Wall of wooden card catalogs at University of Michigan

Tampa English Tutor Tip on Converting Word Files to PDF

Posted on 23rd April 2011 in Tampa English Tutor

Wall of wooden card catalogs at University of Michigan

This card catalog image created by David Fulmer of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Licensed under CC by 2.0

Today, I faced the challenge of converting an article I wrote in Word to PDF, and I was stymied. Totally flummoxed.Fortunately, Google pointed me to FreePDFConvert.com. I may never have to convert another doc to PDF and the one I had to do was two pages, so this service worked fine for me. You can convert up to 15 documents a month to PDF without joining the service. I’m not affiliated with them; I just wanted to give them some love for taking the time to create such a useful free tool.

I would be thrilled to help your child convert his or her C- in Language Arts to an A+. If that’s the sort of help you need, contact me at 813.787.8959 or at Tampa tutor at Tampa bay dot rr dot com.

 

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Writing student in the Vancouver Film School's writing lab

Tampa English Tutor’s Secret Guide to Using Colons and Semicolons

Posted on 22nd April 2011 in Tampa Writing Tutor

Secret Guide to Using Colons and Semicolons

You may be a little apprehensive about the rules for using colons and semicolons. Let the Tampa English Tutor share a few of the ways to use each mark of punctuation. If you are struggling with the comma, check out our previous post on comma rules

Using Colons

A colon can be used to introduce a list.

To use a colon to introduce a list, you should have a noun that stands for the list directly before the colon.

Cal has three things on his mind: gold, silver and CD’s.

Notice how three things on his mind stands for the list.

Ideally, you want to have the word right before the colon be a noun that stands for the list. However, don’t tie yourself in knots if you can’t get the last word before the colon to be that noun.

On his mind, Cal has three things: gold, silver, and CDs does not sound as natural to me, even though it has the noun things in the proper place right before the colon.

Wal-Mart beats its competitors in two areas:  price and service.

Areas stands for the items on the list, so this example has the noun in the right place.

Writing student in the Vancouver Film School's writing lab

This student writer image licensed under CC BY 2.0 and part of the Vancouver Film School's Flickr Photostream. See more of the school's pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/vancouverfilmschool/

Tip: Don’t use a colon directly after a verb.

She said: she loved me and she would never leave me.

Revise that sentence to read: She told me that she loved me and that she would never leave me.

A colon can also be used to connect two sentences. The second sentence should provide additional explanation of the first.

Mr. Erlbaum hated doing yard work:  every summer, he let his grass grow tall and his garden boxes fill with weeds.

Using Semicolons

Use semicolons between items on a list when those items contain one or more commas.

I have lived in Port Jefferson, New York; Dover, Delaware; and Tampa, Florida.

The stronger break provided by the semicolon makes the list easier to read.

Use a semicolon to connect two closely related sentences.

To err is human; to forgive is divine.

I said I would take you to the mall; I didn’t say what time I would do it.

Use a semicolon to connect two sentences when the second sentence contains commas.

The boys like to watch baseball on television; however, they love to play baseball in tournaments.

However is not a FANBOY (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), so a comma is not enough to separate the sentences. The stronger break provided by a semicolon is perfect.

Knowing the rules for colons and semicolons will make you a more confident writer.

This guide created by Tampa English Tutor Eric Anderson and freelance blogger Gracie McRae. If your son or daughter needs to learn to write better or needs help with an essay, contact Eric at 813.787.8959 or by e-mail at eanderson at Tampa bay dot rr dot com.

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Red Wings versus Ducks Octopus Alert

Tampa English Tutor Reaping Reading’s Rewards

Posted on 20th April 2011 in Tampa English Tutor

Reading’s Rewards

I love to read. I often settle down with a book just to unwind “for a few minutes” only to discover—three hours later—that I truly was unable to put it down until I read the last page.

Reading is a good way to develop your vocabulary. And increasing your aptitude with the English language will help you score higher on the SAT test. That’s a fact.

“You’ll need [a good vocabulary] to score well on all three parts of the SAT, not to mention later in life,” says Eric Anderson, a private SAT tutor in New Tampa. He added, “Reading widely and actively is the key to expanding vocabulary.”

The National Council of Teachers of English states that English teachers have a responsibility to choose a curriculum based on a book’s contribution to “the education of the reader, its aesthetic value, its honesty, its readability for a particular group of students and its appeal to adolescents.”

For example, students may be required to read John Knowles’ A Separate Peace—partly because “the book has received wide critical recognition,” according to NCTE. I was required to read A Separate Peace in school. At least, I think I was. Along with The Scarlet Letter, Beowulf and a bunch of other books that bored me so thoroughly I’m unable to recall whether I read them or not.

