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Writing Cohesive And Coherent Essays

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“The pen is mightier than the sword,”

This axiom by Shakespeare holds the verity and relevance when compared to a sword. On the contrary, delving deep into the nuances of writing; the pen itself is not enough to make an effective writer. Although most of us may envision ourselves as the budding writers (no less than Shakespeare) but brainwave alone is not the key to effective essay writing.

The generic formula for effective essay writing is shared below:

The Five Paragraph Essay

Paragraph 1: Introduction
Paragraph 2: Body 1
Paragraph 3: Body 2
Paragraph 4: Body 3
Paragraph 5: Conclusion

The Introduction

The principle purpose of the introduction is to present your “thesis” on the topic. The essay should begin with a “hook” that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read on. Hence we start with a general idea about the topic and subsequently arrive to the main idea. The thesis should be a clear, one-sentence explanation of your position in an unambiguous manner .Following the thesis, a mini-outline is proffered which previews the examples you will use to support your thesis in the rest of the essay. Finally, designing the last sentence in this way has the added benefit of seamlessly moving the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the paper.

The Body Paragraphs

The middle paragraphs of the essay are collectively known as the body paragraphs supporting the main purpose of spelling out in detail the examples that support the thesis.

For body paragraph 1: The strongest argument or most significant example ought to be used at this juncture. The first sentence of this paragraph should be the topic sentence of the paragraph that directly relates to the examples listed in the mini-outline of introductory paragraph. Seal the deal by directly stating why this example is relevant. The topic sentence should be ornate with a transitional word and have a common thread to bind the other body paragraphs.

The Conclusion

As the final paragraph represents your last chance to make your case and, as such, should follow an extremely rigid format. One way to think of the conclusion is, paradoxically, as a second introduction because it does in fact contain many of the same features. Effective conclusions open with a concluding transition (“in conclusion,” “in the end,” etc.) and an allusion to the “hook” used in the introductory paragraph.

Introduction Paragraph

  • Attention grabbing hook
  • A thesis statement
  • A preview of the three subtopics you will discuss in the subsequent body paragraph.

Body Paragraph 1

  • Topic sentence with the subtopic coupled with a transition word
  • Supporting details with relevant examples
  • An explanation how the example supports the thesis.

Body Paragraph 2

  • Topic sentence with the subtopic coupled with a transition word
  • Supporting details with relevant examples
  • An explanation how the example supports the thesis.

Body Paragraph 3

  • Topic sentence with the subtopic coupled with a transition word
  • Supporting details with relevant examples
  • An explanation how the example supports the thesis.

Conclusion

  • Concluding transition, reverse hook and reinstatement of thesis
  • Global Statement or call to action

Tips to make your essays shine

  1. Plan and make a framework of your essay
  2. Include variety of expressions (ideas)
  3. Use transition words
  4. Use varied lexical range
  5. Engage in the art of paraphrasing
  6. Give your thoughts a structured approach
  7. Practice makes a man perfect

Hope these tips and techniques are useful and that they help you take your essay-writing to new heights.

EnglishMate is a chain of English Speaking Institutes by Hindustan Times that offers a range of courses to help you speak better English and get smarter. 

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Importance of Intonation

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From the vernacular Chaucer, tragic Shakespeare, classic Eliot, romantic Keats to the likes of fictional Bhagat, it cannot be denied that English has evolved over centuries; every language does!

Acronyms have replaced the large stash of words and oral conversations have been substituted by texts leading to misunderstandings and conflicts among the peers. Everything might change but there is only one aspect of a language that hasn’t lost its ground — intonation.

In common words, Intonation refers to the rise and fall of pitch and tone of a speaker to give stress to the relevant words in order to make his speech more effective.

Many of us have stopped giving attention to the tone altogether whereas others have actually taken time out to ponder over it a bit. Simply because no matter what is the mode of communication, importance of intonation is hard to be overlooked. Hence, there is only one solution left to this, a conversation for real.

What does intonation do?

