Excellent TED Ed Talks to Improve Students Writing

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May 30, 2014
Good writing is all about clarity of the communicative intent. This clarity is materialized through the appropriate use of a set of elements including: good grammar, fewer or no spelling errors, punctuations, and word choice to mention but a few. The threeTED Ed talks below offer a great illustration of how these elements work together to render a good piece of writing. These videos have been featured in TED Ed blog  and for more lessons on writing, grammar and linguistics check out TED Ed lesson series “The Writer’s Workshop” and “Playing with Language.”

1- Comma story - Terisa Folaron
In this beautiful talk, Terisa Folaron explains the different uses of a coma. She does that by personifying the comma as a little smart girl helping other strong characters mainly the tiny conjunctions and the mighty subordinates. She provided different examples of when a coma can be used to link complex sentences together.

2- Grammar's Great Divide: The Oxford Comma
This TED Ed talk covers the problematic Oxford comma. In a sentence such as "please bring Bob, a DJ and a clown" confusion clouds its meaning. This could mean that Bob is multitalented (he is both a DJ and a clown) and it could also be read as a request to bring three different people . However, placing the serial comma before the main conjunction  would make it clear that the second meaning is the one intended in this sentence (please bring Bob, a DJ, and a clown" ). The us of the serial comma has been the subject of lot of debate between grammarians and this talk refers to some of them.

3- Beware of nominalization
Using well-illustrated examples, Helen Sword makes a strong argument against the efficacy of nominalizations. while nominalizations (nouns made from other parts of speech) are heavily used in the jargon of academics, lawyers, bureaucrats, and business writers, these linguistic creatures do a lot of harm to clarity of communication.Helen calls them zombie nouns because they consume the living words, they cannibalize active verbs, they suck the life blood from adjectives and they substitute abstract entities for human beings.

4- The case against "good" and "bad"
In this TED Ed, Marlee Neel explains how the words "good" and "bad" are deceptively obstructing a clear communication. She illustrates her argument using  a set of examples that will definitely result in convincing you to let go of these two words.