Jan 17th 2019

Simple Ways to Keep a Conversation Going

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Keeping a Conversation Going can be a Challenge

Humans spend a significant time of their lives conversing and interacting with each other. It helps us learn and develop to become productive members of Society. However, while basic skills for interaction are of crucial importance every time, there are also instances when there is a need for better speaking skills. This includes keeping a conversation going, as this kind of skill allows us to build trust with one another. This is not easy though especially when talking to someone new. Constraints in time, energy, and even familiarity with one another could prove to be a hindrance to keeping the conversation going for a longer period of time. In the next section of this article, six useful tips to keep a conversation going would be discussed in greater detail.

1. Ask Questions

There’s nothing more effective to keep a conversation going, than to ask a question. In most cases, the interaction between individuals are cut short with the lack of reason to hold a conversation with one another. By asking questions, you’re stimulating the one you’re speaking with to find topics that both of you are interested in. This becomes the reason for conversing with one another. Take note, however, that it is important to be mindful of the person that you are talking to. Some questions might be a sensitive topic to talk about. Some example of this are past memories of a loved one who passed away, boastful remarks, and any other topics that would make the other person uncomfortable.

2. Listen Actively and Intently

Listening actively and intently is another critical aspect to keep a conversation going. Humans possess the innate desire to be heard about their own opinions. In line with this, it only makes sense to keep listening to them diligently and sincerely. This would make the other person feel that he is important and that his opinions matter to you. In turn, this would also stimulate him to become more open and conversant. Aside from this, listening to others actively is also another way to learn more about life. In other words, this would not only ensure a longer conversation but also a beneficial takeaway on your part.

3. Improve Non-verbal Abilities

It is well-known among all of us that non-verbal abilities are critical in the speaking with other people. This allows you to complement what you are saying and possibly reach your audiences in a much deeper manner. However, there are also times when we forget how important this is and take it for granted. Some non-verbal cues such as frowning, crossing your arms, and looking away from the other speaker often are just some of the cues that are guaranteed to cut the conversation short. These make the other person think that you are not open to conversing with them in the first place.

4. Ask Open Ended Questions

Asking questions that are answerable by only ‘yes’ or ‘no’, is one of the ways to kill the conversation. It does not give any room for the speaker to reflect deeply of your question. Moreover, asking close-ended questions is like interviewing them, which is another way to cut the conversation short. Asking open ended questions also shows others that you are interested and putting effort in the conversation. This would prompt them to do the same.

5. Apply your General Knowledge

Most people want to talk with someone who knows about the things that are happening around them. This gives both you and them more topics to talk about, as well as the desire to learn more about the opinions of others. In line with this, it is essential to learn more about the outside world in order to make sure that conversation is interesting. Only after this, can you talk about all kinds of topics under the sun such as politics in Ghana, custom essay writing service, and even levels of poverty in Asia. Conversing in all these topics is made possible, by having an up to date knowledge of the world around you.

6. Teach

As stated previously, knowing about the world around us is one good way of coming up with conversation topics However, in some cases, it would also be best to impart this so-called knowledge to the one you are speaking with. Take note that this must be done through short-comments during the conversation and not like teaching someone in the classroom. This should also not be intended to boast or to demean the other person. Rather, teach them in a way that would not offend them and with the intent of imparting knowledge, or correcting some misconceptions that they might have.

Summary:

These are just some of the methods that could help in keeping the conversation going. Of course, just like any other skills, doing this would take some time to come naturally. However, this skill should prove to be helpful in developing both your personal life and your career. Thus, if you want to become better at communicating with others, these skills should help you in doing so.

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Jan 10th 2019

8 Must-Follow Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

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Guest post written by Stacey Wonder.

A personal statement is your voice and your representation in writing. A convincing application can’t exist without a powerful personal statement, which is the best way to prove you’re a suitable candidate before having a chance to meet with the committee members in person.
It’s not a surprise that many students face troubles when trying to compose a perfect statement without sounding too cliché. What information should you include in your statement? How do you make it look unique and prominent? What is the best way to introduce yourself?

We have prepared a compilation of the best tips on how to create your personal statement.

Tip 1. Choose Your Words And Tone Wisely

A personal statement is a piece of writing that must act as a reflection of your intellect and good manners. That’s why it’s essential to keep it polite, brief and informative.
While trying to impress admission officers, many students use complex sentences and pretentious wording. However, this almost never proves a winning strategy. Simpler is always better in this case. When your personal statement is easy to read and digest, you have better chances of being approved.

