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Reading towards writing – Part 2

In this post I will explain a little more about how to read effectively.

We usually read for information, to answer test questions or just for fun, but forget about many other interesting detail about language from the passage. What I have learned from my junior high and high-school French classes are, always prepare some highlight pens while reading. You may need about 2 different colors, one for new words and the other, interesting expressions. With those highlights, whenever you revisit your previously read article, you’ll see right away what is important. (Don’t highlight my writing, tho, you’ll get plenty of errors 😀 )

Let’s have a look at a message I get from the International Student and Scholar Services of my school about safety Spring Break vacation. As I found no highlight in worpress, I will simply change the characters’ color instead.


Okay, first, before reading, try to think how would you say these in English:

– hậu quả nghiêm trọng

– người có ít kinh nghiệm lái xe

– tai nạn (giao thông) nghiêm trọng

– lái xe cả đêm

– bị thương nặng

– nghe theo lời khuyên (của ai đó)

– đi chơi xa

– đi chơi gần

– ngủ một giấc thật ngon

– buồn ngủ khi đang lái xe

– ngủ trưa

– lái xe khi đang mệt mỏi

– tỉnh táo

– không phóng nhanh (khi lái xe)

– mất khả năng điều khiển (xe cộ)

– chạy xe đúng tốc độ cho phép

– bị văng ra khỏi xe (ô tô, trong một tai nạn)

– đường ướt

– đường trơn trượt (vì có băng)

– chất bạn bè lên xe (ô tô)

– khởi hành (một chuyến đi chơi)

– để ý, nghe theo một lời khuyên

Now read the passage 🙂




March 8. 2008

During school breaks, many international students in the U.S. have the desire to travel to and experience other parts of the U.S. To save money, they often travel by car or van with a group of friends, who split the costs of gas, hotel, etc. While most of these trips are uneventful, some of them have disastrous consequences. Because the students are sometimes inexperienced drivers, are not familiar with the U.S. highway system, may have little experience driving long distances or in winter road conditions, sometimes drive old or poorly maintained cars and even drive through the night to save money, International Student Offices in the U.S. are reporting an increasing number of severe accidents which result in serious injury and even death.

UB international students have been killed in car accidents and have been seriously injured in car crashes during school breaks. In fact, three UB international students were in a very serious car accident during Thanksgiving break two years ago. We would like to prevent future catastrophic accidents so are sending you some tips which we sincerely hope you will take seriously.

1) If you are not an experienced driver, travel by bus, train or plane instead of by car.

2) If you are an experienced driver, but are only accustomed to driving in Buffalo, do not attempt a long road trip. Plan a shorter trip instead. Take frequent breaks during your trip and drive shorter distances each day.

3) Get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast before beginning your trip. If you feel tired, delay your departure so you can rest first.

4) If you feel sleepy at the wheel, stop your car and take a nap or check in to a motel. Do not drive while fatigued. If you are a passenger, stay awake to be sure the driver is alert.

5) Never, ever, ever drink (alcohol) and drive.

6) Do not speed. You can easily lose control of your car if you are driving too fast. Drive only the speed limit.

7) Wear seatbelts at all times. ItR17;s the law for everyone in the car. Seatbelts will also ensure that you are not ejected from the car if there is an accident.

8) Do not drive at night. Above all, do not drive through the night to save hotel money. If you do, you can easily fall asleep at the wheel and have a serious accident.

9) If the road is wet, slow down. If the road is icy, do not continue driving. Check in to a motel instead.

10) Travel with at most one or two friends. Do not rent a van, fill it with friends and classmates, and embark on a trip. Too many international students in the U.S. have died in van crashes. (Such crashes frequently result in multiple deaths.)

We hope that you will have an interesting, enjoyable and SAFE spring break by taking to heart the advice in this message.


