Thursday, October 25, 2012

Short story: The deer's antlers.

One day, the deer was walking in the forest and he met the peacock. The peacock was sitting on the branches of and old tree. He had a lot of colorful feathers, which he showed to the deer. He laughed at the deer because the deer did not have any colors.
The next day, the peacock was sitting at the same place. Again he showed off his feathers laughed at the deer who did not have any colors. The peacock made fun of the deer for many days.
Finally, the deer had a clever idea. He stood up on his two legs, and kicked the branches off the old tree. The peacock fell to the ground. Then the deer chose two of the nicest branches and wore them on his head.
Now the deer still did not have colors, but he had beautiful antlers instead. He showed his antlers to the peacock, and laughed at the peacock because the peacock did not have any antlers.
Also, now the peacock did not have any tree to sit on.
This is how the deer got his antlers.
This is also the reason why the peacock makes its nest on the ground instead of in the trees. The peacock's nest is on the ground because he is afraid the deer might kick down more branches when he needs new antlers. 

Alamak, English! week 5, the non-essay.

Although my strongest point in the English exams have always been the essay-writing part, I thought it best to mention the second part of the paper as well. Frankly, my English lessons wouldn't be complete if I didn't include the second English paper. The importance of English Paper 2 really struck me after the recent Trial exams. I almost let my A+ slip out of my hands because of carelessness and overconfidence. Let's go over this paper a little, shall we?

Paper 2 is divided into 4 "sections": Section A, B, C, and D.

Section A consists of 15 multiple-choice questions, each worth 1 mark.
Section B involves "information transfer", based on a given poster or advertisement.
Section C is where you "comprehend" a passage and summarise it at the end.
Section D would be your Literature, where you have to answer questions based on a poem we have studied and write an essay on a novel.

Each of these sections are equally important, and should all be answered with care. Here are a few tips which I have gathered from various sources which may be helpful when answering the paper:

For Section A questions 1-8, you will have to choose the right answer based on given information. Make sure you read every part of the question carefully. If the question gives you a news report, make sure you choose the answer that fills the requirement of the question. Do not just circle correct facts. Take some time to fully understand the question.
For questions 9-15, we have Rational Close, namely, filling in the blank spaces in a passage based on the given choices. When answering these questions, make sure that your answer corresponds with A) the past tense or present tense of the whole passage, as well as the individual sentence, and B) the subject being refered to in the sentence.
For example:
"This problem needs to managed if we _____ to have a brighter, greener future."
Choices: A. is, B. are, C. was, D. were.

The answer is B. are, because the sentence is in present tense ("needs to be managed") and the subject of the sentence is what we (plural) have to do.

For Section B (questions 16-25), you have to read an advertisement or something similar and then complete a chart or a table given. You only have to copy the information exactly as it is given in the advertisement. Make sure that when you copy it, everything is exactly the same as it is given in the advertisment, including capital letters and spacings. Be careful not to leave out important information, and only include the information that is asked for. Do not change anything, but instead just copy everything straight out of the advertisement. That is the safest way.
For example:
Launching Ceremony by YAB Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, PRIME MINISTER at Dataran 1Malaysia, Putrajaya Heights
Question: 16. Name of event: __________ 17. Officiated by: _____________

---For question 16, the name of the event, do not add a space between the "1" and the "MALAYSIA", and leave everything in capitals. Even though it looks like it should be changed, you do not have to change anything. Just copy everything exactly from the advertisement: 1MALAYSIA CARNIVAL.
For question 17, "Launching Ceremony" is actually the same as "Officiated by". You do not need to write "Launching Ceremony by" in your answer. Likewise, you should not include the venue of the event in your answer. Also, don't change the name or add fullstops in the YAB since it is not given, and do not change "Mohd" to "Mohammad". Just copy the advertisement: YAB Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, PRIME MINISTER.

For Section C questions 26-30, you have to read a passage, usually an extract from a newspaper or magazine article, and answer questions based on it. Each question will tell you which paragraph to find the answer from. When answering questions, take care to only choose your answer from the given paragraph. For example: From paragraph 3, find a word that can be substituted with 'upset'. Now, maybe paragraph 2 has the word 'disappointed', and paragraph 3 has the word 'depressed'. Both can be reasonably substituted with 'upset'. However, you have to take the answer from paragraph 3. The same goes for any questions asking for details from the passage.
Question 31 is a summary question. You have to write a summary based on the passage. Here, I beg you to do three things: 1) Understand what the summary is supposed to be about, 2) Take note of where the range of your material should be on the passage, and 3) Underline or bracket the points that you have identified. If you are unsure of whether or not a particular point is valid, you can leave it out if you have enough points and can reach 130 words. When writing the summary, paraphrasing, or "making long phrases shorter", is a must. Do not let your summary go even one word above 130, because this might determine whether or not your last point is valid.

