Your language permeates every aspect of who you are. You are judged by what you say and how you present yourself. Make 2009 the year that you commit to the way you speak. Fine-tune the little things that make a big difference with these Top 10 Language Tips for 2009!
1. Speak positively
Your language influences your thoughts just as much as your thoughts influence your language. When you set your resolutions for the new year did you list, “Stop smoking,” or “Breathe freely?” Make sure that you’re sending yourself positive images with the language you use.
2. Practice tongue twisters
If you’re concerned about the way you speak or the way you pronounce certain sounds, tongue twisters are a fun and easy way to begin making progress in the right direction. A simple web search will give you lots of ideas. Practice saying the tongue twisters in front of a mirror so you can see how your mouth changes to make different sounds.
3. Set language goals
Whether you want to speak more clearly, correctly or confidently, set goals for yourself. For example, if you want to improve your vocabulary, set a goal to learn 10 new words per week (or whatever number you think is fair).
4. Read... a lot
The best way to improve your language skills and become a better speaker and writer is to read... a lot. Choose magazines, books, newspapers and online resources that not only interest you, but also have good English language content. If you’re reading the tabloids, you’re probably not getting the best English input possible, which leads me to number 5:
5. Listen to and observe good language models
Whether you’re choosing something to read, or choosing who and what you listen to, the most important thing is that the people you emulate need to speak English very well! Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect – perfect practice does!
6. Play word games
Word games are a great way to keep your mind active, build new vocabulary and increase creativity. Solve a crossword puzzle, do a word search or choose one of the hundreds of different games that you can find on the internet. Take a breather from your work and work out your mind in a different way.
7. Be aware of your body language
Don’t forget the non-verbal messages you send! Many people think of language and communication as what they say, but what you do is even more important. To show polite interest in what someone is saying sit up straight, lean slightly towards the listener and hold comfortable eye contact.
8. Speak considerately
Remember all the lessons your mother taught you. Say, “Please,” and, “Thank you.” Slow down in large crowds and say, “Excuse me,” when you bump into people. These may seem like little, unimportant things, but they say a lot about the type of person you are.
9. Proof-read your work – every time!
Do not write one letter, send one email, or submit one report without checking over your work. Look out for things like your use of commas and apostrophes, typos and spelling errors. Nobody gets everything right the first try. Assume there are errors and find them!
10. Don’t use a long word where a short one will do
This famous rule is one too many of us forget. Remember that communication is not a vocabulary contest. Successful communication depends on people understanding your meaning. Use common words and phrases instead of over-inflated prose.