Body Language Speaks Louder Than Words

Body Language Speaks Louder Than Words
By: Lydia Ramsey


Has it ever occurred to you how much you are saying to people even when you are not speaking? Unless you are a master of disguise, you are constantly sending messages about your true thoughts and feelings whether you are using words or not.

Studies show that your words account for only 7% of the messages you convey. The remaining 93% is non-verbal. 55% of communication is based on what people see and the other 38% is transmitted through tone of voice. So think about it. In the business setting, people can see what you are not saying. If your body language doesn't match your words, you are wasting your time.

Eye contact is the most obvious way you communicate. When you are looking at the other person, you show interest. When you fail to make eye contact, you give the impression that the other person is of no importance. Maintain eye contact about 60% of the time in order to look interested, but not aggressive.

Facial expression is another form of non-verbal communication. A smile sends a positive message and is appropriate in all but a life and death situation. Smiling adds warmth and an aura of confidence. Others will be more receptive if you remember to check your expression.

Your mouth gives clues, too, and not just when you are speaking. Mouth movements, such as pursing your lips or twisting them to one side, can indicate that you are thinking about what you are hearing or that you are holding something back.

The position of your head speaks to people. Keeping your head straight, which is not the same as keeping your head on straight, will make you appear self-assured and authoritative. People will take you seriously. Tilt your head to one side if you want to come across as friendly and open.

How receptive you are is suggested by where you place your arms. Arms crossed or folded over your chest say that you have shut other people out and have no interest in them or what they are saying. This position can also say, "I don't agree with you." You might just be cold, but unless you shiver at the same time, the person in front of you may get the wrong message.

How you use your arms can help or hurt your image as well. Waving them about may show enthusiasm to some, but others see this gesture as one of uncertainty and immaturity. The best place for your arms is by your side. You will look confident and relaxed. If this is hard for you, do what you always do when you want to get better at something - practice. After a while, it will feel natural.

The angle of your body gives an indication to others about what's going through your head. Leaning in says, "Tell me more." Leaning away signals you've heard enough. Adding a nod of your head is another way to affirm that you are listening.

Posture is just as important as your grandmother always said it was. Sit or stand erect if you want to be seen as alert and enthusiastic. When you slump in your chair or lean on the wall, you look tired. No one wants to do business with someone who has no energy.

Control your hands by paying attention to where they are. In the business world, particularly when you deal with people from other cultures, your hands need to be seen. That would mean you should keep them out of your pockets and you should resist the urge to put them under the table or behind your back. Having your hands anywhere above the neck, fidgeting with your hair or rubbing your face, is unprofessional.

Legs talk, too. A lot of movement indicates nervousness. How and where you cross them tells others how you feel. The preferred positions for the polished professional are feet flat on the floor or legs crossed at the ankles. The least professional and most offensive position is resting one leg or ankle on top of your other knee. Some people call this the "Figure Four." It can make you look arrogant.

The distance you keep from others is crucial if you want to establish good rapport. Standing too close or "in someone's face" will mark you as pushy. Positioning yourself too far away will make you seem standoffish. Neither is what you want so find the happy medium. Most importantly, do what makes the other person feel comfortable. If the person with whom you are speaking keeps backing away from you, stop. Either that person needs space or you need a breath mint.

You may not be aware of what you are saying with your body, but others will get the message. Make sure it's the one you want to send.

Author Bio
Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author of MANNERS THAT SELL - ADDING THE POLISH THAT BUILDS PROFITS. She has been quoted or featured in The New York Times, Investors' Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple and Woman's Day. For more information about her programs, products and services, e-mail her at or visit her web site

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What Is School Accreditation?

What Is School Accreditation?
By: Jason Hahn


In general terms, accreditation is the means by which a school is officially recognized as a provider of a satisfactory education that public institutions (i.e. employers) can trust. It is a voluntary process that requires the school to meet minimum requirements that are established by various regional accrediting agencies.

The lack of one official accrediting agency creates an opportunity for sub par online schools that are trying to obtain students through any means possible. In other words, just about any organization can say that they are an accrediting agency, so potential online school enrollers should do their research before signing up for classes at a particular online school.

Sadly, a number of online schools create false accrediting agencies in order to make candidates think that they are trustworthy and established. To avoid this conflict, be sure to check whether or not an online school is accredited by one of the six major regional accrediting agencies. These include the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (NCA), Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA), Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU).

If your online school is accredited by one of the above agencies, your degree will be seen as legitimate by most employers. However, if your online school is not accredited by one of the above agencies but by a false accrediting agency, your degree may not be acceptable to most employers.

Author Bio

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Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 16

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 16

A Reading Checklist

There are many ways that you can encourage your child to become a reader. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to make sure that you are keeping on track:

For Babies (6 weeks to 1 year)

Do I provide a comfortable place for our story time? Is my child happy to be in this place?
Am I showing my child the pictures in the book? Am I changing the tone of my voice as I read to show emotion and excitement?
Am I paying attention to how my child responds? What does she especially like? Is she tired and ready to stop?
For Toddlers (1 to 3 years)

All of the questions above, plus:
Does my child enjoy the book we are reading?
Do I encourage my child to “pretend read,” joining in where he has memorized a word or phrase?
When I ask questions, am I giving my child enough time to think and answer?
Do I tie ideas in the book to things that are familiar to my child? Do I notice if he does this on his own?
Do I let my child know how much I like his ideas and encourage him to tell me more?
Do I point out letters, such as the first letter of his name?
For Preschoolers (3 and 4 years)

All of the questions above, plus:
Do I find ways to help my child begin to identify sounds and letters and to make letter-sound matches?
For Kindergartners (5 years):

All of the questions above, plus:
Do I find ways to help my child begin to identify some printed words?
Do I let my child retell favorite stories to show that she knows how the story develops and what’s in it?
For Beginning First-Graders (6 years):

All of the questions above, plus:
Do I give my child the chance to read a story to me using the print, picture clues, his memory—or any combination of these ways that help him make sense of the story?
Remember: Children learn step by step in a process that takes time and patience. They vary a great deal in what holds their interest and in the rate at which they make progress.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 15

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 15

Taking Charge of TV

Many children enjoy TV, and they can learn from it. Keep in mind, though, that young children often imitate what they see, good or bad. It’s up to you to decide how much TV and what kinds of shows your child should watch.

Think about your child’s age and choose the types of things that you want him to see, learn, and imitate.

Look for TV shows that
—teach your child something,

—hold his interest,

—encourage him to listen and question,

—help him learn more words,

—make him feel good about himself, and

—introduce him to new ideas and things.

“Sesame Street,” “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” “Blue’s Clues,” “Between the Lions,” “Reading Rainbow,” “Barney & Friends,” “Zoom,” and “Zoboomafoo,” are some shows that you may want to consider. Many other good children’s programs are available on public television stations and on cable channels such as the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
Limit the time that you let your child watch TV. Too much television cuts into important activities in a child’s life, such as reading, playing with friends, and talking with family members.
Watch TV with your child when you can. Talk with him about what you see. Answer his questions. Try to point out the things in TV programs that are like your child’s everyday life.
When you can’t watch TV with your child, spot check to see what he is watching. Ask questions after the show ends. See what excites him and what troubles him. Find out what he has learned and remembered.
Go to the library and find books that explore the themes of the TV shows that your child watches. Or help your child to use his drawings or pictures cut from magazines to make a book based on a TV show.
If You Think There’s a Problem

Your child may resist being read to or joining with you in the activities in this booklet. If so, keep trying the activities, but keep them playful. Remember that children vary a great deal in the ways that they learn. Don’t be concerned if your child doesn’t enjoy a certain activity that her friend of the same age loves. It is important, though, to keep an eye on how your child is progressing.
When a child is having a language or reading problem, the reason might be simple to understand and deal with or it might be complicated and require expert help. Often, children may just need more time to develop their language skills. On the other hand, some children might have trouble seeing, hearing, or speaking. Others may have a learning disability. If you think your child may have some kind of physical or learning problem, it is important to get expert help quickly.
If your child is in school and you think that she should have stronger language skills, ask for a private meeting with her teacher. (You may feel more comfortable taking a friend, relative, or someone else in your community with you.) In most cases, the teacher or perhaps the principal will be able to help you to understand how your child is doing and what you might do to help her.
There is a law—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—that may allow you to get certain services for your child from your school district. Your child might qualify to receive help from a speech and language therapist or other specialist, or she might qualify to receive materials designed to match her needs. You can learn about your special education rights and responsibilities by requesting that the school give you— in your first language—a summary of legal rights. To find out about programs for children with disabilities that are available in your state, contact the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities.
The good news is that no matter how long it takes, most children can learn to read. Parents, teachers, and other professionals can work together to determine if a child has a learning disability or other problem, and then provide the right help as soon as possible. When a child gets such help, chances are very good that she will develop the skills she needs to succeed in school and in life. Nothing is more important than your support for your child as she goes through school. Make sure she gets any extra help she needs as soon as possible, and always encourage her and praise her efforts.

Watching Your Child Progress

As a parent, you can learn a lot about your child’s learning and watch for signs of possible problems. Here are some things to look for and to discuss with his teacher: Starting at age 3 or 4: Does your child remember nursery rhymes, and can he play rhyming games?
At about age 4: Can your child get information or directions from conversations or books that are read aloud to him?
Kindergartners: Is your child beginning to name and write the letters and numbers that he sees in books, on billboards and signs, and in other places?
At age 5: Can your child play and enjoy simple word games in which two or more words start with the same sound? For example: “Name all the animals you can think of that start with d.”
At ages 5 and 6: Does your child show that he understands that spoken words can be broken down into smaller parts (for example, by noticing the word big in bigger)? Does he seem to understand that you can change a small part of a word and make a different word (for example, by changing the first sound and letter of cat, you can make hat, sat, mat, bat, rat, and so on)?
Adapted from Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success. National Academy Press, Washington, DC: 1999.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202 and

who adapted it from Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success. National Academy Press, Washington, DC: 1999.

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 14

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 14

Other Ways to Help

All of the activities discussed so far offer a rich experience for children as they build their language skills. But you can do even more to support your child’s learning.

Visiting the Library

Libraries offer more than books. They are places of learning and discovery for everyone. Ask at the library about getting a library card in your child’s name and, if you don’t already have one, get a card for yourself.

The Librarian

Introduce yourself and your child to your librarian. Librarians can help you to select the best books that are both fun and suitable for your child’s age level. They can also show you the other programs and services the library has to offer.
Books . . . and More

In addition to a wealth of books, your library most likely will have tapes and CDs of books, musical CDs and tapes, movies, computers that you can use, and many more resources. You also might find books in languages other than English, or programs to help adults improve their reading. If you would like reading help for yourself or your family, check with the librarian about literacy programs in your community.

Supervised Story Times

Babies and toddlers. Many libraries have group story hours that are short and geared to the attention spans of the children. During story hour, child sits in your lap, and both of you can join in the story. The storyteller also may show you fingerplays and rhythm activities. The storyteller also may give you tips and handouts that you can use for your own home story hours.
Preschoolers. The library may offer these story hours more than once a week. For these story hours, you and your child usually read several books on the same topic. You might play games, sing songs, use puppets, or do other activities that are connected to that topic. You also may get ideas for books to read and other things to do with your child at home.
Families. Families can read together, or they may join in a story told by the library storyteller. Some libraries also set up family activities around the readings, including crafts and art projects and watching movies.
Summer Reading

After the school year is over, some children may forget what they have learned about reading. Libraries help keep children interested in reading by offering summer programs. Children from early elementary school to high school read books on their own. A teacher or librarian may give a child a diary or log in which he writes what he read during the summer. And, because reading aloud is so important to promoting a love of reading, many libraries offer “Read-to-Me” clubs for preschool and younger children.

Learning with Computers

Computers can’t replace the reading and writing activities discussed earlier in this booklet. But computers can support what these activities teach your child.
Many computer programs (also called software) offer activities that can both grab your child’s interest and teach good lessons. Children as young as 3 years old, though they can’t read yet, may still have fun using some of the colorful, action-filled programs with enjoyable characters.Computer reading programs let your child
Hear stories, read along and read by herself.
Play with objects and characters on the screen that teach the alphabet, simple words, rhyming words and other skills important to learning to read.
Command the computer with her voice, record herself reading and play back the recording so that she can hear herself.
Write simple sentences and make up stories.
Add pictures and characters to her stories and have them read back.
Make and print her own books.
Make slide shows.
Gain praise and see improvement in her language abilities.

Finding and Using a Computer

If you don’t have a computer at home, ask your librarian if you and your child may use one of the library’s computers. Your child’s school or a nearby community college might also have a computer laboratory that you may use. Ask your librarian about good programs for learning to use a computer. Try a few. They can help you learn basic computer steps before working with your child. Your librarian also may be able to tell you where you can get computer training if you want it.
When sitting at a computer with your child, join in at first. Later, watch as he plays. Always praise and guide him when you need to. Make sure that you choose the right programs for your child’s age. Often, one program may have activities for many ages. As your child grows, the program gets more challenging. In fact, if you have children of different ages, the same program can allow each to learn and practice different skills.
There are many computer programs available for children, but they vary in quality. If you can, try a program before you buy it. You also can check at your local library for reviews of children’s programs. Don’t hesitate to ask your librarian or your child’s teacher for information and recommendations about good software.
Many computer programs are available through “Web sites,” which are addresses on the World Wide Web, a part of the Internet. Organizations such as libraries, colleges, and government offices give people information through their Web sites. Businesses and other private groups also give—and sell—information over their Web sites. Good children’s programs are available this way, but again, the quality of such material varies and you will need to be careful in your choices. For help on how you can use a computer to hook up to the Internet and find what you need, check with your librarian.
Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 13

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 13

Family Stories

For children ages 3 to 6

Telling family stories lets your child know about the people who are important to him. They also give him an idea of how one thing leads to another in a story.