Remember them and use them in your sayings 🙂

Have an interesting, enjoyable and safe spring break 🙂

Reading towards writing

Does it sound strange? It should not, at least for me 🙂 . It sounds like “Listening towards speaking”, when I listen to others speaking English, most of the time I’ll try to capture what expressions they are using, such as “roll up and deal with it”, or “Down the hall then take your right” (what we would say is: Go straight down this hallway then turn left). “Way to go” to a good English speaker, tho 🙂

Okay, the phrases above is just good for speaking, and maybe regional terms, too. For writing we have to read quite a lot. Frankly, I’m a super lazy reader. That is the reason why I know how to become good in writing, but never could I produce a nice paragraph 😀

Alright. So what? In books for TOEFL there are plenty of advices about reading. They tell us to read from NYTimes, USAToday, Reader’s Digest, etc. (at least the books I got said so), especially from the Opinion, or Op Ed part… Well I tried it, but I didn’t learn much from those articles. One reason, I’m slow :D. Second reason: those whose writing is published on these popular newspapers/magazines should be very good at formal writing, while I’m too far from that.

Just recently I have found intermediate level articles that I really enjoy reading, learn from, and hopefully you, too. They are school newspapers, where students write for themselves. Their writing should be closer to ours. We have The Spectrum in our school, SUNY at Buffalo. There is also MIT Admission Blogs. And I believe other schools have theirs, too.

To start, I would like to invite you to try one article from The Spectrum, about the controversal right to carry gun in America. Personally I don’t like the idea of allowing citizens to be armed. But the guy support himself really good, and we can learn a lot about writing from his article.


My turn

The right of individuals and students to protect themselves
MARK W. WEBB – UB School of Management Sophomore

In this fair country of ours, it would seem that the majority of the people consider some of our constitutional rights as more important or more sacred than others. For example, no one, except for the die-hard enemies of democracy, would challenge the first amendment rights of citizens to freedom of speech, religion, and the press. On the other hand, a great multitude of individuals and politicians seem to dismiss the Second Amendment, the right of all Americans to keep and bear arms.

Compared to the general public today, our founding fathers felt much differently about this important issue. They understood that people had a right to live, a right to defend their life, and the right to live it as they saw fit. In fact, they felt so strongly about an individual’s rights to this that they said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Even today, I believe many would be hard-pressed to say that an individual is not entitled to such things; so how is it that “we the people” are so lightly surrendering our right to defend our lives?

In the light of such incidents as the recent campus shooting at Northern Illinois University and the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, people are quick to blame guns and the “obsession” America has with them. Many use such incidents to fuel anti-gun legislation and brainwash and/or force good, law-abiding citizens to relinquish their rights by banning firearms. You may not know it, but there exist a number of so-called “Gun-Free Zones” all across America. These include universities, some government offices, primary and secondary schools, along with many others depending on the state. In fact, you’re most likely in a Gun-Free Zone (UB) while you’re reading this. These zones force law-abiding citizens, with otherwise completely legitimate and official permits to carry concealed firearms for their protection and the protection of others, to leave their legal weapons at home. You may be inclined to think that this is a good thing: “the fewer guns the better, right?” Well, if you’re talking about criminals, yes: the fewer the better – I’m with you; however, if you’re talking about law-abiding citizens who know how to handle a gun safely and properly, then absolutely not. “Gun-Free Zones” and related laws DO NOT stop criminals from carrying out their illegal and murderous acts – they only prevent good law-abiding citizens from defending themselves and others. The murderers of Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, and many others planned to kill the innocent and then themselves; why would they bother obeying a “Gun-Free Zone” if they’re already going to commit murder and don’t plan on living more than a minute or two past their sickening acts anyway?

In the end we must recognize we cannot stop insane people intent on committing insane actions, no matter what laws or legislation are passed. We see shootings at schools because the politicians and the government have disarmed good citizens, and hence offered up a flock of sheep to the slaughter – a place where the likes of Eric Harris, Cho, and Steven Kazmierczak can kill without worrying whether or not their victims are armed. We may feel safe, but campus police and even the regular police are not everywhere at once, and the casualty rates of such shootings prove this. If lawful students/faculty with proper licensing and training sufficient for everywhere outside such zones, could carry their firearms onto campuses, these shootings would be fewer in number and the number of victims would drastically decrease. We should not wait for these killers to finish their work and commit suicide. We should be defending ourselves in kind. All of us have a right to defend our lives, 24/7 and 365 – regardless of what those in Albany say.

Remember the victims of “Gun-Free Zones” and use your First Amendment Rights to stand up for the Second Amendment. In this “Gun-Free Zone” at the University of Buffalo, it’s a big step towards the only defense we have in the face of madmen at the moment of truth.