Finally, Section D. Question 32 usually asks questions based on a poem we have learnt, although rumors say that they could ask short stories instead. In any case, be prepared and rely on what your teachers have taught you. Read through all your notes, particularly the "Meaning of Stanzas", and make sure you fully understand the question before you answer.
Question 33 required you to write about a novel you have studied; For this year's SPM, that would be The Curse, Step by Wicked Step, or Catch Us If You Can. No matter which of the three novels you've studied, the fundamentals are the same: Understand what the question wants, and use detailed evidence from the text to answer the question. It is important to link the evidence from the text to the requirement of the question.

For example: The question asks me to write about an interesting character in a novel I have studied. I studied the novel Catch Us If You Can. I could choose to write about Granda. What makes him interesting: Granda has many skills. Evidence from the text: Granda teaches Rory how to catch fish, Granda teachers Rory about birds in the wild, Granda hotwires a car. Why I find this interesting: This shows that Granda is a very experienced person in many areas and will have a lot of knowledge to impart. I would love to talk to him and learn much from him.

Three simple steps. Add a bit more flowery language, go into more detail in the evidence from the text, and you'll be home safe. A common mistake is that students fail to link the evidence in the text to the requirement of the question. This can be very costly, so the student should try to stick as close to the ROQ as possible throughout the whole thing.

That's all I have to share about English Paper 2. Summary-writing in Section C has always been my weak spot, and it shows too. I tend to write things a bit long-winded. To avoid this problem, I'll try not to write a long conclusion to today's lesson. Good night, and as usual, I hope I helped.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alamak, English! week 4, beginnings and ends.

It was a dark and stormy night. As the rain poured down and gusts of wind whipped the branches off the dead and gnarly trees, periodic flashes of lightning illuminated a shadowy and gloomy castle at the top of a lone hill. During the brief seconds when the building was made visible by the flashes, one noticed several things about the castle. First, that it seemed to be very ancient and ill-kept - there was not a brick in the building that was clean of clefts and cracks - and second, that there was someone in there, in an upper room, where a dim candlelight darkened his silhouette against the window...

I'm afraid I'm a bit dishevelled right now - if you are wondering why, then check the post before this one - and in any case I'm sure my lessons have ceased to be of benefit to anyone but myself, as I rapidly run out of interesting things to write, but I'll try my best anyway.

You may ask yourself now, what was the whole point of that first paragraph up there. Well, today's lesson is on writing the first and last paragraphs of an essay - that is, the introduction and the conclusion. That whole "dark and stormy night" business was my feeble attempt at writing an interesting and attention-gripping introduction.

Of course, you introduction should be connected to the paragraph after. That is to say, you shouldn't use the dark and stormy line for every kind of story you write.

How to explain the fundamental difference and respective importance of an introduction and a conclusion? We start by understanding what they are important for.

The introduction of any essay should be interesting and attention-gripping. It should make your reader want to read the rest of your essay. In the case the examiner, the intro must leave a good first impression on him, so that he is in a good mood when he reads the rest of your essay. Remember, the examiner has never met you before. To him, the introduction for your essay is like a first smile or handshake, through which he evaluates you decides what kind of work he can expect out of you.

The conclusion, on the other hand, is quite the reverse. Aside from being on the other end of the essay, it should be conclusive and final. It should leave your readers satisfied and thinking to themselves, "Wow, what a great essay that was!" The conclusion should also leave a good final impression on the examiner. Remember, and this is very important, your conclusion is the last thing that he reads before he decides how many marks you get. You must leave him feeling like you deserve the marks.

I would like to introduce two analogies in relevance to the role of introductions and conclusions. The first is that of a conversation.

Have you ever experienced one of those moments when you say "hi" to someone or call out their name, but they don't hear you? Instead they walk right past you without realising you said anything, or they just keep doing what they were doing without hearing you. That is the kind of introduction you want to avoid. You want to walk up to him, pat him on the shoulder from behind, greet him with a laugh, and begin chatting with him. Write it in such a way that when the examiner reads it, there can remain no doubt that "This is your intro." You don't want him to read the whole first paragraph and think, "What? That was an intro?" Make yourself bold and write your introduction with confidence, as if to say, "Yes, this is my intro, and I'm proud of it."
Likewise, partings are also important. What you want to avoid is one of those partings where neither person really knows what to say, and the whole thing turns awkward. What you want to do his shake him by the hand and say "Well, I had a great time talking with you, but I'm afraid I really must go now. I hope we can have another little chat some other time." That is the kind of conclusion you want. Firm, decisive, and leaving the other fellow thinking "Yes, that was a rather nice chat, wasn't it?" Try not to leave the last thread of the conversation dangling, as it were.

