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Texting As A Way Of Improving Phonological Skills

July 27th, 2015

Do u lk 2 type like ths? The world is divided between those who say texting – and for that matter, any other technological innovation – add to the devolution and degradation of language, and others who assert that language is always evolving, even if that means using abbreviations or slang.

What people on both sides of the debate generally don’t realize is that texting can actually be used for improving phonological awareness and performance. What this means is that your phonological skills – your ability to spell words correctly – have to already be fairly high in order for you to be able to abbreviate words for use in texting or tweeting. Therefore, texting a message like “2nite @ Ben’s home 4 T” presupposes a phonological awareness of these words and their sound and letter patterns. A non-native speaker of English probably won’t be able to decipher this sentence because of this phonological knowledge gap that would allow them to match the abbreviations to the corresponding intended words that make up the sentence, “Tonight at Ben’s home for tea.”

A recent study by Coventry University has shown the proof of this phenomenon: that “textisms” improve children’s reading and writing skills. So instead of looking at texting as the death of language, it is more constructive to see it as a skill that improves a student’s phonological awareness. In other words, texting not only doesn’t damage people’s spelling skills, it improves them.

As students send out text after text, they’re constantly using the spelling and phonological rules that permeate language in order to create meaningful and generally applicable and intelligible abbreviations. While texting won’t be taught in language arts classes any time soon, it shouldn’t be condemned outright as something that causes language skills to decay, or worse, encourages illiteracy. Texting has a robust set of rules. Coming up with new textisms and other abbreviations requires advanced linguistic skills and creativity. Like all other aspects of English, they are based on a person’s basic knowledge of phonology, spelling. and even grammar.

People do argue that texting and tweeting using initialisms and the shorthand widely used on social media will ultimately make people forget how to properly spell words in formal contexts, but this argument loses sight of the mechanisms at work behind texting. This new form of English is still decidedly grounded in the same principles as the non-abbreviated language format, and due to its popularity it deserves study and support, not merely criticism.

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Spelling blog.


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Internet Tricks You Might Want To Know and Try for Yourself

July 20th, 2015

1) Handy Browser – Use it as a Notepad!

Click the Link Below:

White Background Notepad - data:text/html,%20<html%20contenteditable><Title>Notepad</Title>

 

Click the Link Below:

Black Background Notepad - 

data:text/html;charset=utf-8,%20<title>Notepad%20(Nightmode)</title><body%20contenteditable%20style=”font-family:%20DejaVu;font-weight:bold;background:#1E1E1E;color:#FFFFFF;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.4;max-width:80rem;margin:0%20auto;padding:2rem;”%20spellcheck=”false”>

 

2) Nostalgic Search – Remembering Childhood Days

 

3) Notable Keyboard Shortcuts

 

4) Have Fun and Destroy This Website – COOL!

Visit daskeyboard.com. At the bottom part of the page, click the “Destroy This Site” and blow the page to pieces! Just like old video games.

 

5) Another Nostalgic Effect – Arcade in Google Search Page

Go to Google and search for “zerg rush”. Stop the “o” invasion and enjoy! A Zerg Rush is an overwhelming attack in a video game. (Available only in Chrome/ Firefox/Safari).

 

6) Kodami Code Effect in Wired.co.uk

Once you entered the website, type in the Kodami Code (using your keyboard): “Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A”, and keep on tapping “A”. See Nyan Cats and Dinosaur invading the website!

 

7) It Also Has Its Effect in BuzzFeed!

Type Fast the Kodami Code when BuzzFeed.com loads!


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When Good Vocabulary Is Not Enough

July 13th, 2015

Which do you think is more important, good vocabulary or good spelling skills? Many teachers would tell you that the main objective for young learners is to expand their vocabulary so they can communicate efficiently and accurately with their peers.

A good vocabulary is key to being a competent speaker. Having the words for the thoughts, feelings, ideas and notions you want to communicate makes it easier for you to get heard, convince people to follow you, and get what you are after.

