Attention- site is moving

June 12, 2009 at 8:02 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Due to a huge demand from students, I have decided to move these blog posts and material to a new home. I am still busy updating the new site and it will hopefully will be ready by the end of June 2009. The new website address is


Word Choice in Essays – excellent!

April 2, 2008 at 3:31 pm | Posted in Writing Academic Essays | Leave a comment

from the University of Western Ontario


Word Choice:  Tips for ESL Students 


The types of language listed below will help you to determine what types of 

words and phrases you can use in a formal essay.  


Clichés:  Phrases or sentences that have lost meaning through overuse. 


 Examples: Don’t count your chickens before they have hatched. 

                     Let sleeping dogs lie. 


These phrases can add colour and life to informal speech; however, in 

writing, they appear to be substitutes for clear thought.  


Colloquial Language:  Casual conversational language that has a wider  

    general acceptance than slang. 


 Examples: Let’s do lunch. 

                     I’m going to get back at him. 


Colloquial language is generally acceptable in casual spoken English, but 

it is unacceptable in formal speaking situations, and in written English. 


Euphemisms:  Expressions that soften or obscure the meaning that you wish  

    to convey. 


 Examples: a guest of the government  (in jail)    

                     pre-owned           (used) 

                     passed away       (died) 

                     tactical omission   (lie) 


Euphemisms are good if they spare someone’s feelings, but they are bad 

if they obscure meaning, or give a positive connotation to something 

illegal, immoral, or otherwise unacceptable. 


Formal Language:  Language of scholarly and technical writing that is  

    characterized by: precise language, complex sentences, and no contractions. 


Formal Language is used in oral presentations and public addresses, 

essays, reports, resumes, and business letters. 


Informal Language:  The language of peer group discussion, newspaper  

    editorials, and certain magazines such as Time or Newsweek.   


 Examples: I                    writing in first person 

                   can’t              using contractions 

                   Why not?      using sentence fragments.  


Jargon:  Technical words or phrases that are used in connection with a  

    particular trade or profession.  


 Examples: downsizing 

                     bottom line    


Jargon is good to use within the context in which it was developed, but it 

becomes difficult to decipher when used outside of its particular context. 

Be careful to define technical terms when you are addressing an audience 

outside of your technical specialty. 


Non-standard Language:  Incorrect language.  


 Examples: anyways 

                     could of 


                     youse guys 


Never use non-standard language in your writing, unless you are quoting 

someone who has used it. You should also avoid non-standard language 

in conversation. 


Redundancy:  Often called “wordiness”, this means using several words when  

    one or two will do. 


 Examples: In my opinion, I think … 

                     completely new 

                     dead body 


Never use redundancies in your written work. They often irritate the 

reader, and they sometimes make the intended meaning obscure. 


Slang:  Informal language that is specific to a particular group and time period. 


 Examples: groovy 




Use slang only in casual conversations with your peers. 


Listening mp3 – Piracy

March 18, 2008 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Listening, Technology | Leave a comment
Tags: ,
Listen 23:00 
(click above to listen)

It has nothing to do with robbery on the high seas but it is a form of piracy that’s becoming more widespread than ever.

In the third part of this series on pirates, Nick Rankin enters cyber space to explore the world of intellectual piracy – the stealing of ideas.

Part Three – Mind-thieves

The origins of copyright can be traced back to medieval times, where scholars would right curses in their books so that if anyone was to copy what they wrote – they would also copy the curse and be cursed.

However, copyright has now reached a digital age and the internet has transformed how we share information.

From illegal downloads of music and video, to illicit DVDs and counterfeit designer goods – there isn’t anything that’s not being replicated illegally.

For this episode, Nick travels from London to Hong Kong, finding out how the theft and reproduction of ideas and goods has become big business.

Protecting an idea

Intellectual property covers a number of things like patents, designs, trademarks and copyright.

Copying a person’s ideas or products without their permission is known as intellectual piracy.

Protecting an individual’s creativeness, stops another person trying to earn money off the back of their idea.

Intellectual property accounted for around 40% of the growth of the US economy last year and in Britain it was around 10%.

An example of intellectual property can be something like Winnie the Pooh, the teddy bear originally created by the writer AA Milne and the illustrator EH Shepard in the 1920s, which is owned by the Walt Disney corporation.

Disney uses the Winnie the Pooh brand to merchandise almost everything, from books to clothing.

Isn’t piracy just freedom of information?

