Tips for Pronunciation of the Swedish Vowels

The most famous parody of the Swedish accent is probably the Swedish chef in The Muppet Show, but also more recently a sketch in The Catherine Tate show called Interpreter. What both these parodies have picked up, is the sing-song element of Swedish, and also the fact that the Swedish language is relatively vowel-rich. The pronunciation of these vowels can prove a challenge when you are learning Swedish. This article goes through all Swedish vowels and gives some tips on how to pronounce them, according to the Swedish alphabet.

A

The thing to remember with A is that it is very long. For English speakers, it usually helps to make the same sound as when saying the English letter ‘r’, but to remove the ‘r-sound’ in the end and only keep the long ‘ah’. Another way can be to visualize the sound you have to make if a doctor examines your mouth and throat. The doctor usually places a spatula on your tongue, and asks you to say ‘ah’. Finally, it is important to remember to drop your jaw properly, which makes the A deep and long.

E

This vowel can be tricky because for an English speaker, the natural instinct is to treat it like the English ‘ee’ (like in for example ‘bumble-bee’). But the Swedish E is lower, and finishes off with a slight A-sound in the very end (at least the accents found around Stockholm and Uppsala on the East coast). The best way to find the right sound, is to say the English word ‘ear’, but to remove the ‘r-sound’ in the end: ‘ea’.

I

This vowel unfortunately adds another layer to the confusion around the Swedish vowel E. This is because the Swedish pronunciation of the letter I is just like the English ‘ee’. In other words, a very wide and smiley ‘ee-sound’. The only consolation is that Swedish speakers have exactly the same problem when learning English, just the other way around!

O

The letter O can be hard to pronounce, because it is a bit more extreme than the English ‘oh-sound’. The ‘oh-sound’ in English requires fairly relaxed lips, and also a relaxed tongue. The Swedish O requires a very tense mouth and hard lips pressed together, like when you are whistling a tune, or sucking a straw. The tongue is pulled right back in the throat, like you do if you eat something that is too hot and you try to protect your tongue.

U

This is perhaps the hardest one to explain, out of all Swedish vowels. When you say the vowel U, your lips should be relaxed, your tongue touching the bottom-row of your front teeth, and your jaw should be slightly pushed forward. It sounds a little bit like the disgusted expression “Eew”, but more like the end-part than the first.

Y

The vowel Y tends to be hard to get right, but I have found a way to describe it that seems to be helpful. Firstly, say the Swedish I (or the English ‘ee’) and analyse what your tongue is doing. Secondly, keep that tongue position absolutely still, but move your lips from a wide smile to a trumpet-like shape (i.e. push your lips forward, quite aggressively). So when going from I to Y, your tongue position should be exactly the same, and the only thing changing is your lips – going from a wide smile, to a trumpet-shape.

Å

Here is the first one of the three extra vowels in Swedish (they come in the end of the alphabet by the way, in this order: å, ä, ö). The challenge is to really distinguish them as separate vowels, and not just muddled versions of A and O. The Å can be thought of as the ‘au’ sound in ‘Paul’. Indeed, some Swedish Pauls actually spell their names Pål. The sound is long, as in a long ‘Påål’.

Ä

This letter can be thought of as the English ‘ai’ in ‘pair’, or ‘hair’. The only thing to remember is that the mouth is actually quite wide, a bit more of a smile than when saying ‘pair’.

Ö

Finally, the Ö is similar to the English sound ‘i’ in the word ‘bird’. Or ‘u’ in the word ‘fur’. Or ‘ea’ in the word ‘heard’. The lips are fairly rounded, but also slightly trumpet-shaped.

And finally, the graduation test is to fully master the following Swedish tongue twister: Flyg fula fluga flyg, och den fula flugan flög (Fly away you ugly fly, and the ugly fly flew away).

That’s it – good luck!

Tips For Getting The Gender Of Spanish Nouns Always Right

Getting the gender of basic Spanish nouns wrong is not only frustrating, but also highly de-motivating. In this article I give you an insight into what causes this problem and I help you overcome it from today.

