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“I Choose You” -choosing the right words and register in English – by Bethany Hall

“I Choose You”

choosing the right words and register in English

In the much-loved pilot episode, “Pokemon-I choose you” of the Pokemon anime series, Ash and his Pokemon, Pikachu do not get on very well at first. However, as we all know, Ash and Pikachu form one of the most iconic friendships we have ever witnessed.
It can be much the same when learning a new language. We can struggle with pronunciation and grammar but with some hard work can a beneficial and enjoyable relationship with the language.

What to do…
I Choose You

One element that can make our learning easier is to know what to say and how to say it in different situations. Like Ash, let’s choose wisely.

A formal situation:

A formal situation will usually be impersonal without much emotion, like a job interview or an official speech. One would use technical words that are relevant to the conversation. We would always use complete sentences that express a complete idea. We would avoid using slang, abbreviations, such as “influenza” instead of “flu” and clichés. You could use words such as “however” instead of “but” or “moreover” in place of “also”. In this situation there would be no interruptions and usually involves one-way participation, i.e. a speaker and an audience.

A consultative situation:

A step away from the ceremonial conduct of the formal situation is the casual situation. This would take place between a doctor and a patient or a student and a teacher and the like. Fill sentences are still used as well as technical language. However, there is two-way participation and interruptions are quite common.

A casual situation:

This situation will be with your social group and acquaintances. Slang is often used in this situation and interruptions are common. There are more filler words such as “like” or “um”.

An intimate situation:

In this situation, how you say it is more important than what you say. As this is a situation involving only your closest friends and family, they will pick up on your non-verbal messages and so grammar is not so important here.

By following these simple tips, you and the English language can have a friendship as beautiful as Ash and Pikachu!

Categories
Advanced English General English IELTS Preparation News Uncategorized Writing in English

Elements of Descriptive Writing (part 4) – by Bethany Hall

Welcome back for Bethany’s fifth part of demonstrating the elements of descriptive writing.

Today she helps us understand the importance of using our senses.

  1. Careful organization

In order for the reader to understand and enjoy the descriptive writing, it needs to be organised in a way that makes sense.

There are three ways to organise our descriptive writings:

  • Chronological(time)- best for describing events, arranges details in time
  • Spatial (location) – best for describing a place, uses location, such as bottom top, left and right, front and back
  • Order of importance- best for describing objects and people, puts the most important details at the beginning or at the end

Now that we have all the elements of descriptive writing, let us look at a descriptive text.

First of all, it’s noisy. You wouldn’t think that it is. But every few minutes, when your eyes are fixed on the pitch black sky in anticipation, there is an almighty BANG! 

Try to imagine an explosion. But not a terrible and vicious explosion that injures and destroys. No, this explosion erupts in vibrant colour and dances in the sky. Sometimes, it shatters into a million pieces, it would be impossible to count them all. And sometimes, it flurries around itself, creating effervescent patterns in the night sky. And still, other times it tumbles like a scarlet waterfall or floats like a glittering silver shower. It spins, it spirals, it spurts, and it sprays. It spatters and splatters and scatters.

 Now I have not forgotten about the colours, and however could I?

The midnight sky contrasted wonderfully with the vivacious colours of this benevolent explosion. There was red. Blood red. Like the colour of a lover’s rose. And green, in all of its natural goodness. There was purple, the colour of royalty. And silver and gold and blue.

The lights above us illuminated the ground beneath us to remind us that the hope for the future is what makes the present worthwhile.

 

First of all, it’s noisy. You wouldn’t think that it is. But every few minutes, when your eyes are fixed on the pitch black sky in anticipation, there is an almighty BANG! 

Try to imagine an explosion. But not a terrible and vicious explosion that injures

Try to imagine an explosion. But not a terrible and vicious explosion that injures and destroys. No, this explosion erupts in vibrant colour and dances in the sky. Sometimes, it shatters into a million pieces, it would be impossible to count them all. And sometimes, it flurries around itself, creating effervescent patterns in the night sky. And still, other times it tumbles like a scarlet waterfall or floats like a glittering silver shower. It spins, it spirals, it spurts, and it sprays. It spatters and splatters and scatters.

 Now I have not forgotten about the colours, and however could I?

The midnight sky contrasted wonderfully with the vivacious colours of this benevolent explosion. There was red. Blood red. Like the colour of a lover’s rose. And green, in all of its natural goodness. There was purple, the colour of royalty. And silver and gold and blue.

