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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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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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English Speaking at Workplace    

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Two international corporations active in India, Thomson Reuters and Unisys have invested in Business English and have seen significant results in their employees’ skill sets, career development and communication abilities. A study identified an increase in English language proficiency across the country within the past two decades, from only 11% in 1991 to approximately 20% by 2005.

A person can make rapid strides in his career if besides the mandatory skills that are required, he also can speak English fluently and effectively. If you do not possess this most sought after skill set, it is considered as a serious handicap for any aspiring professional. Due to globalization, using English at workplace has many benefits, like the success of the organization you are working with, building and improving relationships at work, enhancing and developing your own skill set etc. It’s considered to be a huge asset to be able to speak good English, especially if you are associated with a Multi-National Company.

Most of the companies believe that better English improves the productivity of employees. Proficient English language skills can give you more opportunities to expand your career prospects. This language is essential if you want to get ahead in today’s fast-paced global economy, whether you are looking to secure your ideal job, or to be more productive at work, or simply to increase your chances of promotion.

Companies need a language strategy, especially if they have global aspirations. Companies are finding it easy to adapt English as a common language of business. Good English allows one to communicate effectively with international clients, helping them to trust the company that results in strong and lasting business relationships. Multinational companies need to interact with clients and business partners across the globe, and those who ignore the need for a language strategy limit their growth.

People who regularly use English at workplace, use it for various purposes like meetings, negotiations, report writing, presentations, training, sending e-mails, making sales calls, social gatherings etc.

It is estimated that over 50% of the pages on the internet are written in English which means that more online information is available to people who can read English. Having access to so much more information can make a real difference to your professional life, even if you don’t work with colleagues or clients who speak English. You may find that information from a website written in English may help you to understand a project better or provide some useful information for a report.

It’s said, ‘Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we think about.’

There are many benefits for proficient employees as well. As employees become more fluent in the language, they develop confidence and feel more secure at a time when jobs come and go. Being proficient in English could open doors for them; they can take on more and more roles that require English speaking ability. Career advancement and a fatter pay cheque are among the many benefits. English communication is of paramount importance in today’s globalized workplace.

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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Tips To Crack A Job Interview

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Know Yourself- Skills, Accomplishments, Goals

This is the first step you need to take to prepare for an interview. Just as successful salespeople must know everything about the product they sell, you must know your skills and be able to “sell” them to an interviewer. It is what your skills, accomplishments and goals actually are.

Usually, one of the first questions you will encounter in a job interview is, “Tell me something about yourself.” By making a list of your skills and accomplishments that match the employer’s requirements, you can answer this question with ease and start the interview on the right note. The closer your skills and traits are to the job description, the better chance you have of landing the job.

Preparing for an interview  

Self-Assessment

An important part of knowing yourself is having an accurate assessment of your qualities and skills.

Identifying these before your interview is important, you will want to use some of these traits to “sell” yourself in the interview. Using the scale below, rate your perception of your competence in each quality and skill.

      4              3            2            1          0

Excellent  Good  Average  Weak  Poor

Personal Qualities

  • _____ Enthusiastic/Energetic
  • _____ Resourceful
  • _____ Goal Oriented
  • _____ Competitive
  • _____ Responsible/Reliable
  • _____ Effective Team Member
  • _____ Analytical
  • _____ Creative
  • _____ Ability to teach/train
  • _____ Motivating
  • _____ Effective communication.

NOTE: Think of examples for each rating of 3 or 4. You can use these examples during your interview.

Research the Company – Learn as much as you can beforehand

Just as in learning any skill, successful interviewing requires preparation and practice. This is not the best time to try and “wing it.” A successful interview is very much like a sales encounter. You must demonstrate your interest by finding out everything you can about the company and the position before the actual interview. The kinds of things you should know about the company include:

  • How long has the company been in existence?
  • What services does the company provide or what products does it make?
  • Who are their major competitors?
  • Which is the parent company?
  • What are the company’s assets and earnings?
  • Does the company have any international operations?

Prepare Your Questions­­­­­­

Know the purpose of asking questions

  • Questions demonstrate interest, preparedness, critical thinking, and desire to achieve.
  • Good questions reveal your knowledge about the job, show that you pay attention, and establish a personal connection with the interviewer.
  • Allows you to learn more about the position and the organization. Helps you determine if the position and organization are right for you.
  • Gives you the opportunity to further “sell” your qualifications by gathering specific information from the interviewer. By listening to the interviewer’s responses to your well thought-out questions, you may learn more about the organization’s needs and prepare accordingly.

Practice, Practice, Practice

When preparing for an interview, practice in front of the mirror and work on your voice modulation and clarity in speech or you may even record your voice and do the self-evaluation.

During the Interview

Be Prompt and Prepared

On the day of your interview you should plan to arrive 10 – 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. Be sure to ask for accurate directions and take into consideration the distance you must travel to reach your destination, you might encounter traffic, parking issues, and even time zone changes if it’s a long trip and remember to carry all the important documents and of course, a copy of your resume.

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 – Foundation for Young Kids’ Future

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English is one of the most important languages in the world because it is the only language that truly links the whole world together. English bridges the gap and connects multi-cultural and multi-linguistic people. The presence of English as a universal language assumes importance in the fact that more and more people leave their countries not only for the sake of business and pleasure but also for studying. So, education has increased the role of English.

Being confident in English can give a child an early advantage at school, helping him make the most of his education, qualification and career opportunities that lie ahead. Therefore, English plays a significant role in shaping a child’s career. Young children pick up languages more easily because their brains are programmed to learn their mother tongue which also facilitates learning another language. At a young age, children are enthusiastic and curious to explore and learn new things. We cannot underestimate the role of English as a medium for education.

Whether your child is at primary level or at post graduate level, English as the medium of learning cannot be neglected. Your child will be able to excel in his or her studies if he or she has a good command over English.

Internet, which has come up as an advanced tool of imparting education is confined more to English which emphasizes the importance of the language again. A kid who aspires for a bright future, dreams of a high profile job, needs to have a strong foundation in English. One can prove one’s capabilities only through language and the potential to use English efficiently is in fact necessary for effective communication. Although, internet facilitates every forum in many languages, still English is the universal language and there are many sites which are only accessible in English and no translations are available. Books, which are another medium of teaching and learning, are mainly published in English. Sometimes, the translated version misses out on conveying the real message. This ultimately proves that English has become a inseparable part of our lives.

India is a land of competition. There are millions of candidates who possess similar qualifications but may not have effective communication skills in English which is almost mandatory to carve a niche for themselves in this cut throat competitive world. So we should ensure that the kids get ample opportunities to polish their communication skills.

Having good command over English opens up various avenues including the opportunity to work overseas. The future of your child with a strong foundation in English will definitely be bright because of the additional confidence it infuses in him/her.

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