The possibilities of sharing files on the internet, be it data, music or movies, now defies the idea of a monopoly.

Those against the idea see piracy as a method of ‘not paying’ and those in favour simply see themselves as ‘information sharers’.

The problem is that people don’t want to pay high legitimate prices, so they often go to pirate sites to download material.

The British band Radiohead has been quite revolutionary in trying to get rid of music piracy.

They gave away their seventh album “In Rainbows” on the internet and let the public decide the price.

If you get the product at a price you are prepared to pay – then this will hopefully get rid of piracy.

Cost of piracy

The US economy claims that in 2007 it lost £58 billion pounds and 273,000 jobs due to international piracy.

However, the United States were themselves the biggest intellectual pirates in the 19th century.

British authors like Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had to fight to be paid any royalties for their written work in America.

It seems like yesterday’s pirates are today’s enforcers.


Concordance- Improves remembering vocabulary

March 17, 2008 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Vocabulary | Leave a comment

Type the word in the block and click search. It will show numerous different sentences using the word. 

You can also check

IELTS – strategies for True/False/Not Given

March 17, 2008 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Reading Strategies | 4 Comments
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Here are some idea strategies for the TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN exercises, which I consider are a headache in IELTS reading.Be careful to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS in your booklet and write in your answer sheet TRUE instead of YES and so on. 

Although the strategy is completely the same, you’ll be penalised if you didn’t write the correct word as your answer. Students generally find this type of exercise in the IELTS rather difficult. One reason is that they are used to doing True/ False exercises where the False covers False and Not Given. Then when they come to do True/ False/ Not Given, they cannot make the distinction between the three different types of contradiction and Not Given. It is therefore important that students are able to understand what False means in True/ False/ Not Given. 

There are three types of contradictions: 
• statements which are the opposite of the original text.
• statements which are the opposite of the original text, because they are negative.
• statements where the information is not the opposite or negative, but the information in the statement contradicts that given in the text. Look at the examples below relating to the text and exercises:

Example 1 There are plans to increase slightly the space for displaying art at the Uffizi. You can see that the statement is False, because a slight increase contradicts an increase of 100%. 

Example 2 From the author’s point of view, the plan to increase the space for displaying art at the Uffizi gallery is not at all ambitious. You can see that the statement is False, because the negative contradicts the text, which says it is ambitious. 

Example 3 A collection of pictures by Caravaggio now in a small room on the second floor will soon be transferred to larger premises on the first. You can see that the statement is False, because the text states that the paintings are by Caravaggio and his school not by Caravaggio alone. 

Note that the statement is contrasting one basic piece of information [by Caravaggio], where the original text contains two [by Caravaggio and his school]. Compare this with: The Palazzo degli Uffizi was designed by Giorgio Vasari, who was an artist. The statement is checking one piece of information. It is easy for students to become confused here, because the text states that Vasari was an historian and an artist, but the statement here is only asking if he was an artist [not an artist only excluding the idea of his being an historian]. 

Strategies to help students tackle True/ False/ Not Given exercises 

If we take the sentence in the example we can look at some basic ways to help yourselves understand what is being asked. Sentence There are plans to increase slightly the space for displaying art at the Uffizi. 
• Turn the above statement into a question: Are there plans to increase slightly the space for displaying art at the Uffizi? 
• Ask yourselves to say which words or phrases qualify the basic information in the statement: There are plans to increase the space for displaying art. 
• Ask yourselves to say which word or words are most likely to carry the main stress in the statement: slightly. This helps to see what the focus of the statement. 
• Ask yourselves to match the individual pieces of information to the text. 
• Remember always to look from the statement to the text and not to    analyse from the text to the statement. In True/ False exercises, the answer going both ways is the same, but with True/ False/ Not Given you may have a different answer! 


Reading – technology Web creator rejects net tracking

March 17, 2008 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Reading-Technology | Leave a comment

Web creator rejects net tracking
By Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent, BBC News

The creator of the web has said consumers need to be protected against systems which can track their activity on the internet.Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC News he would change his internet provider if it introduced such a system.Plans by leading internet providers to use Phorm, a company which tracks web activity to create personalised adverts, have sparked controversy.Sir Tim said he did not want his ISP to track which websites he visited.

