If You’re Not A Native English-Speaking EFL Teacher, Please Read This

An ESOL English Teacher Asks

Among the hundreds of monthly visitors and readers of this EFL teaching blog, I sometimes get e-mails from non-native EFL teachers who’d like to parlay their English language communicative skills into a teaching position outside their native country. While I certainly agree it can be a challenge to do so, it is in fact possible. Many of the e-mails I receive are similar in content to this one in which I have omitted or altered names and specifics to protect the person(s) involved.

Dear Prof. Lynch,

“I am a non-native English-speaking teacher. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in English from a state university in my country. I have been teaching English for five years. Currently I am teaching English to speakers of other languages (Spanish speaking students) I would like to teach English abroad, but I have noticed that it is difficult for non-native English speaking teachers to work abroad.

Recently, I requested information from hundreds of schools in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America without having success because when most of them replied to me they told me that they only hire native speakers of English and that those interested in working as English teachers must be from countries like UK, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.

Besides this, most of the employers ask for certificates like TEFL, TESOL or CELTA. Unfortunately, here in my country there aren’t any institutions that offer the courses or programs mentioned above.

I feel deeply discouraged. Aren’t there any opportunities in any countries where they take candidates from non-English speaking countries for teaching English?

I want to teach English abroad for two reasons. The first is to get a lot of experience working with students from different cultures and to improve my English and my teaching.”

No TESOL Certification, No ELT Job Offers

The first and main problem here is actually NOT having a CELTA, TEFL or other TESOL certification. You’ll need to contact the nearest British Council office for locations where you might take an intensive CELTA course. Other options include Oxford TEFL training centers, Cambridge TEFL centers or TESOL centers in the country or region where you live. If there are none available locally or regionally, as is the case with this teacher, you might want to consider an online TEFL certificate course. Note that, without a TEFL certificate virtually NO school abroad would consider you at all. Also, the institution where you take your TEFL certificate course will help you get an overseas position. A search on Google or Yahoo for online CELTA courses or online TEFL certificate programs should yield you dozens of possibilities.

Check, Double and Triple Check ALL Correspondence

Another problem with this teacher was a number of English language spelling, punctuation and grammar errors in his e-mail. If you send an inquiry or cover letter to a school, institution or university by snail mail or e-mail and it contains ANY errors in English at all, you’ve just ruined your own chances of any further dealings with them. It is absolutely paramount that you spell check, grammar check, review and judiciously proof read and edit any correspondence you send out by mail in any form. Perhaps you’ll let an error or two slip by in spoken conversation or oral discourse, but there’s absolutely, positively NO EXCUSE for doing so with a written communication. Find a native or near-native speaker to proof read your correspondence before you send it out. No native English speakers handy? Okay, then e-mail ME and I’ll be happy to check it for you if need be – quickly and at no charge, of course.

Another problem that might crop up is the variety of English you may use or speak. Alas, this is not a perfect world we live in and certain forms of English are preferred in certain regions and countries of the world. Your age, nationality and background also may factor in, they really shouldn’t, but unfortunately they often do. Don’t despair though, if you’re experienced, dynamic and certified, you will get ELT job offers from broad if you keep trying. Try applying at different times of the year, to different regions of the world, to different types of schools and institutions that have different English language learner profiles. Persistence can be a crucial key. Just don’t give up and you’ll get there.

Good Luck.

The English Language Still Rules The Internet Where It Matters

Ever since research from the late 1990s suggested 80% of the entire world’s Internet content was written in English, it has been a generally accepted rule that a decent command of English was necessary in order for Web developers to garner any attention for their websites. That rule is still true, despite research coming out of the Dominican Republic.

That research, spearheaded by a team from the non-profit Foundation for Networks and Development, seems to suggest that English is no longer the dominant language of the web. Their research has not yet been verified, nor is it anywhere near being complete. In fact, the lead researcher says his assumptions about Internet language are based only on a hunch rather than fact.

That notwithstanding, lead researcher Álvaro Blanco believes English language Internet content comprises only 45% of the total. His estimate is based on his understanding of linguistics around the world. He surmises that, because English is not the dominant language among the billions of current online users, it stands to reason that English does not dominate online content.

We will not argue these assertions because there is no feasible way to measure their accuracy. However, we will concur with Blanco’s belief that English is still dominates the Internet where it counts: business and critical information.

If it’s true that English is no longer the dominate language of the Internet because of personal blogs, photo sharing websites, and millions of websites designed for regional content only, so be it. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Google indexes only about 40% of total web content and, of that amount more than 80% is geared toward business and critical information purposes. Guess what the dominant language is for this content? English.