What to Do

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let him do more. But keep doing the first ones as long as he enjoys them.
Tell your child stories about your parents and grandparents or about others who are special to you and your family. You might put these stories in a book and add old photographs.
Think out loud about when you were little. Make a story out of something that happened, such as a family trip, a birthday party, or when you lost your first tooth.
Have your child tell you stories about what he did on special days, such as holidays, birthdays, and family vacations.
If you go on a trip, write a trip journal with your child to make a new family story. Take photographs of special events. Writing down special events and pasting photographs of the events in the journal will tie the family story to a written history. You can also include everyday trips, such as going to the grocery store or the park.
The storyteller’s voice helps your child to hear the sounds of words and how they are put together to make meaning.

Write On!

For children ages 3 to 6

Reading and writing support each other. The more your child does of each, the better she will be at both.

What You Need

Pencils, crayons, or markers
Yarn or ribbon
Writing paper or notebook
Cardboard or heavy paper
Construction paper
Safety scissors
What to Do

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let her do more. But keep doing the first ones as long as she enjoys them.
Write with your child. She will learn a lot about writing by watching you write. Talk with her about your writing so that she begins to understand that writing means something and has many uses.
Have your preschooler use her way of writing—perhaps just a scribble—to sign birthday cards or make lists.
Hang a family message board in the kitchen. Offer to write notes there for your child. Be sure that she finds notes left there for her.
Ask your preschooler to tell you simple stories as you write them down. Question her if you don’t understand something.
Encourage your preschooler to write her name and practice writing it with her. Remember, at first she may use only the first letter or two of her name.
Help your child write notes or e-mails to relatives and friends to thank them for gifts or to share her thoughts. Encourage the relatives and friends to answer your child.
When she is in kindergarten, your child will begin to write words the way that she hears them. For example, she might write haf for have, frn for friend, and Frd for Fred. Ask her to read her writing to you. Don’t be concerned with correct spelling. She will learn that later.
As your child gets older, she can begin to write or tell you longer stories. Ask questions that will help her organize the stories. Answer questions about alphabet letters and spelling.
Turn your child’s writing into books. Paste her drawings and writings on pieces of construction paper. For each book, make a cover out of heavier paper or cardboard, then add special art, a title, and her name as author. Punch holes in the pages and cover and bind the book together with yarn or ribbon.
When a child is just beginning, she tries different ways to write and spell. Our job as parents is to encourage our children’s writing so they will enjoy putting their thoughts and ideas on paper. Provide them with spelling help when they ask for it.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 12

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 12

Match My Sounds

For children ages 3 to 6

Listening for and saying sounds in words will help your child to learn that spoken words are made up of sounds, which gets him ready to match spoken sounds to written letters—an important first step toward becoming a reader.

What You Need

Books with nursery rhymes, tongue twisters, word games, or silly songs

What to Do

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let him do more. But keep doing the first ones as long as he enjoys them.
Say your child’s name, then have him say words that begin with the same sound; for example: David—day, doll, dish; Jess—juice, jam, jar.
As you read a story or poem, ask your child to listen for and say the words that begin with the same sound. Then have him think of and say another word that begins with the sound.
Read or say a familiar nursery rhyme such as “Humpty, Dumpty.” Then have your child make it “Bumpty, Lumpty” or “Thumpty, Gumpty.”
Help your child to make up and say silly lines with lots of words that start with the same sound, such as, “Sister saw six silly snakes.”
Say two names for an animal, and tell your child to choose the name that begins with the same sound as the animal’s name. Ask, for example, should a horse’s name be Hank or Tank? Should a pig be Mattie or Patty? Should a zebra be Zap or Cap?
Helping children learn to pay attention to sounds in words can prevent reading problems later on.

Take a Bow!

For children ages 3 to 6

When your child acts out a poem or story, she shows her own understanding of what it is about. She also grows as a reader by connecting emotions with written words.

What You Need

Poems or stories written from a child’s point of view
Things to use in a child’s play (dress-up clothes, puppets)

What to Do

Read a poem slowly to your child. Read it with feeling, making the words seem important.
If your child has a poem she especially likes, ask her to act it out. Ask her to make a face to show the way the character in the poem is feeling. Making different faces adds emotion to the performer’s voice. After her performance, praise her for doing a good job.
Tell your child that the family would love to see her perform her poem. Set a time when everyone can be together. When your child finishes her performance, encourage her to take a bow as everyone claps and cheers loudly.
Encourage your child to make up her own play from a story that she has read or heard. Tell her that it can be make-believe or from real life. Help her to find or make things to go with the story—a pretend crown, stuffed animals, a broomstick, or whatever the story needs. Some of her friends or family also can help. You can write down the words or, if she is old enough, help her to write them. Then help her to stage the play for everyone to see!
Play acting helps a child learn that there are more and less important parts to a story. She also learns how one thing in a story follows another.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 11

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 11

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

For children ages 3 to 6

Books that have no words, just beautiful pictures, invite you and your child to use your imaginations to make up your own stories to go with the pictures.

What You Need

Wordless picture books (For suggestions, see Resources for Children, page 51.)
Old magazines

Safety scissors

Construction paper

What to Do

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let him do more. But keep doing the first ones as long as he enjoys them.

Look through the whole picture book with your child. Ask him what he thinks the story is about. Tell the story together by talking about each page as each of you sees it.
Ask your child to identify objects, animals, or people on each page. Talk with him about the pictures, and ask him if he thinks that they are like real life.
Have your child tell another child or family member a story using a wordless picture book. Doing this will make him feel like a “reader” and will encourage him to continue learning to read.
Have your child create his own picture book with his drawings or pictures that you help him cut from magazines.
Using wordless picture books can help improve children’
Rhyme with Me: It’s Fun, You’ll See!

For children ages 3 to 6

Rhyming activities help your child to pay attention to the sounds in words.

What You Need

Books with rhyming words, word games, or songs

What to Do

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let her do more. But keep doing the first ones as long as she enjoys them.
Play rhyming games and sing rhyming songs with your child. Many songs and games include clapping, bouncing and tossing balls, and playing in groups.
Read rhymes to your child. As you read, stop before a rhyming word and encourage your child to fill in the blank. When she does, praise her.
Listen for rhymes in songs that you know or hear on the radio, TV, or at family or other gatherings. Sing the songs with your child.
Around the home, point to objects and say their names, for example, clock. Then ask your child to say as many words as she can that rhyme with the name. Other easily rhymed words are ball, bed, rug, sink, and toy. Let your child use some silly, or nonsense, words as well: toy—joy, boy, woy, loy, doy, hoy, noy.
Say three words such as go, dog, and frog, and ask your child which words sound the same—rhyme.
If your child has an easy-to-rhyme name, ask her to say words that rhyme with it: Jill—bill, mill, fill, hill.
If a computer is available, encourage your child to use it to play rhyming games.
Children around the world have fun with rhyming games and songs. Here are a few rhyming books to look for: Shake It to the One That You Love the Best: Play Songs and Lullabies from Black Musical Traditions by Cheryl Warren Mattox; Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky; Diez Deditos:10 Little Fingers and Other Play Rhymes and Action Songs from Latin America by Jose-Luis Orozco; and My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 10

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 10

A Home for My Books

For children ages 2 to 6

Starting a home library for your child shows her how important books are. Having books of her own in a special place boosts the chance that your child will want to read even more.

What You Need

Books from bookstores, garage sales, flea markets, used book stores, and sales at your local library
A bookcase, a cardboard box, or other materials to make a place for books

What to Do

Pick a special place for your child’s books so that she knows where to look for them. A cardboard box that you can decorate together might make a good bookcase. Or you might clear one of the family bookshelves and make a special place for her to put her books.
Help your child to arrange her books in some order—her favorite books, books about animals, holiday books. Use whatever method will help her most easily find the book she’s looking for.
Borrow books from your local library. Go to the children’s section and spend time with your child reading and selecting books to take home and put in her special place. You might even have a box or space just for library books, so that they don’t get mixed up with your child’s own books.
Encourage family members and friends to give books to your child as presents for birthdays and other occasions.
When you and your child make your own books, you can add them to your home library.
When collecting and reading books are a part of family life, you send your child a message that books are important, enjoyable, and full of new things to learn.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Speak English Clearly!

Speak English Clearly!

By Annabelle Beckwith
A clear accent - and a good speaking voice in any language -requires you to open your mouth in order to form the words properly.
It sounds obvious, yet how many times have you heard someone mumbling nervously through an interview, or speaking to quickly in a corporate presentation?
Speakers with, for example some Indian accents and some regional British accents (Glasgow and Liverpool in particular) don't tend to open their mouths very wide when they speak.
For non-native speakers of English, what this means is that when you DO speak English, you are literally not opening your mouth wide enough to make the sounds and speak the language properly! Some of the long English vowel sounds such as the 'aw' in 'prawn' and the 'oh' in 'phone', both of which need an open mouth for correct pronunciation, are shortened to an 'o' sound....which is not correct for a clear, neutral British accent.
So, what can you do?
The main thing is to practice opening your mouth wider than you would normally when you are speaking English. Yes, it will feel a little strange, but you will find that by moving your mouth more, your are able to pronounce English words clearly and with a better accent.
The is a particularly important for the correct pronunciation of English vowel sounds, which non native speakers, as I have mentioned, often pronounce incorrectly by not keeping their mouths open enough, or by putting their mouths in the wrong position.
How much does this matter? Well how well do you want to speak English?! The important point is that a strong accent can be difficult to understand, and if you are difficult to understand, people will just stop listening.
One of the most useful things you can do is practice vocal exercises to improve your pronunciation. The following exercise encourages you to practice English vowel and consonant sounds without forming them into words, and it's one that I often use in accent reduction and public speaking classes:
The sounds are:
Oo as in shoe Oh as in phone Or as in port Ah as in cart Ay as in pay Ee as in sheet
As you can see, these are all long English vowel sounds, so stretch them out to make sure that you aren't shortening them.
Of course, it's difficult, if not impossible to imagine the sounds of English from the written word, so listen for these sounds as spoken by native speakers, and copy them.
Improving your English is often about changing mother tongue habits and opening your mouth a little wider when speaking English is one of them.
Article by Annabelle Beckwith Annabelle is the author of "Confident English - improve your spoken!" at and a professional communication skills trainer and accent reduction coach.
Article Source:

English Speaking & Listening Course in Hong Kong (HK)

How an Accent Reduction Coach Can Help You

How an Accent Reduction Coach Can Help You
By Susan M Ryan
An accent reduction coach can tell you which sounds and patterns you currently use that contribute to your accent. Then you can focus on the areas that are problems for you and help you learn the sounds and patterns of spoken English.
People from many different fields are now looking for ways to improve their American English pronunciation and reduce their accents. These include: doctors, nurses, clergy, business executives, engineers, professors and call center employees. They understand that clear spoken English will allow them to communicate more effectively with business associates, customers, colleagues and friends.
You may be one of the many people learning to read, write and speak English in your native country. Chances are that your reading, writing and grammar are excellent. However, you may have found that your spoken English is so accented that American English speakers don't always understand you when you speak. Your foreign accent prevents American listeners from understanding you, causing frustration and breakdowns in communication.
Accent reduction involves changing or modifying some of the sounds and patterns in your current speech to make you sound more clear and comprehensible to American listeners. By learning to recognize and change the sounds and patterns that you unconsciously transfer from your own language to English, you can learn to speak in a way that will allow American listeners to understand you more easily.
An accent reduction coach can identify the pronunciation features that stop Americans from understanding you. Then she can teach you the sounds and patterns of spoken English that you need to adapt in order to sound more American.
After each session with your coach you simply must practice your pronunciation every day for 20-30 minutes, even more if you can. This will help the new sounds and patterns you are learning to become natural for you. Most people actually begin to both hear and speak English differently once their coaching sessions begin.
People who take accent reduction courses are usually highly motivated individuals who are looking for better job opportunities or promotions. increased social opportunities and better cultural understanding. If this sounds like you, it may be time for you to investigate one on one accent reduction coaching.
Susan Ryan helps professionals reduce their foreign accents so that they can communicate clearly and effectively in the workplace. Visit her website at
American Accent Coaching to learn more about her one on one accent reduction coaching program.
Accent reduction coaching is the most focused and efficient way for you to reduce your accent and improve your American English pronunciation.
Article Source:

Accent Reduction and English Pronunication Course in Hong Kong (HK)

