Jan 18th , 2011
When performing an online grammar check, it is important to note if the language you are using is American or British English. Believe it or not, there is a subtle but significant difference between them.
According to Wikipedia, “Received Pronunciation (RP), also called the Queen’s (or King’s) English, Oxford English, or BBC English, is the accent of Standard English in England, with a relationship to regional accents similar to the relationship in other European languages between their standard varieties and their regional forms.”
Wikipedia defines American English as “a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States,” and notes that around two-thirds of the people in the world that speak English as native language live in the United States – making the American dialect the more common of the two.
As a former British colony, the United States inherited English in the same way that Latin America inherited Spanish and Portuguese. However, over the years, American and British English have diverged in accent, spelling and vocabulary. A student of one will likely understand the other without too much additional effort, but should be aware of the differences that exist in literature, slang, pronunciation, letter writing and so on.
In the United States, students are generally taught American English, with little or no reference to the English spoken in the United Kingdom. Students of English as a Second Language (ESL), as well as native-speaking high school students in English class, may have only minimal knowledge of the differences between the two dialects.
English students in the US are taught the language using a variety of tools, including listening exercises, speaking and interviewing techniques and English games. One such game is called a “spelling bee.” Also used to teach grade school children how to spell, spelling bees are contests in which participants compete over who can spell the greatest number of words correctly. As the English language is full of exceptions, and spelling is often not done phonetically, learning how to spell correctly is a key part of growing comfortable with the language for non-native speakers.
Even for native speakers, the differences between American and British English can be a source of amusement. Anyone who has ever witnessed a social encounter between Americans and Brits has probably seen first hand how humorous it can be for them to compare words, especially slang words, and phrases across the cultural divide. However, English students can take comfort in the fact that the differences between the two are not really that great.
Jan 17th , 2011
The invention of the automatic spell checker was no accident. Learning how to spell correctly in English can be a challenging process. Whereas in other languages, words are often spelled more or less like they sound, in English words are often spelled in ways that seem to have little in common with how they are pronounced.
Instead of learning a set of basic rules and applying them universally, students must deal with a variety of exceptions and linguistic idiosyncrasies which can often seem daunting.
Why, for example, are “hare” and “hair” spelled differently but pronounced the same? How is it that “food” and “good” are both spelled with a double “o,” yet are pronounced differently? What is the difference between “thorough” and “through,” and why do neither sound anything like “tough”? Why do words like “diaphragm” and “psychologist” contain letters that are not pronounced at all? And what about the spelling of words which were adopted from foreign languages, and do not obey any of the familiar rules of English spelling?
Fortunately, there are many online resources available to help students spell correctly. For those who learn through memorization, there are several different lists of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language. For kids and those who seek fun ways to learn, there are many games, online and otherwise, that are designed to help students improve their spelling.
When it comes to writing, the spell corrector is an invaluable tool. By allowing the student to write freely, focusing on content without being overly concerned about how he or she spells each and every word, automatic spell checkers facilitate easier writing for native and non-native speakers alike. As a tool for learning, spell correctors also offer advantages, such as immediate feedback and instant self-correction.
One educational tool for learning and improving spelling abilities is dictation. By transcribing a dictated text, a student’s listening comprehension can be evaluated, as well as his ability to understand grammar constructs. The old fashioned technique of sounding out words – breaking down words into individual syllables – can help, along with the teaching of prefixes and suffixes.
For any student of the English language, spelling is an essential part of mastering the new tongue. While it can be challenging, spelling is easy to learn if you know how, and many tools are available to help students out.
Jan 17th , 2011
When I started teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) I was told to incorporate grammar into my lessons, rather than teach it separately. However, after teaching for a while, I realized that adult ESL students come from school systems that tend to teach grammar separately. Having always learned this way, ESL students expect to study grammar in isolation from other aspects of the language. They are used to such an approach, and it gives them a feeling of accomplishment.
Now, in my lesson plans, I teach grammar as a separate topic. I begin by presenting a specific grammar topic – for example, irregular past tense verbs – and then use these verbs in context, in games, in conversational activities and so on. Teaching this way is important, because grammar lessons tend to be very dry otherwise.
These introductions last no more than 30 minutes. Any more than that, and people begin to lose interest. Then, I embed this grammar lesson into a broader class lesson.
