"Give them the gift of words"

Vocab1 Spy Screenshots Revealed

After a massive response to our special report The Power of Vocabulary Context we are pleased to release a special preview of what is to come.

Vocab1 is the first vocabulary building software to use a corpus directly.

Vocab1 integrates the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) by Brigham Young University.

COCA contains more than 520 million words of text (20 million words each year 1990-2015) and it is equally divided among spoken, fiction, popular magazines, newspapers, and academic texts.

This means Vocab1 can help you learn words faster than ever before, based on research that shows that your brain is “hard wired” to learn words by reading them in context.


Above: Learn with massive context and immersion like never before.



Above: 9 newly updated games and activities to accelerate your learning.



Above: Access 640 built in expert word lists, plus thousands more to be created by the community.



Above: Track your progress and see your improvement.



Above: New social profile and learning.


3 Tips To Engage Readers and Write With Style!

Online reading requires a different kind of focus. We’re easily distracted by ads, chat notifications, and emails, and we have an endless, ever-growing stream of information from around the world that begs for our attention and time.

This makes it hard for you as a writer, blogger, or business owner to attract your audience’s attention and keep them interested and thirsty for more.

This article will help you engage your readers by making some simple changes to your writing style and content.

Scannable Content

Make your readers’ life easier

– or don’t bother writing at all. Nobody’s going to read a 20-line paragraph. Structure your content in a way that’s easy to skim and scan on a smartphone or tablet. People want to be able to choose what to read and what to leave behind, and writing novel-like content is turning them away.

Use bullet points, headlines, and strategic formatting

to make it easier for the reader to navigate and understand your content. Highlight important takeaways and write short paragraphs of 4 sentences or fewer.

Be sure to use numbers.

They give people a reason to read because you’re giving them information they can quantify and readily understand. Consider these two headlines:

Ways you can engage your readers and keep them coming back for more

5 ways you can engage your readers and keep them coming back for more

Do you see how the insertion of the number makes this headline so much more concrete, and the whole article a whole lot more valuable?

That’s the power of numbers. People want to know in advance what’s in it for them and giving them numbers gives them this reassurance. They know they’ll easily find tips they can quickly and easily use.

A great tip for ensuring your content is scannable and user-friendly is to re-read only your highlighted content, headlines and subheadings, text in bold or italics, and anything else you’ve drawn attention to through special formatting.

If it gives you the gist of the whole article, then you’ve done a great job!

Write With Style. Take a different road.

Engaging a reader is about offering something new. Something they’ve never heard or thought of before. It might be hard depending on your subject matter or business niche, but it’s nonetheless possible.

Use a metaphor to speak for a well-covered topic and don’t be afraid to contradict ideas and trends everybody else seems to agree with. Take the road less traveled and speak from a place of confidence.

As long as you back your claims with facts and arguments, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Your readers will be exhilarated to read something fresh, something daring!

Set the Right Tone and Have The Best Emotional Involvement

If you’re the blog author for a multinational company, too-casual language is a big no-no. It sounds unprofessional and makes your company seem unreliable.

On the other hand, if you’re a food blogger and your writing is filled with scientific jargon or too much historical information, this will distance you instead of bringing you closer to your audience. To engage your readers you need to speak their language.

Tone is the personality of your writing. It’s how you sound in your readers’ minds and how they picture you. Decide whether it is going to be defined by its humor and wittiness, its astuteness, or its neutrality.

Implement these three tips and you will have more people reading through your content!

Vocab1 guarantees to help you increase your vocabulary knowledge! Learn more words and apply them in your writings.

How to Improve Your Writing Skills Using Technology (Guest Post)

David Mitchel

Writing is a lonely job. Be it an essay, a novel, or a nonfiction gardening manual, it is generally one person and a keyboard, or pen and paper for those who prefer the old fashioned method.  That’s why so many writers have struggled in the past because when they hit a wall in their writing, they don’t know where to turn. That’s why this age of technology has become the best thing for writers because they now have numerous online tools to help them improve their writing skills, no matter their experience level.

Writing Prompts

Anything can spark an idea for a story, but sometimes the world around you offers nothing in the way of a quality project. That’s where online writing prompts come in. There are numerous websites that offer prompts for all writers, no matter their age or skill level. Whether you prefer picture, objects, or even first line prompts, there is a site that can help get those creative juices flowing.

Grammar Tutorials and Paper Writing Guides

Whether you are just learning to write or just brushing up on the rules of grammar, online tutorials and paper writing guides are a great way to keep the rules of writing fresh in your head.  This will improve your writing and make it easier to get those projects published, or give students the high grades they need to reach their educational goals. I would recommend EnglishGrammar101 as a great place for excellent grammar tutorials and SolidEssay if you are looking for “how-to” paper writing guides.

Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

When looking for writing tools, there’s an app for that. Jotterpad and Drafts both let writers quickly jot down their ideas wherever they are.  iA Writer includes features that highlight any chosen part of grammar; from nouns to adverbs to conjunctions.  It also comes with a document library, focus mode, and a few export features. Even Microsoft Word has now come out with an app to keep all writers doing what they love.

Online Dictionaries and Thesauruses

When writing in the park or on the subway, reference books are usually left at home. So, when stuck for a word, or unsure if you’re using the correct one, go online to the Oxford Dictionary website, and browse around for what you need. Not only is the correct spelling available, but they also offer synonyms, different meanings, and sample sentences. Alternate spellings for different countries are also given for those who need it.

Graphic Organizers

Some people are better writers when they use pictures to keep their ideas straight. That’s where graphic organizers come in. There are a few different tools to do this, including concept maps that show relationships between multiple ideas, web maps that show how different sections of ideas relate to each other, and mind maps that contain a central idea with related topics that branch out to broaden the concepts.

Proofreading Software

Even the best editors miss a spelling mistake or misplaced comma. Proofreading software can find those hidden errors and ensure the finished product is as clean as possible. The best part is that many of them go beyond simple spelling errors. Some have features that correct grammar and usage, rephrase awkward sentences, read your text out loud, and even have translators for those who require another language in their text that they are not fluent in.

Speech Recognition Software

Every writer has the ability to speak much faster than they write. That’s why speech recognition software has become so popular for people in every field. From journalists to lawyers to students looking to update their status on social networks or send off quick emails to their friends, software like Dragon has become their most used tool. It not only records dictation for writing projects or outline ideas, it can also help to navigate your computer, create spreadsheets, and even do some editing.


Having outlines, stories, essays, or other writing projects saved on a home computer is great, but this means you can’t access them when you’re at work or travelling.  That’s where Evernote comes in. This program allows anything that has been saved in the program to be accessed from any other personal device, no matter where you are. Pictures, notes, documents, even scanned handwritten pages are available. And Evernote even allows stored items to be shared as the user sees fit.

Writer’s Forums

Having a community to discuss ideas, issues, or successes with is something everyone needs, and writers of any kind are no different. There are many forums for writers to visit online, to find like-minded individuals who understand every moment of fear, excitement, and even the hubris that comes along with creating something so unique. They can offer critiques, advice, and resources for any topic, and make the writer’s world a little less lonely.

Author Bio: David Mitchel is a freelance writer who has contributed to multiple websites in the education field. One of his recent publications is on how to write a psychology report.

The Importance of Editing and Proofing Your Social Media Posts (Guest Post)

Alicia Honeycutt

How active are you on social media? Chances are that you spend some time every single day writing posts and updating your profiles.

Even if you’re using social media just for fun, you’re telling people a lot about who you are. Everybody has access to websites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ – friends, acquaintances, co-workers, your teachers and even potential employers. As a result, you have to be careful about everything that you upload.

Posts that contain errors, grammar mistakes and poorly-structured sentences are usually linked to sloppiness and laziness. This isn’t the impression you want to make on others. Editing and proofreading your social media posts doesn’t take a lot. At the same time, putting some effort in the process will definitely pay off in the long run.

Reasons Why You Need to Proofread Everything

There are several reasons why you need to proofread everything you’re about to post in the online realm. The most important ones include:

          – Build your credibility: if you want to be taken seriously, you should be a perfectionist when it comes to the content that you publish online. Whether you’d like to establish your reputation as a professional or simply reach a big number of people, proper spelling and grammar are essential.

          – Find attractive employment options: statistics show that more employers than ever are checking candidates on social media. According to CareerBuilder, 39 percent of employers looked for candidate profiles on social media in 2013. The figure has gone up to 52 percent in 2015.

          – Connect with the right people: by posting thoughtful, well-research and properly written posts, you’ll be attracting intelligent people to your profiles. Such networking opportunities will be really beneficial in the long run.

          – Create an online identity that people will like: your online identity is entirely based on the information that you publish. The posts will determine how people are going to perceive you. If you want to be taken seriously, you’ll need to proofread before posting the next status.

Tips for Effective Social Media Proofreading

If you’ve never proofed and edited your online content in the past, you may feel somewhat confused about getting started. A few simple tips will help you improve your posts. The best aspect is that you’ll need just a couple of minutes to make sure your content is error-free.