Successfully Reduce and Eliminate Your Accent

Successfully Reduce and Eliminate Your Accent

By Patrick Bilson
I used to have an accent. I didn't mind the accent itself, what bothered me was constantly being judged by strangers. If you have an accent too, I'm sure you've noticed that you are being treated differently than your friends who are native English speakers. Anybody who judges people with accents probably doesn't even mean to. It's mainly a subconscious thing and, of course, labeling people with accents as unsophisticated isn't limited to the United States; it happens in every part of the world. Growing up in another country I used to stereotype people with accents too and it probably wasn't different wherever you grew up.
Understandably, almost everyone working and living in the US would like to be able to speak without an accent, but relatively few people succeed. Effects of accent reduction programs are rarely immediate, so most students give up the battle against the accent shortly after having started. So, first of all you need to have the right attitude. Try to avoid saying things like "I'm too old to work on my accent now." or "Who cares whether I have an accent or not?" Yes, getting rid of an accent gets increasingly difficult as you get older, but it's most certainly not impossible. No matter how old you are, it will require a big effort and a great deal of determination.
There are three key steps that are essential to anybody's success when getting rid of an accent. In the end, how successful you will be and how long it will take depends on the time you are willing to invest and how open you are to changes.
First, you need to accept that reducing or eliminating your accent has affects on your whole life. It's crucial that you step out of the comfort zone and realize that you need to make new friends and surround yourself with as many English speaking people as possible. Take advantage of the fact that you live near thousands of native speakers. Go out there and socialize with them. This is what most people fail to realize, you cannot expect your accent to go away if everybody around you speaks your mother tongue and you rarely even speak English.
Then, speaking English as much as possible is a pretty obvious step. All the books you read and the hours you work on your accent won't be of any use unless you go out there and talk to people. Remember that mistakes are part of the learning process, so don't be ashamed to mispronounce things. Keep talking and you will see your English improving very quickly. Also, tell all your friends and family that you want them to speak English with you. This is very helpful, especially in the beginning, since you already feel comfortable talking with them.
Last but not least, an often overlooked factor is how important active listening is. By carefully paying attention to what native English speakers around you are saying, you will not only learn lots of new terms, but also learn the correct pronunciation of words. If you don't have many English speaking friends yet, you can watch TV and listen to the radio which will basically give you the same results.
Whether you already have some experience in eliminating your accent or you're just getting started, these basic rules should be a big help. Naturally, you'll have to find out yourself what methods and exercises work best for you. I advice you to talk to people who have successfully eliminated their accents. I'm one of those lucky few and my friends are often surprised at how simple the things are that I did to get rid of my accent. Give all the methods and exercises that sound right for you a try and stick with what works best - that's how I succeeded.
Patrick Bilson, Author of the ebook Eliminate Your Accent []
Article Source:
Quality English Pronunciation & Accent Reduction Course in Hong Kong (HK)

Helping Your Child Become a Reader -Part 9

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 9

What Happens Next?

For children ages 2 to 6

Books with words or actions that appear over and over help your child to predict or tell what happens next. These are called “predictable” books. Your child will love to figure out the story in a predictable book!

What You Need

Predictable books with repeated words, phrases, questions, or rhymes.

What to Do

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let him do more. But keep doing the first ones as long as he enjoys them.

Read predictable books to your child. Teach him to hear and say repeating words, such as names for colors, numbers, letters, and animals.

Pick a story that has repeated phrases, such as this example from The Three Little Pigs:

  • Wolf Voice: Little pig, little pig, let me come in.
  • Little Pig: Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!
  • Wolf Voice: Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!

Your child will learn the repeated phrase and have fun joining in with you each time it shows up in the story. Pretty soon, he will join in before you tell him.

Read books that give hints about what might happen next. Such books have your child lifting flaps, looking through cut-out holes in the pages, “reading” small pictures that stand for words (called “rebuses”), and searching for many other clues. Get excited along with your child as he hurries to find out what happens next.

When reading predictable books, ask your child what he thinks will happen. See if he points out picture clues, if he mentions specific words or phrases, or if he connects the story to something that happens in real life. These are important skills for a beginning reader to learn.

Predictable books help children to understand how stories progress. A child easily learns familiar phrases and repeats them, pretending to read. Pretend reading gives a child a sense of power and the courage to keep trying.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 8

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 8

As Simple as ABC

For children ages 2 to 6

Sharing the alphabet with your child helps her begin to recognize the shapes of letters and to link them with the sounds of spoken language. She will soon learn the difference between individual letters—what they look like and what they sound like.

What You Need

  • Alphabet books (see Resources for Children, page 51)
  • ABC magnets
  • Paper, pencils, crayons, markers
  • Glue and safety scissors

What to Do

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let her do more. But keep doing the first ones as long as she enjoys them.

With your toddler sitting with you, print the letters of her name on paper and say each letter as you write it. Make a name sign for her room or other special place. Have her decorate the sign by pasting stickers or drawing on it.
Teach your child “The Alphabet Song” and play games with her using the alphabet. Some alphabet books have songs and games that you can learn together.

Look for educational videos, DVDs, CDs, and TV shows such as “Between the Lions” that feature letter-learning activities for young children. Watch such programs with your child and join in with her on the rhymes and songs.

Place alphabet magnets on your refrigerator or on another smooth, safe metal surface. Ask your child to name the letters she plays with and to say the words she may be trying to spell.

Wherever you are with your child, point out individual letters in signs, billboards, posters, food containers, books, and magazines. When she is 3 to 4 years old, ask her to begin finding and naming some letters.

When your child is between ages 3 and 4, encourage her to spell and write her name. For many children, their names are the first words they write. At first, your child may use just one or two letters for her name (for example, Emily, nicknamed Em, uses the letter M).

Make an alphabet book with your kindergartner. Have her draw pictures (you can help). You can also cut pictures from magazines or use photos. Paste each picture in the book. Help your child to write next to the picture the letter that stands for the object or person in the picture (for example, B for bird, M for milk, and so on).

When you show your child letters and words over and over again, she will identify and use them more easily when learning to read and write. She will be eager to learn when the letters and words are connected to things that are part of her life.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader -Part 7

Helping Your Child Become a Reader -Part 7

Chatting with Children

For children ages 1 to 6

Continue talking with your older child as you did with your baby. Talking helps him to develop language skills and lets him know that what he says is important.

What to Do

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let him do more. However, keep doing the first ones as long as he enjoys them.

Talk often with your toddler. When feeding, bathing, and dressing him, ask him to name or find different objects or clothing. Point out colours, sizes, and shapes.

Talk with your child as you read together. Point to pictures and name what is in them. When he is ready, ask him to do the same. Ask him about his favourite parts of the story, and answer his questions about events or characters.

Teach your toddler to be a helper by asking him to find things. As you cook, give him pots and pans or measuring spoons to play with. Ask him what he is doing and answer his questions.

Whatever you do together, talk about it with your child. When you eat meals, take walks, go to the store, or visit the library, talk with him. These and other activities give the two of you a chance to ask and answer questions such as, “Which flowers are red? Which are yellow?” “What else do you see in the garden?” Challenge your child by asking questions that need more than a “yes” or “no” answer.

Listen to your child’s questions patiently and answer them just as patiently. If you don’t know the answer to a question, have him join you as you look for the answer in a book. He will then see how important books are as sources of information.

Have your child tell you a story. Then ask him questions, explaining that you need to understand better.
When he is able, ask him to help you in the kitchen. He might set the table or decorate a batch of cookies. A first-grader may enjoy helping you follow a simple recipe. Talk about what you’re fixing, what you’re cooking with, what he likes to eat, and more.

Ask yourself if the TV is on too much. If so, turn it off and talk!

Talking and having conversations with your child play a necessary part in helping his language skills grow.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 6

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 6

Baby Talk

For babies from birth to 1 year

Babies love hearing your voice. When you answer your child’s sounds with sounds of your own, she learns that what she “says” has meaning and is important to you.

What to Do

Talk to your baby often. Answer her coos, gurgles, and smiles. Talk, touch, and smile back. Get her to look at you.
Play simple talking and touching games with your baby. Ask, “Where’s your nose?” Then touch her nose and say playfully, “There’s your nose!” Do this several times, then switch to an ear or knee or tummy. Stop when she (or you) grows tired of the game.

Change the game by touching the nose or ear and repeating the word for it several times. Do this with objects, too. When she hears you name something over and over again, your child begins to connect the sound with what it means.
Do things that interest your baby. Vary your tone of voice, make funny faces, sing lullabies, and recite simple nursery rhymes. Play “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake” with her.

It’s so important to talk to your baby! With your help, her coos and gurgles will one day give way to words.

Books and Babies

Books For babies from age 6 weeks to 1 year

Sharing books is a way to have fun with your baby and to start him on the road to becoming a reader.

What You Need

Cardboard or cloth books with large, simple pictures of things with which babies are familiar
Lift-the-flap, touch-and-feel, or peek-through play books

What to Do

Read to your baby for short periods several times a day. Bedtime is always a good time, but you can read at other times as well—while you’re in the park, on the bus, or even at the breakfast table (without the food!).
As you read, point out things in the pictures. Name them as you point to them.
Give your baby sturdy books to look at, touch, and hold. Allow him to peek through the holes or lift the flaps to discover surprises.

Babies soon recognise the faces and voices of those who care for them. As you read to your baby, he will begin to connect books with what he loves most—your voice and closeness.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 5

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 5

Reading Activities

What follows are ideas for language-building activities that you can do with your child to help her build the skills she needs to become a reader. Most public libraries offer free use of books, magazines, videos, computers, and other services. Other things that you might need for these activities are not expensive.

For each set of activities, we give an age span that suggests when children should try them. From one activity to the next, we continue to talk about children at different stages: babies (birth to 1 year), toddlers (1 to 3 years), preschoolers (ages 3 and 4), and kindergartener/early first-graders (ages 5 and 6). Remember that children don’t always learn the same things at the same rate. And they don’t suddenly stop doing one thing and start doing another just because they are a little older. So use the ages as guides as your child learns and grows. Don’t consider them to be hard and fast rules.

You’ll see that your role in the activities will change, too. Just as you hold up your child when he’s learning to walk, you will help him a lot when he’s taking his first language steps. As he grows, you will gradually let go, and he will take more and more language steps on his own. That is why in most of the activities we say, “The first activities . . . work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let him do more.”

As a parent, you can help your child want to learn in a way no one else can. That desire to learn is a key to your child’s later success. Enjoyment is important! So, if you and your child don’t enjoy one activity, move on to another. You can always return to any activity later on.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 4

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 4

Early Efforts To Write

Writing and reading go hand in hand. As your child is learning one, he is learning the other. You can do certain things to make sure that he gets every opportunity to practice both. When he is about 2 years old, for example, give your child crayons and paper and encourage him to draw and scribble. He will have fun choosing which colors to use and which shapes to make. As he holds and moves the crayons, he will also develop muscle control. When he is a late toddler or early preschooler, he will become as eager to write as he is to read.

Your preschool child’s scribbles or drawings are his first writing. He will soon begin to write the alphabet letters. Writing the letters helps your child learn about their different sounds. His very early learning about letters and sounds gives him ideas about how to begin spelling words. When he begins writing words, don’t worry that he doesn’t spell them correctly. Instead, praise him for his efforts! In fact, if you look closely, you’ll see that he’s made a pretty good try at spelling a word for the first time. Later on, with help from teachers (and from you), he will learn the right way to spell words. For the moment, however, he has taken a great step toward being a writer.

Reading in Another Language

If your child’s first language is not English, she can still become an excellent English reader and writer. She is on her way to successful English reading if she is beginning to learn many words and is interested in learning to read in her first language. You can help by supporting her in her first language as she learns English. Talk with her, read with her, encourage her to draw and write. In other words, do the same kinds of activities just discussed, but do them in your child’s first language.

When your child first enters school, talk with her teacher. Teachers welcome such talks. They even have sign-up times early in the year, though usually you may ask for a meeting at any time. If you feel that you need some support in meeting with the teacher, ask a relative, neighbour, or someone else in your community to go with you.

When you do meet, tell the teacher the things that you are doing at home to strengthen your child’s speaking and reading in her own language. Let the teacher know how important you child’s reading is to you and ask for support for your efforts. Children who can switch back and forth between languages have accomplished something special. They should be praised and encouraged as they work for this achievement.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 3

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 3

Look for Books!

The books that you pick to read with your child are very important. If you aren’t sure of what books are right for your child, ask a librarian to help you choose titles.

Introduce your child to books when she is a baby. Let her hold and play with books made just for babies: board books with study cardboard covers and thick pages; cloth books that are soft and washable, touch-and-feel books, or lift-the-flap books that contain surprises for your baby to discover. Choose books with covers that have big, simple pictures of things that she sees every day. Don’t be upset if at first your child chews or throws a book. Be patient. Cuddling with the child as you point to and talk with great excitement about the book’s pictures will soon capture her interest. When your baby becomes a toddler, she will enjoy helping to choose books for you to read to her.

As your child grows into a preschooler and kindergartener, the two of you can look for books that have longer stories and more words on the pages. Also look for books that have repeating words and phrases that she can begin to read or recognise when she sees them. By early first grade, add to this mix some books designed for beginning readers, including some books that have chapters and some books that show photographs and provide true information rather than make-believe stories.
Keep in mind that young chil
dren most often enjoy books about people, places, and things that are like those they know. The books can be about where you live or about parts of your culture, such as your religion, your holidays, or the way that you dress. If your child has special interests, such as dinosaurs or ballerinas, look for books about those interests.

From your child’s toddler years through early first grade, you also should look for books of poems and rhymes. Remember when your baby heard your talking sounds and tried to imitate them? Rhymes are an extension of that language skill. By hearing and saying rhymes, along with repeated words and phrases, your child learns about spoken sounds and about words. Rhymes also spark a child’s excitement about what comes next, which adds fun and adventure to reading.
Show Your Child That You Read

When you take your child to the library, check out a book for yourself. Then set a good example by letting your child see you reading for yourself. Ask your child to get one of her books and sit with you as you read your book, magazine, or newspaper. Don’t worry if you feel uncomfortable with your own reading ability. It’s the reading that counts. When your child sees that reading is important to you, she may decide that it is important to her, too.