The second analogy is that of a magic show.

Magicians often begin their tricks with something fancy. They come up on stage and bow to the audience. They show that they have nothing hidden in their sleeves or their hat. Then they take off their hat, whisk out a magic wand, wake it around in the air above the hat for a while - maybe recite a few magic words - and hey presto! A rabbit jumps out of the hat! How fabulous! The audience laughs a cheers and applauds.
His bold declarations as to the emptiness of his sleeves and headpiece mainly serve one purpose: To establish interest and credibility. Not only do they establish a connection between the magician and the audience, these formalities also show the audience that "Hey, I'm a real magician! No funny tricks here!" The introduction of the essay should make the examiner interested in the essay ahead, it should also give him the impression that this student is really good at writing.
Now what would happen if the magician stepped briskly on stage, took of his hat, tapped the hat with his stick once, and voila! rabbit? That would not be much of a show now would it?
Or what if he went through all that bowing and sleeve-pulling and magic incantations, just to produce a puff of colorful smoke from his hat? The finale is certainly lacking something there. The conclusion should leave the examiner applauding and saying "That was truly impressive. I'm glad I sat through the whole thing."

Now, how to write a good introduction? As always, it depends on the type of essay. For Argumentative and Factual essays, a standard "In this globalised era..." introduction should work fine, but it must link to the last sentence in the paragraph in which you emphasise on the main focus of the essay; for Factual, whether you're writing on the causes or effects of the topic, and for Argumentative, which side you support. For Descriptive and Narrative essays, a description of the scene works well, such as "Darkness covered the entire land as the clock struck midnight," or "The sun was shining brightly in the sky." Also for Narrative essays about yourself, you can introduce yourself a bit in the introduction, such as "I have always been a very forgetful person, but I can never forget the day when..." or "As an ordinary teenager leading an ordinary life, I could never have expected anything extraordinary to happen on that day...". For some Narrative essays, these first lines will be given. As for the introduction for Reflective and Open essays, well... use your imagination a little.

As for the writing of conclusions, now that can be a tricky one. For Argumentative, you should continue to assert your opinion, and end with hope. For instance, "In light of all this evidence, I remain convinced that smoking is bad for your health. Therefore, I hope that students will learn to avoid it and lead healthy lives." Factual essays can also go something along those lines. Come on, you guys are great at writing Malay essays, aren't you? The general style is the same. Attention should be paid towards the endings for Narrative and Descriptive essays. You should always try to have a happy ending, although... a dramatic, tragic ending can be good too, if you know how to do it properly. But since ending on a high note is easier, I'll focus on that. If you describe a person, you can end with hopes that the person will continue to be an inspiration to those who know him. If you describe an event or experience, write about how much you learned from it, and what it left you with. In a Narrative, the story should come to a nice close, and leave the reader glad with each character's fate (except when the reverse is required). For some Narratives when the last line is provided, it provides you with an idea of how the story should end, so you should build up to it appropriately.

That is all I can say on this topic for now. However, I feel as if I have not covered all the corners, and some questions may not have been answered. This is because of lack of time. If I were to explain every single bit of intro-and-ending writing in minute detail, the post would be too long and boring. If you need help writing an intro or an ending for a particular kind of essay which I have not explained sufficiently, I would be honoured if you would ask me about it.

...As all of those joyful moments returned to his memories, and as he remembered all his old friends and experiences, he could not suppress a minute smile that formed on his dry and cracked lips. He stroked his grandson's hair as the little boy lay on his lap, sound asleep. It was strange, he thought, but when he had looked into his grandson's innocent blue eyes, he saw reflected in them the kindness and purity of heart that had once belonged to his late wife. "Oh well," he thought to himself, "That's genetics for you." Although he was an old man with nothing left for him in the world, he was glad to be able to meet his grandson at least once while he was still alive. At that very moment, he decided that he would spend the rest of his life making sure that the boy received everything he needed to grow into a fine young man. With these comforting thoughts in his mind, he closed his eyes and went to sleep.

100th post...?


