Go Forth and Listen | A Linking Mess

black and white open space with people Six easy steps for listening good.

News flash: people like to talk about themselves. So part of being a good conversationalist is being a good listener. This article provides six things you can do to be a better listener – in an easy-to-read list format!

Most of this is pretty good advice, but I take issue with one of the suggestions: saying the other person’s name. I find this “conversational trick” weird and unnatural. Anytime someone starts off with, “Nice to meet you, Shela. How are you doing today, Shela? It was great talking to you, Shela,” I feel awkward. But, apparently most people like the sound of their own names, so this should still work out well for you.

Go forth and listen.

6 Secrets of Excellent Conversationalists – Business Insider

Putting the “English” back in “English teacher.”

I can tell you what’s grammatically wrong with a sentence, but sometimes, I can’t tell you why. Just recently, I had to look up “dangling participle” because I couldn’t remember what it meant (though I recognized that sentences with dangling participles were wrong). It turns out, I’m not alone. This blog post in The Economist points out that the education given to English majors focuses almost entirely on literature, so we’re forced to remember grammar rules from high school (or earlier). As I’ve mentioned before, I was in high school a long, long, long time ago in 2005, so those grammar rules are a distant memory.

Of course, reading all that literature in college certainly helped me learn to recognize good sentence structure but, as this blog posits, it might be a good idea for English departments to include linguistics requirements so students actually learn the language – especially when these students go on to become English teachers themselves.

Talking Past Each Other – The Economist


Science and stuff.

Here’s something cool: scientists scanned the brains of experienced and novice writers as they wrote, and found some interesting stuff. While brainstorming ideas, the novices were using their visual centers to paint the scenes in their minds, while the experts relied more on the speech centers to narrate the scene. During the actual act of writing, expert writers tapped into their caudate nucleus, a part of the brain that lights up when people are performing a skill they’ve practiced often. In the novices, this region of the brain was quiet. Though this research is relatively inconclusive, as creativity varies from person to person, I’d still be interested to see my brain at work.

This Is Your Brain on Writing – The New York Times

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