Are you a Learner like Arjuna or Ekalavya? or Hanuman who needs to be reminded of his powers…

Are you surprised by my question?

First of all, why don’t we understand two characters from ‘Hindu Mythology’ before we talk about your ‘Learning style’ and our ‘Assessment approach’, shall we?

You may already know the characters and heard most of the stories from Mahabharat; read the description of 2 characters specifically the underlined text. Read out slowly (or aloud) as you read for your best ‘comprehension’ in English. I intend to use these traits of a good learner in my post… Read on.

Key Points: Full-time student of Drona, Best Archer of his time, Undefeated Worrier, Learned in Practice with Kirants.

  -As per the epic Mahabharata

(source: Wikipedia)

Arjuna (meaning ‘bright’ or ‘silver’) is the 3rd of the Pandavas, who with Krishna, is considered to be the hero of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. He plays the role of a good listener in the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna was considered the finest archer and a peerless warrior by many notable figures in the Mahabharata. He is the only undefeated hero in the Mahabharata. He was a (full-time) student of guru Drona. He also learned archery (in practicing) with Kirants of Nepal in a disguise as Kirants were renown archers of that time.

Arjuna was also well trained in religion, science, administration. He became a master in using the bow and the arrow (Archery). He was the best archer except a Kirant prince called Ekalavya whom Drona tricked into vowing never to raise a bow. Arjuna’s strength lay in his extraordinary levels of concentration. In a famous incident under Drona’s tutelage, Drona deemed none of his students other than Arjuna- who had the steadfast focus to shoot the eye of the bird on a tree.

Interestingly, I used to read a lot of ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ during my childhood. Great its coming to good use to build an example or a case study for my students :-).

I Leave the story here to pick-up some important points on How Arjuna Learned Archery (as skill like speaking English):

    • He was a good listener – he asked right questions, had great concentration;
    • Full-time student of his trainer of Archery at his academy, learned for many years;  
    • Practiced and polished his skills with Kirants -or the best Archers of that time.
    • He was undefeated in the war and is still considered the real Hero.
    • He was the best Archer of his time (Except one) – our next hero Eklavaya.

Coming back to ‘the story’ mythology…

ekalavya_idk158

Ekalavya is also a character from the same Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata and therefore the stories of Arjuna and Ekalavya must be connected. We do find some connection on their Learning Archery from the same trainer. Read on the profile of our second character.

Ekalavya: He was a young prince of the Nishadha, a confederation of jungle tribes in Ancient India (now part of Nepal). Ekalavya aspired to study archery in the gurukul of Guru Drona (same academy where Arjuna went to study), the greatest known teacher in the use of weaponry and martial knowledge at the time. He sincerely sought the mentor-ship of Drona in weaponry and martial arts. Drona discouraged him, and ultimately rejected the boy due to his caste.

Self-study of Ekalavya: Aspiring to be an Archer like Drona, Ekalavya began a program of self-study, using a clay image of Drona for inspiration. Eventually, he achieved a level of skill superior to that of Arjuna, who was Drona’s favorite and most accomplished full-time student, and part of the royal Pandava family. The Pandavas come across the boy in the forest one day, and Eklavya told them of his self-study under the idol of Drona. In a dramatically cruel move, the guru demanded that Eklavya cut off his right thumb in obeisance to his guru, a request that could not be refused by a student. Eklavya agreed to the demand without hesitation, cutting his right thumb and presenting it to Drona as Gurudakshina*

(*Trainer’s fee – I also love to get fee for training but only from my full-time students 🙂 )

Again, leaving the story here to concentrate on the key Points on How Ekalavaya Learned Archery:

  • He aspired to study under the best trainer of the time and be the best
  • His trainer could have given him the knowledge on usage of weaponry and martial skills but refused
  • He does self-study taking inspiration from the image of the ‘role model’ -his virtual guru 
  • With only a virtual trainer and his own hard work, he achieved a level of skill superior to that  was taught to full-time student by the same trainer
  • With practice, his skills with ‘the bow and arrow’ developed as he kept practicing with ‘the best archers of his time’; he had a lot of self-motivation and determination to be the best. 

I ponder, if there are students who can remain motivated to learn on their own for 2-3 months without being inspired or pushed to practice in a class-room or language lab.!  We are now exposed to many methods to know about ‘Spoken English’ – like emails, blogs, web-sites, on-line or on-phone programs, self-study CDs, kits or books – you as a student should use what suites you the best to Learn. There must always be some method for transfer of knowledge between the teacher and student. 

