Friday, 30 March 2012

Final thoughts (for now) about reading and vocabulary

I've now been experimenting for a week with ways of sneakily improving my German vocabulary by reading for pleasure.  I've learnt quite a lot - not just new words and phrases, but also quite a lot about the process of vocabulary learning.  Of course, I can only be sure that what I've learnt applies to me personally - we are all so different in the way we learn, and language teachers have to offer lots of different learning strategies to their students so that everyone eventually finds the way which is best for them.  But, for what it's worth, this is what I've learnt:

  • I'm far more motivated to work on my German when I'm combining it with an activity I find really enjoyable - reading murder mysteries.
  • I'm far more likely to read in German if I do it in 15 minute chunks rather than sitting down with the intention of doing it all evening.
  • I like using a dictionary app on my phone rather than a paper dictionary.  For a start, the app is much more up-to-date than my dictionary and, more importantly, it means I can read on the bus or in bed without having to struggle with an enormous heavy dictionary.
  • I like making a list of interesting words and phrases - some of them are new to me, but most are ones which I half-know - perhaps I understand them but wouldn't have been able to use them myself when I'm speaking.
  • Although I believed that it was better not to write down English translations of the new words in my little notebook, by the end of the week I had changed that - now I write down the translation if it's not possible to write down a phrase which clearly shows the meaning.  German has lots of compound nouns - where two words join together to give a new meaning - and often I can guess what the meaning is when I see it. Sometimes, however, it just isn't obvious, and I've decided I was not using my common sense to write only the German and then have to look it up again and again. 
  • I also like going through my random list of words and making a new list grouped more logically - see here.   

What I've been doing this week is similar to what is called (in the world of language teaching) 'extensive reading' - that is, reading long texts which are not too difficult for the purpose of understanding the whole thing.  The opposite is called 'intensive reading' and is more about reading shorter but more difficult texts - perhaps analysing fragments or seeking the answers to comprehension questions.  There's a good article about it here, if you're interested.

I haven't yet had the chance to try out any of my new vocabulary on a real German (and in any case they might think I was a bit odd if I started talking about post-mortem examinations and obituaries), but I have most definitely built up my confidence as a learner.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly I am able to read my book (after a slower start at the very beginning) and so much of my forgotten vocabulary is coming back to me.  

I would love to hear from other people about their experiences of reading for pleasure in a foreign language.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

More about vocabulary development

I'm still researching my own German vocabulary learning, looking for ways to improve my own learning skills and my ability to help my students.  I'm still loving the melancholy atmosphere of my Wallander novel, and amazed at how much I'm learning (without even trying very hard).

Today I sat down for 10 minutes with the teeny-tiny notebook which I made the other day from a sheet of photocopier paper, and went through the words I had listed. Quite a few of the words describe moody Wallander and his grumpy police colleagues, and I noticed how many of them describe 'ways of speaking' - words like 'abrupt', 'evasive' and 'angry'.  I decided it was time to start sorting out the words, and made a new notebook, this time called 'Interesting Vocabulary':

I then made headings for a few pages and copied out the words which fitted into my categories:

My first group were according to meaning, but later in the notebook I had some phrases using prepositions - I find them quite difficult.

I did actually break my 'don't translate' rule - but I wrote the translations in pencil, and I'm planning to rub them out bit by bit as I learn the German.  I'm experimenting with this - I still think it's better not to translate, but I'm still feeling tired and I was getting irritated by having to keep looking up the same words!  It's so important to be realistic in our study habits - if we make things too hard for ourselves we end up doing nothing - well, I do anyway.

I've been doing some more reading today (while my poor student Zoe was writing the most horrible IELTS Writing Task 2 ever) and have carried on listing the new and/or interesting words in the first notebook.  I'll sort those words out later or tomorrow.  

So, if you're struggling to get motivated about learning vocabulary when the sun is shining outside:

  • Be realistic - a regular, less-than-perfect habit is infinitely better than a wonderful plan which you never carry out.
  • Start TODAY - if you wait until you're in the right mood you may be waiting a very long time.
  • Don't wait until you can buy a lovely notebook - use whatever you have already got in your house.
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again (and again and again and again...) - READ SOMETHING YOU ENJOY!!!  If you start reading a book or website and are getting bored, read something else.  The most important thing is to get that language going into your brain.  

