Language Navigator

Language Navigator allows you to search by keyword or by theme to quickly find answers to questions about language or writing in English and French. To learn more about this search engine, consult the section entitled About Language Navigator.

New to Language Navigator? Learn how to search for content in Language Navigator.

Search by keyword

Search fields

Search by theme

Search by theme to quickly access all of the Portal’s language resources related to a specific theme.

About Language Navigator

Language Navigator simultaneously searches all of the writing tools, quizzes and blog posts on the Language Portal of Canada. It gives you access to everything you need to write well in English and French: articles on language difficulties, linguistic recommendations, conjugation tables, translation suggestions and much more.

To translate a term or to find answers to terminology questions in a specialized field, please consult TERMIUM Plus®.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results 1 to 10 of 162 (page 1 of 17)

Making letters and emails gender-inclusive

An English post about the Translation Bureau’s recommendation on gender-inclusive writing in correspondence.The Translation Bureau recently published a linguistic recommendation on gender inclusivity in correspondence. In it, we describe some simple techniques you can use to write letters and emails that are inclusive of all gender identities. Understanding gender identity According to the Translation Bureau’s Gender and sexual diversity glossary, gender identity is “a person's internal and deeply-felt sense of being man or woman, both, or neither.” Someone who doesn’t identify with the masculine or feminine gender is referred to as having a non-binary gender identity. The solution to a current issue Our recommendation on gender inclusivity in correspondence addresses a very current issue. Let’s put things into context. In 2017, the Government of Canada announced that Canadians could now indicate a gender other than male or female when applying for a passport. And some provincial governments have also implemented a gender-neutral choice on identification documents like driver’s licences and health cards. As a result, government departments and other organizations turned to us for advice on the following question: How do you draft correspondence that is inclusive not only of both sexes but also of non-binary gender identities? Our recommendation answers that question. Gender-inclusive correspondence Certain parts of a letter have traditionally included an indication of gender. For example, in the inside address, the receiver’s name usually begins with a courtesy title (most often, either “Mr.” or “Ms.”) that reflects the gender of the receiver. And the salutation usually contains the same courtesy title: “Dear Ms. Brown,” “Dear Mr. Smith.” Moreover, when we don’t know the receiver’s name, we have been told in the past to use a salutation like “Dear Sir or Madam” in order to include both sexes. This last solution is part of what we call “non-sexist writing”: writing that is inclusive of both men and women. The problem with these formulas is that a non-binary person may not identify with them. In order to be inclusive of both sexes and all gender identities, a new approach is needed. Our recommendation Our recommendation explains what we think is the best approach for gender inclusivity when you are writing a letter or an email to the following audiences: individuals whose gender is unknown non-binary individuals (that is, individuals who do not identify with either the masculine or the feminine gender) a diverse group of people (so that no member of the group feels excluded) In our recommendation, we show you how to make the receiver’s address, the salutation, and the body of your message inclusive. To see what we advise, go to the Bureau’s recommendation on gender-inclusive writing in correspondence. Of course, in cases where you know the receiver identifies with the masculine or feminine gender, you can rely on the standard practices for business writing and use courtesy titles like “Mr.” or “Ms.” or other indications of gender. But in cases where you don’t know, use the principles outlined in our recommendation, to be as inclusive as possible. We encourage you to read our recommendation. Do you think it will be useful for your organization or business? Do you already use some of these techniques for gender-inclusive writing in your workplace? Tell us what you think in the comments section.
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 268,739

