Archive for December, 2012

If you are learning Spanish, there is one person you should follow.

December 28, 2012

If you are learning Spanish, there is one person you should follow and this is Jane Cronin. She is situated near Torrevieja in Spain, but in this ever-shrinking world, there is plenty available for you from her on the internet no matter where you are situated.

I have not been asked to write this by her, I am writing this as an ‘experienced’ learner of Spanish and as a result of reading her contribution to the Costa Blanca News recently. This newspaper, based in Spain, but written in English, contains her words of advice on how to learn a little more Spanish.

I am a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and I have completed a PhD thesis on how we acquire language. The basis of the thesis was my observations of what happened while I was learning Spanish from scratch as a mature learner, so I believe I speak with some authority.

Jane has exactly the right approach. She writes in a relaxed, chatty style that engages and entertains you, yet it has enough content to introduce you to or remind you of plenty of Spanish. As a teacher, I always have difficulty in avoiding patronizing my learners as I inform them of certain vocabulary or points of grammar. Jane has absolutely no problem with this – the attitude she presents is one of genuine sincerity and interest.

Thank you, Jane, I look forward to your next contribution!


Writing for your audience is not easy but it matters much more than I expected.

December 28, 2012

Writing for your audience is not easy but it matters much more than I expected.

A number of years ago, I wanted to branch out into reviewing films. I went to a number of films in London and wrote my ‘usual’ style of review, sending them to a contact in the USA who had agreed to publish.

One tiny hint from this editor made all the difference to me. He tactfully suggested that I should include some description of what the film was about so that the audience was more informed – words of praise and critical comment were not enough. I was writing for a particular audience and this audience wanted to know about the content of the films before they made a point of seeing them.  I attempted to change my reviews accordingly and have tried this new approach ever since.

This astute editor, Andre Soares, of the Alternative Film Guide has again come to the rescue. I have been blogging about my recent book ‘John, Dementia and Me’ and was surprised when he contacted me again and offered to include a free advert in his publication. I immediately became suspicious and demanded to know if I would be expected to pay up immediately after the ad had been published. He assured me there was no catch and, indeed, the advertisement has been published and there have been no demands made. I hasten to add, this adulation of Andre is solely my own idea! Against the advice of a web designer I have been in contact with recently, I quite happily advised readers of my blog that if they are interested in films, they should look at Andre’s offering – and I willing do the same here.

Not only have I learnt the salutary lesson that one should always have the audience in mind, but I have learnt that not all offers of help come with some kind of trap. Sometimes the offer of a helping hand is just that.

I was to discover this myself recently, when I offered a word of advice about how a certain educational resource could be more effective if it was altered in a certain way. I did not expect any form of reply; I was just interested in the subject.  I was pleasantly surprised when offered the job of reviewing a resource professionally.

So, before you succumb to joining the set of jaded writers who believe there is no future in the business and that you should never offer to write or contribute anything gratis, it never hurts to receive or offer a helping hand or word of advice solely for the purpose of adding to the list of editors and writers out there who are genuinely interested in the subject of writing and in the future of the business.

Seeking fame and fortune with thousands of ‘friends’ you have never known is not always the most productive way of improving your writing or your standing in the business.