Without intonation, our voices are flat and monotone. There is little interest generated in the audience. As a listener, the voice is bland to listen to. You tune it out. You may even fall asleep. Even if the speaker has great content, there is little desire to listen or to get passionate about the speaker’s message. Without intonation, you cannot understand the speaker’s feelings and the speaker’s attitudes. Are they really happy or are they very angry? Is there something exciting happening or perhaps a surprise of some sort? Is the person confident in what they think or say, or are they unsure of what they are thinking or saying?

When talking over the phone, we can express emotion and intention as much through the tone of our voice as through the contents of our conversation. While most of the time we do this without even thinking, a little consideration of how we do it can help us avoid misunderstandings and improve those all-important first impressions made over the phone. Here are few things that are to be kept in mind during a conversation:

Pitch

While some people naturally have higher voices than others, and women tend to speak in a higher pitch than men, we do tend to alter our pitch to convey emotions.

Pace

This is how fast or slow your speech is. While rapid speech may indicate that the speaker is nervous or excited, a steady pace shows confidence, or reflects a topic of a more serious nature.

Power

This refers to where you place the stress in a sentence, and can change the meaning of your speech almost entirely. For example, take the sentence “I didn’t say your cooking was bad!” Depending on where you place the stress in this sentence, you can elicit an entirely different response.

Tone

Tone is the easiest giveaway when it comes to emotion. We often think of vocal tones as being warm or cold. For example, the phrase “see you later” spoken in a warm tone implies excitement at the impending reunion, whereas spoken in a cold tone it could be a clue that the speaker isn’t particularly keen on seeing you after all!

Whether you watch news/ movie/ documentary on TV or merely listen to a conversation on FM you can observe the intonation in people’s voice and decide for yourself whether it really makes a difference or not. It is easy for all of us to relate to the fact that almost all of us know someone who makes us laugh just because of the way he/she says something funny (intonation- getting used to the fullest) and on the other hand the funniest of jokes can’t get us to even smile (No intonation or improper use).

So gear up friends, practice intonation and experience the difference.

EnglishMate is a chain of English Speaking Institutes by Hindustan Times that offers a range of courses to help you speak better English and get smarter.

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Effective Presentation Skills

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The opportunity to pitch your services to a potential client, spell out your business plan to a potential business partner, or promote your business at an event may require that you give a presentation. Whether or not your presentation achieves its desired outcome can be affected by your skills as a speaker, so it’s important to step in front of your audience with your best foot forward. The following points explain how to prepare, deliver, and answer questions about a killer presentation.

How to Improve Your Presentation Skills: Preparation

Stay focused & on your toes: No one is impressed by a presentation that rambles. Rambling happens when the speaker is both self-indulgent and unorganized. Your purpose and prose must be specifically directed to interests of your listeners or they will mentally shut you down. Even if you hit upon a topic of interest, you will lose them quickly if they can’t follow the logic of your ideas. Outline the structure of your presentation in a way that people can follow easily. Research your audience to make sure the topic is truly of their interest.

Mind your rate of speech: You’ve got a lot of material to cover, so you talk fast to get through all of it. If you need to talk fast, your presentation is too long. Plus, fast talk makes you sound either nervous or like a stereotypical “fast talking'” salesperson. Rather, cut your presentation down. If you’re talking fast because you’re nervous, write “SLOW DOWN!” on each page of your notes.

Don’t tell cock & bull stories: There must be a reason you are presenting to these people. Most likely you want them to take action of some kind.  Maybe you want them to get involved in an activity, or to make something happen in their own lives. They are not likely to ­take action just because you tell them to do so. You need to connect with them emotionally and inspire them to change their behavior. Stories do more for emotional connection than any other speech technique. Audience is very smart. Tell them compelling stories. The more personal and authentic the stories, the better the response.

Making personal excuses: You downgrade the audience’s expectations by offering an excuse in advance for your poor performance. (E.g., “I’m so tired”; “I got in late last night.”) You’re giving yourself an excuse so you won’t feel so bad if you fail. Plus, nobody wants to hear you to crib & cry about your problems to begin with.  Regardless of how you’re feeling, show enthusiasm for being there and put your best foot forward.