5 tips to improve your email writing skills

An English blog post containing a list of five steps for writing effective emails.We’ve all been there. You click open an email, and there’s a long block of text that stretches beyond where you can see. Your first reaction is to close the window and flag the email for later. Much later. Email can be a useful communication tool, but not everyone uses it well. Below are 5 steps to follow in order to draft an email that readers will open, read and understand. 1. Maintain your credibility Present yourself as the trusted professional you are.   Be polite: say please and thank you as appropriate Keep a professional tone: avoid slang, exclamation marks, and smiley faces Use a suitable greeting and opening, but avoid insincere small talk Include a suitable sign-off that fits the tone of the email Keep your email signature simple and short: limit images and avoid cursive fonts Don’t use too many high importance flags 2. Present your email thoughtfully Give the right amount of information in the right way so that your reader is able to read your message easily, and wants to. Place your key message and call to action near the top so it’s the first thing your reader sees Organize the rest of the information from most to least important Limit the number of issues covered in the email to increase the chance of a response  Write briefly and stick to the point: try to keep to 150 words or less Use short, everyday words instead of jargon and difficult words Avoid acronyms and terms your reader won’t understand Keep sentences short 3. Help your reader scan We don’t read content onscreen word for word. In fact, most of us scan a web page in an F-shaped pattern. Use layout and formatting to guide your reader through the email and to your key points. Put your key message and call to action at the top For a longer email with a lot of details, use headings Write in easy-to-read chunks: use short paragraphs and lists with bullets or numbers Don’t use too much bold; if you emphasize too many words, you end up emphasizing nothing Avoid all caps, huge fonts and random colours; these slow the reader down 4. Write your subject line last Your subject line could determine whether your reader opens your email. Make it count. Write the subject line after drafting your message Use action verbs so the reader knows what you want done Be specific and descriptive so the reader knows right away what the message is about Appeal to the reader’s needs: ask yourself what will make the reader care about your email Avoid starting a sentence in the subject line and finishing it in the body Keep your subject line under 50 characters or 6 to 8 words, so the whole line will show in the inbox preview Keep in mind that some smartphones show only 33 to 44 characters for the subject line 5. Review and revise Imagine that everyone in the company will read your message. Emails are quick to create, but leave a lasting impression. Review your work now to save time and get results later. Use the spell-check feature to reduce errors Read the message backwards to check for errors that a spell-checker won’t catch, like homonyms and usage errors Check that your key message is perfectly clear, without typos, wordy phrases, or anything that can be misunderstood Check that all names and titles are correct Make sure you have attached any important files or included any necessary links Do you have a useful tip for effective email writing not included here? Please share it in the comments.
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 212,828

Salutations and complimentary closes made simple

An English blog post about salutations and complimentary closes in correspondence.When you begin and end correspondence, do you think about the greeting or closing you use? If not, maybe you should! Some standard greetings and closings work well for most correspondence. But certain types of correspondence, such as a cover letter, call for a more formal greeting and closing, while others, such as an email to a colleague you know well, call for a more informal beginning or end. At first, knowing which greeting and closing to use may seem complicated. But it can actually be quite simple. Here are some guidelines to help you choose the appropriate ones for your correspondence. Salutation A salutation is a greeting that you use at the beginning of a letter or an email, to address the person you’re writing to and to set the tone of the message. In letters, most salutations begin with the word “Dear.” Sometimes people who aren’t used to English letter-writing conventions feel that this is far too friendly a beginning! But don’t worry; English-speaking readers won’t think you’re being affectionate if you call them “Dear.” This is the standard way to begin a salutation in English, even in formal letters. If you’re writing to someone that you’re on a first-name basis with, you can use the person’s first name in the salutation: Dear Laura, Dear Matt. But if you don’t know the reader well, use the person’s professional title or preferred courtesy title with the last name: Dear Professor Brown, Dear Dr. Grant, Dear Ms. Smith, Dear Mr. Jones, Dear Mx. White. (Note that “Mx.” is a gender-neutral courtesy title that may be used by people who either don’t identify with one of the binary genders or prefer not to be identified by gender.) If you’re writing to someone whose name you don’t know or to a group, a good option is a generic salutation such as “Dear Customer Service Manager” or “Dear Colleagues.” “Hello” and “Hi” are also common salutations. They’re more likely to be used in less formal correspondence, such as emails. For more information, check out the Language Portal of Canada’s writing tip called business letters: salutations and the Translation Bureau’s linguistic recommendation on gender-inclusive writing in correspondence.Note 1 Complimentary close A complimentary close is placed after the body of the message as a way to politely end the correspondence. The complimentary close you choose depends on how formal the correspondence is and how well you know the person you’re writing to. “Sincerely,” “Yours truly” and “Cordially” work well for most forms of correspondence. However, if you know the reader well and the tone of the message calls for a more personal ending (for example, an email to congratulate a colleague on a promotion), you could use “Best wishes,” “Regards,” or “Warmest regards.” With these guidelines and resources, you should now be able to choose the right salutations and complimentary closes for your correspondence. Which salutations and complimentary closes do you use most often? Are there any that you find particularly useful? Share your thoughts in the comments section. Notes Note 1 The recommendation on gender-inclusive writing in correspondence referred to in this blog post has been replaced by the Guidelines for Inclusive Writing (opens in new tab), which were published on the Language Portal in 2022. Consult the Guidelines for the most recent articles on the writing techniques discussed in this post. Return to note 1 referrer
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 156,531

