English can be a difficult language to master even when it is your native tongue because of pronunciation variations and irregular verbs. If you are learning it as a second language, then it can be very frustrating. Whether you are attending its classes or learning the language through a distance learning program, there are easy techniques that can help you to speak English with proficiency. In this article, we will explain a few of these skills so that you can get chatting right away.Learning English language proficiency can sometimes be a challenge because the pronunciation rules are not consistent. Your best study strategy is to speak the language whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to try speaking to other people even if you do not know all of the words. The vast majority of people will be more than willing to help you. Listening to native speakers using it is incredibly helpful. Observe the way they pronounce the words and how they use them. The more closely learners pronounce words like those who speak English fluently, the better they will be understood.Learning to speak English properly is as important as learning to read and write it. If you have a friend or family member who is a native speaker, then converse with them regularly and have them correct your pronunciations, accent and intonations. If you don’t have someone to practice with, then buy an inexpensive tape recorder and record yourself. Do this regularly and keep the recordings so that you will know what mistakes you may be making frequently, as well as to monitor your progress.English television shows and the internet are phenomenal tools to use in conjunction with your English lessons because it shows how native speakers use the language. If you visit sites like YouTube, it is possible to download videos that show you the proper lip and tongue positions to form specific sounds. You can also view materials about your other interests that will help you to learn to speak English at the same time.While watching television, listen to how people are speaking and imitate them. This is an even better exercise if you can watch the program with the closed captioning turned on so that you can see and hear the words. Even DVD rentals can help you to learn when you put this language subtitles on. It will make learning to speak English easier because you will get a feel of how real English sentences are formed when speaking. It also makes studying less boring because you will be watching a movie.If you choose to study English as a second language, then you must practice reading, writing and speaking it as much as possible. While it may be natural to use your native tongue at home, force yourself to speak only in this language. By repeatedly using new words, you are committing them to memory.There are many things that you can do to improve your pronunciation too. Observe the mouth movements of those who speak the language well and try to imitate them. Until you learn the correct intonation and rhythm of it, slow your speech down. If you speak too quickly, and with the wrong intonation and rhythm, native speakers will have a hard time understanding you. Practice does make perfect, so take your time and enjoy your journey to learning a new language.
INTRODUCTIONTo understand Pilates, it is helpful to know where it originated. What many people may not know is that Pilates is named after the man, Joseph Pilates, who developed it. “Contrology” is what he called it because he strongly believed in a connection between the body, mind and spirit. He integrated the effects of six core principles: centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow into every action. Either on the mat or on specific Pilates equipment that Joseph Pilates himself designed, these principles are the foundation of all exercises.In most Pilates classes you will notice an emphasis on the pelvis placement, rib cage, scapula, and cervical spine (neck). Pilates consist of many exercise movements. If the above principles are incorporated into each and every movement you will notice amazing results within your body mind and spirit. This focused concentration increases the effectiveness and results in greater learning compared to mindlessly doing the exercises.There are many benefits you can expect that range from better posture, greater core strength, increased flexibility and mobility, enhanced balance, back pain relief and overall improvement in body awareness. The list goes on with several other benefits that include an increase in neuromuscular coordination, better circulation, decrease in anxiety, relaxation, joint health, better functioning organs, increase in energy, decrease in depression, increase in recovery time from stroke or other neurological issues, help with herniated discs or injured vertebrae, pain relief from sciatica etc etc. The benefits don’t stop there. If you’re interested in reading more about the benefits of Pilates please look for my article entitled ‘The Benefits of a Good Pilates Program’.THE PILATES PRINCIPLESJoseph Pilates did not directly state the following as Pilates principles. They are concepts drawn from his work by later instructors to establish cohesive uniformity of instruction. Due to this, there is disagreement between the various Pilates camps regarding the words used for concepts, the number of principles, and even the principles themselves. I have included principles that are very important to MOST instructors and will serve you if you understand and adhere to them. The principles that are listed below will be of benefit to any quality Pilates program”Concentration: By focusing on your mind-body awareness you will be able to establish a superior connection with your body, and you will gain benefits from your workouts. It is best to do each exercise in a precise and slow manner, rather than