English

The Importance of English Pronunciation

Pronunciation is a vital skill because people must understand what you are saying when you talk to them. You may talk to work colleagues, friends, university students, or maybe people you only need to speak to quickly.

You want people to understand what you say. Without an understanding, people will look at you strangely, ask what you meant, and you will have to explain yourself or they may think you mean something else. If you want to say “turn right” but your “R” sounds like an “L”, you’ll say “turn light”. Does that mean turn at the light? Does it mean turn lightly? If you talk about your favourite “hobby” and you say “hubby” instead, people will look at you strangely and you’ll have to explain what you meant. Hubby is slang for husband. If you try to describe something and want to say “very”, that’s no problem. However if your “V” sounds like a “B”, then that is a problem. If you want to talk about the world and your “O” sounds like an “A” then people may think you are talking about a “war.”

Don’t just worry about what people hear. You should also worry about whether people can hear it or not. The “H” in “hour”, as you know is silent. Pronounce it and the word sounds like “Hower”. “What’s a hower?”, people will think. If you pronounce the “T” in “often, you’re making a mistake there.

Why do these things matter? The answers are-

  1. IELTS markers are subjective. If they believe pronunciation is very important, they will take away marks if they think you are mispronouncing words.
  2. Employers may want people who are well spoken. A large number of jobs require interaction; bank tellers, financial advisors, receptionists, assistants, negotiators, mechanics, foremen/forewomen, lawyers. Communication’s important and the job may go to the person who has the knowledge and the speaking skills.
  3. Tutors, lecturers, and fellow university students want to understand you. If you have to give a presentation, people must understand you. Mispronounced words get strange looks, and lower marks. You’ve got the knowledge but you want it to come out the right way. Knowledge must be understood to be appreciated.
  4. Clients and customers need to know what you mean. If you want to win a contract, sell a service, win a tender, convince a customer, or seal and deal, the bargaining process will run much smoother if both sides are coherent.
  5. It will make socialising much more pleasant as well. When you talk to friends or wok mates, you want to laugh, gossip, get your information or opinion across. This will be possible if you don’t have to repeat yourself. You want a conversation to be casual and enjoyable. No stopping or starting.

These are experiences you’re most likely to have in your day to day dealings. You want them to be easy experiences. There shouldn’t be a need for stopping and starting or explaining what you mean with each word. Clear pronunciation will be a big help in these situations.

The Importance of English Grammar

“Grammar; the difference between knowing your s**t and knowing you’re s**t.”

The anonymous quote says it all. Punctuation and the number of letters can make all the difference between what phrases and sentences mean. Are you saying that somebody owns something, or are you saying that someone is something? If you know your grammar, and understand it, it will help people understand what you mean when you write and speak.

  1. Do the subject and verbs agree?- “I like watch movies”, “I drive to Blue Mountains yesterday”, “I come back to my country”, “He cook well”, and “She fixed car tomorrow.” These are mistakes in simple sentences however if they happen in university essays, work reports, appointment records, and IELTS tests you could face low marks, bad performance feedback, and criticism from your boss.
  2. Are you using the singular or plural in the right place?- “I have three daughter”, “Only one cats went there”, “Only one car were there”, “Fifty girls was there”. Mistakes that should, and can be avoided. These are not welcome in any professional environments. “I see some flat-screen TV”, “I see a single employees”. The word “some” before a singular word, implies you are being flippant, casual or dismissive. “I have more DVD”, “She has less pill”, “There is not many water in the pool”, “There are not much coins in the piggy bank.”
  3. Are you using the right article for the word? “I like internet, I like QVB””, “I own car”, “I watch Australian TV show”, “This is capital city of the New South Wales.” People might know what you mean, but when they are paid to penalise you for mistakes they will.
  4. Are you using the right prepositions? “I like to lie in the sand. I like to walk in the beach”, “I like to watch TV on a friends house.” You know what you mean, make sure everybody else does.
  5. How is your sentence structure? “Maybe another station it is”. “People need be cautious.”