Good luck - and make sure you let me know your own ideas for improving your vocabulary learning skills - especially vocabulary for IELTS!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary

IELTS really is all about the vocabulary.  When you look at the marking criteria for the Speaking and the Writing tests, you see that you really can make a lot of mistakes in grammar and spelling and still get really high marks.  Without a wide vocabulary, however, you are lost.  If you don't understand the questions you are being asked (in any part of the exam), you have little chance of giving an appropriate answer.  When we do practice Listening and Reading tests in class, as we did today at MVC, I always ask students afterwards why they felt they didn't get a higher score - to help them identify the areas they need to focus on, now that time is running short.  Every single time I ask this, they all say the problem is lack of vocabulary.

It's easy if you're doing an exam like PET (the Cambridge Preliminary English Test), where you can print out a vocabulary list from the exam board, and just keep going through it until you are confident with all the words listed in it.  IELTS is very, very different - there appears to be no limit to the range of words which are included in the test and must be understood to get the right answer.  Only today my students had to work out that 'weed out' was a synonym for 'eliminate' - hardly a phrase that native speakers use on a regular basis!  However, a student who reads widely, or who lives in the UK and maybe sees adverts for weedkiller on the TV or in the shops, could probably work out that there is a link between (unwanted) weeds in the garden and something needing to be eliminated.  Not easy, but not impossible.  

How on earth can you build a huge and flexible vocabulary, especially if time is short?  
  • The most important thing is to start to NOTICE.  Notice the words you don't understand in a conversation and ask the speaker to repeat them. Notice the words which come up again and again in exam questions. Notice the words which trip you up and cause you problems in practice tests and homework exercises.  Notice the words which IELTS Simon uses in his model answers (and if you're doing IELTS but not checking out his website every day, you're crazy!).  Notice the words you always spell wrongly, or use in the wrong way.
  • Then make sure you RECORD the words you have noticed.  If you don't have a vocabulary book, don't wait until you can go and spend a small fortune on a beautiful Moleskine one - make your own from scraps of paper stapled together.  Buy a dirt-cheap notebook from the supermarket, or find an out-of-date diary.  Don't buy a huge, heavy notebook - you won't want to carry it around - it's far better to have several small books instead.  Don't just write down the word you want to learn together with its translation into your mother tongue - it really isn't the best way to learn new vocabulary for most people.  Try writing down only in the target language - if you write the new word as part of a phrase or short sentence, you'll be able to work out the meaning in future AND you'll remember how to use the word.  If you're at all creative, use colours, pictures, spider diagrams/mind maps - anything to make your vocabulary records look visually appealing.  Try having a different heading at the top of each page and listing new vocabulary on the right page as you come across it - for example 'words about education', 'phrases for Writing Task 1', 'phrases for introductions to essays', 'synonyms' etc.  Most people find that grouping phrases logically helps them to remember them, and you'll also find the lists really useful when you are doing homework, or exercises in class.
  • Finally, REVIEW.  Flick through your vocabulary book as often as you possibly can - instead of playing games on your phone, have a look through your vocabulary instead!  It's better to spend three or four minutes a day looking at your vocabulary, than a whole hour every couple of weeks. Really try to use your new words as often as you can, and make sure you can spell them as well as understand them!  

I'm off now - I need to find out how Wallander solves his first ever case....  And I've got my miniature homemade vocabulary book right here, to note down any interesting words.

I would love to hear YOUR vocabulary learning ideas!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Taking my own advice

Most teachers are guilty of telling students to do things when they don't bother to do them themselves - and I am no exception.

I am, however, starting to get excited about the prospect of three months in Berlin next year but at the same time feeling a bit nervous about how rusty my German has become.

So I've dusted down the German translation of one of the Swedish Wallander novels by Henning Mankell, and with the help of a German dictionary app on my iPhone and a teeny-tiny home-made vocabulary notebook (in which I note down interesting words and phrases in German only) I've been really enjoying a good murder mystery at the same time as brushing up my German.

Yes, I could read (and in the past have read and really enjoyed) a great classic by Thomas Mann, Goethe or Schiller, but I'm busy with work and tired because it's nearly the end of term and I'm still not fully over the flu.  Why make life more difficult than it needs to be?  Wallander is not great literature, but it's a real page-turner and it's surprising how many interesting words I've remembered.