Inclusive writing – Guidelines and resources

The main page of the “Inclusive writing” section, which lists guidelines and resources for inclusive writing.
Consult in-depth articles on the principles and techniques of inclusive writing in English, and access other resources on the topic. On this page Guidelines for inclusive writing Principles of inclusive writing Gender-inclusive writing techniques Representation of non-binary gender in written communications Resources for inclusive and respectful language Quick reference sheet on inclusive writing Additional information Guidelines for inclusive writing The Guidelines for Inclusive Writing are designed to help the federal public service and any other organization produce writing that is free of discrimination based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability or any other identity factor. To learn how this content was developed, read the page History of the Guidelines for Inclusive Writing. Not everyone will agree with all the options presented in the Guidelines. The Guidelines were developed to provide a variety of possible solutions to issues you might encounter in drafting an inclusive text. They are not designed to be applied mechanically in every context. For definitions of some of the terms used in the Guidelines, see the page Inclusive writing: Glossary. For information on the principles and techniques of inclusive writing in French, consult the French guidelines for inclusive writing (in French only). Principles of inclusive writing This part of the Guidelines will help you understand the purpose of inclusive writing and will outline principles for writing respectful and non-discriminatory text. Show all Hide all Background and principles The article Inclusive writing: Background and principles provides a definition of inclusive writing and lists five major principles to help you write more inclusively. It includes the following sections: Background Definition of inclusive writing Principles of inclusive writing Principle 1: Use what works best Principle 2: Respect people’s wishes Principle 3: Make choices that are respectful of diversity Principle 4: Write clearly and effectively Principle 5: Be consistent Gender-inclusive writing techniques It’s important to be aware of unnecessary references to gender in your writing and to strive to be gender-inclusive: that is, inclusive of men, women, and individuals of other genders. This section provides a variety of techniques and solutions for producing gender-inclusive texts. Show all Hide all Replacing or omitting a gendered pronoun These articles provide a range of useful techniques to help you avoid the use of the gendered singular pronouns “he” and “she” and their different forms: Pluralize the noun Use the singular “they” Use an article Omit the pronoun Repeat the noun Address the reader directly Use the imperative Use the pronoun “who” Use the pronoun “one” Use the passive voice Use sentence fragments Rewrite the sentence Making correspondence gender-inclusive The article Gender-inclusive writing: Letters and emails explains how you can ensure that the parts of a letter or email are gender-inclusive. It includes the following sections: Introduction Inside address Salutation Tailoring your message The article Inclusive writing: Tailoring your message discusses how to tailor your message to make it inclusive, that is, how to adapt a text to meet the needs of a target audience or to take other factors into account. It includes the following sections: General information about tailoring your message Tailoring to recipients Representation of non-binary gender in written communications Members of gender-diverse communities have put forward various techniques for writing English texts that correspond to their realities. The articles below present some of these techniques (including the use of gender-neutral pronouns) and examine issues related to translating gender-inclusive texts from French. Show all Hide all Guidelines for writing to or about non-binary individuals The article Gender-inclusive writing: Guidelines for writing to or about non-binary individuals presents techniques that you can use in various contexts to make your writing inclusive of non-binary individuals. It includes the following sections: Introduction: Writing to or about non-binary individuals The term “non-binary” General recommendations Always listen and follow the individual’s lead Pronouns and neopronouns The singular “they” Neopronouns Variations in pronoun use Courtesy titles and nouns Gender-inclusive courtesy titles Gender-inclusive nouns Guidelines for translating from French The article Gender-inclusive writing: Guidelines for translating from French examines issues related to the translation of gender-inclusive texts from French, including the translation of the gender-neutral French pronoun iel. It includes the following sections: Introduction: Gender inclusivity and translation Translating text about non-binary individuals Translating other gender-inclusive text Resources for inclusive and respectful language An important aspect of inclusivity is the use of respectful language. The resources below will help you to find the most appropriate wording for the texts you draft. Show all Hide all Gender-inclusive nouns The article Gender-inclusive writing: Gender-inclusive nouns suggests gender-inclusive alternatives for gendered nouns and expressions of various types. It also examines the issue of pronoun use with gender-inclusive nouns. It includes the following sections: Introduction: Gendered nouns and inclusive solutions Occupational titles Expressions containing “man” or “woman” Terms denoting relationships Use of the singular “they” with gender-inclusive nouns Inclusionary: A collection of gender-inclusive solutions The Inclusionary provides you with a wide variety of gender-inclusive alternatives to gendered words and expressions. The Interdepartmental Working Group on Inclusive Writing developed this tool to be used in conjunction with the Guidelines for Inclusive Writing, in order to maximize the practical options available to users. Inclusionary: A collection of gender-inclusive solutions Guide on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Terminology Designed to promote an understanding of concepts related to equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion, this bilingual guide contains definitions and usage notes for key terms in these fields. It was developed by the Interdepartmental Terminology Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in response to the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service. Guide on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Terminology Glossaries These glossaries developed by Translation Bureau terminologists provide the English and French equivalents for key terms relating to accessibility and to sexual and gender diversity. Accessibility glossary Gender and sexual diversity glossary Quick reference sheet on inclusive writing This quick reference sheet on inclusive writing summarizes the main principles of inclusive writing and gives examples of practical techniques you can apply. It also contains a list of resources designed to help you write inclusively. Consult it online or download the printable PDF. Additional information Inclusive writing: Glossary History of the Guidelines for Inclusive Writing Inclusive writing – French guidelines and resources (in French only) Collection of Canadian language resources: Gender-inclusive writing
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 152,870

