During the articulation of this sound, the front part of the tongue is raised in the direction of the hard palate to a position between the close and half-close positions. The lips are loosely spread. It is thus a centralised front unrounded vowel between close and half-close positions. It is represented in spelling by i, e, y, a, u, ee, ey, ia, ai, ui, and ei as in hit, begin, pity, baggage, ladies, busy, coffee, money, carriage, bargain, build and foreign respectively. This sound can occur initially as in it, medially as in fit, and finally in a word as in city. It is a short vowel. Some more examples:
a – village, private, baggage, surface
ai – bargain, captain, mountain
ay – Sunday, Monday, Tuesday
e – pretty, ticket, system, harmless, horses, extempore, apostrophe
ee – coffee, toffee
ei – foreign, sovereign
ey – monkey, money, honey
i – it, hill, fifth, lift
ia – carriage, marriage
ie – cities, ladies, lobbies, dailies
o – women
u – minute (n), busy
ui – build, guilt
y – city, easy, hilly, symbol, rhythm
There are twenty vowel sounds in the Received Pronunciation of England (R.P.). These include twelve pure vowels and eight diphthongs, belonging to different phonemes. They are illustrated with the following sets of words:
Pure Vowels (Monothongs):
- even, see, teach, field, receive, machine, key, people
- bit, ink, rich, begin, effect, matches, city, village, coffee
- head, bed, nest, breath, feather, measure, many, bury, said
- axe, cat, fan, tax, had, sad, rank, band, man, bag, lack
- arm, part, car, hard, pass, dance, bath, staff, calm, aunt, laugh
- got, hot, ox, box, God, bottle, borrow, quality, want, cough, gone
- all, corn, horse, morning, four, bought, door, law, walk, warm, daughter
- put, book, good, room, wood, woman, cushion, full, sugar, bush, should
- boot, two, shoe, rude, juice, music, food, tooth, lose, you, new, beauty
- up, cup, gun, much, uncle, bundle, month, country, young, blood
- fur, earn, word, girl, hurt, curse, serve, thirst, journey, surface
- ago, about, forget, human, problem, liberty, drama, beggar, bigger,
Dipthongs (Vowel Glides):
- aim, pain, play, day, gate, age, waste, rain, eight, they, great,
- home, open, go, gold, blow, window, boat, soap, though
- ice, bite, high, write, tidy, cry, cycle, five, die, child, buy
- out, loud, cow, how, allow, shout, house, mouth, round,
- oil, boil, boy, annoy, join, coin, noise, point, voice
- ear, fierce, near, real, cheer, zero, here, hear, severe
- air, chair, care, share, bear, wear, prayer, their
- poor, sure, surely, tour, during
The Vowels of English (R.P.): There are twenty vowel sounds in the Received Pronunciation of England (R.P.). These include twelve pure vowels and eight dipthongs, belonging to different phonemes.
Detailed description of the Vowels of RP
During the articulation of this sound, the front of the tongue is raised in the direction of the hard palate, to an almost close position. The lips are spread, and thus it is a front close unrounded vowel. It is a long vowel. The different spellings for this vowel are e, ee, ea, ie, i, ey, eo as in the words eve, tree, heat, piece, receive, police, key and people respectively. It can occur initially as in eat, medially as in beat, and finally as in see. Some more examples:
e – be, complete, even, immediate, these
ee – cheese, feed, green, free, knee, seed, eel
ea – beat, cream, dream, each, lead, reach, sea, tea, teach
ie – chief, field, relief, piece,siege
ei – deceive, receive, conceive, seize
i – machine, police, prestige, ski
A figure of speech wherein objects of nature, animals, inanimate objects or abstract ideas are treated as if they had a personality and were human beings. Examples:
- The sea was singing songs.
- The river glideth at his own sweet will.
- The Ant said to the Grass-hopper.
- The parrot sang sweet songs.
- Melancholy marked him for her own.
- Death lays his icy hands on kings.
Personification is usually expressed:
Through Verbs: Express feelings or actions connected with human beings.
- The very walls will cry out against it.
- The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night.
- Anxiety is sitting on his face.
- Earth felt the wound.
- Woods rejoiced and welcomed him.
- Mute nature mourns her worshipper.
The raging storm, the angry sea, the hungry shore, the smiling land, the blushing rose, the sullen sky, the remorseless heat, furious waves, pitiless cold, etc.
Metaphor is a figure of speech where there is an implied comparison betwen two objects, persons or situations. Metaphor does not state, like a simile, that one thing is or acts like another thing. Metaphor states that the two things are one and in a manner identical. Metaphor is a figure of of identification, e.g. Her eyes are like pearls. (The comparison is implied. Eyes are identified with pearls. Unlike a simile there is no use of ‘like’ or ‘as’.
Metaphor is usually expressed in the following forms:
1. Explicit identification:
- The camel is the ship of the desert.
- Procrastination is the thief of time.
- Old age is the sunset of life.
- Idleness is the nursery of sinful thoughts.
2. By the use of ‘of’:
- He was faced by a sea of troubles.
- Let us fight with the weapon of truth.
- Hold fast to the anchor of faith, hope and charity. (Anchor in the form of faith etc. ‘Anchor’ is identified with “faith’ etc.)
