you
some, and you should certainly be able to find some in your library. If you go to a
library or bookstore to look for useful reading material, you should also look at
children’s and teenagers’ books. They are written for readers who, unlike you, have
English as their first language; but like you, they still have to learn more words
before they can read ‘grown-up’ material easily.

“Big Numbers” puts pre-intermediate level (and higher) English learners into a numbers exchange activity. This module is actually quite easy for both the learner to engage with and for teacher to present. This easiness makes it a fun icebreaker to start any business English seminar or course. The exercise has proven to not really need much encouragement from the instructor; most learners get into this activity quickly and enjoy it.

Learners are given income statements from a fictitious grocery store, but most of the numerical data is missing. Each learner has specific data the other learners don’t have-and this sets up a great conversation practice as learners are continuously reforming pairs, asking questions, stating numbers, and clarifying numbers until their sheets are filled. Learners get lots of practice properly pronouncing “X-teen” vs. “X-ty.”

With traditional classroom business English teaching, it would be a good idea for the instructor to provide a grammar lesson about saying numbers in English. However, “Big Numbers” make this unnecessary with its complementary online activity called “Big Numbers Online”, complete with the grammar lesson and listening activities. The instructor should give learners a few days notice to do the online activity before the class.

The online activities get progressively harder as the learner works through the eight sets of exercises. There is a fantastic internet reward for when the learner completes each set correctly. This reward keeps the learners coming back!

When the learners come to class, they have a good idea of how this activity is going to work-and can jump right into the activity only requiring the briefest explanation from the instructor. Plus the online sessions have taught new language skills or enhanced current skills. The learners can take these online lessons back to the classroom to find more success in the classroom with their business conversation.

After the classroom activity is over, the learners can revisit “Big Numbers Online” to get that immediate and important reinforcement for the lessons learned in classroom.

“Big Numbers” and “Big Numbers Online” are both great stand-alone ELT activities. But when the classroom and online activities are working together, the learning effect is more than doubled. This is how blended learning should work: the online lessons reinforce the classroom lessons; the classroom reinforces the online. Learners will better retain the lessons learned in these complementary lessons.