The singular “they” is gaining acceptance

An English blog post on the growing acceptance of the singular “they.”Everyone knows that in English, third-person singular pronouns are “he,” “she,” “one” and “it.” We’ve moved past the notion that the male pronouns can stand in for all humans. But that leaves us with constructions like the one below, right?    “Everyone should take his or her books.” Well, actually, no. If you do some digging into the history of English usage, you’ll discover that the rule about male pronouns being used to stand in for male and female was an invention of Victorian grammarians. And that it used to be common to use “they” when referring to a person whose gender you didn’t know. As James Harbeck points out in his blog post called “they”, “… for centuries, English speakers used ‘they’ for gender-indeterminate third person singular, and no one complained.” Even Shakespeare used it. Things changed in the 1700s Harbeck goes into a bit of detail, if you want to read more about how this imposed rule came about. Not surprisingly, it was influenced by beliefs, not by speaking and writing patterns that people commonly use. But singular “they” has stood its ground In fact, the singular “they” now has 2 uses: One is for referring to people when you’re not sure of their gender and you don’t want to use “he” Example: “Everyone should take their books.” The other is for referring to people who don’t identify with “he” or “she” as a gender Example: “Chris should take their books.” There are some fancy names for the two uses, but they can be hard to remember, especially if you aren’t into that aspect of grammar. Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist, sums it up nicely, saying that the two types of singular “they” are specific and nonspecific. She gave examples in a tweet, quoted below: “Nonspecific singular they: ‘someone left their umbrella’ Specific singular they: ‘Alex left their umbrella’" Here’s what people are doing now The “rule” that “they” can’t be used in the singular is deeply rooted in people’s minds. So are editors, linguists and style guides saying anything about it? Yes, they are, and they’re certainly saying a lot. It’s been a hot topic among language professionals for some time, and it really peaked in recent years. Here are some of the most significant announcements. The American Dialect Society declared the singular “they” its Word of the Year in 2015; in 2020, they deemed it to be the Word of the Decade for 2010 to 2019 The Associated Press allows “they” as a singular pronoun when a writer is referring to people who don’t use gendered pronouns The 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style allows it in some cases “They” as a substitute for the generic “he”: recommends avoiding it “They” to refer to a specific person: allows the use of “they” to refer to “a specific, known person who does not identify with a gender-specific pronoun such as ‘he’ or ‘she’” The American Psychological Association and the Modern Languages Association now endorse using both specific and generic singular “they” The Government of Canada says that gender-specific language should not be used in legislation and offers the singular “they” as one option to avoid this The Associated Press and Chicago Manual of Style positions are more conservative than what many editors are recommending, as shown by discussions in various online communities of practice. Many editors are encouraging both uses of the singular “they.” But it looks funny You’ll run into people who say that it’s incorrect or it looks funny or they don’t like it. No one is saying we have to use it. But saying someone can’t or shouldn’t use it is wrong. Learn more Read up on the history of the singular “they” and the discussions language professionals are having about it so that you can decide what you’ll do (and what you’ll say to people who still say it’s wrong to use). I’ve compiled the following list: Over 100 articles on the singular “they” (DOC) And if you’ve found any other resources on the topic, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 109,757