Reading from slides will bore them to death : Your slides reflect your thinking on a subject, so you read your slides aloud to the audience in order to replicate your thought process. Presumably everyone in your audience can read, so it becomes boring if it is re-read. Rather, use slides as visual signposts for the points you’re making rather than a written version or summary of those points.

Use Media Only to Enhance: PowerPoint, visuals and video are powerful presentation tools when used correctly. But they can be disastrous distractions when misused.

Do not ask for extra time: You feel you don’t have sufficient time to communicate your important information, so you request extra time to communicate it. If there’s less time because you’re late, you’re adding injury to insult. If it’s because your presentation is too long, well, your presentation is too long. Rather, adapt your presentation so as to fit the allotted time. If you’re late, end your presentation when it’s scheduled to end.

Videotape yourself – You can’t know how you come off to people until you see it. Recording yourself is the best way to target the areas where you can improve.

EnglishMate is a chain of English Speaking Institutes by Hindustan Times that offers a range of courses to help you speak better English and get smarter.

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English for Online Conversations

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“There are people who are realizing that online communication is the wave of the future,” says Don Knezek, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education.  It’s time we talk about the English we use online,  it’s also important to brush our conversational skills on the internet.

From email to chat messengers to  blogs, these days, everyone is communicating online. Understanding how to interact online safely and effectively in English is, and will always be important, but does anyone really talk about it? Does anyone teach us  the same?

Time is changing and it’s important to keep few things in mind while communicating online:

  • Begin messages with a salutation and end them with your name. (Email conversations)
  • Use a signature at the end of a message. (Email conversations)
  • Acknowledge and return messages promptly.
  • Be concise. Keep messages to the point.
  • Restrict profane or rude language. Avoid “flaming” (online “screaming”) or sentences typed in all caps.
  • Check grammar and spellings.
  • Do not use abbreviations and short forms, professionally.
  • Keep your messages to the point and keep discussions organised by adding to a relevant thread.
  • Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Spell check your message before clicking “Post” and try to proofread for other errors.
  • There’s a lot of evidence online, avoid using abusive language, gossip, nicknames, profanity etc.
  • Think before you post a blog, be careful not to hurt someone’s sentiments.
  • Be careful when using sarcasm and humour. It can easily be misunderstood as a personal attack. If you are being humorous, try to include smilies/emoticons in your messages to express such humour. They are very useful for letting people know that your comment is friendly.
  • Use words in brackets, such as (grin), to show your state of mind.
  • Use appropriate emoticons while chatting.
  • Use common acronyms which are usually understood.
  • If you are responding to a particular person address your post to them. You can use @ followed by their name (applicable to a group chat).
  • Avoid sarcasm. People who don’t know you may misinterpret its meaning.
  • Respect others’ privacy.
  • Don’t send spam messages.

So, keep these things in mind and avoid posting in anger, stop and take a break, make a nice cup of coffee, maybe a milder message would be more effective. Think about what you have written before you post it, that’s a plus when it comes to online conversations, you don’t have to reply instantly. If you absolutely have to disagree, do so politely. You should be sensitive to the others’ feelings and opinion. So, reply to the argument, not the author. It’s the world wide web, so respect other’s opinions. Be tolerant of other people’s mistakes. Not everybody knows the rules of conversational etiquette on internet, not everyone is posting in their native language, so be patient and remember, we were all once a newbie. It’s very important to be careful online with English, because it has nothing to do with the  tone, we cannot see or hear people behind the screen. So, be careful with English and keep your best foot forward.

EnglishMate is a chain of English Speaking Institutes by Hindustan Times that offers a range of courses to help you speak better English and get smarter.

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How to Improve English at Home

blog_post_2_wlEnglish language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time. Without second thoughts, we all know this is one of the most proficient and prominently used languages across the globe. With the growing trend of learning this language and the increasing number of English learning institutes, the most frequent question popping up in every learner’s head is ‘How to learn it ?’ Learning a non-native language takes a lot of practice and subsequently involves all aspects of it, right from listening and reading to writing and speaking.

One very prominent way to start fun learning of this language is to do it right in the comfort of your own home. Our own home is a peaceful place where we can learn the way we want to.