Read Your Posts

The first and simplest thing you can do to reduce the risk of errors is read the post you’re about to upload. Reading the text out loud is usually the best approach. It will enable you to identify errors and poor sentence structure that will otherwise go unnoticed.

Use the Right Proofing Tools

Professional writers, bloggers and people that post frequently on social media can rely on various tools to enhance the quality of their creation. A quality grammar and style checker is ideal for beginners and people that don’t have prior experience. When it comes to important posts (like the ones on your LinkedIn profile, for example), you may want to opt for a bit of professional assistance.

Check Your Content after You’ve Uploaded it

Reading the text just once before it goes online isn’t sufficient. After you post an update, you may notice a formatting problem or another issue that interferes with readability. This is why you should dedicate a few seconds to checking the posts after they go live and making sure that everything looks impeccable.

Slow down before you post your next tweet or Facebook status update. Even if it doesn’t discuss a serious topic, it should be error-free. Social media provide lots of opportunities and you can’t be negligent about building your online persona. Proofreading is an easy process and you don’t have to do a lot of work in order to make sure your posts are perfect.

Author Bio

My name is Alicia Honeycutt. I am a content strategist and a passionate writer from Los Angeles. I love reading and writing, travelling and discovering the world.

7 Weird and Funny Ways to Learn a New Language

Stacey Marone

Think learning a new language is boring? Think again – with these techniques, you can improve your skills while having fun!

Here are seven unorthodox language learning tips from the seasoned writers of Scholar Advisor that might just change your perspective in the language learning process:

Stage a Play

It doesn’t have to be a big production. Remember that the keyword to these tips is fun while learning. Stage a short play for a small audience you think would enjoy.

Of course, the other key point here is to stage a play in a completely different language, preferably the one you’re learning. Make use of the language while having fun in this simple activity.

Go on a Blind Date

One way to meet new people, have fun, and practice a new language all at once is through this unconventional tip.

Go on a blind date with a native speaker and try practicing a few key phrases with them during your date. You can even go to a restaurant and try practicing your basic phrases while ordering.

Cook a Foreign Dish

The important part of this exercise is to cook a dish in which instructions are written in another language. This not only boosts your vocabulary, it also helps acquaint you with basic phrases and instructions.

To avoid any accidents, start out with minor dishes first. You don’t have to be able to cook a grand meal yet, just make sure you get the hang of the language.

Buy Comics

Like children’s books, comics are also fun and easy to read, and can also help you be more familiar with the language you’re learning.

Aside from this, interesting storylines and appealing images won’t make it look like a chore, but more of an engaging exercise that both appeals to your visual senses, and helps you learn faster and better.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of reading, learning the language overall will be much easier.

Explore Your Surroundings

This one is for people who are traveling in another country. To really test whether you’ve learned the language right, head out of your cozy room, and walk the streets.

Ask the locals about facts and places in the area where it might be good to stay and further immerse yourself in the culture. Just make sure you can find your way back later on.

Write Down Your Grocery List

Similar to learning to cook in your language of choice, writing down your grocery list is a simple and engaging way to incorporate the language in your daily life.

In fact, before getting on the recipe itself, you can start with the grocery list first. Build your vocabulary by identifying as many kitchen materials and foodstuff in a foreign language you know. You might be surprised by your progress.

Introduce Yourself

Try this out with a friend, or with a pen pal.

Practice communicating with others in a foreign language by making a full introduction using that language alone. Avoid code switching to your native tongue, but try to sound as natural as possible in your introduction.

Don’t be too stiff. If you’re comfortable enough with the person whom you are sharing to, you can also ask for feedback on how well you used the language.

Learning doesn’t always have to stay in school, especially when it comes to an immersive topic like language. Think outside the box and engage in activities that might seem a bit different from classroom exercises.

Incorporate the language as much as possible in your daily life to make it feel more natural to you.

Author’s Bio: Stacey Marone is a freelance writer and blogger. She is fascinated with traveling, exploring new cultures, languages and people. Her hobby is to gather interesting facts and stories and she gladly shares them with everybody.

The Wolf Gamer, Baden Ronie, Expounded “geek speak” and More In An Exclusive Interview

Baden Ronie

“Write what you’re passionate about” is advice frequently given to would­be bloggers and online entrepreneurs (along with “don’t forget to check your spelling before hitting the [Publish] key”). Someone who’s turned his passion into blogging is Baden Ronie, who runs the popular site Wolf’s Gaming Blog. We asked Baden about writing and blogging in a recent interview.

UV: You started your blog out of your passion for gaming and a desire to share information on the topic. After more than five years of writing about gaming, do you find that you’re still as enthusiastic about your blogging?

