Other than awesome carry-in lunches, one of the things my coworkers do best is proofread. We do this all the time for each other. Because one of the worst things about writing (a grant, a press release, even this blog) is editing. And we never see our own mistakes. Grammar is one of those really tricky things. I mean why is “carry-in” hyphenated and “coworker” is not? English, in general, is pretty "flustrating." Sometimes it seems easier to just make it up. For inspiration, watch this funny TED Talk where lexicographer (dictionary writer), Erin McKean, says making words up keeps our language alive.
Even still, at the office, we need to sound educated, especially when we call ourselves educators! So we all need spell-check. But we also know it probably won’t catch a homophone like compliment/complement. My tip: I also use a really helpful tool for grammar checks called Grammarly. You basically add an extension to your browser and it watches what you type for grammar and spelling problems. Or you can just copy and paste right into the Grammarly website. If I type the the word “the” twice, the tool lets me know. I’d say that tool catches most of my writing flubs. But when it comes to content and context, my coworkers are still the best.
But what about our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students? I’ve heard our students say English is so difficult to learn. I’ve heard our tutors say it can be hard to teach. I believe them both. I’ve taught English and know the challenges. Idioms are one of the worst for ESOL students. For example, “By the skin of your teeth” is really gross when translated literally. At the Literacy Council, we do have some resources for teaching ESOL students. But we could always use more. One book that our newest volunteer tutor and board member, Nelly Smith, recommended is called Grammar Dimensions. And Nelly should know what works! English is not her first language, but she’s certified to teach English as a second language, is a private English tutor, speaks at least three languages and is hoping to pick up some Arabic from her new students at the Literacy Council. (Yes, we got lucky with her!) Nelly has her own copy of the book and workbook that she’s using with her students. We’d like to have a copy on our shelves too.
This is where you can help. People often ask the Literacy Council if we need books. YES, books make us happy! So we’ve started an Amazon wish list with the books and supplies that we feel would be most useful for our students and tutors. Check out our list here: Lima Literacy Amazon Wish List. If you already shop Amazon for Christmas gifts, household items, and electronics, consider adding a book from our wish list and donating it to us! As always we’re grateful for your support.