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Understanding Silent Letters in English Language

 

 

Understanding silent letters in English Language

 

A silent letter is simply a letter in a word that is written, but not pronounced, making things very difficult for non-native speakers

Some examples: ‘K’ in Knife, ‘W’ in Write, or the ‘G’ in Gnaw.

So, why do we even have these letters in the words at all?

It has to do with the evolution of the English language and merged influences from other languages, especially Latin and French. However, these new words from the other languages caused problems because they didn’t follow the same grammar rules as English. So, even though the spelling of these words remained the same, some letters had to become silent to conform to the rules of the English language.

Significance of Silent Letters

-They help the reader to distinguish between homophones in/inn, be/bee, to/too/two, know/no, whole/hole, knot/not.

-Magic ‘e’ – if you add ‘e’ at the end of short vowel sound words it elongates the sound – rid/ride, cop/cope, hat/hate, tap/tape, at/ate, mat/mate.

-Sometimes people might pronounce certain letters or they might not depending on their accent, for example the ‘t’ in ‘often’ can be pronounced or need not be.

-‘H’ is silent in a lot of accents. But the ‘H’ is silent in some words from French – hour, honest, honour, heir, herb (in American)

-They show the origins and history (etymology) of a word.

Some Examples of Silent Letters in Use:

 

A – artistically, logically, musically, romantically, stoically
B – climb, comb, crumb, debt, doubt, numb, plumb, subtle, thumb, tomb,
C – acquire, acquit, blackguard, czar, muscle, scissors, victual
D – handkerchief, wednesday
E – when added to the end of a word, it changes the pronunciation of the word, but is in itself, silent.
F – halfpenny
G – align, alight, champagne, diaphragm, gnash, gnaw, high, light, reign, though,
H – choir, exhaust, ghost, heir, hour, khaki, thyme
I – business
J-(none)
K – blackguard, knead, knell, knickers, knife, knight, knock, knot, know
L – calf, calm, chalk, folk, half, psalm, salmon, talk, yolk
M – mnemonic
N – autumn, chimney, column, condemn, damn, hymn, solemn
O – colonel – opossum
P – corps, coup, pneumonia, pseudo, psychology, ptomaine, receipt
Q-(none)
R – butter, finger, garden, here, myrrh
S – aisle, apropos, bourgeois, debris, fracas, island, isle, viscount
T – asthma, ballet, castle, gourmet, listen, rapport, ricochet, soften, thistle
U – catalogue, colleague, dialogue, guess, guest, guide, guilt, guitar, tongue
V-(none)
W – answer, sword, two, whole, wrist, writ, write
X – faux pas
Y-(none)
Z – laissez-faire, rendezvous

 

One way to start to love spelling and improve it is to take an interest in words, to discover the logic in the spelling system and to understand the background and history of words, and this especially is true for learning silent letters in English language.

 

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 Master Workplace Conversation

Workplace Conversation

 

“Sensitize & Strategize – Navigating your way through workplace conversation”

 

Have you ever had one of those moments at work when a colleague says something that is in poor taste? It’s easy to spot a moment like that. It’s usually followed by ingratiating laughter or in some cases, just awkward silence.

Surely most of us have been at one end of this conversation at some point or another.

Workplace conversation can be a tricky act to master. Let’s think about it – you spend an average of 8 hours (or more) in a closed space with the same people, day in and day out. It’s like having a family. You don’t get to choose your colleagues and you’re expected to get along with everyone. Some of these colleagues might even be your friends and they often are. But your workplace doesn’t afford you one luxury that your family does – the luxury of saying anything and everything.

 

Being friendly with colleagues often leads to friendly conversations. And sometimes people might say things that are disrespectful to another. There are several areas that are neither black nor white and these are the grey areas which are the knottiest. This is why we should steer clear of certain precarious topics

 

Here goes, workplace conversation strategy:

 

Religion

 

An area where conflict might arise is religion and religious practices. The rule of thumb is to always be respectful. An important thing to remember is to never make unfounded statements about another religion. Religion is a highly sensitive topic and must be handled with extreme caution.

Relationships

 

We sometimes get a bit antsy when people start to go beyond polite relationship talk. People often talk about who they’re going out with or getting engaged to or married to. There’s nothing wrong with that between friends. But when people cross the genial talk line and end up on the other side, it can be intrusive. It’s getting increasingly complicated to discuss relationships in workplaces because relationships are complicated. It’s easier to stay away from getting too personal with colleagues about their relationship status, their hook-ups and break-ups.

Politics

 

You must bear in mind that politics and political views are often the only ingredients you need to start a fight. Discussing politics is understandably a great conversation starter, but it needs dexterous handling.

