English

Is a Perfect "English Accent" Even Possible?

English is now spoken in over 100 countries around the globe and for the approximately 1.5 billion who speak it there exists an endless array of vernaculars-to be expected when you consider that for more than half that number, English is a second or learned language. But for the remaining 328-plus million people worldwide for whom English is the actual mother tongue, you will find an equally broad range of dialects and accents. If English is your first language, you should have no problem distinguishing an Australian accent from a South African one, or differentiating between an Irishman and a Scot. Neither, will you fail to miss the astonishing dissimilarity between a Newfoundlander from Canada and a Texan from the Southwestern United States-and the comparisons go on and on! Mind you, this holds true for almost all of the other major language groups of the world such as Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, etc., each of whom possess their own dizzying collections of syntax and pronunciations. Speaking of which, let's consider for a moment the single most widely spoken language in the world today, which happens to be Mandarin. It is the official language of China but it's by no means a simple affair encompassing about 7 dialects and 42 sub-dialects; and, here's the clincher, Mandarin is not the only language spoken in China! If you have future plans to trek across The Middle Kingdom, prepare yourself for encounters with Cantonese, Gan, Hakka, Huainan, Jin, Min, Wu, and Xiang, not to mention all their associated dialects and sub-dialects. And if that's still not enough, you might want to brace yourself for an additional 1500 or so dialects if you decide to wander into the tens of thousands of villages scattered throughout that vast nation. After those kinds of breathtaking numbers, the English language might seem a little tame in comparison. Actually, you would be somewhat remiss because English is not, shall we say, without its challenges. Simply peruse the Ethnologue, 16th Edition, M. Paul Lewis, Editor (an encyclopedic reference cataloging the world's nearly 7,000 known living languages), and you will soon discover some highly telling statistics where English dialects are concerned. For instance, in the United Kingdom alone you will find something in the order of 34 distinct dialects!

So what then is the "correct" way to speak English? Is there one ideal to which we must all aspire? Some would hastily bestow that crown upon the birthplace of the English language-the British Isles. The thing is, even on those densely populated pieces of real estate you're going to find a spectacular number of dialects (as already mentioned), due in large part to hundreds of years of linguistic evolution. Nevertheless, there is a lingering notion that the "superior" English accent is and always will be "Received Pronunciation" (RP), also known as the Queen's (or King's) English. And why not-let's face it, it just sounds so bloody good! Just listen to some of the better-known Brit actors like Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Helen Mirren and I rest my case! But, is that reason enough to laud it shamelessly as many still do? The famous British playwright George Bernard Shaw, in his literary tour de force Pygmalion (1913), explored that very notion as he sought to make a critical statement on the superficiality of class, social status and language (with special focus on the "proper English accent"). In the story, we observe how phonetics professor Henry Higgins makes a wager with his friend Colonel Pickering that he can transform a thick-accented Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into an eloquent duchess within three months. Professor Higgins readily accepts the bet because he prides himself on being able to determine where a person comes from by simply identifying their accent. Of course, the Professor recognizes that Eliza's linguistic transformation will require some doing, but he feels completely up to the task because he comes armed with several pronunciation tricks designed to help the poor girl pronounce her vowels, diphthongs and consonants "in the way that she should." For example, to help improve her elocution he has her put marbles in her mouth and repeat the sentence, "The shallow depression in the west of these islands is likely to move in a more easterly direction." To help her pronounce her /h/, he has her say over and over again, "But in Hampshire, Hereford and Hartford hurricanes hardly ever happen." After endless days of strenuous work, Eliza's transformation from "draggle-tailed guttersnipe" into a refined, well-spoken lady is complete. When she utters the words, "How kind of you to let me come," at the Embassy Ball, everyone is dazzled by her flawless speech and impeccable pronunciation.

