Practical language tips 2

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How to manage your accent when speaking in English

First things first, having an accent is not bad. We all have different accents in Manitoba and it’s amazing! When we say “manage your accent,” it means handling your accent when it gets in the way of being understood. For example, if the people around you keep asking you to repeat what you said, you may not be speaking as clearly as you think. Here are 3 tips to help you speak clearly despite having an accent:

  1. Speak slowly – When we’re not sure of our English, we tend to speak really fast hoping that others won’t notice our mistakes. Don’t worry about mistakes! Just relax and speak slowly. This can help you say the words clearly. But don’t speak too slowly, you’re not a robot!
  2. Enunciate – This means pronouncing words better and with more emphasis. Take time pronouncing, especially the most important words in your sentence clearly. Some people may not understand the rest of the words but it will be enough to guess what you mean.
  3. Record yourself speaking – Sometimes we don’t know that we can’t be understood because we don’t really listen to ourselves talking. The best way to hear how you speak is to record yourself. Get a few sample sentences from a book or even a dialogue from a movie. Record your voice then listen to the recording and check what you can do to improve. You can even ask your friends or teacher to listen to your recording and give you pointers.

Remember that you don’t have to sound exactly like a native Canadian to be understood. Keep your accent! It’s part of who you are. See you next time!


Don’t like reading? Here’s what you should do

Everyone says you need to read in order to learn English better. This is true. Reading is the best way to improve your vocabulary, grammar and sentence construction. But what if you don’t like reading? Here are some suggestions to help you out:

  1. Start small – If books and novels intimidate you, choose shorter pieces. Read short stories, magazine or newspaper articles, even blogs. This will work for people with shorter attention spans. If you are a visual learner, try reading comic books and graphic novels. Don’t think they’re only for kids. There are so many varieties of these books today, many with complicated stories and rich vocabulary which adults can also enjoy.
  2. Read only what you like – Many people hate reading because they remember that their teacher required them to read books in school, most of which they considered boring. Erase those bad memories by reading only what you like. Choose books or magazines aligned with your interest, on topics that get you excited. For example, get joke books if you enjoy laughing out loud. The most important thing is to just get started.
  3. Make a game out of it – Challenge a friend to finish a book in one week (choose a book that you both like or chose a book for your friend and your friend in turn, chooses for you). Make it more exciting by placing a bet: whoever doesn’t finish the book will have to treat the other out for coffee or maybe do the dishes for a week. You might be motivated by the challenge and who knows, both of you may start reading as a regular habit!
  4. Watch a movie that was based on a book, then read the book – This can make reading more exciting for you because you’ll look forward to comparing the movie to the book version. You’ll want to find out which parts were left out, or added in the movie. Or even check if the movie adaptation was faithful to the original story. Just like a movie critic, you can decide which medium told the story better.

I hope you’ll try these suggestions. Happy reading and see you next time!


How to write better in English

Writing down your ideas in English can be hard. Even starting is difficult. Writing in English should not scare you! Here are my 3 easy tips to help you out:

  1. Make an outline – First, think about what you will say. Then, make a list. You don’t have to use complete sentences; use bullet points. The purpose of the outline is to help you organize your ideas. This list will become your guide. Once you have a guide, you won’t be so scared to start writing because you will see that your work is now divided into small manageable parts. All you need to do is explain each point further and maybe add examples.
  2. Use short simple sentences – Remember to be brief and concise. What does this mean? You don’t have to use long, complicated words to make your writing look sophisticated. Use exact and simple words that everyone can understand. And remember, short sentences are clear and elegant. Have one idea per sentence and go straight to the point when you write. This makes your writing interesting and easy to read. Remember to follow this in any kind of writing.
  3. What if you can’t remember the exact English words? – You can try these techniques:
    • Use your native language first and then use Google translate. After seeing the direct translation, look the word up in the dictionary. Use the dictionary to make sure that you will be using the word in the correct context and tense.
    • Think of a related word and then look it up in a thesaurus. The thesaurus can give you a group of words to choose from with similar or related meanings.
    • Use Google. Find the exact word you’re looking for by putting your sentence in between quotation marks and using an asterisk in place of the missing word. For example, you want to describe winter in Canada but you can’t remember the exact English word to write. On the Google search tab, write “Winter is * in Canada.” In the results, you will see many suggestions (for example: Winter is long in Canada, Winter is long and very cold in Canada, Winter is the longest season, Winter is a beautiful time in Canada, etc.).

    And one last tip: Make it a habit to review and proofread what you wrote even if it’s just a short note or text. This will make your writing accurate and polished. Keep practicing!

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