 

There is such a thing as being too friendly- often, people use their friendly status with someone to say things that clearly don’t belong in the workplace. Commenting on someone’s looks, favorably or otherwise is a no-no. Sometimes we hear comments like ‘You look hot’ or “You should lose some weight’ casually flying about. If it’s the former, it can be tougher to respond to. No one dislikes a compliment. But compliments, in many instances can be a mask for inappropriate comments.

 

Workplace conversation is a ground that must be tread upon carefully. Be aware, note and report any red flags. A safe work environment is one where respect is the definitive sentiment.

 

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 Prepare and Deliver a Speech Effectively

 

How to deliver a speech effectively

 

 

1.       Focus on the Main Message

If you’ve been asked to give a speech, the first step is to choose a focused message. Even if you’ve been given a theme for your speech such as “inspiration” or “strength,” this is more a general umbrella under which your specific points (and point of view) will fall. Make a short list of five ideas for your speech. It can be helpful to write them in command form. “Strength” a brainstorm of five speech messages could include: “don’t ever give up, “overcome failure,” “build physical strength” and “know your strengths.” If you feel stuck for ideas, a reference to your current political or social context can bring new insight to your theme.

2.       Build Three Supporting Points

By focusing on your central message with supporting evidence, you strengthen it. A stronger message will resonate more with your listeners. To come up with supporting points, ask yourself “why” about the speech message you’ve selected. For example, for “don’t ever give up,” you’d ask, “Why should you never give up?” Make a list of several possible supporting ideas. Read through your finished list, and at the end, cross off the weaker ones that don’t support your main point.

3.       Keep your Audience in Mind

After looking into the central message and supporting points for your speech, you can flesh out the rest by considering your audience. Knowing who your audience are and what they are expecting from this encounter can help you pick the right tone to optimal effect.

4.       Be a Tactful Speaker

Some speakers choose to generalize complex topics in a speech because they think it’s easier for the audience to understand. It’s actually better to do the opposite. Listeners tend to connect better with concrete examples and personal stories, so embrace detail in your speech. A personal anecdote about why one shouldn’t give up is more effective than just saying not to. Areas where your passion and knowledge overlap are generally the richest. If appropriate to the context, don’t be afraid to tell a joke about the topic. A little self-deprecating humor goes down well with the crowd, one can always give it a shot.

5.       Brevity Is The Soul Of The Wit

Some of the most effective speeches of all times have been brief. “The Gettysburg Address” was only 15 minutes, while “I Have a Dream” was for 17 minutes. Aim for brevity. A good formula is to speak for less time than you’ve been asked to, as people tend to overestimate the attention span of their audience.

6.       Feedback is Important

As the speech has to be delivered to an audience, it is important to get feedback from theoretical listeners. Read your speech to someone you trust and ask for some honest feedback. In particular, it can be helpful to ask if anything is confusing or unclear. Your speech will have more impact if the message is engaging.

7.       Eye Contact is Important

During your speech, look at your audience while you are speaking.  Put the content of your speech, either fully written out or in bullet points, so you are not staring straight down at a piece of paper while you speak. Engaging your audience visually makes you appear secure and confident.

8.       Use Appropriate Gestures

A well-placed gesture can add humor or aid greater understanding of your speech. For optimal effectiveness, punctuate your speech with gestures when appropriate. If you’re a very nervous public speaker, try just resting your hands against the podium. It will make you feel steadier.

9.       Walk When Required

If your speech is informal, walking from one side of the stage to the other can help engage people sitting in different parts. It will draw your audience in and enhance your confidence.

10.     Use Props

If appropriate, bring props to punctuate your speech for your audience. This can be anything useful such as a graph to handout to all attendees or even a personal item to drive home your speech’s content. Props can personalize your speech and add interest or humor. Limit yourself to one or two props maximum per speech.

 

 

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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Developing The Four Essential Skills–Listening, Speaking, Reading & Writing

 

Developing the 4 Skills

Why are the four skills useful?

In-order to become a well-rounded communicator one needs to be proficient in each of the four language skills. These four skills give learners opportunities to create contexts in which to use the language for exchange of real information, evidence of their own ability (proof of learning) and, most important, confidence. Listening and reading are the receptive skills because learners do not need to produce language, they receive and understand it. These skills are sometimes known as passive skills. The productive skills are speaking and writing because learners are applying these skills in a need to produce language. They are also known as active skills.

 

Listening

Listening is a receptive language skill which learners usually find the most difficult. This often is because they feel under unnecessary pressure to understand every word. The listener has to get oriented to the listening portion and be all ears. The listener is also required to be attentive.  Anticipation is a skill to be nurtured in Listening. In everyday life, the situation, the speaker, and visual clues all help us to decode oral messages. In due course of listening, be in a lookout for the sign post words. Thirdly one should be able to concentrate on understanding the message thoroughly. Listening Skills could be enhanced by focusing on making the students listen to the sounds of that particular language. This would help them with the right pronunciation of words. To equip students with training in listening, one can think about comprehending speeches of people of different backgrounds and regions. This intensive listening will ultimately help a student to understand more on the accents to be used and the exact pronunciation of words.