These are important things to remember and consider. All the examples listed and cases of incorrect grammar.

Grammar is important in other professions besides the tasks in 1. You may work in health, in industry, in retail, in finance, in childcare or hospitality. People’s health, money, food, comfort, and safety are dependent on you.

Needless to say, grammar is a crucial part of the IELTS test. Not all examiners may think it is important, but others might. You don’t know what an examiner is thinking. The safe thing to do is make sure your grammar is sufficient to help you pass the test and also to do your job.

The Importance of English Conversation

English Conversation is not the same as IELTS, OET, or Business English. It’s casual English you can use with friends, lovers, potential friends/lovers, or work mates when you’re out of the work place. It’s also a good way to get a job as well.

Why learn it?

  1. People will not always speak in formal English. They will have moments when they relax, when they break the “rules” of English, when they “misuse” it, when they have a good time. If you want to communicate with them, you need to know what they’re talking about. If someone says another person is “as rough as rags” it means that person is strong willed, stubborn, uncouth, has a gruff voice, is resilient, and/or hard working. To someone was shot down in flames, does not mean they were in the air force. It means they were defeated in a debate, argument or intention. However the expression “to get on like a house on fire” might sound like a bad thing but it’s actually a good thing. It means to get along really well.
  2. You may want to use these expressions as well. You want to make your feelings known. You may want to be quick and straight to the point. If you want to talk about people who insult you and criticise you, then you could say you “cop flack”, and they “rubbish” you or “burn” you. If you were in trouble but now you aren’t any more, tell people you’re “off the hook.”
  3. Slang language comes in different varieties, it depends on the country and community you are with. “Off the hook” is Australian slang for not being in trouble anymore, while in America in means “excellent, fun.” Even within countries you will find different slang. People who enjoy electronic games will know the word “noob” to mean someone who has played games or a certain game for a short period of time.
  4. Social media is an important part in people’s life. If people want to express your opinions and/or feelings on Facebook or YouTube then they normally use abbreviations such as “fyi”, “omg”, “atm”, and “ftw” etc. Get to know these expressions, understand them, use them, save time, get your point across and don’t feel left out.
  5. There may come times when you want to talk to people about serious or enjoyable moments. These may be problems at work or in relationships, or recounting a holiday. Good conversation skills help get the point across. These are times to let your emotions come out. Formal language may not be ideal in these interactions.
  6. A job interview also requires good conversation skills. You don’t want to sound rehearsed, you want to sound natural. You’re not there to be the interviewers best friend, but you don’t want to sound indifferent. They need to know you care about the job, about the tasks, about the responsibilities, about the customers and other staff. Don’t be a passive observer, but be enthusiastic about the job they’re offering. You don’t need to be excited, just positive and serious.
  7. When you’re negotiating in your job interviews, potential business deals, presentations, reporting your scientific findings, or convincing people they need to take safety seriously, conversation is important. You need to know more than the facts. People already HAVE to hear you. Make them WANT to hear you.

Those are the reasons for the importance of good conversation skills. You need them for getting a job, doing a job, and relaxing outside the job. Different types of conversation are needed for different situations.

The Importance of Business English

Language is a major part of business. If you want to succeed in it, you don’t just need facts, figures, numbers and the ability to type. You need to know how to master the language for several reasons.