What This Means to You

Presenting online content to your customers or vendors that seems lacking in English skills is a good way to harm your online reputation. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told his radio audience recently that without a proper command of the English language, it is difficult, at best, to earn the respect of others. That’s true both individually and corporately.

If you want your business website or blog to be effective, it is essential that your content be constructed using proper English rules, spelling, and syntax. If these are things you or your web developers are lacking, it’s not the end of the world. Editing services exist specifically for this reason.

When you engage with a proofreading and editing service, you are hiring people who specialise in reading text and finding all of its flaws. Proofreading deals mainly with spelling and grammar issues, while copy-editing takes care of syntax, clarity, and proper flow of ideas. Hiring an editing service can mean the difference between presenting a professional image and allowing your website to look like it has been developed by amateurs.

Make no mistake about it; English still dominates the Internet where it counts. Do not fall behind your competition by presenting poor quality content.

Anthony Carter is a UK-based copywriter, proofreader and copy-editor, and is the managing director of Carman Online Content Publishing (COCP). COCP offers a range of b2b and b2c copywriting services, as well as services encompassing press releases, blog posting, case studies, white papers, marketing copy, social media content, and more.

Working As an English Teacher in China

With the job situation so bad in the UK, many people are looking outside of the country to seek employment. Some are considering teaching English abroad as an option and some might even look as far as China for work. In this article I want to pass on some information and a little advice about working as a teacher in China and what you can expect from a life here.

Qualifications.
You will need to have a teaching certificate in teaching English and this comes in the form of a TEFL certificate – Teaching English as a Foreign Language. However, you are not going to get a good job with just that; for many teaching positions here you will need a degree, especially for jobs in the big cities like Shanghai and Beijing. Of course if you are already a teacher, then it will be much easier for you. It is possible to find teaching posts with just a TEFL but they will be in lesser schools in the main cities or in schools in other smaller cities.

Online TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
There are many courses you can take to gain a TEFL certificate and many online courses too. I took an online course from a company called i-to-i; it was 120 hours. However I wasn’t impressed with the course. Firstly I found that it didn’t really teach me much about teaching and secondly I didn’t consider the online tutor to be that helpful. My wife Crystal however, who is Chinese and a qualified English teacher, took at the same time an ITTT International course. She thought it might come be useful one day, especially if were to go to Europe. The ITTT course was more expensive than mine and it turned out to be much better.

She learnt the subject in greater depth and had better support from her online tutor. A word of warning however about TEFL courses; if your knowledge of grammar is shaky, you will either need some help or will need to embark on some further study. I have to confess that my knowledge of English grammar was very poor indeed and ironically it was my Chinese wife who was able to help me through the course. It does seem amazing that one can speak, read and write reasonably well in English and yet have a poor knowledge as to how one’s own language works. I guess you could say we native speakers learn our language organically, whereas foreign students gain it in a more regimented way through text books and concentrated study. I can write better than my Chinese wife and of course speak better but she knows much more than me about pronouns, adjectives and passive voice etc.

Teaching oral English however doesn’t rely on explaining grammar but it is advisable to know more than your students. If a student were to ask you a question to which you cannot answer, you are going to look pretty stupid! What’s more your students will happily tell their teachers about your apparent lack of knowledge

City based TEFL courses overseas.
Many companies offer courses in the country where you are planning to teach. This of course is a good way to get an introduction to a country before you start teaching. However, a couple of teachers I met did their course in Beijing which is nothing like the small city they ended up in – Zunyi. Zunyi is where I have been teaching these past three years. Apparently they had a great time in Beijing, visiting the bars every evening and they got to see some of the great tourist attractions but financially their six months in China was a loser.

The advantage of finding work through a TEFL organisation such as i to i is that they will surely find you work, however this comes at a price. You will have to pay a tidy sum for the overseas course and secondly you will not get paid the going rate at whatever school you end up at. There is also another disadvantage with this – you are not independent and will have to deal with two or more agencies if you encounter problems, which is sure to happen. You will also have to pay for your airfare to and from the UK which can amount to £800 or more by the time you include internal flights. Many schools however will pay for one return flight every year or pay a completion bonus of a similar amount. The lesson is – if you allow others to make all your arrangements, it will cost you a lot of money.

