How To Make Smoother Conversation

Learn to speak English fluently at Language Link VietnamQuestions are a terrific way of opening talk up. After all, we often open conversations with easy questions – How are you doing? Hey, how’s it going?

Today I want you to think about some techniques for making communication go more smoothly. About that…and about tennis.

Think of conversation like a friendly table tennis match: I hit a question to you; you hit me an answer right back. But you need to be relaxed about this. You don’t want to sound as if you’re a policeman questioning a suspect!

Here’s how to promote ‘give and take’ when you talk to someone. The secret is: be aware of question tags, and how they’re used in conversation.inflatable football tunnel

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Take the Phonetic Challenge!

In an earlier post, we told you about the International Phonetic Alphabet, also known as the IPA.

The IPA is useful for language learners because it tells you exactly how a word ought to be pronounced. For example, when you look up the word “foreign” in the dictionary, the phonetic spelling will appear to you like this:

/ˈfɔrɪn/

The phonetic spelling tells you exactly which vowel to use (/ɔ/) and it tells you where the stress should be (/ˈfɔr…). In other words, it tells you exactly how to pronounce the word.

So how good is your phonetic spelling? Do you think you’re pretty good? Why don’t you take the Phonetic Challenge and find out?

The Phonetic Challenge is one of the exercises on the Language Link Online web site, available to all Language Link Vietnam students. For those of you who are not students, we’ve presented it below.

Please note: you need a browser with Adobe Flash software to play this game. If you are using an iPad or a computer with no Flash, we’re sorry.

Ten Tips to Help You Speak English Like a Native

Improve your English pronunciation at Language Link VietnamStudents often ask me how they can lose their accent when speaking English. I have two things to say on the topic.

My first point is that you don’t want to entirely lose your accent. Accents protect you. When you’re in an English-speaking environment, an accent helps people know that you are not a native of their culture. If you make any mistakes, people are more likely to forgive you.

The second point is, of course, if your accent keeps people from understanding you, then you must try and reduce it as much as possible. Keeping in mind my first point – an accent is not always a bad thing – here are TEN TIPS that will help your pronunciation improve so that your accent does not interfere with understanding.
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Three Tips for Turning Mistakes Into Opportunities

Learn to speak English confidently at Language Link Vietnam
Is it necessary to get English correct every time?

The short answer is NO! Speaking English correctly every time is a great goal, but it can give students a problem – especially when speaking English.

The problem is that too many students are scared of getting something wrong and this shuts them up. Bad move. Don’t be scared of making mistakes when you speak. You don’t have to be right all the time – you only need to communicate.

Here are three tips that will help you speak with confidence, even if your English skills are not 100%.

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Thesaurus: The Best Tool for Building Your Vocabulary

Use a thesaurus to improve your speaking and writing skills at Language Link VietnamWhat if I told you there’s a tool that can expand your English vocabulary and improve your writing – and it’s 100% FREE? Would you be interested?

Well, there is such a tool, and it’s called a thesaurus. Learning to use a thesaurus is one of the best things you can do to develop your vocabulary and writing skills.

What A Thesaurus Can Do For You
A thesaurus can add style to your writing and make it more interesting to read. Consider this sentence:

I had a great vacation and did a lot of interesting things.

Is that an interesting sentence? No, not at all. But let’s put a few of these words into the thesaurus and see what comes up:

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Two English Pronunciation Problems for Vietnamese Speakers

Improve English pronunciation at Language Link VietnamWhen we talk, we want people to understand what we are saying. So pronunciation is VERY important.

Listen to this conversation between a Vietnamese person and an American:

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What happened? The American could not understand the Vietnamese speaker because her pronunciation was unclear.

In my experience, both as a language learner and a language teacher, there are a LOT of pronunciation differences between English and Vietnamese. But some problems are more serious than others. A pronunciation problem becomes serious when it interferes with communication.

There are TWO common problems Vietnamese speakers have that I believe are very serious. If you consistently make these errors, people will not understand you.

  • Final consonants
  • Word stress

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The IPA for Beginners

The IPA is the International Phonetic Alphabet. Watch this video to learn about phonemes, and how the IPA can help you improve your English pronunciation. Make sure you have your speakers turned on so you can hear the audio!

Download the IPA for Beginners PDF and use it at home!

Key Points:

  • Phonemes are the sounds of English. Phonemes translate English letters into sounds.
  • With a dictionary and the IPA you can teach yourself how to pronounce English words, and where to put the stress
  • Phonemes are easy, quick to learn, and they will be your friends for as long as you are learning English