Take a quiz to assess your Learning Style and mail me the output for interpretation/analysis. This is very useful to give you practice tips, must be done within 7 days of the start of the program with us. As we see, from the stories  of the 2 archers above, there can be 2 major categories of learners:

  • Students of Type A: who need constant support and want the trainer to speak to them more in the Class, they need guidance and instructions as well as every-day inspiration – they are good listeners and may have great concentration to see and observe in a Sm@rt Class. They may need a gentle push (or a prompt) and constant encouragement to put their knowledge into practice. They need more group practice as they also need to compete with other learners in the class, sometimes they take time to speak-up  They typically ask more questions (sometimes even if they know the answers as they need a confirmation of the trainer)
  • Students of Type B: who learn by doing more, spend more time in the Language L@b and they participate more in the Class they just need some corrective feedback or encouragement from time to time. They may need inspiration maybe once in a week and can get it from various sources (have a role-model to follow besides the trainer). They also pick-up and share the CDs, books and use internet to check what other resources are available for self-study. They volunteer for doing some work to support class activities and come prepared with the topic of the day. They compete with themselves.
  • Both have one thing in Common: a desire to Learn

Arjuna-Ekalavya never fought any war with each other to prove who was superior, so it is difficult to say which learning style is better to Learn to Speak in English. In real-life also we see that both find their own pace and get the right types of learning environment and the trainers as they desire. Both types of Learners can speak well!

Indian education system produces more Type A Students than Type B; Type A are likely to seek more counsel before they start.

Please make it clear during your counselling that you are exposed to all the four learning methods: Listen, Read, See and Doing (practice), ‘As any good trainer should’, we give you exposure to all the four methods of learning so that all types of learners are benefited. We have a dedicated Language L@b where we provide unlimited practice time and Sm@rt classrooms where trainers give you conceptual understanding and discuss topics of interest. Speaking Fluent English is a skill there is no escape from Practice for both type A or B – to learn it faster both also need to do the practice under the supervision of a qualified coach who can guide them to do it right.

So are you type A Learner: like Arjuna or type B learner like Ekalavya. If you don’t know your learning style we give you a small questionnaire to fill in the assessment center to help you figure it out.

In our grammatical skill assessment test, you may also come out be like a Hanuman – who does not know his powers until someone reminds him (yes the story from Ramayana as you may have read it) 

The Type B Learners are more likely to read my posts on this blog to get some inspiration of general guidance on practice. Unfortunately they are less likely to walk-in for an English Study Program as they are confident that they can acquire great skill to Speak good English by practice itself. Drop-by if you need motivation or inspiration. Don’t fret I generally don’t demand a tongue!    

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5-words a day is not a big-deal, I can learn more…

“A picture is worth 1000 words”  courtesy: http://www.wikipedia.com 

As they say ‘a picture is worth 1000 words’, How would you describe a picture when your total active vocabulary in only that much?

Developing your Active Vocabulary is indeed time-consuming as there are no shortcuts but the good news is: ‘if done well the words stay with you for many many years’ as also there are many usages of the same word.

It’s true that you acquire new words by being in the English environment or by watching TV. But, ‘as you begin to speak’ you must continuously learn them and do conscious efforts to use new words until you reach a level of comfort with English. Make 2-3 sentences of different types using the new word and finally, speak it out (or write it in your mail). Here are the sure ways to Activate Words – I suggest keep it to 5 new words a day.

What are good ways to Learn Words?

You learn words when you Listen or Read or when you do Both – watching a movie with sub-titles for example. Start doing ‘anything that you can do or like to do’ in English – watch any funny video clip on Youtube, a movie with or without subtitles, a serial on Star-world or Discovery, News on DD or BBC, English song, reading newspaper or a novel, cooking using a recipe, sharing a joke, writing a letter or email… reading your text-book, looking at an advertisement, filling-up a form, even reading this post. Good thing is and in India there are a lot opportunities for you to carry-out your work in English. Pick-out 30 min. in a day as your English time where you can easily get 5 new words…. take the words from me the day you cannot pick your words from your work place.

Your most important task is to build up your Active vocabulary. A limited vocabulary will hold you back, and prevent you from speaking English effectively. The Vocabulary starts multiplying very fast after you reach a certain stage where you can understand different forms of the same word, pick the synonyms and antonyms… and then do different usages of these words. In my view learning ‘5 new words’ a day is what you should target (do more when you miss doing it on any day) and add words regularly… make it a habit!

