Syllabus: Improve Your
The purpose of this course is to highlight the most common
errors in writing English and to show students not only how such errors occur
but how to avoid making them. It covers all major aspects of grammar and style,
and explains each point in a clear, straightforward manner. We also teach you
how to write clear and harmonious English and how to avoid the pitfalls of jargon,
cliche and tautology. There are plenty of exercises dealing with the points raised
in each lesson, as well as several opportunities for real writing, where your
level of fluency will be assessed and areas for improvement suggested.
The course structure is as follows:
Lesson 1: A Question of Style
The value of the written word - its beauty, power and influence;
the evolution of language and the effect it has on us all. Steering a middle course
between yesterday's and tomorrow's style. The importance of reading. Discriminating
in your choice of words. The six rules of good writing.
a passage of prose in your own words
series of ungrammatical sentences for you to correct
Lesson 2: Order and Disorder
Correct sentence structure. The importance of syntax. Mood.
Avoiding clumsy writing - striking a balance. Hanging and misrelated participles.
Parallel constructions. Ambiguities.
an expose on a controversial theme
Lesson 3: What's in a Name?
Nouns: common, proper and abstract. Collective and compound
nouns. Problems with foreign words. Agreement. Sexism and how to avoid it. Pronouns:
Personal, Reflexive, Relative, Interrogative, Demonstrative and Indefinite.
sets of text to correct
Lesson 4: The Correct Use of Adjectives
Description, qualification, limitation The definite and indefinite
articles. Comparatives and superlatives. Choosing the right word - synonyms and
pitfalls. Common examples of misuse. Cliches.
sets of text for correction.
Lesson 5: Verbs and Adverbs
Active, passive, transitive and intransitive verbs. Choosing
the right verb for impact and drama. Common misconceptions. What is a complement?
Auxiliary verbs. Split infinitives. Gerunds and participles - errors of proximity.
Some awkward pairs of verbs. The purpose of adverbs. Other adverbial phrases.
sets of text for correction
exercise in analysis
a descriptive passage
Lesson 6: Prepositions and Conjunctions
Preposition or adverb? Or conjunction? The avoidance of ambiguity.
Which preposition to use - accuracy and idiom. Conjunctions for added fluency.
sets of text to correct
a piece of narrative prose
Lesson 7: Punctuation
A necessity not a luxury. The pathway to clarity. Changes in
punctuation style. Abbreviations and acronyms. Taking each point in turn - full
explanations and examples. Quoted and reported speech. Numbers, fractions and
dates. Prefixes and suffixes. A special note about the apostrophe.
a passage with correct punctuation
exercises on punctuation
Lesson 8: Final Briefing
A further look at
style - in particular, what to avoid. Jargon, euphemisms and circumlocutions.
Some common words overused. Compound and polysyllabic nouns. Prepositional
verbs. Vogue words. Tautology. Americanisms. The proper function
of the paragraph. Good sentence construction. The use of tenses.
A review of common errors.
two passages of 'purple' prose
Freelance Journalism syllabus
News Journalism syllabus