Tutor profile: Kate H.
My teacher just handed back my paper and she told me I need to work on sentence fluency. What do I do next?
So you're working on sentence fluency! Let's start by asking a few questions: Do my sentences start with different words? Do I have both simple and complex sentences? Are all my sentences complete and grammatically correct? Do I use transitional words and phrases? If the answer to any of those questions is "no," then we have some work to do. Reread your paper and search for patterns. Maybe you start almost every sentence with the word "I," or maybe all of your sentences are very long. Let's try to break those patterns--is there a different way you could start your sentence? Could you break your sentences in half to make them shorter? After you do some editing, ask yourself those same questions again. If you can check "yes" after every box, then it's time to move onto the next step: reading your essay aloud. Take a moment to go into a quiet corner of your room and read to yourself. Do you stumble over your sentences? Do you sense that your words sound monotone, repetitive, or confusing? If you do, then you might need some more editing. If your paper reads smoothly, then congratulations! Your sentences are fluent!
I'm reading The Tempest by Shakespeare, and I can't figure out what's going on. Can you help me?
So you're reading Shakespeare! I love Will Shakespeare as much as anyone, but he can sure be confusing sometimes. Let's talk about some techniques you can use to understand his play better! First, it always helps to figure out who the characters are before you start reading a play. Usually, there is a list at the beginning of the book. If there isn't one in your copy, you can Google a list of characters and print it out. Keep it beside you when you are reading so you can reference it if you forget who someone is. Next, let's talk about reading comprehension. It can be hard to understand this dated style of writing. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make it a little easier on yourself! First, you can check out No Fear Shakespeare online, which includes a "modern" interpretation of the text alongside the original text. Another thing you can do is find and watch a performance of the play--there's probably one on YouTube. Shakespeare's plays were meant to be performed, not read! Sometimes it's easier to understand what happening when you can see and hear the actors performing. Finally, if there is something you just don't get, you can always ask!
I have to write a thesis for my English essay. Our topic is social class in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Where do I start?
Okay, so you're writing a thesis! Let's take a look at your topic, and start narrowing down your options. Social class is a broad topic--one that Austen has threaded throughout all of her novels. You could almost write about any characters in the novel, but let's double down on two. Pick one of higher class and one of lower class, and compare and contrast. For example, you could pick Caroline Bingley and Jane Bennet. Think about each girl's background: who is her family? How much money does she have? What are her expectations for her future? Both girls experience familial and societal pressure to marry. How does each girl deal with this pressure? Now that you've thought about these things, let's think about what you want to argue. What big claim do you want to make about Caroline Bingley, Jane Bennet, and social class? Maybe you want to argue that Caroline and Jane, though separated by their social classes, are similar because they are women who are being pressured to marry. Therefore, the society which has separated them socially and financially has actually equalized them in one crucial way--marriage. And congratulations, we have a thesis!
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