Types of teaching positions
If you have a degree and teaching experience, you’ll probably be able to get a good job in a university/college teaching whatever subject you are experienced in, for example English literature, economics etc.. Educational institutions often have specific names such as Zunyi Medical College but that doesn’t mean the only subjects they teach are medical; you will find here, students majoring in English and other subjects not related to medicine. The school I teach at is grandly called the Aerospace School but the only subject that could be remotely connected with this is a metalwork workshop; so don’t be put off by the name of the school.

If you have a degree but don’t have teaching experience you can still find a reasonably well paid job but you will only be expected to teach oral English. Chinese English teachers reach a very high standard in grammar, probably higher than most folk in the UK; therefore it is unlikely you will be asked to teach it. What’s more, you need to speak Chinese in order to explain the grammar rules clearly and it is impossible to do so without speaking Chinese. If you don’t have a TEFL certificate but not a degree you can still find a job teaching oral English in either a middle school, junior school or kindergarten but your salary will be lower.

In china there are universities and colleges which are basically the same thing; senior middle schools (students 15-18 years), junior middle schools (students 12 -15 years), primary schools (6 – 12) and kindergarten (aged 3 – 6, although some children start much younger) and all will teach English as part of their curriculum. Some kindergarten in the big cities will employ native English teachers but of course these are very informal classes and you should have a Chinese classroom assistant to help you. Don’t expect a Chinese assistant in schools for older students. Some schools are privately owned and some are state run. My school was previously state run but is now privately owned.

Salary
Whatever school you teach at in China, you’re not going to make a lot of money. However, you can have a comfortable life here because generally the cost of living is much lower. In the bigger cities, someone with a degree and perhaps a background in teaching can earn around 12,000 rmb a month which currently is about £1,200. However other teaching jobs in the big cities start at around 8000 rmb. If you go to one of the smaller cities you can expect to earn a lot less but it depends on what type of school you teach at. At a private English language school which teaches mainly at weekends and evenings, you will earn more than at middle or junior school. So many students take extra classes at the weekend or in the evening and their parents have to pay extra for this. At a large and successful privately owned English school in Zunyi, the teachers get around 8000 rmb which is a very good salary here. In contrast, at a state owned middle school, the teachers there earn a mere 2500 but there is a good reason for this difference. The two teachers who work there gained their qualification in Beijing through i to i, prior to coming to this city. The school will be paying a lot more for their services because they will also be paying the TEFL organisation and agents. So as you can see, salaries can vary greatly.

Accommodation
Many schools will offer accommodation as part of the package and of course accommodation will vary greatly. I am very fortunate, I have a lovely apartment with two bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, shower room with western loo, TV DVD and computer, and the rent/electricity is paid for by my school. However the teachers I referred to earlier have a single room in an office building within the school complex, and the shower room with squatting toilet they have to share with other members of staff. What makes their accommodation even worse is that the school imposed an eleven o’clock curfew for them to be in during the week and the school bell was outside the door and even at weekends they had no rest from it. Do try and find out what sort of accommodation you will get in advance of coming. Having said that, if you come with an agency it’s going to pretty difficult to find out any concrete information in advance. Bear in mind that some schools will not pay for your accommodation and you will have to find it yourself and of course you will need help with this.

Last year (2009), I made enquiries through an agent to get a teaching job in Shenzhen. The salary I was offered was 8000 rmb which is nearly twice as much as much as I get now. The agent also offered me a small room in a shared apartment with three other people (teachers) and the price for this one room was 1700 rmb. So with higher costs of food and travel, I would have been no better off and my living accommodation would have been much worse – I declined the offer.

Cost of living in China
Like any country, the cost of living varies greatly between city and provincial areas. Salaries are higher but so too are living costs in a big city. I can’t give you prices of things in other cities but I can give you some relative examples from the city I live in. A simple meal based around rice or noodles will cost 5 rmb (50p) whereas a decent meal for four people at a simple restaurant will cost 60 – 100 and at an expensive restaurant, 200 – 300. Taxi fares start at 5 rmb for quite a long distance and all bus fares in the city are 1 rmb. So although my salary is low, I can live very cheaply indeed. In fact because I spend so little and don’t use a credit card or have a loan to pay, this is the first time in my life that I could actually save money on a regular basis. It is wonderful to have no debt and no worries about money.

Other considerations

Internet: The Chinese government strictly controls what people can view on the Internet, especially adult sites. At the time of writing you can’t use Facebook and YouTube, and much to my annoyance even Blogger is blocked. I created a lovely blog about Chinese tea and now I can’t use it. If you can’t live without Facebook or YouTube then don’t come to China.

