Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Need Help With Your Writing? Try This Web Site.

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Many colleges and universities in the United States have writing centers to help students improve their skills. Some materials are available free at Web sites like the Purdue Online Writing Lab, or OWL. The site is connected to the Writing Lab at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

It includes resources that can help non-native English speakers. VOA's Art Chimes recently spoke with the director, Linda Bergmann.

LINDA BERGMANN: "The Purdue Online Writing Lab is a sizeable collection of workshops, worksheets, instructional materials in both English language and in various genres in which students and people working in the world are expected to write."

For instance, even native speakers are often not sure when to use "lie" and when to use "lay." The site gives these example sentences: "After laying down his weapon, the soldier lay down to sleep." "Will you lay out my clothes while I lie down to rest?"

The problem is that "lie" also means to not tell the truth, as in "I lied to my mother." So you would say in the past tense "I lay on the bed because I was tired."

The Purdue Online Writing Lab also explains how to use an apostrophe correctly in possessives and other cases. People often add an apostrophe to "its" in a sentence like "The group made its decision." There should be no apostrophe because what you mean is that the decision belongs to the group. "It's" with an apostrophe is short for "it is," as in "It's raining."

The Purdue Online Writing Lab also explains how to organize papers and avoid plagiarizing other peoples' work. And it provides a guide to higher education in the United States, including explanations of commonly used terms.

Director Linda Bergmann says the goal is to provide as many tools as possible.

LINDA BERGMANN: "Everything from basic language skills of agreement of subject and verb, use of commas and other punctuation, complete and incomplete sentences, so that we can move from basic writing/language skills to the more sophisticated skills that graduate students, upper level undergraduates and people in the work world use."

The Web site was started in nineteen ninety-four and has plenty of fans.

LINDA BERGMANN: "We get a lot of thank you notes from people around the world. And also some schools in other countries use it as a writing handbook, as do some schools in the United States."

In all, the Purdue Online Writing Lab offers over two hundred free resources for writing and research. The address is For a link, and to learn more about higher education in America, go to our Web site,

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Bob Gotkin.

Comments from Students around the world:

24-02-2010 carol lee (canada)

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24-02-2010 noor (Egypt)

May I ask you put and create stories and topics speeched slowly so the trainees can hear and write to improve the writting skills
24-02-2010 Shashidhar Devadiga (INDIA)

Thank you for organizing such a wonderful website to practice better English writing. Will you please inform us how to registered/log in, how to get trained?
24-02-2010 matin (iran)

it,s very good for me.tanks alot voa
24-02-2010 Anek (Thailand)

I don't know before in the world has a good programe like this. Thank to Produeser so much. becouce it made me can speak in English,and understand too.
24-02-2010 benjamin (tanzania)

thanks iwanted to clear mywrtting do ihave toperform
24-02-2010 Joruji (Japan)

To be honest, I never liked writing very much. Writing is difficult and time consuming. But I need to improve my writing skills to write documents in English better and quickly. So I will try the techniques showed in the web. Reading the other comments I see that many people around the world want to improve their writing abilities. Some of the them are lucky because they have an European language as their first language.
24-02-2010 melese (Ethiopia)

Thanks. It's good to know a free learning writing english resource on the web.
24-02-2010 José Pereira Silva (Brazil)

As, your big man says "I have a dream" too : speak English fluently. I perfectly know that is so difficult. I begun studying English long ago, but it's no easy, mainly for a non-native speaker. But I'm in the way for more than 6 yeras and I must continue. That's my dream. Who knows? One day I'll get there.
24-02-2010 Ghulam Muhammad " Hamdard" (Afghanistan)

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24-02-2010 Tengiz (GEORGIA)

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24-02-2010 Ahmad (Iran)

Hello.First i should say thank you for your precious work.Its a great work. I have a problem to save & dowload the news Mp3. actualy this websight is filtered in Iran & I do it by Untifilter. How can i download? Another Q: I save the special english by Flash, then after converting to Mp3,its sound turns to Russia!? Please guide me. Thanks.
24-02-2010 Atiqullah (Afghanistan)

hi how are you ? i hope you are fine . i want to improve my English . what is the main point to do first .
24-02-2010 Soshi (JAPAN)

Thanks for VOA. The website looks really effective. This year, I'm going to go to America as a exchange student so before I go there, I will try the website.And there, I will ask someone if some seminar of writing are established or not in a high school I'm supposed to go. One more thing, I'm very happy to find Japanese made a few remarks about this topic! I hope more Japanese people use this website VOA!! Thanks.
24-02-2010 Mohammed Sadegh Pouladtan (IRAN)

Dear VOA i have been a member of your website for more than 4 years, during that time i have learned alot from you, but i have problems with writing which bothers me, please help me to overcome this problem,thank you for your so nice programs.
24-02-2010 lola (Perù)

this is my latest month to finish English course. It lasts almost 3 years, by the way. Today was hard, I got 1 from 3 in one assignment, so I feel bad. I'll check your website everytime I can in order to improve my writting. Before that, I have a question: Are Contractions allowed to use in essays?
24-02-2010 john (canada)

the ability of writing is crucial for the higher education.this is also nessary for high rank job in the future.thanks to
24-02-2010 noor (egypt)

Writing and writing my big problem in English I try write copy of your interesting story using my hand and repeat the same form if I can it to improve my vocabulary ,writing also to get your lovely expression to my ear really thank you my VOA
24-02-2010 Gilberto (Brazil)

Fantastic website, very useful. Thank you and congratulations!!!
24-02-2010 Jose Juarez (Mexico City)

thank for giving the chance to learn how we must write correctly, becouse many students from others countries we need to practice the skill of writing, I hope, I don't have many mistakes in thi coments.sincelery Jose Juarez.
24-02-2010 Lan Anh Vu (Vietnam)

One of my weakness in learning English is writing. Sometimes I think that I am afraid of it. But still now I will improve this weak skill. I also visited this website and learn everyday. Thanks VOA!
24-02-2010 LH (USA)

Thanks to VOA Learning English! It's so surprised to know OWLs is online since 1994, and it's FREE. I don't know why I didn't find it before. English courses at college provide only some basic grammar rules in writing essays. It's not enough. We're non English speaking, and improving skill in English needs more and more time to write corectly and to express all of our thoughts vividly. We need help! May be OWL is an ideal center to send our questions.
24-02-2010 Esteban (Colombia)

Thank, this is a good recomendation, i was visit de site and is very goog
24-02-2010 Donghoon Han (South Korea)

I was born and grown up in Korea, non-native English speaker. However I'm working with many nationality people in Middle East for a big construction project. I want to improve english skill myself. So, it's very useful information, and appreciate to your article. I'll try to learn english by purdue programs.
24-02-2010 Havuvan (vietnam)

Good article !
24-02-2010 Da-young (South Korea)

I prefer English reading to making an English essay. -_- my ability of writing is... so low(oh no)ㅠ I really have to study with that site ! (oh my, I still confusing with "lay" and"lie" !!)
24-02-2010 maki (Japan)

I took a glance at the Purdue Online Writing Lab. The more you look at the site, the more effective the web site would be. Since the site looks well-organized, the best thing we should do is to know the site map to make best use of it And speaking of grammar, I am a worker in society, not a student. In my country, many people use a grammar book for TOEIC and take the examination. I'm wondering if TOEIC is popular in the U.S. If you have a chance, please take this topic.

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