So, if you're struggling to get ready for IELTS, or any other foreign language exam, do yourself a favour and read something you really, really enjoy.  Even if it's not 'academic', you'll still be doing wonders for your reading skills.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Baby birds, giving birth and learner autonomy

Baby birds waiting for their parents to drop food into their open mouths... Is this how we see our students - or how our students see their role as learners?

I always knew that the best thing I could do for my students was to lead them to take responsibility for their own learning - to 'feed' themselves - but it was only when I did my MA in TESOL that I was able to give that a name - learner autonomy.  Learner autonomy is all about encouraging our students to develop the skills they need to find out new information, test it against what they already know, and incorporate it into their existing repertoire to enable them to become more and more effective language users.

Today I came across a phrase by the Vietnamese Buddhist writer Thich Nhat Hanh, which describes the concept of learner autonomy beautifully:

   A teacher has to give birth to the teacher within his student....

This image resonates with me in that giving birth involves effort and pain, and it is sometimes very difficult to help learners become independent and self-reliant - indeed, some may misinterpret what we are trying to do and may feel that we as teachers are abdicating our responsibility to them, neglecting our duty or letting them down.  However, if we are able to teach our students the skills they need to teach themselves, we ensure that the learning process is enabled to carry on outside the classroom and indeed long after our students have stopped taking lessons with us.

Just as it was much quicker, cleaner and easier for me to hold the spoon when feeding my son when he was a toddler than to let him hold the spoon himself, so it is often tempting to spoon-feed our students the vocabulary, grammar, essay ideas or exam techniques they want to know.  I do believe there are times when it is expedient to just hand over the information - pre-chewed, if you like - but most of the time the lessons will be better learned if they have had to struggle to work it out for themselves.

So, while the baby birds in the nest may prefer to rely on Mum or Dad bringing the juicy worms to the nest and dropping them into the hungry little beaks, eventually the time will come when they must try out their wings, leave the nest and find the food for themselves.  The same applies to our students - the sooner they learn to 'fly', the better - not least because we cannot do their IELTS exams for them!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Language learning, language teaching and identity

I met my friend Eljee for coffee today and we had a really interesting conversation about how we and people we know feel about our ability to speak, understand and teach languages and how it affects our sense of our own identity.  She is doing some very interesting research about English teachers, and you can read about her work on her blog at

I've spent the afternoon thinking about what a huge role my knowledge of languages plays in my sense of who I am, and how differently I feel about teaching English (where I am an undisputed 'expert' because I am a native speaker) compared to how I feel about teaching German (I have a degree in German and near-perfect command of grammar but would never be mistaken for a native speaker).  

Can a non-native speaker ever feel fully equal to a native speaker in a business or academic situation?  I personally never overcame some nagging insecurities about not being a native speaker of German throughout my fifteen years as a German teacher, although in some ways I was a better German teacher than I am an English teacher.  I was able to fully identify with the struggles my students faced as they learnt German - after all, I had faced and overcome these struggles myself.  As a novice English teacher, I was often at a loss to explain WHY something was grammatically incorrect, and had to fall back on the rather inadequate explanation that it just 'didn't sound English'.  That would never have happened when I was teaching German, as I knew every rule and the exceptions to that rule inside out.  Nevertheless, now that I am a (relatively) experienced English teacher, I am confident with explaining most aspects of grammar and, most important of all for me personally, I never have to worry about my accent or the breadth of my vocabulary, as I did when I was teaching German.  I have a strong and positive sense of my own identity as a 'good teacher'.

Next year my husband and I are planning to spend three months in Berlin - I wonder how I will feel about myself as a speaker of German after that?

I'd be very interested to hear from other language learners and teachers about how they feel their language abilities (and weaknesses) affect their sense of who they are.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Procrastination and the magical power of the timer on your phone

Procrastination is the act of putting things off, especially things which are important or urgent.  If you have never experienced it, you are either very lucky, or extremely self-disciplined.

Learning to overcome procrastination is the key to a happy and successful life, whether as a university student, an employer, an employee, a self-employed businessperson, or indeed a householder.  You might be happy as a procrastinator, but it's unlikely that you would also be successful. 