The Scarlet Letter and Ginger Ale

This photo taken by English teacher David Woo. Image licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. See David Woo's teaching blog at http://davidjameswoo.typepad.com/blog/

I’m sure my teachers introduced the concept of nouns, verbs and adjectives as they function to form sentences. I’m equally sure these concepts had me drifting off to sleep or, more likely, sticking my nose in some illicit book hidden inside my textbook.

Reading and the Joy of Discovery

I remember very well the day I got my very first library card—on my fourth birthday. I remember reading nonstop when I was in school. I certainly remember winning a full-ride scholarship on the basis of my English SAT scores.

I love mysteries. Murder mysteries. Gory, bloody, serial killer thrillers about people who struggle with dark and twisty souls—I’m talking about the good guys here—and tangle with brutal sociopaths who torture their victims to death, keep “souvenirs” and arrange the mutilated bodies in sickening displays of psychotic art.

What can I say? I started reading my older sisters’ vintage Bobbsey Twins, stepped it up with Trixie Belden and eventually graduated to Nancy Drew. It was only a matter of time before I turned hardcore with Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James was probably my rock bottom.

Despite the lurid nature of the books I like to read, I still pick up interesting facts and new words from them. For instance, I recently learned from Chelsea Cain’s latest Beauty Killer novel The Night Season that “octopus” is a third declension Greek noun, not a second declension Latin noun, and the plural is “octopuses,” not “octopi.”

This is not just a casually interesting fact. This is an essential piece of information for all Michigan-born hockey fans who are watching their beloved Detroit Red Wings embark on yet another journey into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Red Wings versus Ducks Octopus Alert

A special moment for real Red Wings fans.

Image created by jpowers65. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 only. See more of jpowers65’s photos on Flickr.

For the Red Wings, an Original Six team, the eight-armed octopus is a tradition symbolizing the eight games it once took to win a Stanley Cup. When the National Hockey League levies delay of game penalties and sanctions the Wings with heavy fines because their exuberant fans hurl a symbol of pride, it’s essential that everyone understand that octopuses are splattering all over the ice, not octopi.

A little knowledge is never enough. Reading leads to more reading. I discovered on Language Log that the nominative Greek singular oktopus is oktopodes in the plural. Despite this fact, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, according to Wikipedia, states that “the only acceptable plural in English is octopuses,” and octopi is misconceived and octopodes pedantic.

Oh? So even though “octopodes” is the correct plural form of “octopus,” modern linguists—for a reason only understood by linguists—decide to toss it out and settle on “octopuses” instead. Because “octopodes” is pedantic.

Reading to Develop a Better Vocabulary

I’ve always wondered what pedantic meant and now I’m going to have to find out. Considering the context, it must mean something terrible.

See how this works? Do you know what “pedantic” means? Look it up! You know you want to…

Guest blogger Kate Rowland, a multiple-award winning journalist on state and national levels, enjoyed writing this pedantic article for I-Tutor-English.com, a private tutoring company serving Florida students in New Tampa, Lutz, Wesley Chapel and Odessa.

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Statue in England with geormetic pattern behind it

Ordering SAT and ACT Score Reports

Posted on 19th April 2011 in Tampa English Tutor

SAT and ACT Score Reports: An Insider’s Guide

You probably have enough on your mind as you prepare to take the SAT or ACT without worrying about where your tests scores are going after you’ve taken the darn thing. Yet, it’s very important that you know at the time you sign up for the SAT or ACT where those scores are going. Getting it right the first time can save you time and money  by avoiding the various fees the testing companies can stick you with.

Let’s take a look at ins and outs of score reports for the SAT and ACT.

Statue in England with geormetic pattern behind it

This image created by David Woo and licensed under CC Attribution ND 2.0. Visit David Woo's teacher blog at http://davidjameswoo.typepad.com/blog/

Ordering SAT Score Reports

After your SAT is scored you can view the test results in the account you created online. The first four test reports from SAT are free. After that, you have to pay ten bucks to send the scores to additional schools.

Haven’t put much thought into where you’re going to college? You’re not alone. Yet, it is to your advantage to indicate which colleges you want the scores to go to at the time you take the SAT. You only have nine days after the testing date to indicate your college choices or make changes to choices you may have made. And of course, it costs to wait ($10 per report after the nine days).

