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Tutor profile: Koa J.

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Koa J.
Experienced writing and multiliteracy graduate tutor
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

I feel as though my essay doesn't flow well, it sounds choppy but I don't know how to change that. I don't want to get rid of any information but I want my paper to sound better.

Inactive
Koa J.
Answer:

Its awesome that you have your essay all written out and your information all down! When it comes to general flow and trying to get rid of that choppiness, there's a few things I can suggest, but I could give the best feedback if I could see your essay. With that in mind, my first suggestion would be slowly reading the essay aloud. When you're verbally speaking your writing, you force yourself to go slower and you can actually enunciate the words, and it may help you catch small grammatical errors or things that sound awkward when you say them that may not have been noticed while you were writing. Saying the words out loud is different than reading the words in your head, and you may catch things you didn't notice beforehand. To take this a step further, tell a friend or family member to read it to you! Even if they aren't giving feedback, just having someone who is not in your head read your writing can help you notice grammatical heuristics that you may have glossed over since you may be so used to your own writing. Other than that, another aspect you may want to focus on to improve the 'smoothness' of your essay would be transitions. Although this does include transitions between paragraphs, where you have a sentence that explains what you're going to be talking about or 'teasing' what's going to happen in the next paragraph, this also applies within paragraphs themselves. Some of these may not be entire sentences, but instead phrases like, "This is shown by...", "Although....", "In addition to this...", "Consequently...", "This is further emphasized by...", "Therefore...", can help ground where a reader is. If for some reason a sentence happens to be too long, a point is mildly confusing, or the timeline of what you're talking about gets muddled, having these statements can ground what, where, and why you're talking about what you're talking about. Especially if you're being graded, and the teacher has to stop to make a note, having these transitions can help make it clear what you were talking about, and how it relates to what you're talking about now.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

I'm supposed to be writing a paper on this book I'm reading for class, but I honestly don't know where to start. I have a thesis statement, but I don't know where to go from here.

Inactive
Koa J.
Answer:

The fact that you have a thesis statement is a great start as it frames what your paper is going to be about! In terms of next steps, I would highly encourage you to think of moments that happen within the book that help prove your thesis statement. Although you can write about how your thesis statement is correct based on your thoughts, having actual tangible evidence from the source material really strengthens your argument/thesis statement and is the backbone of nearly all papers and essays. With that in mind, I would find specific moments within the book, and document them. Write them down, put a sticky note in the page, whatever you need to do so you have at least three pieces of evidence, three quotes or scenes that prove the thesis. More is always good, but you want to make sure they are strong pieces of evidence that tangibly prove your thesis (keep in mind the length requirement of your paper and adjust accordingly as well). After this, I would suggest you jot down why it matters, and why this piece of evidence or quote is significant. Even if it sounds redundant and the quote itself clearly supports the thesis, having an analysis of your own words where you explain why its important and significant will only bolster and strengthen your argument. Once you have these pieces of evidence, and outlines of the analyses of said evidence, you got yourself a little schematic of the paper! With these, it should be easier to talk about the thesis statement, why its right, and you can start leading your writing towards talking about the evidence you're gathered.

Subject: Communication

TutorMe
Question:

I feel like my presentation is too boring, but I don't want to come across as unprofessional. What can I do to be more engaging?

Inactive
Koa J.
Answer:

So in order to look more professional but engaging, you really want to pay attention to tone, eye contact, and gesturing. Although humor is a great way to immediately get your audience's attention, not all of us are funny or can think of good jokes that are professional and fit within the theme of the presentation (myself included). As an alternative, what you can do is focus on your tone and ensure it is varied. You never want to sound monotone, and instead you want to put emphasis on points that you think that are key to the presentation. You don't have to be loud, you just want to modulate your voice as if you're telling a story where there's ups and downs. In combination with tone, you want to focus on gesturing and eye contact. By looking at members of your audience and actively using your hands around you (not having them tucked in like a T-Rex), it shows that YOU'RE engaged and passionate about it. Additionally, by having your hands closed or inwards, it unconsciously looks like you're guarded and protecting yourself whereas having your hands outwards and gesturing make you look open and animated. Ensure that you're not looking at members of the audience for too long, as it can makes things awkward. One second of looking at a single person in the audience is a good rule of thumb, as it creates a nonverbal connection if you're gesturing and using a varied tone, and it encourages them to pay attention.

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