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Issue #020 -- Week 21/09/14-27/09/14
September 30, 2014

Greetings and General Information

A warm 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!

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 5

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.

You will find our past lessons as follows:

1) The NAMES and SOUNDS of the Letters - Issue 016
2) Short/Long Vowel Sounds & CVCs - Issue 017
3) CCVCs and CVCCs - Issue 019

1) CAUSE and EFFECT - Issue 016
2) Comparison of Adjectives - Issue 017
3) Comparison of Adverbs - Issue 019

Website building:
1) The Basic Concepts - Issue 016
2) Content vs. Monetize - Issue 017
3) PREselling vs. Selling - Issue 019

Pronunciation ~ Digraphs and Silent Letters

We covered the CVCs, CCVCs and the CVCCs so far, these being the pillars of the synthetic phonics system, which proved to have a positive impact on literacy levels among children in the UK, according to UK’s Department of Education.

Today we shall look at the category of ‘digraphs’, which are combinations of two letters that represent a single sound. These can be two vowels (vowel digraph) or two consonants (consonant digraph) as per the examples below:

Vowel digraphs:

‘ai’ as in rain, pain, disdain
‘ay’ as in day, pay, stay
‘ea’ as in teach, reach, breathe, flea, sea, plea, tea
‘ea’ as in bread, spread, breath, steady
‘ea’ as in break, steak,
‘ee’ as in free, bee, tree, knee, glee, fee, see,
‘ei’ as in eight, eighty, Eileen
‘ey’ as in key, keyword,
‘ie’ as in piece, niece, Nielsen
‘oa’ as in road, coat, goat
‘oe’ as in roe, Poe, foe
‘oi’ as in oil, ointment, stoic
‘oy’ as in oyster, toy, soy
‘oo’ as in book, cook, look
‘oo’ as in room, moon, soon
‘ou’ as in out, cloud, doubt, loud
‘ow’ as in slow, show, owe
‘ow’ as in now, bow, row, owl
‘ue’ as in true, blue, flue, glue

Consonant digraphs:

‘ch’ as in church, fetch, chop
‘ph’ as in phone, photo, photographer
‘sh’ as in shoe, shine, she
‘th’ as in then, father, there
‘th’ as in think, three, thorn
‘wh’ as in wheel, what, where

Now, for the silent letters – we have these at the beginning as well as at the end of words. Some examples are:

The ‘g’ in [gn]: gnat, gnome
The ‘k’ in [kn]: knee, knife, knight, knit, knock, knack
The ‘h’ in [rh]: rhyme, rhapsody, rhombus, rhubarb
The ‘w’ in [wr]: wrap, write, wrong, wreck
The ‘b’ in [mb]: climb, lamb, thumb, numb
The ‘n in [mn]: autumn, column, solemn, hymn

This is quite a simple chapter, it only needs practice – both for learning these rules and for retaining them in your memory.

Next time we shall start working on the ‘sight words’ I mentioned before. This is a big category which, once learned, will help you a lot in speeding up your reading.

Grammar ~ Special Cases of Comparison

In our last lessons we examined the comparison of adjectives and adverbs. OK, maybe I tickled your curiosity last time, about some more unusual cases of comparison, so let’s look at these today.

1) Comparison with a definite standard

Sometimes we have to deal with a standard, usually mentioned in context. For example you’re reading a book and they mention somebody’s height. Whatever they say, that becomes the ‘standard’ in that context. Everything else that is compared to ‘that’ afterwards will be a case of what we call “comparison with a definite norm”, the norm being the standard we set in the respective context.

- A: John is six foot tall.
- B: No, he’s taller (than that).
- B: Is he really as tall (as that)? / Is he THAT tall?

When we compare the same thing NOT to something else, but to the same thing at an earlier/later stage, we usually omit the ‘than’-phrase:

- The global warming is getting worse. (i.e. ‘worse than it was’)
- Criminals are becoming more difficult to catch nowadays, in spite of the more advanced technology the police have on their hands. (i.e. ‘more difficult than before; ‘more advanced than before’)

2) Expressing continuing change

In this case you can simply repeat the comparative word:

- Many men feel more and more out of tune with their partners lately.
- More and more wild foxes can be seen in big cities at night.
- As he trained intensively lately, he became stronger and stronger, so I won’t be surprised if he’ll win the gold this year.

3) Comparative with “enough” and “too”

These words indicate ‘as much as’ and ‘more than’ some desirable norm/standard.

This standard can be expressed by:

i) a to-infinitive clause;
ii) a for-phrase, or
iii) it can also be omitted, where the meaning is obvious.

i) a to-infinitive clause:

- The boy was strong enough to fight the illness off. (i.e. ‘as strong as necessary to fight it off’)
- That was just too good to be true. (i.e. ‘better than I could believe’)
- Some of the grammar rules in the English language can be too complex for a beginner to understand without any explanation. (i.e. ‘more complex than his/her ability to understand’)

ii) a for-phrase

That hat is too big for your head, I’m afraid. (i.e. ‘bigger than your head would need’)
Is the soup warm enough for you? (i.e. ‘as warm as you would like it’)

iii) Omission:

Are you warm enough? (i.e. ‘warm enough to be comfortable’)

4) Comparative with “so … (that)” and “such … (that)”

These expressions are similar to “enough” and “too”, just more emphatic – they underline the situation more:

- He drove so fast that we hardly saw anything around us on that trip. (meaning roughly ‘too fast for us to see anything’)
- Her cakes were so good that visitors always asked for more. (‘too good to abstain from eating more)

The “so … (that)” and “such … (that)” phrases also add a sense of result expressed by the ‘that-clause’:

- The exam was such a nightmare that he just wanted to forget about it.