After finishing with my grammar lesson (in this case, irregular past tense verbs), I move on to cover the four general skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. While teaching these, I integrate the grammar lesson that the class has just learned.
So, for a reading passage, I will choose a story told in the past tense – or a story told in the present tense, which I will then ask the students to change to past tense. I will assign a writing exercise like: ‘What did you do last weekend’? For speaking, I will ask students what they did in their home country. And for a listening exercise, I will ask them to interview another student, and then report it to the class.
Another way to do this is to choose a single topic for the entire lesson, both grammar and the four skills. For example, a topic could be something like jobs or job interviews. If the grammar lesson of the day is irregular past tense verbs, we can discuss the students’ past job experience, their past job responsibilities and so on. They can conduct mock job interviews with each other (exercising their speaking and listening skills), fill out a job application (writing) and go over wanted ads in the newspaper (reading).
In this way, they will practice the grammar point, learn the relevant and get plenty of practice in the grammar and related vocabulary to the topic. If I were to teach English online, the steps would be very similar.
Jan 13th , 2011
It would not be an exaggeration to think that, at one moment or another, every literate speaker of English in history had to wrestle with the question of how to spell a word that he or she knew perfectly in terms of its meaning and pronunciation. Such moments of minuscule (not miniscule) embarrassment (not embarassment) are so common at least in part because of a distinct feature of the English language.
This descriptive feature of English concerns what linguists call the 'orthography' of a language – its system of symbols and their rules of usage. English has a so-called "deep orthography", also known as "defective orthography". This means quite simply that there is no one-to-one mapping between its written signs and their sound in speech. And indeed, can we not also swap the direction of the question "How do you spell…" and find so many cases of "How do you pronounce…"?
The "depth" of the English orthography describes the possible independence between the spelling of a word and that word's pronunciation. But what happens in terms of spelling when two words with different meanings are pronounced exactly the same? Or, conversely, when two words are pronounced differently but nevertheless have exactly the same spelling? Through these and similar confusions, we can see how in English a distinction arises between three elements, that has a bearing on words: their meaning, their spelling and their pronunciation.
The various possible interrelations between these three elements account for several error-provoking word-categories for spellers (there are eight in total). For instance, homophones make up the category of words with identical pronunciation that differ in meaning. A speller may deliberate the homophonic different spellings of 'to', 'too' and 'two', 'there' and 'their', or 'pair' and 'pear'. Heteronyms make up another category, that of words with identical spellings but different sound. Here, for example, a speller may puzzle over the difference between a 'bow' for arrows and the customary 'bow' in the presence of royalty. Such cases provide a useful classification of words for spelling instruction. There are many other cases, some more simple some complex.
So we can see that these categories, which are inherent in the English language, create a special challenge for learners and native speakers alike. For all, sometimes the spelling of a word is not a trivial task. There are various methods, tips and tricks that can help us along the way. But ultimately, in order to learn, we can only observe, practice and gradually – word by word – absorb the nuances of spoken and written English.
Jan 12th , 2011
Error-free texts are always appreciated, if not downright expected. But although the products of clean and fluent writing demand skill and experience, many people today are under the impression that accomplishing this task should no longer be considered a problem. They believe that all one needs to do is to run a simple spelling check, and that should suffice.
The notion that spelling checkers are infallible is very questionable. And the troubling effect is that blindly adopting this view can tempt people to neglect to learn how to spell and edit their texts by themselves. This attitude is not problematic just because it makes people forget about the potency that only a thorough knowledge of language enables. It is also questionable because, in the first place, it assumes that writing is always done with electronic aids, which either have built-in spelling check features or can use resources online. Second, it presupposes that people actually use, and know how to use, spell check tools properly, without perhaps at times even making things worse. Finally, spell checkers still rely on the users to input their queries and select their corrections. So, ultimately, the responsibility remains in the hands of the writers.
Learners must be aware that they can trust spelling checkers only to a certain limited extent. This responsible awareness should instruct them to remember that, on top of sensibly using spelling check aids, they should keep their mind open and learn to edit and to do their spelling for them. With the variety of means available today, the idea of investing in this basic self-education should not deter anyone. There are many ways in which learning how to spell can be done – some more didactic, but some more fun!