- The tree of liberty only grows when watered by the blood of tyrants. (‘Tree’ in the form of ‘liberty’; ‘water’ in the form of ‘blood’.)
3. Expressed through a verb:
- The ship ploughs the sea.
- Remorse gnawed at his heart.
- Do not ape the manners of the rich.
- Our country is being drained of its resources.
4.A whole sentence: Sometimes a whole sentence is metaphricallyy used to fit in a particular situation. If a man, for example , goes on changing his jobs, we merely tell him, “Well, sir, A rolling stone gathers no moss“.
- He is sowing wild oats.
- The cat was out of the bag.
- He hit the nail on the head.
- Make hay while the sun shines.
These are all examples of Metaphor.
5.Expressed in a phrase ( where the objects of identity are not clearly expressed):
- At last there is a ray of hope.
- He laid down the reigns of his office.
- They spread the light of knowledge.
- There is not a shade of doubt in it.
- He had a fiery temper.
- There was a stormy discussion in the meeting.
- She has a rosy complexion.
- He has a stony heart.
A simile is a figure of speech that explicitly compares two unlike objects or persons. It uses words ‘like’, ‘as’ to bring out the comparison. Similes are used to make descriptions more emphatic or vivid, e.g.
- Her eyes are like pearls. (pure and beautiful) (Clear comparison between ‘eyes’ and ‘pearls’ with the help of the word ‘like’).
- She eats like a bird. (eats very little)
- They fought like cats and dogs. (fought fiercely)
- He works like a dog. (works very hard)
- He is as strong as a lion. (very strong)
- She walks as softly and gracefully as a cat. (walks without making any noise)
- The old man is as blind as a bat. (completely blind)
This is my family. I am Jack. Jill is my sister. Mr. Jack Painter is my father. Mrs. Julia Painter is my mother. Mr. and Mrs. Painter are my parents. I am their son. Jill is their daughter. I am Jill’s brother. Parents and children make a family. They live together in a house. My father paints cars. My mother also helps him in his work. I find his work fascinating. When I grow up I will learn to paint cars too.
Language is meant for communication. It is best and easily learnt in meaningful contexts. We grasp the language that is spoken around us without any difficulty. We become confident and use it fluently as we grow.
But when we try to learn a new language, let us say English, we forget the manner in which we acquired our mother tongue or regional language. We scamper after rules and patterns. This way we end up as hesitant speakers of the language. To become fluent in the language, we simply have to surround ourselves with it; use it as much as we can.
There are four skills that we have to master:
This is how we acquire our mother tongue /regional language.
Notice that an ordinary Indian student is usually proficient in at least two languages – his mother tongue or regional language and Hindi (our national language). Students in urban areas are also exposed to a third language (English) at a very early age. But few of them gain the same fluency in English as they have in the other two languages.
The problem behind it is the manner in which English is taught in most schools in India. Instead of focusing first on listening and speaking, we put more emphasis on writing and reading skills. Kindergarten kids (three to four years) are made to write the English alphabet in capital, small and cursive style. Drills and repetition form the basis of language learning. The order in which English is taught in most schools is:
This results in students who can write and read English, are even aware of the grammar and structure of English but are extremely hesitant in speaking it.
Attempts are being made to change this scenario. Many schools are now adopting the Communicative Language Teaching Approach. The CLT approach aims at communicative competence. The focus is on real language use. Efforts are made for the learner to acquire English within a social context; to be able to communicate in the target language outside of the classroom; to know when and how to say what and to whom.
This approach is not teacher-centric but student –centric. Students are given ample opportunity to express themselves. The teacher acts as a facilitator and advisor and establishes situations which are likely to promote communication. Activities like games, story-telling,, picture strip stories, role play, advertisements etc. are introduced in the class which make language learning an enjoyable activity instead of a burden.
English is taught as a second language in most schools in India. Still only a handful of people become competent speakers of English. Most remain in awe of the language. Things are changing but a lot needs to be done especially in the manner in which language teachers are trained. It is only then that we will have more confident and competent speakers of the English language.
Conversation: About School
Jane returns home after her first day in her new school and tells her mother about her school.
Jane: I am back from school, mamma.
Mother: How is the school Jane?
Jane: The school is good mamma.
Mother: How are your classmates?
Jane: My classmates are friendly and helpful.
Mother: And your teachers?
Jane: The teachers are very good. Mrs. Joseph teaches us English and Social Studies. Mrs. Andrews teaches Math’s and Science.
Mother: Is there a good library in school?
Jane: Yes, mom, the library is very good, big and rich. Every week, our class teacher will give us a new book.
Mother: That’s nice. Is there a playground?
Jane: Yes, ma, the playground is huge. There are swings, slides, see-saw and a merry-go-round in one corner. There is a basketball court, volleyball and a badminton court as well. There are many big neem and tamarind trees in the school compound. The students told me that sometimes the teachers take their classes under those trees. Isn’t it wonderful mother?
Mother: I’m happy that you like your school, Jane. Do you have a games period everyday?
Jane: No, mamma, only twice a week. On other days we have dance, drawing and craft classes.
Mother: That’s really interesting. Jane, you should make the best use of all the opportunities that are provided in your school.
Jane: I will do my best, mamma.