Food: In the bigger cities, you can dine on a wide variety of western foods but expect to pay much more for this. If you are a western fast food fan, you’ll find more outlets than you can shake a stick at in the bigger cities but in the smaller cities you won’t find many. In my city there are three KFCs and that’s all. Large cities will have supermarkets like Walmart and Carrefour and even in Zunyi there are two Walmarts, which sell a small selection of western foods.

Entertainment: In the big cities you will find all the entertainment you could hope for and of course western bars selling western beers and spirits but expect to pay high prices for these. In smaller cities like Zunyi, you’ll be lucky to find any.

Language: Don’t expect everyone in Beijing or Shanghai to speak English because although every student in China will learn some English, most will not use it and forget it. Today English is the second language taught at schools but forty years ago it was Russian. Also most of the signs will generally only be in Chinese. This can be especially difficult if you want to catch a local bus. If you want to be independent, and you may well have to be, you will have to try and learn some Chinese. However, every city and region has its own dialect. The national language is mandarin and is taught in all schools but different dialects are spoken in every city. Don’t expect to learn mandarin and then understand a conversation in Shanghai because there they speak Shanhaiese.

Cultural differences: See my article Culture Shock – A westerner living in China.

Finally:
If you want to come and live and work in China, my advice is put aside your thoughts of home and accept life as it is here. Don’t compare life at home with life in China; if you do you’ll only get deeply frustrated and want to go home. Life in China can drive you up the wall at times but there are many wonderful aspects about living here also which may not at first be apparent. You need to take your time in settling in and it may take you a long time to begin to feel comfortable here. Once you get to know the people you will find them warm and generous and their culture has so much to offer. Who knows, you might even want to settle in China! There are so many things to consider before you accept a job as an English teacher in China, too much to write about here – read my other articles in my blog for more information about life in China.

Joining Facebook to Get More Traffic to your Website or Blog

Have Your Own English Teaching Website or Blog?

After finding some screen shots of Google Analytics, the graphics there suggested that Facebook.com might be good for increasing traffic to a website or blog. Two examples that have been noted are the sites of Tamar Weinberg and Mikemindel both at http://www.flickr.com. Of course, searching sites directly in Flickr.com, you will get more results on how to increase your website traffic.
According to some analysis, Facebook could become a major source for blog traffic. So registering in facebook, at first seems to be a good way to get more.

Building Your Facebook Network

After registering at Facebook.com though, you’ll find that you’ll have no friends in your network, so the logical next step is to import and invite all your website contacts and blog readers into your Facebook network. You might also read the comments in your blog and record the emails in the comments, since they are your readers, and like your blog. After that you should update your posts and information every day, and try to make new friends from my friends’ contacts.

Try Tumblr.com Too

I really think you’re on the right track with continuing to update your Facebook pages. It may take just a bit of time, but you’re going to start seeing some results ultimately. This is once traffic-generating source I’m going to be working more with myself. I’d also suggest that you might also like to try Tumblr.com, it’s great for boosting views and traffic in a relatively short time. Just watch the tracker or counter after only a few days to a couple of weeks or so at most, and you’ll see what I mean. Just make sure to form a channel and use HTML to insert your best SEO keywords at the end of each of your posts to aid in improving your page rank and searchability ease. That’ll surely help to get the job done for you quickly. Try it and let me know how it works for you.

Page Ranking

Current insider wisdom surrounding page rank says that templates and meta-tags don’t really matter as much as the key words being used in the links. So if you have a good page rank and write a blog post about “ipods” and then link to Wikipedia on the word “ipod”, you will have effectively raised the rank of that particular page when someone “Googles” the term “ipod”.

My Blogs and Postings

When I post to my English language teaching and learning (http://bettereflteacher.blogspot.com/) or fishing / outdoor adventure (http://whittlewadeandhook.blogspot.com/) blogs, I always try to link to several external sites to help boost my page rankings and reciprocal traffic possibilities. Not necessarily to wikipedia (although that’s a great idea), but to other relevant sites like YouTube.com or Metacafe.com for a related video (whether the video is mine or not). Tumblr.com for it’s marvelous scrapbooking features, other sites and blogs I like that are directly related, even Facebook on occasion. If possible, I’ll try for up to ten or twelve external links to each post (time-consuming sometimes but worth it), but always have at least three to five links for each and every post.

Another good follow-up blog you might want to keep tabs on is from China. It’s online in English at: http://shangning.net/blog/hot-discussion-about-the-greatest-seo-site.php. You’re almost certain to find some more good tips and information here. The site also has a link to Flickr.com with a series of beautiful photos of China.

Following up on these techniques has really helped me out a lot. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you.