Learning about Print and Books

Reading together is a perfect time to help a late toddler or early preschooler learn what print is. As you read aloud, stop now and then and point to letters and words; then point to the pictures they stand for. Your child will begin to understand that the letters form words and that words name pictures. He will also start to learn that each letter has its own sound—one of the most important things your child can know when learning to read.

By the time children are 4, most have begun to understand that printed words have meaning. By age 5, most will begin to know that not just the story but the printed words themselves go from left to right. Many children will even start to identify some capital and small letters and simple words.

In late kindergarten or early first grade, your child may want to read on his own. Let him! But be sure that he wants to do it. Reading should be something he is proud of and eager to do and not a lesson.

How Does a Book Work?

Children are fascinated by how books look and feel. They see how easily you handle and read books, and they want to do the same. When your toddler watches you handle books, she begins to learn that a book is for reading, not tearing or tossing around. Before she is 3, she may even pick one up and pretend to read, an important sign that she is beginning to know what a book is for. As your child becomes a preschooler, she is learning that

  • A book has a front cover.
  • A book has a beginning and an end.
  • A book has pages.
  • A page in a book has a top and a bottom.
  • You turn pages one at a time to follow the story.
  • You read a story from left to right of a page.
As you read with your 4– or 5–year-old, begin to remind her about these things. Read the title on the cover. Talk about the picture on the cover. Point to the place where the story starts and, later, where it ends. Let your child help turn the pages. When you start a new page, point to where the words of the story continue and keep following the words by moving your finger beneath them. It takes time for a child to learn these things, but when your child does learn them, she has solved some of reading’s mysteries.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 2

Becoming a Reader

Every step a child takes toward learning to read leads to another. Bit by bit, the child builds the knowledge that is necessary for being a reader.

Over their first 6 years, most children

  • Talk and listen.
  • Listen to stories read aloud.
  • Pretend to read.
  • Learn how to handle books.
  • Learn about print and how it works.
  • Identify letters by name and shape.
  • Identify separate sounds in spoken language.
  • Write with scribbles and drawing.
  • Connect single letters with the sounds they make.
  • Connect what they already know to what they hear read.
  • Predict what comes next in stories and poems.
  • Connect combinations of letters with sounds.
  • Recognize simple words in print.
  • Sum up what a story is about.
  • Write individual letters of the alphabet.
  • Write words.
  • Write simple sentences.
  • Read simple books.
  • Write to communicate.
  • Read simple books.

Children can take more than one of these steps at the same time. This list of steps, though, gives you a general idea of how your child will progress toward reading.

Talking and Listening

Scientists who study the brain have found out a great deal about how we learn. They have discovered that babies learn much more from the sights and sounds around them than we thought previously. You can help your baby by taking advantage of her hunger to learn.

From the very beginning, babies try to imitate the sounds that they hear us make. They “read” the looks on our faces and our movements. That’s why it is so important to talk, sing, smile, and gesture to your child. Hearing you talk is your baby’s very first step toward becoming a reader, because it helps her to love language and to learn words.

As your child grows older, continue talking with her. Ask her about the things she does. Ask her about the events and people in the stories you read together. Let her know you are listening carefully to what she says. By engaging her in talking and listening, you are also encouraging your child to think as she speaks. In addition, you are showing that you respect her knowledge and her ability to keep learning.

Reading Together

Imagine sitting your baby in your lap and reading a book to him for the first time. How different from just talking! Now you’re showing him pictures. You point to them. In a lively way, you explain what the pictures are. You’ve just helped you child take the next step beyond talking. You’ve shown him that words and pictures connect. And you’ve started him on his way to understanding and enjoying books.

While your child is still a baby, reading aloud to him should become part of your daily routine. Pick a quiet time, such as just before you put him to bed. This will give him a chance to rest between play and sleep. If you can, read with him in your lap or snuggled next to you so that he feels close and safe. As he gets older, he may need to move around some as you read to him. If he gets tired or restless, stop reading. Make reading aloud a quiet and comfortable time that your child looks forward to. Chances are very good that he will like reading all the more because of it.

Try to spend at least 30 minutes each day reading to and with your child. At first, read for no more than a few minutes at a time, several times a day. As your child grows older, you should be able to tell if he wants you to read for longer periods. Don’t be discouraged if you have to skip a day or don’t always keep to your schedule. Just get back to your daily routine as soon as you can. Most of all, make sure that reading stays fun for both of you!

Reading books with their children is one of the most important things that parents can do to help their children become readers.

What Does It Mean?

From the earliest days, talk with your child about what you are reading. You might point to pictures and name what is in them. When he is ready, have him do the same. Ask him, for example, if he can find the little mouse in the picture, or do whatever is fun and right for the book. Later on, as you read stories, read slowly and stop now and then to think aloud about what you’ve read. From the time your child is able to talk, ask him such questions about the story as, “What do you think will happen next?” or “Do you know what a palace is?” Answer his questions and, if you think he doesn’t understand something, stop and talk more about what he asked. Don’t worry if you occasionally break the flow of a story to make clear something that is important. However, don’t stop so often that the child loses track of what is happening in the story.

Helping Your Child Become a Reader

Helping Your Child Become a Reader

You could say that your baby starts on the road to becoming a reader on the day she is born and first hears the sounds of your voice. Every time you speak to her, sing to her, and respond to the sounds that she makes, you strengthen your child’s understanding of language. With you to guide her, she is well on her way to becoming a reader.

To understand the connection between a child’s early experiences with spoken language and learning to read, you might think of language as a four-legged stool. The four legs are talking, listening, reading, and writing. All four legs are important; each leg helps to support and balance the others.

This series gives you information about how you can use your language skills to build your child’s skills. It offers suggestions about how you can:
  • Talk with and listen to your child.
  • Read together with her.
  • Help your child learn about books and print.
  • Encourage your child’s early writing efforts.
  • Help your child learn to read if his first language is not English.
  • Prepare your child for success in school.

We all know that older children can do things that younger ones can’t. This is true for reading, too. To help show when children can take certain learning steps, this booklet ties the discussion and activities to four age groups:

  • Baby = birth to 1 year
  • Toddler = 1 to 3 years
  • Preschooler = ages 3 and 4
  • Kindergartner/early first-grader = ages 5 and 6

Keep in mind, however, that children don’t all learn at the same pace. And even though they learn new things, they may have “old favorites”—books and activities from earlier years—that they still enjoy. You are the best person to decide which activities will work best for your child.

Children become readers step by step. By age 7, most children are reading. Some take longer than others, and some need extra help. When children receive the right kind of help in their early years, reading difficulties that can arise later in their lives can be prevented. This booklet offers steps that you can take to start your child on the way to becoming a successful reader. It is an adventure that you will not want to miss, and the benefits for your child will last a lifetime.
“As parents, the most important thing we can do is read to our children early and often. Reading is the path to success in school and life. When children learn to love books, they learn to love learning.” - Laura Bush

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202

Reading Tips for Parents

Learning English is better started early. Reading is one of the best ways to improve grammar and vocabulary acquisition.

Here we present some pointers towards activating reading in children.


Talk to your infant and toddler to help him learn to speak and understand the meaning of words. Point to objects that are near and describe them as you play and do daily activities together. Having a large vocabulary gives a child a great start when he enters school.
Read to your baby every day starting at six months of age. Reading and playing with books is a wonderful way to spend special time with her. Hearing words over and over helps her become familiar with them. Reading to your baby is one of the best ways to help her learn.
Use sounds, songs, gestures and words that rhyme to help your baby learn about language and its many uses. Babies need to hear language from a human being. Television is just noise to a baby.
Point out the printed words in your home and other places you take your child such as the grocery store. Spend as much time listening to your child as you do talking to him.
Take children's books and writing materials with you whenever you leave home. This gives your child fun activities to entertain and occupy him while traveling and going to the doctor's office or other appointments.
Create a quiet, special place in your home for your child to read, write and draw. Keep books and other reading materials where your child can easily reach them.
Help your child see that reading is important. Set a good example for your child by reading books, newspapers and magazines.
Limit the amount and type of television you and your child watch. Better yet, turn off the television and spend more time cuddling and reading books with your child. The time and attention you give your child has many benefits beyond helping him be ready for success in school.

Every teacher is excited about reading and promotes the value and fun of reading to students.
All students are carefully evaluated, beginning in Kindergarten, to see what they know and what they need to become good readers.
Reading instruction and practice lasts 90 minutes or more a day in first, second and third grades and 60 minutes a day in Kindergarten.
All students in first, second and third grades who are behind in reading get special instruction and practice. These students receive, throughout the day, a total of 60 extra minutes of instruction.
Before or after-school help is given to all students beyond first grade who need extra instruction or who need to review skills. Summer school is available for students who are behind at the end of the year.
Reading instruction and practice includes work on letters, sounds and blending sounds. Students learn to blend letters and sounds to form new words.
Learning new words and their meaning is an important part of instruction.
Students have daily spelling practice and weekly spelling tests.
The connection between reading and writing is taught on a daily basis. Students write daily. Papers are corrected and returned to the students. By the end of second grade, students write final copies of corrected papers. Corrected papers are sent home for parents to see.
All students are read to each day from different kinds of books. Students discuss what they read with teachers and other students.
All students have a chance to read both silently and aloud in school each day and at home every night.
Every classroom has a library of books that children want to read. This includes easy books and books that are more difficult.
The school library is used often and has many books. Students may check books out during the summer and over holidays.

Without doubt, reading with children spells success for early literacy. Putting a few simple strategies into action will make a significant difference in helping children develop into good readers and writers.

Through reading aloud, providing print materials, and promoting positive attitudes about reading and writing, you can have a powerful impact on children's literacy and learning.

Invite a child to read with you every day.
When reading a book where the print is large, point word by word as you read. This will help the child learn that reading goes from left to right and understand that the word he or she says is the word he or she sees.
Read a child's favorite book over and over again.
Read many stories with rhyming words and lines that repeat. Invite the child to join in on these parts. Point, word by word, as he or she reads along with you.
Discuss new words. For example, "This big house is called a palace. Who do you think lives in a palace?"
Stop and ask about the pictures and about what is happening in the story.
Read from a variety of children's books, including fairy tales, song books, poems, and information books.
Reading well is at the heart of all learning. Children who can't read well, can't learn. Help make a difference for a child.

Reading with children and helping them practice specific reading components can dramatically improve their ability to read. Scientific research shows that there are five essential components of reading that children must be taught in order to learn to read. Adults can help children learn to be good readers by systematically practicing these five components:

Recognizing and using individual sounds to create words, or phonemic awareness. Children need to be taught to hear sounds in words and that words are made up of the smallest parts of sound, or phonemes.
Understanding the relationships between written letters and spoken sounds, or phonics. Children need to be taught the sounds individual printed letters and groups of letters make. Knowing the relationships between letters and sounds helps children to recognize familiar words accurately and automatically, and "decode" new words.
Developing the ability to read a text accurately and quickly, or reading fluency. Children must learn to read words rapidly and accurately in order to understand what is read. When fluent readers read silently, they recognize words automatically. When fluent readers read aloud, they read effortlessly and with expression. Readers who are weak in fluency read slowly, word by word, focusing on decoding words instead of comprehending meaning.
Learning the meaning and pronunciation of words, or vocabulary development. Children need to actively build and expand their knowledge of written and spoken words, what they mean and how they are used.
Acquiring strategies to understand, remember and communicate what is read, or reading comprehension strategies. Children need to be taught comprehension strategies, or the steps good readers use to make sure they understand text. Students who are in control of their own reading comprehension become purposeful, active readers.
Adapted from U.S. Department of Education, Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs, Educational Partnerships and Family Involvement Unit, Reading Tips for Parents, Washington, D.C., 2003. Used with permission

Reading Skills - Vocabulary

Reading Skills - Vocabulary

One of the best ways for someone learning English to extend their vocabulary is by reading. However, choosing the right materials is very important.

Reading English texts can be enjoyable if you choose the proper texts and materials. What you actually choose to read is determined by your interests and your English standard. Books can be fun but can be intimidating because they are so long. They can also be expensive. If you don't have the time (or the money) to read books then reading news articles is a good way to learn. Many international newspapers publish on the internet for free, so you will be able to find one that is suitable for your interest and proficiency.

Focused reading can help you get the most out of the activity. Language is all about communication and reading is no different. Before you start, ask yourself why you are reading? Is it to learn new vocabulary or to focus on idioms? Are you looking for English grammar features?

Secondly, look over the outline of the text. If it’s a book perhaps look at the chapter headings or the book cover to see if it really interests you. For a newspaper article the headline will usually tell you a lot about what to expect within the whole text. If the headline doesn’t appeal then skip over until you find a more interesting one!

Scanning and skimming are two very similar techniques for extracting information. Scanning involves searching through the text for specific information such as phrases or words which are behind the purpose of your reading (for instance, trying to find “export” whilst reading texts to build your vocabulary for your economics course Skimming entails looking over the whole body of text in order to find the general meaning.