rushing through them or performing them with incorrect form or alignment. You can obtain maximum results by putting your complete attention to each movement as you do it.Centering: By paying attention to the muscles of the abdomen or core (some call it the Pilates Powerhouse) all of your muscles function and develop more efficiently. The Pilates Powerhouse is located between the top of the pubic bone and the bottom rib. In all Pilates movements we bring our focus to this area first to create a centered, power in the body.Control: In Pilates we focus on quality rather than quantity or speed. Control, rather than sloppy, high-intense or repetitive movements is the key to performing the exercises correctly. Movements are performed with muscular control, to gain maximum benefits. Generally we don’t isolate just one muscle but rather incorporate a movement pattern that recruits anatomy trains to create flow and precision. Subtle shifts in movements help gain control and result in profound results.Precision: In Pilates, precision is key. Precision is achieved by maintaining awareness throughout each movement. Body parts are aligned relative to other body parts. Every part of the body has a specific line of movement. Proper form is essential to ensure you gain the most benefit from each exercise with the goal of creating uniform muscle development.Flow: Pilates is synonymous with flow. Set your intention to complete each movement with grace and fluidity. The goal is that energy flows evenly throughout the body during an exercise. Imagine yourself a graceful ballerina, gymnast, or dancerBreath: A full breath is central to all of Joseph Pilate’s exercises. He used the metaphor of the lungs as bellows to strongly pump the air completely in and out of the body. The ribs are expanded in two directions – to the sides and out to the back – without lifting the shoulders. Controlling the breath as you perform each exercise warms the body and helps activate your muscles while keeping you focused. The most efficient gas exchange occurs when we breathe into the lowest depths of our lungs.Pilates exercises incorporate breathing in and out consciously, and in conjunction with the movement. Proper breath work is the building block of all Pilates movements and an integral part of any good Pilates exercise program.PLACEMENT GUIDELINESPelvis placementWe talk a lot about the placement of the pelvis in Pilates. It is important to truly understand the concepts of a Neutral and an Imprinted pelvis as these are two pelvic positions that we use during a class. A neutral pelvis maintains the normal curvature of the lower back and when lying on your back your hip bones and your pubic bone are on the same plane and parallel to the floor. Think about a grape under your lower back and try not to squish the grape. This is a neutral pelvis and spine. You shouldn’t feel any strain on your back in this position.If you were to tilt your pelvis so that your hip bones draw towards your rib cage your lumbar spine would naturally lengthen towards the floor and you would now be in an imprinted position. The front body would shorten and the back body would lengthen. Finding neutral and imprint may take some time to perfect but a knowledgeable instructor should be able to get you there in not time.Ribcage placementThe position of the ribcage affects the alignment of the spine (mostly the Thoracic spine). When lying on your back try to maintain the sense of the weight of your ribs resting gently on the mat without forcing them down. The tendency is to pop the rib cage upwards at the front while inhaling or moving the arms overhead. Focus on a lateral breath into the back and sides to avoid this popping. Also when moving the arms overhead, stop the arms if you notice the ribcage popping.Scapular StabilityThe shoulder blades (scapulae) are not attached to any other bony structure and can therefore add to or take away from neck or shoulder strain. Before any movement in Pilates, it is essential that the scapulae are stabilized on the rib cage. To achieve proper placement of the scapulae think of the front of the collar bone and the shoulders as parallel. Wide across the front body and wide across the back body. Avoid over rounding the shoulder forward or over squeezing the shoulders together toward the spine. Also avoid over lifting the shoulder to the ears (elevation) or cramming the shoulders too far downward (depression). Choose a relaxed position between elevation and depression to find the best position for the shoulder blades.Head and cervical spine placementGenerally in Pilates the neck or cervical spine should be a continuation of the Thoracic spine. Therefore if the thoracic spine is in flexion the neck should be in slight flexion. When the thoracic spine is in extension the neck is in slight extension. When the thoracic spin is in neutral so should the neck be. Your head should always be balanced in the centre point between your shoulders. Your instructor may have put your head on a pillow or block so that you are more comfortable or in a better aligned position.CONCLUSIONPilates consist of many exercise movements. If the above principles are adhered to your Pilates experience will be a positive one and you will reap amazing results. It is the student who spends the time and effort truly learning and understanding these principles that will truly understand and benefit from the Pilates method of exercise. One thing is not any more important than the other. Our body is an intricate highway of pathways that rely on safe, effective movement to keep us in our best physical and mental state ever. Pilates does just that.”Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.” Joseph Pilates.We’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments or feedback please don’t hesitate to contact us at keefit.comThank-you,Kathi Ells