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Into The World of Homophones: Discovering How They Are Affecting Our Writing

April 20th, 2015

Unless you’re a ferociously passionate language user, chances are you’ve used a similar sounding word instead of the appropriate one, and more than once. How many times in the last week did  your Word editor flagged your errors when you confused “its” and “it’s” or “their” and “there”? Worse, what if your computer editor didn’t catch them at all?

What is a homophone?

A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same way as another word, but has a different meaning. This means that words like “to”, “two”, and “too” are homophones. We pronounce them the same, yet their meanings are completely different.

It’s not just simple words that get confused. The words “queue” and “cue” have a different spelling and meaning, but they too can be confused when you’re touch typing quickly and you’re already deep into your post-snack afternoon slump.

Why so much hate on homophones?

The English language has borrowed words from so many languages and cultures that it has become a very confusing and often unpredictable language to learn. “Tea” and “tee” are semantically different, but it’s unbelievably easy to swap one for the other in writing.

This is why people can get upset when homophones cause them problems. Homophones are little language bandits that steal away your thunder. Your writing will never be flawless because they’re bound to ruin it, you think. The thing is they’re embarrassingly good at it – but you can be better.

How to master homophone usage

The only foolproof solution to ban homophone misuse from your writing once and for all is to improve your writing skills.

Homophones, as we said above, are little bandits that wait for exhaustion to kick in to make their move and sneak into your writing. This means the best thing you can do is to equip yourself with the linguistic knowledge you  need to avoid them, or at least spot them when they creep in.

  • Revisit your elementary school years and practice your spelling and vocabulary skills. There’s no shame in trying to become a competent language user, no matter how old you are.

  • When learning new words, ensure you master both their spelling and their meaning.

  • It’s not enough to know how a word is pronounced, because chances are you’re going to confuse “keys” with “quays” at some point.

  • By properly learning a word’s orthography and meaning you are instantly minimizing the chances of confusing homophones in your writing. This will ensure that you avoid the always-awkward situation of having to explain yourself to your editor or manager. Yikes.

  • Practice your language skills with spelling games and even with spelling software. Good software will help you brush up on your language skills and give you a the tools you need to write clearly and proofread your writing afterward. Remember, “Ceiling the deal” is not an acceptable phrase any way you look at it.


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The Three Main Goals of Keyboarding Instruction

April 13th, 2015

What comes to mind when you think of typing skills? Usually, we imagine a person typing with ease and confidence on a sleek, high-tech keyboard in a multi-million-dollar company.

When we teach young students how to touch type, the ultimate goal is none other than preparing children to grow up to become skilled professionals with bright career prospects ahead of them.

Of course, without other skills and education, a person cannot advance in life with typing skills alone. But it is perhaps the single most important tech skill right now.

Better Career Prospect

Every parent and every teacher wishes that the children in their care will be successful in life. Touch typing, although not the only vital life and professional skill out there, is still one that has timeless value in our increasingly tech-driven world.

Any tech skill is important, but those with advanced typing skills gain a head start over their competitors. They are more productive and focused in their work, hence more valuable and indispensable to their company.

Competent, Confident, Healthy Students

It is often the case that teens type faster on their smartphones than they can on their computers. This is because they didn’t have the support they needed to learn the right keyboarding techniques. Students who have received formal typing instruction through a typing software or school class have learned the typing skills they need to be able to type efficiently and without putting too much strain on their wrists, hands, and shoulders.

What’s more, an advanced typist is more likely a confident one, and a confident student will not be easily intimidated by school workloads.

Getting Rid Of Ineffective Typing Techniques

Anyone who didn’t have the chance to receive formal typing lessons has developed their own unique hunt and peck method for typing. In general, these methods use at maximum only four fingers. While this works with informal tasks like chatting or browsing websites, it’s neither efficient nor sustainable in the workplace, especially for anyone who has a computer-based job, such as a translator, a developer, a graphic designer, or a data analyst.

Touch typing lessons give you the essential know-how to type accurately. Through practice, you gradually improve your typing speed as well. With advanced typing skills you ensure you don’t fall behind in your school assignments that are keyboard-based.

Ultimately, touch typing offers immediate benefits for students that helps them better handle school projects and activities. Over the long term it lets them boost their professional image and employability prospects.

Cross-posted on the Spreeder blog.


