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Issue #017 -- Week 31/08/14-06/09/14
September 08, 2014

Greetings and General Information

We didn't have any new subscribers this week, but I wish that any new visitors from now on will find My English Club fun and instructive and I look forward to welcome you as a new valued member soon. Read, learn and communicate around the world!

You and your friends can subscribe individually through the form on My English Club . If anybody mentions to you that they are interested in receiving it, please tell them this - many thanks. Also, they can read the previous issues on Back Issues for English Corner E-zine .

Month 1 ~ Lesson 2

We started studying three subjects this month: pronunciation and grammar for improving your communication skills, as well as website design and development, for applying your English in practice once you get skilful in English and website building.

If you've missed the first lesson, you can find it on Issue016 .

People will find this information useful, if they are embarking on learning the pronunciation by using phonics, or if they are trying to teach their children by this method. It makes life easier if you know how to pronounce letters and combination of letters before you get to learn words and constantly add new words to your vocabulary.

More advanced students will find this boring, so this is more appropriate for beginners and for children. Those of you who need to improve your pronunciation will also benefit from this lesson and the following ones in this series.

Pronunciation ~ The NAMES and SOUNDS of the Letters

Today we shall look a little bit more in depth at the Vowel Sounds, especially the short vowels.

A vowel is a sound made by the relatively free movement of air through the mouth, usually forming the main sound of a syllable. The vowels in English are a, e, i, o, and u.

Each vowel has two sounds: a long sound and a short sound. The long sound is the same as its name. (For more info on this, please look at Issue 016 .

Here are the vowel sounds, shown along with their diacritical marks:
• Long a /ā/ sound as in fail, ache, and explain
• Long e /ē/ sound as in eat, speed, and read
• Long i /ī/ sound as in eye, cry, and line
• Long o /ō/ sound as in oh, ghost, and coat
• Long u /ū/ sound as in you, salute, and costume

• Short a /ă/ sound as in at, taxi, and apple
• Short e /ĕ/ sound as in elevator, jellyfish, and elephant
• Short i /ĭ/ sound as in it, gift, and sit
• Short o /ŏ/ sound as in hop, chop, and crop
• Short u /ŭ/ sound as in up, cut and hug

You can see that the long sounds are actually the sounds we use for spelling, i.e. the 'names' of the vowels and the short sounds are different.

We looked at the three rules for vowel pronunciation, but we'll consider only the first one today:

1) When a single vowel letter is in the middle of a word (or syllable), it usually says its short sound (e.g., got, bed.) But there are many exceptions to this rule, such as irregular vowels.

The smallest unit in a word is a syllable, which usually contains the minimum of a vowel, or a vowel together with some consonants. A combination of letters which doesn't have a vowel is not a syllable.

It is useful to know how to split a word into syllables, when we want to figure out where the stress is in that particular word. One of the syllables of each word is stressed and we need to pronounce it correctly, if we want the listener to understand what we mean.

Mind how you say INsult (n.) and inSULT (vb.); REFuse (n.) and reFUSE (vb.); CONtract (n.) and conTRACT (vb.), ok?

The smallest phonic syllable is what we call a CVC - which is a Consonant, followed by a Vowel and then by another Consonant. You will find these either standing alone, as a word in its own right (cap), or as part of a longer word (captain).

The vowel in these words is always short:

Short a /ă/ sound, as in: bad, dad, sad, cat, sat, pat, fat, hat, cap, tap, lap, nap, tap, sap,

Short e /ĕ/ sound, as in: red, led, let, get, wet, set, vet, hen, ten, pen

Short i /ĭ/ sound, as in: hit, sit, fit, mit, jig, big, dig, rig, bin, fin, sin, win, pin, six, fix, did, lid, kid, rid

Short o /ŏ/ sound, as in: cot, pot, hot, dot, not, lot, top, sop, mop, pop, hop, mom

Short u /ŭ/ sound, as in: rug, bug, dug, hug, mud, mug, jug, bun, run, fun, nun, but, cut, hut, nut

Once you get familiar with these sounds and you can read these CVC words/syllables correctly wherever you see them, you will then progress to what we call CCVCs, i.e. the Consonant, Consonant, Vowel, Consonant [frog] and the CVCCs, i.e. Consonant, Vowel, Consonant, Consonant type of words [lamp].

We shall practice these in our next lesson, when you will see there is an art about learning these as well.

Communicative Grammar Concepts ~ COMPARISON

This type of grammar is for speaking English, rather than for learning the grammar rules and doing a lot of exercises, but then never getting to actually use it in real life. In other words, you decide ‘what it is that you want to say’ and this type of grammar will give you the model of ‘how to say it’. Does this make sense to you? Do you like the idea?

The way it does this is by using what we call ‘concepts’, which are kernels of expressions used for different purposes in communication (written or spoken, equally).

1) Normal comparison

Now, everybody knows the comparison of adjectives, where
a) you add an -er at the end of a short adjective, OR
b) you use comparative phrases like more + adjective, less + adjective
followed by a phrase or clause introduced by than, which can indicate the 'standard' against which the comparison is made.