Parts of a business letter

An English quiz on the different parts of a business letter (letterhead, inside address, date, subject, salutation, complimentary close, etc.).There are a number of rules governing the content and layout of the parts of a business letter. Test your knowledge of these rules by answering the questions below.If you need a little help, go to Language Navigator and search for “business letters” to find our series of writing tips on this topic.1. The pre-printed part of the letter that appears across the top margin and includes the name of the business is called the .inside addressletterheadaddressee notation2. Which example below shows the recommended way to write the date in a business letter?01/06/2018Friday, June 1st, 2018June 1, 20183. Instructions such as “personal,” “confidential” or “registered” are usually written entirely in capitals. True or false?truefalse4. What do we call the part of the letter that contains the receiver’s name and mailing address?salutationaddressee notationinside address5. On the envelope, the receiver’s address should be written entirely in capitals, without commas or periods. True or false?truefalse6. What is the correct notation to indicate the purpose of a letter?Subject: Formal NoticeAttention: Formal NoticePlease Note: Formal Notice7. Which answer illustrates the correct form for the salutation (greeting) in a business letter?Dear D. J. Andrews:Dear Mr. D. J. Andrews,8. The body of the letter is followed by the complimentary close. Which of the complimentary closes below is correct?Yours Truly:Yours Truly,Yours truly,9. What abbreviation is used to indicate that a separate document accompanies the letter?Enc.Att.10. What does the abbreviation “cc” indicate?A copy of the letter has been filed.A copy of the letter has been sent to the person(s) indicated.  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 93,139

Inclusive writing: Glossary

A list of specialized terms related to inclusive writing and their definitions.
The Guidelines for Inclusive Writing include some terms that are specialized or that are used in a very specific sense. The definitions below can help you to understand some of the principles and techniques presented in the guide. gender “The behavioural, cultural and psychological traits associated with an array of gender identities […] in a given society.” These gender identities include, but are not limited to, man and woman. Source: Guide on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Terminology gender binary The division of gender into the two distinct and unvarying categories of man and woman. gendered “That is organized or separated by gender, or that is associated with a gender,” most often a binary gender (that is, man or woman). Source: Gender and Sexual Diversity Glossary gender identity “A person's internal and deeply felt sense of being a man, a woman, both, neither, or somewhere along the gender spectrum.” Source: Guide on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Terminology gender-inclusive Inclusive of all genders, binary and non-binary. Synonym: gender-neutral generic “they” The pronoun “they” or any of its forms used with a non-specific singular antecedent such as “anyone,” “everyone,” “an employee,” etc. (for example, “Everyone submitted their report”). iel A French gender-neutral neopronoun used by some non-binary individuals. inclusive writing Writing that uses a set of principles and techniques designed to promote inclusion and respect for diversity and to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability or any other identity factor. See the article Inclusive writing: Background and principles. Mx. A gender-neutral courtesy title used by some non-binary individuals and by those who simply prefer not to specify their gender. It is pronounced “miks.” neopronoun A new pronoun created to designate a person who does not identify with masculine or feminine pronouns. non-binary “Referring to a person whose gender identity does not align with a binary understanding of gender such as man or woman.” Source: Gender and Sexual Diversity Glossary singular “they” The pronoun “they” or any of its forms used to refer to a person whose gender is unknown. Also, a pronoun for some individuals with a non-binary gender identity. specific “they” The pronoun “they” or any of its forms used with a specific singular antecedent (for example, “Riley submitted their report”). stereotype A preconceived idea that is widely held, but often inaccurate and offensive, about a race, a nationality, a sexual orientation, a gender identity, an ethnic group or any other identifiable group. Additional information Inclusive writing – Guidelines and resources Gender and sexual diversity glossary Gender-inclusive writing: Guidelines for writing to or about non-binary individuals Gender-inclusive writing: Use the singular “they” Guide on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Terminology
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 62,727