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Why Reading Is Important For All Age Groups

April 6th, 2015

I am reading. You are reading. Grandma’s reading and father’s reading too. This is not a nursery rhyme, it’s a manifesto about reading’s universal appeal and importance.

Everybody has the right to read, no matter their age. More importantly, there’s really no clear category distinction as to what a person can read and when. If you’re a 52 year old mother of three and enjoy reading Young Adult literature, that’s OK. If you find The Little Prince mesmerizing after all these years and enjoy reading it to your 3-year old girl more than she likes to listen to it, that’s also OK. Reading as a habit has a multitude of benefits, and putting artificial restrictions on this habit, or constricting the scope of reading options, is rather pointless.

Reading for Young Children

Children that get into the habit of reading will be pleased and astonished by how quickly it becomes their preferred medium of gaining knowledge, losing themselves in fantasy, and expressing their creativity.

Reading unveils an immense world of countless possibilities for them. It educates them, makes them laugh, and gives them hints and clues as to what life is about. Most of the time, they don’t even realize that they’re being taught as they read.

For example, Dr. Seuss’s popular “The Star-Bellied Sneetches” is a book that uses a funny plot line to share important underlying lessons on discrimination, prejudice, and tolerance. Getting children to love reading ensures that they learn to nurture noble values and develop strong ethics and a forward-thinking worldview.

Reading for Young Adults – Adult Literature

As adolescents, many children dive into reading as a way of finding answers to thorny questions on identity, existence, sexuality, relationships, feelings, and romance.

But that’s not the only reason adolescents read. They read because reading is fun – because what they get from reading is extraordinary. Literature generously gives them inside peeks into new worlds, new tools for thinking, for being brave, for resolving issues, and for making sense of our often confusing (as some authors present it, approaching dystopic) and tech-driven lives.

Adults resort to books for the same reasons, much of the time. No matter the genre, the pursuit is always the same: a mental escape, a storehouse of new knowledge, a new way of thinking, a new breathtaking world shared between author and reader. Adults can explore difficult philosophical works to help them gain a wider understanding of the world, or revisit their youth by rereading some of their childhood favorites.

Reading for Seniors

Once you’ve been bitten by the (reading) bug, there’s no way of letting go of it. Reading becomes a daily habit that you return to, no matter what. It becomes your constant in a world permeated by continuous change and unpredictability.

But reading when you’re older is not just matter of habit. In numerous studies reading has been confirmed to help combat brain aging, and many studies have shown that reading keeps people’s thinking agile. Even everyday functions like reacting to traffic light changes or identifying a phone number improve thanks to habitual reading.

Reading for All

The extraordinary experience of reading a printed book is one that has endured for centuries. It hasn’t been compromised or weakened despite the growing popularity of other reading media like the Internet and ereaders. Instead, these new ways of reading has ensured that it has become a habit deeply entrenched in our daily lives.

We read hardcopy novels, we read digital blogs, and we learn about the latest news through the online New York Times. Reading is something that ties us together and allows us to share experiences through the stories that we tell.


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Did You Keep Up To Date On Ultimate Vocabulary Reviews In 2014?

March 30th, 2015

I know, it’s 2015 already, so why bother with the previous year’s reviews?

For one thing, because they matter. Reviews are not necessarily time-sensitive. Contrary to popular belief, each year’s review is the reference point for how a program might have evolved and improved over time and with each new release. What’s more, historical reviews enable people interested in software to get an sneak peek into how it might help them improve the one skill they lack, when they read about the experiences of other users.

Ultimate Vocabulary™ reviews from 2014 are a valuable resource for anyone who wants to improve their vocabulary in 2015.

Software Review Boffin awards a Gold 5–Star Prize to Ultimate Vocabulary

Established review site Software Review Boffin offers an in-depth review of eReflect’s program, emphasizing that the vocabulary builder is a leader in its category and stating that it’s currently the best program on the market. The editor at Software Review Boffin states, “It is an excellent choice for people wishing to enhance their vocabulary by being able to use words they may have only previously heard once or twice, and didn’t really understand.”