 

The lights above us illuminated the ground beneath us to remind us that the hope for the future is what makes the present worthwhile.

 

What do you think this text is about?

If you said a firework display, then you are correct!

However, this text never directly states that is a written account of a fireworks display. So how do we know that this is true?

The writer has created a mental picture by using the elements of descriptive writing and has described a firework display without ever saying what it is.

 

Firstly, the writer uses sensory details. Can you identify sensory details in the text?

The first sense the writer appeals to is the sense of sound. The text opens with, “First of all, it’s noisy. You wouldn’t think that it is. But every few minutes, when your eyes are fixed on the pitch black sky in anticipation, there is an almighty BANG!”

The writer states that it is “noisy” and then uses onomatopoeia to describe what it sounds like, “BANG!”

The sense that the text focuses on is sight. The writer describes the colour of the sky, “pitch black sky’. The way the fireworks move in the sky is also described, the writer uses many strong verbs to do this such as, erupts, dances, shatters, flurries, tumbles, etc. The writer also uses adjectives to describe what the display looks like, vibrant colour, a million pieces, effervescent patterns, etc.

Does the writer appeal to any other senses?

Why or why not?

The writer does not appeal to any more sense as this would be out of place. Although fireworks do have a smell, it is a chemical one and mentioning this in the text would detract from the feeling of the piece. It is dangerous and foolish to touch as well as taste fireworks, therefore these senses are left out.

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Indiana University of Pennsylvania offers some more tips on descriptive writing geared toward the more advanced English writer. http://www.iup.edu/writingcenter/writing-resources/organization-and-structure/descriptive-writing/

 

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Categories
Advanced English General English IELTS Preparation News Uncategorized Writing in English

Elements of Descriptive Writing (part 3) – Bethany Hall

Don’t miss this!

Today Bethany Hall continues with the third part of her lesson on the elements of descriptive writing.

  1. Dominant impression

Elements of descriptive writing continued…

As a writer you intend to give the reader a clear idea as to what the central theme of the text is. Therefore, all the figurative expressions and all details  must refer to the dominant theme so as to give the reader an overall sense of the object, person, place or event being described. This means that you, the writer need to choose what is necessary and appropriate to include in the text. For example, if you are writing about the food you enjoyed while on your trip to Italy, you would not include the history of Stalin and his vices.

Although both Italian cuisine and Italian history are culturally linked, including such information is confusing for the reader. Thus, you should only include relevant and valuable information.

  1. Precise Language

Descriptive writing, like any writing, relies on the vocabulary chosen to help the reader “see” what the writer is describing. You need to be specific when writing descriptively. This means you cannot be evasive or ambiguous. For example, if we wanted to describe a certain person, we could not say, “He was a man, a human man.” Although this sentence is grammatically correct and uses adjectives, it does nothing to describe the man to the reader. You should rather say, “His curls were the color of sun-kissed beaches and his eyes the color of the ocean that kissed its shores”.

There are two parts of speech that are necessary for good descriptive writing:

4.a. Adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes a noun; for example, “the lovely, old, brick-red cottage”. Although adjectives add color and description to our writing, you should use them in moderation. Using too many or unnecessary adjectives will cause clumsiness and confusion; for example, “the lovely, old, square, a-bit-too-small, smelly, dusty, cramped, cluttered, poorly-decorated, faded, brick-red cottage”. This sentence is hard to read and the reader will get lost in all the unnecessary adjectives.

 

4.b. Adverbs

Adverbs are words that describe verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. Use adverbs to create depth and layering to your writing. Use them in moderation. An example of adverbs is, “She slowly and carefully picked up the very tattered book.”

 

Are we there yet? Nope! Return tomorrow for Bethany’s final list. You’re becoming such a creative writer. Don’t stop now!

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Hi there! My name is Bethany and I am the biggest English nerd you will ever meet! I have studied English and Linguistics to make sure that I have a full and complete understanding of the language that I love so much. I also have a teaching certificate so that I can better teach my students to understand and love the English language as much as I do.

Bethany is a native English speaker from South Africa. She is also an English Teacher for World’s English. 

Categories
Advanced English General English IELTS Preparation News Uncategorized Writing in English

Elements of Descriptive Writing (part 2)- by Bethany Hall

Thanks for coming back for part 2 of Bethany Hall’s lesson on descriptive writing. You’re well on your way to being a great writer in English. Keep going!