Generally yes. Now that I play more games than ever I do find myself getting burnt out from time to time, so these days if I’m not actively in the process of reviewing a game I tend not to play anything at all and instead spend my time catching up on movies, reading or chatting with friends.

As for the blogging, it’s largely the same answer. There are those days when you get up and feel like you’re banging your head off a brick wall because views haven’t gone up much over the past month or because nobody seems to be commenting, but then there are days when you get to play a cool game you may have never known about or when you get a pile of comments thanking you for the review that make it feel pretty awesome. There are so many other sites out there that becoming successful is pretty unlikely. Most of the time, though, I feel that so long as even a few people are reading what I write, I’ll keep doing it. Luckily, though, there seems to be a lot of really awesome people who come and check out my site. Yup, I’m pretty damn lucky.

UV: What do you do to make sure you’re always coming up with new and interesting ways to present information, when you’re talking about similar games, or upgrades to older versions?

I don’t sit down and plan out reviews or how to change up the way I describe certain things. At the end of the day there are so many similarities between mechanics in games that after a while you run out of ways to talk about them. Still, while I’m writing I do attempt to vary the way I approach talking about something. Quite honestly one of the ways I do this is by reading a lot of other reviews. By checking out the style other writers use and how they tackle talking about certain mechanics it provides a little inspiration.

In fact reading in general helps. It’s amazing how much you learn without even realising it. The way different writers piece their sentences together can vary so much. It’s amazing how versatile the English language can be. Perhaps one day I’ll actually be able to write well enough that people will recognize it as English, rather than the mess it is now 🙂

UV: Gamers, like other online groups, often have a jargon that only insiders will understand. Some of those words (like “noob”) eventually make it into standard English usage, but other words and phrases are confusing to non­gamers who might be looking for information. How do you handle the difference between “geek speak” and everyday English vocabulary?

I think the bigger question is where exactly do you draw the line between “geek speak” and normal English? Is describing a game as being a cover­based shooter too geeky for most people, or not? These days “geek speak” is almost is a part of the everday English vocabulary, so I don’t actually avoid using it very much. Indeed, l tend to assume that most of my readers are already entrenched within the culture of gaming and understand terms such as “noob.” If I attempted to avoid all “geek speak” then almost every review would increase massively in length because I’d have to describe a lot of basic stuff, such as what a cover­based shooter is. Having said that I try not to pepper my articles with incomprehensible gibberish. Provided a term like “noob”, for example, is presented in the right context I think even the uninitiated can generally understand its meaning, at least enough to accept it and carry on reading. Really it comes down to the fact that if I simplified everything I was saying and attempted to explain each individual element of a game or word then reviews would be messy. It comes down to attempting to concisely describe things while also describing the mechanic, theme etc. as a larger picture.

On the other hand I also review board games, and in those I tend to be a lot more mindful about using terminology that my regular readers may not be familiar with. Whereas with videogames I’m writing to an audience that already known their stuff, with the boardgames I’m hoping some of those videogame fans might read some of the boardgame stuff and check them out, so I actually take the time to stop and quickly explain what a worker­placement game is. How long I’ll keep doing that, though, is hard to say.

I guess when you get right down to it I’m probably not the most accomodating when it comes to people who have don’t have at least a passing knowledge of videogames 🙂

UV: In many ways media are seamless, with movies morphing into video games (or vice versa) which leads to online fanfic and blogs like yours. What’s your vision for the future when it comes to gaming and participation in communities devoted to gaming (virtual and IRL)?

Now that is a complex question. Obviously at the moment we have virtual reality entering the picture, having suddenly become a technology that anyone can acquire and have in their living room, provided they can afford the hefty price. At the same time the adoption rate hasn’t been fast, although we can probably safely assume that the high cost of something like the Oculus has a lot to do with that. The headset itself is expensive, as is the computer upgrade most people would need to run it. Until VR becomes much cheaper I don’t see it becoming too common, and thus at least for the forseeable future I don’t think gaming will change too much from what it is right now. Perhaps what is more important in the gaming landscape right now is that consoles are going to start getting hardware upgrades, moving them away from what consoles once were and closer to the PC market.

As for the other topic E­sports seems to be growing and growing, and with it Youtube. Video reviews from people like AngryJoe let people connect more with the reviewer, and through that subtantial followings are built. Written media, on the other hand, is struggling, which is bad news for me since I’m not pretty enough for Youtube! Sadly, though, we’re still seeing plenty of hostility within the gaming community, which the media loves to focus on.