One of the more attractive ways of practicing spelling is by playing all sorts of spelling games. Games for spelling come in many varieties. Some are meant to be played alone, like many colorful or animated online versions for kids or language learners; some are played together with friends or with family, an environment that can add the support and mutual encouragement; Some are framed as spelling challenges or even prize awarding competitions, which, in some cases, are staged in front of audiences or even broadcasted, like the famous north-American "Spelling Bee" phenomenon. And so, whether educational, communal or capital in motive, games are considered to be an effective and encouraging technique for learners. But, in the end, the motivating idea is the independence that can come from taking responsibility for your own work.
Jan 10th , 2011
When we were children, just beginning to learn to read, write and spell words, we had to rely on teachers and parents to review our work and correct it. Quite similarly, children, students, non-native speakers, and people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, each for their specific purpose, may all require such assistance in order to spell a word or construct a sentence.
Today, when one wants to know how a word is spelled, one usually uses a computer. This sort of shift is having an important effect on the process of learning how to write and spell. It is true that for the purpose of reviewing a text, spell correctors and grammar checkers can be invaluable. Tools like these are highly available. They can be either accessed online, as in the case of online dictionaries or an online spell check, or built into a client's word processor. The writers, for their part, can search for the tools and develop the techniques that they are comfortable with and which are better suited for them.
Now, apart from proofing a text, tools like a spell corrector can also be utilized for the purpose of improving writing skills. When we think about it more generally, we see the potential such tools hold in enabling new approaches for learning language. This is true because, ultimately, to write and to spell are personal abilities, and a major advantage of these tools is their potential capacity for personalization. A personalized environment lets the writer become a learner, by providing practice tools that help ensure they can work on what matters as often as possible.
Still, along with the technological enhancements for creating solid texts, there are disadvantages in this method. One can perhaps rely on a spell corrector when examining a text, but what about the text's clarity and its coherency? These features of language are without a doubt no less essential and evoke the need for experience and interaction. In addition, as people rely more and more on correction tools, they no longer feel the need to know how to spell by themselves. Using the corrections but neglecting to practice and acquire a personal skill undermines the learning process. So, in conclusion we must admit that there is no substitute for learning for ourselves. But there is great value in aids, on the condition that they are used sensibly.
Jan 10th , 2011
Spelling, loosely defined, refers to the activity of forming words from letters, or, conversely, the process of naming the letters that form a word. Every conventional word in an alphabetical language has an acceptable, some say standard, way (or ways) of being spelled (or spelt). In linguistic terms, this means that it is a part of a specific orthography – a dynamic system of signs and rules that represent a language. So when we write, or generally engage in spelling words, what we are most often expected to answer to is the task of presenting their acceptable form.
Spelling is a personal ability, and accomplishing the task of correct spelling depends on the person performing it. Let's consider the basic case of writing something down, perhaps a small exercise in English spelling. First, spellers face the difficulty of developing an ear for the way words sound in a language. In developing a phonological awareness, they should be sensitive to the way spoken sounds are represented in a language's alphabet, and acquire the skill of translating them to the page. Second, spellers face the challenge of having to master the structural aspects of a language. Through this morphological awareness, they should become familiar with a language's grammar, with its punctuation, and, naturally, with the proper spelling of words. Third, spellers must acquire a semantic awareness. This enables to recognize the context in which words appear, and know how their senses can change in accordance. In the end, a speller must develop skills to overcome all of these difficulties and others, in order to make it possible to express a single thought graphically in signs.
One crucial reason for the importance of correct spelling is based on our expectations and reactions to texts. Now, we react to texts in more ways than one. As we read, a text sets our thought and imagination in motion. Many factors influence this process, but one is closely connected to spelling of words. In reading, the reader usually senses, or sketches for herself, a voice and a figure of the author of the text. A text written with spelling mistakes raises doubts in the reader about the identity of the author and his or her writing expertise. The more errors the reader's eye meets, the less tolerant is his or her judgment of the author, and of the written work. At times, this is true without any regard to the content or the meaning of what is written.
Jan 9th , 2011
Business English is the general term used for English related to international commerce, finance and industry. In the global environment, it has become common for non-native English speakers to study business English as a specific tool, with the aim of interacting with English-speaking countries, or with companies that use English as a shared language. In this atmosphere, business English is what one is required of in order to join, communicate and compete in the international market. This is why the importance of good business English can no longer be underestimated in the age of the new global business market.