Try to avoid using trite phrases. University staff read tons of applications every day, and according to their words, most of the personal statements look the same due to common sentences like:
“I have a passion for studying,” “I am a responsible and patient student,” “I am very excited to become your student,” etc.

Tip 2. Be Honest

A fancy statement is what many applicants go for, trying to make themselves look better than they actually are. Don’t lie in your statement and don’t try to embellish the truth. Be honest and speak about the things which really matter to you and what your qualities really are.
Of course, you shouldn’t talk about every little detail of your life or include lists of your worst habits and features. Nevertheless, telling lies in your personal statement always leads to more lies in the future.

Tip 3. Think Through the Opening

The first few sentences should give a reason to keep reading your personal statement. If the beginning is powerful and catchy enough, it will positively affect your application.
The right sentence will most likely come after a few hours into working on your statement. So don’t try too hard to squeeze something out of your brain. Keep the first paragraph sweet and interesting.

Tip 4. Don’t Race

Not setting aside enough time to write your personal statement is not a way to write it properly. The less time you have, the more nervous you will be while creating it. That’s why giving yourself enough time is the best decision.

Don’t procrastinate and start working on your personal statement ahead of time. Do not rush your writing, but think through and reread every sentence. It’s better for you to have it written long before the application day. This way, you will have an opportunity to reread it before sending it in.
Also, you might come up with a good idea a few days after finishing your statement. So, it will be better for you to leave some time for edits.

Tip 5. Focus on Your Strengths

A personal statement is a form of advertisement. You are selling yourself and are trying to show that you are are a better candidate than others. So, while writing your personal statement, remember to describe your best qualities. Concentrate on the best features you have or your significant accomplishments. Talk about them in your statement and add information about what you want in your life, as well as any goals or aspirations you have. This is a perfect way to show that you have both achievements and perspectives for future fulfillment.

Tip 6. Write Several Variants

Writing a few different variations is a perfect way to reach the best results when creating a personal statement. You can choose between them or compile the best parts into one personal statement. Try not to repeat yourself, but write several unique and diverse pieces.

Tip 7. Ask Someone to Proofread

Handing your statement to someone to read might give you a little anxiety, but you shouldn’t be afraid as a third person can give excellent advice. Ask your friends or family members to revise your statement. If you want a more professional opinion, you can ask your school teacher or freelance writers from platforms like EssayTigers to edit your personal statement.

Tip 8. Keep It Simple

It might appear hard at first, but you can do it. Remember to keep a positive mood and don’t panic. Outline the main ideas and key points. Start with several sentences about yourself. Add the qualities that you are proud of and projects you were involved with. Keep the information relevant and readable.

Don’t leave writing your statement to the last minute and don’t clutter your statement with irrelevant information about yourself. Research what skills the chosen course is looking for and what qualities it demands. Remember, that you need to give a good first impression and a brilliant personal statement is a way to do it.

 

About author: Stacey Wonder is a freelance blogger, and a content writer. She usually writes on education, self-development, career, writing and other topics. When not busy with her projects, Stacey creates detective stories.

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Dec 20th 2018

How to Overcome the Fear of Speaking in Public

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Guest post written by Bob Williams.

 

Almost 25 percent of people face the need to conquer the fear of demonstrating their verbal pyrotechnics in front of others, be it in a lecture hall, a classroom, or a school lobby. Being able to offer ideas and deliver information in front of an audience is a very important skill. All students should work hard to master their communication skills to be able to achieve their educational and career goals.

While fear is a primal instinct that helps people navigate dangerous situations, it can also stand in the way of many students’ plans to succeed both academically and professionally. When scared, people fail to share their brilliant ideas, prove their statements, present effective solutions to important problems, etc.

There are many reasons why speakers struggle with fear. In this article, we will talk about how greatly our emotional dispositions, acts, and lines of thinking can change the amount of anxiety we face. Below, there are some steps to take to deal with the fear of performing in front of others.

Start With Small Discourses in Front of Your Family

Those who haven’t gained a solid experience in speaking publicly should start by preparing small speeches that are easier to deliver. Find your listeners and practice. Keep in mind that without much practice, you have few chances to become a good speaker, and a big talk should be preceded by a series of rehearsals.