The emotive emphasis expressed by ‘so…’ and ‘such…’ can also be understood in the absence of the that-clause:

- The whole trip was such an adventure!
- I’m so hungry!

5) Comparison with nouns: more of a success, etc.

Let’s firstly understand that certain countable nouns can have various grades of the quality they express. For example, you can imagine ‘a success’ on a scale from 1 to 10 – the success can be at the lower end or at the higher end, depending. Note we’re using the noun ‘success’, not the adjective ‘successful’.

- The party was more of a success than we anticipated (it would be).
- You’re less of a fool than I thought (you were).
- She’s too much of a cat to spare you the gossip.

Now, my friends, I think this lesson may be too complex, to justify adding the comparative clauses and phrases here, so I shall leave that aspect for next time. If you get to master these examples by next time it will be sufficient, I suggest.

Designing & Building a Website ~ Developing a Site Concept

We talked about the CTPM process so far, i.e. Content -> Traffic -> PREsell -> Monetize and about the difference between “PREselling” and “selling”.

I think those were easy introductory matters to start with - now it's time for us to step forward to finding and developing your best site concept. The rest of your business rides on your choice of Site Concept.

We shall only start looking at the big picture today. The entire process of narrowing down your ideas about your website will lead you to:

• Understand what makes a strong "Site Concept."
• Choose the 3 best potential Site Concepts to study.
• Use Brainstorm It!'s Seed Generator Brainstorm (optional).
• Research and analyze your 3 potential Site Concepts.
• Evaluate 7 factors for each Site Concept.
• Choose your preliminary Site Concept.

Step 1 - Understand what makes a strong "Site Concept."

A great niche or Site Concept must...

1. be in demand.
2. not be too broad. If your Site Concept is too broad, the competition will be severe.
3. excite you. Choose something that you know and love. Think "passion" and "knowledge" - if you have them, they will shine in your content.
4. be suitable for the time you have available to work on your site. If you only have 1 hour per week to work on your new business, don't plan for a huge website.
5. deliver high ROI potential. It must offer excellent options for monetizing traffic to your site. This ensures the ROI (Return on Investment) you want. Make every visitor to your site a possible income-generator. We shall talk about this later.

Step 2 - Choose the 3 best potential Site Concepts

Developing ideas for your best 3 Site Concepts is important. The final concept will be your business foundation, so you need to take your time.

You need to look at three site concepts because if you only have one idea for a niche, then you won't have anything to compare it against. In general, it's best to develop a "top 3" list and then use Brainstorm It!'s Site Concept Finder in Step 4 to compare and pick the best.

If you have an established business, you already know the general niche/concept of your site. Now you need to determine the best way to approach your concept.

This is how you need to think about choosing your site concept:

• If you love the subject matter, others will likely do, too. Good niches that are "just right" have an audience that identifies with your subject.
• If you know an area, you already have a pretty good idea of what might be "too broad" or "too narrow", Brainstorm It!'s data will be a big help!

Step 3 - (optional). Use Brainstorm It!'s Seed Generator Brainstorm

This is a facility used by the system I’m using for developing My English Club website that will help you select the best site concept out of the three you’ve chosen initially.

We need to dedicate a special lesson to this facility, for you to understand how we do this. For now, suffice to imagine this as a search into a database of keywords the search engines use, that relate to your chosen concepts.

The Brainstorm It!'s Seed Generator will help you to...

• spark a new niche or Site Concept idea, especially if you only have one in mind right now. The ideal is to have 3 ideas to run through the Site Concept Finder;
• clarify your thinking -- you know generally what you'd like to research, but need specific words to use;
• identify related sub-topics for a potential idea to see if it's a "keeper" or something you should drop;
• find out how narrow/broad one of your ideas is;
• help you decide -- perhaps you already have 3 good ideas to use with the Site Concept Finder, but you want to see if there might be something better related to one of those concepts;
• restart your research – No problem, this is all about preparing a solid foundation for your e-business.

Once you have three potential Site Concepts firmly in mind, your preliminary research is over and you are ready for...

Step 4 - Research and analyze your 3 potential Site Concepts and reduce these to THE BEST possible Site Concept for you.

It's time to brainstorm your potential Site Concept keywords simultaneously using Brainstormer's Site Concept Finder.

The Site Concept Finder will return...

• up to 333 keywords for each of three Seed Words you use (up to 500 words each if you enter two Seed Words)
• the Value Demand data for all the keywords, and
• the Real Supply data for all the keywords.

After any Brainstormer query, you end up at the Master Keyword List (MKL), which is the "analytical half" of Brainstorm It!. It's where you filter, sort, analyze and delete the keywords generated and researched by the "creative half", Brainstormer.

We will also need to look into the MKL's functionality and see its fine points of interpreting the data in a separate lesson, but until then, you can have my word that it is one of the most powerful tools in providing you with valuable and search engine popular words for your website, both in the early stages, as well as during your site building period.

Until then, you need to stick to our goal for this stage, which is to identify your best Site Concept. You started the process by finding some keywords with Brainstormer. Now it's time to analyze those keywords. The MKL allows you to study all 3 Site Concepts simultaneously, sifting out the ones that are too broad or too narrow, while zooming in on the ones that are profitable and fall inside your Site Concept Tolerance Range. This approach will lead you to your perfect niche, without doubt.

This is the big picture, my friends, of choosing your website's topic. As from next time we shall get more technical in order to unveil the functionality of:
- the Seed Generator Brainstorm;
- the Site Concept Finder and
- the Master Keyword List (MKL).

This Is It, Folks!

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 and I do hope to slowly get back into our previous stable arrangement of sending this e-zine to you every Monday evening.

Have fun, as always!
My best wishes,

Lucia da Vinci

Founder of My English Club

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