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English

Language is about communication. How do we tell others what we're thinking and feeling? How do we write our ideas so that others will understand them? Through language. In this section we will study the English language. If you need help finding the right words, understanding grammar, or just want to practice your reading, this is the place to be.

What is a Genre?

When you first learn about books you are taught that there are basically two different kinds of books, fiction and non-fiction. Fiction means that the books have content based on imagination and not necessarily fact. Non-fiction means that the books are informational and deal with actual, real-life subjects. As you get older, you learn about genres. Genre is pronounced like John ruh and it means to group books together based on their content, their subject matter or any number of things. Some examples of genre include poetry, biography, folk tale, science fiction and fantasy. There are many different kinds of genres.

What is Grammar?

Grammar is simply the scientific aspect of the study of a language. It gives names to the various parts of speech and how they relate to one another. In this section you will learn about the parts of speech, the parts of a sentence, and what writing in a certain voice means. Punctuation rules are also covered here.

  • When you first are introduced to grammar, you learn about nouns and verbs. A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, quality or action and verbs make things happen, show action or state of being & also indicate time of action or being.
  • Then you learn about pronouns and proper nouns and adjectives and adverbs. Pronouns are just substitutes for nouns. Proper nouns are ones which are the name of someone. Adjectives and Adverbs are words used to describe nouns and verbs. Adjectives describe nouns and they specify size, color, number, etc. Adverbsdescribe verbs, adjectives & other adverbs.Prepositions show how nouns or pronouns relate to other words in sentences.
  • Once you know the basics, you learn about what the difference between a clause and a phrase is, as well as what a subject and predicate are. A clause is simple a group of words with a subject and a predicate, whereas a phrase is a group of closely related words but with no subject or predicate. A subject is one of two main parts of a sentence and it is a noun, pronoun, or a group of words used as a noun. A predicate is the other main part of a sentence and it is a verb and is used to explain the action of the subject. Conjunctions join words, phrases or clauses.
  • Finally there are Metaphors and Similes and Alliteration. Metaphors compare two different things.Similes are when two things are compared using like.Alliteration is when you use the repetition of the (usually) beginning consonant sound in two or more neighboring words or syllables.

Links for Grammar and Punctuation Help:

Judy Forveld's Webgrammar

Dmoz grammar activites for kids and teens

Professional Training Co, good grammar page

Guide to Grammar and Writing

Buzzin' to Learn

Composition

Composition or writing is something that everyone does in all subjects and will do for the rest of their lives in some form or other. Learning how to write effectively is an important and useful lesson. All writing can be broken down into the same process. This process is called the writing process.

There are five basic steps to writing:

Prewriting -

Prewriting is getting ideas for what you are going to write. This part of the process is sometimes the hardest. You can get your ideas from numerous places however. 

  • magazines/newspapers/periodicals/CD-ROM
  • conduct an interview based on your topic media - radio, tv, internet
  • experiences
  • film - movies and documentaries
  • music
  • visual art - observing or creating
  • dreams
  • memories
  • discussion and brainstorming
  • responding to literature
  • role playing
  • research
  • imagination
  • personal interest inventories
  • class interest inventory


Once you have the idea, you will need to brainstorm or write the ideas down. You can do this in many different ways. Here are a few examples.

  • free writing
  • journaling
  • lists
  • visualization
  • webbing/mapping/clustering
  • graphic organizers
  • topic or word chart

Writing

WRITING. . . ROUGH DRAFT . . . ROUGH COPY 

Whatever you call it, it's still the same thing. Get a working copy of your paragraph or paper so that you have something to work with. Now it's time to write. . . What do you do? 

Some suggestions: 

  • If it's for class, put your name, class and date on all the papers. It helps to put one staple in the top left hand corner unless your teacher asks you not to.
  • Number all your pages, write on only one side of the paper from one margin to the other margin, and double space so you can edit.
  • Here are a few tips on how to go from prewriting to writing:
  • Be selective in the ideas that you include, you don't have to include everything from your prewriting, pick your best ideas.
  • Make sure they relate to each other and your topic.
  • WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
  • Don't stop once you start writing. Revising and editing will come later. Just let the ideas flow.
  • Don't count words, ask your teacher how long it should be, or when it is done, HOLD IT! Before going to the next stage, make sure you have enough content to work with. If you feel that you are lacking content, go back to your prewriting for more ideas and details.


Revising

Revising is making your writing better, it is…

  • making decisions about how you want to improve your writing,
  • looking at your writing from a different point of view,
  • picking places where your writing could be clearer, more interesting, more informative and more convincing.
  • One method is called A.R.R.R. or ARMS and it allows you to make four types of changes:
  • Adding – what else do you need the reader to know?
  • Removing - What extra details or unnecessary bits of information are in this piece of writing?
  • Rearranging - Is the information in the most logical and most effective order? (also called move around)
  • Replacing - What words or details could be replaced by clearer or stronger expressions? (also called substitute)

Some revising tips:

  • Can you read it out loud without stumbling?
  • Does every word and action count? There should be a reason why a character acts or speaks in a certain way.
  • Is the series of events logical? Do they relate?
  • Is it clear what your goal or your main character's goal is throughout the piece of writing?
  • Are vivid/descriptive words used to describe characters and/or events?
  • Is your train of thought clear? Are there any tangents?
  • Do you use a variety of verbs throughout the piece? (Something instead of "SAID")
  • Is it wordy and redundant? Are you using the same words and phrases over and over again?
  • Is there a catchy introduction? Does the conclusion leave the reader thinking?
  • Do supporting details support only the topic sentence of that paragraph?
  • Are transitional devices used throughout?
  • Is there a strong hook, thesis and lead-in?
  • Is proper format followed throughout?
  • Are all sentences complete or are there sentence fragments?
  • Is a vivid mental picture created in the reader's mind?
  • Have you completed sentence expansion where necessary? (Don't use "He ran!")
  • Did you use a thesaurus?

Editing

Editing is: 

Looking for mistakes in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, subject/verb agreement, consistent verb tense, word usage. You might do this by doing a self edit,which means checking it yourself, or by having someone else edit your paper, this is called a peer edit. 

When you self edit, sometimes it helps to read your own work backwards. Read the last sentence, then the second to last sentence, etc. Does each sentence make sense when you read it on it's own? Do you see or hear any errors in the sentence? When you peer edit, you might use a checklist to help you look for any mistakes. 

Some basic tips:

  • Be sure that every sentence has two parts :a subject (who or what) and a predicate (what's happening)
  • Use sentence combining words: and, but, or, yet, so, who, whom, which, that, whose, because, although, when, if, where, and others.
  • Use periods and commas where necessary, but do not overuse.
  • Do not overuse the exclamation mark!
  • Use a dictionary to check spelling.
  • Other tips are available here: Proofreading and Editing Tips
  • Beware of the word processing spellchecker!


Publishing

 Suggestions for Publishing 

  • Write with blue or black pen or type with word processor
  • Center the title on the top line with one line below
  • Name, class and date in top right hand corner
  • Write from Margin to margin, with an indent for paragraphs or a line space depending on your teacher's preference.
  • Type neatly and only on one side and single spaced.
  • Number the pages and staple in top left hand corner.
  • If asked for all stages of the writing process, hand in, in this order: good copy, rough copy with evidence of revision and editing, and prewriting.
  • Include rubric if one was given 
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