Before performing in front of many, ask your family to pretend to be your auidence. When taking the floor, look into their eyes and try to establish a rapport  with them to calm yourself down. As soon as you increase your confidence, you can try participating in front of a bigger group.

Learn Your Topic Thoroughly

Nothing works better at reducing anxiety of taking the floor in front of a big audience than knowing your topic to a tee. Many students experience a strong feeling of fear if they lack subject knowledge. They are afraid of being confused in front of their teachers and peers.

Therefore, it is of a great importance to get ready for an upcoming event thoroughly; otherwise, there are high chances of getting confused during delivery. If you know what your talk is about, are able to answer any question related to your topic, then you will see your fear quickly disappearing as soon as you start your speech.

Avoid Overlearning

Developing strong speaking skills has nothing to do with memorizing the whole text word-for-word. When students are required to give a presentation, it is better for them to remember its key points backed up by some examples. You can order a Power-Point piece from Pro-Papers, or you can do it on your own and involve some visuals in your presentation, such as charts and images. These elements can be put to good use when you need to recollect the forgotten materials and provide your recipients with additional items to put their focus on.

Relax to Reduce Tension

It has been shown that speakers feel the strongest sense of anxiety the minute before they take the floor. To reduce stress, it is vital to relax. There are many methods, and if you know how to use them, you will be able to influence your breathing and heart rate, as well as relax your body.

Visualization of positive outcomes can help you to reduce your self-doubt and emotional stress in some ways. Bear in mind that keeping a positive outlook is crucial as, without it, it is easy to lose your train of thought.

Decide on Your Time Slot

Prior to your presentations it is usually pretty easy to arrange with your peers the order in which all of you will make speeches. While some students feel less fear when taking the floor first, others may feel less stressed when delivering a speech last. Take this into consideration when planning your performance.

Interact with Your Recipients

Don’t turn to monologue speeches. When taking the floor, try to interact with your recipients. Asking some queries can help you to entertain your recipients and eliminate boredom. Having your audience engaged will give you a chance to pull yourself together if something goes wrong.

Try concentrating on your talk and your recipients rather than the level of your anxiety. The more you worry about your emotional state, the more scared you will become. Thus, if you concentrate on your discourse and your listeners, you are more likely to interact with the latter and get them involved in what is going on the stage.

In conclusion, it makes no sense to avoid situations that scare you. Trying to avoid giving speeches can hamper developing strong speech habits. You will always stand in awe of taking the floor unless you do well at it. Thus, in order to fight your anxiety, don’t stop rehearsing. Use every chance to give a speech and consider it as another step towards boosting your verbal pyrotechnics and fighting your fear.

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Dec 13th 2018

5 Common Myths about Learning English

Guest post written by Mary Whitman.

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Some people are successful in learning the English language, others are not. There are many reasons for this, including motivation, time, and effort. But, the biggest factor of them all is the understanding of the learning process.

‘’To be a successful learner means to debunk the myths about learning English. If you believe in the untrue statements related to the learning of the English language, you won’t have the motivation and readiness to learn the language yourself. ‘’ – explains Bob Hylon, writer at AssignmentGeek.

There’s plenty of untrue, irrelevant, and bad information about language education. If your excuses for not learning English are related to the usual common myths, you need to bust through them and start to actually learn the language. A successful student possesses the motivation because they don’t believe in these myths.

To assist you in this endeavor and to help you speak fluent English, I am including a short list of the five most prevalent myths out there.

1.   You are too old to learn English

No, you are never too old to learn English. This is one of the biggest misconceptions, since no research supports such thinking. You don’t have to be a young learner to be a successful learner. In fact, some researchers found out that adults did better when they learned English in terms of pronunciation.

A neuroscience professor in Barcelona thinks that adults have the advantage when it comes to some specific aspects of the learning process, such as learning the vocabulary, which results from their wider knowledge of the vocabulary in their mother tongue.

Surely, there is research that proves the very opposite – that children master the learning process faster than adults. This might be truth in some sense, but the fact remains – you are never too old to learn English.

2.  You can only be fluent if you LIVE in an English speaking country

Untrue.

Getting immersed in a second language is truly the fastest and most efficient way to learn it. Living in a country where people speak the English language does make it easier, but you don’t necessarily have to live there to become fluent.