I'm a procrastinator by nature - when I have some important work to do (like marking essays) I always feel a strong need to tidy out my sock drawer or dust my bookshelves.  If I have housework to do I always feel the need to check my email or phone a friend.  If I have to make a difficult phone call, I always want to do the ironing.  Basically, I avoid doing things I don't enjoy.

When you find yourself procrastinating and not sitting down to study, or sitting down to study but not actually starting to write the essay, this is what you must do:

  1. Set the timer on your phone for 15 minutes.
  2. Sit down and work with full concentration for 15 minutes.
  3. When the timer rings, stop working.
  4. Set the timer for another 15 minutes.
  5. Do whatever you feel like - make a cup of tea, surf the Internet, listen to some music etc.
  6. When the timer rings, stop.
  7. Set the timer for another 15 minutes.
  8. Sit down and work with full concentration for 15 minutes - etc etc etc.
You get the idea.  If you still can't do it, set the timer for 10 minutes.  Or even 5 minutes!  JUST DO IT!

I'm working to the timer right now - I've all sorts of boring jobs to do, and it's helping me to get through them all.  When the boring jobs are finished, I'll feel so satisfied and free to enjoy the rest of my evening.

Good luck!  Let me know if you find this plan helpful, or if you have any good ideas about how to deal with procrastination.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A minimalist IELTS revision folder

There are many difficult things about the IELTS exam (and most other English exams), but I think the most difficult thing is its vast scope - you could spend the next ten years revising for the exam and still get a completely unexpected essay question or speaking topic.  

This means that you are likely to end up with a huge folder full of handouts from your teacher, essays you have written and things you have written down in class.  When you look at this huge folder shortly before the exam you might feel depressed, and just not know where to start.  

The answer is to make a revision folder which contains ONLY the most useful information you have collected, and really focus on learning that.  

  • Find a folder or notebook.  It doesn't have to be beautiful, but it needs to be empty, and big enough to put in some A4 sheets - maybe folded in half.  At MVC we use ugly brown folders which we pinched from the office, but they do the job.  You can even make your own folder - just get sheets of A4 paper with holes punched in them (or plastic pockets) and tie them all together, maybe with some cardboard at each end to make it stronger.  When I was revising for my Trinity Diploma exam (I feel slightly ill remembering how stressful that was!) I used a very cheap 'display book' (Google it!).
  • Get all your 'regular' notebooks and folders - everything which your teacher has given you or you have found yourself - and go through them very carefully, choosing ONLY the information which you think is absolutely essential for you to learn.  If you have a whole handout which is really useful, put the whole thing in your notebook or folder - if your're using a notebook you need to glue or staple it so it won't fall out and get lost.  If only part of the handout is useful, either cut it up and just put the useful bit in your notebook or folder, or copy it out into the notebook or onto a new sheet of paper to put in the folder.  I've been getting my students to put things like vocabulary handouts in their folder, useful phrases for the Speaking test and ideas for essays.
  • If you use a coursebook in your class (we don't), go through the book and find any useful tips or lists of good phrases.  Copy them out (or photocopy them) and put them in your folder.  
  • Don't let your folder get too big or too heavy.  Why?  Because the idea is that you actually carry the thing around with you and look at it over and over again - in your breaks at work, while you're on the bus, while you're waiting for your dinner to cook....  
  • Keep adding to it - but ONLY really, really useful stuff. Highlight the most important stuff.  Test yourself, and keep trying until you get things right.
  • If you are a creative person, or someone who is very 'visual' in their learning style, try to make your folder colourful - you could draw pictures to help you remember vocabulary, use different coloured pens or highlighters, or use different coloured paper for the things you write out yourself.  
  • Keep adding to it right up to the exam, and take out anything you feel you no longer need - you might have learnt it, or found a better handout - as you don't want it to get too unmanageable.

My students' folders are very different from each other - and that doesn't matter.   The most important thing is that they contain just enough information to help them revise, without leaving them feeling overwhelmed.  

Do you have any revision tips or strategies?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Zen and the art of IELTS preparation

I'm feeling philosophical today.  My group of IELTS students haven't got many more lessons before they do the exam, and I had a scary moment today when I felt that there was not enough time to teach them everything I wanted them to learn.  As I was walking home I had to tell myself firmly that there is NEVER enough time to do everything - in our work, study, social or home lives - and we always need to prioritise and do our best to make the most of the time we have left.

