Reading aloud as a strategy to improve your writing

December 1, 2017

iStock-woman at laptopOne strategy to improve the quality of your writing is to read it aloud. I’ve been doing this for years.

According to the Writing Center at University of California at Chapel Hill, reading out loud means your brain gets information in a different way. You can literally hear your errors! You can find awkward constructions or sentences that are too long, for example. You can also find words that are repeated or just do not sound right.

When I read aloud I will often print out a copy of my work first. That allows me to make quick edits and notes on the page as I go. If something sounds off, I pause, make a note on my paper, then carry on reading the work aloud.

Sometimes when I recommend this strategy to my students, they tell me they feel silly reading their own work out loud. They don’t want others in their work place or household to think they are being pretentious or too eccentric. If this is the case, go find a quiet place where you can be alone.

Another important factor is to give yourself enough time to read aloud, especially if your paper is long. You may find that you prefer to read one section at a time, taking a break in between. It can also be helpful to have a glass of water nearby.

I recommend to each of you that as you revise your term paper, thesis, report or whatever you are writing at the moment that read your own work out loud (just like I did with this blog post). You’ll be surprised how much better the final product is.

References

The Writing Center at University of California at Chapel Hill. (n.d.). Reading aloud.   Retrieved from https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/reading-aloud/

Writing Center at John Carroll University. (n.d.). Why We Ask to Read The Paper Aloud.   Retrieved from https://jcuwritingcenter.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/why-we-ask-to-read-the-paper-aloud/

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This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


10 Tips to Help Your Child Learn to Love Reading

March 22, 2013

iStock-Girl with bookHelping a child to develop his or her love of reading is a gift that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 tips to help you cultivate your child’s love of books and reading.

1. Read together – Rather than plunking your child down in a chair with the hopes that he or she will read on their own while you do other tasks, take the time to read with your child. From start to finish, show your child what it means to choose and read a book and then think about it afterwards.

2. Create special time for reading – Set aside time regularly to read. Make this one-on-one time with your child. Choose a time of day when both you and your child are alert and ready to spend quality time together. During this time, turn off and put away your mobile device. Avoid taking phone calls, responding to e-mails or sending texts during your special reading time. Give your child your full attention and focus on creating a fun and enjoyable experience.

3. Get comfy – Chose a spot that is comfortable with lots of light. Preferably, you want to read in a space that is free of loud or distracting noises, too.

4. Let your child chose the book – Chances are higher that your child will be motivated to read with you if you let him or her pick out the book you will read. If you choose the book, your child’s interest levels may be too low to fully engage him or her.

5. Take turns – You do not have to do all the reading and neither does your child. Take turns and share the reading experience.

6. Change your voice – Change the speed, pitch and tone of your voice to keep the experience exciting for your child. Create different voices for different characters to engage your child’s imagination.

7. Give encouragement – Give your child lots of praise and support as he or she learns to read. Be gentle, kind and encouraging. This helps to create a positive atmosphere where learning and discovery go hand in hand.

8. Offer incentives – For reluctant young readers, incentives can help motivate him or her. For example, one incentive might be that for every book you read together, your child can stay up for an extra 15 minutes that night… but you have to get through the whole book! Choose incentives that don’t involve food, TV or video games to help encourage a healthy lifestyle. Keep the rewards modest and then keep your promise.

9. Ask questions as you read – Ask your child to point to characters in the book or identify items that are a certain color. When your child is ready, ask about letters and words, too.

10. Keep the fun going – After you have finished your book, ask your child about his or her favorite parts of the story or favorite characters. Ask questions that help him or her remember the story. Practice new words together, too.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


What Canadians who sell Kindle e-books need to know

March 27, 2012

This post is for all my Canadian author friends who sell – or are thinking of selling – their books as e-books using Amazon’s Kindle service.

I started selling Kindle books last year. This week, I got a surprise in the mail from Amazon, a “Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding”. Amazon will withhold 30% of the royalties they paid on the Kindle books. They are required to do this by the IRS.

However, those of us living and working in Canada are exempt from royalty tax withholding. As I understand it (and I could be wrong here, but this is what I have been able to ascertain from talking to both the Canada Revenue Agency and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the U.S.), the reason for the exemption is that if you are honest about your royalty income and report it at tax time, the Canadian government will tax you on that income. The level of that tax depends on your total annual income, but it would be reasonable to say that it might be around 30% or so.

When Amazon withholds the tax, you’re essentially taxed twice… 30% on the U.S. side and another 30% by the Canadian side, totaling about 60% tax.