However, as many teachers would also tell you, good vocabulary is not enough. Having an extensive lexicon filled with impressive and obscure words doesn’t mean you are a competent language user overall. If your spelling skills are weak, then your written language output will more likely suffer too. What’s more, it will make you look bad.

Take an 8th grader’s essay. They might be using vocabulary that’s well above their grade level and that’s impressive and worthy of praise, but if that same essay is laden with misspellings, then the first impression the teacher gets is that this student is sloppy, pays no attention to detail, and needs to work more on their language skills.

Bad spelling skill ruins communication on any level, and overshadows any other language skills you might have. Which is, of course, a pity. English spelling is notorious for its absurd patterns, lack of rules, and thousands of loanwords from other languages, so what’s a frustrated ESL student to do?

Fortunately, good spelling skills can be mastered, and you can become a proficient speller — we’re talking spelling bee champion kind of level. The trick is to have a systematic approach to spelling mastery. Of course, a love for language will also help!

If you’re a teacher, ensure you devote ample time to teaching your students how to spell, and if you are a student don’t give up on your spelling practice.

Spelling is an acquirable skill you can easily master as long as you are willing to learn. Invest in a spelling improvement program or practice your spelling with the help of a friend or teacher. The Internet has also many free quality resources for you to practice with.

To become a proficient user of the English language don’t focus on vocabulary only. Make sure you cultivate your spelling skills as well, because it’s an equally important skill that can make – or break – your language skills in general.

Cross-posted on the Vocabulary Software blog.


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Comparing Paper-Based Reading With Its Digital Successor: Three Differentiating Factors

July 7th, 2015

Does the brain process language differently when text is on paper than when it’s read on an e-reader? Is it a myth that when we read on computer screens we cannot be as focused on what we are reading, or does science prove otherwise?

Digital reading has become very popular for many reasons. Some people prefer digital books for practical reasons of portability and cost-effectiveness, others for ecological ones.

Millions of people have already integrated the two reading modes, or completely switched to digital reading. All of the trends reveal that the popularity of e-reading will keep growing – but the debate over which is best may never be resolved. Here’s a look at the three main factors that make digital and paper-based reading so different:

Digital reading requires different cognitive resources than paper-based reading.

When people read on paper their cognitive processes related to reading are complemented and reinforced by the tactile stimuli of the experience.

This physical component that the hard-copy book provides doesn’t exist when we read on computer screens and e-readers, a fact that explains why reading comprehension in digital-based reading is often significantly lower when compared to comprehension when reading print media.

This study published in the International Journal of Educational Research looked into how reading modality affects reading comprehension, and found that students reading on digital screens did worse than their counterparts reading on paper.
What seems to compromise reading comprehension during digital reading is an issue that is a part of the medium itself. It seems that the cognitively heavy task of navigation using an e-reader or computer (buttons, keys to push, even tactile screen scrolling) is something that has a high potential to distract the reader, and that distraction has a toll on reading comprehension.

A difference in portability and cost-effectiveness.

The paper book is still widely used and read around the world, and despite the markedly important growth of digital reading, printed books have their unrelenting fans. However, even die-hard fans of print books admit the perks of the digital book: it’s green, it’s portable, and it’s significantly cheaper.

Reading on screen means less tree pulp wasted, and more and cheaper books easily carried around. These three attributes of the digital book obviously promote increased reading. If people can carry several books with them, they’re more likely to read while commuting to work rather than playing Angry Birds.

Book reading and the sense of control.

Digital reading is fluid and open-ended, but this means at times it’s hard to manage, both cognitively and physically. On the other hand, a paper book gives the reader increased control over the reading process.

A pdf file or an e-book gives you no tactile power whatsoever. You need to repeatedly click on the keys or scroll, scroll, and scroll again to find a paragraph you’ve missed or to re-read a passage you loved. All of that takes time, and leads to a loss in concentration and interest.

