Monday, February 21, 2011

SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)

Even though I live in Canada and am not required to take the SAT, my parents still want me to take it to enhance my English skills.

I've done some sections of grammar and vocabulary in the practice tests, and unfortunately on average I only got 80% right in the grammar section and 75% right in the vocabulary section.

I don't think there is a very good way to practice my grammar except reading a lot of books, and perhaps doing some writing as well. Well, I could read some grammar books, but it is ironic that I actually got one question wrong because I followed what a grammar book said.

As for vocabulary, I can and should study hard for it. I have actually seen the majority of the words in the practice test before, but without the sentences, I could not recall many of their meanings. My goal is that starting tomorrow I will start studying from Online vocabulary lists, and record any unfamiliar word that I encounter into a notebook.

I hope that I will be able to keep this will to study for a long time, and study for the SAT very hard unless I really have too much school work to do. I am sure that if I study long enough, there will be a difference  in my English skills which will benefit me on the long run.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Obvious? It's subjective.

In English class, we are asked to be "clear" in our writings. This means that we should always explain what we say, and make sure that any reader can easily understand our pieces of writing. This is a reasonable expectation because without clarity, a piece of writing will be harder to understand and therefore less effective. However, how can we define "clear?" Doesn't the word "clear" have a different definition for everyone? Isn't it a subjective thing that all depends on each person's understanding or interpretation of the subject?

Consider these two sentences:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon is written by Daniel Keyes and I have been wanting to read it since I first saw its book introduction. I find that I usually like books that are more in the category of Sci-Fi or Mystery, and books I like usually have interesting or intense plot lines.

Last week, I finally got this book out from the library and read it in one day. It was very good book which  I thoroughly enjoyed, even though I liked the beginning part—the start—a lot better than what happened after. This seems to be the case with almost all the books I have read. I find that many novels have amazing beginnings and/or settings, but many of them have abrupt endings that are quite disappointing. For example, The Chrysalids by John Wyndom was a very exciting book to read, as it described how a group of telepaths was able to escape from the society's prosecution. However, at the end everything happened very quickly, and all of a sudden the main characters were rescued by people from another place that accepted telepathy. I thought there could be something more in the ending.

Similarly, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury at first described very well a society where books were not allowed, and where all unhappy thoughts or ideas were disapproved. However, it also had a quite abrupt ending with the main character's city being bombed and destroyed. I found that many points or ideas could be explained more, which would have made the book seem a lot more complete.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

About Myself

One of my misgivings before creating this blog was privacy. I would not want to give out too much information about myself to strangers. I know people probably wouldn't do anything with that information, but it just gives me a creepy feeling.

More importantly, I wouldn't want people I know in real life to recognize me from the blog posts. It's very awkward, and in a way embarrassing that my thoughts are all read by them.

However, of course I can't hide everything if I really want to talk about the things that happen around me or the things that I observe. Therefore, I still need to introduce myself a little bit.

I am a 15-years old boy who is currently attending a high school in Ontario, Canada. However, I was born in another country and English is my second language.

Yes that's it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What This Blog is For

I've never had patience in this kind of thingblogs, diaries, journals, etc. I guess it's because I have always started these out of boredom, and as soon as I had something else on my mind, I forgot about these things. However, boredom wasn't always the only factor leading to such activities. There were always other things that made me have the urge to write my thoughts and opinions down, such as doing bad in school or reading other people's wonderful blogs. This time, there's no exception. My English class just ended with semester one and I thought it'd be good to continue what I did in the English class.

For one of the assessments in English class, each person in the class chose a book from a book-list given out by the teacher, and had to complete five reading journals. These reading journals were supposed help us have a better understanding of the book we chose, and we could write whatever we wanted—whatever we thought was important. At first, this assignment/project seemed like one of those annoying and meaningless tasks, but after I completed it, my opinion changed. It really made me thought about the book as I spent hours and hours trying to think of something meaningful to me in the text. I also had to describe my thoughts in a way that was simple enough for people to understand. At the end, in addition to the good mark I got,  I also got a lot of other things out of this assignment/project. This is a feeling that I rarely have.
I think the main difference between the reading journals and all the other school work I got was that it allowed me to continue to think the same way even after it was done. For example, when walking in the streets I would suddenly analyse a specific event, action or object as if it were a book and as if I had to write a journal about it. I would begin to try to phrase the description of the thing in my head, and try to explain the significance in it.

The thinking had come to the point where I actually wanted to try to write the thoughts down— to write them down in a blog. Writing them down not only allows me to think through them more thoroughly, but also allows me to enhance my writing skills (which is very much needed). I really do hope that I can benefit from writing this blog.
Last note, in case you haven't figured out yet, this blog is named Random Stuff because the things I think about can be quite random. Also, as I said earlier, this blog is created partly to practice my writing. Therefore, if you find mistakes of any kind— grammar, spelling (unlikely, because I have spell check) mistakes, or even just poor-connectivity or bad arrangements of sentences and/or paragraphs— it will be very great if you just tell me what you think should be changed (just make a comment).