Writing and Composition (posted by Monique)

(The following entry has been provided by a student in Saddleback College’s Alternative Learning Strategies Class. Each semester, students locate websites that could provide an educational benefit to high school, college, or adult learners, then provide commentary. Hopefully, you find these sites as beneficial as we have. The links are listed at the bottom of the entry and can also be accessed by clicking on the entry title)

The website I chose is writing site has many links to other sites that aim at improving and perfecting your writing skills. Some of the links are better than others but they cover all aspects of writing. For instance there are a few links that deal with the writing process, ideas for writing in a journal, and formatting reference materials. There is even a link for some punctuation and grammar rules. There were some glitches I couldn’t access some sites and some sites you had to pay for using them.

This site provides an excellent educational benefit. It gives several links for various methods of the writing process, for journal writing, for formatting citing material and writing a bibliography, for explaining plagiarism, and for practicing writing

I chose this site because I needed help with writing for this class and others. It has great tips for all sorts of writing and seemed to fit my needs. One of my favorite links was “Brain Oil”. I thought there were great ideas on there to get me to write. The more I write the better I’ll get at writing.

I find writing very hard. I don’t know how to begin writing, and I often have trouble organizing what I want to say. I didn’t know how to cite information or how to write a bibliography when I started this course. I am currently in a class (Alternative Learning Strategies) that requires a lot of writing. This site will provide me with tools for citing materials, creating a bibliography, finding out about plagiarism, and actually using the writing process to turn in a final paper. It also will give me some tools for just practicing writing to develop my own writing skills.

Vocab Building #1: Elaboration

There are a variety techniques an individual can utilize in order to improve one’s vocabulary. We are going to look at seven distinct vocabulary building techniques: Elaboration, Repetition, Read and Record, Personal Relevance, Imagery, Play With Words and The that Children Do It. As you look through the posts on this topic refer back to the post on memory tools and notice the parallels in the various technique/tools. (Memory Tools)

Elaboration is: "linking a word to relevant information at the time of learning"

Let's just say you’re reading the dictionary and you come across the word "ponderous"(adj). You read the definition and it says "Having great mass and weight and unwieldiness". You may have learned a new word, but you are not very likely to remember it, because you have only engaged in a small amount of elaboration.

So what do you do?

In order to remember the word properly, you need to link it to meaningful concepts such as examples, similar words, synonyms, and other concepts that you relate to and understand.

For example, if you have recently moved houses, you might remember the fridge was a "ponderous burden". Many words have more than one meaning and you would have noticed that ponderous also means "dull and labored".

So let’s look at two ways (although there are more) in which we can use elaboration in building vocabulary: Examples and Related Words.


When you learn a new word try to read as many usage examples as possible. Search the Internet for examples of your new word in action. Say the examples out loud and think about them.

Once you have used and thought about the examples you have read, try making up your own examples. Creating your own examples boosts retention even more than reading existing usage examples.

Related Words

Another important method of elaboration is studying words that are related to the word you are learning. When you learn a new word, you should study the word's 'synonyms' and 'antonyms' as a minimum.

Employing these techniques will help to increase your ability to remember and use a broader vocabulary. Stay tuned for more.