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Issue #019 -- Week 14/09/14-20/09/14
September 26, 2014

Greetings and General Information

Welcome to our new subscribers! I wish you 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!

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Month 1 ~ Lesson 4

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.

Pronunciation ~ CCVCs and CVCCs

Today we’re going to talk about combinations of consonants, but before we do that, let’s look at the way we need to read words by using the phonics system. This will help those of you who are using this method to teach your children, for example, or another friend who needs help with pronunciation in English.

Take the word ‘cat’ – you would pronounce this as: /k/ /a/ /t/ - cat
bin = /b/ /i/ /n/ - bin
rug = /r/ /u/ /g/ - rug

So, you pronounce each sound separately at first, and then you say them together, as a complete word.

This will help you with 2 aspects:

-a) You will recognize the CVC words and know how to read them even when they are an integral part of a larger word:
encapsulated: en-cap-su-la-ted;
predisposed: pre-dis-posed;
contagious: con-ta-gious; etc.

b) You will use the same system when reading the CCVC words, containing two consonants at the beginning of the word, as we shall see below.

That said, let’s look at the CCVCs, as we mentioned last time:

There are a limited number of combinations of 2 consonants that are used to start words. These are called consonant blends and we need to pronounce the sounds of both letters.

This is a comprehensive list of the consonant blends:

- bl /bl/ as in: blot => /bl/ /o/ /t/ - blot
- br /br/ as in: brim => /br/ /i/ /m/ - brim
- cl /cl/ as in: clan => /cl /a/ /n/ - clan
- cr /cr/ as in: crop => /cr /o/ p/ - crop
- dr /dr/ as in: drop => /dr/ /o/ /p/ - drop
- fl /fl/ as in: flag => /fl/ /a/ g/ - flag
- fr /fr/ as in: fret => /fr/ /e/ /t/ - fret
- gl /gl/ as in: glad => /gl/ /a/ /d/ - glad
- gr /gr/ as in: grit => /gr/ /i/ t/ - grit
- pl /pl/ as in: plan => /pl/ /a/ /n/ - plan
- pr /pr/ as in: pram => /pr/ /a/ /m/ - pram
- sc /sc/ as in: scum => /sc/ /u/ /m/ - scum
- sk /sk/ as in: skip => /sk/ /i/ /p/ - skip
- sl /sl/ as in: slug => /sl/ /u/ /g/ - slug
- sm /sm/ as in: smog => /sm/ /o/ /g/ - smog
- sn /sn/ as in: snag => /sn/ /a/ /g/ - snag
- sp /sp/ as in: span => /sp/ /a/ /n/ - span
- st /st/ as in: stop => /st/ /o/ /p/ - stop
- sw /sw/ as in: swap => /sw/ /a/ /p/ - swap
- tr /tr/ as in: trot => /tr/ /o/ /t/ - trot
- tw /tw/ as in: twig => /tw/ /i/ /g/ - twig

Now if the consonant blends happen at the end of the words, we call these CVCC, or Consonant, Vowel, Consonant, Consonant.

There are not so many of these word ending blends:

- lp /lp/ as in: gulp => /g/ /u/ /lp/ - gulp
- lt /lt/ as in: wilt => /w/ /i/ /lt/ - wilt
- nd /nd/ as in: band => /b/ /a/ /nd/ - band
- ng /ng/ as in: bang => /b/ /a/ /ng/ - bang
- nk /nk/ as in: bank => /b/ /a/ /nk/ - bank
- nt /nt/ as in: tent => /t/ /e/ /nt/ - tent
- mp /mp/ as in: lamp => /l/ /a/ /mp/ - lamp
- sk /sk/ as in: task => /t/ /a/ /sk/ - task
- st /st/ as in: fast => /f/ /a/ /st/ - fast

However, there are many words containing these ending blends and you need to read them following the sound of their letters – this being the phonic system.

The reason we're teaching the phonic system is this: there are two big categories of words:
1) those that are read by uttering the exact sounds of their letters - the ones we've considered so far;
2) the what we call 'sight words', i.e. those that don't follow these strict pronunciation rules, but instead they need to be learned exactly as they are to be pronounced. Simply said, you read them as you see them.

Put together, these two categories of words are pretty much what one needs, in order to read well in English. If you don't believe me right now, just hang on in there and you'll get the complete picture after we'll have discussed the sight words.

Next time we shall look at other combinations of vowels and consonants, called digraphs. These are two vowels or two consonants written together, but which are pronounced as a single sound.

