design & typography grammar & speech language & style production & publishing writing & editing

Summer interns

A few months back I commented on the parts of technical writing I enjoy–the nuance of language, a collegial atmosphere. This month I’m adding another aspect, summer interns.

technical publications competition group
international interns, chapter advisors, and competition manager

I’ve been fortunate to work with a group of international students on a not-for-profit project. They’ve taken on planning an event for the Fall. Short of registering their friends and family they are promoting the event in every possible way. They’ve created a plan, designed a logo, multiplied the database and learned a bit about technical writing too. The students became organized as any product team might except that their buzz was about learning English, not launching a product.

International students find internships to practice speaking and listening, reading and writing in English. Passing those skills on a proficiency exam is a key to their future.

grammar & speech terms & abbreviations

Immigration, grammar, and a side of cheese

Here’s a current events topic that combines my interests in immigration and grammar. Earlier this month the New York Times published an article on how the Supreme Court justices came to rule unanimously from different interpretations. It’s timely because today the President announced his first choice for the Court.

So this case protects illegal workers who use fake IDs to get jobs but denies protection when the same workers knowingly use the same IDs to commit other crimes.

The government argued that the “knowingly” requirement applied only to the verbs in question. Justice Breyer rejected that interpretation, saying that “it seems natural to read the statute’s word ‘knowingly’ as applying to all the subsequently listed elements of the crime.”

And this is the part I like–where Justice Breyer cites examples from everyday life. “If we say that someone knowingly ate a sandwich with cheese, we normally assume that the person knew both that he was eating a sandwich and that it contained cheese.”…

Justice Breyer said the case should be decided by applying “ordinary English grammar.” Let’s see if “ordinary English” is overheard during the confirmation hearing.

Copyright The New York Times, May 4, 2009
Justices Limit Use of Identity Theft Law in Immigration Cases

language & style terms & abbreviations

English as a second language

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is legislation respecting immigration to Canada and granting refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or in danger.

The term “foreign national” refers to any person other than a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Oddly, the word “immigrant” doesn’t appear in the Act.

I was happy to read that the 2001 Act used simpler language and fewer cross-references. However, I had to chew on a 112-word clause before it made any sense.

Sole provincial responsibility — appeals
If a federal-provincial agreement gives a province sole responsibility to establish and apply financial criteria with respect to undertakings that sponsors living in that province may make in respect of a foreign national who applies to become a permanent resident, then, unless the agreement provides otherwise, the existence of a right of appeal under the law of that province respecting rejections by provincial officials of applications for sponsorship, for reasons of failing to meet financial criteria or failing to comply with a prior undertaking, prevents the sponsor, except on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, from appealing under this Act against a refusal, based on those reasons, of a visa or permanent resident status.

My take on sole provincial responsibility appeals is this:

The province can impose financial responsibility on the sponsor of a foreign national, and if refused for financial reasons the sponsor can appeal to the province or apply under the Act for a humanitarian and compassionate exception.

My hat goes off to ESL classmates who had to deal with breaking down and making sense of this provision.

writing & editing


It’s been a month of celebrations–Obama’s inauguration, Chinese New Year and  reason to hope for economic improvement.

After taking a time out after summer 2008 I started a program to become a Canadian immigration consultant. My own immigration experience was straightforward and so I thought I could help others wanting to move here.

Facing the Fork

I am a baby-boomer so I don’t have a long timeline to do over a career. My biggest asset is my ability to make a living but the 2008 economic downturn affected me.

What I know about occupations in general is that they fall into three categories: people, things, and ideas. They’re all in the mix for technical communicators. Immigration consulting is knowing about policies, procedures, and intercultural communication.

What about technical communication? I still want to continue doing technical writing. It’s been my occupation for 20 years and my passion. I figured out the parts of technical writing I like. While I’m not that geeky, I do like the ‘wordie’ aspect.

It all comes together in a program called Immigration Law Policies and Procedures offered through the Intercultural Communications department at University of British Columbia. I’m fascinated to hear about others’ journey to Canada — not just for a better job or for family reunification but also for a safe destination. Of my 60 classmates everyone appears motivated to learn the rules and regulations in order to help loved ones land safely.

My experience with immigration is only first-hand and it was a smooth transition thanks to a great lawyer and a patient husband. We’re eligible to apply for citizenship this year so for anyone still wondering whether we’re moving back to the U.S., nope.

"Happy New Year!"
"Gung Hay Fat Choy!"