Effective Blog Post Writing Styles

Let’s explore one of the most effective blog writing styles.

The Writing Styles That Don’t Work

Whatever you do and however you write, you should be steering way clear of these writing styles. Don’t even consider using them on your blog (unless your blog is one of those exceptions – see below).

But the fact remains – these writing styles aren’t ideal for your blog. If you’re using these stop.

1. The Executive Writing Style

More than likely, your readers don’t have much time to spend on your blog – no more than a few minutes. They want the blog posts they read to be easily understood, written in plain English – without excessive usage of $10 words.

The ‘executive’ does the opposite. It uses long, hi-fi words that we readers don’t want to fight through. It takes a long time to read/understand, it doesn’t encourage discussion or engagement.

Basically, it feels like your boss giving a speech.

Nobody likes that kinda talk – do you?

Although the information may be presented accurately in a structured manner, it still isn’t the ideal tone to use. There is, however, an exception when you have to use this blogging style. (Read about exceptions below.)

2. The Timid Writing Style

If you’ve got an opinion, voice it. Don’t be afraid to. No matter if some might disagree – just go ahead, and speak your mind. It is YOUR blog, after all…

Those who use the “timid writing style” don’t do this. Rather, they’re afraid to voice their opinion – they try to please everybody.

It’s impossible to do that. As a result, they’re afraid to voice their opinion strongly or take a firm stand on what they think is right/wrong.

It’s YOUR blog. Write what YOU believe in.

3. The “I-Don’t-Care” Writing Style

If you don’t care about your blog posts, then I really can’t help you. You’re on way to falling into that mass of 158,000,000 blogs, never to ever see the surface of Google.

The I-Don’t-Care blogging style shows your readers that you couldn’t care less about your subject. The only reason you have a blog is to make money.

And you don’t care about your subject. At all.

As a result, there’s no passion for what you discuss in your blog posts. You’re dry and boring.

The Writing Styles That Does Work

Enough about the tones that don’t work – here’s the one effective blogging writing style – one that’s going to skyrocket your user engagement. Drum roll, please.

The conversational writing tone.

There it is – the conversational writing tone is the most effective style to blog in.

It’s the only one that works.

People don’t want to feel as if they’re being ‘taught’ (remember how much you hated your 3rd grade teacher?).

People want to feel like they’re being talked to.

Like they are in a conversation.

You’re not just droning on and on – you’re asking questions, inviting discussion, provoking thoughts in the reader’s mind.

Elements Of The Conversational Writing Style

The conversational tone usually has a decent helping of the following elements. Indeed, it’s these very elements that make it ‘conversational’, setting it apart from the writing styles that shouldn’t be used.

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are pronouns that refer to a specific person (OK, that might have sounded a little bit like your 3rd grade teacher, right?). The main ones that you’ll want to use in your blog post are “you” and “I”.

Think about it. Wouldn’t you use those very words in normal conversation, with your friend/family? Of course! If you use it when you talk, then there’s a good chance that you should use it when you blog (as always, there are a few exceptions).

Short Sentences

The average English sentence is 19 words. I aim for a good deal less than that in most of my own. The longer the sentence is, the harder it is to understand. Simple as that.

Fragments

Huh? But “insert name of your 3rd grade teacher” told me to use only complete sentences?

Sorry, Bob. Your teacher was wrong.

It’s completely fine to use fragments in your writing – absolutely nothing wrong with it. Take a look at the last sentence of the previous section on “Short Sentences”. It’s a fragment.

However, I used it to enhance the reading. It fit well where I put it. A longer, complete sentence would have thrown the whole paragraph out of whack.

Excellent English

Alright, now I’m confused. You just said fragments are okay?

Well, yeah. But only when appropriate (like in that sentence). The rest of your blog should show a distinct mastery of the English language.

No, punctuation: or spelling errors. whatsoever that distract, the. reader from understanding what is going, on.

Get the point?

INFormality

The conversational tone isn’t formal. It’s the same as if you visited a friend, sat down on the couch, and started talking about the latest Ferrari (well, not that informal, but you get the point).

How To Blog In The Conversational Writing Style Effectively

Using the conversational writing style, however, can still be a challenge – regardless of whether or not you understand the elements of the tone.

If you naturally have a stiffer, more formal tone, there’s not much you can do about.

Except practice.

Practice, practice, practice. Write, write, write. And then write some more.

You’ll never get better at writing if you never do it.

If you’ve got a relatively new blog, practice your writing on that. Since it’s new (and probably only a few people are going to be reading it), it’s fine if the beginning posts are rather lousy.