Word Buff Puts Ultimate Vocabulary™ to the Test

Word Buff gives an extensive review of the program, covering every possible feature, aspect, and technology of the software while offering an impartial, must-read analysis of its efficiency in building people’s vocabulary. Word Buff concludes the over 2000-word review by saying, “I do have to say that compared to other programs Ultimate Vocabulary is by far the most sophisticated vocabulary builder I’ve used to date, and, as I mentioned earlier, it has become my default program for building my own vocabulary (and with a site dedicated to words, I do get to try quite a few).”

English-test.net hosts an Interview with the Ultimate Vocabulary™ designer, Marc Slater

English-Test’s editor discusses vocabulary, success, and language with Marc Slater, the manager of eReflect and the creator of Ultimate Vocabulary™.  This insightful interview is perfectly summed up in a statement related to the need to truly master new vocabulary — something that Ultimate Vocabulary™ achieves. Here’s the quote: “One goal of vocabulary building is to take those words that one merely recognises and start using them actively to communicate more effectively.”

eTeachersHub.com describes Ultimate Vocabulary™ as essential for educators and students

One of the latest 2014 reviews of Ultimate Vocabulary™ is the one by the site eTeachersHub.com. The reviewer focuses on the 2015 release of Ultimate Vocabulary™ which is equipped with new features like social sharing, shared training, and most prominently, the cloud technology that enables practice on multiple devices from anywhere. This is a must-read review that gives an in-depth look into the program’s strengths and its value for vocabulary practice in the classroom.

Nurturing Learning blog shares thoughts on Ultimate Vocabulary™

Julie at the successful NurturingLearning.com blog shares her own insights and views on Ultimate Vocabulary™. She focuses on customer support and the feature-rich and activities-packed aspects of the program, saying, “There is so much to Ultimate Vocabulary, that I don’t actually think I have discovered everything in my time playing around with the program.  I’ve decided to work through the Words for Life Success list for 5 to 10 minutes each day, just because I like words. Customer service was fantastic and quick when we encountered some issues.  The issues were resolved within a couple hours of contacting them.”


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Speed Reading Software Reviews That You Might Have Missed In 2014

March 23rd, 2015

It’s 2015 already, but did you keep up with last year’s software reviews on speed reading software, 7 Speed Reading™? If 2015 is the year you are planning on mastering speed reading, then you ought to read what others say about eReflect’s reading improvement program.

Top Ten Reviews gives 7 Speed Reading™ a near perfect rating, 99.5%

Top Ten Reviews, a renowned software evaluator trusted by millions of Internet users, had put eReflect’s software to the test. After rigorous assessments the editor announced that the program is a leader in its category, giving the software a 9.95/10 score.

In a detailed review of the software’s features and technologies, the Top Ten Reviews editor focuses on five aspects of the program: its reading level and exercises (9.8/10), methods and materials available (10/10), features set (10/10), reporting (10/10), and finally help and support (10/10). The reviewer, Noel Case, emphasizes that the software’s entertaining and complete approach to teaching speed reading are unrivaled.

But that was in 2014.

Top Ten Reviews rates 7 Speed Reading™ with 9.95/10 for 2015

For its 2015 rankings, Top Ten Reviews insisted on its previous stellar ratings of 7 Speed Reading™ . The verdict comes as no surprise, as the editors note, saying, “User friendly, feature rich and effective, 7 Speed Reading is the best speed-reading application on the market.”

Typing Lounge and Mark Ways acknowledge 7 Speed Reading™’s superiority

Typing Lounge is another site that thoroughly tested and evaluated 7 Speed Reading™ against other reading improvement software products. Typing Lounge and Mark Ways have found that 7 Speed Reading™ offers a unique set of features and technologies that make it stand out from its competition. The reviewer stated in his 2014 review that 7 Speed Reading™ has industry-leading status thanks to its unrivaled combination of capacities and features.

Spreeder emphasizes 7 Speed Reading™’s effectiveness

A child project of 7 Speed Reading™, Spreeder, offers a review of and in-depth look at the program. This website focused the evaluation on how the program is essential in the classroom, listing the ways it is able to help children improve their reading habits and let go of habits that sabotage their academic performance.

Spreeder asserts that speed reading helps students master reading and other reading-related assignments much faster and effortlessly, motivating them to keep improving their academic efficiency. For the latest reviews of the 7 Speed Reading™ 2015 check here.

Cross-posted on the 7 Speed Reading blog.