With technology, it is now possible to get virtually immersed in another culture and language. You can use technology to communicate with someone who is a native in the language or practice with other students.

Not only that. Practicing with a teacher, peers, or simply listening to people speaking the English language will help you improve your speech in the language.

3.  You cannot speak fluent English without a large vocabulary

It is only natural for a non-native speaker of the English language to not have the usage of a large vocabulary. However, considering that the English language is very large and still growing, not even native speakers possess enough vocabulary to state: I know English perfectly.

With this being said, you don’t need to have a perfect vocabulary to speak fluent English. In fact, most of the language used in conversation is repetitive. People tend to use the same couple hundreds of words on daily basis, even if their vocabulary is much bigger.

So, if you have a vocabulary of roughly one thousand words, you can get through a conversation without stumbling on each word phrase. This is something you can achieve in a period of two years or less.

The key to this is to start speaking the language as soon as you start learning. When it comes to learning a different language, practice makes perfect.

4.  Technology makes it pointless to start learning a second language

Or third, or forth.

No, this isn’t true. The use of Google Translate simply does not suffice. If you believe that apps can replace the human knowledge of a language, you cannot be more wrong. Learning a different language is never pointless.

If you approach this with the thinking: why would I learn another language when I can just open an app and make it translate everything for me, you will never learn the language. This myth is seriously flawed because technology cannot replace humans when it comes to knowing, speaking and translating a language.

No app is of such high quality as a human translation. In most cases, the results will be incorrect, confusing, or incomprehensible. You’ve surely heard of many instances where automated translation caused confusion and even problems.

Secondly, you might use technology to translate, but never to interpret. You won’t really be able to communicate face-to-face with a machine or app that replaces human knowledge of a language. Even if it could, what kind of conversation will it be if you have to talk through a voiceover?

And finally, there’s the fun and the fulfillment. If you use machines to replace learning the English language, where will you get the fun and fulfillment of learning it on your own?

5.  It takes a lot of time to learn the language

Learning English does not take forever. There is no such thing as a hard language if you truly want to learn it. Even at a slow pace, dedication can let you reach extremely high levels of proficiency within a short time-frame. The estimate for a pace of half an hour daily would range between four to five years of study.

But, there isn’t really a reason to debate the time necessary for you to learn the language. This will depend on your willingness to learn, the time you can spend on learning it, as well as the program. But, the fact remains that learning a language is nothing different from learning anything else, in the sense that if you want to learn it, it won’t take forever to do so.

It will take you a while and you will have to dedicate your time and efforts to this goal. Time will pass, but it will definitely not be too long or forever. Furthermore, seeing that this is a great language and universally used to communicate, learning it will be a great achievement for you, and a practical step to take.

Don’t let myths pull you back. If you want to learn English or any other language, there isn’t a good reason to stop you from doing so. Neither age, vocabulary, and definitely not time. The secret behind being a successful language student is motivation and understanding of the process. Naturally, this includes knowing of the myths and the real stories that debunk them. We hope that our article helped clear things up.

About author: Mary Whitman is a Master of Arts based in Adelaide, South Australia. At her odd moments, she is taking full advantage of creative writing and blogging.

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Dec 11th 2018

Metaphors

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Definition of Metaphor

A metaphor is a word or phrase that describes something in a way that isn’t literally true yet works to help our understanding by way of providing comparison. A metaphor refers to someone or something to show that they are alike. Sometimes we refer to metaphors as figures of speech, meaning they should not be understood in a literal sense but are instead used to explain something in a more vivid way. In fact, at times a metaphor could be an object (in the non-linguistic sense) used as a symbol to explain something else. Metaphors are often used in poetry and literature, but they also play an important role in everyday language, adding both color and context to speech.

Of course, the best way to understand the metaphor definition is to see some examples:

  • This bedroom is a pigsty. The bedroom is not literally a pigsty (a pen or enclosure for pigs), but the metaphor is used to stress how untidy or dirty it is.
  • The wheels of justice turn slowly. They aren’t literal wheels, but the metaphor serves to illustrate that justice, normally in a legal sense, can take time.
  • Dad is my rock. Nobody is literally a rock, but the metaphor is used to convey that a person is solid, dependable.
  • Tim is an animal in the courtroom. Tim is not really an animal, but the metaphor is used to convey that he is wild and aggressive when he is in court.
  • Molly is up to her neck in paperwork. Molly isn’t really covered in papers, but the metaphor is showing that she has a lot of work to complete.
  • The movie Wall Street is a metaphor for the extreme greed of the 1980s. This sentence is not itself a metaphor, but serves to highlight that an object, like a film or painting, can be interpreted as one.