 

Speaking

Language is a tool for communication. We communicate with others, to express our ideas, and to know others’ ideas as well. We must take into account that the level of language input (listening) must be higher than the level of language production. In primary schools elocution and recitation are main sources to master the sounds, rhythms, and intonation of the English language through simple reproduction. The manifestations of the language in games and pair work activities are encouraging source to learn to speak the language. This assists the learners to begin to manipulate the language by presenting them with a certain amount of choice, albeit within a fairly controlled situation. This skill could be improved by understanding para-linguistic attributes such as voice quality, volume and tone, voice modulation, articulation, pronunciation etc. This could also be further enhanced with the help of debates and discussions.

 

Reading

Reading is a learning skill. It helps you improve all parts of the English language – vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and writing. It helps to develop language intuition in the corrected form. Then the brain imitates them, producing similar sentences to express the desired meaning. Using skimming or scanning technique to read quickly is highly effective. While reading underlining of key words is a must. Reading Skills help the students grasp the content and draw conclusions. The students should also make it a point to familiarize themselves with the jargons and new words by making reading a habit be it reading newspapers, articles, books, magazines etc

 

Writing

Writing provides a learner with physical evidence of his achievements and he can measure his improvement. It helps to consolidate their grasp of vocabulary and structure, and complements the other language skills. It helps to understand the text and write compositions. It can foster the learner’s ability to summarize and to use the language freely. To write flawless language one should excel in the Writing Skills with the help of various methods. Importance should be given to composition and creative writing. One should also focus on coherence and cohesiveness when it comes to writing a language.

With these four skills addressed equally while learning English, the learners can be assured of having good communication skills, a great necessity in today’s competitive world.

 

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 Lead Phone Conferences?

Leading Phone Conferences

The conference call is one of the most familiar rituals of office life. Leading a conference call is just like leading any other meeting, only you are not able to see if people are engaged .What this reality demands is your usual mode of leadership accented with a slight mechanical bearing.

When the recession hit, many companies cut costs by greatly reducing the number of in-person meetings. This forced employees into using conference calls as an alternative means of communication. Conference calls can be a productive and efficient way to hold a meeting, especially for individuals who would otherwise have to travel long distance to attend meetings which may at times just be for half an hour whereas the travel time could even be 2-3 hours or more.

However if the call is not conducted in a professional and organized manner, it can be a waste of time for everyone. Chairing a conference call gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to manage & direct others.

HERE ARE A FEW TIPS:

  • Make sure all participants have the number to call with necessary details like why are you meeting, when and where is the meeting, who is attending, making sure that right people are on the call and starting and ending it on time is also important.
  • Begin with the summary of an agenda and purpose of the meeting. Have people introduce themselves quickly. Speak loud & clear.
  • Write down important points during the call, so you can raise them when you get a turn to speak. When not speaking, attendees should mute their phone/ mic, especially if they are in a place where there is a lot of background noise.
  • Everyone’s time is valuable, so it’s important to keep the meeting moving along and cover all agendas.
  • Review action items and other important take-aways at the end of the meeting. Confirm that everyone is in agreement with next steps.
  • Always sign off from a conference call with a formal goodbye. It’s a phone call after all, and you would do the same thing if you were talking to a person one to one.

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 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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Common Mistakes To Avoid In An Interview

Shalini was interviewed for her dream job last Monday, but she showed up late, wore the wrong attire and as a result she couldn’t put together a sentence or two. She fumbled, looked unprepared and guess what? She couldn’t make it. It happens to the best of us, when we go unprepared. It is not just knowledge and experience, we need to understand the importance of so many things, be it our dress sense, confidence, body language, attitude etc. Understand that, keeping a few things in mind will definitely help you do fairly well in your interviews.

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Show them you would be a great hire and avoid making these common mistakes:

Negative body language and inappropriate behaviour

If you never smile, have a limp handshake, and don’t make eye contact with the interviewers, you’ll come across as too shy or too strange or simply not interested. Show your interest in the position you are applying for.

So, smile, say hello, look them in the eye, and shake hands as though you really are happy to meet them.

Restrict yourself from being too entertaining or amusing. Inappropriate behaviour leads to its adverse effects.

Appearing uninterested

If there is one vacancy, then there is no dearth of people applying for the same. That means, the employers have enough choice, therefore, if you don’t show interest in being a part of that company they certainly aren’t interested in hiring you.

Ask intelligent questions that indicate that you have done some research, if you don’t seem prepared and diligent; it shows you’re unprepared and lack of preparation is an opportunity crusher.