If you are doing IELTS and have a few days or weeks before the exam, why not try these ideas:

  • Make a revision folder: put ONLY your most useful handouts in a folder and carry it around with you everywhere!  Read it, highlight important bits, test yourself - but look at it at least once a day.  I'll write more about revision folders tomorrow.  
  • Get to know IELTS Simon -  He writes short daily lessons on his blog, and you won't find better information in any book.  It's also completely free.  If you carefully read and think about his lesson every day from now until the exam, I am absolutely sure that you will increase your IELTS score in each of the four skills - his advice and ideas are sensible and easy to understand.    And the main thing is....  he's not just a great teacher - he used to be an IELTS examiner.
  • Start talking to native speakers.  If you don't know any, and especially if you live in a place where there are no native speakers of English around, get talking to people on the Internet!  It doesn't matter what you talk about or how many mistakes you make - just get talking.  Your confidence and fluency will improve dramatically, even if the people you talk to don't correct your mistakes.  To those of my students who spend all their time with people who speak the same language and who rarely speak English outside the classroom - really make the effort to get to know another student with a different mother tongue.  Invite them to come along when you go out with your friends - you will have to speak English then!

If time is really, really short:

  • Find something light and enjoyable to read in English - maybe a magazine or a website about something your really enjoy.  As you read, you are refreshing your knowledge of all sorts of vocabulary and grammar without getting stressed out about it, and it really will help you when you face the exam questions.
  • Finally, try to relax.  All we can do is our best, and it is never too late to make a difference to how we perform in a challenging task - even if we know we should have done more to prepare for the exam, we can at least try to develop a positive attitude, which will probably make us perform better than we would have done if we were feeling pessimistic.  The earth will not stop turning if you don't get the score you hoped for - most of the time you get another chance, but if you don't, who knows?  Plan B may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you!  And if you don't know what I mean by Plan B, here's the explanation: .

Teachers and students out there - do you have any good last-minute advice?  Let me know....

Sunday, 18 March 2012

How to improve your vocabulary for writing without even trying...

I'm sure all the IELTS students around the world - and a lot of other people besides - would pay a vast amount of money for a magic pill which instantly made them better writers without having to sit for hours memorising words and phrases.  For that matter, I wish I could be the one to invent such a pill - I'm sure I'd never have to work again!

My recommended magic pill is, unfortunately, not an instant solution - but it is a way of improving your vocabulary for writing without too much conscious effort.  I'm sure some of you will be very disappointed when you hear what it is, or fed up with hearing me say it yet again....   Read, read, read, read, read.  Read on your laptop. Read on your smartphone.  Read on the bus.  Read at the bus stop.   Read fashion magazines, football websites, cereal boxes, Metro.  Read 'rubbish', read kids' books, read notices in shop windows - read ANYTHING.

Notice that I'm not telling you to read text books, IELTS revision guides, great works of English literature.  Of course I'd be absolutely delighted if you did read those things, but you don't need to do that to greatly improve your ability to write in English.

So why does reading for pleasure help your vocabulary (and your language development in general)?

  • You meet the words and phrases you half know, and just about understand them, maybe with a bit of difficulty.  The next time you see them - you understand them a bit more easily.  The next time - you don't even think about it - you know them already.  No sitting with a vocabulary list, memorising.  When you come to write something, that word or phrase is fresh in your mind.
  • You meet words and phrases you don't know at all, but you manage to work them out from the context, basically by making a good guess.  The next time you see them, you use the information from the new context to confirm your previous guess, or re-think your guess if it doesn't seem right.  You don't always need a dictionary.  Those words and phrases may not spring to mind when you next do your writing, but they are on the way to becoming part of your usable vocabulary.
  • You meet words and phrases you have no idea about, and it becomes obvious to you (again, from the context) that these might be important, and you can't work them out on your own, so you look them up in the dictionary and maybe make a note of the meaning in your vocabulary book (you do have a vocabulary book, don't you?!!).  Eventually these words and phrases will also become more familiar to you, and before too long they will be available to you for when you want to write or say something.

Of course this is only one way to improve your vocabulary, but it's the way which has worked for me in my learning of German.  

What works for you?  Let me know in the comments below..

