writing. thinking. collaborating. teaching. learning. blogging…

Adult Students: Challenges and Potential Solutions to Acclimation October 31, 2011

This past week, I led my first face-to-face appointment with an adult student. There was of course no way to tell that the student bringing in a business ethics project would be nearly twice my age, so I naturally was a bit surprised and admittedly nervous when he walked in. However after reading over the assignment and listening to the writer’s concerns, I started to feel more comfortable and found that I was capable of drawing him into a conversation about the project despite the age difference and my unfamiliarity with the assignment.  (more…)


Bringing Poetry to (Real) Life October 29, 2011

As any English major will tell you, one of the joys of studying literature is that it provides one with plenty to read. Of course, I’ve found that this often means I have little time to explore anything beyond the syllabus once the school year kicks off. Consequentially, I find myself seduced by various literary journals and the minimal time commitment that comes with them, perusing Quimby’s for the quick read I need only to find the hole in my pocket isn’t concealing a hidden cash stash.  So, when its time to pay the bills and it comes down to the cost of a literary zine or a light to read it by, Ted Kooser is there to help! (more…)


Compose Cheaply: Writing on a Budget October 28, 2011

Sure, I feel a slight pang of jealousy whenever I see a writer compose his or her work using a sleek MacBook Air, but I do think such a machine is overkill for most writers, especially those who use computers primarily for word processing and surfing  the internet. In fact, did you know you can buy a decent, used computer from DePaul for only $50 or $60? DePaul sells its older computers through its own web store called University Salvage. As of this writing, there are four desktop computers for sale under $50! But there has to be a catch, right? (more…)


A suggested technique for improving English-speaking skills October 27, 2011

During the course of a conversation partner appointment with a student of English at DePaul University’s writing center, my partner and I stumbled onto a suggested technique for improving English speech and recognition. Pick up an audiobook AND its corresponding print text, and follow along viewing the text while the recording pronounces each word for you.



Is reading more the answer to everything?

I believe it was Marge Piercy who said, “If you want to be a writer, be a reader.” I think there is much practical, as well as inspirational wisdom in this statement.  The visual component of language is very important from a number of perspectives. How can you master punctuation, for example, if you don’t spend time seeing it in action? How can you learn to pronounce properly if you don’t have the image of the word in your head? As a writing center tutor at DePaul University, I feel there have been a number of times I have encountered problems from writers that might not have become problems if they had looked at words more rather than primarily hearing them.



How Many American Dialects Could There Possibly Be? (We’ll Tell You.) October 26, 2011

*Co-written with Elliot Crumpley.

The Collaborative for Multilingual Writing and Research (CMWR) held a workshop on October 3 focusing on American dialects. To this you might ask yourself… “Really? American dialects?”  The answer is, of course.

The average native speaker of American English is aware of dialects in a general way – we know that someone from Louisiana sounds a lot different than someone from South Dakota.  These differences are sometimes a source of amusement but not really a hindrance for native speakers.  Native speakers develop a general sense of how people sound and what to expect in the language of different regions.  For a non-native speaker of American English however, the varied and sometimes conflicting linguistic identities that exist in the United States can be a source of confusion. (more…)


Why Do We Laugh at Gaffes?

On Thursday night I attended a lecture series at Saint Xavier University. The guest lecturer was Robert Gibbs, the former press secretary for President Obama.

The talk was pretty good (probably not worth the $20 bucks I spent, but whadderyagonnado?). He shared some anecdotes about working with our President, and gave some interesting insight into the Republican primaries. He also gave a surprisingly effective answer to a question on how young people can avoid apathy. He noted that lobbyists in $2000 suits really like our apathy. They capitalize on it.