Writing Tips

How to Make a Speech or Presentation

When you make a speech, consider the following suggestions to help make it more interesting, worthwhile, and fun for both you and your audience.

1- Prepare
- Write down the purpose of the speech (or review the learning objectives), and decide on the ideas that should be covered.
- Research the subject, taking brief notes.
- Talk with others who know the subject, and make notes of their ideas.
- Outline your speech, including only the most important points. Put them into a logical sequence.

2- Practice
- Rehearse your speech until you have it well in mind. Some presenters like to use a recorder so that they can hear themselves.
- Write in your notes the time allotted to major points. This will help you stay within the time limits.
- Put your outline in final form so that it will not be cluttered with discarded ideas.
- Try to be ready for spontaneous speaking, with an occasional look at your outline. Do not memorize or read it word for word.
- When you are well prepared, you will feel more at ease during the speech. Also, it helps to take a few deep breaths before you begin.

3- Personalize
- Make each person feel that you are talking to him or her. Look at the audience as individuals, not as a group. If you are nervous, find a friendly face in the audience, and direct your remarks to that person for the first few minutes.
- Watch the group’s reaction as you go. Stay close to their interests.
- Use thought-provoking questions. This will help stimulate everyone’s thinking. It also will help you get feedback from participants, which will tell you whether they understand what you are saying.

4- Illustrate
- Use a PowerPoint presentation to list your main points, or draw diagrams or sketches while you talk. Training aids help make your speech more interesting and reinforce the learning process.
- Balance what you say with what you show. Don’t let the visual aid be so elaborate that it is distracting.
- Illustrate your important points with human interest stories, preferably something that actually happened. True stories, not necessarily funny, are excellent. When interest is waning, an amusing story usually helps.

5- Pace yourself
- Stay within the time limit.
- Stay on the subject; don’t get sidetracked.

6- Summarize
- Restate the main idea or problem, its importance, and the major points you have made.
- Give your listeners a chance to ask questions either during or after the speech. 

Tips on Studying a Foreign Language

Learning another language is not easy, but most people can learn a second language IF they are willing to put in the necessary time. Here are some practical suggestions for studying effectively, overcoming anxiety, and learning the grammar and skills necessary for success in foreign language classes.

1- Study every day!
A foreign language course is different from any other course you take. Language learning is cumulative: you cannot put it off until the weekend. Study 1 or 2 hours for every class hour if you want to get good grades.

2- Manage your time
Distribute your study time in 15- to 30-minute periods throughout the day. Focus on a different task each time: vocabulary now, grammar next, etc. Get an overview during the first half hour: spend 10 minutes reviewing dialog, 10 minutes learning new vocabulary, 10 minutes learning new you'll at least have looked at it all. Approximately 80% of your study time should be spent in recitation or practice, including practice in the language lab.

3- Go to class!
Attend and participate in every class, even if you are not well prepared. Class time is your best opportunity to practice. Learn the grammar and vocabulary outside of class in order to make the most of class time. Spend a few minutes "warming up" before each class by speaking or reading the language.

4- Make yourself comfortable in the classroom
Get to know your classmates, so you will feel you are among friends. Talk to your teacher during recess to get acquainted: explain to him/her your goals and fears about the course.

5- Learn grammar if you don't already know it
Grammar is the skeleton of a language, its basic structure: you must learn it. Review a simplified English grammar text. Compare grammatical structures in your language to their English equivalents.

6- Get ready for tests
Practice for tests by doing what you will have to do on the test. If the test will require you to write, then study by writing--including spelling and accents. If you will be asked to listen, then practice listening. Ask for practice questions; make up your own test questions. Invent variations on patterns and forms. Over-learn: study beyond the point of recognition to mastery.

7- Develop a good attitude
Have a clear personal reason for taking the class. Set personal goals for what you want to learn. Leave perfectionism at the door; give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them.

8- Get help if you need it
Talk with your teacher. Form study groups among class members. Use tutoring services. Don't wait!

READING and WRITING a foreign language are analytical skills. You may be good at these if you are a logical person who attends to detail. Train yourself through practice to notice and remember details such as accents and gender agreement.

