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How to Become a Freelance Writer

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How to Become a Freelance Writer by Rachael Oku, book reviewAlongside my day job working in a University, I am also a freelance writer. I guess that makes me a semi-professional writer, and one who would quite like to eventually lose the “semi”. Becoming a freelancer in my spare time is one thing; making the leap into fully professional writer is something else entirely, though. Having already started down this particular road, I was sceptical that Rachael Oku’s debut book Become a Freelance Writer would be of much use – after all, I have effectively already become one. Having just finished reading it, I have to say that the problem here is that the book has been rather misleadingly titled. It is not about becoming a freelance writer. It is about the business side of writing once you already are a freelance writer, which is another matter entirely.


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AQA Working with the Anthology Student Book: Achieve an A*

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AQA Working with the Anthology Student Book: Achieve an A*, Tony Childs, book reviewThis is a textbook designed primarily to assist students with Unit 2 or Unit 5 of the AQA GCSE English Literature specification. These two units focus on poetry; Unit 2 is assessed by means of an exam, and Unit 5 by Controlled Assessment. The book is aimed at students who are capable of raising their level of achievement from a grade B to a grade A, and then up to an A*.

The book starts off with an introduction and is then divided into six chapters. The first four of these concentrate on the poems that feature in the AQA Anthology. Chapter 5 deals with Section B of the exam, in which students have to respond to an unseen poem. The final chapter gives a practice exam paper as well as mark schemes and explanations.

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1001 Most Useful French Words

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1001 Most Useful French Words (Beginners' Guides) By BuxbaumI’m not quite sure why this book was given that particular title, as the blurb says that ‘its contents encompass more than 1,000 of the most frequently used words in the French language.’ I’m afraid I have not counted the exact number, as I was more interested in reading the contents!

The book is divided into three sections. The first of these is the Alphabetical (Dictionary) Section covering forty-nine pages. After this comes a Category Section which is four pages long. The book ends with a one-page section entitled Vocabulary tips.


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The Oxford Companion to English Literature

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The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (Oxford Paperback Reference) (Paperback)  Edited by Margaret Drabble, Edited by Jenny Stringer, Edited by Daniel HahnOriginally published in 1932, this definitive guide to English Literature edited by Margaret Drabble has been updated on several occasions. The main focus of the alphabetical listing is writers and their major works. Writers of course include authors, playwrights and poets. Shakespeare is afforded two and a half pages, which must be one of the longest entries. (Milton’s is comparable.) Within the entry for any writer, an asterisk next to the title of a work or the name of another writer indicates a separate entry where more detail can be found. So, if you want to read about one particular Shakespeare play, look under its title rather than under Shakespeare.

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Teach Yourself Improve Your French

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Teach Yourself Improve Your French Package (Book + 2 CDs) (Improve Your Language) By (author) Jean-Claude ArragonA wide choice of materials is available for beginners learning French, but resources that help you attain fluency and study the finer, more advanced points of grammar are harder to find. One that definitely warrants consideration is Teach Yourself Improve Your French. It comprises a book and two sixty-minute CDs for learners at intermediate level.

The ten units contain dialogues with explanatory vocabulary lists and language activities based upon the dialogues. There are in addition two of Victor Hugo’s poems, one or two passages about France’s geography, economy and education system, a weather forecast and a President’s New Year address. Business vocabulary is introduced as well as colloquial style. You can hear an official phone call and a more informal one on the CD, and learn how to compose a letter as well as fill in forms in French.

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The French Experience 2

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The French Experience 2 Language Pack By Jeanine Picard, By Mike GarnierWhether you are embarking on self-study or a private tuition course in French,THE FRENCH EXPERIENCE is highly recommended. Writing and grammar are not over-emphasised, but if you wish to speak, understand and read texts, there is a wealth of material here. Each unit focuses on a particular topic such as health, travel, food and drink, professions, holidays and so on, providing useful vocabulary for tourists as well as residents. The CDs contain authentic dialogues and interviews recorded in France; within each unit the recordings concentrate initially on listening and recognising vocabulary, and then on the learner producing similar language through role-play.

THE FRENCH EXPERIENCE 2 enables you to progress through intermediate level French, increasing your fluency and understanding.

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Testing KS3 English Skills and Practice Year 7

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Testing KS3 English Skills and Practice Year 7 by Ray Barker and Christine MoorcroftThe transition from primary to secondary school in the UK is not always an easy one, and parents who wish to encourage their children to develop good reading and writing habits might be on the look out for a book such as ‘Testing KS3 English – Year 7‘.

