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My Fulbright application or a teachable moment on essay writing

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I did it one day before the deadline. I submitted my Fulbright application on 30 May 2014. Now, 14 months later, I am going to the USA as a proud Fulbrighter!

The program I am participating in is called Foreign Language Teaching Assistant or FLTA for short. As a participant of this program I will be teaching Russian and studying at an American university for an academic year.

When my students heard the news, they asked, “What did it take to get this grant?” I replied, “Well, there were several stages. First, I had to write a lot of text. Then, I … .” And one student said, “I am curious to read what you wrote.” I suppose many are, so I am going to let you in on one of my application essays.

One of the essays I wrote is called “Objectives and motivations.” What I wrote is too long to upload here (1274 words, no less!), so I am only going to share my introduction and conclusion. Oh, and I see a teachable moment here, which I just can’t help using.
Introduction"Albert Einstein said, “…

Paraphrasing made easy!

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With English being the language of international communication, there are plenty of tests of English for non-native speakers  – IELTS, TOEFL, KET-CPE, to name but a few. Seemingly different, these tests often assess basically the same skills and abilities. Paraphrasing is one of them. The ability to paraphrase is vital in Speaking and Writing parts of any test. Why? Because it shows that you actually understand the information you are given and, more importantly, it allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of English. Many people struggle with paraphrasing, but it’s not rocket science. In this post, I am going to talk about very simple paraphrasing techniques. 

A word of warning: Don’t get too obsessed! There are words you don’t have to and even shouldn’t paraphrase. There is no need to say conventional words in a different way, like chair or passport. Nor should you try to rephrase specialized or scientific vocabulary, like genetically-modified food or greenhouse gases.

When you do ne…

10,000 hours of English

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Being a teacher of English, I deal with tons of course books on a daily basis. The authors are doing an incredible job at making the course books engaging, so I inevitably draw a lot of inspiration from the materials. Sometimes a single sentence in the book can start a long train of thought. In this post, I want to give you an example of one such train.
Lesson 9A in English File Intermediate (Third Edition) centers around the topic of luck. In this lesson, the students read a text called "A question of luck?" which explains why certain people become extraordinarily successful and what factors contribute to their success. Have a look at the final paragraph of the text:


I don’t know about the specific number – 10,000 hours – but the theory makes a lot of sense for language learning.

When deciding to embark on a wonderful journey of learning English, many students pin their hopes on the teacher (after all, he or she is a qualified professional) and the course book (after all…