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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Active Vocabulary for Speaking with Ease

Vocabulary for Speaking English
The above image of words related to Vocabulary-Building is created using : www.wordle.net – Thanks for allowing free usage of a wonderful tool!

Here are some statements, we often hear from ESL students as we counsel them to Learn Conversations in English (‘Spoken English’ as it’s popularly called):

“I have crammed many word-lists given to me by my test-prep teachers”

“I did my B.Tech and/or MBA and medium of study was English”

“I know all the words that you show me on this slide in this Wordle or whatever”

“I understand the word when I read it but it doesn’t come to my mind when I speak”

“I watch Hollywood movies but they speak too fast so I do not get the words; reading the sub-titles helps but only very little”

“Living in India and Exposed to English; I have listened to thousands of words spoken to me in real-life situations”

In my view, ‘Exposure to English’ as expressed in the last statement is most helpful towards building adequate and active vocabulary. First and foremost the English Learner has to be ready to receive the words from all the available sources and a vocabulary class is no different…We use all the available media and examples that help you Learn.

A statement that I often make in the class (sometimes I repeat it for emphasis)  “thousands of English words are now part of our everyday speaking as we do in cities like Delhi or NOIDA” . This fact also gives us a positive start for building Active Vocabulary for English Conversations.

Do you know the Hindi word for a Pencil or a Glass?. I am sure, you don’t use it even if you know it. As an adult person exposed to life in a city in India, people are using mobile-phones, internet, e-mail and with that they use hundreds (even thousands) of English words that they confidently speak as a part of every-day conversations in Hinglish (a mix of Hind-English as spoken in Indian Cities). So, you don’t speak 100% correct or pure Hindi but speak it easily and fluently and usage of new ‘Hindi’ word comes naturally to you. You don’t need to do any extra effort or attend my class for it the Environment teaches.

Pay attention: sometimes, the pronunciation of the English word when spoken in a local language is changed!

You may also come to think that “I know thousands of words in English but am not able to Speak even a complete sentence”.  So how would adding more words help me. Other questions, some of them are excuses coming from our natural lethargy to learn are:

  • How is adding words to my vocabulary (active or passive) different for English as a second language?
  • Do I need to learn more words and spend time building English vocabulary?
  • I have a lot of hesitation; OR How would i develop confidence to speak?
  • I don’t have the environment at home or office; How will English environment help me?
  • I also need to Learn Grammar; How much emphasis will you give to grammar?

Some of them may be true while others are myths…let’s discover what is Active Vocab and how you build it.

Active Vocabulary is the 1st thing that is needed to Speak in English. We all Learn ‘new’ words when we get in contact with them, understand the meaning by looking it up in the Dictionary…LEARN to refer to the dictionary on-line or off-line, doesn’t matter.

For Some of you who can Read well and have good working Vocabulary, you just need to ‘Learn 5 New Words’ everyday or Activate the words that you know. It is important to add some ‘Adjectives or describing words as we may call them’. Adjectives are the jewelry of any Language and make it beautiful! The effect is that you enhance the impact of what you say and write.

The instructors will help you discover the meaning of the new words from a Flashcard (picture) or PowerPoint Slide or a Wordle, As an instructor I give a  lot of examples so you understand the context in which this new word can be used (or not used) and learn its proper usage when you speak or write. You will be encouraged to make 2-3 sentences (affirmative, negative and interrogative) with the new word and speak the sentences out to the class. Finally, you will be given the opportunity to speak on a topic ‘depending on you ability’ where you can use the ‘new’ words.

The result is, that you ‘develop your active word-base and are effectively able to use the new words at appropriate places even outside the classroom in real-life situations. With adequate Vocabulary, you express yourself, more benefits of superior word-power are:

  • Speak more clearly….without repeating and using filler words/ jargon or slang
  • Express yourself freely….on personality of an individual, explaining your project etc.
  • Converse confidently…even with people from other professions
  • Make extempore speech/presentation ….. on a wide variety of topics
  • Gain Confidence….as you don’t fumble as you speak.

You are able to ‘strike the right word at the right time’ and be more Fluent as you practice usage of your words more and more… It is my firm belief that you learn best in real-life’ situation so doing role-plays will help you not just with you vocabulary but also with understanding of the grammar.

Isn’t it true that ‘Words Shape your Future!’

At T.r.i.c.k.s – Noida, you will attend a number of Active Vocabulary sessions so that you add words to your ‘word-bank’ and start speaking simple sentences within 10-15 days…. Fluency development can take its time put the right path and progress is assured. Number of Active Vocabulary sessions you attend depends on your Level and the Module you choose.