“If you know to which schools you’d like to send scores and are comfortable sending scores in the spring of your junior year, you should do so,” says Kathleen Fineout Steinberg, Sr. Director, Strategic Communications, The College Board.  “Some colleges see this as a sign of interest. These schools may also use scores to qualify you for special campus visit programs, information sessions in your hometown or scholarships.”

Charna Moss-Gregory, a high school counselor at Warhill High School in Williamsburg, Virginia, said that the confusion most students encounter with SAT scoring is over who sends the scores to colleges. Colleges won’t accept scores sent from high schools, contrary to what some students think, so you’ll need to have your scores sent directly to your selected colleges from the College Board.

The other choice you have at the time you sign up for the SAT (but not the ACT) is to be selective as to what portion of the test a college will see, according to Steinberg. “Score Choice is a service that gives students the option to choose which scores are sent to colleges — in accordance with an institution’s stated score-use practice,” she said. “Students can send scores by test date for the SAT and by individual test for SAT Subject Tests.”She said this service is optional, and if you don’t choose to use it, all of your scores will be sent automatically.

Ordering ACT Score Reports

Take the ACT and you will have to pay a fee of $10 for each test you send off to your prospective colleges, even if you sign up to do this at the time of testing. Fees can increase to $15 for each set of scores if you procrastinate and need a priority report sent out. They’ll tack on another $12 if you really wait until the last minute and have to call them to order a priority report.

You’ll need to decide at the time you take the test what colleges you want the test to go to, which can be a little difficult when you’re still in your junior year of high school. “Most kids don’t take it (determining where the test scores go) seriously,” says Mary Jo Meehan, Assistant Professor/ Counselor at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

“Kids may not have even discussed where they want to go to college with their parents,” says Meehan. She said that like the SAT, the ACT test is important and can help in getting scholarships and proper placement in academic programs.

Once you’ve taken the ACT, which happens on a Saturday, you’ll only have until the following Thursday to cancel or change your selection of colleges to send the scores.  And if you’ve taken the test more than once, you can only send the complete scores from one test date, no mixing and matching to come up with a better set of scores. Generally speaking, you should take the ACT with writing because some schools only take ACT scores with writing.

Tips if you need to call regarding your ACT and SAT Score Reports:

1.    Have your ducks in a row before you call these testing. Have your social security number and date(s) the test was taken handy.
2.    Know the specific name and code of the college or university you want the test scores sent to. The College Code List   and ACT College Codes are online resources to get these codes.
3.    Make sure you fill out forms completely with correct DOB, address, etc., otherwise reporting may be delayed.

Additional SAT and ACT Score Report Phone Numbers:

Sat College Board Customer service:  866-756-7346
The ACT  Customer service: 319-337-1270

Preparing for the SAT or ACT can make you a little nervous; that’s understandable. Ordering your SAT and ACT score reports should be easy, especially with New Tampa SAT Tutor‘s Insider’s Guide to SAT and ACT Score Reports.

This post written by Eric Anderson, a SAT Critical Reading and SAT Writing tutor who serves students in New Tampa, Odessa, Carrollwood, and throughout NW Hillsborough County. Contact Eric at Tampa tutor (at) Tampa bay dot RR dot com or by calling 813.787.8959.

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open book with note written in marker across text of page

Tampa English Tutor Shares Three Comma Rules

Posted on 8th April 2011 in Tampa Writing Tutor

I just started working with an EAP student at St Petersburg College to get him ready for his Florida State Exit Exam.

Today we worked a little on some basic rules for using the comma.

open book with note written in marker across text of page

This image created by JulieJordanScot. See more of her images on her blog at http://www.juliejordanscott.typepad.com/ This image licensed under CC BY 2.0

I shared three comma rules with him:

Use a comma when connecting two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction.  Use a comma before for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so — the FANBOYS — when they connect two parts of a sentence that each could stand on its own.

I want to be more comfortable using commas, so I have been studying the comma rules.
She is generous with her time, but she is stingy with her money.
He has a suspended license, yet he insists on driving everywhere he goes.

Use a comma between each item on a list of three or more items.

Sunday’s dinner consisted of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and apple pie.
He was an Eagle Scout, a skilled marksman, and a fine fisherman.
The politician insisted that he was kind, considerate, and honest.
I purchased three boxes of thin mints, two boxes of pecan sandies, and a case of  coconut clusters.

Use commas to set off the name of the person used in direct address.

John, will you please stop giving biscuits to my Labrador?
Will you come to my party, Sandy?

If you want to improve your writing to prepare for college or to advance your career, I can help. Call Tampa English Tutor Eric Anderson at 813.787.8959 or e-mail him at eanderson at tampa bay dot rr dot com.

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