Reading out loud is one of the common ways to improve and understand how you sound to the listener. Reading silently can help train your mind in the English language. However, reading out loud will train your tongue to speak English properly. You can pick any book, poem or short story you want and start reading the words out loud.

There are other fun ways to learn and broaden the vocabulary range. Like, to play games that require you to read or speak in English. A good example is monopoly. Easiest and most likely is to chat with friends online. What better way to learn to speak in English than learning with friends? Instead of chatting with them through your keyboard, why not just do a voice or video call instead? This way, you can practice speaking in English in a conversational way and it eventually eradicates fumbling in our speech. This will be good practice for both the callers.

Another way is to record your voice yourself. This doesn’t need the involvement of another person and can be executed anytime you’re free. Recording yourself will help you know your pronunciation mistakes. To record yourself, you can use your smartphone, tablet or even your laptop. Simply start by finding a piece that you’d like to read, and then open up your device’s Audio Recorder and start recording yourself. Now, recording your own voice is just the first step. The more important step is to check if you’ve pronounced the words correctly. For this you may even take the help of different apps available online.

Listening is the foremost step towards learning any language. This way you improve your comprehension skills and also gauge other factors of spoken English like intonation and accent. Listening to your favorite soap operas, reality shows improvises your understanding in this language. You may start with listening to native speakers and understand their accent, intonation and rate of speech. Rate of speech is the number of words spoken per minute and the ideal ROS should be 120 words per minute. Not only listening and understanding will help the individual in the long run but also implementing the learning is of vital importance.

Any words we come across should not only be restricted to our walls of mind but need to be spoken and used frequently to make it a part of our vocabulary. Learning to speak with the correct Intonation, voice modulation and the right rate of speech comes requires a lot of practice and patience. Establishing a routine for your English time at home is better. We can use everyday situations and real objects from around the house to practice the language naturally and in context. For example: learning food vocabulary while cooking. Nonetheless, one has to be strong willed and quite passionate to learn English at home. It has to be intense and compassionate learning which later will yield the desired outcome.

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Importance of English in Career Growth

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Why do young professionals, be it a graduate or a post graduate (B.Tech, M.Tech, MBA, MCA etc) take up courses to polish their communication skills in English? Why are organizations these days engaged in training students and employees on effective communication skills in English? Why do parents leave no stone unturned to make sure that their children are sent to the best of schools? Years ago, the choice used to be between a good public school and a convent school. Today, the choices have extended to the international schools following IB curriculum. Whatever be the reasons for the different choices that parents make but one thing that is not debatable is the fact that almost all parents want their children to have the ability to communicate confidently and effectively in English

Ever wondered why? Well, one need not wonder because the answer seems quite obvious. Good command over English opens up various avenues for a bright career.

You may ask “Why English?”

People have been moving to different countries for better job opportunities. One of the most important aspects in getting a good job abroad is the command over English. TOFEL/ IELTS/PTE must be cleared in order to get good opportunities overseas. More than 2 billion people all over the world use English to communicate on a regular basis. Research shows that English is the business language across the globe. With globalization, all cross-border business communication is usually done in English. It’s presence in the global market place cannot be underestimated.

English is spoken across the globe due to Great Britain’s expansion during the colonial age. People in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and parts of Africa, India, and many small island nations speak English. English is the commonly adopted second language in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Moreover most of the content produced on the internet is in English, many of the world’s top films, books and music are also published and produced in English. So knowing English will allow you access to an incredible amount of information which may not be otherwise available. Research shows that English speakers in the world earn more money than non-English speakers. Being a comfortable communicator in English can help you land that first job in your new career and ensure a positive future. It can also make you better than other applicants and help you be a more effective employee. In fact, English serves as a stepping stone to leadership responsibilities and career advancement.

As the saying goes, ‘Whatever you are, be a good one.

If you can communicate well in English you can explain your ideas to others in ways that make sense and are easy to understand. You’ll be able to tell your supervisor what you need to do your job well. You’ll also be able to talk with co-workers to make sure you’re all working together for the benefit of the company and its customers. English is required for communicating in a variety of professional fields including: business, information technology, science, medicine, aviation, entertainment, radio, diplomacy and more.