My fifteen years teaching Spanish have shown me that learning and reviewing vocabulary the wrong way is what leads to those mistakes.

You may be wondering, then, if there is a way of learning new Spanish nouns that will allow you to get the gender always right. The answer, without any doubt, is ‘yes’. Here are the two steps you need to follow:

1. Avoid learning nouns without ‘el’ or ‘la’, and the same goes for reviewing.

2. Always learn new nouns with audio material, preferably audio flashcards recorded by native speakers.

Learning Spanish vocabulary through this method is fast, efficient and a great time-saver.

It takes the same effort to learn Spanish nouns with and without their articles. Learning them with ‘el’ or ‘la’ will save you valuable time and disappointment. As an example, remember to avoid learning that:

‘flor’ means ‘flower’

Make sure you learn that:

the Spanish noun ‘la flor’ means ‘the flower’

This simple step will help you link the word ‘flor’ to ‘la’ every time, the same way that Spanish speakers link them.

Vocabulary audio flashcards are those that give you a list of Spanish words said by native speakers, and they also give you their English translation.

The task of learning new Spanish vocabulary becomes significantly easier with audio flashcards. They are an essential tool for acquiring a good Spanish accent, and a powerful resource for reviewing efficiently.

Briefly, learning new vocabulary following the two steps I’ve described in this article is not only more efficient in the short, medium and long-term, but also much more enjoyable.

I Am Failing Spanish – 4 Tips to Help You Improve Your Grade!

What do you do when you think that you are failing Spanish, about to fail Spanish or that you are just not making any progress?

I know how you feel because I used to get that feeling in Math. I used to feel as though I was never any good at it. Nothing ever made sense except the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. That was it! As far as I was concerned that is all I needed to get by in the real world, so who cares about anything else? Forget algebra and anything else that I would not be using on a daily basis.

But the point I am making is that not all parts of Math were challenging. I simply found some sections and topics more challenging than others so I had to find a way to overcome my challenges in those areas in order to pass it.

But bringing this back to Spanish, I found parts of Spanish challenging as well particularly Spanish listening; learning to speak the language fluently and having a wide vocabulary. Because of this I had to come up with ways to deal with the challenges I was facing.

That was the only way I was going to pass.

So if you are failing Spanish or you think that you are in danger of failing Spanish, I would advise that you do the following:

1. Identify the parts of Spanish in your Spanish course that you are having difficulty with. What do you find to be most challenging about learning Spanish? Is it the vocabulary; verb conjugation; speaking; listening; reading or writing?

2. When you have done that, try to come up with specific tips that will help you to improve in the area in which you are having difficulty. So if you are fairly good at reading, then don’t spend more time on reading Spanish. Spend time on the parts that you find most challenging.

3. Spend an extra 15 minutes a day on those areas. And you are not going to be slaving away at these areas for those for 15 minutes either. You are going to find fun ways of improving in those areas. There are already quite few tips on my blog that will help to keep you more connected to the language and more engaged with it.

Anyone who feels that they are failing something will start to feel disconnected from it, for obvious reasons so you have to find inspiration to keep you engaged and wanting to improve. When you are having fun with something, it stops feeling like work or studying and you just learn or pick up things at record speed. That’s when you start making progress.

4. Be consistent in working to overcome your challenges. If there is one thing that you will hear me say over and over is be consistent whatever your approach at improving. Rome was not built in a day. A little bit of effort over time is what will help you to pass Spanish and get a good grade!

You will not fail Spanish and I assure you that if you start now, you will see an improvement in as little as two weeks because I have seen it happen time and again.

So now that you know what to do, get cracking on it now!

If you want an A in Spanish, click on the link below and visit my blog!

Memory Tips For Memorizing Spanish Vocabulary

First of all, you have to have a source for vocabulary Spanish websites, newspapers and magazines can give you tons of new words and phrases to use, so that’s a great start, and you’ll get even more. I also suggest getting a dictionary; this will obviously help when you need to translate an idea from your language, or have heard a new word in Spanish that you don’t know, and want to look it up. If you have already found a good dictionary and are using it, that is great. Keep it up.