Honestly, I can’t even begin to guess what the future holds for gaming. I’d love to see VR become more affordable, and for the media to grow bored of using videogames as a scapegoat for bar parenting or acts of extreme violence. But more than that I’d like to see larger companies back down from their various anti­consumer policies.While we get treated to many amazing games, we’re also treated pretty poorly by the likes of EA and Ubisoft. Awful pre­order bonuses tha tare designedto boost pre­order numbers with no real benefit to the customer, games being released in buggy states or with poor performance, and questionable microtransactions. These are just some of the problems that need to be solved.

UV: Ernest Cline’s book “Ready Player One” has been turned into a movie that looks as if it may be as popular as the book. Do you have any plans for writing a book, a movie script, or anything like that?

I’ve thought about writing a book or comic/graphic novel a lot over the last few years. I’ve always got characters, scenes and plot outlines floating around my head. But my problem is that I’m terrible at creating all the smaller things that need to happen along the way. In my mind I know the big things that occur at the beginning, middle and end, but get utterly lost when it comes to joining it all up to create a book­length tale. For this reason I think that if I really want to get into writing some stories I’d start with fanfiction. By choosing to write about characters and worlds I already know I could focus entirely on learning how to structure a story and join all the major plot points up.

My fear is that I’ll write a book and by some strange miracle people will enjoy it, but I’ll be completely unable to write another one. Maybe I’ll just have one book or comic in me. Or maybe I’m the next George R.R. Martin! But y’know, with less death and depression. Actually, scratch that, if I could be even a fraction as good as great, late Terry Pratchett I would be one very, very happy person.

Studysuccessful.com Creator, Stefan Knapen, Recommends Efficient Study Habits for Academic Success

College and university life can provide many challenges for students, and it’s always good to have someone around who can give students the hints and effective tips that help them get the most out of their study time and their school years. In fact, the advice that Stefan Knapen provides at his website StudySuccessful.com can be applied to many situations and to people of all ages. After all, learning starts immediately and is a never-ending process! Check out Stefan’s site for answers to your questions about study habits, personal development, modern technology, and more.

7SR: You moved quickly through your university years and are now attending medical school in your early 20s. You must be incredibly busy! How do you fit everything into your schedule?

Haha, yeah things are going pretty fast. Well, what I did in my first couple of years was focussing on setting up a system. What kind of schedule should I use, how much work can I take on, and experimenting with different studying techniques. Probably one of the most interesting concepts I learned was the ‘Parkinson’s Law’, which teaches us that work expands with the amount of time you give it. So by taking up a lot of work, you won’t have a lot of time left to give to it. This results in the need to be highly effective in that work.

Take preparing a presentation for example. I could work hours on creating the perfect powerpoint, preparing all the jokes and practicing the presentation a couple of times beforehand. Now, as I simply did not have that time I needed to find the input which yields the highest results. So I focus on the story, I focus on the core principle. The powerpoint lay-out is not a priority at that point. This is also why starting the night before usually works out ‘fine’ (although it is for stress-reasons definitely not recommended!)

7SR: Here at 7 Speed Reading we encourage students to learn to speed read so that they can get through their research and study projects more quickly. Is this something that you’ve found to be helpful?

In med school I have to read a lot. In keeping up my blog I have to read probably even more. So learning the principles of speed reading helped me definitely. I don’t recommend to always speed read, but if it is a low-density text and there are only a couple of principles to get out of it, speed read your way through it and memorise the concepts later.

7SR: You wrote a free guide on how to build a personal website. Why is it important for people to have an online presence?

First of all: in this day and age it’s really simple. If you don’t own your own domain name somebody else will soon enough.

Second: Anybody who will ever have something to do with you will Google you. Being aware of your online presence and working on it as well can give you easily the ownership of the top 5 results in Google. Now, what do you want your future employer to find when he Googles you. Your own personal website, where your CV is clearly outlined and links to your portfolio? Or that picture where your roommate throws beer over you at that frat party on Facebook?

The free guide is a simple step-by-step instruction on how to create your own personal website. Check it out at StudySuccessful: http://studysuccessful.com/blog-as-student/

7SR: Good study habits are important for success in school, and can be applied even in a person’s later professional life. What are some of the study habits you encourage people to develop?

The best study habit would probably be finding out how you work as a person. Do you learn the most from lectures or from books? Do you like to read text or look at pictures? Do you study better in the morning or in the evening? In your first years these are core concepts to figure out. Find out where you are good at and use that.

7SR: What are three things you would recommend to someone who is starting their first year at university?

Again. Find out how you work. What is your way to do things. Together with that: also find out how social aspects of the University life fit into that, because they have to fit in there. This is the best time to meet new people, to make new connections. Use that. Say yes, become busy and find out how you can flourish! 

Cross-posted on the 7 Speed Reading blog.