The Art of Copyediting foundational skills program—A review


This is a piece written by Vandana Bhasin of Gurugram, who took up The Art of Copyediting's Foundational Skills for Employability and Earning training and mentoring program in November 2022. 


The Foundational Skills for Employability and Earning (FSEE) program by The Art of Copyediting is a comprehensive startup kit for anyone keen on pursuing a career as a copyeditor.

I believe that any study program must be assessed on three facets:

  1. Content and structure of the program
  2. Availability of resources and references
  3. Knowledge, experience and communication skills of the teacher

I am offering a review of the FSEE program on these three parameters to provide a detailed overview to prospective students.


Content and Structure of the Program

When I enrolled for the program in November 2022, I knew that I was committing myself to four months of training under the mentorship of an industry expert, but I hadn’t really checked the detailed content of the course. The course required me to undergo one-month of self-study with the help of videos as a part of the training. Without anticipating the self-study efforts, I dived into the course. These videos were of long duration, but at no point of time did I feel like skipping any part. I wanted to absorb the “Essentials of Written English” before beginning my mentoring sessions with Dr. Venkat in December, but there was so much to learn, to note down and to assimilate, and I soon realized that this course was going to transform the way I write and read.

Through the videos, I was swiftly introduced to his 14 Rules of writing, which he likes to call “Fundamental Rules.” At first, I wasn’t really sure how the entire English language could be summed up in 14 rules, but as the course progressed, I could appreciate the relevance, merit and effectiveness of these 14 rules and how meticulously these rules ensured an error-free usage of the semantics of English language. The rules have been divided into four categories, for ease of remembering, and cover all the aspects where one’s mind may pause to question the correctness or need of a particular word or mark of punctuation (as apostrophe, dash, colon, semi-colon, comma, etc.). 

These rules are reiterated umpteen times during the mentoring sessions, ensuring that these become a part of your everyday thinking.

The videos are a storehouse of knowledge, and are so informative that even my eleven-year-old son found them interesting enough to sit with me and listen. He even requested my mentor to extend my access to the course so that he could watch them during his holidays!

I particularly liked the clarity that was provided to me with respect to restrictive and non-restrictive elements with the technique of identifying sentence patterns. The repeated practice sessions that were conducted in a calm manner helped me in imbibing the concepts thoroughly.

And one cannot forget the ease and clarity that was brought about with the technique of color-coding (identifying different parts of the sentence and coloring them differently). The course includes a detailed teaching of verbs, an understanding much needed for editors.

It was quite challenging in the initial few weeks to keep pace with the speed at which the course was proceeding, with videos and mentoring classes going on every week. But for a keen learner, I would say, it was a buffet at the cost of a simple à la carte meal. You were free to savor as much as you could. 😊

I also learned the importance of using basic resources like a dictionary, and he emphasizes using it routinely as a copyeditor. Though I am a regular user of dictionary, his insistence on using it for common words and referencing it for parts of speech proved quite beneficial.

The courses are well-structured and rich in content, and you would never feel that any concept or topic has been left out.


Availability of Resources and References

The course is designed in such a way that you would always feel overwhelmed with the number of resources and references that are provided to you. There are plenty of videos, downloads, blogs, flowcharts and summaries that are shared during the course (more than 30 downloads/summaries), and you do not feel the need to refer to external sources. The PPTs are full of examples to clarify the rule/concept being explained.

Though videos aren’t available for download, access to recordings of the mentoring sessions suffices the need to refresh the memory.


Knowledge, Experience and Communication Skills of the Teacher

Now this is one area where you cannot possibly have any qualms!

I would say this earnestly and righteously that Dr. Venkat is one of the best teachers that I have had so far. I wish I had such teachers during my school/college days.

He carries almost three decades of experience as a copyeditor, and having mentored so many students and employees over the years, his knowledge and concept clarity are exceptional. Despite that, he thoroughly enjoys being challenged.

He has a unique way of making you assent to his perspective by providing a logical explanation for everything, actually, not by providing a logical explanation but by guiding you to reach the explanation yourself. He doesn’t serve answers to your queries on a platter, and this, I feel, pushes you to keep learning and putting in efforts. 

He is disciplined yet patient, assertive yet understanding, result-oriented and yet a resolute guide.

He’s a passionate teacher who wants to ensure that his students truly learn and gain from his knowledge, and I’m still to meet a teacher who’s more enthusiastic than the ones being tutored!

His zeal for teaching the English language is unparalleled.


Vandana's contribution to the FSEE program (Venkat, Founder of The Art of Copyediting)

During the course of our mentoring sessions, Vandana Bhasin told me that it would be better if I could be in touch with the student even during the first month of self-study.

I know that the situation in India is very different from that in any other part of the world. Although we have 22 officially recognized languages in India, there over 19,500 dialects that are spoken as mother tongues. So much so, people in India learn English in addition to their own dialect, the structure of which may be very different from that of the English language. I could imagine the translations going on in the minds of these people on a daily basis—and the need to make them think in English to become editors.

I sensed the value of Vandana's suggestion and implemented it almost immediately; later students, without exception, have told me that this handholding from the beginning is very helpful.

One good thing about this change is that the number of mentoring sessions increased from the originally planned 20 sessions in 2 months to 22–24 sessions (varied with individuals) in 3 months (with no change in fees). I've also distributed these sessions uniformly to just 2 days every week, so that the learner also feels that things are sufficiently spaced-out.

My sincere thanks to Vandana for her suggestion, in turn based on her practical experience with the program. Her simple suggestion and the consequent "spreading out" of the mentoring sessions over 3 months have transformed the FSEE program completely.


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