Final Writing Project

The last portion of this class was originally going to be spent on "writing for social media," but hesitations about the public aspect of this activity made me move to the idea of different options.

So, as your final activity for the "Writing Skills" class, each student is going to create an "individual writing project." The project can also be done in pairs or even groups, but the more people involved, the bigger the project must be.

However, those of you interested in a social media-based project can certainly do one.

To do this project, you will have 6 class periods in the lab, so about 6 class hours. I think you can get quite a lot done in 6 hours. If you work well, the project should not require a lot of extra time outside of class, but it will likely require some.

The lab dates are: today, February 6, February 13, February 17, March 2 and March 9.

The other writing skills classes will be devoted to working on the reading/grammar portion of the TOEIC in preparation for your semester exam.

All projects must be submitted electronically, or via an Internet link, but you can choose to ALSO print a copy if you wish. THE SUBMISSION DATE IS MONDAY MARCH 12.

If I have any suspicions, I will check your documents for plagiarism. If you are not sure about the concept of plagiarism and how to avoid it, feel free to discuss this with me.

Here are some questions and answers about, or possible reactions to, the project:

1. What exactly is the objective of this project?

The objective of this project is to apply what you have learned in this writing skills class, and in English in general,  to a larger writing project that will motivate you and demonstrate your writing skills in a personal or creative way.

2. What can be the subject of the project?

Depending on the format your project takes, it may or may not have a clearly defined subject. If you decide to do a traditional "report", of course you will need a subject. It could be business-related, related to your foreign internship destination, or to another subject of interest to you.

3. What are some examples of "traditional" projects?

A "traditional" project could be a written report on a subject of interest to you; a series of "summary and reaction" writing passages about texts or videos;  a paper meant to convince the reader to adopt a certain point of view, etc....

4. What do you mean by a "social media project?"

A "social media project" could be creating a blog in English, creating a Tweetstream in English, deciding to follow a certain YouTube channel consistently and participate in comments in English, etc....

5. I don't want people to read my bad English on a blog!

First, if you don't promote or link to your blog, nobody is going to read it. You can make the blog anonymous too, and delete it at the end of the semester.

If you still aren't confident with self-publishing, I have set up a common class platform where you can "save" your posts rather than publishing them.

6. Do you recommend a particular blogging platform?

For casual, personal blogging, Tumblr has become the platform of choice, especially for your age group.

7. What if I want to do something more visual, like just uploading photos to a site like Flickr and giving them titles and tagging them in English?

This is a legitimate project, but you may want to complete it with a descriptive summary of your project.

8. Using Twitter in English for this project doesn't sound like much work. I think I'll do that.

Once again, this is a legitimate project, but you may want to complete it with a descriptive summary.

9. This all sounds complicated. Can I do something more focused on improving grammar points I'm not good at, like verb tenses?

Why not? But try to find a form for your project that will motivate you.

10. What if I have a totally different idea?

That's good. Tell me about it.





Selling as a sales rep: simulation

Tomorrow, you will be asked to perform a sales sketch in which you will sell a product as a sales rep to a buyer for a chain of stores.

Today, in the lab and using vocabulary about a specific product that you will choose, you will prepare your "sales pitch."

So here is the step by step plan for this activity:

1. Think of a product you would enjoy selling

2. Find an example of it on the Internet. You can use a Google search, or work from a major retail site such as Tesco Direct to find a product and its description:, or work directly from a company's website.

3. Prepare your sales pitch and approach carefully. Keep in mind that you are presenting a product to someone who buys for a number of stores. You can define the type of store and the customer profile that the store targets.

4. The sales presentations will be performed in class tomorrow with the teacher or another student as the client.


Using linking words

Linking words are an important part of fluid written expression. They are also important to understanding written texts.

Today's writing activity will be focused on using linking words to express cause, results, contrasts and more.