Inclusionary: A collection of gender-inclusive solutions

An English writing tool providing gender-inclusive alternatives for gendered nouns and verbs.
The Inclusionary contains a list of gendered words, along with suggestions for inclusive solutions. It was designed to provide writers, editors and translators with a starting point for writing inclusively in English, in accordance with the techniques outlined in the Guidelines for Inclusive Writing. Not everyone will agree with all the solutions provided in the Inclusionary. Some solutions may not apply in certain contexts. For example, the Inclusionary provides alternatives to gendered terms for family members. Of course, these gendered terms (“mother,” “father,” etc.) are perfectly appropriate in many contexts and don’t need to be consistently avoided. The gender-inclusive alternatives aren’t meant to be used in every context, but rather in those contexts where the gender of the person referred to is non-binary or is unknown. You must therefore exercise judgment in applying the proposed solutions. To learn more about this tool, visit the About the Inclusionary page. Help us improve the Inclusionary by filling out the suggestion form. User guide There are three ways to search this guide: 1. Search in the Inclusionary index Select a letter to browse the Inclusionary alphabetically. Then click on an entry to view its contents. 2. Search by keyword in the Inclusionary Begin typing the word you’re looking for. As you type, a real-time search filter will open the relevant entries and highlight the characters entered in the search field. For best results, type the entire word you’re looking for. Note that the index will disappear when you use the search field. To access the index, simply clear the search field. 3. Use the "Show all" button Click on "Show all" to open up all the entries in the Inclusionary. You can then either browse through the entries or press the "Ctrl" and "F" keys simultaneously on your keyboard and then search by term in the "Search" window of your browser. Unfortunately, this search tip doesn’t work with all types of devices. Top of page Suggestion form User guide Contextual Menu document.getElementById('inclusionary-floating-right-menu').style.display='block';
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 52,012

How to evaluate using the sandwich method

An English blog post describing an evaluation method that prevents discouragement by putting more focus on the positive.Have you ever evaluated anyone? It isn’t necessary to be in a position of authority (like a team leader, manager or director) to do so. You might have used your evaluation skills in different roles we all play in our lives. As parents, teachers, co-workers or friends, we often are asked for our opinions. It’s not easy to give your opinion, especially if it involves negative feedback. Even as a manager you want to give feedback carefully, sharing the employee’s positive points first. The goal is to avoid hurting the other person, and to make sure that your feedback is constructive and leads to improvement in the qualities which the employee is lacking. Times when it’s hard to give your opinion What if a good friend who’s trying to lose weight asks, “Do I look slimmer now?” If you think the friend hasn’t lost any weight or still has a long way to go, how do you say this and not hurt the person? Supposing you are asked about a dish that your co-worker is sharing. Even if you really don’t like it, can you just say, “Sorry, I can’t stand it”? Your child didn’t pass his swimming level. He might already be sad. It would be wrong to say at that time, “Why weren’t you paying attention to the coach? The others moved to the next level, and you have to repeat.” Experience with iLEAP I lead a public speaking group which is like Toastmasters. You could say it was the junior version of Toastmasters, as it’s for kids from ages 6 to 18 years. This group is called iLEAP. Each speech or presentation given by an iLEAP member is evaluated by another member. In the first session, the members weren’t comfortable taking the roles of speaker and presenter, as they were afraid of being evaluated. They didn’t want someone else finding faults in their work. They thought that the role of an evaluator was to focus on the negative points in their performance. Only when I explained that evaluation doesn’t mean pointing fingers and making fun of others did the members feel comfortable taking the speech and presentation roles. We teach the members to give their evaluation using a technique called “the sandwich method.” The sandwich method This technique is very useful if you’re not comfortable giving negative feedback. You can give constructive criticism without being insulting or rude. This method helps you explain what needs to be improved without rudely pointing out the shortcomings. In the sandwich method, you start with a positive comment, which is like a slice of bread. Next come the suggestions for improvement, which are more like the meat and veggies in the sandwich. Finally, you try to close with some positive, encouraging comments, which are like the other slice of bread. That’s why this evaluation method is known as “the sandwich method.” Whenever you’re giving an evaluation, it’s wise to keep the following points in mind: Always start by saying something positive to the person. If what you’re evaluating is a dish, compliment the person on the effort that went into it. If it’s a speech, praise the person for the research. Bring out the negative points gently. Don’t be blunt. Always try to end with a gentle suggestion for improvement. So you need to begin with a positive, follow with the negative and always end with a positive. A final thought Constructive criticism or feedback is important, especially when it means improvement and encourages correction. It’s not the feedback but how it’s given that matters. Giving feedback gently softens the criticism. This method reinforces improved behaviour, ensuring better results in the future. Evaluation is an art. It’s a skill which is very important in our lives. How you evaluate is your decision; but since we’re a part of society, can we just say anything we think, without caring how the other person feels? Try to use the sandwich method in your daily lives. I’m sure you’ll be much happier, as will others around you. What approach do you use when asked to evaluate something or someone? Do you think this method will be useful for you? Tell me in a comment.
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 30,673

