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The Student Learning Commons blog is your online writing and learning community

Improving your thesis statement

Published by Hermine Chan

It’s that time of the semester when essays are assigned! They say the most important sentence in your essay is your thesis statement. But how do you write a good thesis statement?  

Flowery Language: Does it really make your writing more beautiful?

Published by Julia Lane

Former Writing and Learning Peer Deeya B. returns with another post to help you do well in your writing courses this semester. 

In this post, Deeya debunks myths about "flowery language' and the value of such language in academic writing. 

As Deeya explains, flowery language occurs when elaborate words are substituted for simple ones and longer sentences are used to try to convey multiple ideas. However, flowery language often backfires and makes students sound less confident in their understanding of a subject.

In this post, Deeya will explain more about what flowery language is, why students choose to use it, and why it often has the reverse of the intended outcome. 

How to get your writing done this semester...

Published by Julia Lane

Imagine this: you’re typing away ferociously with the little time left for you to hand in your term paper. It’s due tonight, and although you had three weeks to write it, there were other more important assignments on your plate. It’s not that you didn’t know you had to write this paper too, but you were pretty confident you knew what you wanted to say and could put all of your ideas into words in one afternoon. It is now the afternoon of your paper’s due date. You’re scrambling, fumbling over the keyboard, ideas circling in your head but all of them sounding like a thought vomit on paper. You’re tired, overwhelmed and unable to comprehend your own words. You rush to the SLC for a drop-in session, praying that your peer educator can work a miracle and save your grade...

In this post, Writing and Learning Peer Deeya B. shares pro tips to help you get your writing done this semester and get the most out of the Student Learning Commons. 

It isn't a miracle, a magic spell, or a silver bullet, but if you follow these steps, you may find that your writing process this semester is that much easier (or, at the very least, slightly less painful). 

Grammar Camp: Common expression errors Part 3: Apostrophe angst

Published by Julia Lane

Does this word need an "s"? An apostrophe? An apostrophe "s"? 

If you often find yourself asking such questions, you've come to the right place.

And what better time to get those answer than when you are stuck inside between (the strangest) spring term and the forthcoming (entirely remote) summer term? 

Here to finally complete the promised three part series on common expression errors, it is Apostrophe Angst! 

If you want to review the previous two posts, you can read them here: 

Part 1: Subject-verb agreement 

Part 2: Pronoun Perplexities 

Enjoy! 

Be safe. Be well. Use grammar. 

The SLC Multilingual Students’ Story Hub: A place to share your stories

Published by Julia Lane

By Dr. Timothy Mossman, SLC EAL Services Coordinator 

In this post, Dr. Timothy Mossman introduces and invites submissions to the new Multilingual Students' Story Hub. The Story Hub is a forum for multilingual students to share their stories about events or critical incidents that occurred while learning or using English. 

Writing anxiety

Published by Julia Lane

Feeling anxious about writing your term papers this semester? You aren't alone! In fact, writing anxiety is experienced by writers across all genres and all stages of writing experience. This blog post explores the topic of writing anxiety and provides some practical suggestions for how to address the anxiety you may be experiencing. 

Note: this post focuses on "every day" writing anxiety and not clinical anxiety. If your anxiety is unmanageable, please get support from SFU Health and Counselling or from another health care professional. Your well-being matters! 

Reflective writing

Published by Julia Lane

This post explains the genre of reflective writing, which is often what you are expected to do if you have a (critical) journal or analytical response assignment in your class. 

This explanation of reflective writing starts from Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein's (2012) statement that such assignments "require that you demonstrate that you have thought about what it is you think" (p. 222). Graff and Birkenstein are focused on writing in the social sciences, but the idea that you have to think about what you think is broadly applicable to any reflective writing task. 

Welcome Guest Blogger Eric Cai!

Published by Julia Lane

In Common welcomes former SLC Peer Eric Cai as a guest blogger. In his posts, he will focus on study and communication skills for students in math and science. Learn more about Eric in the following email interview.

I'm from...

Published by Julia Lane

“Hi, how are you?”

“I'm doing well. How about you?”

“I'm good too. Are you from here? Where are you from?”

In this submission to the SLC Multilingual Story Hub, Sneha Ralli digs into this familiar exchange and wonders about the ways that asking where someone is from can serve to accentuate our differences and interrupt one's sense of cultural belonging.  

Sneha Ralli is a PhD student at SFU who was born in Delhi and raised in Mumbai, India. Sneha participated in Dr. Timothy Mossman's non-credit course Academic Grammar and Writing for Multilingual Learners during the Fall 2018 semester.