When reading paper-based content , though, you the reader are in charge. You flick through pages easily and re-reading a favorite passage is tied to the physicality of the activity of turning those pages, giving a sense of great control over what’s being read and ultimately understood.

Superficial reading and its aftereffects.

What’s more, this lack of physicality with digital reading – and of course the sheer volume of digital content available – makes digital readers more inclined to be “skim and scan” readers. People don’t pay attention to digital copy the way they do with paper-based text. Digital reading prompts careless, hurried reading, because the modality is much more difficult to keep focused on – ads pop up, social networks notifications distract you, and so on.

Researchers are keen to understand how reading modality affects reading efficiency. Preliminary findings suggest that the two are very different cognitive processes, with a different set of requirements in place.

Whether one is better than the other is of little importance. What’s important to understand in this debate is that the two are distinctively different, and for their enthusiasts, each one is the best.

Cross-posted on the 7 Speed Reading blog.


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Touch Typing Skills Gives Your Children An Edge

June 29th, 2015

Keyboarding is omnipresent, and yet many people fail to realize it. We touch type to RSVP a wedding invitation or to play games on Facebook. We touch type a work report and we touch type to chat and interact with online friends.

Touch typing is a tech skill that will be increasingly important in the coming years – so important that people lacking this skill will have a harder time keeping up with all the technological breakthroughs that will soon take place.

For this reason, it’s important that children are given the opportunity to formally and efficiently learn how to touch type. Typing in schools has unfortunately not given the due attention it deserves. Given its central role in any and all other computer-based class and skill learning, it’s puzzling why the average school curriculum doesn’t already include keyboarding classes.

Even if your local school doesn’t provide the tools, with the help of typing software, your child can learn how to type correctly, accurately, and quickly. This will give your child an edge they will be able to rely on throughout their lives.

-   A proficient touch typist saves hundreds of minutes each week on touch typing based tasks, such as homework, projects, research, or writing up essays.

-   A child that touch types quickly and accurately is more confident in dealing with keyboard-based tasks and school assignments because the lack of typing skills doesn’t get in the way.

-   A good touch typist who learned the right keyboarding techniques early in life will continue improving on their typing performance, because every touch typing activity will be a touch typing practice, helping them to constantly improve upon their typing performance.

-   Dyslexic children find it easier and less frustrating to touch type rather than write out homework by hand, so keyboarding can play a crucial role in ensuring that no child stays behind in class.

-   Touch typing equips children with a skill that will come in handy in college and later on in their careers. Keyboarding activities permeate all aspects of our lives, from education and entertainment to social interaction.

-   Efficient touch typists are happier with their typing competency because it leads to increased productivity, creative breakthroughs, and early task completion.

Teachers and parents who wish to give students this invaluable skill can do so through readily-available typing software. While it is possible to teach typing without a typing program, using a well-designed software product offers benefits to both instructors and students. A good program provides a structured learning experience for the student which both accelerates the learning process and makes it less challenging and more rewarding, by offering typing practice in the form of typing games as well as a range of tools for further enhancing the keyboarding experience. Teachers will enjoy the fact that the lessons have been prepared for them, leaving them more time to devote to students in the classroom. With top-rated typing software, everyone benefits.

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Typing blog.


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Why You Should Learn A Second Language

June 22nd, 2015

Yes, you can usually get along just fine in life even if the only language you know is English. However, scientists are now confirming that bilingualism has a wide range of benefits – and that these benefits are not just related to communication skills.

Quality Job Prospects

Knowing an in-demand second language like French, German, Spanish, or Mandarin will give you a wide range of better job prospects to choose from. If you’re not from an English-speaking country and English is not your native language, it’s a good idea to choose that language first, as it’s widely used in many global corporations.

You can work at a multinational company and relocate at a moment’s notice to idyllic, exotic urban cities in Japan and Singapore or the West Coast in the US (depending where you’re coming from).

Bilingual employees are often preferred over workers with more technical skills, simply because they already have an advantage: they can instantly communicate and focus on implementing marketing strategies overseas without any linguistic barriers. In general, it’s quicker and easier to learn new technical skills that it is to learn a new language.