So how do you handle those new words you have no idea about? Well, don’t immediately reach for a dictionary – paper, electronic or online! Try and focus on getting the meaning from the word in context. Read further on to see if you can figure out the meaning that way. Or go to the beginning of the paragraph and read again. Nine times out of ten you will be able to get the general meaning without using an English dictionary. One amazing thing about the English language is their use word stems with prefixes and suffixes attached at the front and end of the word. Many of these prefixes and suffixes are similar, and you are likely to be able to guess the meaning from a new word that you already know.

One of the beautiful things about reading news articles is that you may already know the content of the story because you have read it in your own local language newspaper, or on the television. Actually knowing what the news story is about means that building up your vocabulary becomes so much easier.

Practice makes perfect. Read regularly!!!

Corporate Career Development Networking

Corporate Career Development Networking

by Jeanie Marshall

Copyright 2006 Marshall House

As a natural part of my empowerment consulting practice, I often find myself in discussions with my clients about their jobs and careers. Sometimes we talk about new jobs or job opportunities; sometimes we talk about promotions; sometimes we talk about careers over the long-term.

These are all very different types of conversations. Most of my clients who are in corporations are mid-level to senior-level managers, who are competent and have already proven their value to the company. I also work with clients who are outside the corporate structure or are consultants to corporations, with whom career development conversations are different.

It is common for people to want to have a career development plan. Many think that those successful individuals who have preceded them in the corporation had a plan to get where they got. Some did, but quite honestly, it is easier for them to claim that they had a plan with the benefit of hindsight and success than to produce the plan they wrote years before.

There is a whole field of professionals who offer career development resources and consulting. I think their services can be extremely valuable, especially when moving from one company to another. I am more familiar with helping people to advance and develop careers within the same company, as an integral part of my consultations. And so, that is my focus in this article.

In these client conversations about career development within the same company, I usually fairly quickly replace the concept of a "career development plan" with a "career networking plan" or a "career development networking plan."

I've been working with a client who has been kicking and screaming about the idea of networking. She has been doing excellent work and feels she should be promoted based on her work. In one way, she's absolutely correct. However, at her level in the organization, not only are there fewer openings, but a group of disparate persons with their own agendas usually decides about promotions and job changes.

When multiple persons with all different needs are involved in such a decision, there must be agreement that she is the one to promote or accept or move. Such a scenario usually requires more than doing the requisite job skills well. In most cases, the "more" comes down to ongoing activities she must be engaged in: networking and building authentic relationships.

I want to be clear, when I speak about career development networking, I do not mean to start networking to get a job that is now in the interview stage; my view is that this narrow type of networking is more appropriately called "lobbying." Instead, I am speaking about networking over the years -- building relationships that are two-way, developing collaborative partnerships, feeling appreciation about interactions, expressing sincere congratulations when others are promoted, and engaging in conversations about a variety of topics.

When many individuals are all well-qualified for a job, something "more" must stand out in the final candidate. This "more" may be related to job accomplishments, but likely, the "more" is related to relationships -- perhaps the one who is best known, or the one who is most liked, or the one who has consistently good interactions with others.

The candidate who is well-networked is likely to increase the chances that all the decision-makers will agree, "this is the one." There might sometimes be a thrill about a hotly contested position, but all things considered, the best transitions take place when there's general agreement to select the final candidate.

Career Development Networking -- a Starting Plan

First of all, it's important that you think of networking as two-way! This is essential. The word "networking" has become rather polluted by the way some persons are using this word. Use the word however you want, but please understand that here I am using it to mean an exchange. Be pragmatic, of course, but understand that you are only "networked" if a two-way connection is happening. This is absolutely essential to understand, if you want to make this an empowering practice.

In my empowerment consulting sessions, I'm often coaching clients about the best persons to network with, the subjects to speak about, and how to speak about the subjects. Those who are a little shy or reticent about speaking with someone at much higher levels sometimes just need this added encouragement to take the step to network.

Many successful people already understand the need to network within their company. They probably don't need a plan. Some jobs require that individuals know, interact, and partner with others in the company, and so they are usually well-networked naturally. If the company is large, though, there are many persons outside the scope of the current job who are potentials for expanding a network.

Here is a simple approach to getting started. Make two lists of persons in your company. The first is a list of the persons you already know and like. The second is a list of the persons you believe can, at some time, help you in your career -- you may already know them or not. It is o.k. to have the same person on both lists; in fact, this strategy depends on that!

The intersecting subset of those two lists is the starting place. In other words, start your networking plan with the persons you like, whom you think can help you in your career. You will have more success by starting where it is easiest. Keep your lists updated over time, so that this is an organic process.

The next step is to decide, person by person, how and how often to network. Again, start where it is easiest. If you have regular meetings with someone on your target list, sit near the person, or suggest that you have lunch afterward, or take an interesting article to give to the person. If you consider you are already actively networking with this person, you may not need to adjust any actions. Just be certain to keep the person on your radar screen.

For best results, keep a journal of your networking. In your journal or on your calendar, make a notation for yourself for your next contact. By all means, do not over-commit yourself to starting to build too many new relationships at the same time. As a relationship is in the stage where either you and the other person are at ease to "call anytime," you have built a relationship, so continuing it is easier.

Networking is as simple as such examples as I've just given; a networking plan is also simple. It just requires some, ummmm, planning and paying attention.
About the Author

Jeanie Marshall, Empowerment Consultant and Coach with Marshall House, produces Guided Meditations on CD albums and MP3 downloads and writes extensively on subjects related to personal development and empowerment. Voice of Jeanie Marshall,

Business Writing: Common Grammar Mistakes

Business Writing: Common Grammar Mistakes

Author: Nicole Dean

Some of the most common grammar mistakes in business are the easiest to avoid. Whether speaking or writing, correct grammar and spelling are important to your credibility and the impression you leave upon others. Here are a few of the most common grammar mistakes with examples as to the correct usage.

Subject/Verb Disagreement:

When speaking or writing in the present tense, both subjects and verbs must be either singular or plural. A combination of singular and plural is incorrect.

Incorrect: The directions is confusing.

Correct: The directions are confusing.

Incorrect: One of these flowers bloom in the spring.

Correct: One of these flowers blooms in the spring.

Past Tense Errors:

Past tense regular verbs end with the suffix "ed" such as laughed and walked. Past tense irregular verbs change form completely. Be careful not to leave out the "ed" ending when using a regular past tense verb.

Incorrect: During the movie, she talk a lot.

Correct: During the movie, she talked a lot.

Incorrect: The water is freezed.

Correct: The water has frozen.

Sentence Fragments:

A sentence fragment lacks a verb, subject, or both and cannot stand alone as a sentence.

Incorrect: The performers who visited our school.

Correct: The performers who visited our school were amazing.

Incorrect: Playing all day long.

Correct: We played all day long.

Apostrophe Errors:

An apostrophe is used to show possession. You should add an 's after a plural or single nouns that does not end in s. After a plural noun ending in s, you would only use an apostrophe alone.

Incorrect: Your parent's car is parked in the driveway. (2 parents)

Correct: Your parents' car is parked in the driveway.

Comma Errors:

Be cautious of missing commas in a series of items, missing commas after dependant introductory clauses, and missing commas in nonrestrictive clauses.

Incorrect: Sea animals fascinate him so he wants to be a marine biologist.

Correct: Sea animals fascinate him, so he wants to be a marine biologist.

Incorrect: Because she is ill she will not attend school today.

Correct: Because she is ill, she will not attend school today.

Incorrect: My car is small so it gets good gas mileage.

Correct: My car is small, so it gets good gas mileage.

Errors In Verb Tense Shift:

A verb tense shift happens when the speaker or writer switches from past to present or present to past without reason.

Incorrect: We drove to the pool, and the dog dives right in.

Correct: We drive to the pool, and the dog dives right in

Also correct: We drove to the pool, and the dog dove right in.

Notes: provides expert one to one tuition in Hong Kong in bEnglish writing and our native English teaches will be able to bring your English writing up to standard in short time for you to communicate effectively using emails, reports, student essays and help you with your project, dissertations or thesis.

For more information on Quality Business English courses (including English Writing) in Hong Kong contact us here.

Article Source:

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The Importance of Proof Reading your writing in Hong Kong

You may have spent tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours working on your new product, brochure or thesis. You have invested your time, effort and money to make sure it’s a success. The whole world will realize how professional you are and you will get the recognition (and perhaps profits) that you deserve.

If you are publishing any type of document, however, it is of the utmost importance that you ensure that your document is perfect and free of any spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. Your readers and potential customers will lose faith in your product, services or even your organisation. Your academic thesis may be returned for further correction and you might miss your vitally important graduation date.

Today’s modern computer programs make it easier for everyone to produce better documents. However, their spelling checkers are not 100 percent perfect and will overlook many common errors such as when you type “here” instead of “her” when you actually are referring to a lady. In addition, many systems allow you to accept and add a defective word to the custom dictionary so you may in-fact overlook a wrongly spelt word that you added by mistake. Furthermore, even brand name word processors are notorious for having imperfect grammar checking systems. Lastly, there are wide differences in grammatical use between American and British English, which can seriously affect your documents.

The other problem comes simply because you or your staff have spent so many hours working on a document looking at the same words over and over again. In these cases you are likely to overlook your own mistakes simply because you have read it so many times.

The best way to ensure that your work is print perfect is to employ the services of a professional native English editing company to proofread your document. It is important to find a professional company who can provide you with the highest quality service. A good company will employ various layers of quality control including multiple edits by different proofreaders as well as tracking of your document so that you can see the changes they have made. It is also important to consider confidentiality as some business documents can be of a sensitive nature – especially those of a financial nature.

English Writing Resources Online

Do you feel lost when it comes to writing in English? A private native tutor is the best way to develop your writing skills since you will have individual attention and customised tuition with instant feedback, but there is also an abundance of online resources to help you improve your English writing skills.
There is information ranging from understanding the structure of essays, planning, and organisation using the correct tone and developing your own style in order to produce superlative work.
Essay Writing
Ohio University Department of Linguistics – English Writing
This is a comprehensive reference link site with internal and external essay writing resources from this renowned university
The American University in Cairo – How to write an essay : 10 East Steps
This is a great site detailing every aspect of writing right from the research stage to the choice of language. Highly recommended for beginners.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
OWL gives detailed help on writing, grammar, style and citation guides such as APA and MLA. One great section focuses on
Developing an Essay Outline and another concentrates on Proofreading. It's a massive site that has great resources for every budding writer.
The Paradigm Online Writing Assistant
POWA is a comprehensive site, which looks at the various stages of writing from choosing a top right through to editing your final document. Its clear layout makes using it very easy.
Timed Essays – Top 5 Tips – by Dennis G. Gerz
Writing essay’s at home is difficult enough but it’s even harder when you have to write an essay in an exam. This site gives invaluable help for students who need to write essays in an exam context in order to get the highest scores.
College Application Essay Tips
Writing your Personal Statement is one of the most difficult essay tasks you will ever have to do in your whole life. So much depends on it and you have to show the adission committee that you stand out from the other applicants. This great site gives wonderful instructions on how to write stunning college essays.
Best Essay Tips
A free private site giving comprehensive information on all aspects of the essay writing process. It has free downloadable e-books. Highly recommended.

Helping Your Child to Write Well

Children must be ready to learn from the first day of school. And of course, preparing children for school is a historic responsibility of parents.

Should you help your child with writing?

Yes, if you want your child to:

* Do well in school
* Enjoy self-expression
* Become more self-reliant

You know how important writing will be to your child's life. It will be important from first-grade through college and throughout adulthood.

Writing is:

Most of us make lists, jot down reminders, and write notes and instructions at least occasionally.

Professional and white-collar workers write frequently--preparing memos, letters, briefing papers, sales reports, articles, research reports, proposals, and the like. Most workers do "some" writing on the job.

Writing helps to provoke thoughts and to organize them logically and concisely.

Most of us write thank-you notes and letters to friends at least now and then.

It can be helpful to express feelings in writing that cannot be expressed so easily by speaking.

Unfortunately, "many schools are unable to give children sufficient instruction in writing." There are various reasons: teachers aren't trained to teach writing skills, writing classes may be too large, it's often difficult to measure writing skills, etc.

Study after study shows that students' writing lacks clarity, coherence, and organization. Only a few students can write persuasive essays or competent business letters. As many as one out of four have serious writing difficulties. And students say they like writing less and less as they go through school.

That's why the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) suggests that you help your child with writing. OERI believes you, a parent, can make a big difference. You can use helping strategies that are simple and fun. You can use them to help your child learn to write well--and to enjoy doing it! This leaflet tells you how.

Things to Know

Writing is more than putting words on paper. It's a final stage in the complex process of communicating that begins with "thinking." Writing is an especially important stage in communication, the intent being to leave no room for doubt. Has any country ratified a verbal treaty?

One of the first means of communication for your child is through drawing. Do encourage the child to draw and to discuss his/her drawings. Ask questions: What is the boy doing? Does the house look like ours? Can you tell a story about this picture?

Most children's basic speech patterns are formed by the time they enter school. By that time children speak clearly, recognize most letters of the alphabet, and may try to write. Show an interest in, and ask questions about, the things your child says, draws, and may try to write.

Writing well requires:

* Clear thinking. Sometimes the child needs to have his/her memory refreshed about a past event in order to write about it.

* Sufficient time. Children may have `stories in their heads' but need time to think them through and write them down. School class periods are often not long enough.

* Reading. Reading can stimulate a child to write about his/her own family or school life. If your child reads good books, (s)he will be a better writer.