Now, the next step is to consider getting your hands on a Spanish-Spanish dictionary, rather than a translation one. You have enough of a base vocabulary now that you can start to use the same dictionary that a Spanish speaker would use. Don’t go get a big doorstop of a dictionary at first; try to get a student one, and remember that a Spanish picture dictionary is an easy way to start. You will probably want to hang on to your translation one for a while, but try using a Spanish-Spanish one now too. Es mas autentico, and is a great way to challenge yourself to increase your vocabulary.

So, there you have it; awesome resources to find much of the vocabulary that you will need to speak Spanish like a native (with a nice little accent). But, what techniques should you use to learn quickly and effectively? Well, your best learning styles, of course:

Are you a visual learner? Flash cards are an excellent way to learn and remember your vocabulary words. Challenge yourself to read a Spanish newspaper in your free time, or keep it in your bag or car to take out and read when you have time. This type of constant, repeated input is great for visual learners.

Are you an audio learner? No problema; try getting hold of some Spanish music onto your MP3 player and listen to it as you work, work out, or drive along in your car.

Are you more of a kin aesthetic learner? Well, your teachers probably knew what was best for you; writing lines! This means writing vocabulary lists, with translations, perhaps putting down each word three times. The movement involved in reading and writing, and repeating this action, is a very good way for learners like you to remember information.

And a fabuloso way to learn vocabulary for all types of learners, in a first or second language? Read! Seeing the vocabulary being used within a context and it in its different forms is a very real way to approach it and you will learn even more by doing this.

Of course, you can also find Spanish articles, books and information written about topics you enjoy, too, and this is a great way to use your own motivation to help you practice. As I mentioned before, children’s books are also excelente, because they are simple, and often are stories that you know. So many possibilities!

And lastly, of course the very best way to learn vocabulary is to combine all of your senses, use every learning style, and use your Spanish. Use it to speak to others, listen to others, sing along with others or write to others. Using Spanish in real situations will naturally increase your word power, and enjoyment. And that is what it’s all about!

Tip: Have you tried watching television yet, to help you improve your listening, vocabulary and general understanding of Spanish? Try telenovas. These are Spanish soap operas, and are very popular throughout the Spanish speaking world. The language is usually pretty simple, and it’s a fun way to increase understanding. You can find some on most cable networks.

Tips For Choosing A Professional Translation Company

Planning to develop your business in different geographical locations? While it may give you a great sense of satisfaction to see your business expand, you must be prepared to face the challenges that come with this as well. One of the first and foremost challenges that you need to face is language. For example, if you want to establish your site or business in a particular country, you should ensure that your values, objectives, and mission are clearly understood by the people living there so that they trust you. To ensure that your values go out in different languages in the most undiluted form, you need the services of a professional translation company. Choose these service providers with care, because a mistake that they make will directly influence your credibility. Keep the following points in mind when you choose professional translation services.

1. Techniques used

Choose a translation company based on the techniques that they use. The company should have sophisticated linguistics softwares that complement human linguists so that the output quality is good. Technology gives suggestions on vocabulary, correct usage of terms, points out errors and offers suggestions to make the content better. If you want your business values to be translated without any deviations, you have to choose an agency that makes the best use of human and machine power. Gone are the days when humans were enough to do the translation job. Not anymore, though!

2. Subject matter experts

If your business is related to finance, choose a translation service provider who has experience in translating finance projects before. This will ensure that you and your agency are on the same page when it comes to delivering quality content that has the same meaning as that of the original language. Never choose generic language translation services, even though they offer you good deals on their packages. This is because, by doing so, you will compromise on quality that will eventually hit your credibility greatly. Domain-specific knowledge is a must for your service provider to do justice to your content.