But let's chow down on some reality cookies right about here and fast-forward to the real world of today where no English teacher in their right mind would pull a 'Professor Higgins' on a group of students. First of all, the 21st century has adopted certain pet mantras not the least of which is being "politically" and "socially correct" at all costs. This new mindset has seen today's language teachers place far greater importance on developing a student's ability to communicate well rather than pronounce meticulously. After all, sounding 100% like a native speaker is of little or no value if the comprehension and communication skills are sub par. Nowhere is this more evident than with today's technology. It has allowed the world to mingle more, so to speak, and most notably on the Internet where English largely rules the bandwidth waves. The reason for this is that English is the language of big business, and as we all know money doesn't make the distinction on whether somebody speaks English like Jackie Chan or Sir John Gielgud. In fact, when contrasting the careers of those two gentlemen, both of them actors, it's Jackie Chan who comes out on top in sheer English film box office receipts while Mr. Gielgud had his British knighthood as well as his "Companion of Honour" and "Order of Merit" awards to keep him warm during his lifetime. But, there's still a far broader-reaching question that begs asking and that is what's wrong with having an accent anyway? To cite from one of my own personal teaching experiences, the greatest majority of my students have come from a French background. Invariably, the very first thing I always tell my newbies is that there's absolutely nothing wrong with speaking English with their "delightful" French accents! In fact, we should all be so lucky to speak like that!

So does this mean that striving for the perfect English accent and pronunciation is as dead as the Dodo? Well, actually let's just remove the word "perfect" out of the equation. Students should by all means still try to attain good pronunciation and a pleasant accent. How can they achieve that? It involves five factors that will absolutely make the difference, and they are as follows: a) Voicing, b) Mouth, Tongue, andLip Position, c) Stress and Rhythm, d) Intonation, and e) Word Parts. Let's take a brief look at each of them, starting with Voicing. In English, some sounds are 'voiced,' (the voice box is used) while others are 'voiceless' (the voice box is not used). This can be illustrated with 'plurals' ending in "s". When the plural word is 'voiced,' the "s" is pronounced /z/; unvoiced and the "s" is pronounced /s/. Secondly, we must consider the position of the Mouth, Tongue and Lips. Here, you could draw simple diagrams of tongue and lip positions, or have students imitate you as you model sounds for them-all while having a clear view of your mouth, lip, and tongue movements. After that, comes Stress and Rhythm. In English, the distinction between stressed and unstressed syllables is that stressed syllables are louder, longer and more clearly articulated, while unstressed ones are shorter, compressed, and said very quickly. The way ESL students will learn them is through lots of practice and examples. Intonation is also very important because it indicates the speaker's intentions. So learning to understand the different pitch/variations in English is critical. Finally, we have Word Parts, close cousins of 'voicing.' Basically, the Past Participle of regular verbs (ending in -Ed) has three possible pronunciations-[t]; [d]; [id].

In conclusion, although the foregoing are all necessary elements for achieving good pronunciation, it should again be stressed that students of English should not have the slightest sense of feeling inadequate if speaking like a native is not achieved. It is of far greater importance to have nice, natural phrasing. Besides, as we've already discussed, having a 'foreign accent' is not always a negative thing. Take celebrated French Chef Jacques Pépin for example. He was Charles de Gaulle's personal chef before immigrating to the United States in 1959 and is credited for almost single handedly bringing the French cooking craze to North America. He is a bona fide star, and I'm willing to wager that it probably has something to do with that charming French accent he has when he speaks English!…

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Hobby

Why Knitting is a Good Hobby

Everyone has an opinion on why their favorite hobby is the best. But for those who are looking for a new pastime, knitting may be just the ticket. There are some great reasons to give knitting a try.

Knitting is Easy to Learn

Anyone from young children to the elderly can learn to knit. You can have a knitting friend or family member teach you, get a book out of the library, or watch learn to knit tutorials online. Whatever learning style works best for you, there is a way to learn knitting.

Knitting only requires two basic stitches, knit and purl. Once you have mastered those, you can make anything you want. Cables, lace and color patterns are all variations on the simple knit and purl stitches.

 

Knitting can be Inexpensive

If you have extra spending money and a taste for fine materials like cashmere, you can spend a good deal on yarn, but even those with limited funds can afford to knit.

Yarn stores, craft stores and many department stores sell yarn. Often, huge balls of inexpensive acrylic yarn can be had for only a few dollars. If you like fine yarns but are on a tight budget, yarn stores often have discount bins where you can find unpopular colors or discontinued yarns for a cheap price.

Other than yarn, you don't need many supplies to get started knitting. A pair or two of inexpensive needles and you are ready to knit!