- First, read the vocabulary list for the assignment. Next, read the questions about the reading. Then read all the way through a new passage two or three times, guessing at meaning from context. Avoid word-by-word translation. It is a waste of time!
- Isolate new vocabulary and study it separately. DON'T write between the lines! Make flash cards. Carry them with you and recite them several times during the day at odd moments. Overlearn them until they are automatic.
- Isolate new grammatical forms and study them separately. Write the pattern on a flash card and memorize it. Write out and label a model sentence. When you encounter the form while reading, pause and recite the pattern to recognize the form.

- Pay attention to detail: notice accents, order of letters, etc. Compare letter-by-letter different forms (singular, plural, gender, etc.). Write out conjugations of verbs and memorize irregular verbs.
- To master spelling, have a friend dictate 10 words to you. Write them out and immediately have your friend spell them correctly aloud while you look carefully and point at each letter. Repeat until you get all the words right.
- Write (in your own simple foreign vocabulary words) a story you have just read.

LISTENING and SPEAKING are performance skills. You may do well at these if you are naturally outgoing. Students in foreign language classes often have difficulty hearing and speaking because they are anxious about making mistakes. It's OK to make mistakes! Have fun trying to speak!

- Frequent the language lab. Read the exercises in your book first; then listen and read together; then listen without looking at the print. Say aloud/write what you hear.
- Participate silently in class when others are called on to speak. Focus on the task; don't worry about how you'll do.
- If you feel nervous, relax yourself physically by taking a couple of slow, deep breaths. When called on, pause, relax, and give yourself time to respond.
- Listen while a friend dictates to you and write what you hear. Check for accuracy.
- Practice: join language clubs, watch foreign TV, listen to foreign music.

- Study out loud! Mimic the sounds of the language. Don't mumble. Although most people feel embarrassed making strange sounds, the language will soon feel more familiar to you.
- When called on in class, say something, even it it's wrong: you'll learn from it. If you need a moment to think, repeat the question. If you don't know the answer, say in your foreign language, "I don't know" or "help!"
- Practice with another class member who wants to help you learn English.
- Finally, have a sense of humor, we all make mistakes! 

Preparing for Objective Tests

Objective Tests
Objective tests measure both your ability to remember facts and figures and your understanding of course materials. Doing well on these tests requires that you not only master the information but also interpret the teacher's intentions.
You know you have mastered the information if you can:
- recall specific terms, facts, names, and other key words; become proficient in the language of the course.
- distinguish the ways in which ideas, facts, theories, or other observations differ from each other and categorize ideas, facts, theories, or other observations according to the ways these are similar.
- answer the questions and solve the problems in the text and create your own questions or problems.

Preparing for Objective Tests
- Review notes and text(s) - list the major concepts that have been covered.
- Highlight topics that were stressed. Note why they were stressed.
- Think vocabulary. Identify words and terms used to represent specific concepts. Make flash cards for frequent drills, and try to use these words whenever you work with course-related materials.
- Compare and contrast. Sometimes objective questions can be used to test your ability to distinguish concepts, ideas, theories, events, facts from each other. Construct diagrams, charts, tables or lists to summarize relationships.
- Recite for precision. Review your retention of the information by recalling it often. Use odd moments, in addition to 15-20 minute review sessions, to say or write out complete ideas and facts. It is very important to verbalize the recalled information completely and in a detailed manner so that you will have a precise idea of your mastery of the material.

Tips for Taking Objective Tests
- Plan your time. Allow more time for high point value questions; reserve time at the end to review your work, and for emergencies.
- Before starting the test, turn it over and jot down with a pencil all the facts and details you are trying to keep current in memory. Look the whole test over, skimming the questions and developing a general plan for your work. If any immediate thoughts come to you, jot them down in the margin.
- Read the directions very carefully. Look for time limits, specific answering procedures, how questions will be graded.
- Start with the section of the test that will yield the most points, but begin working with the easiest questions to gain time for the more difficult ones and to warm up.
-Work quickly, check your timing regularly and adjust your speed when necessary. Do not get stuck on one question at the cost of losing time for another one.
- Avoid reading into the questions. When you find yourself thinking along the lines of "this is too easy; there must be a trick..." mark the question and move on to another.
- Interpret questions literally.
- Choose the answer the teacher intended--stay within the scope of the course. If you know facts that are beyond the level of sophistication of the test, 1) record the intended answer, and 2) point out the possible ambiguity and make a case for a different answer either in the margin of the test or during the next regular class.
- Mark key words in every question. To help find the key words, ask yourself WHAT, WHO, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW? 

Reasons to Read

Reading Strategies