3. Turn around Time

Choose a translation agency that offers you a good TAT (Turnaround Time). A professional language translation service provider would not only translate the work quickly but would also do it with high-accuracy. They employ translators all over the world and the difference in time zones among these geographies will ensure that you get high-quality and timely delivery always. When an agency falls behind its timelines for the first time, you should avoid it completely. The translated content becomes trash if you are not able to use it at the right time.

Apart from these check for other factors like the reputation of the translation agency, requesting for test translation scripts, understanding requirements, stringency of quality control processes, cost structure, confidentiality, flexibility, customer service and the like. Do a complete analysis to understand the mode of operation of your translation service provider and check for reviews on the internet posted by businesses that have availed its services earlier. All of these demand a lot of your time and effort; however, it is worth every second, because you are entrusting the credibility of your business with these agencies!

Tips to Improve Your Spoken English

A lot of my students ask me what is it that they should do to improve their Spoken English. So here is a post to tell them what I feel can improve their English skills.

I stated thinking about it and realized that I was lucky to be born in a family where, despite being Indians, English was the language of choice. Since my father rarely spoke Marathi and my mother only ever used Gujrati to discipline me in public, I only ever heard them speak to each other and me in English. Hence fluency in the language just came naturally to me. I only picked up Hindi once I started schooling.

A lot of people don’t have such a family environment. The first language they learn is their mother tongue. The next will be Hindi, if they are based in North India. Then when they reach school they finally learn English as the third language. In South India the second language is English, which is the reason why despite accent trouble they are much more comfortable speaking in English.

As a result, here are a few tips that I have collected to help improve Spoken English.

Tip No # 1 Get comfortable with the language. Read for 20 minutes in English. It can be a newspaper, a short story, a poem, or even a novel.

Tip No # 2 Develop your written language. If you don’t have the requisite vocabulary you won’t be able to communicate.

Tip No # 3 Start Speaking. Try out your spoken English on anyone who will be able to respond to you. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

Tip No # 4 Keep your ears open for the accent. Watch the English news on Television. Watch BBC for the British Accent, CNN for the American Accent and NDTV 24/7 for the urban Indian Accent.

Tip No # 5 Record yourself. Listen to your voice and catch your pronunciation mistakes. Make a deliberate effort to avoid them.

Tip No # 6 Grammar is important. The parts of speech, tenses, form of verb, articles and modals all contribute to fluency. Make an effort to learn them.

Tip No # 7 Make the Dictionary your best friend. To date I head for it when confronted with a new word. Familiarize yourself with its meaning and use it in a sentence that very day.

Tip No # 8 Have someone proficient read aloud to you. A storybook or a newspaper article will do. Watch how they move their lips while pronouncing certain words.

Tip No # 9 Learn one new word a day. To increase your active vocabulary start memorizing the meaning of a word you had heard but were not sure of. Use it regularly to absorb it into your vocabulary.

Tip No # 10 Start writing a Diary. It will allow you to practice the language in a totally non threatening environment. Write one entry of at least 100 words everyday.

Consequently your Spoken English will improve, but not if you are lacking in commitment. It’s all very well to be pumped up today about learning the language and forgetting all about it tomorrow.

Always remember the skills involved in any language are Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Any single one can’t be developed in isolation

Tips To Ensure You Are Prepared For Your IELTS Exam

IELTS, International English Language Testing System is an English language competence test that has international recognition. More than a hundred countries and hundreds of universities and institutions accept and recognize the test. If you have a wish to migrate or work in a country where English is the native language, then you might be required to get testes. The test generally assesses listening, writing, reading and even speaking abilities of the English language.

For those who wish to migrate for work then general training module is what they get but for those wishing to take a course in English the academic module what will be used. Just like any other test, you really want to pass your IELTS. Simply put, you are as ready for the exams as you have prepared. Never assume that you will have an easy time with the test no matter how much you think you are familiar with the language. Below are some helpful tips that can make your exam a success.

1. Make a personal effort to improve on your English language proficiency. Allocate enough time to make improvements using all resources possible like manuals and CDs that can help you understand the areas that are examined.