Knitting is a Portable Hobby

In addition to being able to find knitting supplies in many places, knitting can also go many places. My knitting has accompanied me in countless waiting rooms, meetings and even to the hospital when I had my children. Small knitting projects, like hats, scarfs and mittens are easy to tuck into a purse or backpack and take along wherever you go.

I generally take easy projects that don't require any counting or concentration when I'm knitting in public or while watching television, and save complicated cables for when my children are sleeping and I can give my knitting all of my focus.

Make Things for Yourself and Others

Nothing shows love in quite the same way as a handmade gift. People generally love knowing that a garment or accessory was made just for them. You can also make items exactly to your own specifications, which is one of my favorite things about knitting. For example, I love fingerless gloves. However, I'm fussy about just how I like them. I like neutral colors, washable yarn, and for gloves to be long in the arm and short on the hand. It's very difficult to find these type of gloves in stores, but I can easily make my own in a night or two.

Knitting allows you to customize items in exactly the way you want, which can be a big plus, especially if you are a hard to fit size or have particular standards in mind for clothes or accessories.

There are many benefits to choosing knitting as a hobby. If you're looking for a versatile hobby that is portable, inexpensive and easy to learn, give knitting a try.…

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Family / Posts

What Car Should I Buy: A Beginner Guide!

What car should I buy for a beginner?

There are several cars you can start with, starting with an economical small car towing a light trailer behind a truck.

It is best to find at least two cars that are affordable and will get you on the road.

Once you know how safe a car is to drive, you can work your way up to a more powerful sports car.

The type of car you should buy depends on your style of driving, safety concerns, your wallet, and your needs as a driver.

When you consider what cars to buy for a beginner, the first thing you need to consider is the safety rating of the vehicle.

Is it worth buying or should you stay away?

How safe is it?

This question is most important when it comes to four-door sedans.

If the car has a low rating, it may not be worth buying, especially if the car will be used for transporting children.

A safe driver can get good grades in school, but that doesn’t mean you can take your car out on the highway without knowing how to drive it.

In fact, some people who are involved in an accident don’t even know how to fix their cars.

That is why it is so important to purchase a safe car.

There are so many different makes and models available on the market today that finding one that has been well maintained can help you avoid any costly repairs in the future.

Before you even begin thinking about what car to buy for a beginner, you want to think about what level of driving you plan to do.

Are you just learning to drive for pleasure or do you have a goal of becoming a safe, dependable driver?

Even if you want to become a safe driver, you can start by selecting a safe car from the beginning.

This is a great way to begin learning how to drive because you won’t have to worry about losing money if you get into an accident or have an accident that costs you lots of money.

The first and best thing you need to do is find out how safe the car you want to purchase is before you even begin looking.

You should first try to find out how much damage each vehicle has been through.

In most cases, vehicles that are sold for cheap are known to be unsafe because they have been abused.

Ask friends or family members if they can recommend any reliable dealers who sell cars for cheap.

If you don’t have anyone who can give you advice [click here] you can always check online to see what other people have said about various dealers.

Another way to find out about the safety of a particular car is to ask around your community.

People living around you will be able to tell you if a car is safe to drive or not.

Of course, you have to take their word for it, but it’s a good idea to ask around.

What car should I buy for a beginner to help them become a safe driver?

It would also be a great idea to find out from your local police force if they know of any reliable dealers in your area.

Ask them for advice.

What car should I buy for a beginner to help them become a safe driver?

If you are new to driving, you should get a vehicle that has a high safety ranking.

High-ranking cars are known to have a reduced chance of having accidents, which means that they are less likely to cost you a lot of money in repairs.

Now that you have found out what car should I buy for a beginner, you should make sure that you are ready to go out and drive it.

You never know when you might have an accident, and it would be horrible if you had an accident while on your first trip with your new car.

You never know when something may happen that could have unforeseen consequences.

That is why it is important to make sure that you are insured because if you get into an accident without insurance, you could owe a lot of money and be unable to get any money to fix the car.…

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Fashion

Zipper Fashion Rosettes

Supplies:
Metal zipper
Fabric scrap
Scissors
Hot glue
White glue

You might have been saving zippers to sew into other garments, if those zippers go bad, but sewing zippers into clothing isn’t the only way to reuse them. Cut zippers up and use them in an unusual way to make embellishments for fashions and home decorating projects, rosettes for crafting, and other fanciful items. If you already have zippers, you won’t pay a penny for the rosettes, which can be used in many different ways.