So, the American and Canadian governments came to an agreement that more or less says, “Canadians are exempt from U.S. taxes on royalties because they have to pay tax on their income in Canada.” (Again… I am paraphrasing according to what I understand… and I could be wrong.)

However, a problem arises when Canadians sign up for a Kindle account. Canadian authors must “claim treaty benefits” in order to not be taxed by both the U.S. and Canadian governments. (No one tells you this when you sign up for a Kindle account.) You need to correctly fill out, sign and submit a W8-BEN form in order to claim these “treaty benefits”. You can get a W8-BEN form online form here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw8ben.pdf

Amazon will not process the form without a TIN (Tax Identification Number).

There are two types of TINs:

Steps to follow:

  1. Figure out what type of TIN you need.
  2. Apply for the correct type of TIN with the IRS. You can do this over the phone, by mail or by fax. (Canadians are not eligible to apply for these numbers online.)
  3. Fill out the W8-BEN form. You must include either your ITIN or your EIN on your form or Amazon will not process it.
  4. Send your completed, signed form to Amazon. You can scan your form and e-mail it to them through the e-mail address they provide on their site.

Do all this as soon as you set up your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account. That means, do it before you make your first sale on Amazon. Do not wait! Get it done right away.

If you do not claim the correct treaty benefits using the W8-BEN form, Amazon will withhold tax. (They are just following the rules required by the IRS).

Then, you will need to fill out both a W8-BEN form AND an affidavit form to backtrack. (I am still waiting for confirmation that they will reimburse me for the taxes they withheld for 2011).

Today I spent over three hours on the phone with the IRS (much of the time I was on hold). In total, I spoke with nine different IRS agents to try and figure this all out. (No, I am not kidding).

Most of them could not help. What I can tell you is that there are two different sets of phone numbers to call. Americans can call the toll-free 1-800 number. The folks who answer those lines can’t help foreign nationals much. There are different numbers for foreigners to call. Today I called 1-267-941-1000 and eventually got through to someone who could help.

The best answer I got was “All this e-commerce stuff is new… We’re not trained in it… But basically, if you are a Canadian working and producing your writing in Canada, paying your taxes in Canada and you do not live in the US, you should be able to claim treaty benefits.”

The one question no one was able to answer clearly for me was, “If I have a TIN will I be required to file US taxes?” The best answer that came was, “Probably not, because you are claiming treaty benefits. You may have to fill out a form to claim exemption.” But whether or not this is actually the case remains to be seen…

My big disclaimer: I am not an expert in US taxes, or Canadian taxes either, for that matter. I claim no authority or expertise in these matters. This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only. I am simply sharing my own experience and what I learned as a result of it. It is your responsibility to do your own research and adhere to all the tax laws of your jurisdiction.

Resources for Canadian writers and publishers to check out:

W8-BEN Instructions

Article 901 – US Tax Treaties

IRS Publication 515

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Success Strategy for Students: How to Make Sense of Scholarly Research Articles

January 17, 2012

Students sometimes find it hard to figure out what a research article is really trying to say. The language is dense and thick, full of long, Latin-root words. Before you know it, their eyes are drooping. Their phone chimes and they pick it up, eager for any reason to abandon the dull and hard-to-read article.

This handy tool helps students move from being passive readers to active readers of research articles. It helps them figure out key information and dissect the article in a way that helps them make sense of it.

This is a free, downloadable and printable resource designed for high school and post-secondary students, as well as adult learners.

View this document on Scribd

Related posts:

Success Strategy for Students: How to Cite Class Notes

Success Strategy for Post-Secondary Students: Get to Know Your Profs
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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Literacy for Christmas: Free activities and resources

December 19, 2011

Swirl of giftsAre you looking for activities with a Christmas or holiday theme to promote or improve literacy? Check out some of these great free resources:

Early Childhood Literacy

Christmas literacy resources for K-3 teachers 

Candy cane math and sight words for preschoolers and kindergarten – The Preschool Toolbox blog

Literacy activities for K-12

Tons of holiday literacy resources for a variety of ages (including printables) – Teaching Ideas

Christmas writing activities – Literacy Minute blog

Christmas around the world – Numerous activities for a variety of age groups – TES resources

Literacy at Christmas “How to” kit – NWT Literacy Council (NALD)

Christmas Brainstorm Activities – About.com (There are links to other worthwhile resources from that page.)

Do you know of other free activities for literacy teachers that we can add to this list? If so, leave your comment below.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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