Embracing the singular “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun

An English blog post on the use of the singular “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun.Almost nothing about being transgender has been easy for me. Luckily, I’m English-speaking, which means there’s a very simple way to use the pronouns that work best for me. The singular use of “they” and its other grammatical forms (“them”/“theirs”) is the most comfortable pronoun usage for me. I’m a genderqueer, transgender person whose gender presentation is more masculine-of-centre. What does all of that mean? Respect and inclusion It means I’m a human being just like you, who deserves the same amount of respect as my other colleagues. It also means that I don’t feel comfortable being referred to as “male” or “female”; and while I will accept masculine pronouns, using neutral pronouns when speaking of me is the best way to not exclude me. We have an incredible capacity and ability to continually grow the English language, adapting and evolving as our society does. We have many opportunities to grow ourselves, interpersonally, at work and in our wider social circles, by being self-aware and self-educating and by moving with the times, as it were. Evolution of singular “they” The use of singular “they” has been around for centuries, from William Shakespeare to Jane Austen to Charles Dickens. More recently, singular “they” has become normalized via the protections that have been put in place for genderqueer and gender non-conforming (or non-binary) individuals. This is certainly in part thanks to Canada’s Bill C-16. Having basic human rights protections against discrimination towards transgender persons is a great step forward for Canada. As editor Gael Spivak also points out in her blog post, singular “they” has been around for hundreds of years, and it’s here to stay. I’ve had many people ask me what the point is, why I make things harder for myself, why I can’t just “pick one” (meaning “he” or “she”), or inquire about the importance of pronouns and their proper usage. Personal pronouns are linked to identity Pronouns are important as they teach people how to properly refer to the person they’re speaking about. They show people the best way to respect me. They’re important as a part of my identity and an expression of who I am. I know I’m genderqueer as surely as a cisgender person knows they’re not transgender! I don’t use singular “they” in order to make things harder for others, to be trendy, or to push any kind of agenda. I use it because it makes me feel like myself. It’s the right and most comfortable fit for me. Perhaps you don’t feel as attached to your pronouns, but perhaps you’ve never had to assert them as valid. Maybe you haven’t had to assert your personal pronouns as a part of your identity while others have purposefully misused these words to attack you … while others have decided for you that, on the basis of their perception of who you are, you aren’t who you say you are. Learning to use neutral pronouns One of the problems I’ve encountered in the workplace is how to properly use “they” as a singular pronoun. I don’t demand that everyone in my workplace use singular “they” for me, as I’m also comfortable being referred to in the masculine. However, I do normalize singular “they” when speaking about clients or other colleagues, depending on the context. I do tell people that I use “they” pronouns, I wear a “they/them” pronoun pin with my identification card, and I have produced educational materials on neutral pronouns and how to use them. So, how exactly do you use them? Here are a few examples with some fun facts about myself: Christopher is not in today; they went to Iceland on vacation. They have a cat named Agent S. They are always finding ways to help educate others about LGBTQ2+ issues. Using singular “they” pronouns, or any of the neopronouns, takes practice and patience. Patience for yourself as you retrain your brain, and patience from the person whose pronouns you’re attempting not to botch. “Practice makes perfect” holds true for the singular use of “they” pronouns. I invite you to practise: you can start by thinking of all the instances where you already automatically use “they” in the singular. For example, if you receive a phone call but the caller hangs up, you may be likely to say, “I don’t know, they hung up” when someone asks you who called. What other instances can you think of where you have already begun to normalize the use of “they” as a singular pronoun?
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 28,563