Unzip a zipper and cut it, straight across, to remove the zipper pull, and to separate the two sides of the zipper. Since each piece has fabric stitched to it, it’s necessary to remove the cloth. Cut the stitches to remove the biggest part of it; use a lighter to burn off the rest. Remember to hold the zipper with a potholder because the zipper will get hot as you burn the fabric off.

When all of the cloth is off of the zipper it’s the easiest thing to turn it into a rosette. Simply lay it flat on a table and begin winding it around itself. Hold one end down, and wrap the other end around and around the stationary end. You’ll make a flat circle of zipper teeth, which is metallic and lovely. If you want the rosette to be larger than it is when you finish wrapping, use a dot of hot glue to hold the end in place, and start wrapping another zipper-half around it.

The rosette you make is a flat one but you can give it dimension by making another one on top of it. The top rosette should be a bit smaller than the bottom one. Add another rosette, and another, to create the depth that you want; make each rosette smaller than the previous one.

The zipper rosette will be easiest to attach if you glue a piece of cloth or felt to the bottom of it. Glue the finished flower to a purse, a garment, a lampshade, a mirror or picture frame corner, or even a hat. Attach it to a piece of fabric to make a curtain tie-back, or make a large zipper rosette, and turn it into a coaster.

Don’t like the metallic color of the rosette? Paint it! You can easily spray paint the zipper before you start, or paint the rosette when you’re finished. That gives you many options for coordinating colors on your fashions, or for your home decorating.

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Internet / Posts

How to Build an Instagram Following From Scratch

With close to 500 million users, and counting, Instagram is slowly becoming a leading social media site, and we will try to help you get your first followers.

Simplicity is a major part of success when it comes to Instagram, and as we live in the society where information overload is a normal thing scrolling through the pictures with short captions seems like a perfect combination.

Both major and minor brands are trying to capitalize on this fast rise, so you should consider start to buy followers for instagram and avoid missing out on this opportunity.

In the next few paragraphs, we will lay down a roadmap and try to explain how to get free instagram likes daily, whether you manage your personal or professional Instagram profile.

1. Figure out your strategy

Before going any further, you should answer these few questions.

What is your end goal on Instagram?

Creating a community of regular paying customers on you web page from followers while providing good service. This is a top priority!

How will your Instagram page affect your business?

 

Your best bet is to have few established Instagram users in your niche promoting your product in exchange for money or free stuff. This way, you can bring traffic to you web page fast and have a better conversion.

What are you going to offer to your followers?

Ask questions, research, ask your peers what kind of content would they like to see from you. Check what hashtags are your followers using and use them in your posts only if they are relevant, you don’t want to annoy them.

After you got this down, you are ready to move on.

2. Setting up your Instagram profile.

This one is pretty straight forward. You just need to fill some basic info and add your profile picture.

Profile image

You should consider an image that is representing your product or your brand. Logo of your company is always a good solution.

Your bio

If you are not an established brand already, then you need to utilize this feature as much as possible. Make it sound natural and positive; you can also use symbols.

Link to your web page.

If you use Instagram for business, then this one is really important. Add your web page address at the end of your bio. This will give your followers a chance to buy your product and turn them into your customers. Make sure that your web page is mobile friendly; most of the Instagram users are on their mobile phones.

3. Setting up your content plan.

Goals and KPIs (key performance indicators like shares, comments, likes) are essential. Set them and use them to track your progress.
Your next step should be schedule for content uploading. There are various apps that can help you with this like ScheduGram or Simply Measured.

 

Choose pictures that you are about to post very carefully. Use only pictures that are related to your brand and your brand’s story. Make sure that quality of a picture, description and hashtags are all on point.
When it comes to effectiveness, you should consider this:

Brand-inspired images

Posting beautiful images with a powerful message can bring you a lot of exposure as people tend to react to the images that trigger emotions.
Some of the biggest brands in the world are using this technique and investing money in the production of their photos so they can use the power of visual storytelling to their advantage.

Reactive storytelling

Reactive storytelling is a great way of sparking conversation because when businesses use this technique, they can leverage a human truth or insight to generate instant feedback. This includes a cultural action, a brand relevant action or a niche action.