As you keep blogging however (do it at LEAST once a day, preferably more), doing your best to incorporate the effective elements into your writing, you’ll get better at it.

Fact.

Plus, a couple years from now, you can open up the archives, look back, and see how terrible your writing was.

Then, you can smile, think back to this post, comment and sincerely thank me for helping you, and link to this very blog post.

The Exceptions

Although the conversational tone truly is the most effective blog writing style, there are a few exceptions when you have to assume a stiffer, more formal executive tone.

If you’re an actual business/organization, then it’s best to keep to formal. You don’t want to come across to your clients as if you’re… informal. Just one of those little life quirks.

If you run a medical-related blog, then I also suggest that you stick to a formal tone. Usually, that’s the type of tone people who look up your information you expect. You can’t blame them, when medical pills have incredibly weird names, like: paracetamol, ibuprofen, Tylenol, etc.I mean really, who thought of those? Why not just fever-killer or bacteria-extinguisher or something of that sort?

Summing Up

Using the conversational writing style in your blog posts goes a long way towards enhancing readability and boosting user engagement.

English Language Style – From High Days to Holidays

In an ideal world, written English would be equally easily understood by both the man on the street and/or a professor of jurisprudence. But – as well as transmitting information – people use language to include or to exclude potential members of their own sub-group.

To illustrate: from the lowliest clerk to a High Court judge, legalese tags the brother- and sister-hood of the Law. Doctors use medical language to protect patients from too much information about their conditions. Academics mark out the territory of their expertise through the words they use. And, whenever you start a new job, you have one hundred days to learn the in-phrases that will allow you to join the groups you need to join. Once in, you may be able to change these phrases, but, first, you need to add them to your repertoire and deploy them!

People use written English in the same way. Switching styles can be a challenge. You may, for example, be required to write in academic English for a learned journal or you may choose to use conversational English for a weblog. And in professional communication, the trick as ever lies in choosing the right style for the right audience.

Here, focusing on two styles – academic and conversational – are some useful guidelines:

Essay structure and the chronological parable

You may be asked to write a discussion article in the form of a debate. So – in good Ciceronian Style – you state the topic, set out the arguments for and against and draw your conclusion. But the formula for a blog entry is much simpler. Adopting the commonsensical Aristotelian approach, you tell a story- usually with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Word choice in academic English

Writing academic English, you’ll probably favour:

formal over informal words, choosing Latinate terms (such as ‘select’) over more easily absorbed common terms (such as ‘pick’).
impersonal over a personal tone. Academics adopt impersonal rather than personal pronouns such as the Narrative ‘I’. It sounds more erudite. But your statements will be more tentative as a result (eg.’It is considered that… ‘ as opposed to ˜I think… ‘)
the use of the passive over the active voice. This is another device for distancing the writer and/or the reader from the activity – such as ˜Housing was demolished by bombs” instead of ˜Bombs destroyed the houses.”
the use of technical terms. These assume a level of knowledge, making members of the audience/readership part of a select group and excluding the rest.

But, to achieve a conversational tone, you would do well to adopt the alternatives:

informal words
personal pronouns
active voice
And avoid technical terms at all costs!

Sentence Structure

Academic English favours complex Latinate structures, – including subordinate clause and phrase. This ensures optimal amounts of information are packed into a sentence. As a result, an academic sentence may run to over 25 words. High quality journalism deploys sentences of up to about 18 words and written advertising favours sentences of about 14 words long. But dialogue, naturally, may use 1-word structures. And the conversational English used in blogs represents the sentence patterns and structures of speech.

References vs. anecdote

Academic writing – in putting forward arguments to support a thesis – cites references as evidence. Conversational English adds “flavour” by offering stories and anecdotes to support a point. Journalism comes anywhere in between – depending on the audience.

As demonstrated here, switching styles is a form of translation. And practice makes perfect. Familiarise yourself with the patterns of each style you need. You’ll then be able to recognise when your chosen style falters and your ‘translation’ fails.

How to Be a Good Blog Writer

Writing is an art, and presenting content, wrapped up in finest language, is a skill which one acquires over time. It is a known fact that everybody cannot write fiction, as fiction is narrative in representation and you need a plot, a story as its background, leaving aside the wizardry over the language. But I believe, one can always pursue non-fictional writing, as it has nothing to do with flair of writing. If you want to be a good non-fictional writer, then you should know your subject well and you have the minimum mastery over the language, so that you can represent facts in an articulate and coherent manner.