  1. You want people to be interested in the things you say. Whether it’s a proposal, a suggestions, an answer, an explanation, a solution, or an offer, people should want to hear it. If they are interested in what you say, you will be able to promote your product or service a lot more efficiently.
  2. Editing is vital. You want to avoid to repetition and overuse of words. Redundant and excessive words make people bored and disinterested. It makes you look uncreative, and readers may miss the special points in your documents.
  3. You want to be able to negotiate in a manner that successfully convinces your client to join. You don’t want to sound rehearsed, that makes you look like you have no idea. You don’t want to be forceful or rude, that deters people and gives you a bad reputation.
  4. You should be able to resolve conflicts. You never know when you will be needed. It’s like being near the emergency exit on a plane. It may not always be needed but there might be a time when it’s necessary. Everyone knows conflict is bad for business.
  5. Adaptation is a useful ability. One size does not fit all. Not all audiences want the same thing in a report or proposal, even it’s about the same product. You may need to tailor your text to the individual needs of the client.
  6. There are many types of business texts; letters, e-mails, faxes and memos. They may be about similar subjects, but they written in different styles. You may have to read them, you may have to type them, you may have to do both. You never know how many you’ll get. It’s good to be prepared.
  7. Reports are always a big part of business. If you continually write good reports, your promotion and par raise chances could go up. This skill can also help you convey information accurately and coherently.
  8. Minutes and briefing notes are another important part of business. You might need to refer to them or compose them at some time. Briefing notes help a meeting run smoothly, minutes may be needed in the future. Whether you have to read them or create them, your ability to compose and decipher them will help you. You may need to refer to them in a legal dispute or a financial disagreement.
  9. E-mail etiquette is another important aspect of business life. You want people to respect you in the things you do. The way you type to people shows whether you value your work and the recipient of the e-mail. You don’t to appear as flippant or overly casual, you want to show you’re serious and creative.
  10. You want to know the kind of people you’re working with. Hopefully, if you know what makes respectful English, you’ll know when it’s not being used. You could find out if people are indifferent about a project, if they treat a report as a social occasion.

Business English is very to help you get ahead, cope and navigate.

What is the benefit of having good English pronunciation?

•    The first impression is extremely important when you speak with new people.
•    People will know straight away your professional level by listening to the way you pronounce English words
•    You can hide your limited vocab and grammar weakness, but not bad pronunciation.
•    Good pronunciation simply opens you to huge opportunities to meet potential employers.
•    Being able to communicate well with people from diverse countries is also a big achievement.
•    Networking is extremely important. Consider if people will avoid talking to you if they have difficulty understanding what you want to say.
•    If you have skilled pronunciation,  people will very much enjoy make friends with you

Ways to improve your English conversation skills

Write your own blog

You may not know that writing is actually a good way to improve your vocabulary. When you want to describe something but get stuck, you will have to look at the dictionary. By writing your own blog, after a period of time, you will be surprised in the way you can express your idea in a conversation.

A meet up group

Join an English conversation meet up group to meet with people who want to practise their English speaking skills and you certainly will learn a lot from each other.

Sing karaoke

Learning through singing is such an effective way to improve your pronunciation and confidence. Why not surprise your friends in a party night singing your most favourite song?

Take an English conversation course

It is a good way to start, if you have no idea at all. The tutor in the class will guide you on what to do and correct your individual common mistakes. Later on, you can learn by yourself easily.

Think in English

Try to force yourself to think in English but not your own native language. It will likely be hard initially, but this will be a great way to learn more things around you which you didn’t really actually think of in the past. Later on, you will find more things to say when you speak in English

Pick up your favourite movies

Watching movies in the English language with English subtitles may help you to understand the movie and help you to know how people actually converse in real life. We always learn from something and someone, so this is one of the many ways.

Vocabulary list

Building up your own vocab list will help you a lot in the long run. Don’t forget to go through the list whenever you have spare time. Make the most of your smart phone, iphone and iPad apps such as note taking app, and to do list.

 

5 steps to improve English Grammar

•    Start from basic sentences, move onto compound sentences and then complex sentences.
•    Learn grammar rules and make good notes for future revision purposes.
•    Double check your English grammar exercise/s every time you finish. You may make careless mistakes without notice.
•    Learn from your mistake/s; you will not improve if you keep making the same mistake/s over and over.
•    Learn from classmates, friends and the teacher. Some people may have difficulty in a particular skill and expertise in others. So why not learn from each other and together improve.