Inspirational quotes

One of the best ways to create a viral buzz is to trigger a strong emotional response. If you can achieve this, there is a big chance that you are going to see more shares, likes, and comments on your posts.
You should start by preparing ten images; this will be enough for the next three to four days, depends on how you spread them.

A Track Maven released a report suggesting that major brands are getting thirty-seven likes and comments per thousand followers. That’s 3.7 reactions for every hundred followers you make.

4. Build relationships with influencing people

There are places where you can get exposure and more followers like FreeInstagramFollowersNow.com, but there are people that have a big influence, and they are available only through direct contact. You can offer them free promotional stuff for shares, or pay them for the shoutout.

 

Instagram Direct is probably the best way for you to get in touch with the person who can help you promoting your product. It is private so you can send your offer that only influencer and you can see.

5. Manage your profile

With you profile, your connections and followers in place, it is time to manage your account. You can find a lot of very useful applications that can give you a better overview of your activities and activities on your account and also give you statistic and charts. Always have content ready for deployment and use the schedule as much as possible, it will make your life a lot easier.

How to grow an Instagram account from SCRATCH (With ZERO Followers!) - YouTube

Final thoughts

By now we hope that you realize how easy it is to have a successful Instagram page. Visual content is in high demand, and millions of users are already making a good use of it. Just remember to be clear with your ideas and always be in contact with your followers and respect them so you can see your brand grow and flourish.

Make sure to connect your Instagram page to your other social media accounts. This way you will be able to spread your brand and reach more people.
Leave your comments below and let us know if you had any success with the roadmap that we laid out for you, and how you managed to push your Instagram campaign to the next level.…

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Family

Having and Planning Family Night

Family night is growing more popular as children are finding more things outside of the home to do. Here are some tips and ideas to help you plan and have a wonderful family night.

Set a night of the week that everyone will be home and available. Plan your family night for this night.

Tell each family member and post it on the refrigerator, calendar and anywhere else that you can think of that will help remind everyone.

Decide your plans for family night. Do you want to play games, go somewhere else, see a movie or something else creative. There are some tips and ideas at the end of this article.

Do any shopping that is needed for that night prior to the scheduled night. This will reduce the stress on you.

On the planned day be sure to remind everyone that that night is family night and what time it is planned for.

Enjoy the night with your family and have lots of fun.

TIPS AND IDEAS

For each family night, choose a different family member and make on of their favorite meals.

Choose games that everyone enjoys. Some popular games are Monopoly, Uno, Yahtzee, Scrabble, Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. If you don’t have any games you can do several things to get some. Go to www.freecycle.org and sign up. Once signed up post a wanted ad for games and activities. Search at garage sales and thrift stores. You would be surprised what you can find in these places. If all else fails, and you can afford it, go to the store and purchase new ones.

Family night doesn’t have to be indoors or about games. You can take it outside or anywhere. Go to the park, play volleyball, go swimming, go to a museum, go to a movie, etc.

Make sure that everyone feels included. This will make family night much easier on you and more exciting for everyone else.

Try to do something different each night. Don’t tell everyone what activities you have planned. This will heighten the enjoyment and anticipation. Repeating the same activity will bore them and discourage everyone from wanting to do it again.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to plan the perfect night. This will discourage you from wanting to plan and do this again. Remember this is supposed to be fun. Things happen and it is OK. Just pick it up and try again.

If you have little children, plan many different things. Remember that young children have a smaller attention span and will lose interest quickly.

Ideas for young children could be anything such as reading books, playing with blocks or legos, coloring, doing crafts (also good for older children as well), watching a movie, playing outside, going to the park, etc.

Remember that family night is not about what you do. It is about being together as a family and enjoying each others company and time.

If it doesn’t go great the first time, don’t give up. Use this time as an example and change the way you do things and what you plan for the next time.

Once you start having weekly family nights, sit down at the end of each one and ask for suggestions for other family nights. This helps everyone feel involved and helps you come up with new ideas.

Try having a themed night. This could include Hawaiian night, pajama party, camping or whatever else you can think of. This makes things fun and exciting and you can come up with some pretty creative stuff to do.

Have a night where you all make the meal together or instead of making a meal, everyone makes their favorite snack. (It’s OK to do this every once in a while.)

I hope these ideas have helped you come up with some activities and a great way to plan your family night. Enjoy your family and the time you have together.…

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