Eric’s IPA Charts Online Pronunciation

Eric Armstrong’s voice & speech course is a website with the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) charts and recorded pronunciation. It allows visitors to hear how IPA symbols sound when articulated by clicking on particular “sound”. It is created in Flash and can be used online.

IPA phonetic notation is easy to read for linguists, but to those less experienced it can be confusing. Luckily, Mr Armstrong created multimedia IPA charts, containing consonants (pulmonic and non-pulmonic), vowels, diacritics, suprasegmentals, diphtongs and triphtongs.

The International Phonetic Alphabet is used in many well-know dictionaries, such as Oxford’s, so students of English language will find Suprasegmentals Table extremely useful: it shows and plays the recorded speech that demonstrate stress, vowel length, syllable break, linking, as well as tones and word accents (level and contour).

IPA is a system for phonetic notation. It was created by the International Phonetic Association and represents sounds of spoken language. Many thanks to Mr Anderson for creating his website that is very useful to all interested in fascinating world of language and phonetics.

Busuu.com – Language Learning Community

Fresh ideas are welcome, especially in learning and acquiring new (foreign) language. We present here one of the reinvigorated approaches in online language learning – Busuu.com, free language community that speaks in English, Italian, French, German and Spanish language.

Internet is hefty media and we have witnessed its power unleashed in vast world of social sites, visited by millions of users daily. They are bases on new concept called Web 2.0 and introduce great amount of pictures, sounds, videos, comments and communication. Some of the concepts are used in Bosuu.com and we are here to give you an overview of how this service can help you learn new language.

Busuu.com is created as an online meeting place around interactive courses, lessons and exercises where you can talk and collaborate with natives speakers.

Let there be Tree

When you register you will have your own Learning Garden that list all languages you learn as trees which grow gradually as you progress through the courses. It is a great visual tool that motivates younger learners but those mature as well. You will be rewarded with small tokens that symbolize your progress. It is also possible to take a look of other peoples’ threes and see their progress.

Languages on Busuu Tree – French, Italian, German

Four languages are available at this moment: French, Italian, German and English and the staff announced plans for adding more, even the elusive Busuu language the site is named after.

For each language there are several ways to go through the lessons. You can do them one by one, by choosing the level of difficulty or by selecting the grammar sections or topics that interests you.

Busuu main page with Language Tree
Busuu main page with Language Tree

New words are presented with an image which helps in acquiring, especially for visual types of learners. Of course, you can hear the word spoken by native speaker, and if you are a premium user, you can hear it in the context (an utterance). This will greatly help you master your pronunciation and get sentence rhythm.

Premium users can download lessons in PDF, print it and work offline – this is not available for common users.

It would be more interesting and of more benefit to have different lessons for each language: here the content is the same, only in different language. This negatively affects motivation in some users, wile others will appreciate familiar context. However, acquiring foreign language is also learning about culture and differences, and users all over the world would appreciate diversity in this globalized society. It would be very refreshing to learn about Maria from Sicily or Amelie and Jacques from Paris…

Test and mistakes

After the vocabulary training and short texts you can work on tests and see how well you are doing. The things that you find more difficult will be saved, so you can review later.

The name of the site comes from the Busuu language of Cameroon, which according to an ethnological study from the 80ies is only spoken by 8 people.

Multiple-choice comprehension test, one of many test teypes on Busuu
Multiple-choice comprehension test, one of many test teypes on Busuu

Hidden value and native speakers

One of the best things about Busuu is the interaction between native speakers and learners of foreign language. This “linguistic productivity” and communication is essential for successful acquisition of a new language.

In some lessons learners have to write on a topic in the language they are learning. This is not daunting as it seems because useful phrases are available and “students” must be creative and work on their own. Learners’ written work is then available for native speakers to edit and show mistakes. This great interaction can further be enhanced by voice chat and webcams – chat windows even contain useful phrases for conversation.

We really hope that this interactive “native speakers – learners” system will further be improved because of all its potential.

Go for it!

Would we suggest Busuu.com? Definitely. Go and meet people, share views and talk – in foreign language. Gauge your progress in Busuu Garden, and let friendly commnity of native speakers help you in your learning.

Busuu.com is a free online community for learning languages. Users have access to audio-visual learning material covering several topics. Additionally, language skills can be directly improved together with native speakers from around the world. Users connect via an integrated video-chat with other users of the community while at home. Each user is not only “student” of a foreign language but also a “teacher” of his own mother tongue. The start-up was founded in Madrid at the beginning of 2008. The company has been nominated Official Project of the UNESCO during the International Year of Languages. – from Busuu.com.

Addressing and Ending: Formal Letters in the English language

How to start or end formal letter in English? How to address a person if you know the name or the title? Here are the tips adapted from Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.

Practice grammar and solve English language tests. It’s free.

Beginning and salutation in formal letters

If you are writing to someone whose name you do not know, especially in British English you can put:

Dear Sir
Dear Madam
Dear Sirs
Dear Sir / Madam
Dear Sir or Madam.

In American English this form is used, but not in British:

To whom it may concern.

If you are addressing to someone by name, use their title and surname.

Dear Dr Smith (BrE)
Dear Dr. Smith (AmE)

Note the usage of full stop after the title in the American English version.

Do not write full name and (or) the title:

Dear James Smith
Dear Dr. James Smith

Ending formal letters

In American English:

Sincerely
Sincerely Yours
Yours Truly

In British English:

If you have mentioned person’s name: Yours sincerely;
If you started the letter generically with Dear Sir / Madam, etc: Yours faithfully.