The instructor is a practicing scientist who happens to have a lifelong "love affair" with the English language. The course will cover three main subjects:
1. ASPECTS OF ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE (EFL)
English is an easy language to learn, but a difficult one to master. This follows directly from its nature:
- comparatively weak grammar, which on the one hand eases initial learning of the language, but on the other hand makes it easy to be misunderstood if one is not careful about word order
- an enormous vocabulary from multiple rootstocks (both Romance and Germanic)
- highly idiomatic character: English probably has more idioms (fixed expressions) than any other language
We will focus especially on some aspects of English grammar, syntax, and usage that tend to present difficulties to native speakers of Hebrew and Russian.
2. THE CHEMIST'S ENGLISH
Formal scientific communication has its own conventions. We will address some that are specific to the natural sciences in general and to chemistry in particular. This discussion will be loosely based on two different textbooks:
(a) "The Chemist's English" by longtime Australian Journal of Chemistry editor Robert W. Schoenfeld
(b) "The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century" by Harvard neuroscience professor and linguist Steven Pinker
3. SCIENTIFIC COMMUNICATION
In this section, we will cover topics such as
* general types of scientific papers (rapid communication, full paper, note, comment, mini-review, full review, popular science article,...) and how to approach writing them
* how (not) to approach a referee's comments
* preparing scientific lectures
* common fallacies (logical errors)
* some suggestions for coping with "writer's block" and "stage fright"
* emerging scientific publishing media
ADDENDUM: SCIENTIFIC AND PUBLISHING ETHICS
Last but not least, we will devote some time to these subjects, which are (to the best of the lecturer's knowledge) not presently covered in any other course.