2. Make a habit of reading English magazines and newspapers and take time to even watch news channels and English movies. To boost your confidence levels make a point of speaking with people who are fluent in the language and be willing to learn.

3. If you know people who have actually taken and passed the test, seek advice regarding the trends and topics of the exam so you know which areas to focus more on. You can also use past papers and mock tests to get familiar and test how ready you really are for the actual exams. Make sure that you are aware of the current syllabus too, so as to avoid nasty surprises on the day of the exam.

4. Make sure you understand the test format of the IELTS exam. When you know the format, then you will know what to expect and you will have an easier time handling the content of every part of the test. You should also get familiar with the types of questions likely to be asked and know how to best answer them.

5. Buy OELTS self-study books and other related materials. There are also online preparation resources for the exam that you can use to your advantage so you are completely ready by the time the exam day comes.

6. Confirm the start time of the test and the exact location the test will take place a week before. It is also very important to make sure that you know your way to the location so you avoid wasting time on the day of the test. Never assume that you will take the test where you booked for it; the address can be at a very different location so always make the point of confirming first.

English Grammar Tips: How to Determine When to Use Their, There, or They’re in English Grammar

English Grammar Tips: Homonyms

Teacher, I get confused. How do I know when to use their, there or they’re in English?”

Have you ever been asked this frequent question? It’s but one of many English language teachers worldwide hear from perplexed learners. It’s a fair enough question as these three forms are what we call homonyms. That is, they are words which sound the same but have distinctly different meanings. Fortunately, the differences and applications can be easily clarified. Let’s look at them now.

The Possessive Pronoun “Their”

This first one, “their”, is a possessive pronoun. We use it to show belonging or ownership of a group. It is in the same category with other possessive pronouns which include “our”, “your” also in the plural and “my”, “his”, “her” and “its” in the singular. Two examples of usage are:

Where is their class room?

This is their class room“. Or rather, the class room belongs to them.

The Contraction “They’re”

The second form we’ll consider is the contraction “they’re“. This is a contraction, or shortened form of “they are“. Often in spoken English, a contraction of verbs and pronouns is used when speaking in formally. Two examples of this form include:

They’re in English class right now.”

This the same as: They are in English class right now.”

Please note: Contractions with the verb “to be” are not commonly used in questions.

The Preposition “There”

The third homonym form we’ll consider here is the preposition “there“, which indicates relative position. When indicating a near or close position, we use “here”. When indicating a more distant position we often use “there“. Let’s look at some usage examples to help clarify this preposition.

My keys are here, but my car is there. The sentence indicates that keys are close or nearby, but the car is a distance away.

Also, “there” when used with the verb to be, can indicate possibility or existence.

There is a way to teach English to deaf learners”.

There are 26 letters in the English alphabet.”

More English Grammar Practice with Their, They’re and There

How about trying a few examples now? See if you can correctly apply the right homonym to fit each question or sentence which follows.

Hello, is anyone ____________?

They wasted ____________ time going to that meeting.

Next time, ____________ going to call first before leaving the office.

___________ hasn’t been any rain for weeks, so __________ almost out of water.

___________ waiting for English class to start with ___________ new teacher.

Now Check the Correct English Grammar

So, how do you think you did? You can check the correct answers here.

Hello, is anyone there?

They wasted their time going to that meeting.

Next time, they’re going to call first before leaving the office.

There hasn’t been any rain for weeks, so they’re almost out of water.

They’re waiting for English class to start with their new teacher.

Well then, how about a bit more practice with these three homonyms? Now try these, but no peeking ahead at the answers!

Is __________ a way that __________ work can be seen by __________ new teacher before the exam?

__________ studying for __________ next English exam __________ in the library.

__________ textbooks are __________ where __________ sitting.

These were more difficult, so how well did you do this time?

Check the Correct Answers

Is there a way that their work can be seen by their new teacher before the exam?

They’re studying for their next English exam there in the library.

Their textbooks are there where they’re sitting.