This is, like, the 100th post of my blog, so I thought I would, you know, put a break in the English lessons to say a few words.

So, um...

Now that the blog has reached a hundred posts, my next goal is typically two hunderd posts. Thank you everyone for continuing to read, and I hope I'll learn not to be a bore.

...I received a freakishly large number of pageviews yesterday. I mean, like, record-breakingly high. Even more than the time when my sister linked my blog on her Facebook. Except this time, I don't know where all these pageviews are coming from. It's just an unexplainable 24-hour spike in activity, but it's sort of settled down by today. To be honest, it's really making me nervous... Did I somehow finally manage to do something exactly right? ...or wrong?

Oh dear... Well, happy 100th post and everything. I'll get started on the English lesson now.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Alamak, English! week 3, choosing the right question.

Alright, it is the age-old question which arises every single time we sit for an English Paper: Which of the five questions for continuous writing should I choose? For some people or during some exams, this question can consume up to 10 minutes of pondering time if the student is indecisive. For others, they choose the question too hastily, and end up writing an essay that is way off the mark and completely neglects the ROQ - Requirement of Question.

There was a friend of mine in class - I know he won't mind me mentioning his story, since he's a cool guy; and it's not like he's likely to ever read this anyway - but during the recent SPM trials, he chose the one-word-topic quetion 5: Choices. He turned it into a story. Written from a first-person point of view, it went like this: He had embarassed himself at school by entering the girls' bathroom in his haste. After that, whenever his friends mentioned it and made fun of him for it, he handled it by laughing it off and joking about the incident. Soon, people stopped making fun of him for entering the girls' bathroom.

Not much about "Choices" there, and teacher said so in class.

However, there is something to be commended in how spontaneous his writing came about. Don't think about it too much, just pick a question and tackle it to the best of your ability.

It helps a lot if you enter the Exam Hall with a rough idea of which kinds of questions you would like to choose, i.e., which writing style you prefer. There are generally six kinds of essays that can be asked for in Continuous Writing: Factual, Descriptive, Reflective, Argumentative, Narrative, and Open.

Factual essays ask for facts or suggestions on a topic. An easy essay for people with a lot of information and ideas on how to make changes. Note: Since 2004, there have only been four descriptive essays in SPM: in 2004 and the following two years and then in 2010. Examples: How to stay healthy, How is television beneficial, How can we save the environment.

Descriptive essays require the student to describe scenes, people, places, or events. It is easier to write descriptive essays if you have someone or something real to relate your essay to, although making something up can work just as well for those with imagination. These essays should give the reader a clear impression of the object described, and adjectives should be used well.Examples: Describe the biggest challenge you've faced, Describe an enjoyable weekend you've experienced, Describe an incident you saw on the way home from school.

Reflective essays ask for the student's personal thoughts and opinions. Essays that are written with more expressions of the student's own opinions and feelings will be more on the mark of the reflective style of writing that is expected from them. Anything that the student writes should clearly be from the student's own point of view. Examples: Who would you like to be if you were given the chance, What changes do you want to see in your life in ten years, What is your favourite day of the week.

Argumentative essays will give the student a statement, and the student will have to agree or disagree with it. There is no side that is in the right. Students can choose to write in any direction they want, and they will be marked based on the maturity and accuracy of their ideas and statements. It works like a debate, and debators or students familiar with debates will easily warm up to the writing style of argumentative essays. Note: The student must clearly state at the beginning which side they support, and it is important not to give any ideas that support the opposite side. Examples: Are examinations good or bad, Is the internet a more of a good thing than a bad thing, Should school students have part time jobs.

Narrative essays will give the student the title, first line, or last line of a story, and the rest is in your hands. Narrative stories require a plot that mantains interest and follows the "rule of mountain" as I call it - an interesting start, a build-up to the climax, and a gentle resolution of the story down to the finish. Narrative essays require a mixture of descriptive language, figures of speech, and proper planning. Note: The last line is important in a Narrative and its importance should be stressed upon in cases where it is not given. Examples: Write a story starting with: "It had been raining all day...", Write a story ending with: "...We had never laughed so much in our lives.", Write a story entitled: "An Unexpected Visitor."

Open essays are fun. They give the student one word - usually a general object, concept, or virtue - and the student has to expand on that word in any way they find fitting. From one word that the question gives, the student can write about their reflections on that object, the pros and cons of that object, a description of that object that they have encountered before, or even a story that revolves around that object. This kind of essay opens up the student's imagination and let's them decide which angle they want to tackle the topic from. Note: The student's writing style in an Open essay is dependant on what kind of essay he decides to turn it into. Examples: Music, Foods, Tomorrow, Peace.

