Tag Archives: Academic English

So, How Many English Phonemes Are There?

2 Apr

Open a book on English phonics based on the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) and you will learn there are 40 phonemes (sounds) in the English language produced from either a solitary letter or combination of the 26 letters in the alphabet.  However, there is some debating this number of phonemes, 40, and the discussion can be quite “phonemenal.”

English phonology is the study of the sounds that make up the English language.   Very important stuff to ELL’s and ESL teachers concentrating on helping eager students improve their speaking and pronunciation.

Masha Bell mentioned there being 44 phonemes in an article written two years ago (March, 2011) by Masha Bell for The English Spelling Society.

And in a discussion prompted by the suggestion of strictly 40 phonemes, a participant wrote,

“One hears numbers ranging from 36 to 46 for the number of phonemes in English. In teaching or learning English, one can disregard the exact number and simply teach the potential phonemes that participate in the greatest number of minimal pairs or sets first, and then work down from there.”Mxmanic

I hope you’re not reading this post to once and for all find the definitive answer – how many phenomes are there, anyway?!  Because, I am not giving an answer.

Personally, I believe an answer of how many phonemes there are may vary depending on which Nation’s English in reference.   Australian English varies in pronunciation from Canadian, and then there’s Britain to consider.   I’m sure there’s a phoneme count difference based on culture.

Despite there not being a general consensus across the globe on phonemes, I agree with “Mxmanic” when he suggested forget about the exact number and teach the ELL’s what they need to know!

Great advice, anyway you pronounce it.

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Challenge Yourself with English Vocabulary from Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’

9 Sep

As part of my recent “Literacy Project” – I’m encouraging my advanced ESL students, to join me in reading all the books on Modern Library’s 100 Best Books List.   This extra-curricular reading project was inspired when, after browsing the list and realizing I had only read a mere 17, I felt quite embarrassed with myself!   So, I’m catching up.

Number 18 was Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina.  And although it’s a long read it remains interesting and engaging throughout.  I feel some of the context must have been lost through translation.  How I would love to read (and understand) it in Russian! 🙂

This seems a very academic book, with clear themes threaded from start to finish, and strong characters.  The themes of spirituality, meanings of life and death, and how one creates and responds to adversity, were enjoyed.  But, I also love highlighting great vocabulary words with my Kobo eReader Touch!  Here are some words I loved and wanted to challenge you to see if you know the definitions:

Do you know the words pecuniary, laconic, loquacity and coterie?  If so, you may be a word master!  If not, play a matching game, download flashcards, or enjoy a crossword with my 25 Challenging Words from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina on WORD DYNAMO.  

Or, if you’d prefer, you can download a copy of my free 25 Vocab – Anna Karenina on these words

And, because I’m curious…. How many books have you read from the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels?   The Board’s List or the Reader’s List?  Please share your answers and comments below.

 

Transitional Words and Phrases for Essay Writing

16 Aug

Transitional words and phrases are very important when writing papers for academia, business or English proficiency exams.

Transitions help the reader to follow along with what you’re writing,  to make the points of your essay flow, and to show the relationship of your ideas to one another.  Transitions can go at the beginning ( Therefore, we ate at a restaurant.) or in the middle (We ate at a restaurant instead of at home) of a sentence.  When used properly, transitions can showcase your command of the written English language and get you top marks!

I’ve compiled a list of good transitions for you to use in your essays.  One of my favourite places to look for ‘transition inspiration’ is at Smart Words, have a look if you’d like.

Remember – not all transitions can be used in each instance.  You need to find the correct transition to express what it is you’re trying to say.  For example, you cannot use  “On the other hand, …” when you’re trying to compare two things that are similar as this phrase is for things that are contrasting or dissimilar.

When adding a thought or point:

  • also, moreover, as well as, in addition, furthermore, often, similarly, likewise, as expected, then, next, along these lines
When contrasting and comparing:
  • in comparison, instead, instead of, on the other hand, consequently, therefore, in contrast, similarly, yet, but, with this in mind, instead of, in place of, rather than, as a result, comparatively, likewise, correspondingly, however, still, rather, opposite, besides, conversely, on one hand
When giving examples:
  • for example, for instance, as you can see, as expected, namely, in this case, basically, often
When generalizing:
  • generally, often, typically, usually, in general, basically, mostly, in essence, at this time, nearly all
When outlining consequences:
  • consequently, therefore, finally, otherwise, so then, as a result, accordingly,
When sequencing your thoughts and points:
  • also, next, in addition, while, at first, first of all, next, soon, then, later, in time,
When restating a thought:
  • as mentioned, namely, that is to say, basically, as mentioned, to restate, in other words
When giving emphasis to a thought or point:
  • especially, particularly, above all, singularly, most importantly, primarily, as outlined, nearly all
When summarizing:
  • in conclusion, in essence, finally, in summary, on the whole, all things considered, to conclude

OTHER RESOURCES TO CHECK OUT:

Smart Words – List of transitional words for writing

Study Guides and Strategies – Transitional sentences

Writer’s Web – Transitional words and phrases

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