Did you click on the link just above, on the word synonyms? It’s linked to http://www.vocabulary.com I recommend bookmarking this site, the best online English Vocabulary tool and it has one of the fastest dictionary. You may also sign-in to keep your lists and work with them and run a quiz on the words that you know. Not only does it provide excellent definitions but it also allows you to hear how the word is pronounced. You will also find the latest usages of the words in Political or Business News. Practice saying them out loud to yourself and others. And if you forget the correct pronunciation or are confused ask your trainer for help – even with different usages of the word you can seek his/her help.

What is the best way to retain a word and bring it into usage?

How many times in my class have I told about: flash cards? … I have also put it on the pin-up board. There is no better method. Word lists ‘that I sometimes provide to you’ are also useful but flash cards are the time-tested method for memory retention. After making a flash card, start learning the usages of the word. Keep it with you until you’ve learned it. Try your new words on friends in the class or speak it out with me — they may get impressed.

Google is great! -we all love it. I wish we had the Internet and online dictionaries when I was a student. But sometimes pen & paper is the way: use post-it notes or cut a chart to make yourself Flash-cards. They stay with you for as long as you get complete comfort with the word.

An idea: you may also use differently colored Flash-cards for different types of words, Yellow for Nouns, Orange for Adjectives and maybe Green for Verbs etc.

Remember the end-game: Use ‘new words’ in conversation whenever and wherever you can. I expect my students to learn 5 words everyday!  

The Art of Conversation

Active Discussion

Ability to hold an open dialogue or a good Conversation (in English – the language of Business) with your customer, boss or colleague is an ‘in-demand’ Skill. Our conversation experts call it ‘an Art’ as there is very little science involved. You need to master it to GROW in life… Market yourself better; Learn the Art of Conversation.

What you must have or need to LEARN?

  • Loads of Confidence that comes from command on the Language being spoken (English in most cases)
  • English Speaking Skills – framing right questions and answering them to the best of your Ability
  • Ability to understand and express emotions or feelings through verbal and non-verbal means
  • Relationship or emotional connect with the Person so that both express opinions openly
  • Need or motivation to solve a problem in hand or working on a common Goal

Here are some examples of Crucial Conversations that you may have to be part of as you GROW?

  • Job interview for key role or annual appraisal
  • Discussion on an important project involving decision on who can lead it
  • Client meeting, presentation or call with the decision maker or a person who can influence
  • Chance encounter with the BIG boss (in an elevator) or Small-talk on the sidelines of a conference

Look at each conversation as an opportunity knocking at your door and this may lead you towards new career avenues or start of new relationship; You undoubtedly develop new relationships through conversations.

Talk to us to understand ‘How you can learn the Art of Conversations?

After all, every relationship starts with a Conversation!

Summer Listening Practice

Good Listening Suggestions for Intermediate Students…. you need this input to GET Selected

English with Jennifer

I’ve made suggestions for summer reading, so why not summer listening? I can’t take all the credit for this idea. A private student asked that I put together a study guide for the two months we won’t be meeting. The request is specifically for listening practice.

I’m trying to compromise on who should set the tasks. I believe the student should assume some responsibility even in the planning stage. However, I know it is my role to establish guidelines. My study guide begins with two bullet points:

  • Set a schedule. Choose a realistic number of days and minutes you can hold to from week to week.
  • Choose your resources. Your resources will match your goals. If you seek to understand more conversational English, your choices will differ from those of a student who wishes to master more vocabulary. You can work with more than one resource at a time, but you should be…

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Happy Holi…Meet-up and Change of Address to C-32, Sector 2. NOIDA

T.r.i.c.k.s Learn English Center Wishes you Happy Holi. May The festival add color to you Life... Play safe ad have a great weekend!
T.r.i.c.k.s Learn English Center Wishes you Happy Holi. May The festival add color to you Life… Play safe ad have a great weekend!H

How we landed in Vashi and my Wish to live/work in Mumbai fulfilled without leaving Home!

This was the Holi of 2008; a job- offer from Sify to join them at Mumbai as a Branch Manager waited on my desk. The big issue was how to re-settle ourselves -a small family of three- after several  years of partial settlement in Delhi. I had fondly heard this Hindi song from the Movie Kirayedaar  “Naukari mil jayegee, Chokari mil jayegee… Chat naa milegee aisi jiski deewaren ho chaar”. I was in a funny situation  like Amol Palekar in this song. The Joke was really up on me and I had to solve it or let go this job-offer!

