Articles by: ian.marais

Ten Words to cut from your Creative Writing

I was recently perusing The Globe and Mail website when I happened upon a very interesting blog about which words to avoid in our Creative Writing.  Here’s what they had to say: Just: The word “just” is a filler word that weakens your writing. Removing it rarely affects meaning, but rather, the deletion tightens a sentence. Really: Using the word “really” is[Read More…]

by November 4, 2013 English
How to write a Summary

How to write a Summary

Summaries are always present in English First Language paper 1, and many students struggle to achieve good marks in them.  Summaries are marked according to a rubric, so by checking a few boxes, it is easy to get your marks up.  If you follow these easy steps, writing a summary will become much easier: Before starting: Read the instructions carefully.[Read More…]

by October 25, 2013 English
Amusing English Words

Amusing English Words

While everyone knows I take English very seriously, I could not help but share some of the funnier sounding English words with you.  Most of them define perfectly normal, everyday things; however, the peculiarity of the words means most people tend not to use them as the responses they elicit (which is in itself a rather peculiar looking word,) is[Read More…]

by October 17, 2013 English
What’s Poetry Got To Do With Cows?!

What’s Poetry Got To Do With Cows?!

I’m always excited to teach poetry – and this term is poetry-palooza at Silvermine Academy.  My enthusiasm can be alienating to some of my students who view poetry with trepidation.  However, studying poetry can be immensely fulfilling; it is not only about beautiful words strung together to create powerful mental pictures, poetry is a reflection of life. To fully engage[Read More…]

by October 9, 2013 English
Portmanteau in English

Portmanteau in English

Portmanteau refers to two existing words which have been combined to create a third, new word (which often means what the original two words mean).  They are extremely common in English, and new portmanteau are being created all the time, particularly in relation to television and technology. Examples of classic portmanteau include smog (smoke + fog), motel (motor + hotel) and spork (spoon +[Read More…]

by October 3, 2013 English
Strange and Interesting English Facts

Strange and Interesting English Facts

Here are some interesting facts about English that might titillate you: TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard. The imperative “go!” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language. All the continents end with the same letter they start with. Orange has often been noted as the only word in English[Read More…]

by September 17, 2013 English
Connecting Themes and Symbols in literature

Connecting Themes and Symbols in literature

The Grade 10s have been studying the novel, The Smell of Apples this term, which has allowed us to explore some very compelling themes and symbols.  The interesting part of literary analysis is connecting the themes and symbols together to form a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, the English language. One of the principle symbols in The Smell of[Read More…]

by September 11, 2013 English
Delivering a Fantastic Oral

Delivering a Fantastic Oral

Many students do not enjoy delivering orals.  Standing in front of the class, grasping densely-written cue cards in trembling hands, anxious that their presentations won’t work and feeling all eyes upon them is many students’ view of the worst part of the English curriculum.  However, orals need not be so terrifying.  Here are some tips to help reduce anxiety: Practice[Read More…]

by September 4, 2013 English

Because we are limited by word-count, and we have a story we want to share, sometimes we lose sight of ensuring our characters are clearly defined, or that our themes have been subtly established.  Here are a few ideas that might add depth to your creative writing.   Mind your language – adjectives carry emotive connotations.  Make sure you choose your[Read More…]

by August 27, 2013 English
Why does Othello believe Iago?

Why does Othello believe Iago?

When studying Othello, the question that springs to mind first is why does Othello believe Iago so quickly?  The short answer (because if he didn’t it wouldn’t be much of a tragedy,) is too pat and basic for our purposes.  In order to answer the question satisfactorily, we need to really understand the characters’ motivations. Othello is presented as being a man[Read More…]

by August 20, 2013 English