 

 

Figurative Language

Figurative language is when the meaning of a phrase or sentence goes beyond the literal meaning of the words. A common expression, “the world is my oyster” does not literally mean that planet earth belongs to a person who thinks it part of his seafood platter.

If we were to take this saying at a literal level, it would be ridiculous and obscene. However, if we looked at this saying from a figurative level, as it is intended, then it makes far more sense. The figurative meaning of “the world is my oyster” is that a person has the freedom and ability to do as he pleases.

Image result for world is my oyster

Now that we understand the meaning of figurative language, let’s look at some types of figurative language.

Metaphor

A metaphor is an expression which makes a comparison between two things that share a common characteristic. Remember that a metaphor is a figurative device so we do not read the expression literally. For example, “he has the heart of the lion” is a comparison between a man and a beast whom both share the characteristic of bravery.

Simile

A simile is very similar to a metaphor, they are both expressions that compare. However, in a simile “like” or “as” are used. For example, “he is as brave as a lion” or ” he is brave like a lion”.

Personification

Personification is when human attributes are given to non-human objects. We use personification when we want our readers to feel connected to the object or that it has the ability to behave in the way a human would. For example, ‘the flowers danced in the breeze”.

Hyperbole

A hyperbole is an exaggeration not meant to be taken literally. For example, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!”

Image result for eat a horse

Idioms are often used in descriptive writing. Check out the meaning of this one here.

 

Symbolism

Symbolism is when we use symbols to represent ideas or qualities by them meaning other than their literal use. For example, a dove is the symbol of peace; the colour black is symbolic of death and evil.

 

Some sound devices are also viewed as figurative language because they give a new perspective on the word such as:

Alliteration

Is the repetition of a sound or letter at the beginning of closely connected words. For example, “the snake slithers silently in the long grass.”

 Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word by imitating the sound made by or associated with its referent. For example, “meow” or “honk”.

 

Bethany Hall is an aspiring writer from South Africa,with a degree in Linguistics and English, and experience in content writing, technical writing and journalism. She has a versatile writing style and vast knowledge of the English language and its outworkings.
Categories
Advanced English General English IELTS Preparation News Uncategorized Writing in English

Elements of Descriptive Writing (part 1) -By Bethany Hall

Speaking in English is challenging enough, but writing in English creatively injects an additional hurdle. Writing creatively requires more than just a large vocabulary of adjectives. Meet Bethany Hall. Bethany is going to share her ideas about descriptive writing that will help you “kick it up a notch”, in the words of my favorite Chef Emeril Legasse.

Elements of Descriptive Writing  -By Bethany Hall

As lovers and students of the English language, we have many tools at our disposal:

1)We can use our knowledge of the language to persuade.

2)We can use our extensive vocabularies to impress but, perhaps, the most fun element of our language is to paint mental pictures.

3)We can create, quite accurately, an image with words and relay emotion with a few well-placed adjectives.

4)We can convince a person of the intensity of an event by using verbs and transform an ordinary object into a life-like anomaly. This phenomenon of the English language is descriptive writing.

Sensory Details

The first element of descriptive writing is sensory details. This means that the writer appeals to the reader’s senses, that is, sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. This way the reader can imagine or create a mental image of what the writer is describing.

Image result for senses

We do not need to appeal to every sense in every piece of writing. This would make the writing feel forced and clumsy. If we are trying to describe a beautiful painting, we would not describe what it tastes like or what it smells like. These things would seem silly to the reader.

On the other hand, if we were trying to describe a freshly baked cookie we could describe what it looks like, what it tastes like, what it feels like, what it smells like and what it sounds like, e.g.  The heavenly aroma of the baked goods filled the house(smell). The cookies still lay on their baking tray. Each perfectly round with generous chocolate globs, gooey and inviting(sight). They were still slightly warm, light and airy(touch). A crisp and clear CRUNCH echoed through the room when the first bite was taken(sound). They tasted exactly as they should, sweet, delicious and like home(taste).

Come back tomorrow for part 2 and see what other elements Bethany has to share. In the mean time check out this list of descriptive words 

http://descriptivewords.org/

and come on over and schedule a writing lesson with Aaron, Kristen, or Toni.

 

 

Image result for plate of cookies

 

 

Bethany Hall is a writer from South Africa,with a degree in Linguistics and English, and experience in content writing, technical writing and journalism. She has a versatile writing style and vast knowledge of the English language and its outworkings.