Stronger Memory

A less cited benefit of being bilingual is the strong, fit memory you get to enjoy. Since learning a new language mainly consists of memorizing spelling, vocabulary and syntax rules, it helps people improve their memory capacity and flexibility. A university of Brunswick, Canada study showed that bilingual individuals are better at remembering shopping lists and directions than monolingual people.

Shield Against Alzheimer’s and Dementia

study on the importance of bilingualism confirms that people speaking regularly in a language other than their native language tend to experience the first cognitive decline symptoms associated with dementia about 4-5 years later than people who are monolingual. The mean age for dementia’s first signs for monolingual people is 71.4 while for bilingual individuals the average onset is at 75.5 years.

Improved Brain Functionality

When we learn a second language our brain is forced to process, adapt, and use different communication systems. This brain flexibility and adaptability are competencies you can apply in several problem-solving contexts even if they have nothing to do with language use.

Multitasking and Brain Agility

If you’ve ever talked with a bilingual person or are one yourself, you know that the switch between languages — sometimes within the same sentence – is ongoing. Using languages of different structures, vocabulary, and pronunciation rules shows that a person is skillful in both and agile enough to seamlessly juggle them at a moment’s notice.

Knowing a second language will come in handy when you travel abroad, and it does make you look more skilled and professional when listed in your resume, but the mental benefits of being bilingual have long-term advantages that go above and beyond these daily uses.

From a stronger brain and better thinking agility, to improving your conversational adeptness in your native tongue, it is evident that being a polyglot should be the norm.

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Vocabulary blog.


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How Reading Books Can Make You A Better Person

June 15th, 2015

Next time you’re bored out of your mind, don’t reach for your smartphone, reach for a book instead. Reading books provides a range of benefits you may not be aware of. In fact, the more books you
read, the more awesome you will be.

Reading makes you (more) empathetic

Reading fiction gives you an inside peek into scenarios and realities you couldn’t otherwise live yourself. This opens up your critical thinking capabilities and activates your empathy sensors. You become more aware and sensitive to people’s plights, cultures, and customs, and feel more forgiving and nurturing where you might have once been condescending or inflexible.

Reading is an immersive experience

A good novel will have you questioning reality. A good novel will drag you so deeply into its plot that your identification with the protagonist will be mind-blowing and reality-blurring. Enough said.

Reading is knowledge

You can watch a documentary or tutorial to learn a new skill but nothing beats the original experience of reading, processing, and understanding new knowledge or how-tos all by yourself.

Reading is a bottomless chest from which you will always be able to get a few jewels — with each book and each tale.

Reading is traveling for your soul

Reading helps you leave all your workaday troubles behind, even if for a short moment. It empties your mind until you’re powerful enough to confront your daily demons.

Reading is entertainment

For the bibliophiles out there, reading is a matchless experience. Reading gives you immense joy. It engages your senses and enthralls your mind with scenery, plots, and mind-blowing images.

Reading makes you interesting

From learning smart, little-known facts, to initiating great discussions with friends, reading makes you a knowledgeable, interesting person people will love to hang out with.

Reading is inspiration

Reading stimulates your creativity. You start thinking critically and more boldly, all because you’ve already been exposed to various scenarios and have garnered the tools and knowledge to be less ordinary and more unique.

Reading is growth

Even if you don’t read a self-improvement book per se, virtually any well-written book will help you become a better person. From building your self-esteem to becoming better at decision-making, books give you the tools to cope with life’s conundrums — and the ever-important Zombie apocalypse.

Reading is power

It’s a cliché but it’s nonetheless true: reading empowers you. The knowledge and worlds you experience when reading give you confidence and wisdom on how to deal with real life situations more gracefully and wisely.

Reading is your key to becoming a better person in all aspects of your life

Reading is how you improve your marketability, your communication skills, your empathy and emotional intelligence, your appeal — and even your sexiness. Reading is one of the few habits known to man that you can never have too much of. So go on, read on!