Types of Metaphors

Language experts will often argue as to how many different types of metaphors exist, with up to 15 sometimes cited. However, we can whittle it down to three main areas – direct metaphors, implied metaphors and sustained (extended) metaphors. The first two, direct and implied, are much more common in everyday language than sustained metaphors.

Direct Metaphors

Direct metaphors are used in comparisons, basically saying that one thing is another thing. They are perhaps the easiest to spot and understand in a sentence.

  • Those children are angels. The children are well-behaved.
  • Congress is a circus show. Congress is unruly, dramatic.
  • My mother is a lioness. My mother is strong and protective.

Implied Metaphors

Implied, or indirect, metaphors do not explicitly say that one thing is another, but they hint at a connection in a subtler way than direct metaphors.

  • The witness crumbled under the pressure of giving testimony. A person wouldn’t literally crumble, but the metaphor is used to create an image of falling apart – like a cookie, something brittle – to stress the difficulty of the situation and how the witness fell apart.
  • The sergeant barked orders at the troops. A person wouldn’t literally bark like a dog, but the metaphor indirectly compares the sergeant to a dog to create an image of sharp, abrupt commands.
  • Julie sailed confidently across the dancefloor. The implied metaphor uses the verb sail to give the subject smooth, boat-like qualities, hinting at grace, speed and poise.

Extended Metaphors

Extended metaphors are more common in poetry and literature than everyday speech. As you might expect, they are often comprised of more than one sentence, perhaps encompassing an entire paragraph or passage. One of the most famous extended metaphors is Shakespeare’s ‘world’s a stage’ metaphor at the end of The Tempest. In the metaphor, Shakespeare makes several metaphorical references to life being a play, and thus the passage itself becomes an extended or sustained metaphor.

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”

Dead Metaphors

Dead metaphors are phrases that have become so commonplace that the imagery they used to create no longer has any impact. In fact, some academics claim dead metaphors are not metaphors at all, such is the loss of their imagery and visual impact.

  • It’s raining cats and dogs. A common phrase meaning it’s raining heavily. It’s been so frequently used that the imagery of falling animals is no longer important.
  • He has kicked the bucket. A once gruesome metaphor to convey that someone had died, with the bucket falling over referencing hanging. Now the phrase has become so commonplace, although it’s still a crude reference to death, that we no longer think of the imagery of its origins.

Mixed Metaphors

Special mention should be made of mixed metaphors, which aren’t really metaphors, but linguistic errors made by confusing and combining more than one metaphor. Mixed metaphors are often comprised of dead metaphors, and can be, somewhat ironically, celebrated in modern pop culture.

  • “Labour are fighting like rats in a barrel”. Spoken by a UK member of Parliment in 2014, it seems to confuse the metaphors of rats fleeing a sinking ship and shooting fish in a barrel and comes up with a sentence with an unclear meaning.

Simile vs. Metaphor

There is often some confusion over the difference between similes and metaphors. In short, a simile is a type of metaphor that uses the words like or as to compare things. Metaphors, as we have seen above, can directly state a comparison or imply a comparison, but similes use like or as to compare two or more things.

Examples of similes:

  • He is as strong as an ox.
  • Jamie ran, swift like the wind, across the field.
  • Your words cut like a knife.
  • The boys laughed like hyenas.

Examples of Metaphors

The beauty of metaphors is that they are limitless in number. Indeed, it’s important to understand that metaphors are not just established sayings or idioms. New metaphors are created all the time and those created by you or I are just as valid as those created in established literature and linguistics, and maybe even Shakespeare! However, here are some more examples of metaphors:

Direct metaphors

  • Those boys are little imps.
  • My brain is a computer.
  • She is a delicate flower.
  • This job is a prison.
  • He is a monster.

Implied metaphors

  • The cogs whirred in her mind until she found the answer.
  • The defense crouched behind the quarterback, snarling and bearing their fangs.
  • Mom buzzed around the kitchen getting things ready for the party.
  • The kids chirped in delight.
  • The flowers danced in the wind.
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