Connect or Control – English, the oral way

girl-reading-book_350Language, the oral way, is all about words, sentences, tone, pitch, volume and the associated body language of the speaker and the listener.

Our voice and the words that we use, primarily establish our relationships with people. They help us to relate, communicate our feelings, thoughts, ideas, and thus they help us connect or control.

“Good communication skills” is essential to get across to all and everything in society. Without them one cannot imagine life, cannot function at all. Success can come from anything and a good mastery of the skills of writing and speaking are bonus. They surely increase the chances of success.

Today we have doctors who write lovely stories, engineers who weave poems, management icons who spell out the paths to attainment of goals. In order to communicate, the most important tool that one must become efficient in using is, vocabulary. It helps build a successful relationship by helping you to say what you mean and to understand what others say to you. Leaders possess this exceptional skill. Erstwhile heads of nations, Presidents and Prime Ministers have been in most cases multi-lingual.

Communicate clearly and you actually start to think more clearly. Similarly as your powers of expression increase, so does your confidence and vice versa.

India prides and celebrates its diversity. Language provides one such honour. There are more than 100 languages presently existing in the country and around 1544 in the world. With such a large number and variety of languages it becomes absolutely necessary that we hone our skills in one or two languages which will help us get across to the human lot. English, French and Arabic are the three frequently spoken languages across the globe. English being the most commonly spoken and used language it becomes only too necessary that we make some efforts to learn this language.

English has an enormously rich vocabulary, larger and more varied than that of any other language. This has great advantages and a few dangers. The main advantages are variety and precision. Throughout life, from infancy onwards, you have been hearing or reading new words. Very often you hardly recognise them as new. Simply seeing them in context, you deduce their meaning. Either that, or you look at the way they are made up and rapidly put their meaning together bit by bit.

There is a difference between understanding and knowing. You may understand roughly at least-what a word means. It does not necessarily follow that you know how to use it correctly. People know or can recognise more words than they use.

Increasing your word power comes in two stages, the active and the passive. First there is the passive stage which is your ability to recognise and interpret words that you have not come across before. Then there is the second stage when you consign to your memory those words you reckon will prove useful. You make these words part of your ‘active’ vocabulary when you use it on knowing and understanding the word.

This article tells you how to go about learning new words. It gives tips on how to make them part of both your active and passive vocabulary and shows you how to avoid some pitfalls to avoid when using them for the first time.

1. DEAR- Drop everything and read. Do this religiously. Read often, as often as possible and there is such a variety of reading material that one can choose according to one’s interest and understanding. Every reading material will provide at least one new unfamiliar word. Take it up as a challenge and as per your ability. Read that which interest you. ( newspaper reading is a must for every vocabulary builder)

2. Be conscientious about looking up new words. Words that once left you flabbergasted, confused or perplexed will soon become familiar friends.

3. Apply this approach to your listening as well. Whether it is to conversations, speeches the radio or the television, pay full attention. Choose your viewing and listening not simply for relaxation but for learning.

4. Listen carefully to people, in your daily life, who in your opinion speak good English. Try to work out what it is that makes their language effective. When you come across words that you do not recognise do not block out the words, deduce the meaning from the associated pictures, associated words that are easy and the happening context.

5. Next locate the word in the dictionary and know its synonyms.

6. Context and the usage- Once you become familiar with the word use it first in the same way as you heard or read it. Make a conscious attempt to use it as much as possible until it becomes a part of you vocabulary.

7. Use it in different ways. An easy pitfall is wrong context. For instance the words –assassination, killed and murdered may appear as synonyms but it will be incorrect to use it in the same way. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated not murdered.

8. The right word in the right place- hitting the right word with the appropriate level of language for a particular situation is also important. You might complain to your friends about fuzz or old bull, but if you come up before the magistrate for speed driving you would be wise to refer to these people as police officers. It is not that one word is simply better than another. It is more a matter of picking the one that suits the occasions.

9. Create humour in the incongruous use of the word. You can achieve humour and satirical effects by such means.

10. The collocation (example: cup and saucer) of a word are the typical phrases or contexts it occurs in. Nothing can be varicose except a vein. Delinquents tend to be juvenile. Your political party or trade union has an executive rather than a board or committee.

11. Examples of English collocations: damp and moist mean the same when used to describe a cleaning rag, but are not interchangeable when applied to for example tearful eyes. Orders are normally given and decrees issued. But you can do either with a command.

12. A word learnt a day and used everyday in a week can help you grow a word bank of at least 365 words in a year.

13. Unfortunately it does not happen. In real life, we learn only up to a mere 05 words, even the so called avid reader.

14. Communicate and interact profusely with people who talk glib. It helps quite often. By the same parameter, avoid the company of people who are judgemental and who affect you, create fear in you or negate your efforts in their own ways. Commit and engage only in developing the skill.

Please note everywhere I have referred to this vocabulary enhancement as a skill. It is a skill that can be learnt, acquired and possessed. Last but not the least, if you are one of those wonderful time managers, in the initial stages, keep a notebook and record the words you are learning. One day, you will not require it, but some day, it could become a good dictionary in the hands of a good publisher.

The pleasures of leisure

bigger_tent_with_mountainsAn empty mind is a devil’s workshop is often heard from advocates of the virtues of hard work. They believe that sitting idle is dangerous and only evil minded people sit idle. The consequence of such idleness is believed to be harmful for the individual and for the people around him. In fact most virtuous people send strong vibes of dislike towards persons who sit free, doing nothing.