“I want to know if I look up a whole lot of books about some form of cancer that that’s not going to get to my insurance company and I’m going to find my insurance premium is going to go up by 5% because they’ve figured I’m looking at those books,” he said.Sir Tim said his data and web history belonged to him. 
I think consumers rights in this are very important – we haven’t seen the results of these systems being used Sir Tim Berners-Lee 
He said: “It’s mine – you can’t have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me. I have to agree, I have to understand what I’m getting in return.”Phorm has said its system offers security benefits which will warn users about potential phishing sites – websites which attempt to con users into handing over personal data.Kent Ertugrul, chief executive, of Phorm, told BBC News: “We have not had the chance to describe to Tim Berners-Lee how the system works and we look forward to doing that.”We believe Phorm makes the internet a more vibrant and interesting place. Phorm protects personal privacy and unlike the hundreds of other cookies on your PC, it comes with an on/off switch.”The advertising system created by Phorm highlights a growing trend for online advertising tools – using personal data and web habits to target advertising.Social network Facebook was widely criticised when it attempted to introduce an ad system, called Beacon, which leveraged people’s habits on and off the site in order to provide personal ads.‘No strings’The company was forced to give customers a universal opt out after negative coverage in the media.Sir Tim added: “I myself feel that it is very important that my ISP supplies internet to my house like the water company supplies water to my house. It supplies connectivity with no strings attached. My ISP doesn’t control which websites I go to, it doesn’t monitor which websites I go to.” Cannot play media. Sorry you need to have JavaScript enabled on your browser.Sir Tim Berners-Lee talks about the future of the internetTalk Talk has said its customers would have to opt in to use Phorm, while the two other companies which have signed up – BT and Virgin – are still considering both opt in or opt out options.Sir Tim said he supported an opt-in system. 
He’s the greatest technological pioneer Britain has produced over the last 30 yearsBBC News Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones on interviewing Tim Berners-Lee 
“I think consumers rights in this are very important. We haven’t seen the results of these systems being used.”Privacy campaigners have questioned the legality of ISPs intercepting their customers’ web-surfing habits.But the Home Office in the UK has drawn up guidance which suggests the ISPs will conform with the law if customers have given consent.Sir Tim also said the spread of social networks like Facebook and MySpace was a good example of increasing involvement in the web. But he had a warning for young people about putting personal data on these sites. 
We should look out for snags in the future – things can change so fast on the internet Sir Tim Berners-Lee
“Imagine that everything you are typing is being read by the person you are applying to for your first job. Imagine that it’s all going to be seen by your parents and your grandparents and your grandchildren as well.”But he said he had tried out several of the sites, and thought they might in the end be even more popular with the elderly than with young people.Sir Tim was on a short visit to Britain from his base at MIT in Boston, during which he met government ministers, academics and major corporations, to promote a new subject, Web Science.This is a multi-disciplinary effort to study the web and try to guide its future. Sir Tim explained that there were now more web pages than there are neurons in the human brain, yet the shape and growth of the web were still not properly understood.”We should look out for snags in the future,” he said, pointing to the way email had been swamped by spam as an example of how things could go wrong. “Things can change so fast on the internet.”But he promised that what web scientists would produce over the coming years “will blow our minds”.


Essay on capital punishment

March 16, 2008 at 10:16 am | Posted in Essay Exercise, Vietnam - Students | 1 Comment
Below is an essay written by a student. See if you can help make it better! 
Capital punishment has raised a continuing debate in community these days.This highest punishment has been perceived as the most effective way to reduce violence in society.However,the death penalty should be abolished because it is against human rights and there are some other methods to control criminals.It is obvious that living is an indisputable right of a human being.Consequently,death sentence is likely to be against this privilege,although this person has committed a serious offence.Similarly,law professionals would be in the same position as murderers to whom they have given the death penalty,thus capital punishment  seems to be unfair and inconvincing.Moreover,the sentence of death which is considered as the most effective way to control brutality in society turns out to be helpless  under some circumstances.For example, America where capital punishment is applied has been known as one of the countries having the highest criminal rate all over the world.In fact,there are other methods to reduce the number of violence-realated crimes in society and other sentences should be cogitated about such as life imprisonment.Nevertheless,the best way is to educate prisoners or give them jobs.Hence,they could easily rehabilitate society in the future. In conclusion,the death penalty should be abolished in our society.Law professionals ought to find alternatives of punitive measures that are reasonable for different criminals in order to ensure that living environment is becoming safer for human beings 

Copy and Paste to check for Academic words!

March 11, 2008 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Tools, Writing Task 2 | Leave a comment

You would want to check all the YELLOW words, which will be highlighted. This shows the academic words used!