Okay then? Great! Now you can determine when to use “their”, “there” and “they’re”. Keep studying and practicing your English.

English Grammar in Use

Correctly applying the homonyms “their”, “there” and “they’re” is just one small aspect of English grammar in use. While many times English may seem to be confusing because of its multiple irregularities, with a little practice and simple explanations any learner can speak better English in a short time.

Teaching English Tips: How To Be A Successful Teacher

If you’re interested in moving abroad for a job teaching English, you’ll likely find that it’s quite different than being a teacher or tutor for native speakers. However, before you move to start your new career, consider brushing up on some tips to help you become a better teacher. These aren’t the only ways to become successful, but they can certainly help your students learn the language.

Tip #1: Speak Entirely In English

If you’ve ever tried to learn another language, you know that it can be difficult, especially if you’re trying to go back and forth between your new and native tongues. Studies have shown that immersion classrooms are more successful, mostly because students are forced to switch their brains over to the new language. If your students are just beginners, they may have problems following along so make sure that you write down any necessary information, such as homework assignments. Students may need to look up a few words in a translation dictionary before they truly understand, and having the instructions written down will help ensure that they can complete the assignment at home.

Tip #2: Encourage Everyone To Speak Up

Instructors aren’t the only ones who should be talking throughout the class. Students should feel free to speak to each other, without worrying about being mocked for making a mistake. Learning a new language is difficult and everyone needs to actually say the words in order to be effective in their new language! Don’t let a few outspoken students run the class though. Teachers should make an effort to call on each student at least once a session to ensure that everyone is progressing as they should.

Tip #3: Require That Students Write In English

Have you ever met someone who’s fluent in another language, but they can’t read or write it? These are often people whose families speak other languages, but they learn another in school. To help your students become successful in all parts of speech, make sure they write, as well as read and speak in the new language.

Tip #4: Make Teaching English Fun

Your class will learn better when they’re having fun, even if they’re adults. Nothing will put your class to sleep faster than a dry, boring lesson. Instead, use games and other teaching gimmicks to make the lesson enjoyable for yourself and your class. Pictionary and charades are especially fun, as well as spelling bees and 20 questions. If you notice that your class prefers certain games to others, try to adapt them for different lessons. Or, ask your students to come up with their own game to teach the class — when they’re directly involved in their own education, they’ll be more likely to be successful.

These aren’t the only ways teachers can be successful when they’re teaching English to non-native speakers, but they’re certainly a good start. If you can, connect with others who are teaching English and work together to share ideas and strategies that will help you — and your class — to be successful.

Improve Your American English Speaking Skills – Tips

Do you want to speak better American English? Are you looking for some tips on how to improve your American English speaking skills? If so, keep reading, because you are in the right place. In this article I’m going to help you become a fluent speaker! Here are two tips on how to improve your American English speaking skills.

1. Practice with Americans

Find a native American speaker in your city and offer him or her a language exchange – your native language in exchange for some help with American English.

You can also look for a language partner online – on English message boards for language learners or sites for people who are looking for a language partner (Google for “online language partner” or “online language exchange”). Find some Americans who want to learn your native language and offer them a language exchange.

2. Speak with your friends

If you can’t or don’t want to speak with native American speakers, then speak with your friends. I’m sure that at least a few of your friends are learning English and would love to practice it with you.

Speaking with your friends in English isn’t as stressful as speaking with native speakers and it’s also a very effective way to improve your speaking skills and your confidence to speak in a foreign language. Of course it’s better to practice with more advanced learners or native speakers so if you have the opportunity to do so, do it!

There are many more things that you can do to improve your English skills, but the key is to speak as much as you can and interact with native speakers. If you put only these two tips to use, you’ll quickly notice a great improvement. Stop seeking a magic pill, it’s all about speaking every single day!

That’s it – two tips on how to improve your American English speaking skills. Don’t forget that it’s not only about speaking in a foreign language, but also about your approach and your communication skills. Work on your self-confidence! Good luck and have fun while learning!