During the exam, after you have read the five questions in Continuous Writing, it should not take you more than a minute to decide which one of the five you want to choose. That way you have more time to plan out and write your essay.

For most students, there will be certain kinds of essays that they feel comfortable with, and others which they cannot write easily. For myself, I find that Factual essays are boring, Argumentative essays require too much thought when it come to picking sides, and Reflective essays are too risky. This narrows down my choices to Narrative, Descriptive, and Open essays. My scope is now smaller, and instead of choosing from five questions, I only have to choose from two or three. From this smaller range of questions, I just have to identify which topic will be easier to write smoothly.

The best way for a student to find out which kinds of essays is best for them, is to write more essays and follow their gut. If you have ever experienced a time when you wrote an essay for the examination, and then later feeling that you wrote it badly, you were probably right. If you felt uncomfortable writing it, then your readers will probably feel uncomfortable reading it, in a sense. Therefore, through trial and error, you can find out which styles of essay writing suit you the best. Then during an exam, you can eliminate all the questions which you are least likely to be able to answer well, until you're left with one question remaining.

All the examples of essay questions that I listed above are legitimate, past-year questions - paraphrased, of course. If you have time for it, try looking through all the questions on the different types of essays above, write the first paragraph of a few of them - only the first paragraph, just to get the feel of the general essay, and to see if you will be able to proceed well into the main points for the essay you have chosen.

It would be even better if you could write one or two full essays. You can always ask your teacher to grade them, but in general, if you enjoyed writing the essay and felt proud of it at the end,  then you're probably right on the money. I can't say anything about how that would work out for your grammar though, so it's best to hand in any essays you've written to your teacher.

Before we close for today, let's take a look at a choice of five questions, and see how we would go about choosing one of them.

Peperiksaan Percubaan SPM 2012 SBP

1. A pleasant dream.

2. Desribe a scene after a disaster.

3. Success comes to those who work hard. Do you agree?

4. Write a story ending with: "...he left and closed the door quietly behind him."

5. Strength.

Now, I know that I am not good at writing Argumentative essays, so 3 is automatically out. 1 sounds like descriptive, but also like a reflective. Seems a bit risky, so I'll put it out for now. That leaves me with 2, 4, and 5. 5 says "Strength", and I don't think I'll be able to write about that well, so that's out. Between the Descriptive essay in 2 and the Narrative essay in 4, the story seems a bit difficult to write, because I cannot imagine many scenarios that match the given ending, whereas question 2 does not specify what kind of disaster it was, so my options are not as limited. Therefore, I choose question 2, the description of the scene after a disaster. Now that I have decided on a quesion, I can start planning what kind of disaster it should be, and how I should start my essay.

By using the same reasoning and elimination process, based on your own preferences, you can try to identify which one of the five questions you feel most comfortable with and would have chosen; and then, if you have the time, by all means write out the whole essay. It should take no longer than an hour, which is not too much time. All you have to do is perhaps sacrifice a bit of your free time during the weekends to write your essay. Practice is always vital for any subject.

While I may have spoken for too much too long on a very small part of the essay, I would think that the proper technique for choosing the right question is important. One should never be overly hesitant in choosing an essay to write, as time is precious is the exams. On the other hand, one should not be too hasty in choosing an essay, as the student might end up writing completely off-topic. Too many of my friends have written essays in the past that simply have nothing to do with the topic provided - most of them Narrative and Open essays. That is why practice is important as well: to identify one's strengths and weaknesses, and to know mistakes to avoid in the future. And yet, I feel apologetic for writing such a long lesson on such a nominal topic. My only hope for compensation is that readers will be able to use the example questions I have provided to get some practice writing. Once again, sorry for being a boring eyesore, and goodnight.

For many, many more sets of five questions to practice your decisive powers with, visit and go to the English papers.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Alamak, English! week 2, quotes.

This is the second Thursday since I started my new studying timetable, so it's time to study English again with all my kind blog readers! Now, what to talk about today? I shouldn't over-think this kind of thing, because that would make it too tedious. Writing is supposed to be fun, as the author Terry Pratchett once said, "Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself." Hey, that's a great subject to talk about! Not about fun writing, but about quotes.

In Bahasa Melayu and English essays alike, we are often advised to include idioms, proverbs, and figures of speech in our writing. The main reason why we need these things in our essay, is because of the "impressive" factor. We need to leave a good impression on the examiner, so that he will decide to give us good marks when he finishes reading the essay.