* A Meaningful Task. A child needs meaningful, not artificial writing tasks. You'll find suggestions for such tasks in the section, "Things To Do."

* Interest. All the time in the world won't help if there is nothing to write, nothing to say. Some of the reasons for writing include: sending messages, keeping records, expressing feelings, or relaying information.

* Practice. And more practice.

* Revising. Students need experience in revising their work-- i.e, seeing what they can do to make it clearer, more descriptive, more concise, etc.

Pointers for Parents

In helping your child to learn to write well, remember that your goal is to make writing easier and more enjoyable.

Provide a place. It's important for a child to have a good place to write--a desk or table with a smooth, flat surface and good lighting.

Have the materials. Provide plenty of paper--lined and unlined--and things to write with, including pencils, pens, and crayons.

Allow time. Help your child spend time thinking about a writing project or exercise. Good writers do a great deal of thinking. Your child may dawdle, sharpen a pencil, get papers ready, or look up the spelling of a word. Be patient--your child may be thinking.

Respond. Do respond to the ideas your child expresses verbally or in writing. Make it clear that you are interested in the true function of writing which is to convey ideas. This means focusing on "what" the child has written, not "how" it was written. It's usually wise to ignore minor errors, particularly at the stage when your child is just getting ideas together.

Don't you write it! Don't write a paper for your child that will be turned in as his/her work. Never rewrite a child's work. Meeting a writing deadline, taking responsibility for the finished product, and feeling ownership of it are important parts of writing well.

Praise. Take a positive approach and say something good about your child's writing. Is it accurate? Descriptive? Thoughtful? Interesting? Does it say something?

Things to Do
Make it real. Your child needs to do real writing. It's more important for the child to write a letter to a relative than it is to write a one-line note on a greeting card. Encourage the child to write to relatives and friends. Perhaps your child would enjoy corresponding with a pen pal.

Suggest note-taking. Encourage your child to take notes on trips or outings and to describe what (s)he saw. This could include a description of nature walks, a boat ride, a car trip, or other events that lend themselves to note-taking.

Brainstorm. Talk with your child as much as possible about his/her impressions and encourage the child to describe people and events to you. If the child's description is especially accurate and colorful, say so.

Encourage keeping a journal. This is excellent writing practice as well as a good outlet for venting feelings. Encourage your child to write about things that happen at home and school, about people (s)he likes or dislikes and why, things to remember or things the child wants to do. Especially encourage your child to write about personal feelings--pleasures as well as disappointments. If the child wants to share the journal with you, read the entries and discuss them--especially the child's ideas and perceptions.

Write together. Have your child help you with letters, even such routine ones as ordering items from an advertisment or writing to a business firm. This helps the child to see firsthand that writing is important to adults and truly useful.

Use games. There are numerous games and puzzles that help a child to increase vocabulary and make the child more fluent in speaking and writing. Remember, building a vocabulary builds confidence. Try crossword puzzles, word games, anagrams and cryptograms de- signed especially for children. Flash cards are good, too, and they're easy to make at home.

Suggest making lists. Most children like to make lists just as they like to count. Encourage this. Making lists is good practice and helps a child to become more organized. Boys and girls might make lists of their records, tapes, baseball cards, dolls, furniture in a room, etc. They could include items they want. It's also good practice to make lists of things to do, schoolwork, dates for tests, social events, and other reminders.

Encourage copying. If a child likes a particular song, suggest learning the words by writing them down--replaying the song on your stereo/tape player or jotting down the words whenever the song is played on a radio program. Also encourage copying favorite poems or quotations from books and plays.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement
Helping Your Child to Write Well
1993, Washington, D.C., 20202

Letter Writing: Write Formal & Informal Letters & Notes

Letter Writing: Write Formal & Informal Letters & Notes

Author: Eren


Writing letters make popular. Letter writing ability is easily acquirable. Knowing how to write letters for all occasions is useful. Writing letters is not difficult. It is easy to learn how to write letters. This is on how to write formal letters, social letters, notes, what to say in private letter writing -writing personal letters.

Writing letters communicate best. Letter writing is joy to loved ones apart. Telephone calls are never enough. They like also to receive, write letters. Personal letters can be re-read. People in love write letters. Writing letters is dreamy. Boys who write letters are popular. Girls love receiving letters. Writing letters get one remembered when not together or telephoning. Family members away like to also to receive, write letters. Friends away like to receive, write letters. Pen friends write letters. Letter writing is communication, essential literacy –and it’s fun.

One writing letters can take one's time to think of all the things that one can not remember when together or telephoning to say. In business writing letters clarify. Personal letters are keepsakes. Some things are said easier by writing letters, some better by not writing letters but notes. Writing letters are pleasing, effective. Notes can be nice. Here is how to write a letter, personal letters.

Letter writing, whether by post, fax, or e-mail falls into three categories. In each letter writing category the approach is different. How to write a letter depends on why one is writing a letter.

… Personal letters are often letters to family members, boyfriends or girlfriends, friends or pen friends -often friendly letters.

… Semiformal letters are often routine letters to e.g., order or return goods, instruct on delivery, or to confirm or request information -acquaintances also sometimes write letters semi-formally.

… Formal letters are often non-routine. Writing a letter formally implies officialdom -most seldom write letters formally.

Letter writing scares many people. Many don't know how to write a letter or note. The following all there is to writing letters.

>>> Writing Personal Letters

To write letters to loved ones, friends away please. They like news about you, personal letters –especially if you write letters interestingly. Write letters cheerfully. Write a letter to cheer up. When you write a letter appreciate, praise, credit them. Write letters as if who you are writing a letter to is there, you are talking: "Oh, this tea's cold! Anyway, I decided to write a letter..."

In writing personal letters, how intimately you write a letter depends on what is acceptable to who you are writing the letter. Unless you know it’s all right, don’t e-mail, fax or post loved ones or friends personal letters at a workplace; it may embarrass, cause problems if others see your letter. Privately communicate letters.

Letter writing is easiest when one is writing personal letters. If you can't think of much to write in your letter other than "Hi!" or "I'm well..." and "How are you?" (which always pleases), don't postpone writing your letter. A glance at a newspaper will show interesting things to write in your letter. When you write a letter do gossip -it's liked in personal letters. Remember this when writing personal letters. Be interesting when you to write a letter.

In letter writing it matters: include a joke or two in personal letters. Loving or funny verses please in personal letters. When you write a letter remember: in personal letters a picture of you delights. In writing letters, if appropriate, drawing a flower, heart, kiss makes personal letters loved. Write letters that ask opinions of persons you write personal letters to, even if it's only "Good, huh?" or "Nice, don't you think?" Such letter writing makes you interesting, popular with those you write personal letters to.

>>> Writing Semiformal Letters and Formal Letters

In writing a letter keep to the point. Letters in these categories are often short letters about personal dealings with businesses, e.g., to instruct a bank to make or cancel a regular payment, or query a return, refund, or a job. They may be long, detailed letters but still simple, easy to write letters. When you write a letter keep a copy.

>> Letters received can be, e.g., asking you to confirm something.

When writing a letter replying to such letters write your contact details at the top right corner of the letter, their address at the top left corner of the letter; add the date, and their letter's reference.

In your letter address them as they have you. Begin the letter by stating their letter's date, e.g., "Thank you for your letter of …."

Continue the letter, in a new paragraph. Be brief, simple, e.g., "This is to confirm that …" End your letter as ended their letter.

>> Letters sent to businesses to complain, request information, apply.

In writing a letter to a business, address, date your letter, state their reference as above. If you know the name of the person you are writing a letter to, begin "Dear Mr./Mrs./Miss./Ms. …" If not, in your letter address the reader as "Dear Sir/Madam" or "Dear Sirs." Ensure to state under it their order/invoice number. Keep your letter simple. When writing business letters, if began 'Dear Mr. ...', end "Yours sincerely"; if 'Dear Sir', "Yours faithfully."

> Letters of complaint are important. Before writing a letter of complaint, if annoyed, cool off -make tea, telephone friends. You are writing a letter to get a desired response -you are less likely to if you write an angry letter. Businesses in writing letters like to appear fair -business letters try, when you write a letter politely.

When you write letters of complaint say what is wanted clearly, simply, e.g., "I have not yet received a refund for … I enclose a copy of the returns-note/receipt. I look forward to hearing from you." Add any enclosures to the letter of complaint. Keep copies.

> Letters requesting information can be personal letters but must be clear. Write a letter simply ask for the information want. In writing letters requesting information on subjects you don't know much about, it helps to end your letter "… and any other details you may deem useful'. Writing letters so brings more information.

> Letters of application for a job or a grant should have wider margins for reader-notes, and bear in mind any closing dates. When you write a letter of application briefly emphasize how you meet the criteria. Say 'available for interview', and do print your name.

>> Letters to officials may need to be long, detailed; but writing letters that are so is easy. You may have to write letters arguing with business or official letters received; or to explain, detail, enclose documents; or write a letter to summon a politician's aid.

Writing letters that are official does not require high literacy. Not high literacy but method involves writing letters that are official.

When you write a letter to deal with letters requesting specific details and documents, in your letter simply respond in the order they are listed. Where business letters or other official letters request details generally, or if you are initiating correspondence by a writing a letter, first draft your letter -it helps in writing a letter.

Letters are easily, best drafted thus: For your letter's rough copy use lined paper. Draft your letter in pencil, leaving every other line blank. Jot down and number the points you will raise in the letter. Then stop working on your letter.

Take a break from writing your letter; do something unrelated to writing a letter. You want to write a letter to make those points. Let your mind 'digest' the points you will raise in your letter.

Later look at your letter again, put other points that occur to you on the blank lines. Re-number the points of your letter as you think logical. But don't hurry up to write a letter, yet. Sleep on it.

Then look at the draft letter, amend as necessary, write your letter.

Begin your letter by stating clearly what you want. End the letter briefly, simply, clearly repeating what you want.

When letter writing ends, enclose copies of any documents in the order of your letter's points -number, list them if they are many.

How to write a letter that is complicated is that easy and simple -that makes seemingly difficult to write letters easy to write letters.

>>> Writing Personal Notes

Unlike writing letters, notes are informal -sometimes important.

> Routine notes may not be important: "Your dinner's in the oven," or to the milkman: "Two bottles today, please."

>> Social etiquette notes that are expected may be important. Many do not write letters to socially invite or let another know that one will attend a party, or to thank another. Instead of writing letters they write social notes -to acquaintances, or strangers. As in letter writing, notes cause impressions to be formed about one.

These brief notes have the same tone as when writing letters informally, but must be courteous and polite. In inviting someone, one example is: "Hi, Nancy.. I'm having my birthday party, on ....., and it'd be so nice if you too could come. Love, Jenny." Another example is: "Dear Mr. & Mrs. ... we are having a house-warming party on ..... and we would love to have you too. Yours, Jo & Joe." In accepting an invitation one example is: "How nice! See you then! Jenny." Another example is: "So kind of you to invite us too -we will both be delighted to attend. Yours, Eric." If you are courteous, polite, recipients will mention you favourably when they write letters, will speak well of you in your social circles.

>> Sympathy notes must be written carefully. These are e.g., get-well notes, sometimes on cards; or, to express condolences to someone who is in mourning -when most do not write a letter but a note.

> A get well note or card, whether to a close relative away and you also write a letter, or on its own, is always more appreciated if one adds a personal touch to it. For example, if to a friend and it is not serious, "Don't take your time about getting well -we haven't finished our chess game yet…"; if to a friend, and it is serious, "I'll pray for your speedy recovery." An example, if it is to someone you hardly know and are sending it as the done-thing in your social or business circles, is: "I will look forward to hearing of your recovery from mutual friends and colleagues."

> In bereavement cases never try to cheer up in a sympathy note with a joke; however well meant, in one's grief it may be deemed unfeeling, inappropriate!.. Leave the comforting to the mourner's loved ones from whom more than a sympathy note is considered appropriate! Be, or appear, sincerely saddened by the loss. Clearly state so: "I am saddened by the news of ...'s death." Say: "I am so sorry to hear of your loss." Show so by emphasizing it, e.g., "… he/she will be greatly missed." Unless a loved one writing a letter too, if you don't attempt to comfort, it will be appreciated.

>> Notes to loved ones matter most. On an anniversary or birthday greeting never be satisfied with what's on the greeting card. Even if to a loved one away and accompanied by a loving letter, always personalize the card with a few words of your own, e.g., "Miss you!" or "Love you!" or "Take care." As in personal letters, it shows that you are not greeting as the done thing -that you care.

Anyone can write a letter. Family/friends away appreciate letters.

Article Source:

Tips for Better Written English

Reading, listening, speaking and writing: all four skills are needed for perfect communication.

But in today's electronic environment, writing is perhaps the most important. We have to handle more and more business emails and SMS's. Companies are even using MSN for corporate communication these days.

Unfortunately, your written English *has to be better* than your spoken English or your mistakes will stick out like a flying elephant.

With spoken English a few errors still allow you to get your message across and people are often less critical. There is no rewind button in normal conversation, so your listener cannot go back and check for errors.

With written English, however, the reader has more chance to notice your errors. They can pause over a phrase or sentence and re-read what you have written.

So how good is your grammar? Your spelling? Your tone? And your organization? All of these are needed to protect your image in the ever increasingly competitive business world. Like your physical appearance and dress, substandard writing may indicate bad work to your bosses and mean that you don't get the credit you deserve. Or even worse, you don't get that promotion.

