Learning to listen to scientific lectures

One of the greatest challenges for non-native academic users of English as a Lingua Franca is keeping up with what is being said in discussions to the point where they can process the information in real time and contribute themselves. In a word, the challenge is information overload. Not only are you trying to understand […]

Practice academic writing skills 2: Ambiguity

One of the most important elements of good writing is clarity. Unfortunately, English has a lot of potential for ambiguity, which makes it easy to write ambiguous sentences. Great for humor, of course, but not a lot of help when it comes to writing works of science! One example is the use of prepositions. Compare: […]

Practice academic writing skills 1: Parallelism

Parallelism adds elegance to your writing: Clumsy: They work with great care and effectively. Elegant: They work carefully and effectively. Clumsy: Making contacts is as important as to give a good presentation. Elegant: Making contacts is as important as giving a good presentation. Clumsy: We analyzed the extensive data, which was highly complex. Elegant: We […]

Rhetorical styles

The PhD students looked at ways of incorporating rhetorical styles into their poster presentations. They were best at using the rule of three for repetition, but clearly need lots of practice in creating shorter, more powerful parallel phrases. I demonstratrated the power of cutting out needless repetition through this correction (which is still not ideal): […]

Stuart Brown explains play

I used the first 10 minutes of this video, with its wonderful photos of the male polar bear and the female husky at play, as an intro to my last/ 3rd day of teaching the PhD students, as they trailed in, to attune them to the idea that play allows us to do things we […]

An elevator speech format

Today the PhD students and I did this exercise, among others, to prepare elevator speeches that will work with a wider audience. Step 1: Watch the presentation by Steven Johnson on his book, Where Good Ideas Come From. Then answer: How long have I been exploring this? Why is it relevant? What’s my approach/ perspective? […]