Idioms and proverbs have a high "impressive" factor, and when an examiner seems them in an essay, he thinks "This student is a very mature writer and is able to link idioms to relevant situations." Thus, the marks increase. However, the art of integrating proverbs into an essay is one that does not come naturally to me. That is why I tend to use quotes instead. In theory, quotes should also impress the examiner, as they show that the student is able to make sense of a quote and apply it in a way that is relevant to the essay. Of course, idioms and proverbs should not be left out, because they are one of the requirements in the marking scheme for an 'A' rank essay. But quotes still make an essay more interesting.

One of my favourite quotes is a famous line from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name, would smell as sweet." This quote, while universally recognised, is not very easy to use in an essay. The quote generally means that the reputation of a name is not as important as the virtues possessed by a person; hence, even if we were to call a rose by another name, it would still smell as sweet as it always did. Basically, it's a souped-up version of "Don't judge a book by it's cover," but can only be applied to names. It can be used to say that we should not judge people by status and namesake, but by their virtues; although it might find more practical use in a narrative composition.

One quote that is both well-known and flexible in usage is "The only thing stopping you is you." This quote has many variations, such as "The only thing stopping you is yourself," and "The only thing stopping your from fulfilling your dreams is you." All variations of the quote carry the same meaning, namely, that hard work will help you achieve anything. However, the quote does not really have a real source, as so many people have said it. No Winston Churchill or Mark Twain here, just the general hope of humankind. When you use it in an essay, you could just say something like "Many knowledgeable and wise people have said that 'The only thing stopping you is you.' " This quote has many applications as it touches a common topic.

Because of my work on the school magazine last year, I had done some searching for miscellaneous motivational quotes to put on the section pages. Here are a few that can come in handy. "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm," by Winston Churchill. This quote tells us not to give up when we are trying to reach a goal, and can be used together with the previous quote about working hard. "Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders," by Tom Peters. This quote can be used as an introduction in an essay about leadership. A few others that are not in the school magazine are "A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be," by Douglas Pagels,

If you are able, you can choose to memorise a few lines of some of the poems in your text book. In our Form 4 & Form Five Poems and Short Stories text book, a few lines from some of the poems can come in handy when writing your essays. "They were born amidst hardship, and grew up without a sigh or a complaint," by Latiff Mohidin. These lines can be linked to the lesson that we should be grateful for what we have, a useful quote in narrative and other kinds of essays. As for He Had Such Quiet Eyes, by Bibsy Soenharjo, memorising the whole thing is not a difficult task, and many different parts of the poem can be put to good use.

William Shakespeare's Brief Candle can be used too, by some feat of imagination. "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.". This quote reminds us that life is temporary. Therefore...? We shouldn't be caught up piling riches for ourselves on earth. Or something. Like I said, this quote may require some imagination to use.

There are many ways to squeeze a quote into an essay. Some quotes can be used in the introduction for the essay. For example, you could write like this:

"Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders." The famous writer Tom Peters spoke these words on leadership, and he tells us a lot about what it means to be a reader.
And so on...

You could also use quotes to reinforce a point:

We must not let failure deter us from success. As the famous politician Winston Churchill once said, "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." Therefore, we must always try our best to succeed, no matter how many times we fail.

Note that in all cases, it is advisable to include the speaker's authority, such as "famous writer" and "famous politician". This makes the quote sound better, and that way we know that this person is actually an important guy, and not some old nobody.

And now for the dirty tricks: It probably does not matter if you do not get the spelling of the speaker's name right. The examiners, unlike me, do not have the time to look up quotes on Google, since they will be marking hundreds of students' essays. On top of that, they will probably be lenient on the matter. Just make sure to get the really famous people's names right, like Winston Churchill and William Shakespeare.

It can be a good idea to have a few quotes in your pocket at all times, ready to be pulled out and used in any essay, whether in homework or the actual examination. You do not need to force yourself to memorise a large number of quotes. Just find a few quotes that are meaningful and easy to remember, and keep those away in your mind for a rainy day. Target quotes which speak on general topics, such as hard work, family togetherness, and friendship, if you plan to write argumentative essays or factual essays. For narrative essays, you can have one of your characters quote to someone as advice, or you yourself as the narrator can write a quote, as if speaking to yourself, or to your readers, to drive home a lesson.

That's about all I have to say today. Quotes may not be for everyone, and some people may be better off sticking to idioms and proverbs. Many quotes can be found on any topic at