So, if you have a good command over English, your opportunities for a well-paid and interesting career increase manifold. You’ll be able to work for, or deal with, international companies and organizations around the globe, which in turn may lead to opportunities to travel and broaden your outlook. English, when spoken with confidence and finesse, not only adds to the charisma, but also helps one accomplish their personal professional goals.

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Interview

What is an Interview?

The interview is the last step of the hiring process. It offers you and the employer the opportunity to meet one another and exchange information.

Preparing for the Interview

The process of applying for a job starts with an application. Probably no one ever found a job only on the basis of a well –designed resume or an expressive cover letter, but these things do go a long way in attracting the attention of an interested employer.  Once your resume is short listed then starts the main interview process.

Points to be noted during the Interview

The three Vs of the cycle of communication are

  • Visual- body language, eye contact, gestures, gait, posture and smile
  • Verbal- words, speech, articulation and content
  • Vocal- tone, accent, pitch, intonation and rhythm

Punctuality

  • Never be late for an interview- ten minutes early is on time but on time is late.

Entry

  • Hold your head up, put on a smile and be sure you look like you are enthusiastic about the opportunity. Be polite and cordial to everyone you meet, you never know whose opinion will count.

  Dress

  • Clothes should be formal, clean neat and tidy. Handbags and brief cases should be in good condition and shoes should be well polished.

Posture

  • Sit upright with your back straight. A good posture will show the interviewer that you are prepared.

 

Potential interview questions

Q1: Tell me about yourself?

Answer 1:  It’s probably your best chance to tell the interviewer on why you are the right one for the job. Here you can talk about your present skills, and a little bit about the experiences you gained at the previous position.

 

Q2: What are your strengths?  

Answer 2: Be prepared to talk about your strengths and skills and what you can bring to the organization. Mention something that would benefit the organization – motivation, enthusiasm, commitment, passion for a high tech environment and love for the work you do.

 

Q3: What are your weaknesses?

Answer 3:  Refrain from mentioning any weakness that is unfavourable for the organization.  For example, if applying for the post of team leader, do not mention indecision or short temper as your weakness.

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quantifiers

WHEN TO USE SOME AND ANY

The words Some and Any (Quantifiers that can be used with countable and uncountable nouns) are used to state the quantity or amount of something. Usually both ‘some’ and ‘any’ can only be used with plural countable nouns or uncountable nouns, but not usually with singular countable nouns.

 

Rules:

SOME:

  • Some is used in Positive statements (Affirmative). For e.g.:

 

  • She bought some
  • I want some
  • There are some exercise books on the floor.

 

  • Some is usually used in Offers.

 

  • Would you like some coffee?
  • Do you want some chocolates?

 

  • Some’ can be used in Requests.

 

  • Could I have some cheese, please?
  • Have you got some funny stickers that I could borrow?

 

  • Some is used with the plural form of countable nouns and it is also used with uncountable nouns.

 

  • I have some friends in Bangalore.
  • I need some water to drink.

ANY:

  • Any is used in negative statements. For e.g.:

 

  • My brother never ever does any
  • She didn’t buy any potatoes.
  • We haven’t got any

 

  • Any is usually used in Questions.

 

  • Is there any milk in the freezer?
  • Have you seen any good films recently?
  • Didn’t she buy any tomatoes?

 

  • Any is also used with the plural form of countable nouns and it is also used with uncountable nouns.

 

  • They didn’t sing any
  • There isn’t any water in the fridge.

EXCEPTIONS:

  • Any can be used in positive sentences having a negative feeling.

 

  • Neha left the house without any money
  • We hardly watch any television.

 

  • Some can be used in questions when we expect the answer to be ‘yes’.

 

  • Would you like some coffee?
  • Could you pass me some ice cubes?
  • Do you want some salad?
  • Any can be used in a positive sentence but the meaning changes .It means in the case where ‘it’s not important which one’. In this way it is most often used with singular countable nouns:

 

  • You can take any
  • Come over any Wednesday

 

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Common English Pronunciation Mistakes

The two most common causes of pronunciation errors are speaking too fast and not reading the word through.

  1. assessory or accessory ?

Tip: There is a double C with one pronounced hard

like accident and access.