Preparation will help you demonstrate your interest in them and the job. You will also perform better in the interview when you are prepared.

Sharing inappropriate information

Sometimes, people have a whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth mind-set in a job interview, so they “spill their guts” in answer to every question. Not smart or useful! It’s not recommended that you tell lies, but avoid boring the interviewer and blowing an opportunity by sharing too much information. If they want more details, they’ll ask.

Unprofessional questions

To an employer, no question means lack of interest. During the first interview, asking questions only about raises, promotions, vacation, and benefits are not usually well-received. Those questions apparently indicate that you are just interested in specific personal benefits rather than the job.

Instead, ask for details about the job like, what an average day is like, if the job is new or being filled because the previous employee was promoted, etc.

Not enough research

Do a thorough research on the profile of the company by visiting their website, Research about their missions and aims, locations, if they are a part of a larger organization, their subsidiaries, and work of the subsidiaries.
Note the names of their products and/or services and get familiar with what each does.
Research about the officers named on the website, their location, any common background with any of them. (Hometown, school, previous organization, etc.)

It’s easy to make these mistakes without even realizing, and many of them are more common than you might think! Take the time to prepare, so you don’t have to stress out about blunders after the interview. Good Luck!

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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Tips To Write An Impressive Resume

Writing a resume is often the most arduous activity of the entire job application process and one which requires painstaking attention to detail. EnglishMate, English speaking institutes from Hindustan Times, lists a few points that one should consider while writing their resume.

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How long should a resume be?

Most recent graduates should confine their resumes to one page. If your resume goes to a second page, make sure your margins are not too wide (no more than 1” left and right and as little as ½” top and bottom). If the headings are on the left, stack the words (e.g. “TEACHING” with “EXPERIENCE” under it, rather than next to it).

What should one include?

  • Name: Start with your NAME (we suggest upper case bold for name only), and complete contact information (address, phone and email address).
  • Certifications: List professional certifications and licenses with dates received. (Chronological Order)
  • Education: Summarize your education in reverse order, starting with your last degree or the one you are working on now. Include school name, city, state, degree, major, date degree was – or will be – conferred and honors.
  • Courses: To tailor your resume to a specific job, you may include a list of “relevant courses.”
  • Honors/Awards/Activities: Use one or more categories as appropriate, highlighting achievements such as scholarships, Dean’s List, leadership roles in clubs, campus/community organizations, sports or other accomplishments.
  • Research: If applicable, you may include special projects or research, highlighting significant relevant classroom learning experiences such as research projects, independent study, special presentations, and major papers.
  • Experience: Your experience, regardless of how you acquired it (full time or part time jobs, internships, and community or college service) is usually of chief interest to the reader. For each position, include: Job Title (followed by dates of employment), Employer, City, and State. Emphasize (put first) either employers or job titles, but be consistent! Describe responsibilities, duties and accomplishments, preferably using list format with bullets.
  • Skills: Of great interest to employers! Indicate computer hardware and software knowledge, fluency in foreign languages, or other technical skills. If you have several of each, use separate categories.
  • Interests: List interests only if you are really knowledgeable about something or very good at it.

How do you make your resume look professional?

  • Include no personal information: age, health, marital status, height, weight, religion.
  • Never use the first person “I.” Do not use full sentences. Eliminate all unnecessary words (a, the).
  • Never lie or exaggerate.
  • Add to the eye appeal of your resume by varying the typeface for emphasis: bold, underline, italic, UPPER CASE, etc. (Use italics for emphasis only – perhaps your job title – never for the entire resume.) Use an attractive legible typeface such as Times or Arial, not an old-fashioned font such as Courier.
  • Use “bullets” (•, ♦, *, −) for listing items under a heading description, such as experience.
  • Proofread carefully. Grammatical, content and typographical errors may eliminate you immediately from consideration for an interview. Ask others to proofread the resume as well.

What is the most important feature of a successful resume?

Here are some pointers:

  • Use action verbs to describe your duties and accomplishments, depicting yourself as someone who gets the job done: one who “created . . . published . . . solved” – not one who merely “participated in” or was “responsible for.” Avoid using “assisted” – say what you did. Vary the vocabulary. For present jobs, use present tense verbs and for past jobs, use past tense.
  • Emphasize skills and experience related to the job you want and to the employer’s needs.
  • When describing your experience, use detailed descriptions that give the reader a picture of you as an individual (“Adapted lesson on dinosaurs to learning styles of autistic children”) rather than vague descriptions that make you sound like everyone else (“Followed the curriculum of cooperating teacher”).
  • Quantify accomplishments by citing numbers, percentages, etc., where appropriate.
  • Put the most related and impressive accomplishment first within each job description.

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