Tag Archives: learning

My Experience Taking ALI 252

By PinShiuan Lee

Edited by Natalie Grace

[3.5 minute read]

Currently, I am a postdoctoral trainee working on biomedical informative research at USC for the past three months. Prior to this, I received all of my education in Taiwan. My English is in no way perfect and I am not the most talkative person, even when I speak in my native language. When I started my work at USC, I would do research all day without talking unless I had meetings where I needed to discuss aspects of my work. Since I didn’t have many opportunities to improve my fluency, I was urgently searching for a class I could enroll in to improve my pronunciation. This led me to enroll in ALI 252, an advanced pronunciation course.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

I was initially surprised by how interesting advanced pronunciation was. I liked the classmates I met, and class was full of a diversity of perspectives and an abundance of topics to chat about. One topic we always seemed to return to was popular movies and TV shows. I heard of the show The Office, which is a mockumentary sitcom television series, for the first time in this class. I learned a lot of sentences and phrases that depict the everyday work lives of office employees. Although I worked from home, it was funny to imagine having colleagues like these characters. Every class we watched clips from The Office ended in peals of laughter.

Besides having a great time watching and observing characters on shows, our professor also provided us with many innovative tools to help give us more confidence in oral expression such as games, competitions, or playing roles. We tried to create sounds, produce voices, and understand our vocal range and stamina. It is difficult to articulate clarity if you don’t spend time practicing sounds. Using interesting and funny ways to articulate the words you would like to express encourages me to be more talkative. During this time, I could refine my personal speaking style in small groups and classroom settings.

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Roommates and the College Experience

By Stephanie Wicburg

[4 minute read]

Coming to a new place and figuring out how to survive classes is a challenge that all incoming college students face. It involves having to adjust to different teaching styles and the various contents of whatever classes you sign up for. You might also have to get over a couple of months of not using your brain nearly as much because you were on summer break. Classes can be hard, but they are something we’re all used to. Even if the environment is new, school is something familiar to all of us. Living in a new place, however, and learning how to coexist with people other than your family is a wholly different challenge.

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Roommates in college can either be a great adjustment or a significant challenge. If you’re not used to living with people outside of your family or you are accustomed to living by yourself (which is true for most people), there might be a few moments of rude awakening for everyone involved as people figure out how to be functional individuals in an environment with more than one person.

Many people find lifelong friends in the people they end up being roommates with. I have personally heard wonderful stories about people who get randomly assigned to roommates. Those people didn’t know anyone that they might want to room with and ended up forming extremely strong bonds with their roommate. In some cases, roommates can coexist without bonding or disliking each other, and in some other cases, roommate pairs end up with stress and disaster. So how do you find that seemingly all too common best friend that many find in their college roommate? If you are randomly assigned a roommate, you can’t necessarily control if you will “click” with that person, but there are plenty of ways to foster a relationship in order to prevent the worst-case scenarios we all hope to avoid. I have listed some tips below that you can use to establish a good connection with your new roommate:

  1. Reach out on social media. If you have never said hello to your roommate before you meet them in person, chances are you aren’t going to be very close with them.
  2. Be open. If you go into living with an entirely new person with a ton of expectations, you set yourself up for disappointment and frustration.
  3. Communicate with your roommate about the things that concern you. If there is something bothering you, say it. The roommates who become really good friends are the ones who can talk to each other about issues in a respectful manner and work on them together. Do not let things that bother you fester up inside of you or you will start to feel resentment rather than a growing friendship.
  4. Be considerate. Be aware that you and your roommate might come from very different backgrounds, and respect each other’s boundaries. Maybe even make an effort to explore each other’s cultural differences and perspectives if there are any.
  5. Do fun things together every once in a while. No relationship, friend or otherwise, will work if you never do anything fun together. Go to Disneyland or Chinatown or see a movie. There are plenty of things you can find to do that will help you and your roommate share happy and fun memories to build that close bond.
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How to Write a Blog Article

By Natalie Grace Sipula

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[6 minute read]

Writing is hard. From a pretty young age, I have greatly enjoyed expressing myself through creative writing, and as I got older, I started to enjoy academic writing as well. I would write poetry about things I observed in my day-to-day life, short stories or fragments of prose, and even entered a few essay-writing competitions. Something I noticed pretty early on about writing is that writing the things that come to your mind without method or intent is a lot easier than writing for an audience. I prefer writing while keeping the reader in mind more because writing only for myself lets me pick up bad writing habits, such as not carefully considering my word choice, as the only person interpreting the writing would be me. But writing creatively for a reader is pretty difficult, and academic-style writing for a reader can be exhausting because most college students already have to do that so much for their classes. A form of writing that I had not previously considered before coming to college, however, was blog writing. When I started working at the USC American Language Institute, I tried out writing for a blog for the very first time. One blog that I wrote about rereading Harry Potter with an older perspective challenged me to consider the perspective of both myself and my audience.

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Writing for a blog is a great way to open your creative energy and write to a wider audience while also being able to maintain a level of informality and free expression to your writing. A blog article could be about anything–your daily routine, a hobby you love doing, your journey writing other things, or aspects of your social life. It is a happy medium between writing creatively or academically for others and dabbling in creative writing or journaling for yourself. This can be good because it allows you to practice writing with a sense of accountability, while also having fun. I have written a few blog articles since coming to college, and I found that I had a great time writing them and was actually proud of my work after the fact. I also realized that I was less judgmental of my own writing when writing a blog article, which made it easier for me to actually finish a writing project I started on. For me, the most difficult part of writing a blog article is narrowing down exactly what it is you want to write about.

What can you write about?

Have you ever had that feeling where you are inspired to write something and then as soon as you sit down in front of your journal or computer screen, your mind goes blank? Or when you know of a lot of things you think you might be interested in writing about, but aren’t sure where to start? This is a very common problem writers encounter, but with some consideration and time, it can be overcome. Some common blog topics to inspire you are: life advice about a specific situation or circumstance, a recipe or instructions on how to do/make something, a list of recommendations, a funny or shocking story and a lesson learned from it, hobbies or goals and how to accomplish them, and so much more.

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