Also, we shall touch on the silent letters, both at the beginning and at the end of the words.

Grammar ~ Comparison of Adverbs

In our last lesson, we examined the comparison of adjectives. We also know that we can make adverbs from adjectives, one of the methods being by adding the -ly ending. For example, from the adjective ‘quick’ we form the adverb ‘quickly’. Just like the long adjectives, these have their comparison with more and most:

quickly – more quickly – most quickly.

E.g. The surviving antelope has to run more quickly than another antelope, in order to escape the hungry lion.

As with adjectives, there is a small group of adverbs that have irregular comparison. The most common are the following:

well – better – best:

You have to be better, to qualify for the grand prix.
Of the three paintings, she liked the first one best.

badly – worse – worst:

The south of the country was hit by the crisis worse than the north.
The young animals were worst affected by the snow during last December.

much – more – most:

She proved that she deserved the prize more than anyone else.
Her husband was her most helpful friend, when she needed encouragement.

little – less – least:

The trip was less tiresome than they thought.
The accident happened when they least expected it.

far – further – furthest OR far – farther – farthest:

The sun is further away from the earth than the moon.
Points A and B seem to be farther apart than they looked on the plan.

N.B.: Many people are perplexed as to what the difference is between 'further' and 'farther'. We use 'farther' usually to express actual, physical distance, whereas 'further' refers to an extension of time or degree.

e.g.: We traveled farther in one week than any of us had expected. The trip took us even further into debt.
Further troubles arose as they walked farther into the valley.

There is more to it than what we’ve considered so far. We shall look into some more unusual cases of comparisons next time, and we’ll also tackle the comparative phrases and clauses.

Designing & Building a Website ~ PREselling vs. Selling

We talked about the CTPM process so far. That is Content -> Traffic -> PREsell -> Monetize.

Let’s focus today on the difference between “PREselling” and “selling”.

You see, the difference between an online business and a real business on a street, where people walk by and may enter your shop, even if they don’t know you in advance… is that online no one just happens to walk past your shop and enter ‘just in case’.

Online shoppers are looking for specific information/products, they are searching for credible high-value solutions. Once they know and trust you, they stop searching and they settle with you ~ they become your customers.

But for that to happen, you must give them what they want. You must demonstrate that you are trustworthy and respectable, as well as a knowledgeable expert in your field. This is PREselling.

Think of yourself – who would you buy from: a stranger who has a sales pitch on a website, where he pushes you to buy those products/services, or a knowledgeable friend/expert making a recommendation?

By PREselling, you put yourself in that position, of a knowledgeable and friendly expert. You create an open-to-buy frame of mind in your visitors and that is what produces the high conversion rates, i.e. the visitors who convert into buyers in the end, because they want to.

What do you need to do for this to happen? You need to make your targeted customers’ desires your number 1 priority. You need to let this priority lead any action you take. That means your desire to earn income will come second.

You can do this online, by working on your content. Online you will feel much more in control of steering your business, than in the harsh reality of the real world.

It won’t happen overnight – you can expect it to take time, but if you have the persistence to work at it, you will win in the long-run. Once the business takes its own momentum and it starts growing, you will need to put less effort into it, but you must never stop!

In our system – the SBI – we call this persistence the BAM: Brain, Attitude, and Motivation. This is what’s required for growing anything that’s worth achieving.

One of my students asked me if this is what I’m doing on this website and… you’re right! This is exactly what I’m doing – I put my time, effort and friendship into looking after the needs of my customers (= you, the readers of these pages), in order to create more traffic and more desire in people to come back for more. As you know, I didn’t have much free time in China to work on expanding the business, and the same happened last week, when I was overwhelmed with work over here, in Saudi Arabia. However, I expect things to improve and for this website to grow in an exponentially during this academic year.

So, to recap, these are the steps of building only the foundation of a successful e-Business:

i) Develop an entrepreneurial mindset [master the e-Business basics];
ii) Come up with a winning idea [develop your best site concept];
iii) Gain market insight [by using research tools, to eliminate guesswork];
iv) Plan a strong income strategy [investigate monetization options];
v) Develop a plan of attack [create your site blueprint];
vi) Take time to evaluate [is it a viable business option for you?];
vii) Make it brandable [if this is perfect for you, then position your niche and register a domain name].

We’re still working on point i) above, and next time we’ll start talking about developing the site concept and we shall look into the tools the SBI system offers in order for us to apply this in practice.

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 good weekend and a great week ahead. Have fun, as always!

My best wishes,

Lucia da Vinci

Founder of My English Club

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