INTRODUCTION

THREE ABILITIES are fundamental in English-speaking contexts for tertiary students and postgraduates, and for business and professional people who need to write letters and reports and give talks. 

The first is to write English well.  The second is to set out questions and responses to them (in speech as well as in writing) clearly and in a logical order.  The third is to engage for oneself in sound reasoning.

In these Sets, the three documents named below deal, respectively, with the three abilities:

  1. Questions and Principles for Sentence-construction (QPS”), in Set A.
  2. ”Seven features of a good talk or paper”, a one-page document, in Set B
  3. Reasoning, in Set C.

The author is Dr John Howes, the President of Learningguild, who has helped many native and non-native speakers of English to develop their writing and/or speaking of it and their essay-writing.

QPS would best be studied by most readers of this Introduction  in conjunction with John’s book Making up Sentences (“MS”: third edition, 2021).  The cumulative study of its six chapters would make a substantial part of the six years of a good secondary education in English.  Click here to download a free copy of MS.

The printed book can be bought from Learningguild for $25 (postage within Australia $9).  A cheque may be sent, made out to Learningguild and posted to 23 Fallon St, Brunswick, Victoria 3056, or a bank draft to Learningguild’s account (633 108 1622 69245).

QPS is also a stimulus to consult Rebecca Gowers’s book Plain Words (Penguin 2015), which updates the classic The Complete Plain Words by her great-grandfather Sir Ernest Gowers.

In writing English, what could count as indicating proficiency?  How could one go on towards excellence?  That pair of questions has hardly ever been answered in specific terms.  Answers are needed especially, as a matter of equity or fairness, by those whose first language is not English.  They are also needed by those many native speakers who have not received much systematic help in their secondary or tertiary education even to develop proficiency.

One sign of proficiency in English would be to give acceptable corrections in nearly all the places where the sentences at the end of Ch. 5 of MS are defective.  Another would be to do the same for the faulty sets of words at the end of each section of QPS.

Progress toward excellence can be made by building up an ability to write perceptive, relevant, concise and grammatical answers to the sets of various questions in the second half of Ch. 6 of MS.

N.B.: readers of QPS should first ensure that they are or become familiar with the basic grammar provided on pages 7 and 8 of SSCSentences to Study and Change, which is also in Set A, and they may need to recognize that they should do a lot of work of the kind explained and illustrated there, preferably with the Oxford Essential Dictionary, and only then turn to close study of MS and QPS.

In Set B, after appreciations of John’s work from professors in Oxford, Princeton/Melbourne and Boston, are five Learningguild exam papers set 2014-16, each accompanied by the report on that particular exam. All of these pairs are worth consulting, perhaps especially that for April 2014.  To obtain a mark of middle B or above indicated proficiency, a mark in the A grade excellence.

John will gladly respond to enquiries.  [learningguild@gmail.com; 61 3 9380 5892; 23 Fallon St, Brunswick, Victoria 3056, Australia.]