Posts Tagged ‘Duke Writing Studio’

Several celebratory days are coming up fast, so they had our attention during the International Conversation Café on Thursday. The first is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) on February 13th.  Durham has its annual parade downtown. Perhaps you’ll come out and join in the fun?  Music starts around 6 pm, the parade runs from about 7 to 7:30 pm, and then there’s free music in several Durham venues. Scroll down on this page for details.

Valentine’s Day takes center stage on Wednesday. Our conversation participants mentioned seeing red hearts, chocolates, and flowers taking over grocery stores. One participant mentioned that this celebratory day is protested in some cultures, sometimes rather humorously (because love can be rather fickle) and sometimes violently. Wishing you a peaceful one whatever you do.

And then there’s Lunar New Year! Shows featuring Duke ASA LNY18music and dance to celebrate the year of the dog will be hosted by the Asian Student Association this week. If you have a Duke id, you can RSVP.

Our next International Conversation Café is Thursday, February 15 at 12:30. Come join us in Griffith Boardroom, the Bryan Center. Sponsored by the Thompson Writing Program & Studio.

Enjoy your celebrating ~ and see you soon!

Rene D. Caputo
Duke Lecturing fellow and ESL specialist


Read Full Post »

daffodils photo

(photo credit:  Rene D. Caputo)

March Madness is in the air around the country ~ and definitely here in North Carolina. Many fans are watching collegiate basketball as teams compete to be national champion. Just around the bend, the men’s and women’s tournaments will hold games featuring their Final Four teams on April 1, 2, and 3.

Another sure sign that spring has arrived in our corner of the word? Pollen’s in the air, on trees, cars, our hair, and everywhere. Clouds of yellow dust are floating through the air. The rain thankfully knocks that yellow to the ground now and then.

In addition to basketball and pollen, March and April bring the New Year to some cultures. If you are celebrating in this season, we wish you the best in your new year.

And April Fool’s Day is just around the corner. Be ready for some silly pranks on the first of April. In France, the day is known as Poission d’avril, or April Fish. Children there apparently sometimes tape a paper fish to the back of their friends’ clothes…a bit of lightheartedness in the midst of other seriousness.

Join in our international conversation gathering this Thursday. We tend to cover the spectrum from silly to serious as the hour goes by. We’ll be in the Bryan Center’s Griffith Board room starting at 12:30. See you there!

~ Rene D. Caputo, Duke University ESL Specialist

Read Full Post »

I hope that you are enjoying the beginning of the fall semester.  The summer flew by, but with milder weather here than usual.  This time around, we  had more cool summer mornings than I remember ever experiencing in the Triangle before.

Labor Day weekend is upon us.  And for whatever inexplicable reason, in Duke’s undergraduate college and Graduate School, this means classes as usual on Labor Day Monday.  It’s an excellent time to reflect on being lucky to be employed, perhaps?!  Yes, I feel fortunate indeed, not only to be employed but also to be surrounded by talented, supportive colleagues, brilliant students, and killer staff.

If you’re a member of the Duke community, you can join me and others this coming ThursdaySeptember 4, to talk about Labor Day, current events, culture, and other topics of interest.  Our International Conversation Café returns to the Bryan Center’s Griffith Board Room (formerly Meeting Room B) at 12:30 for our weekly hour gathering.  Hope to see you there.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend!


Rene Caputo
ESL Specialist, Thomson Writing Program and Duke Writing Studio

Read Full Post »

Have you noticed that people you meet in the U.S. often speak in this way?  Whaddya gonna do? Wherya wanna go?  That is, what are you going to do ~ and where do you want to go.

We talked about this in our International Conversation Café gathering in Duke’s Bryan Center yesterday afternoon. These phrases involve reduced forms of words ~ or reduced speech ~ and understanding them is an essential part of listening comprehension.  Whether or not you want to talk this way is your decision.  The more familiar you become with this style, though, the more you’ll be able to understand English in conversations, on television shows, in movies, and in songs.

Djeet yet? J’eat yet? No, dju? Jawanna do that now? Yes, tsko. Ok, sko. Wutcha wanna eat? What do those mean? Try saying them out loud a few times.  If that doesn’t help, scroll down.