PS I also think that this type of reading is a pain-free way to improve your grammar, but I'll come back to that another day.

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Power of Less, as applied to a PowerPoint presentation

My lovely students at INTO Manchester have been working on their research and presentation skills.  Today we focused on how to create an effective PowerPoint presentation to support our own spoken words.

If you search on the internet and elsewhere for tips on good presentations, you will find a huge amount of conflicting information about what makes a good or bad PowerPoint.  The only thing you can do with this conflicting information is to follow the ideas which make good sense to you and which seem to be in keeping with what your teachers are expecting you to produce.

I will now give you my own ideas, but I don't expect you to follow them to the letter, even if it is me who will be assessing your presentations in the future!  I recognise that there is more than one way to skin a cat...
  • LESS IS MORE - the less you put on each slide, the better.  Why?  Firstly, the small amount of content will be easier for your listeners to read, as you can make it big enough to be easily visible from all corners of the room.  Secondly, you can force your listeners to focus on each point in turn, in line with your own speaking - if there are three points on the slide, your listeners will be reading about the third point while you are still speaking about the first.
  • A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS - this is especially true if you are talking about things, people or places which are likely to be unfamiliar to your listeners.   
  • BE QUIET WHEN YOU SHOW A NEW SLIDE - the attention of your listeners will automatically be drawn to the new slide, so there is no point in talking until they have had a chance to look.  
  • DON'T READ OUT WHAT IS ON THE SLIDE - you know your listeners are able to read, otherwise you wouldn't be putting words on the slide.  Let them read the words for themselves, then explain, comment, add extra information as necessary. 
  • BE SPARING WITH THE SPECIAL EFFECTS AND FUNKY BACKGROUNDS - really, this is down to personal taste.  I don't like them at all myself, but don't let that stop you using them - I would never mark someone down for using a coloured background or having words fly in. However, be sparing - the backgrounds can make the words difficult to read and the special effects can be very distracting.
  • CHECK THE TECHNOLOGY IF POSSIBLE - in our classroom at INTO, what you see on the computer screen is not the same as what you actually see on the Interactive Whiteboard - what looks clear, bright and sharp on your laptop at home may not look as good when you actually do your presentation in class.  If you get the chance to try it out in advance, do so - and if that's not possible be cautious in your use of shading and pale fonts.  
I hope these tips are helpful, but feel free to challenge me - I'm always open to new ideas, and I recognise that a lot of it comes down to personal preference.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The magical power of 'if' and 'because'...

When you are under pressure in your IELTS speaking exam, or any other English exam for that matter, it's all too easy for your teachers' good pieces of advice to go right out of your head.

The best piece of advice I ever heard about improving your IELTS Speaking band by up to a whole point in one easy move is this: whatever question you are asked, try to get an 'if' or a 'because' into your answer.  Why?  Because those two simple everyday words take your language to a whole new level - you enter the world of speculation, prediction, imagination, explanation...

So here we have a basic question and answer from the early part of an IELTS Speaking test:
Examiner: Do you work or are you a student?
You: I'm a student.

There's nothing wrong with that, but this exchange will be putting all sorts of positive ideas into the examiner's mind:
Examiner: Do you work or are you a student?
You: I'm an IELTS student at the moment, but if I get a good score in this exam I'm going to study for a Business degree at the university.

How about these examples:

Examiner: Tell me about a festival in your country.
You (before you learnt about the magic words): Chinese New Year is very important.  We spend time with our families.

Examiner: Tell me about a festival in your country.
You (after you learnt about the magic words): Chinese New Year is very important, because it's an opportunity to spend time with our families.  If I have enough money I want to go back to China for New Year....

You don't need to add long or complicated 'ifs' and 'becauses' to everything you say in the test, but if you try really hard to get in at least a few, your language rises from basic description to something far more interesting and meaningful.

So, even if you forget all the other advice you've received, remember the two magic words....

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Do you need swift, accurate, reliable proofreading?  If so, send me an email with information about what you need.  I am happy to also provide comments and some advice about the contents of your work, but obviously I am not prepared to write your work for you!  If you find a proofreader or private tutor who will rework your notes into an essay, beware!  They are not true professionals, and they are helping you to plagiarise.

If you want a professional service, which will bring out the best in your own work, email me:


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