However, the boundary between ‘once a writer’, writer and a good writer is wide. If you don’t have ample knowledge and information then once you can write a good article with all the little information you have but you can not produce good content always. A writer is in better position than ‘once a writer’, but obviously he lacks some virtues which a good writer possesses.

Producing content for professional reasons or for someone is the job of content writer where writing only for you and distributing it for the spread of knowledge is the passion of blog writer. Money is always important but it cannot be the purpose for joining blog community. Other than having an in-depth knowledge in his subject and his aptness in reflecting the same in words, a good blog writer is ethically strong. George Orwell once said;

“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

1. What am I trying to say?

2. What words will express it?

3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?

4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”

All these points alluded by him are very true and in this article I tried to expand the view.

Be true to yourself: You know you cannot exist as a writer if you do not have any reader. It is readers who give you the crown of writer, so you shall not forget your readers. In the initial phase of writing, you build a reader community and it’s equally important for you to retain them. If you are not true to yourself, if you are stealing content and marketing it in your name, then one day you will get exposed. And on that very day your reader base will turn away from you, leaving you in lurch, groping for survival.
Reveal the source: We all know you are neither an information warehouse nor a production center. So, you definitely have some source of information. If the source is not electronic, then you might have the liberty to keep it secret. But publishing the link of original source not only increases your sense of honesty, but also gives the reader the chance to read more on the same topic. Do not think that, this will make reader to get more inclined to source. This is not true, as reader will come back to your site, because they will know from you they can start developing their knowledge base.

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. [C. S. Lewis]”

Don’t propagate negativity: A blogger can be critic but he can’t be a biased enough to attack others or spread negativity through your blog. Also a blogger should be extra cautious when the subject is sensitive. Political or religious topic might hurt some of your readers which you are not aware of. So balancing between two poles of debate is very important.
Know your subject well: Context is king, so even if you are very good in English, still you must have a good knowledge base before you start writing. You can’t fool readers and you should keep aside yourself from this intention. A very good preparation will also help you to represent facts in much lucid way.
Write contemporary: Don’t write anything which do not fit the current context. Like writing a review of old-fashioned, obsolete cell phone, will always be sent to trash by readers. Also while writing, please be aware that if there already happened any advancement of knowledge. In this world, people progress every second. So if you thought of any subject a week ago, then it is always better to brush up your knowledge on any recent progress of the topic.
Never be grandiloquent: If you are not writing for any English thesaurus, then it is better to use common words instead of big bombastic words. Use of phrases and group verbs often make your article more attractive and lucid. “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. [C. S. Lewis]”
Be roman when in Rome: There exists a blogger community and you are a part of it. So respect all bloggers and read their blogs, comment properly, so that others don’t think you are from Mars. Be a good member of this fraternity and link others to your blog and they will reciprocate by visiting yours and linking to you.
Write proper English: Ultimately you are expressing yourself through a language and so your knowledge over the language is important. Using abbreviated form of English, as we do in chat or IM, as well as using colloquial words and slang should be avoided.
Never personify: It is well if you write some paragraph about you and it is amusing until and unless it is attracting me. But I am not at all interested in knowing you, your personal trip unless there are some interesting aspects in the facts. So, try to avoid personification of the subject.
Keywords: If you want to make your blog easily accessible through search engines you have to know the keywords of your subject and you have to use it somewhere. Like if you are writing review of any mobile phone and drop the keyword cell phone, then people who are searching cell phone will miss your blog. As the blog will not be indexed against the keyword. You shall not jump into using all keywords but a select few which has higher ranking in terms of search density.

Do EFL English Schools Really Need Native English Speaking Teachers?

The Need for Native English Speakers

As the need for proficiency in the English language continues to explode worldwide, there is an ever-increasing need for more and more EFL teachers. All too often however, non-native English teachers find the phrase “native speakers only” included in adverts and English EFL or ESL requirements. But, do schools really need native-speaking English teachers? On ELT forums like http://www.esl-jobs-forum.com/ , blogs and web pages across the internet, commentary flies back and forth at a fast and furious pace. Here are some opinions regarding native vs. non-native English speaking EFL / ESL teachers:

A Problem for Non-Natives

When a prospective non-native English teacher posted about his inability to gain an ELT position in his native country, his error-filled post was responded to as follows:

“…I counted around thirty mistakes in your message. If I was a school owner, why should I hire someone whose written English skills are poor, or who writes so sloppily it looks like they couldn’t care less? Alright, so some of your mistakes may be due to the way we have become used to writing on forums, “dumbed down” if you like, but if you want to show people you have the skills that you claim to have, then why not show them by at least writing in proper English?”

