How to explain


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How to explain

  1. 1. American Culture and Pragmatics Spring 2012 Ms. Candice Quiñones
  2. 2. Overview  Definitions How to Explain Finding the Right Level Ten Ways to Explain Things More Effectively
  3. 3. Definitionex·plain  verb (used with object) 1. to make plain or clear; render understandable or intelligible: to explain an obscure point. 2. to make known in detail: to explain how to do something. 3. to assign a meaning to; interpret: How can you explain such a silly remark? 4. to make clear the cause or reason of; account for: I cannot explain his strange behavior. verb (used without object) 5. to give an explanation. Source:
  4. 4. Definitionex·pla·na·tion  noun 1. the act or process of explaining. 2. something that explains; a statement made to clarify something and make it understandable; exposition: a) an explanation of a poem. 3. a meaning or interpretation: a) to find an explanation for a mystery. 4. a mutual declaration of the meaning of words spoken, actions, motives, etc., with a view to adjusting a misunderstanding or reconciling differences: a) After a long and emotional explanation they were friends again. Source:
  5. 5. How To Explain  When we explain, our goal is to make things clear. In order to do this, we need several “tools” in our verbal “toolbox”.  Clarity  Details  Reasons  Honesty  Foreshadowing  Logical connectors  Finding the right level
  6. 6. Clarity  Being clear about what you are talking about. Give details: where, when, who, what, when, and how. Instead of saying: It is there. -say- The book is on the desk. (what) (where)
  7. 7. Clarity  Avoid pronouns and use nouns instead.  Answer the question “who?” or “what?”  A noun is a name for a person, place, thing or idea.  Ex. University, Grape Street, girlfriend, compassion, etc.  A pronoun is a word used to substitute for a noun.  Ex. He, she,Source: Dr. Deborah Mowshowitz, it, they, we, me, him, her, us, them, Department of Biological Sciences, etc. Columbia University
  8. 8. Clarity  Use active, descriptive verbs instead of passive, boring ones.  Answer the question “how?”  Note: “be” is a passive verb Instead of saying: We went there. -say- My family and I drove to the Lehigh Valley Mall.
  9. 9. Clarity  So remember, to be clear:  Give details  Use nouns, not pronouns  Use descriptive verbs
  10. 10. Reasons  When you explain, it is important to give the reasons behind your thoughts or actions.  Answer the question “why?” Instead of saying: I’m leaving. -say- I’m leaving now so I can catch my bus on time.
  11. 11. Reasons When giving reasons it is important to be honest. If you don’t know how to explain something, it is okay to say “I don’t know.” It is usually better to be honest about your reasons for something than to lie.  If you lie, the reasons you invent may not make sense.  If you lie, you may forget the reasons you gave and the person will find out later (and may be hurt or angry).
  12. 12. Foreshadowing Before you attempt to explain anything, say, in advance: (a) what you are about to explain  Listeners feel much more comfortable when they know what is coming and approximately how you are going to get there. (b) why you are bothering to explain it.  Listeners will be much more willing to concentrate on details if they know why they matter. Source: Dr. Deborah Mowshowitz, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University
  13. 13. Foreshadowing  Example First you say “Let me explain how to get to Brooklyn – it will take 3 trains.” Then explain: Why do we want to go to Brooklyn in the first place? Why go now? Then you go into the details of which you take first, where you transfer, etc. Source: Dr. Deborah Mowshowitz
  14. 14. Logical Connectors  Logical connectors are used to signal the relationship between what you are about to say and what you have already said.  They are also known as transition words.
  15. 15. Logical Connectors  Function: Show Function: To Add Similarity again  moreover to  as well as and  together with also  of course then  likewise equally  comparatively identically  correspondingly like  similarly as  furthermore too  additionally Source:
  16. 16. Logical Connectors  Function: Contrast Function: Contradiction although this may be true  but whereas different from  (and) still despite of course ..., but  unlike conversely on the other hand  or otherwise  (and) yet however at the same time  while rather in spite of  albeit nevertheless even so / though  Besides regardless then again  although notwithstandin in reality  instead g after all Source:
  17. 17. Logical Connectors  Function: Rephrasing Function: Support in other words  in fact to put it differently  in general for one thing  in particular as an illustration  for example in this case  for instance for this reason  to demonstrate to put it another way  to emphasize that is to say  to repeat  to clarify with attention to  to explain by all means  such as Source:
  18. 18. Logical Connectors Function:  Function: Cause/Condition Effect/Consequence in the event that  in view of  as a result granted (that)  if  under those circumstances as / so long as  …then  in that case on (the) condition  Unless  for this reason (that)  for  When with this intention  because the  Whenever  then in the hope that  Since  consequently to the end that  While  therefore for fear that  Because  accordingly seeing / being that of Source: in view of  as
  19. 19. Logical Connectors  Function: Time at the present time   hence at this instant  further from time to time  since  during  when  first, second sooner or later  once  in time at the same time  about  prior to up to the present  next  instantly time  now  presently to begin with  immediately  Occasionally in due time  quickly  after  finally  later until now  formerly  last as soon as  suddenly  until in the meantime  shortly  since in a moment  whenever  then in the first place  eventually  before  meanwhile all of a sudden Source:
  20. 20. Logical Connectors  Function: Space/Location/Place in the middle  adjacent to  above  between to the left/right  opposite to  below  before in front of  here  down  alongside on this side  there  up  amid in the distance  next  under  among here and there  where  further  beneath in the  from  beyond  beside foreground  over  nearby  behind in the  Near  wherever  across background  around in the center of Source:
  21. 21. Logical Connectors: Emphasis   important to realize notably  markedly including  especially  another key point like  specifically  first thing to remember to be  expressivel  must be remembered sure y  point often overlooked namely  surprisingly  to point out chiefly  frequently  on the positive / truly  significantl negative side indeed y  with this in mind certainly surely Source:
  22. 22. Finding the Right Level  Not everyone you explain something to is going to understand everything the first time. To help them understand:  Try to think about it from their position or point of view.  Try to find out where they got stuck.  Explain in small “bites” (a little at a time).  If someone asks you a question, don’t assume you have to explain a lot of background material.  Don’t assume too much; sometimes you will need to provide background information. Source:. Deborah Mowshowitz, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University
  23. 23. Ten Ways to Explain Things More Effectively 1. Keep in mind other’s point of view2. Listen and respond to questions3. Avoid talking over people’s heads (find the right level)  Don’t use vocabulary that is too technical4. Avoid talking down to people  Don’t insult people by assuming they don’t know things5. Ask questions to determine people’s understanding Source: Calvin Sun, CNET Networks Inc.
  24. 24. Ten Ways to Explain Things More Effectively 6. Focus on benefits, not features.  Features are inherent properties of objects.  Benefits are ways features help a person7. Use analogies to make concepts clearer  Analogy is explaining an unfamiliar concept using a familiar one.8. Compare new concepts to familiar ones.9. Use the concepts of subsets and supersets.  Ex. Brooklyn is a subset of NYC, because all of it is in NYC.10. Confirm that your explanation makes sense. Source: Calvin Sun, CNET Networks, Inc.
  25. 25. Time to Practice  Please explain to me the relationship between humans and their pets. Please explain to me what “the early bird gets the worm” means. Please explain the difference between fear and respect to me. Please explain the process of buying a plane ticket to me. Please explain what each color on your flag represents. Please explain the main idea of a book you are