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English Resources

Writing & Grammar Resources:

1. Purdue OWL (Writing & grammar)
Many American universities provide links to this site, which comes from Purdue university. The "General Writing" link has grammar exercises, information about rhetoric, a section for ESL, and much more. OWL stands for Online Writing Lab. It is very well regarded.

2. The UNC Writing Center (Writing/Punctuation)
This page from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has dozens of links to digital "handouts" on many, many aspects of writing, such as audience, paragraph development, and various forms of punctuation. It's useful!

3. Scientific Writing Resource (Writing, especially for graduate students)
Duke University offers a wonderful how-to site on effective scientific writing especially for graduate students, but also useful for upper division undergraduates. It includes explanations, examples, and worksheets designed into 45-minute lessons.

4. College Writing Guide (Writing, especially for undergraduates)
This site briefly describes the types of writing one usually does in college and common writing pitfalls to avoid. Links to university sites provide guidance on different elements from writing thesis statements to preparing for essay exams.

5. Academic Writing (Science writing for undergrads, but also helpful for new grad students!)
Three Canadian universities together prepared this guide to walk you through how to create a lab report, a lit review, a case study report, and reflective writing.

6. GrammarCheck Infographics (Writing/Grammar, especially for undergraduates)
Have you ever wished you could think of a better word for a specific idea when writing? Here you will find more than two dozen informative and entertaining infographics about a wide range of writing and grammar topics from "12 Common Writing Mistakes" to "18 Common Words and What You Can Use Instead" and "16 Persuasive Writing Secrets and Influential Words."

7. Grammarly Handbook (Grammar handbook)
Think of this as a virtual grammar handbook that describes various grammatical rules and offers examples of correct and incorrect use. The rules are broken down into categories. The site also offers suggestions related to academic writing, composition, style, editing, etc.

8. English Grammar Online (Grammar: prepositions)
For those who have trouble with prepositions (in, on, at, etc.) in English, here is a quick chart that covers the basics. It includes short quizzes. It does not include common prepositional phrases.

9. Activities for ESL Students (Simple grammar exercises)
Although some some exercises on this site might to be too simple for you, it could serve as a review. It contains specific, interactive grammar exercises from "easy" to "difficult" ranging from verb forms to when to use articles (a/an/the).

10. Glossary of English Grammar (Reference for you)
If you want to know the meanings of all those pesky grammar terms, this is the page for you. Here, Grammarist provides definitions and links to further subsets of definitions. Go to this site to learn how to "talk the talk" of a grammarian.


Reading Help:

1. "How to Read for Grad School" (For graduate students, but also useful for upper division undergrads)
This brief yet fantastic blog post presents four very useful strategic reading tips to help you when reading academic books and/or articles for class or research. Wow.

2. How to Read a Scientific Paper (Especially for graduate students)
Are you overwhelmed with the number of densely written scientific studies you have to read? Here various academics share advice on how to go about your reading to save time. 


Speaking and Pronunciation Resources:

1. Wise Old Sayings: Public Speaking
Many native speakers and non-native speakers alike struggle with formal, public presentations. This site has a list of resources to help you prepare for your next research presentation or other public speaking event. It also includes a list of apps (mostly for Apple products) you can download to your phone to help you prepare your presentation.

2. Sounds of Speech
For years people have used this University of Iowa site to hear the sounds of American English and watch simultaneous animation that shows tongue placement, lip movement, and vocalization for each sound. Flash is needed to see the graphics. Scroll down and click on "English Module" of the Website Version for free, or purchase it for your phone for $3.99.

3. Pronuncian
If you are having trouble hearing the difference between two similar vowel sounds in English, the Minimal Pairs page of this website should help. The Lessons page includes pronunciation, spelling, and practice of vowels, consonants, and combinations, as well as other sound features of American English.

4. Color Vowel Chart 
For people who find the pronunciation of some American English vowels challenging, this interactive chart will help you hear the distinctions and practice. Follow up with an appointment with ELI staff! :-) To listen to the words on the back of the UC Merced version of the mini chart, click here. Come to AOA #112 for your own business card-sized copy of the chart once we are meeting in person on campus again.


Teaching Resources for Non-Native Speakers:

1. Useful Expressions for Class (for TAs)
How well do you know the appropriate "signal phrases" to use while teaching in English? This handout, from the workshop at each year's TA Orientation, has expressions to use for many purposes (pointing out what's important, getting students' attention, etc.) in the classes you teach.

2. Tech-related Vocabulary (For TAs)
This is simply a vocabulary list with definitions and examples of use created just for you to help with teaching in Zoom or Canvas!


American Culture and University Culture:

1. International Student Guide
This brief guide to American culture includes information about friendships, tipping, and name conventions.

2. U.S. Classroom Vocabulary
Do you know all of these commonly encountered words and expressions used in college classes?

3. Housing Vocabulary
Here's a list of abbreviations and terms to know when looking for housing in Merced. Updated for 2022.


Dissertation Help for PhD Students:

UNC: The Writing Center - Dissertations
Here is practical advice on starting, drafting, and completing your dissertation, as well as half a dozen useful dissertation-related links at the end of the page.

Recommended Books to Help with Writing!

  • Scientific Writing & Communication: Papers, Proposals, & Presentations, 3rd ed. , by Angelika Hofmann (Oxford University Press)
  • Science Research Writing for Non-Native Speakers of English , by Hilary Glasman-Deal (Imperial College Press)
  • Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks & Skills, 3rd ed. , by John Swales and Christine Feak (Univ. of Michigan Press)

Each of the books listed above covers areas of scientific writing for publication and communication, and they all include exercises to help you analyze and practice the skills you are learning. New and used versions are available for purchase on various websites. You can also flip through a copy of each in the ELI office (AOA 112) as a preview before acquiring your own copy.




Updated 1/20/23