Fox Typewriter

Fox Typewriter

Classic Typewriter. Where’s the paper ?


The challenges of teaching advanced composition to ESL students

It is challenging to teach American born students solid composition skills let alone ESL pupils who are not only learning a new language, but a whole new culture as well.

From my decades of tutoring and teaching English to high school students – I know that writing is an art. As time moves forward – it will get more and more difficult to teach writing due to several factors.


1) The American educational system has gone to testing rather than academic (subject) achievement.

2) Factor in  the explosion of  the ever increasingly sophisticated video game market.

3) A massive increase in cable channels and shows.

4) Texting is the work of Satan (Or, the Anti -Literacy God if you prefer)

5) Americans have the attentions spans of hyperactive 8 week old puppies.


There are just too many distractions for everyone to focus on something as “no frills” as writing.  By no means do I think writing is boring – however, I am highly biased in this regard!  Almost daily, I find myself telling my ESL students  about words and ideas native English speakers have trouble with. Within the next few weeks I am planning to offer free writing courses to Houston  area US Armed Forces veterans, as well as selected Houston Independent School District  9th graders. I have gone so far as to look at the alphabets of other languages in order to help my students who struggle the most. This past year has been quite a learning experience for me too!

For those  who want to be better writers, I am designing a series of youtube videos to address that concern. From Humble Origins

Today I put the finishing touches on my new writing website: Since I am not a professional web developer, it is meant to be a bridge to a comprehensive, award winning site in the very near future. I wish I came up with the business model of writing and editing ten years ago – literature and writing have always been my first love. 

Now on to the challenge of promoting the site, keeping my blog posts fresh and growing an army of dedicated readers!

No Pressure… Image


Undergraduate vs. Graduate Writing

Graduate  English department professors want depth, annotated bibliographies, research, no grammatical errors and order! There is no “preseason” or orientation  for first year graduate students, as I am finding out. The deference between an undergraduate paper and a graduate paper is pronounced, to say the least.

9 units (in a semester based university) is a full time course load, and is very demanding, when reading books and scholarly journals, writing, rewrites, etc are factored in.  Before the close of the Fall 2013 semester, my knowledge of literary criticism, research and fact checking will darf what I did as a senior on the BA level. MLA is the most popular documentation style, and is the major  concern, not content.


So, Why would I Name my Blog PDE You Ask?

I took the name “Present day English” from my favorite undergraduate English class at USC. History of the English Language was my favorite class – ever. It felt refreshing to learn how the English language came to be spoken and written the way 21st century Americans  speak and write it.  The history of the language is divided into 3 distinct periods.  1) Early English, which very few people alive today could   decipher.  2) Middle English.  A very important period for the growth of the language.  (see 1066- the Battle of Hastings)

3) This brings us to the 1700’s, and as inventions such as the printing press and the march of time made more and more people literate,

transportation and industry demanded a uniform system of communication.  PDE gave us the common grammatical devices we take for granted now. Middle English poets were paid per word, thus the lengthy pieces of literature from that time.   Well, until next time.

I shall return.