You can find a liist of reduced speech forms to get started with here: http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/ReducedForms.html

I hope you have fun playing with the examples there.  As you play with saying them, consider in what situations using them would feel more appropriate ~ or less so.

If you’re part of the Duke community, come join us for our Thursday conversation gatherings in Griffith Board Room (also known as Meeting Room B) of the Bryan Center.  Our remaining gatherings this semester are on Thursdays, Nov. 14, Nov. 28, and Dec. 5, from 12:30 to 1:30.

See you (seeya) there,

Rene Caputo
Duke ESL Specialist
Thompson Writing Program and Writing Studio

[Djeet yet/J’eat yet:  Did you eat yet? No, dju? No, did you?  Jawanna do that now? Do you wanna (want to) do that now? Tsko/Sko. Let’s go.  Wutcha wanna eat?  What do you want to eat?]

Read Full Post »

We’re back from Philadelphia, PA.  Last week, Beth Long and I traveled to the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) International Conference.  It was a positive whirlwind of a trip. And as the Liberty Bell was just a few blocks away from our conference, I walked down there at the end of one day and did a lovely short tour of the historic district.  (Read about the Liberty Bell: http://www.visitphilly.com/history/philadelphia/the-liberty-bell-center/ and http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/36liberty/36liberty.htm

I was pleased to present, along with Maria Parker (Director of the English for International Students program, Duke Graduate School), a well-attended presentation entitled Teaching Students to Fish: Corpus basics to enhance collocation usage.  We shared two valuable resources for improving word usage, the Corpus of Contemporary American English and the wordandphrase.info site, with those who joined us.  Thanks to Edie Allen and Beth for their support.

      Attend a Writing Studio event at Duke this week!

International Conversation Café  ~ Thursday, April 5, from 12:30 to 1:30
Join us in conversation with people from around the world
Meeting Room B of the Bryan Center, main level

Improving Writing Style ~ Clarity and Conciseness (ESL Series)
Thursday, April 5, from 3 to 4
Come to this valuable writing workshop after our our conversation gathering.
118 Perkins Library

Beth and I hope to see you tomorrow at one or both of these events!

All the best, Rene

Rene Caputo
ESL Specialist, Thompson Writing Program & Writing Studio

Read Full Post »

Fall is upon us and the International Conversation Café is in full swing (back to our normal busy state).  In addition to Beth and me, we had ten participants gathered around the table this week.

Those who have joined us thus far this semester hail from Armenia, Chile, China, France, India, Iran, Japan, Kurdistan, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and the United StatesWe’ve talked about summer adventures, educational norms in different countries, Duke events commemorating the September 11 anniversary, volunteering, use of free time, vocabulary for the fall season, and fall festivals!

Fall festivals and other activities we talked about ~ and that might interest you:

1. Carrboro Music Festival ~ This Sunday, Sept. 25, 1 p.m. until midnight.  Many individuals, duos, & bands will perform, and it’s all free.  Some stages are indoors and others are outdoors. http://carrboromusicfestival.com/ That and other events can be found at Carrboro.com:  http://carrboro.com/events.html

 2. The International Festival of Raleigh ~ Friday, Sept. 30 through Sunday, Oct. 2.   Enjoy lots of music, dancing, food, and more!  More information: http://www.internationalfestival.org/  Save money by buying  your tickets in advance (see website for more information).

3. Other fall activities ~ We also talked about fall foliage (leaf) viewing and finding additional festival information online.  This NC Tourism website provides information you might find useful: http://www.visitnc.com/journeys/highlights/fall-color-l-fall-fishing

A returning conversation attendee from Spain asked us about jazz music in DurhamAnd guess what, Duke has some jazz coming up around the corner (soon)!  Jazz concerts at Duke, Wednesday evenings, Sept. 28, Oct. 5, 19, 26http://www.studentaffairs.duke.edu/mlw/programs-services/jazz-programs   According to this site, those jazz events are free:http://eventful.com/durham/events/jazz-mary-lou-live-music-/E0-001-041826084-4@2011101921

See you at our conversation gatherings on Thursdays, 12:30 to 1:30, in the Bryan Center, Meeting Room B.  And perhaps at a festival or two as well!

Enjoy the leaves and the festivals of the season.
Wishing you all the best this fall,

Rene Caputo
Duke ESL Specialist, Thompson Writing Program and Writing Studio

Read Full Post »