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.

Dublin: A Nirvana For Folk Music Fans

Dublin is often referred to as the party capital of Europe; full of pubs, clubs and Irishmen extolling the virtues of ‘the craic’. One thing you will find in abundance in the Irish capital is traditional folk music and you certainly won’t have to travel very far around the streets of Dublin to find a place to have a jig and a swig!

Whelan’s in Camden Street, central Dublin is the place to visit for traditional and folk music. This exciting venue has had most of Ireland’s folk talent perform on its stage at some point. Just a stone’s throw away, also in Camden Street, is The Village another vibrant music venue, that’s well worth a visit.

Vicar Street – despite its confusing name – is not a street but a fabulous traditional music venue and can be found in Thomas Street in the heart of Dublin. This prestigious venue opened in 1998 promising to give Dublin a mid-size venue that would ‘punch above its weight’. It presents bands and solo artists that play all types and genres of music including traditional and folk, with big-name Irish bands such as the Dubliners appearing at this venue. Other artists that are slated to appear at Vicar Street include Dara O’Briain, Fionn Regan and Brendan Grace proving that it is living up to its promise to deliver quality acts.

Plus, you’ll find many more places where you can enjoy traditional folk music at most times of day or night. Bars, cafes and hotels in Dublin are all places where you can find Irish Folk Music being performed by eager and talented local musicians. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy just about any other genre of music in Dublin that takes your fancy, from rock to classical. So, if you are planning to visit Dublin, or just toying with the idea, make sure that you are prepared for ‘the craic’!

And if you are in any doubt as to how much the Irish love their music, take note of the following example. The Irish Post Office has recently started selling a series of stamps that pay tribute to four iconic bands whose roots are based in traditional Irish folk music; The Chieftans, The Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, and Altan. The bands have been chosen because of the success they have had in taking traditional Irish folk music to the world. The inclusion of Tommy Makem is quite poignant as he recently passed away, and these stamps make a fitting tribute to his life-time contribution to making Irish music popular throughout the United States. They are sure to become collectors’ items, so be sure to pick some up when you visit Dublin.

Understanding Your Current Personal Finance Situation

It is important: understanding your current personal finance situation is something that every person needs to do. By understanding what is going on with your personal finances you will be able to better control them. This can be one of the best ways to avoid money problems and debt.

Getting started is the hardest part. It can seem almost impossible to figure out where to begin when tackling finance issues. The best place to start is to simply look at expenses and income.

As the staples of a good budget, something every person should have, expenses and income are the main financial issues a person needs to understand. To begin you should gather all the relevant information. You may want to get bills, pay stubs and anything else that could help you list out your expenses and income.

The first thing to do is to track your daily expenses. This includes eating out, shopping and gasoline. You want to include these on your expenses list. You may need to gather receipts or actually keep a log for a week to be able to come up with an accurate account of your daily expenses.

Write out a list of expenses and then write out your list of income. At this point you should concern yourself with ensuring everything is listed. If your expenses or income vary then try to get a good average. You should have expenses separated into daily expenses and monthly expenses so you can see where your money is really going. Plus this will help when you go to budget your money.

Now you can begin to look at your debt. You should make out a list of your creditors. Your list should include the creditors contact information, the balance of your debt and the interest rate.

Now you should look at your personal finance accounts. This includes things like checking, savings and stocks. You want to list them all, including their current value or balance.

After going through your expenses, income, debt and personal finance accounts you should have a fairly good idea of where your personal finance matters stand. This should be a great platform for you to build upon to get your personal finances in good order. From this information you should be able to create a budget, get debt under control and best manage your personal finance accounts. You should be able to get the big picture about your personal finance situation and to understand it completely.