Australian Slang and Colloquialisms and the difference from British Colloquialisms

Even though Australia was settled by the British, the country has developed it’s own slang language. There are many reasons why the differences have emerged however here the differences will be shown and the reasons are another story and may come later.

British police are colloquially called “plods, bobbies, coppers”. In Australia the word “copper” is used.

When the police, principal, boss or superior officer will punish you, or when someone may get revenge on you a British person would say “They’re going to do you now,” while an Australian person wold say “They’re going to get you” and “They’re going to make you pay”.

A posh person is normally called a “toff” by British speakers, while Australians would use the word “ponce”.

The currency is always called by its proper name. In the UK, “quid” is slang for pounds while in Australia “bucks” is used instead of dollars. The reason for this difference is American influence. In America, “buck” as a slang word for money was influenced by colonial times where Europeans and American Indians used goats, deer, and antelopes as a form of currency.

In Australia if you want to call someone “crazy”, idiotic, unreasonable, blind to danger, short tempered, you normally use the word “nuts” or maybe “nutso”, and for people who are extreme examples; “mad as a cut snake”. In the UK you would normally hear the description “mental”.

Other people are seen as rude, dishonest, neglectful, unpleasant, selfish, lazy or you may dislike them for any number of reasons. In Australia, that type of person is a “jerk”, “rat bag” or “scum bag”. In Britain, the word is “twat”. The British also use the word “twat” to mean “to beat up”, while in Australia people might say “bash” and “pummel”.

These are just some Australian slang word, but watch these blogs because more info about Australian slang just might “pop up” (appear :)).

3 quick ways to improve your English pronunciation

Pronunciation is a key factor in learning a language and there are many ways that you can improve to help make yourself more clearly understood.

Here are just a few tips that you may want to try:

1. Find out what you are doing wrong

If you don’t know what you are doing wrong then you can’t improve your pronunciation. Ask your teacher or native English speaking friends to listen to you and correct you when necessary. Ask them if they can understand what you are saying. It may be a little embarrassing and time consuming, but it is an ideal way to learn.

2. Slow down and breathe

People can get very nervous when using a new language and try to speak very quickly to give an impression that they are fluent. However, speed does not equal fluency and in fact, speeding up instead of slowing down can make it even more difficult for people to understand what you are saying. Remember that not everyone who is fluent speaks quickly. Think about the way you approach your own language. Do you speak very quickly all the time? I am sure that you don’t.

3. Make use of your face-to-face time with your teacher

Having a native speaker face-to-face with you on a regular basis has to one of the best ways to improve your pronunciation. Observe how your teacher speaks, how he/she positions their mouth and what their face looks like when they speak. Is their face strained or relaxed? Do they speak in a monotone or do they sound interesting? Listen to the way they make sounds and try to mimic them. Ask them to correct you and tell you what you are doing wrong.

 

Why is good pronunciation essential when speaking English?

When we learn a foreign language we can often become so caught up with the spelling, grammar and writing that we forget about the speaking. For example, you may know simple words and be able to construct simple sentences but you can’t rely on simple pronunciation to be understood.

If your pronunciation is simple but so poor that native English speakers cannot understand what you are saying, then you may wish to reconsider the importance of it in your language tool kit.

One of the difficult aspects of any language is the accent. Just because someone may speak the same language as you doesn’t mean you will have the same accent. People in Australia speak English but sometimes their accents are so strong that native English speakers from other countries struggle to understand what they are saying.

The key to getting by then is to aim for good pronunciation and focus on reducing your accent so that when you do talk to native speakers they don’t have to struggle and be uncomfortable understanding what you are saying. If they do, you will find that the conversation is stilted and may become difficult. You will not be able to make yourself understood and chances are that you will become frustrated and reluctant to try out your language skills again.

Your teacher is the best person to help you with any questions you may have about what is good pronunciation and how you can attain it. The main point, however, would be to speak English at every possible opportunity that you have and remember that practice makes perfect.

-Vicki

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January 2018
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