What do you call your mother? Here's what you might hear in the US:
Americans use indirect language in some social and business situations. We will be expanding on this topic as part of our soft skills video series, to help you understand what Americans mean when they use indirect language. This video is part of a talk by Harvard Linguist Stephen Pinker, animated by RSA.org.
In addition to working on improving your American Accent, you may want to work on other English language skills such as grammar, vocabulary building, listening skills and fluency. Here are some resources we recommend for English-Language learners:
Grammar topics (types of speech, verb tenses, free weekly lessons) http://www.englishpage.com/
English grammar lessons sorted by ability level: http://www.learn-english-online.org/
(This website is based in the UK, so some of the content will be different because they focus on British English.)
VOA: Leveled news articles with additional information for English learners: http://learningenglish.voanews.com/
Also from VOW: Let's Learn English is a new course for English learners. Certified American English teachers designed the course for beginners. The course continues for 52 weeks.
Each week, there will be a new lesson with video showing the lives of young Americans. The lesson includes instruction in speaking, vocabulary and writing.
There are also printable worksheets, assessments and lesson plans for individual learners and English teachers.
Podcast with a variety of topics for advanced level English learners (idioms, grammar, word choice, etc,):
Vocabulary Building: http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/vocabmania.htm
Fluency: Read more about ways to build fluency in this post.
Do you have a robust vocabulary when speaking English? Knowing the precise words you want to convey your meaning is both satisfying and effective, but beware of overuse of jargon. "Bizspeak," as Harvard Business Review writer Bryan A. Garner dubs it, is the tendency to use buzz words, catch phrases and sometimes meaningless babble rather than simple language. Expressing yourself plainly and clearly using real language is always preferable and will give you more success than overloading your language with unnecessary jargon.
For a humorous look at what not to use in your business communication, read his article here.
If you are looking to expand your vocabulary in English, one nice way to acquire new words is to use a word of the day website or app. One top-rated app is the Dictionary.com free app, which also has a thesaurus, offline dictionary and translation features. This app can be set to give you daily notifications so even if you forget to look for the day's word, it will appear and remind you.
Find this app and others here:
English prepositions have specific meanings in some contexts (out: from the inside to the outside of something), but how do you know which preposition to use in a verb phrases? Errors in prepositions are common for non-native English speakers, because they are idiomatic and don’t necessarily follow a logical pattern. Beyond memorizing, how can you figure out which word to use? Don't stress out, there are ways to figure out what's up.
Over the long run, reading, listening for prepositions when talking with native speakers or watching tv or movies, and practicing their use will get you most of the way. When you learn a new verb, adjective or noun, find out which prepositions are used with it and learn them as well.
When you encounter an immediate question, ask a native speaker, or use a learner’s dictionary that lists the prepositions together with the word in question. Some useful resources are Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary and the Collins Cobuild Dictionary. Online, you can use http://www.learnersdictionary.com/ or http://www.ldoceonline.com/ to help you know which is the correct preposition. Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it in no time!
Ever wonder how people sound in different parts of the United States? PBS’s extensive website, “Do You Speak American?” has a wealth of information about regional variation in American English. Not only do we use different words in different parts of the country, but our accents are different. You can listen to recordings from different cities across the US here. How does your city sound compared to the others?
Image credit: Robert Delaney
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