Pronunciation: Get Better In Another Language

Pronunciation can affect how we communicate. Many people, who have had a go at learning a foreign language, have experienced that sinking feeling when they try a well-constructed sentence in another language only to be met with a blank face.

Why is this?

Languages are built on sounds. If I speak English and live in an English-speaking country I expect a speaker to say sounds in a particular way. In French or Spanish I would expect to hear different sounds. When we can’t recognise the sound we try and adjust how we are listening, a bit like tuning a radio, but if we can’t guess the sound, the chances are we won’t understand what is being said.

The Blocks of Pronunciation

Pronunciation has two main aspects to it, physically producing it and the sound that is produced from it, the hearing of the sound. As we get older the ability to do both of these, i.e. physically work out how to make the sound and recognise it, can diminish. This doesn’t mean we can’t continue to learn new languages but we need some extra tricks to help us.

Let’s look at some ideas on what we can do when we learn a new language.

How am I saying it?

Try saying the letters. Notice how your mouth is working. If you don’t know how a sound is physically made you may find it harder to say it.

What sounds are the same?

English has many more sounds than other languages but it also has a lot of sounds in common with other languages. Good dictionaries in a new language will usually offer an English sound or word to compare with. Use it to check what sounds are similar.

Which sounds are hard to say?

Go through the alphabet of the new language and mark out the ones you find hard to say. Give them some attention. Try and physically make the sound and see how your mouth works. Say the alphabet. Look at how children use the alphabet song in English to help them remember the alphabet, doing the same in a new language will also help memorise the letters and sounds.

Read out loud.

Find some reading form your course book or any other book. There are two advantages here. One you get to say the letters and words. Secondly you get to practise sounds that you expect to hear and you become accustomed to the sounds of the language.

How good do I need to be?

There is much discussion on this. For many of us the ability to get by in other languages is good enough. If we can say what we want, simply, slowly and the person we are speaking to, can understand us, then our pronunciation is probably good enough. After that it is a matter of choice. Some people become very good at other languages and get to very good levels of pronunciation. Not many of us are such gifted linguists but there’s no reason why we can’t make the words so that people can understand us.

Some Of The Most Popular Card Games For Kids

It may surprise you to hear that kids can be entertained by products other than high-tech, high-dollar video game systems, DVDs, and television. They don’t have to spend their game-playing time blasting aliens, swinging digital golf clubs, and blowing up buildings. Amazing as it may sound, kids really do enjoy traditional games like board games and card games. Card games are a great way for you to spend more time with your children and get them away from the television. In addition to being fun, card games can be educational.

One such fun, educational card game for children is CardWord. The CardWord deck consists of cards with letters on them instead of numbers. The object of the game is to spell words. It’s challenging and educational.

Another fun, thought-provoking card game for kids which you’ve probably played yourself is Concentration. This can be played with a conventional deck or you can purchase specially made decks which feature fun pictures, words, numbers, etc. The cards are laid out face-down and the object is to find the matching cards. This game, of course, develops concentration, and almost every kid loves it.

Some other old favorites are Old Maid or Go Fish. Probably the most loved of all card games for kids is War. Kids of all ages can learn the simple rules to this game which can keep them occupied for as long as any video game.

One of the more acclaimed card games for kids is Apples to Apples Jr. This game consists of cards that on one side have red or green apples on them, and on the other side they have a word with its definition. The object of the game is to match the word on one card that best fits with the word on another. For example, if the word “beach” is laid down, then the winning card will likely be “sun” or “ocean”. The winner is determined by a player acting as judge. This allows for a lot of leeway.

Uno is a game almost everybody has played. Uno is great because it can be tailored to suit children of all ages. If your child is very young and not able to comprehend complex rules, you can ignore the cards which involve skipping turns, drawing extra cards, and you can ignore the wild cards. With older children, you can utilize the entire deck and you’re likely to find yourself in quite the Uno battle with your progeny. Be assured that even if you’re playing your best, you’ll lose to your kids sometimes, and they’ll love it!

Card games provide a wealth of educational and entertainment possibilities for children. Even at their most formative stages, children can learn about words and numbers from card games. Card games will improve their concentration and enhance their logical reasoning abilities.

The Best Designer Board Games

Designer board games are something that is generally considered to have been started in Germany, and while sometimes referred to as German style board games, this title can be misleading. Designer board games have come from nearly every country and all have great success stories in the popularity they enjoy with fans. Many different Americans, for example, have produced vastly popular designer board games. A number of designer board games do come from Germany, however, but despite the intimidating nature of the titles, players should feel comfortable with any of these games. They often are similar to many games that players already know and love, but often present some form of twist or enhancement that can make them even more enjoyable!
Good designer board games all feature some sort of theme which unites the strategy and methods used within the game. Sometimes these themes can seem somewhat bizarre and unsuitable for a game, but that is also part of the charm of the designer game. Once such game, Bohnanza, is technically about bean farming, which causes many a player to raise an eyebrow. However, the real game deals with heavy negotiation and trading between players. By using different cards dealt from the deck, players must plant different bean crops, trade for certain bean crops, and eventually harvest the crops to gain money in return. The player who, at the end of the game, has the largest amount of money wins. While initially sounding a bit ridiculous, Bohnanza provides players with much enjoyment as the strategy needed in the game always changes based on the other players.
Tigris and Euphrates is another designer board game which enjoys much popularity with fans. Based on ancient civilizations, this game gives players the chance to act as neighboring dynasties which are clashing over this region. Players randomly select tiles from a bag and during the game, place these tiles in strategic positions around the board, gaining control of areas to expand their kingdoms. Different tiles stand for different aspects of the game and through careful placement, players can build and strengthen their domains in ways that will reap vast benefits. At the end of the game, players collect points based on the numbers and types of tiles that they have placed, and the player with the largest number of tiles is declared the winner of the game.
Scotland Yard is a designer game that pits one player against the others in a team. One player is designated as “Mr. X,” a fugitive from the law who is running around London, trying to avoid capture. The other players all form the law enforcement team trying to arrest him before a certain time limit has passed and Mr. X can roam free. The board is a map of London, marked with certain transportation routes and all of the stops along those routes. All players are forced to travel along these routes, with Mr. X trying to evade capture while the other players pursue. The twist is that only 3 forms of transportation are available and each one can only be used a certain number of times by the police team.
Much strategy and careful teamwork is required with these games, as with most designer board games. However, with the many different varieties and themes available, it is no wonder that they have become as popular as they are. Everyone should be able to find a game that suits their interests!