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 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!    


‘Hesitation Removal’ OR rather ‘Confidence Building’ as a part of Conversation in English program. Yes, it’s a bonus from our experts.

First of all, ‘Stop Hesitating’: if you are working with a personality coach or a language trainer, request him to give you some remedy or else speak to me… without any fear.Confidence

Throw your ‘fear of failure’ or of ‘being wrong’ out of the window; or else read this article on WikiHow with 7 Steps on Hesitation Removal

What? step # 6: Force yourself to do new things is a bit difficult as you need to decide ‘what new’ you could do.  Isn’t learning to speak in a new language something new for you?  So, you want help to ‘remove your hesitation’ to speak to new people along with Learning English or do you have stage fear? Do one thing, right as you begin a conversation in English program,  take the word ‘Hesitation’ out of your working vocabulary. I know, as language trainers, we are supposed to teach you new words and their usage. Since, you need to build your confidence for speaking in public, I will wear the hat of a personality coach to tell you How we have woven Confidence building as a part of the program itself. Don’t fret, I will compensate it with 10 extra words that you will learn when you work with me on your Language skills 🙂

As a start point for conversations between us:  never to use the word ‘Hesitation’- I suggest, we use positive words like courage, confidence, ‘Can Learn…’ and ‘Can Do…’ when you need to talk to me or are in need of some words of encouragement. On my part, I also promise NOT to use any negative sounding words  throughout this post and even during my program … I would also quote some ‘words of wisdom’ from Henry Ford a business leader whose name often appears  on our institute’s notice-board with his words appearing as ‘Thought of the day’.

I also get encouragement and confidence to Train people on Communication skills from  Mr. Rami Camel-Toueg – my  TTT trainer from Business Edge (IFC-World Bank group), the motto of his training and consulting firm in Egypt is “Learning is Doing; and Doing is Learning”.

So let me share with you ‘what we suggest to our students as: ‘3 Key Points to follow during the program for Building Confidence to speak. They come from my experience of training hundreds of people (of different ages: seventeen-seventy, from various professions and students) Some of the ‘to dos’ are also part of the approach we follow in conducting the English conversation skills program at T.r.i.c.k.s – You may also use them along with any other Language learning and/or Public speaking workshop. In my view, most people who have ‘the confidence to learn’ don’t need a separate confidence building work-shop.

Point #1: Let’s NOT Speak about the Problem; but FIND the Solution.

henry-ford-quoteConfidence is what you need and you will get it naturally as a bonus when you do practice of using English language in front of the class – as we learn by doing itself. Understand your learning style and follow a pace that suites you.

You will participate in a variety of Role-plays and activities where we create opportunities for you to speak more & more in real-life situations. We make the activity clear to you right as you begin to speak and at the same time making you comfortable doing it. I request for volunteers for my class activities – but those who participate most learn the most.

In the interactive class discussions we will do interesting and ‘easy to do’ things some individual and some in the group.

  • Describing a picture
  • Ask questions to figure out what is hidden
  • Face the Truth
  • Lie-detector test
  • Find an Object hidden in the Language Lab
  • Tell me the way to reach your home

Our trainers are smart enough to modify the activity brief to connect them with the profession or job of the learner where he/she knows it well enough to talk with confidence and ease. The feedback given is constructive. WE Don’t find Fault with you as a person, it’s the language we correct as you speak (with no disrespect to you for the first language influence), we simply repeat the sentence correctly and if explanation is needed we point out the mistakes with your grammar, composition or pronunciation – we may also give a better way to frame a sentence or a more suitable word in the given situation. Our communication or language experts give you a Remedy they don’t find fault. They give you positive statements to practice along with some tips to prepare your mind for the change.

 Point #2 : Say “I Can Learn to speak with confidence” and You would end up doing it.

Henry-Ford 2This is a simple ‘preparing your mind’ exercise: Say aloud some “I can learn…” and “I can do…” statements  as per what you want to do with your English learning on that day. You could do this exercise everyday in the morning ‘in front of the mirror’. Important is to say the statements with complete conviction and with a smile on your face.

It sounds funny but it works as you would find it for yourself. I also suggest that you speak out some ‘Can learn’  and ‘Can do’ statements in front of the class or share them with your learning partner or trainer so that he/she can correct them or suggest the appropriate one based on the learning stage you at and the next hurdle to cross. Be realistic, true to yourself and use numbers to make them measurable (as much as possible). Here are same ‘Can learn’ & ‘Can do’ statement groups, that I have suggested to some of my students depending on their position and what they must to ‘walk further or sometimes it is a prescription so that they don’t stop:

  • I Can Learn to make simple sentences in my mind; I Can Speak 5 statement to describe my company.
  • I Can Learn to frame open/closed questions today; I Can ask 10 questions in my practice with my learning partner.
  • I Can Learn 25 new words in this week; I Can use them to speak with confidence in my ‘coffee with a celebrity’ activity next week
  • I Can Learn to use ‘linking words’ for narration; Such that, I Can share the story of ‘how much I enjoyed my holiday in Shimla’ 

With regularity of practice, it is equally important to keep refining your learning objective and ‘Can do’ statements until you reach your ‘near-term’ goal for learning good English. Your goal for next 2-3 months can be: “I Can Learn to speak with Confidence; I Can make a 5-minute speech without repeating or without any fillers; I Can clear the communication round of the interview”… Yes, you can if you have enthusiasm.  

Speaking fluent English is no exception to what Mr. Ford very nicely said “You can do anything if you have enthusiasm”. So, above all keep-up your enthusiasm, the good news is your ability to learn new things does not reduce substantially with increasing age.

Point #3: There is NO age Bar in a language class, keep your motivation high for Learning skills that directly affect your earning.

Henry-Ford-quote 4Retain your confidence to Learn or else your will not earn what you should, with your qualification and experience. People sometimes lose confidence due to age; and 20-something or 30-something is not the age to stop learning but rather its the age to start learning professionally relevant skills that even an MBA won’t cover. Some of the skills that you learn with us are  such that they ‘get you a job’ or make you start to  earn faster or these skills will step-up your existing earning – Just keep up the motivation to learn.

English is the language of Business, and business leaders speak well in English. Most BIG businesses work in English. Requirement to make Presentations, or talk to your team members or public speaking opportunities come to you only after you have some experience as your profile is enhanced. At most times, your promotion is directly liked to your communication skills or ability to Learn new skills. How can you afford to lose confidence in your area of interest with only a Language or medium to communicate becoming a barrier.

Anyone at any-age can learn to speak-well and can learn English easily – I can say this as I have trained several people up to twice my age and similarly I have also learned many things in life from my teen-aged children.

There is in fact a better realization about the importance of communication skills with the increased role and you need to step-up your motivation. Choose a role-model from your industry  who can give you the motivation to be confident like him/her, have faith and be confidence that you will learn given the right environment – of practice-field.  Start learning under a confirmed communication expert who understands the kind of performance pressures you face in your industry. Each person has different pace and method of learning and this has nothing to do with age don’t compete with the students in the class…. try to learn something everyday and practice until you gain confidence to speak it up in public.   As a trainer what I suggest to my students is keep a tab on your own understanding, learn and continue your practice. Its okay to miss a day if you are travelling but continue to practice and try to speak in English particularly with new  contacts/relationships.

Don’t Let poor English conversation skills come in the Way of your Dreams!