The book contains six test papers, each of which focuses on a particular topic such as school, monsters, woodlands or football. Each test paper includes three passages for reading followed by comprehension questions of different types and then a writing test related to the topic. For example, Test Paper 3, entitled Times of celebration, has an extract on Christmas, a fictional passage centring on bonfire night, and a poem entitled ‘Diwali in Kerala’. In actual fact each test paper features one poem.

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The French Experience 1 Language Pack

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French Experience 1 Language Pack Plus CDs (French Experience)  By Marie-Therese Bougard, By Anny King, By Daniele BourdaisWhether you are embarking on self-study or a private tuition course in French, The French Experience 1 is worth considering. Writing and grammar are not over-emphasised, but if you wish to speak, understand and read texts, there is a wealth of material here. Each unit focuses on a particular topic such as health, travel, food and drink, professions, holidays and so on, providing useful vocabulary for tourists as well as residents. The CDs contain authentic dialogues and interviews recorded in France; within each unit the recordings concentrate initially on listening and recognising vocabulary, and then on the learner producing similar language through role-play.

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Schaum’s Outline of French Grammar

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Schaum's Outline of French Vocabulary By Mary E. Coffman CrockerI’ve said this before and I’m sure I will say it again: anyone taking up the study of a foreign language seriously needs to have a thorough understanding of its grammar. I love using ‘La Grammaire en Clair’ workbook with its accompanying cartoons and generous helpings of humour running through the exercises, and it is fine for GCSE and probably AS Level French. But it doesn’t cover absolutely everything. Schaum’s French Grammar, on the other hand, leaves no stone unturned.
A glance at the back-cover blurb reveals that this book contains more than 4,000 test items as well as exercises to help with communication activities. It is divided into chapters that make information easy to find. When introducing a particular aspect of grammar, an explanation is given, followed by examples that use bold for the words that this grammar point focuses on, and a translation of each example into English in italics.

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Testing KS3 English: Skills and Practice – Year 8

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Testing KS3 English: Year 8  By Christine Moorcroft, By Ray BarkerTesting KS3 English: Skills and Practice, Year 8 contains six test papers based on the themes of Work, Science fiction, Prejudice, Families, Wolves and Dancing. Within each test paper are three reading passages, each followed by questions, and two writing assignments, one major and one minor. The first reading passage in each paper is a shortish one, the second requires ‘more complex skills’ to be used, and the third is intended to provide an opportunity for more independent work by the pupil. All except two of the reading passages have coloured drawings accompanying them, which would encourage a visual learner or a less confident reader.

Year 8 in England and Wales is the second year of secondary school, when pupils are aged between twelve and a half and thirteen and a half. By now they should be used to their school and have begun to develop a more independent way of working.

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Testing KS3 English Skills and Practice Year 9

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Testing KS3 English: Teacher Resource Year 9: Skills and Practice By Ray Barker, By Christine MoorcroftThis book is aimed at pupils in Year 9 at secondary schools in England and Wales. It comprises a set of six test papers, the first four of which contain three reading passages followed by comprehension questions and also a writing assignment that is linked to the topic of the reading texts. The topics of the test papers are London, Pigeons, Food, Farms, Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. These last two are included because pupils study a Shakespeare play in Year 9 and are questioned on it in the National Test. The problem, however, is that the syllabus has recently changed; whereas the majority of pupils used to study Macbeth, most of them are now studying Much Ado About Nothing. The Shakespeare component of this book is therefore now sadly out of date, and the two test papers presented at the end of the book have no real relevance for pupils preparing for the Key Stage 3 tests. If you buy this book for your child, you should be aware that only the first four test papers will be of use.

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French Verb Drills

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French Verb DrillsIf you are looking for a workbook for verbs, French Verb Drills by R. de Roussy de Sales would be an excellent choice. The book is divided into two main sections, Part 1 being on regular verbs and part 2 on irregular verbs. Part 1 has twenty-seven subsections dealing with the various tenses and moods; several of them are devoted to regular -er verbs that have idiosyncratic changes in spelling such as ‘Verbs ending in -yer that change -y- into -i-‘. It does make for clarity when such subtleties are singled out and given a page or half a page to themselves. Etre and avoir are in actual fact included in Part 1 although they are irregular verbs; this is presumably because they need to be learned in order to form compound tenses (such as the passe compose or perfect tense) of regular verbs.

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