Bonus benefit

If you speed read you get to reap all these benefits in a shorter time. Awesome, right?


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Important American And British Spelling Differences You Should Know

June 8th, 2015

You may already know that the word “pants” means something else entirely in British English (hint: it doesn’t mean “trousers”), but do you know about the words that both British and American English speakers use, yet spell differently?

A basic rule of the thumb that covers these words is that American English spelling tends to be simplified and pronunciation-based. While British English favors the spelling of words as they originally appeared in the language they’ve been borrowed from – for instance, the word “cheque” – American English spellers generally write the word as they sound it out: “check.”

Writers, exchange students, and businessmen and businesswomen need to be aware of these spelling differences when dealing with people in Britain and the US, because using the proper spelling for each country helps avoid confusion, and also lends that touch of professionalism that marks a true global citizen.

Here are the main spelling differences between American and British spelling of English words.

-er/re

Words that end in –re in Britain often have those two letters reversed when spelled in American English. Here are some examples:

British English

centre, fibre, litre, theatre

American English

center, fiber, liter, theater

-nse/nce

While the British use the –nce ending, Americans generally prefer –nse.

American English

defense, license, offense, pretense

British English

defence, licence, offence, pretence

-ize/ise

American English uses the –ize spelling at the end of words, and while some people in Britain accept that as a valid spelling, you’ll usually see those same words spelled with the  –ise ending instead.

British English

apologise, organise, recognise

American English

apologize, organize, recognize

-or/-our

In British English, the preferred spelling of words ending in –our is not maintained in American English; in the United States, the “u” is dropped from the word.

American English

behavior, color, humor, labor, neighbor, flavor

British English

behaviour, colour, humour, labour, neighbour, flavour

Double vowels “ae” and “oe”

While the British retain the more complex spelling of words with Greek or Latin roots, using the orthodox spelling that was established when those words were brought into the English language as far back as the 14th and 15th centuries, the Americans, as usual, like their terminology simplified.

American English

leukemia

maneuver

estrogen

pediatric

British English

leukaemia

manoeuvre

oestrogen

paediatric

Words ending in a vowel plus –l

While Americans have dropped the double “l” when adding suffixes to verbs that end in the letter “l” the British still generally use the two-”l” approach to their spelling.

American English

traveling

traveled

traveler

fueled

fueling

British English

travelling

travelled

traveller

fuelled

fuelling

The rules can be confusing, especially for people who are learning English as a second language. Which system you choose often depends on where you’re learning English. Obviously, if you’re learning English in the United States, you will be taught that orthography, but if you are learning English in India, you will generally be taught the British spelling. Wherever you are, keep in mind that more often than not, the American spelling of words is a simplified version that is closer to how a word sounds rather how it was spelled in the language it has been borrowed from.

Knowing the spelling rules and differences will help you learn the spelling exceptions, too. For instance, archaeology is a spelling that’s used by English teachers and scientists in both American and British universities. Keep digging around, and you’ll find more exceptions – and that’s a hard and fast rule.


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The Future of Handwriting vs. The Future of Typing

June 1st, 2015

We’re coming across this topic frequently in news articles, and it’s the subject of many online debates. Is handwriting about to be declared dead, and a useless skill? Is touch typing the future – and only – way of communicating non-verbally?

Teachers, parents, and students are all wondering if learning cursive is relevant in a tech-driven world. This gives rise to a more pressing question: what should students learn first, touch typing or handwriting?

Current changes in education are giving precedence to touch typing and effectively moving handwriting skills to the backseat. Is this wrong, or should it be called smart adaptability? Students are now expected to use their keyboards to do research, complete assignments, and take exams – and this leaves handwriting instruction behind. Justifiably, students need to learn how to touch type in order to effectively handle their school homework and in-class assignments. Touch typing is the future. As gadgets and technologies make their way into the classroom, it’s only natural that schools want to prioritize keyboarding skills over handwriting.