Discussion Essays – from the University of Manchester

March 10, 2008 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Writing Task 2 | Leave a comment
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The term discussion has a variety of meanings in English. In academic writing, however, it usually refers to two types of activity: a) considering both sides of an issue, or question, b) considering the results of research and the implications of these. Discussion sections in dissertations and research articles are probably the most complex in terms of their elements. The most common elements and some of the language that is typically associated with them are listed below:


Background information (reference to literature or to research aim/question)

A strong relationship between X and Y has been reported in the literature.Prior studies that have noted the importance of ……In reviewing the literature, no data was found on the association between X and Y. As mentioned in the literature review, …… Very little was found in the literature on the question of ….. This study set out with the aim of assessing the importance of X in ……The third question in this research was ……It was hypothesized that participants with a history of ……The present study was designed to determine the effect of ……

Statements of result (usually with reference to results section)

The results of this study show/indicate that …….This experiment did not detect any evidence for ……On the question of X, this study found that ……The current study found that ……The most interesting finding was that …… Another important finding was that …..The results of this study did not show that ……/did not show any significant increase in ……In the current study, comparing X with Y showed that the mean degree of ……In this study, Xs were found to cause ….. X provided the largest set of significant clusters of ……It is interesting to note that in all seven cases of this study……

Unexpected outcome

Surprisingly, X was found to …….One unanticipated finding was that ….. It is somewhat surprising that no X was noted in this condition …… What is surprising is that ……Contrary to expectations, this study did not find a significant difference between ……. However, the observed difference in between X and Y in this study was not significant. However, the ANOVA (one way) showed that these results were not statistically significant. This finding was unexpected and suggests that ……

Reference to previous research (support)

This study produced results which corroborate the findings of a great deal of the previous work in this field. These findings of the current study are consistent with those of Smith and Jones (2001) who found …… This finding supports previous research into this brain area which links X and Y.This study confirms that X is associated with ……This finding is in agreement with Smith’s (1999) findings which showed …….It is encouraging to compare this figure with that found by Jones (1993) who found that ….. There are similarities between the attitudes expressed by X in this study and those described by (Smith, 1987, 1995) and Jones (1986)These findings further support the idea of …..Increased activation in the PCC in this study corroborates these earlier findings. These results are consistent with those of other studies and suggest that ……The present findings seem to be consistent with other research which found ……This also accords with our earlier observations, which showed that ……

Reference to previous research (contradict)

However, the findings of the current study do not support the previous research.This study has been unable to demonstrate that ……However, this result has not previously been described.In contrast to earlier findings, however, no evidence of X was detected.Although, these results differ from some published studies (Smith, 1992; Jones, 1996), they are consistent with those of ……

Explanations for results:

There are several possible explanations for this result.These differences can be explained in part by the proximity of X and Y.A possible explanation for this might be that …..Another possible explanation for this is that …… This result may be explained by the fact that …../ by a number of different factors. It is difficult to explain this result, but it might be related to ……It seems possible that these results are due to …… The reason for this is not clear but it may have something to do with ……It may be that these students benefitted from ……This inconsistency/discrepancy may be due to ……This rather contradictory result may be due to ……These factors may explain the relatively good correlation between X and Y. There are, however, other possible explanations.The possible interference of X can not be ruled out. The observed increase in X could be attributed to ….. The observed correlation between X and Y might be explained in this way. …..     

Advising cautious interpretation

These data must be interpreted with caution because ……These results therefore need to be interpreted with caution.However, with a small sample size, caution must be applied, as the findings might not be transferable to ……

Suggesting general hypotheses

The value of X suggests that a weak link may exist between …..It is therefore likely that such connections exist between …..It can thus be suggested that ……It is possible to hypothesise that these conditions are less likely to occur in ……It is possible/likely/probable therefore that …… Hence, it could conceivably be hypothesised that ……These findings suggest that ……It may be the case therefore that these variations ……In general, therefore, it seems that ……It is possible, therefore, that …… Therefore, X could be a major factor, if not the only one, causing ……It can therefore be assumed that the …… 

Noting implications

This finding has important implications for developing …..An implication of this is the possibility that ……One of the issues that emerges from these findings is …… Some of the issues emerging from this finding relate specifically to …… 

Commenting on findings

However, these results were not very encouraging.These findings are rather disappointing.The test was successful as it was able to identify students who ……The present results are significant in at least major two respects.