The Whole Package

The ensuing comments give some insight as to why schools would “openly” target native English speakers only, when they say:

“Unfortunately, most ESL positions in Asia and particularly China specify native speakers only, moreover, they want those from certain countries like UK, Australia and the USA. A non-native speaker’s language and teaching ability may be better than a lot of native speakers but I doubt whether administrators or recruiters will want anyone other than blue-eyed, blonde Caucasians to parade in front of prospective parents and their students.”

“As has already been mentioned, the reason people want native speakers is that they want “the whole package”. Someone who can talk about odd British sayings, what Americans eat for breakfast, differences between UK regional accents; things a native speaker will know instinctively, things a non-native speaker may not. Or simply the chance to talk to “a native speaker.”

Not Everyone Agrees Native Speakers are “Best”

But not all necessarily agree that a native speaker is always the best option. Consider this alternate opinion posting:

“…it’s more often than not better for the students if their teacher is a non-native speaker (providing of course that you CAN use English as good as a native speaker). That is because you had to learn this language as well as your students do, so you know exactly which things will be difficult and how to explain them most efficiently.”

The Need for EFL / ESL Teachers is HUGE

Right now, the need for ESL/EFL teachers is huge. It would be foolish to think that only native speakers can fill all the positions available worldwide. Non-native speakers should look for jobs in less discriminatory areas and countries after ensuring that their English communication and teaching skills are honed to their best. Non-native speakers will usually find that their best allies in their quest the native-speaking English language teachers.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free.

How To Improve Your English Grammar

Good English grammar is not just for those writing essays or studying for degrees. If you take the trouble to really learn English grammar it will increase your chances when it comes to applying for most jobs, for courses or indeed for many of the goals you may have set yourself. Some people think that they just don’t have the head for grammar, but in fact it is something anyone can learn. Once you have taken the time to master the basics you’ll find it becomes a lot easier, and it really does pay off long-term. So what simple steps can you take to improve your grammar?

Learn The Basics: There are certain fundamental rules to grammar which, once learned, will make things a lot easier for you. Things like parts of speech, types of clauses, phrases and basic sentence elements will all be included in this. It can take a little time and patience to really memorise and understand these, but once you have them you will have them for life. It can help to buy a style manual for reference, such as The Oxford Manual of Style.

Use The Internet: There is an entire online community dedicated to encouraging people to learn English grammar so make use of it! On forums or discussion sites you will find plenty of people willing to give you some pointers or tell you where you are going wrong. Check out some of the grammar blogs and forums there are available.

Set Yourself Tasks: You should be applying what you have learned all the time by practicing writing emails, blogs, essays, short stories – whatever you want – and then going back through them with a style guide to correct them. It helps if you set yourself a certain amount of goals or tasks each week, and read a lot as well. The more you read and write, the better your grasp of grammar will become.

Take A Course: Whilst some people will be able to learn English grammar on their own, many find they need a little more structure behind their study. Taking a short course can be a good way to get some expert guidance from experienced tutors and give you the boost you need. Many courses can be tailored to your own specific needs or abilities so you won’t find you are going over old ground.

Learn Another Language: Studying another language makes you think a lot more about grammar and forces you to consider how another language might differ from English. It will make you think about English grammar in a different way and ultimate improve your understanding of it.

How to Learn English for Free

Do you want to learn English easy and free?

Do you want to master English without even leaving your home? If so, please keep reading. In this article, I’m going to give you some tips to help you to master this language for free. If you want to learn any foreign language, you should pay much to learn. You must pay for many courses to help you learn this language. Now, the task becomes more easy and free. If you have internet connection, you can study English easy and free. There are many things you can do to improve your skills for free. You can find many websites and blogs to help and provide you with the needed resources you will need to study English without costing you any money.

You can do a search on the web to find a free websites to help you learn English and improve your English skills. There are a lot of videos to help you understand English grammar and correct your mistakes. You can communicate and speak well with native speaker to improve your English speaking skill. Learning English online will help you listen as much as possible to native speakers and get your speaking English skills better than before. You can find many online dictionaries to improve your English vocabulary and to understand how English words are spoken by following the transcription on the dictionary.

You can also contact with the other in chatting rooms to help and support each other to improve your English skills together. You can find many of free resources on the web to support you to master English for free

This is a good blog for free English learning resources to help you learn English easy and free. You will fined a good collection of resources and programs to help you learn English in an easy and active way. Yo can have a look on this blog. http://learn-english-onlinecourses2.blogspot.com