The worst thing is that the higher you get the more critical people will become of your English standard. If you are a manager you have to cope with those bright new graduates with MBA's from overseas universities and perfect accents; when you get to director level you have to email your expatriate colleagues.

So start now! Take a look at the emails you wrote this morning and assess how good they really are. For that important email why not get it proofread by a professional native English editor? Find out more about
High Quality Proofreading and Editing Services in Hong Kong here

Tips for Better Spoken English

Language is really just a means of communicating information. All languages do this - even computer languages. But the mostly commonly used language in the world today is English. It is used as the language of commerce and for social interaction between multi-national friends in every corner of the globe.

Being able to speak clearly in English is an essential skill that is essential for good communication.


Many people think having a "proper British accent" or being able to "speak the Queen's English" (Received Pronunciation) is important. In fact, there are many different accents from different countries whose populations speak English as their native language. Within each country there are regional accents, such as a Yorkshire accent or a Birmingham accent. All are correct! Of course, some accents are easier to understand for non-native speakers than others.


Being able to pronounce a word correctly is perhaps the most important of all the skills needed. Understanding new vocabulary whilst reading is one thing but being able to reuse this word in your own speech is another. Although an understand of the International Phonetic Alphabet is useful, the best way to learn correct pronunciation is with a native English tutor who can give instant feedback on your errors.

*Confidence and Fluency*

Being able to speak fluently and confidently comes with both practice and the knowledge that you are pronouncing words correctly. It also helps to be able to think in English and not to translate what you want to say from your native language. Translating often brings with it numerous grammatical errors.


Using the correct tense and grammatical structures is also extremely important in communicating your message accurately and clearly to your listener. If you are uncertain about using a certain structure then stick to the ones you know and are confident about.


Although this article is focused on English speaking skills, listening is also very important. Listening carefully to what the other person is saying is the other half of the conversation! It really does make a difference and will enable you to get your message across effectively when you do actually speak.

*Body Language*

As strange as it may seem over 80% of all communication is non-verbal. Human beings transmit information silently through their body language. Good eye contact and body language are also important to get your message across effectively, and being able to "listen" to the other persons body language is also important. Having good body language will actually help your spoken message get across better.

Better English for your Career in Hong Kong HK

As the world's economies grow and international trade develops, the need for a universal language becomes paramount. Of course that universal language is English.

Hong Kong has always been the centre of trade between the West and China. The Pearl of the Orient, as it is sometimes called, has thrived because of its deep water harbour, its hardworking population and its links to mainland China. In 1997 it was re-united with the motherland when succession was handed over from the British colonial rulers.

With globalisation comes the need for better communications. The internet has brought the technical infrastructure needed for such communications and an email passes from one continent to another in just milliseconds in noughts and ones - the language of computers. But what of the content of these messages? They, for the most part, are written in English. And the same fibre optic cables that connect the computers of the world also transmit the voice calls made through standard, and not so standard, telephones. And what is the language of these calls? For the most part English.

The need for English is growing every day. And so should your proficiency of this international language of trade. Having poor English skills these days is more common than not knowing how to use the internet, so isn't it time to catch up? Being able to send an email just isn't good enough. The content needs to be Clear, Concise and Correct for your message to get through. And for the dollars to roll in.

Start improving your English today.

The Importance of English in the professional world.

In today's global economy, English is the most important language for communication worldwide. Its over ten years since Hong Kong was returned to the mainland, so is English is still as important in the workplace here or has it been supplanted by Putonghua or perhaps a move towards using Cantonese more? It seems that English is in-fact growing in importance rather than the other languages taking over.

Findings of a recent Hong Kong Polytechnic University Research Survey of over 2,000 professionals in Hong Kong found that "English continues to be the default medium of written communication in the workplace" and that "the text types that professionals read and write most frequently in English are email messages, reports, letters and memos (HK Polytechnic University Press Release, 13th November 2008)."

The study was jointly conducted by Dr. Stephen Evans and Prof. Winnie Cheng of the PolyU's Research Centre for Professional Communication in English (RCPCE). The majority of the survey respondents were Chinese degree holders in middle or senior management with at least six years of working experience.

Dr. Evans also stated that "(spoken) English continues to play an important role in formal meetings, conferences, seminars and presentations" (HK Polytechnic University Press Release, 13th November 2008). It is also commonly used as the language in job interviews, especially for more senior posts with multi national companies (MNC's) or government organisations (HKE).

Dr. Evans went on to say that "the evidence suggested that English has increased in importance in the eleven years since 1997" (HK Polytechnic University Press Release, 13th November 2008). Over 90 percent of the respondents said that spoken and written English were just "as important as ever". This is is stark contrast to the commonly held view that Putonghua has supplanted the importance of English.

It could not be a better time to start to improve your business English skills. Since English is so important in the workplace and for career advancement, the best way is to take a one-to-one English course to gain confidence in speaking as well as improve your English business writing skills.


HK Polytechnic University Press Release, 13th November 2008 (Communications and Public Affairs Office, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong).

HKE - HKEnglish observations

Learning English vocabulary

Words are the building blocks of the English language. They enable you to accurately communicate your ideas in English either in writing or orally. Many Chinese students find great difficulty in communicating in English because of a restricted range of vocabulary.

One of the best ways to improve your vocabulary is to read. Be careful that you select something interesting to read that you will be motivated to read after the first few pages. There are many English novels to enjoy or inspirational books (such as the "Don't sweat" series) that you can also learn from.

For lower level learners there are Graded Readers that have been edited to build up your vocabulary gradually. You can find them at any good book store - just do an internet search and you will find many titles.

Avoid reading newspapers all the time since this is usually "bad news" and not that motivating. However, if you are in a specific industry then reading an English trade magazine can help you perform better in your job as the words used will be specific for your particular workplace situation.

Try to read without resorting to a dictionary all the time.
If you do need to use a dictionary then do it - but not all the time as you will soon get tired or bored with this laborious process.

Be sure to keep a pocket-sized vocabulary book to record the new words. Then try to use the new words daily over a period of a week or so. Revise the words in two weeks time, in a month and 3 months later. Always keep the book with you and refer to it often.

Try to learn 10 new words every day. In that way you will have extended your English vocabulary by 3650 words!

Start improving your English today.

Learning English Through Movies

One of the most enjoyable ways to learn the English language is through watching movies. There are new movies every week and many types to choose from.

Not only is the story interesting, but the actors speak naturally and use modern English phrases. Furthermore, you will be exposed to a variety of accents and colloquial phrases which you probably would not experience otherwise. What is more they speak at natural speed which is great for developing your listening skills.

For many, however, the latter point could be an obstacle both to understanding and enjoying the cinematic experience. In Hong Kong 99.9% of foreign films shown in the cinemas carry subtitles so it is very easy to stop listening to the English dialogue and to focus almost entirely on the Chinese translation - which doesn't help English learning at all.

Luckily there is an extremely wide selection of affordable movies on DVD available in Hong Kong and these can be an excellent tool for English learning.

The best way is to select a movie that you are familiar with. Perhaps its your favourite James Bond movie or a love story like "Titanic". Whatever you choose it should be something that you are familiar with and perhaps even know the story-line right through to the end. Maybe you have seen it lots of times before! In this way, though, you can concentrate on listening to the actors speech.

The great thing with DVD's is that you can turn off the Chinese subtitles and focus on listening only. Moreover, you may wish to turn ON the English subs-titles so that you can follow the dialogue that way.

Whichever method you choose remember to have your finger on the "Pause" button so that you can write down any new and useful vocabulary for use later on. You can also rewind the movie and repeat the portion of dialogue to more clearly understand the meaning.

A great way to develop your spoken English is to practice these new phrases with a native English tutor.

Investing in your career in Hong Kong

*October 2008:* Stock markets around the world are all down and it seems there is no end in sight to the financial turmoil that is affecting the global economy. Prominent economists don't seem to have an answer and, apparently, neither do the world's governments.

There is no doubt businesses will be trying to cut costs to restore profit margins, and at the same time become more selective about the staff they hire and the staff they retain. Job cuts are already happening and, according to some news wires, some entire factories and offices are closing down for good in certain parts of the world.

This couldn't be a better time to invest in your career and your business skills. Of course, one of the most important skills is your ability to communicate in English. Good English is vital in the global marketplace and with better English you can outshine the competition and secure the job, and salary, you deserve.

Good communication can also help you to have more job satisfaction. And what could be better than a great salary? Enjoying what you do each day will reduce stress and make your life so much happier.

Do you want to be confident that your English is correct and that you are communicating your message clearly when you send out an email? Do you want to enjoy meetings in English rather than dreading them? And do you want to reduce your nervousness when giving important business presentations?

Just being able to make social English conversation with your colleagues or clients is also an important business skill. And a skill that will be noticed by your peers and bosses.

How to Speak Better English

Communicating in English is an essential business tool these days. The global economy and international trade means that to succeed you need to be able to speak clear English with good pronunciation.

One of the main reasons students fail to improve their English is lack of practice. Whilst total immersion in a language (by spending considerable time living or studying there) is the best way, it is also ou of reach of most people.

"Practice makes perfect" does really work for learning English. It not only develops the language which you already know, but also gives you more confidence. Even then, some people just do not have anyone to practice with!

A private English tutor can really help here. And if you are looking to develop your English in a certain area then a course specifically designed around that area can help immensely.

What is so good about 1-1 tuition is that you get 100% of the teachers time, immediate feedback and instant correction of your mistakes.

HKEnglish runs a
Pronunciation and Intonation Workshop

How to improve your Vocabulary and Reading

To extend your vocabulary and be able to guess the meaning of unknown words, you have to understand the structure of English words.

The longer a word the more difficult it is! The difficult words usually derive from Latin (the ancient language of the Roman empire) but many are combinations of Greek and Anglo-Saxon as well as other European languages such as French and German.

English words are constructed with a main stem which holds the main meaning of the word. In addition, affixes - prefixes and suffixes - may be attached at the front and end of the word respectively, which change or add to the meaning of the word.

So, for example, if "Chron" (this time derived from the Greek _Chronos_) means time then what does "Chronometer" mean? Well its simply a time-meter or in common terms a watch!

The affixes help you to understand the meaning of the word as well. If the word stem is "lingual" (meaning tongue) then what do you think "bilingual" means? A person with two tongues? Well, you were close! It actually means someone who can speak two languages!

When you are reading look at the structure of the unknown words you come across and then ask yourself if it resembles a word that you already know. Nine times out of ten you will be able to make a very accurate analysis and get the meaning, especially in context.

Reading is an important skill and one of the components tested in the IELTS Exam (International English Language Testing System). To prepare yourself for this universally accepted English language test you should consider joining an IELTS preparation course.

* runs regular IELTS preparation courses specifically designed around your exact needs in Hong Kong. For more information have a look here*
"IELTS Preparation Course"

How can I improve my English standard?

This is a question that so many people in Hong Kong ask!

The answer is easy: learn and practice more!

Most people will respond with "But I have been learning English since kindergarten!" I do try to learn but I never get more confidence.

The two most common problem functional areas in HK are grammar and lack or vocabulary. The other main problem is the lack of opportunity to use and practice English. Although English is an official language in Hong Kong, it is in fact a foreign language for most people. There is little chance for people to practice English since almost everyone speaks Cantonese for day to day conversation within the office and at home.

Grammar can be improved upon. A quick diagnostic test (such as the Oxford University Test) will enable you to find out your real problem areas. prepositions, articles and verb tenses are the most common errors in Hong Kong. Analyzing the form and structure and utilizing the verb form by writing an article using it can help cement your understanding and thus prevent future errors.

Vocabulary is another problem area. With grammar mistakes you can still communicate your message, but without sufficient vocabulary you will never be able to communicate at all! Reading is a great way to improve vocabulary. There are lots of free articles on the internet these days, many aimed at native speakers. Just do a search for "free articles". Newspapers sites are also in abundance and UK dailies such as the Guardian publish on the net for free. You can print the article and take it with you to read on your journey to work.

When you are reading look at how the phrases are put together. Most native speakers remember phrases and *chunks* of language rather than individual words. Why? Because English words often have several meanings. By remembering the words inside a *phrase* you will also remember the correct meaning!

Start improving your English today!

Hong Kong schools to teach in English again

After almost ten years of being banned from using English as the medium of instruction, secondary schools in Hong Kong are to be allowed to teach curriculum in English once again.

This reverses an order instigated by the former Chief executive in 1998 after the handover to mainland China. After this directive just over 100 schools were allowed to use English as the medium of instruction.

This positive move comes as the standard of English language proficiency in Hong Kong has fallen to unbelievably low levels. Hong Kong is an international city and most of its trade is external so English is vitally important if Hong Kong is to survive in the global marketplace.

Schools will now be able to choose to teach in English on a class by class basis as long as the majority of their students can pass an English test to make sure that they are up to learning in English.

Learning English is a lifelong activity. Even if you have finished school its not too late to improve your English language proficiency. The most effective way is to enrol in a high quality English language course.

Hong Kong English Worries Local Employers

A report by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce states that local employers are not happy with the English language skills of their employees. The annual Annual Business Prospect Survey was released on 15th November 2007.

Over 65% of the Chamber's members surveyed said they were dissatisfied with the English language ability of the local workforce.

Although popular and successful schemes to raise the level of English in Hong Kong have been introduced by the government, the level of English in Hong Kong continues to fail to meet international standards.