I too was brought up on this cliché and till lately believed all that was preached. I developed early in life a clean conscience which made me labeled by my family and friends alike a ‘workaholic.’ Continue reading

When a Chinese request perplexed Indian officials

kalidasabustIndia did not have a tradition of recording history. There is not much we know about major events in India’s past or about the times and lives of great persons except what has come down to us through folklore or from the writings of foreign visitors and pilgrims.

For instance, we do not know with authenticity when and where India’s greatest poet and playwright, Kalidasa, was born, where he studied, what was his life like, or whether he was married and had children. All that can be said with certainty is that he was a devotee of Shiva because he invokes Shiva and his consort Parvati at the beginning of his Mahakavya ‘Raghuvansham’.

The officials in the Ministry of External Affairs were thus perplexed when they received a request from the Chinese government for the supply of the bust of Kalidasa. The Municipal Corporation of Shanghai had decided towards the close of the last century to set up a theatre gallery in the town and install there the statues of 19 world-acclaimed dramatists. Kalidasa was the natural choice in India’s case. The requests to the countries were made through the Chinese government. Continue reading

Breaking ice in a new class

breaking-ice-cubeThe beginning of every term in school creates a heightened sense of inner excitement for the students as well as the faculty. It is desired to plan well in advance and especially train oneself for ice breakers as teachers need to gel well with the students before the beginning of any formal lesson. The ultimate aim of the teacher is to teach the subject in a manner that is productive and useful. Age appropriate support aids are required to make the learning a fun experience. Science class need not begin with a direct approach about the planetary system or molecules. This can have interesting projects or role plays wherein each child can have a show and tell activity of a planet. This creates enthusiasm to contribute. Math activity with interesting mental math can have score boards as per the house or row prompting the kids to top the charts. Continue reading

Veggie Egg Fried Rice

eggs_in_blenderEggs! Children love them, and besides giving them hard boiled, poached, or scrambled, why not try this interesting fried rice, full of colourful veggies and protein rich egg. Eggs as we know are important in strengthening bones, for hair growth, worn out cell repair and in hiking up the metabolism level of the body. Children these days, need this vital supplement to keep them active in their daily activities and keeps their energy levels perked up.


Veggie Egg Fried Rice

Preparation time: 30 mins | Cooking time: 25 mins | Serves: 4

Continue reading

The importance of bonding in a team

friendsGrowth is the most interesting part of childhood. With so much of opportunity to explore, create and re-discover, the early years of a child is full of surprises. While it easy to work alone and find a particular solution at a board game or an outdoor session, children of today must be taught early to work as a team. Today’s world is full of competition but the knowledge earned and learnt with the help of team work is something that works out as a skill in the later years. Most schools have a formal structure to execute team-building exercises, which works so well for building the personality of children. Continue reading

Games the tribal children play

Chaktak Gondra

Children playing ‘Chaktak-Gondra’ in which boys sit in a circle. They are not supposed to look back. A player would run around with a cloth-whip hidden in his clothes and quietly drop it behind one of the boys sitting in the circle. If undetected, he would then start beating the absent-minded player with that soft whip.

Children love to play. The children in primitive, tribal areas are no exception. The plays and games of the tribal children are not means of mere entertainment; these hone up their skills for survival under not so hospitable surroundings and, also, emphasise the affinity the tribal communities feel with the nature.

Sometimes the tribals, for instance, encounter a predator walking into their village to snatch their goat away to eat it. The tribals try to shoo away, overpower or kill the predator to save the goat — or suffer defeat and watch the goat being taken away and devoured. A game, named ‘Sher-Bakari’, is popular among the children of Baiga tribals in the eastern part of Madhya Pradesh. In the game one boy becomes ‘goat’ while another boy becomes ‘tiger’. Eight to ten children, ‘the savers’, stand in a circle surrounding the ‘goat’. From outside of the circle, the ‘tiger’ tries to snatch the ‘goat’ by breaking the circle while the ‘savers’ push the ‘tiger’ away every time he tries to jump on to the ‘goat’. An intense tug of war follows. The game ends when, as in real life, the ‘tiger’, the ‘goat’ and the ‘savers’ get exhausted or the tiger boy succeeds in dragging away the goat boy. Continue reading

A-C-P at our Homes and Schools

girl-studyingI am basically far from the maddening crowd, kind of person and would love to sit atop a tree or a terrace and muse over the aam admi on the street. Contrarily, am circumstantially blessed to have my quarters surrounded by temples. Yes, the four of clock temple bells are my alarm ( I dare not call it the alarm),  wake me up in the morning and the evening air is rendered pious by the sandhya aarti.

The other evening as I sat pondering to connect with you I heard the ‘meow’……….I peered down and Oh! It wasn’t the pussy but a group of just six men ( auto drivers with no fare, rickshaw pullers, tired of ferrying passengers)  in two rows trying to ‘meow’ with the jadhus on their shoulders. Ironically in a few minutes they walked off into the dark oblivion. Please ……………….no fortune telling about the future of the aam admi party. The reason for their becoming invisible is very dear to us, very close to our heart……ha!ha!ha!!!!!!!!No electricity in our locality. Try as one might one could not locate them. Continue reading

Teaching children about charity

poorkids‘Charity begins at home’ – is such a true concept. In today’s changing environment, there is so much to learn or rather unlearn. Parents act as role models while shaping their children’s future. Kids learn and often imitate their parents’ behavior. Many lessons have been learnt in child hood about sharing. Here the child learns to share and effectively displays his need to care. But when it comes to charity it often has a larger meaning. Schools too conduct projects to help out underprivileged sectors. Often there are projects taken up to offer a village a particular privilege like  education. But there is so much more to do and kids can be directed in this sphere from time to time. Continue reading