Narrative: I Went From Prison to Professor

10 Vocabulary Focus: Prison to Professor

Vocabulary Focus

This chapter helps you develop your academic vocabulary fluency.

  • Improving a Narrative Passage
  • Writing a Personal Paragraph

Printable worksheets for students can be found in the instructor section at the end of the text.

Improving a Narrative Passage

On the next page, you will see a story. It is very basic. As you can see, it contains limited vocabulary and very basic grammar. It also has some errors in the use of verb tenses.

Read the passage on the next page. Then, read the instructions below. In your groups or with a partner, discuss how you can improve the paragraph. Then, edit the paragraph to make it better.

Suggestions for improving the passage:

  • Begin the paragraph with a topic sentence that includes your opinion about the event. For example, was it a difficult / happy / life-changing / sad event?
  • Replace weak vocabulary. Use at least five of the following words:
Application Obstacle Barrier Challenge Punctual Reliable
Experience Environment Hidden Talent Bottom Line Income Fast-paced
Opportunities Organization Potential Pursuit Invite Be greeted
Be required Be allowed Be determined Be trained Be encouraged Be disappointed
  • Add specific details to the passage. For example, you can explain what kind of a business the narrator had. You can describe his or her qualities. You can describe the interviewer and the office where the interview took place. Explain how the narrator felt during the process. Be creative.
  • Check verbs. Make sure they are all consistent—all in the past tenses.
  • Combine short and choppy sentences to create complex or compound sentences.
  • Use at least three adjective clauses in the paragraph.
  • Add a bit of dialog. Be sure to use correct punctuation with direct speech.
  • Add a conclusion that would answer one of the following questions:
    • What did the narrator learn from the experience?
    • What did the narrator do because of this experience?
    • How did this experience affect the narrator?

Here is the passage:

It was summer of 2019. I needed a job. I send my resume to a company. Two weeks pass. I got a phone call. A person from the company told me to come to the job interview. The job interview took place two days later. I was very nervous. It was my first job interview in the United States. Back in my home country I had a small business. I was a business owner for 10 years. I was very successful and I have a lot of good qualities as a worker. But I do not work in the United States.

At the interview, a tall man said hello to me. He took me to an office. There were three more people in the office. They started asking me questions. I tried to answer the questions. I could tell that they couldn’t really understand me. I know that my English skills are a problem. I feel really bad. They asked me five questions. I tried to answer as much I could. They asked me if I had any questions. I was very nervous and I didn’t say anything. The tall man shook my hand. I left.

In a few days, I got a letter from him. The letter says that I didn’t get the job. I feel very bad.

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