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The Best Typing Software Reviews of Ultimate Typing You Might Have Missed

March 16th, 2015

Ultimate Typing™ 2015 is a feature-rich release of the popular program. It offers you the latest in cloud technology and social sharing functionality, and has numerous other enhancements and features for more efficient and entertaining practice.  Let’s have a look at prominent reviews of the typing program so far.

Always Review proclaims Ultimate Typing™ an industry leader

Always Review, an established reviewer of programs and other technologies, shared in a helpful, in-depth review of the program in 2014. The editors at Always Review discovered that the combination of features, user-friendliness, expert-designed activities, and several unique functionalities make Ultimate Typing™ a top option for anyone looking to improve their keyboarding skills effortlessly. The editors were particularly impressed by the fact that the program is designed to be effective with only a couple of minutes of practice per day. The verdict sums it up quite well. “With the ease of use and effectiveness of this software,” the editors note, “you will have to look long and hard to find a product that offers the same level of performance as this software. For the amount it is sold for, it is very good value for money. ”

Ed Tech Round Up declares Ultimate Typing™ an essential classroom resource

EdTechRoundUp.com, an organization that aims at helping educators make the most of technology in the classroom, published a detailed review of Ultimate Typing™ EDU, the program version that has been especially designed for classroom use.

Ultimate Typing™ EDU makes it possible to gain typing efficiency through fun and interactive typing games and activities. At the same time, it offers powerful reporting functionality to both teacher and student to better monitor the user’s progress. EdTechRoundUp’s review concludes by saying, “Touch typing and keyboarding skills are essential to prepare students for today’s highly-competitive job market, and eReflect offers Ultimate Typing™ EDU to help educators and students achieve this important goal.”

Tina’s Dynamic School Plus rates and evaluates Ultimate Typing™

Established blogger and successful homeschooling mother Tina, from Tina’s Dynamic School Plus, offers a must-read, in-depth review of Ultimate Typing™ from a perspective that’s unique;: that of a mother who wants the best for her chidren’s education and success.

The blogger confirms the importance of typing skills in her children’s education and future career prospects, and wraps up her review with a statement many other mothers that offered Ultimate Typing to their children can sympathize with, saying, “After I unwrapped Ultimate Typing, I instantly saw the superior quality.  There is just no comparison to other programs I have used over the years and that includes comparing what you get for the price too.”

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Typing blog.


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7 Speed Reading Declared The Best Speed Reading Software of 2015 by Speed Reading Lounge

March 2nd, 2015

Speed Reading Lounge proclaims 7 Speed Reading™ software by eReflect the top software for 2015. If there’s one site dedicated to the skill of speed reading that’ s Speed Reading Lounge; it helps people understand the significance of speed reading and offers them tips and how-tos on improving their reading skill so that they can learn more with less effort, and in less time.

Speed Reading Lounge recently published a detailed, comprehensive list they’ve named “Best Speed Reading Software for 2015.” 7 Speed Reading™ by eReflect topped the list with its unrivaled set of features, technologies, and benefits.

The Speed Reading Lounge top 5 list for speed reading software is as follows:

1.   7 Speed Reading™
2.   Ace Reader Lite
3.   Iris Reading
4.   Reader’s Edge
5.   EyeQ Deluxe

The Speed Reading Lounge editor used his detailed review to focuses on the fact that 7 Speed Reading™ is a popular and renowned speed reading tool. 7 Speed Reading provides a surefire way to improve reading efficiency through expert-designed lessons, activities, and interactive games that are fun to practice with. As the editor notes, this is something consumers and software editors know very well, and have known since the first release of this popular software by eReflect.

The program helps people improve their reading habits through 7 distinct reading strategies and techniques that first eliminate bad reading habits and then help the reader adopt more time-efficient and comprehension-promoting ones. The reviewer states that 7 Speed Reading™ is the go-to speed reading program, saying that it is “[r]ecommended by thousands of students and professionals who have tried and tested it. The quality of videos and exercises makes it an effective guiding tool, making it superior to its competitors. It is beneficial for anyone at any age. Family and friends can take advantage of this program as there are no limits to user accounts.”

For the Speed Reading Lounge editor, eReflect’s software is without peer. Its winning combination of features, functionality, and state-of-the-art activities and tools ensure effortless and quick improvement of anyone’s speed reading skill.

Cross-posted on the 7 Speed Reading blog.


