Increase your command of English style and grammar via teaching sessions on Zoom
English is hard to put into words well, especially if you are learning it as a second or foreign language (ESL, EFL). But it’s definitely doable and extraordinarily worthwhile. The alphabet is a gift, language is the original sharing app, literacy is a miracle, and English today contains an embarrassment of riches!
My teaching goal is to expand your view and experience of English, to make you so interested that you will dive into it joyously and deeply, making you a voracious reader and a better writer. Reading increases our vocabulary, among others. As Hal Crane noted, “One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment”.
I aim to help you understand key aspects of English so that you may approach in a structured way. While I refer to Steven Pinker on webs, strings and trees, I try to not bore, overwhelm or exhaust you. While, like any language, English is too nuanced and intricate to be elementary, learning it does not have to feel like a chore.
Command of English differs from person to person. It depends on our character, motivations, desires and needs. So, we need to ask what mastering English requires of us.
Research into human cognition has taught us much about language, how we think, how to think and how the world works. And some of the best language resources are available online, rather than in books.
We cannot strengthen our English without being curious about its logic, rich history and the ways in which some exceptional writers have deployed it. This increases our command of its elements and meanings.
I’m no pedant or grammar Nazi. What I seek is to achieve both one-hundred percent communication, the first time as well as felicity in expression – language as a vehicle for clarity and economy. Enter the classic style, the golden thread that runs through my editing and teaching.
The classic style differs from the plain, practical, oratory, official/school/bureaucratic, reflexive, contemplative, explanatory, apologetic, romantic and prophetic styles, as well as from informal style and slang.
To choose for the classic style is to have chosen a set of fundamental decisions regarding relationships between truth, presentation, writer, reader, thought, transparency and language.
In the classic style, language is considered sufficient to convey any thought, and prose is a window on to the world. It’s not a routine or default style and it’s almost never taught in schools. Familiarity with the classic style makes it easy for us to recognise it, detect its elements, and practice it without slipping into unconscious, poorly developed or incoherent usages.
The classic style is focused, assured, clear, simple, “pure, fearless, cool, and relentless”. Classic prose is hard to write, but looks easy and effortless. It is masterful and energetic but not anxious; it is for everyone rather than exclusive or elitist. It is the result of effort and discipline, and ends in achievement.
The classic style can reliably and enjoyably bring us good grades and social distinction, “[springing] us from the undergraduate intellectual ghetto” and the accompanying attitude that getting by is sufficient.
Much pleasure awaits. Let’s dive in…