Since most of Hong Kong's trade is with foreign partners, the need for a high level of English proficiency is even more acute. Even within Hong Kong there has been a move to the service sector, and hence a high level of English proficiency (both written and oral) is essential for businesses to prosper in this competitive globalised economy.

The need for improvement is also seen with the use of the "IELTS": test (International English Language Testing System) to screen the English level of job applicants by major companies and even the civil service itself. Many organisations, including the government, routinely ask for an overall IELTS grade 6.5 for job placement.

Global Economy Rebounding? Time to invest in your English skills!

2009 was the worst year for global economies since the 1930's. However, after worldwide government intervention last year, it seems that the economy is now rebounding. Although companies will probably be keeping a tight grip on their purse strings in 2010, many will be seeking to promote staff.

It could never be a better time to invest in your career. English communication skills is one of the highest rated qualities employers look for when hiring or promoting staff in Hong Kong. In addition, having a good standard of English makes your working life far less stressful. Being able to write clear emails in English quickly can also save you lots of time and being able to speak fluently will help get your message across accurately. Perhaps the most important skill for career advancement is being able to give business presentations with confidence. Of course, social functions are so much enjoyable as well!

One of the best ways to improve your English is by practising the language. The adage "practice makes perfect" is very true! In Hong Kong, however, this is rather difficult as Cantonese is spoken in the vast majority of homes and also in the workplace. Outside schools and universities it is almost impossible to hear English being used for daily communication. The exception is at higher levels within multi-national corporations and organisations.

Good English is essential in this globalised world. The most efficient way to improve your English is with a private one to one native English tutor. But not all "native English tutors" are qualified or experienced so beware. At all our tutors are experienced, qualified native English tutors who will customise your English lessons to ensure that you are meeting your learning objectives.

Formal or Informal English?

Students of English are often advised to watch TV to improve their English.

While this can be an entertaining way to learn, quite often the language presented is not always suitable for every occasion and in particular the workplace.

The style of English used in business meetings, for instance, is much more formal and tentative than the style of English used in day to day conversation with friends.

As an example, lets have a look at disagreeing with something. If you are having a conversation with a close friend then it is perfectly acceptable to disagree by saying "That's rubbish!" or "Nonsense!"

But in the more formal work environment this same phrase would be totally unacceptable. Disagreeing more tentatively by saying "I am afraid I don't agree with you." would be much more appropriate. An even better, and more powerful way, is to partially concede that the other person has a valid point and then put in your own opinion as in "I can see your point, but I still think that .... is the best option".

Knowing when to use formal or informal English is a very difficult skill. However, a good private English tutor will be able to train you to use English appropriately for different circumstances.

English Pronunciation in Hong Kong - Major Problems

Do you often have to repeat yourself when communicating in English? Do you get blank looks and raised eyebrows when you are in meetings? Do you feel that people just don't understand what you are saying? Are there long pauses at the other end in teleconferences? If so, your English pronunciation may not be up to standard.

Communicating in English has always been a problem in Hong Kong. 98% of the population here speak Cantonese as their mother tongue, and although English is taught in schools from kindergarten upwards, it is hardly ever spoken outside the classroom.

As globalisation continues and Hong Kong's economy moves to become more service orientated, the need for English to communicate in business is growing at an ever increasing pace.

Many sounds in the English language just don't exist in Cantonese and so Hong Kong people have great difficulty in producing them. An "R" sounds like and "L" and so BLUE is pronounced like BREW. The "S" sound in SOCKS is pronounced like "SH" and becomes SHOCKS.

The three most common mistakes, however, are:

*"TH" sound replaced by "F"*

The inability to pronounce the "TH" sounds in words like Therapist. Instead, HK speakers say "Ferapist" The "TH" sounds is mistakenly pronounced "F" instead.

*Past Tense "ED" missed*

The past tense ED is often omitted and causes confusion with meaning as well as giving the impression of grammatical mistakes. Simple words like ENDED are pronounced as END

*Plural "S" missed or sounded when not present*

The omission of the plural "S" also gives rise to confusion of meaning, as well as grammatical inaccuracy. "I borrowed three book last week." instead of "I borrowed three books...."

Also common is the addition of an "S" when it is not needed. So, for instance, speakers add an extra "S" and LAST becomes LASTS.

English is just another language, and the purpose of any language is to communicate information. The ability to pronounce English correctly is one major step in making yourself better understood. And more importantly to stand out in the business world as a "good communicator".

English Level Falling in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has just celebrated the tenth anniversary of the handover to mainland China. There were wonderful firework displays costing HK$60million, parades and festivities all over the city.

Hong Kong was a former colony of the British Empire and this tiny city, sometimes called Fragrant Harbour or the Pearl of The Orient, has prospered by trading with the world.

It's a shame then that we cannot also celebrate a rising level of English. Results released at the end of June show that the pass rate in the territory-wide A-Level English examination has dropped to a twelve year low. What is more disturbing is that this is almost 5% lower than it was ten years ago.

These days Hong Kong's economy rests on its ability to be the leading financial centre in Asia. Most of its other trade is in the service sector. It has to compete, however, with other cities such as Singapore which outscore Hong Kong in several key areas. One of these is English language proficiency. The standard of English in Singapore is the best in Asia and their equivalent English language exit exam is on a different level. Strangely enough, Singapore is also an ex-British colony.

So why is there such a difference in the English proficiency in these two places? Well, for one English is spoken within families in Singapore. It is used at home, as well as in the office for day to day communication. You will hear Singaporeans ordering in restaurants using English. And perhaps the way it is taught is also different.

In short, Hong Kong depends on multi-national trade for its economy and has to compete with other Asian cities. It is time that it competes with English language as well.

Start improving your English today. And if you need to practice and have expert guidance, then
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English Accents & Pronunciation Problems in Hong Kong

For many, getting that accent right is a major goal of English language learning. "If only I could sound like Tony Blair!" or "I wish I sounded like The Queen!".

Language is a means of communicating information - whether it be the 1's and 0's of computer languages or the vowels and consonants of English. Communicating clearly means getting the sounds right, but not having an "Oxford English" accent doesn't mean that you cannot be a great communicator.

There are some British accents which even Britons find hard to understand. And yet again, every native English speaking country has its own national and regional accents. Australia and New Zealand sound similar to many, but just ask someone from these countries and they will say exactly the opposite!

My point is that to speak well you do not necessarily have to sound like The Queen.

And you don't have to spend years trying to modify your own accent, or even reduce it. If you are from Hong Kong you will still sound as if you don't come from the UK...and there is nothing wrong with this.

You do, however, need to be able to pronounce sounds correctly. A short, intensive course in spoken English and pronunciation can help you communicate more clearly and get your intended message across effectively.

Developing Vocabulary to Become More Fluent

English is now the language of global commerce and is spoken in every corner of the world. Being able to understand words used commonly by native speakers is essential for good communication.

Many vocabulary items come in the form of "chunks" or collections of words. By learning these chunks you will be able to understand native speakers better and also sound more natural in your day to day conversation.

These chunks can be grouped into three main categories:

(1) Collocations - a group of words that are commonly used together, for example: "human rights, presidential elections, and unemployment rate".

(2) Idioms - phrases that cannot be understood from their literal meaning, for example "It's raining cats and dogs." or "It's a piece of cake."

(3) Phrasal verbs - these are groups of two or three words (combining a verb with a particle) that can only make sense in a sentence when they are taken as a single entity. Examples are: Drop off, profit from and compensate for.

In addition, an understanding of how English words are structured will also help your ability to communicate fluently. English has developed over thousands of years and its roots are a combination of words from famous cultures such as Greek and Roman as well as the indigenous people of the current United Kingdom, France and Germany. Many words are combinations of word stems from these cultures with an added affixes. The most common affixes are prefixes (an additional word [actually a morpheme] that comes before the main stem) or suffixes (which comes after the main stem).

So, for example, if "hyper-" means "very, high and over" then it's easy to understand what "hyperthermia" means (a very high temperature). So, if "hypo-" means very small then what does hypothermia mean then?

A good way to learn vocabulary is by reading. Instead of using a dictionary all the time, look at the structure of the unknown words you come across and then ask yourself if it resembles a word that you already know. Nine times out of ten you will be able to make a good guess and get the meaning.

The next step is to put these vocabulary items into use. One of the best ways is to practice your English conversation with a native English tutor. One-to-one tuition is the best way to do this as you have 100% of the teachers time.

Common problems in English pronunciation for Chinese people

Chinese people (whether in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, or Mainland China generally) face several difficulties with oral English.

Firstly there is the problem of sounds. Speech can be broken down into individual sounds and people have difficulty saying or listening to sounds that do not exist in their own language. The lips, jaw, tongue, vocal chords and even the brain just do not know how to make the sound! It is rather like swimming when you only know the breast stroke.... you will have difficulty doing the crawl!

For instance the *V* sound as in van does not exist in Hong Kong Cantonese. Hence Hong Kong Chinese people often confuse the use the the *F* sound (which does exist in their language) with the *V* sound and so *van* becomes *fan*.

The problem is confounded because it not only happens when speaking but also listening!

How can you get over this problem? Firstly you need to have a native English tutor listen to your speech and do a pronunciation test. He can then help you rectify these problems by teaching you the common differences and the correct way to make the sound.

Of course practice makes perfect and speaking (and listening) regularly every week with a native English speaker will improve your fluency no end.

Common grammar problems with spoken English in Hong Kong

There are many problems for Cantonese speakers of English in Hong Kong. HK SAR is now part of China proper, but Cantonese is spoken by the majority of people in Hong Kong rather than Mandarin.

Communicating in English for foreign speakers is a balance between fluency and accuracy. Many factors come into place and correct grammar is one of the major ones. This article will focus on the most common grammar problems.

By fluency I mean being able to express yourself clearly without hesitation. Fluency involves having enough vocabulary as well as confidence to speak in English. Accuracy involves using vocabulary appropriately, correct grammar as well as proper pronunciation and intonation.

Having a "British or American accent" does not really help communication but it is the ability to communicate fluently and accurately that is most important. However, as said in the introduction, it is a balance between fluency and accuracy that makes a speaker able to communicate his ideas. Some errors are tolerable and being able to express yourself confidently and fluently is sometimes considered more important that 100% accuracy.

The most common problems include:

Prepositions: Incorrect use of prepositions such as in, at, and on. For instance "I've been Hong Kong ten years".

Articles: Wrong use of articles - definite (the), indefinite (a) and zero (no article). For instance "I've been in the Hong Kong ten years".

Plurals: adding plural "s" when none exists or omitting the plural "s" when it should be there. For instance "I've been in Hong Kong for ten year".

Gerund: wrong use of the "ing" form or infinitive. For instance saying "I am boring" instead of "I am bored"., or "I am going to swimming".

Tenses: Wrong selection of a tense appropriate for the situation or incorrect construction. For instance "I been in Hong Kong ten years". A very common mistake is the misuse of the present perfect and past perfect tenses.

All of these errors can be rectified by proper analysis and coaching by a Native English Teacher.

Practice Makes Perfect for Perfect English

This statement is totally true for learning English. Unfortunately in Hong Kong the language spoken 99.999% of the time is Cantonese. So how can you practice your oral English effectively? And often? Well the truth is that its quite difficult to find someone to practice with. And listening to the TV or radio just doen't cut it. The best way is to get a private English tutor and have some quality one to one sessions, at least one or two hours a week, to improve your oral English in a relaxed and interesting way.

" has some very interesting courses and you can set up a session with a private English tutor easily.":

Improve Your Reading Skills - Vocabulary is important!

One of the best ways for someone learning English to extend their vocabulary is by reading. However, choosing the right materials is very important.

Reading English texts can be enjoyable if you choose the proper texts and materials. What you actually choose to read is determined by your interests and your English standard. Books can be fun but can be intimidating because they are so long.

They can also be expensive. If you don't have the time (or the money) to read books then reading news articles is a good way to learn. Many international newspapers publish on the internet for free, so you will be able to find one that is suitable for your interest and proficiency.

"You can learn more about improving your reading skills here":

Improve Your Oral English

Using English outside the office is rare in Hong Kong. Most people prefer to use Cantonese. "Why not? It's our own language!", people will exclaim. A survey found that even in academia English is 99% only used in the classroom and even then often supplemented with Cantonese for the difficult explanations that always occur. Most of my students say that their objective of studying English is to become more fluent and have better pronunciation.

So how can YOU improve your English when all your friends and colleagues want to speak Cantonese? Even if you try they will probably answer you back in Cantonese or even worse, bad English!

Seeing how there are so few opportunities to practice, getting the help of a private English tutor is your best bet. You can practice one to one with a native speaker and become more fluent. You can get your pronunciation and vocabulary corrected there and then.

Its great fun! And its not expensive! You can even team up with your friends for even more fun! Think what an investment you are making in your job prospects and career!

Books for Children's Reading Pleasure

Books are a wonderful language learning resource for children of all ages. If you aren't sure what books to pick then ask your librarian or English tutor to help you choose.

Reading can be fun right from the start! Start with large print books with colourful pictures. Books about places, things and people (especially special characters that appear in a series of books) are popular with kids of all ages. Nursery rhymes and poems can be fun as well.

Choose books that have repetitions of the same word thought the book. In that way vocabulary acquisition will be enhanced. Read aloud to your child whilst holding the book together and explain the pictures carefully. You can also show your child that you read and have him sit next to you when you are reading the newspaper for instance.

"You can find about more about using books to improve your child's reading skills here":