Tom is faster than Jim.
Jim is slower than Tom.
Jim is less fast than Tom.

Longer adjectives will add more or less in front, keeping the adjective in its original form, followed by than to indicate the standard.

A Mercedes is more expensive than a Fiat Punto. Mary's dress is less beautiful than Katie's.

2) Equal comparison

When the things/people being compared are the same, we use as... as instead of more... than:

Tom is as fast as Jim.
Jim is as fast as Tom.

We can also negate an equal comparison, by adding not in front of as/so... as:

Jim is not as fast as Tom.
Tom is not so slow as Jim.

3) Comparative and Superlative

a) When we only compare two things/people, we use the comparative forms of the adjective:

Tom is the faster of the two children.
Jim is the slower of the two children.

b) When we compare more than two things/people, we use the superlative forms fastest, slowest, most expensive, most beautiful, etc.:

Tom is the fastest of the three.
Tom is the fastest in this class.
At $34.65 million, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO is the most expensive car in the world right now. [Inside Wealth, CNBC, 14 August 2014]

Now, instead of saying "in the world" as in the example above, we may want to define a different set of things being compared. In this case we use of, followed by a noun phrase:

"The Big Blue" was the best film of the season. (i.e. 'best ... of the films showed during the season')

Sometimes we can place the 'of-phrase' at the beginning of the sentence, if we want to emphasise something:

Of all the paintings in the gallery, she liked the abstract one most.

If we have a singular noun to define the range of comparison (for example, not 'all the paintings' but 'all my life'), we use in for comparison:

That was the best moment in my life.
He was the noblest officer in the regiment.

We can use other constructions to specify the range of comparison with superlatives, as follows:

(i) possessive determiners: my best friend;
(ii) genitives: China's best attractions;
(iii) adjectives: the most appreciated living author;
(iv) relative clauses: the most interesting lecture I ever attended

There is much more to be said on this matter, so we shall consider this lesson ... TO BE CONTINUED.

Designing and Building a Website ~ Content vs. Monetize

We went as far as explaining the concept of the CTPM = Content -> Traffic -> PREsell -> Monetize last time.

Since then, I had a thought about the monetizing part of this concept. I'll share it with you here, just to prove the point of the Content being more important than the Monetizing:

I am aware that the mentality in China is “show me the money” and I’ve seen plenty of examples (in real life), where the owner of the business preferred to get more money ‘right NOW’, either from me or from another customer I happened to notice, without being bothered with my feelings and whether I shall return to that business in the future or not. Well, not only I wouldn’t return, but nor would my friends/family, my colleagues and my customers and that’s a lot of people!

Antagonize somebody like that on the Internet and you end up in forums for customer care, in tweets around the world and on Facebook records you cannot wipe off easily. Soon enough and without knowing why, you’ll end up peddling in thin air, putting all your resources in a business that’s not going anywhere.

In other words, I advise you to believe the old saying that ‘what you do to others’ they 'will do to you’. Be courteous, helpful and informative; you want that potential customer just as much as you wanted your wife or your husband before you got married (well, arranged marriages are excluded from this analogy) – then behave in an inviting and welcoming manner, unless you have a totally fail-proof product to sell. Guess what? Within seconds and just a couple of clicks, your potential customer can find millions of other websites selling your product and they won’t take the time of visiting you again, if they weren’t comfortable in the first instance. Not to mention the trust you’ve lost in the process.

We need to focus on ONE online business at a time

We need to start smart and then grow smart. Just like in the “real world”, the “e-world” will require the same focus of attention to your business: you need to pick the business you wish to be in, then you need to grow it and only then you need to monetize it.

It’s not just what you want to do (the nature of the business you wish to be in), but also where and how you are going to present that business, when you do it online. You should choose to place your business where the money is. Find a niche for which your desired business is the needed addition. For example: don’t just sell ‘holidays’ (you’re a travel agent), sell holidays for Chinese honeymooners in the UK; or … selling cars vs. selling cars to foreign experts in China – funny examples, but they will explain the concept of niche for now.

Then you need to create quality content, relevant to your product/service, content that delivers your message with your unique voice, which is your writing style. Make your readers want more, hence want to come back. You need to get to know your visitors, in time.

In writing and presenting your content the way you find fit to your purpose, you need to market (publicise) that content in a natural way, without being manipulative. Only do and write what you think will earn trust, respect and approval from your potential customers. Build your reputation as a knowledgeable expert in your niche. Not just knowledgeable but friendly, too.

This Is It, My Friends!

Well, this will continue for quite a while and I hope to keep your interest high for the duration. Please feel free to comment and suggest your ideas by replying to this email - I look forward to hearing from you.

OK, I wish you all a great week ahead ~ it's time to sleep a little bit over here! Have fun in the meanwhile, as always!

All the best,

Lucia da Vinci

Founder of My English Club

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