My work involved a lot of time to be spent on internet as I was to set-up this eLearning portal and get orders from corporate to subscribe to learning on their own through web technologies. I did spend a couple of hours each day on the world wide web. I came across this advertisement of one of the property websites (which is now a big business with many players)…I think it was 99Acers or some such free information websites. It tempted me to search for my housing requirement online and I just did that and kept my Hopes alive.

Today when I see the lookup ads and housing website https://housing.com/lookup. it fills we up with hope and happiness that things will be brighter for our next generation. They will face no worries in finding a property in any part of the world. The image of Mumbai as pace where hosing is I short supply is already shattered thanks to the newly developing town-ships in New Bombay.

I found some 8-10 suitable options after struggle of 2-3 days to understand the map of Mumbai. Most of the ones in my budget were in Vashi – Navi Mumbai, I was told is an upcoming township not far from the area where I could find my clients. Sify’s office was far by any standards -in Santa Cruz near the Airport. I found out that it entailed change of trains at Kurla and then again at Mumbai Central. I rested my hope on the point that this would be clean area with big roads like what I am accustomed to in Noida. So I went ahead with the option of choosing to stay in Vashi.

We saw the pictures of the property that was on 1st floor, called-up the landlord and settled out the rentals and other terms etc. there came another show-stopper.  In Mumbai most landlords insist on 11 month advance but my company’s terms for the lease to be in their name were -one month advance and a month of security. I hoped again that my landlord would agree and with some persuasion and blessings from the lord of all being he did. In a matter of few days, I had the agreement in my mailbox and instructions on where and how to get the flat’s key.

The Railway that connects Mumbai to Vashi. (Photo credit: CIDCO)
The Railway that connects Mumbai to Vashi. (Photo credit: CIDCO)

Soon we were on our way to Mumbai to land right in the time of the Ganpati pooja on the sixth day of the festival. This was the first time when I really saw the fervor of processions that go with the festivities of this season, We were awestruck as I was goods took 2 days to come after they reached Mumbai . We tasted the tangy flavor of Vada Paw at Vashi Station while the luggage took it’s sweet to arrive. Our wishes were fulfilled by Ekadant-the Lord of good beginnings but most of all it was the property website that helped us the most. My best wishes to this online property business…  “Chaat Bhi milegi aisi jiski Deeware ho Char” , happy searching until then.

Finding the Right Tools to Build an Understanding of Prepositions

Read this if you wish to get along better with your prepositions….

English with Jennifer

3269784239_4254e1cc22_qIt never fails. Every time I start a new grammar topic on YouTube, I am surprised by how much I don’t know. I think it’s the idea of committing to an explanation and sending it out to thousands of learners that makes me dig and dig until I arrive at a feeling of certainty. I also start asking my own questions and consider the possible answers. I almost never give brief explanations. They tend to be very thorough. I know there will be learners with just as many questions, and I try to anticipate them. For example, it’s simply not enough to teach that prepositions come before nouns or pronouns. Since my introduction is intended for upper level students, I found myself explaining that objects can be nouns, noun phrases, noun clauses, gerunds, gerund phrases, and a few different kinds of pronouns.

I also began to discuss the various positions…

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There is Hope for better business… forget the past…. Sector 2 is closer home!

We have moved to this new office location in Sector 2 Noida. Having burned a deep hole in our pocket for 2 years with heavy rentals and uncertain or less than expected foot-falls in Sector -15, we were skeptical. Our hope rested on two facts 1) we were not going far from where we have built-up this local brand for ourselves we could easily move the traffic 2) the new location was closer to the metro station and the main road.

Our story (as some of you know it)  began in 2012 with Bhaagmal complex -the office location for T.r.i.c.k.s English Center never seemed so tricky affair until we experienced it first-hand. Mr. Sohan Singh our estate agent had shown us 4 options, through different agents we had seen 8 locations. More data and numerous options all within our budget of around 30k only confused me- a first time entrepreneur. We decided to go with 2nd floor 600 sq. ft. space and built-up the interiors with wooden-partitions to serve us for the life-time. (we had named our company lifelong learning). The one-time expense of what now lies unattended was INR 2-3 lac. ( it took us the first 6 months to do that billing).

Movement to C-32, Sector 2 was swift decision for me and my partners since we are going in for the sharing option and we hope that the our students will love this place more than our earlier location. The structure is just right for a training center and the environment is great. The reception is off-far more spacious. Oh yes we have moved the gaming tables and the cards are still there to play English Learning games!