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First 2015 Typing Software Review Released By Toptenreview.com – Check It Out!

February 23rd, 2015

Ultimate Typing is a polished and highly effective typing software application that typists of all ages and skill levels will find beneficial. The software is designed to teach you basic keyboarding skills and then help you improve your typing speed and accuracy once you have grasped the fundamental concepts. Ultimate Typing does this through a winning combination of step-by-step training lessons and video instruction. An equal focus on accuracy and speed ensures that you gain well-rounded keyboarding skills, and appealing typing games make the software as engaging as it is effective. That’s why we gave this software our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.”

Here are Toptenreview.com‘s list of criteria in reviewing the most updated typing software of 2015:

Typing Training 9.6/10

This typing software combines touch-typing activities with detailed video instruction. At the beginning of each lesson, a video instructor introduces a new typing concept and demonstrates how to perform it. This instruction is followed by numerous typing exercises to help you develop that particular skill. The formula is simple but highly effective.

Click here for more details.

Learning Tools 9.8/10

Ultimate Typing boasts a number of features that will make your learning experience effective and enjoyable. To make sure you get the most out of its lessons, the software employs a technique known as adaptive learning. This means the software continually tracks your progress to customize your learning. For instance, if you perform poorly on a lesson or exercise, the software prompts you to repeat it until you attain a certain skill level.

Click here for more details.

Progress Reporting 10/10

Ultimate Typing provides excellent reporting features, so you know exactly how well and at what rate you are progressing through the application. Two essential stats to know when you are using any typing software are your accuracy percentage and words per minute (wpm). The application continually tracks both, as well as your adjusted wpm rate. This is an adjusted formula in which your wpm rate is reduced by the number of typing errors you make.

Help & Support 10/10

If you run into any problems while using the program there is a system in place that lets you report it immediately. You can also contact customer support directly to resolve any issues you may have.

Click here for more details.

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Typing blog.


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Better Check Out The New Look Of Ultimate Vocabulary 2015

February 16th, 2015

Ultimate Vocabulary™ is getting a makeover, and it will be ready in time for the new year! eReflect has been revamping Ultimate Vocabulary and providing it with a super user-friendly, sleek appearance and a wide range of new features and capabilities.

A revamped user-friendly interface

eReflect is proud of its user-friendly Ultimate Vocabulary™ interface. Creating educational software for children and adults is a challenge and eReflect has found the recipe for a learning environment that’s user-friendly and fun to practice with. The new Ultimate Vocabulary™ interface is sleek, intuitive, and has all the core practices and features in prominent places on the menu.

Cloud-based

Taking advantage of cloud technologies, Ultimate Vocabulary™ is keeping up with the latest trends in e-learning that call for cloud integration for smoother, more efficient learning.

As a result, the brand new Ultimate Vocabulary™ is cloud-based, which means that you won’t have to download  any bulky files onto your device. You’ll simply enter your access and license details through the cloud and have instant access to all of its features and tools.

Being cloud-based, Ultimate Vocabulary™ 2015 offers users the ability to create their account and access it from anywhere, from the classroom, the office, or their home. Ultimate Vocabulary™ offers its range of features, activities, and games with the convenience of the internet, but without the distracting ads and slow-loading websites. It’s all in the cloud.

Personal profiles

Ultimate Vocabulary™ 2015 takes personal achievement one step further by allowing users to create personal profiles and use these to track their progress, set goals, and earn success points for every practice and game they complete. The addition of personal profiles makes practice a more personal matter as each user can know at any time how much progress they’ve made. You can even share your scores with friends on Facebook.

Collecting success points and sharing scores on Facebook

An exciting new feature in Ultimate Vocabulary is the ability users now have to collect success points for every practice milestone they reach. Every game, activity, or exercise they finish will earn them points. These statistics are shareable on Facebook so that users can show off their learning progress with their friends and loved ones.

Ultimate Vocabulary™ 2015 retains all its well-loved and immensely popular features and tools, and it’s also bringing in compelling new games and activities. With the 2015 version of this vocabulary software, you will never run out of practice material, no matter your age or learning goals.

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Vocabulary blog.


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One Book Can Change It All: Read To A Child And Spark Their Ambition

February 9th, 2015

Familiar with the characters in this short clip? Maybe you can also share it with the children of today’s generation.