The English language is currently estimated as the third largest mother tongue in the world. However, it is unquestionably the first and most popular second-language. In fact, most of the information that circulates in our world – mail, radio, cable, internet, etc. – is in English. This language has become the working language or bridge language of our time. There is even a specific rubric for Language Skills in any standard résumé template, with the level of English generally being what is examined. This dominance plays a part in the wide range of effects of what is called globalization.
As a purpose-specific tool, the central goals of business English is to carry the message across and to reach agreement. This is why it demands a business-oriented English vocabulary and a bunch of skills. These skills can include English letter writing, delivering presentations, negotiating or plain small-talk. With this in mind, such skills are already considered to be a prerequisite of modern-day international cooperation, and an important key for global business.
Jan 9th , 2011
Business writing skills are essential in today’s competitive work environment. Letter writing, email writing, texts for power point presentations and many other writing assignments that involve business writing skills are necessary, on a day to day basis, in every office. Business writing can be enhanced by an automatic English correction tool that offers grammar tips tips and corrections.
Business writing is no different than any other type of writing, the more instructions you receive and the more chances you have practiced, the better your business writing will become. Therefore, choosing the right software for English business writing improvement and making sure that it will provide you with useful writing tips is extremely important.
Let’s examine some of the ways in which your business writing can be improved by a context-sensitive writing correction tool. Let us say that you need to do some business writing while you are on your way to an important meeting. You need to write an important letter and your letter writing skills are not that good. You have just a limited amount of time to write the letter and send it by email, and no one to check your spelling and grammar for you. The business writing correction tool that you need will be able, not only to locate your errors while you write and point them out to you, it must also be able to determine whether your word usage is logical in a contextual sense. You do not want to be embarrassed by corrections that confuse the original meaning of your intended sentences and therefore context sensitivity in your business writing correction tool is an absolute must. With a single click of a button, your business writing correction tool must be able to show you your errors, both grammatical and contextual, and offer you logical alternatives.
Now let’s talk about improving your business writing. It’s not enough for your correction tool to be able to correct your mistakes, it must also be able to point out your strengths and weaknesses and pave a way for you to continuously improve your business writing. Writing and learning will then become one integrated process. Your letter writing, or any other type of business writing, will continue to improve and at the same time you will always have that invisible friend that makes sure your letters, emails and power point presentation texts will turn out just right.
Jan 9th , 2011
Disability learning or learning disabilities are often not discovered until a later age. In such instances the learning disabled person may suffer from low self esteem. Difficulties in reading and writing are in no way an indication of a lower intelligence. On the contrary, many people with disability learning posses a higher than average intelligence. But unless they are aware of their LD problem people suffering from disability learning may become depressed and frustrated by their reading and writing difficulties.
Awareness of learning disorders is the first and perhaps the most important stage for the person that has disability learning. Awareness is the key to rebuild self confidence for the learning disabled and to overcome learning disorders. Once the specific type of LD is determined the next stage is to find ways that will pave the way to improvement.
Providing the person with learning disabilities with the right tools that can aid her is another way to re-build confidence. Disability learning students can use context-sensitive online automatic correction tools in order get help reading and writing.
Let’s take a look at how such an online, context-sensitive, automatic correction tool can completely transform the reading and writing experience of the learning disabled person.
When you have disability learning you will often have difficulties in understanding and analyzing your textual errors. Some people with LD will even have a hard time to read and understand the corrections that will be offered them by a regular spell checker. Also, their errors will many times be so far removed from the original word that they intended to write, that they will never be recognized. Even worse, the regular grammar and spelling automatic check will offer them correction suggestions that are illogical. This will simply discourage the person with Disability Learning to continue with the writing and reading tasks at hand.
On the other hand, using a contextual automatic grammar checker may boost the learning disabled person’s confidence as it will take a look at entire sentences and offer logical and coherent correction suggestions. Every correction suggestion can also be read aloud, using text to speech technology. Listening to all correction suggestions allows people with disability learning that have difficulties in reading to select the correction that is compatible with their original intention. Being able to write and correct your own texts, by using a contextual grammar checker, is a great confidence builder for people with LD.