Resources

Descriptive and prescriptive grammar

by Jeanette Sakel

I was at the annual meeting of the Association for National Teaching Fellows in Birmingham these last two days – and not only did I learn a lot about playful pedagogies and show a poster about my short video summaries for language, but I also produced a short video on descriptive and prescriptive approaches to language. Here it is:

Writing tip of the week

by Harriet Castor

[Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow in the Department of Arts & Cultural Industries]

When you are planning an essay, you need to be clear on your point of view. Try condensing your argument – the view that you’re going to put forward – into a single sentence. You don’t necessarily need to put this sentence into your essay – it’s just to help your own sense of clarity.

Now, ask: what are the strengths/weaknesses of my viewpoint? What contrasting views do I need to acknowledge in my essay, even if I don’t agree with them? Are there any ways in which these opposing views can be reconciled?

Asking these questions helps to make sure that, in building your strong and clear argument, you don’t ignore the complexities of the subject you’re writing about.

If you’d like to book a confidential one-to-one session with me to work on your writing skills, please emailHarriet.Castor@uwe.ac.uk I’m at Frenchay on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays

Writing tip of the week

by Harriet Castor
[Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow in the Department of Arts & Cultural Industries]

When you’re first given an essay or an assignment, spend some time analysing the question before you do anything else. Look at each word. What does it tell you about what your tutor wants?

If you’re being asked, for example, to ‘discuss’ or ‘evaluate’ or ‘compare and contrast’, think about what specific instructions those words are giving you. Looking up those words in a dictionary can be a great help – even if you know what they mean. The dictionary definition can really help to focus your thoughts.
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Introduction to our Programmes

by Jeanette Sakel
We’ve had many potential students looking around UWE last Saturday at our Open Day. For those who want to see our presentation again, I’ve attached the slides we use to present our field.

There is also a video – which I recorded last year – that introduces what we are doing here at UWE: http://youtu.be/uKDIM3SHjEM

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me (jeanette.sakel@uwe.ac.uk)

The slides from Open day (2014-15) are here:
Open day Linguistics and English Language 2014_October1

Help with writing in the department

by Jeanette Sakel
This year we have our own author-in-residence in the department of Arts and Cultural Industries again – and for those of you who were here last year: we’re lucky to have Harriet Castor again. Harriet is available for meetings to go through your writing (e.g. essays, questions about how to approach writing, etc.). She has also contributed a lot to this blog with essay writing tips and a post about how she got into writing in the first place.

Here is more information about Harriet:

Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow in the Arts Department at UWE, 2014-15

The Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellowship is a scheme that places professional writers –novelists, non-fiction writers, playwrights and poets – in higher education institutions to offer writing support to students.

My name is Harriet Castor, and for 2014-15 I will be the RLF Fellow working in the Arts Department at UWE. I will be available during term time at Frenchay campus on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. You can contact me at Harriet.Castor@uwe.ac.uk

My task is to help students in the Arts Department to improve their writing skills. I offer one-to-one sessions, during which I can work with you on clarity of expression, on structuring arguments, on planning essays and dissertations, or on any other aspect of writing where you feel you are struggling or would like help to improve. These sessions are confidential. You can book an appointment with me by email, and can come either independently or in response to a recommendation from a tutor.

Here’s my profile from the Royal Literary Fund website:
Harriet Castor is a writer who specializes in books for children and young people. First published when she was at school, she has now written more than forty books, of which roughly half are fiction and half non-fiction. The most recent, VIII, is a novel for teenagers about the psychological decline of Henry VIII. It was described by The Telegraph as ‘excellent’, by Books for Keeps as ‘stunning and engrossing’ and by the bestselling horror writer Charlie Higson as ‘exciting, fascinating and surprisingly scary’. VIII was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the UK Literary Association Award and the Amazing Book Awards.
Harriet holds a first-class degree in history, and has worked both in publishing (as an editor) and in the dance world (as a Benesh notator with The Royal Ballet). Since becoming a full-time writer she has not only produced original works, but has adapted classics (such as Alice in Wonderland), edited an anthology and written articles and reviews for several national newspapers. She has given talks at schools and book clubs all around the country, as well as appearing at numerous literary festivals including the Hay Festival, the Cheltenham Literature Festival and the Edinburgh Book Festival.
Contact details

Harriet works on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and you can book an appointment by emailing Harriet.Castor@uwe.ac.uk

Writing tip of the week

by Harriet Castor

There are plenty of great resources online that can help you with problems or questions you may have about writing essays and dissertations. One example is the part of the Royal Literary Fund’s website that’s called ‘Writing Essays: A Guide’. It includes sections on ‘Planning and Structure’, ‘Drafting and Editing’ and ‘Making an Argument’ (amongst others). You can find them all here:

http://www.rlf.org.uk/fellowshipscheme/writing/essayguide.cfm

There are also other study skills resources on the website (including a separate section on dissertations), which you can find here:

http://www.rlf.org.uk/fellowshipscheme/writing/index.cfm

For a confidential one-to-one session with me to work on your writing skills, email Harriet.Castor@uwe.ac.uk

I’m at Frenchay on Wednesdays and St Matthias on Thursdays.

PhD scholarships for ‘Language Contact in Indonesia’ at the University of Leiden

by Jeanette Sakel

This is particularly relevant for those of you who have already done an MA (or are doing so right now) and who want to pursue a PhD in contact studies / fieldwork (based in The Netherlands for this project):

http://werkenbij.leidenuniv.nl/vacatures/phd-posities/14-087-2-phd-students-the-leiden-university-centre-for-linguistics.html

Assessment: how to do well

by Jeanette Sakel

With the end of the term looming and the assessment period to begin just after Easter, I thought it would be a good idea to share a draft chapter from one of my new books on Assessment – how to do well. It is the first draft of this chapter for the book Study Skills for Linguistics, which will be published by Routledge in the Understanding Language series (most likely in early 2015). It’s quite a short chapter (8 single-space or 11 1.5-spaced pages), but it’s packed full of information on small things you can implement to do well.

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Writing tip of the week

by Harriet Castor

Last week’s writing tip looked at semi-colons, and how they are used to join two whole sentences together (when the meaning of those two sentences is closely related).

You can also use semi-colons to separate items in a list. Here’s how this works.

With many lists you don’t need semi-colons, since commas are perfectly adequate for separating the items. Here’s an example:

There were three bears: a brown one, a red one and a yellow one. Continue reading

Writing tip of the week

by Harriet Castor

In the main body of your essay or assignment, the first sentence of each paragraph should make a clear point in your argument. This is often called the ‘topic sentence’.

The topic sentence tells the reader what’s going to be in the rest of the paragraph. It helps the reader follow your argument. It also helps you to focus on your argument as you write.

So, how do you write a topic sentence? Continue reading