However, this doesn’t mean we should rule out handwriting altogether. Handwriting is a deeply complex motor skill that’s cognitively challenging and essential to master. Handwriting involves several brain faculties at once, including sensory, motor, and language centers of the brain, and of course our senses of hearing and sight and touch. Considering the Common Core standards — that the majority of U.S states have adopted — students need to be proficient touch typists by the time they complete the 3rd grade.

This of course means that students need to formally learn how to touch type in class. This doesn’t indicate, however, that it should entirely replace handwriting instruction. The two are equally essential skills. No matter how pervasive text-language and keyboard-based devices will become in the next 20 years, handwriting will still be required for things like signatures, paying by check, writing thank you notes, and jotting down grocery lists. And of course, there’s the possibility of being creative and expressive through cursive writing.

Yes, the “for handwriting” argument is one that is generally imbued with nostalgia, and for some people even a fear of something so familiar going out of popularity.

It could also be that the rise of tablet use could mean that not even physical keyboards will survive the obsession with touch-screen devices, but isn’t handwriting a uniquely human skill? Given that, it’s not something we should let go extinct.

Writing skills, including cursive writing, are part and parcel of language acquisition and mastery. Perhaps our brains are agile enough to adapt to a new channel of language learning where writing is replaced with touch typing, but then would people be able to read cursive or sign a legal contract if they’ve never written using pen and paper before? It’s obvious that at least for the foreseeable future, handwriting is here to stay.


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Exploring the World of Vocabulary Through Technology and Modern Culture

May 25th, 2015

We take selfies while we commute to work, and talk with people on Tinder.

Imagine that you’ve traveled in time, and you’re talking to someone back in the 1930s. Imagine saying to them, “I’ll teach you how to surf the web, post updates on other people’s walls, and change your status every hour.” No matter how knowledgeable that person was in 1930s technology, they would definitely be confused. A “web” was something a spider built. A “wall” was only built of brick and mortar. “Status” meant the social class you belonged to, or earned.

Technology and the fast-growing culture we are all part of has changed more than just our habits and lifestyles. It has changed our language as well. Words take up new meanings. New words are created from scratch to give meaning to new concepts, technologies, and realities. It’s a crazy, crazy world we live in.

Tinder

Tinder use to mean firelighter; any dry, inflammable material people use to light a fire. Today, it’s the well-known match-making app that people use to light romantic fires.

Web

It used to refer to a spider’s web, but now it’s the daily reality for many workers, students, and people in general.

The word used to bring to mind things you’d find in abandoned homes or brush aside during long evening walks in the woods, but now it’s a virtual world in which you work, talk, and entertain yourself.

Surf

Sporty people surf at the beach or ride the waves on a surfboard, but today, surfing is also the activity of sitting or lying on your back and surfing the world wide web — not much of an outdoorsy activity, really.

Mouse

Mice were once pests in your kitchen. Today, mice are found everywhere and are no longer pesky. Today’s mouse is a device you use to move a cursor on a screen and click on links. We used to try and trap mice, now the tables seem to have been turned.

Application

You apply for college or a job, but forty years ago you would never have thought you would download and install applications on devices to play games, educate yourself, listen to music, or book your flight tickets. The times they are a-changin’.

Traffic

Traffic jams, road rage, and a boss calling to ask for your whereabouts, that sounds hellish. Modern day traffic is not that bad, though. In fact, online traffic is desirable, because it shows your business website gets visitors and clicks and people are interested in what you sell. Kudos to you!

Tweets

Tweets used to be bird songs that could be as long and intricate as the songbird wanted. Now we’re chirping to each other on our smartphones.

The web is a lively hub for neologisms and creative new applications of existing concepts. No one would have predicted that when we were talking about apples and blackberries we weren’t referring to fruit but smartphones. Nor did we ever imagine we would virtually check in to places we visit, and accept cookies instead of eating them. When you’re aware of all of the new ways words are used, you can devour the virtual world.


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