The subject of your writing will be this YouTube video entitled "How to Fake French...when you don't really know how to speak it.". It's quite funny, but you may or may not agree with the image of stereotypical young French woman, or the French in general, that is presented.



1. Work in pairs

2. Watch the video once or twice. Make sure you understand the English titles.

3. Write about the video. The objective is to use as many linking words as possible without being ridiculous!

4. There is no pre-established format for the writing. You can try to write a unified summary/reaction, or simply write separate sentences using a selection of linking words from the list presented.

5. This is an in-class activity and should not turn into "homework."  So, during the last five minutes of class, submit to me everything you have done, either as a comment here or via my Gmail account for your class.


Will traditional CVs be relevant by the time you graduate?

This article, found via the Bachelor EGC Facebook page, definitely caught my attention -- and should catch yours.

It's in French, and I could have found similar information in English, but you might have thought "OK, that's happening in the USA, but not here, and anyway France is usually about 5 years behind on a lot of things..."

But no, this article is about FRANCE and what it explains could definitely have an impact on YOU -- maybe not quite by the time you graduate from your Bachelor's program, but certainly a few years down the road.

Today's writing assignment involves developing your reaction to the article.

Step by step:

1. Read the article En 2012, le CV passe à la trappe, and make sure to watch the video.

2. IN ENGLISH, write a SHORT summary of the article, then write about your reaction to it.

3. You can work in pairs or individually.

4. Make sure to make use of appropriate IT/ Internet tools to improve your writing: online dictionaries, Google methods, spell-check in English

5. The work can be submitted in two ways: as a comment on this blog post (preferred, but prepare it on another platform so it can be saved as you go along) or as a Word document to be submitted via Infomédiare (Dossier EGC 2 - Vie Scolaire - Dépôts.)

6. The writing produced does not have to be extremely long: work for clarity, accuracy, and even originality.

7. Travail à rendre pour le cours de la semaine prochaine au plus tard, mais qui peut également être terminé en cours aujourd'hui .


Using Google to harness your English writing -- and speaking -- power

When I'm writing, in French or in English, I'm always using the Internet. But I'm NEVER using Google Translate!

I hope you all know that using Google Translate is no way to write English. I REALLY HOPE YOU KNOW THAT.

ACTIVITY ONE: But just in case you don't, the first activity today is to do some experimenting with the online translation platform -- but translating from ENGLISH to FRENCH.

Start with some simple phrases. Google Translate -- which is, by the way, the best online translator around -- will probably do okay.

Then take some extracts from articles from the web, moving from simpler to more and more complex topics and longer and longer passages.

Or try some song lyrics. Or some quotations. Or just something you write in English, mistakes and all...because when students write French, they make mistakes too, which especially confuses Google Translate!

You should get some amusing results.

And if you use Google Translate to write in English, these are the sorts of "amusing" results you are turning in to your teacher.

(If you find anything especially funny, you can leave it as a comment here.)

I think you'll "get the picture"  which does not mean "obtenez l'image" as Google Translate will tell you.

Activity 2: However, it is totally possible to find the definition of "get the picture" using Google. Can you do it? How?

The Google search engine itself, however, is an excellent tool to use when writing or studying English.

It can help you see words in context. It can show you what words are used with other words, and can show you if your phrases are correct or not.

But all of this takes a little practice.

In the rest of today's class, we're not going to write at all, but experiment with using Google to test language structures.

To do this, you are going to work from two excellent blog posts about using Google (regular Google, NOT Google Translate) to improve your English.

As you read them, try some of the methods the writer suggests...and feel free to leave comments about any interesting examples you find.

Here are the 2 posts:

1. IS GOOGLE ANY GOOD FOR IMPROVING YOUR SPOKEN ENGLISH? --This is the introduction to the following post, but it doesn't contain as much useful information as Number 2.


They are quite long, so you may want to skim over some parts and go to the parts that intrigue you the most.

Once again, if you find any interesting examples, feel free to cite them in a comment.