Suggestions for future work

However, more research on this topic needs to be undertaken before the association between X and Y is more clearly understood.Further research should be done to investigate the ……Research questions that could be asked include …..Future studies on the current topic are therefore recommended.A further study with more focus on X is therefore suggested. Further studies, which take these variables into account, will need to be undertaken.Further work is required to establish this.In future investigations it might be possible to use a different X in which …… This is an important issue for future research.


Writing conclusions

March 9, 2008 at 12:32 pm | Posted in Writing Academic Essays | 2 Comments

For IELTS the conclusions below should not be used. These conclusions are applicable to university level students writing dissertations. (a long essay on a specific subject) 

Writing Conclusions 


Conclusions are shorter sections of academic texts which usually serve two functions. The first is to summarise and bring together the main areas covered in the writing, which might be called “looking back”; and the second is to give a final comment or judgement on this. The final comment may also include making suggestions for improvement and speculating on future directions.In dissertations and research papers, conclusions tend to be more complex and will also include sections on significance of the findings and recommendations for future work.  

Conclusions may be optional in research articles where consolidation of the study and general implications are covered in the Discussion section. However, they are usually expected in dissertations and essays.



Summarising the content

This paper has given an account of and the reasons for the widespread use of X ……This essay has argued that X is the best instrument to …… This assignment has explained the central importance of X in Y.This dissertation has investigated ……

Restatement of aims (research)

This study set out to determine ……The present study was designed to determine the effect of …….In this investigation, the aim was to assess ……The purpose of the current study was to determine ……This project was undertaken to design …… and evaluate …..Returning to the hypothesis/question posed at the beginning of this study, it is now possible to state that …..


Summarising the findings (research)

This study has shown that ……These findings suggest that in general ……One of the more significant findings to emerge from this study is that …..It was also shown that…… This study has found that generally ……. The following conclusions can be drawn from the present study …… The relevance of X is clearly supported by the current findings. This study/research has shown that …… The second major finding was that …….. The results of this investigation show that ……. The most obvious finding to emerge from this study is that …… X, Y and Z emerged as reliable predictors of …… Multiple regression analysis revealed that the ……


Suggesting implications

The evidence from this study suggests that ……The results of this study indicate that ……The results of this research support the idea that …….In general, therefore, it seems that ……Taken together, these results suggest that ……An implication of this is the possibility that ……The findings of this study suggest that …


Significance of the findings (research)

The X that we have identified therefore assists in our understanding of the role of …… These findings enhance our understanding of …… This research will serve as a base for future studies and …… The current findings add substantially to our understanding of ……The current findings add to a growing body of literature on ……The study has gone some way towards enhancing our understanding of ……The methods used for this X may be applied to other Xs elsewhere in the world.Taken together, these findings suggest a role for X in promoting Y.


Limitations of the current study (research)

Finally, a number of important limitations need to be considered. First, ……A number of caveats need to be noted regarding the present study. The most important limitation lies in the fact that ……The current study was limited by ……The current study was unable to analyse these variables.The current study was not specifically designed to evaluate factors related to ……The current study has only examined ……The project was limited in several ways. First, the project used a convenience sample that ……However, with a small sample size, caution must be applied, as the findings might not be transferable to ……


Recommendations for further work (research)

This research has thrown up many questions in need of further investigation.Further work needs to be done to establish whether ……It is recommended that further research be undertaken in the following areas: Further experimental investigations are needed to estimate …… What is now needed is a cross-national study involving ……More broadly, research is also needed to determine …..It is suggested that the association of these factors is investigated in future studies. Further research might explore/investigate …… Further research in this field/regarding the role of X would be of great help in ……. Further investigation and experimentation into X is strongly recommended. A number of possible future studies using the same experimental set up are apparent. It would be interesting to assess the effects of …… More information on X would help us to establish a greater degree of accuracy on this matter. If the debate is to be moved forward, a better understanding of …… needs to be developed.I suggest that before X is introduced, a study similar to this one should be carried out on …..These findings provide the following insights for future research: …..Considerably more work will need to be done to determine …… 


Implications/recommendations for practice or policy

These findings suggest several courses of action for …… An implication of these findings is that both X and Y should be taken into account when ……The findings of this study have a number of important implications for future practice. There is, therefore, a definite need for …… There are a number of important changes which need to be made. Another important practical implication is that …… Moreover, more X should be made available to …… Other types of X could include : a), b). ……Unless governments adopt X, Y will not be attained.This information can be used to develop targetted interventions aimed at ……

A reasonable approach to tackle this issue could be to …

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