  1. Affadavid or affidavit?

It is an affidavit and has no David in it.

  1. Fort or Forte?

The E on the end of forte is not silent. It sounds like the letter A : fortay.

  1. Parlament or Parliament?

There should be a Y after L: [pahr-lyuh- muhnt].

English does have spelling rules, a little difficult sometimes, and spelling often helps in pronunciation. Speaking carefully and reading actively are keys to good spelling and pronunciation.

Few common English pronunciation mistakes have been given below:

 

1)         FEBRUARY

Say:     /feb-ru-ary/                                                                              Don’t say:        /feb-rari/

2)         ATHLETE

Say:     /ath-lete/                                                                                   Don’t say:        /ath-eh-lete/

3)         ACCESSORY

Say:     /ak-se-sory/                                                                              Don’t say:        /asse-sory/

4)         COMB

Say:     /koomb/                                                                                   Don’t say:        /komb/

5)         BURY

Say:     /be-ri/                                                                                       Don’t say:        /bu-ry/

6)         WOMEN

Say:     /wi-min/                                                                                   Don’t say:        /wo-men/

7)         ALSO

Say:     /awl-so/                                                                                                Don’t say:        /aal-so/

8)         COLLEAGUE

Say:     /ko-lig/                                                                                     Don’t say:        /ku-lig/

9)         DILATED

Say:     /di-lated/                                                                                  Don’t say:        /di-a-lated/

10)       ET CETRA

Say:     /et-cetra/                                                                                   Don’t say:        /ek-cetra/

11)       HEIRARCHY

Say:     /hai-er-arky/                                                                             Don’t say:        /hee-rarky/

12)       WEDNESDAY

Say:     /wenz-day/                                                                               Don’t say:        /wed-nes-day/

13)       APOLOGY

Say:     /a-pology/                                                                                Don’t say:        /e-pology/

14)       ADVANTAGE

Say:     /ad-vantage/                                                                             Don’t say:        /ed-vantage/

15)       DEBT

Say:     /det/                                                                                         Don’t say:        /debt/

16)       ENVIRONMENT

Say:     /in-vae-ment/                                                                           Don’t say:        /en-viron-ment/

17)       PROMOTION

Say:     /pr-motion/                                                                               Don’t say:        /pro-motion/

18)       POEM

Say:     /poe-um/                                                                                  Don’t say:        /po-yum/

19)       EPITOME

Say:     /epi-tumi/                                                                                 Don’t say:        /epi-tome/

20)       ASTHMA

Say:     /az-maa/                                                                                   Don’t say:        /as-thmaa/

21)       DEBRIS

Say:     /deb-ree/                                                                                  Don’t say:        /deb-ris/

22)       PIZZA

Say:     /peet-zaa/                                                                                 Don’t say:        /pee-zaa/

23)       BOWL

Say:     /bol/                                                                                         Don’t say:        /baul/

24)       BREAKFAST

Say:     /brek-fust/                                                                                Don’t say:        /brek-faast/

25)       VIOLIN

Say:     /vaa-yuh-lin/                                                                            Don’t say:        /voee-lin/

26)       EXTEMPORE

Say:     /extem-puh-ree/                                                                                   Don’t say:        /extem-por/

27)       DENGUE

Say:     /den-gee/                                                                                  Don’t say:        /den-goo/

28)       COUPON

Say:     /koo-pawn/                                                                              Don’t say:        /koo-pun/

29)       TOMB

Say:     /toom/                                                                                      Don’t say:        /tomb/

30)       IRON

Say:     /ai-yun/                                                                                                Don’t say:        /aai-run/

31)       BANQUET

Say:     /ban-kwet/                                                                                Don’t say:        /ban-kwey/

32)       RESTAURANT

Say:     /res-tuh-raunt/                                                                          Don’t say:        /res-traunt/

33)       DATA

Say:     /day-taa/                                                                                   Don’t say:        /daa-taa/

34)       TOUR

Say:     /too-ur/                                                                                     Don’t say:        /toor/

35)       PRONUNCIATION

Say:     /pro-nun-cia-shun/                                                                   Don’t say:/pro-noun-cia-shun/

 

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