October 22, 2010

Make a Mountain out of a mole hole

Some idioms. 

·       Make a Mountain out of a mole hole:  exaggerating or giving undue importance to a problem. 
·       Make a song and Dance:  making an unnecessary fuss about something that is not worth it.
·       Make hay while the sun shines: take advantage of an opportunity without wasting time.
·       Make no bones about it:  to be honest or truthful.  Straightforward.
·       Memory like a sieve:  oblivious nature.  Forget soon.
·       Milestone round your neck: a problem that prevents one from doing what one wants to do.
·       Mince words: unable to articulate the real intention.
·       Moral fibre: inner strength and conviction to do what one believes to be right in difficult situations.
·       Up for grabs: available to the first person who avails an opportunity.
·       Pain in the neck: very annoying and irritating.
·       Paint the town red: enjoy with friends, having lots of fun.
·       Pipe dream: unrealistic and impractical idea that is difficult to implement.
·       Pull the wool over someone’s eyes:  deceive or cheat.
·       Quiet as a mouse: no noise, silent.
·       Tough nut to crack: difficult situation or question.


April 29, 2010

Effective Public Speaking

You have a treasure of vocabulary terms related to various fields.  You know the rules, their uses and limitations.  You read a novel or newspaper and refer to a dictionary not frequently.  In other words, you have got a very good base. 

You can write small articles on general themes.  But what happens you falter while speaking to a group of people or addressing an unknown audience.  All of a sudden you begin stammering and choose to use individual words amidst your vernacular language. 

Don’t worry or feel disheartened, as this is normal with non native speakers.  Obviously, mastering a foreign language is not that easy but not difficult as well and this should be kept in mind.  Everyone experiences this kind of problem while speaking in English. 

Very often, I hear this kind of problem from my friends.  I also read this kind of problems by users in various English language forums.  People learning English language face the syndrome of ‘I can’t speak, you speak first.’

Those who have got their education in vernacular languages face this problem and it is but normal.  No doubt, those students who have got their education in English medium schools also face this problem but the percentage is meager as far as speaking in English is concerned.  

There are so many causes of this stammering or inhibition while speaking in English or presenting something to a group of people or attending a group discussion. 

  1. The fear to commit mistake always help choking while speaking.
  2. The phobia of being exposed and offended by others in case of mistakes.
  3. Mistakes makes a man perfect if one learns from them.  Don’t fear to commit mistakes but don’t repeat a mistake too.
  4. The audience phobia.
  5. Inferiority complexion.
  6. To think others as superior.
  7. Editing while speaking.
  8. Attempt to be flawless.

In a globalize world everyone wants to excel in his or her field and wants to stand out in crowd.  Those who have got good communication and presentation skill always stand out and receive encomiums from others.  They always taste success in their respective careers and skills. 

There are positive ways to improve and tackle this problem. 

  1. Be confident and believe in yourself or your skill.
  2. Be a good listener first.  A good speaker always happens to be good listener.  Those who don’t pay attention while other speakers tend to falter very often while speaking. 
  3. Know your skill or theme first then try to speak.  For this read newspaper, books, periodicals and listen to news. A good reader converse well.
  4. Be a keen observer.  Observe others closely.
  5. Develop a sense of humor and take everything lightly.  Always sport a smile and shed any fear or phobia or inhibition.
  6. Be positive in your attitude and try to accommodate opposite views even if you don’t subscribe to those view points.
  7. Be polite and praise others but don’t flatter.
  8. Right body language like eye contact is important. 

If you are attending a group discussion with known theme then do a research on the theme and gather as much information as possible.   This would allow you to present your view points in a persuasive and effective manner.

If you are asked to speak impromptu then your reading habit would help you in a great way.  Good speakers are good readers and as they read varied things they tend to present themselves effectively without any prior research. 

First know then present something.  Public speaking is a very important aspect of today’s requirement if you are pursuing a career out side your country.  If you are pursuing a career inside state or country then also you require skill in English language as today’s world is globalize and client base is not only intra national but international. 

Speak clearly and effectively.  Try to neutralize your accents and weed out local tinge as far as possible.  


April 23, 2010

Dog In the Manger Policy

Dog (Noun): a four legged Carnivorous mammal, kept as pet or used for work or hunting. 
Dog (Verb): Follow closely and persistently. 
Younger one: Puppy.
Feminine: Bitch.
Common Gender: Dog.
Sound: Bark, Yelp, Howl. 
Varieties of dogs: German Shepherd, (Alsatian)pug, Labrador

Dog is a common household animal. Dog is said to be one of the faithful pets known for its strong smelling sense.  The life of stray dog is miserable but pet dog’s life is really comfortable.  Our finance minister takes good care of dogs as he always chooses to lower the tax on dog’s biscuits.  Lol. The usefulness of a dog is known to all.  Dog can show way to old people. Blind people always depend on their dogs to cross road.

Dog is used by the police organization for its sniffing ability to catch culprits.  It is also used by hunters for easy hunting. In Greenland Eskimos use dogs to draw sledge or sled.  Its vital presence in our social life has got a significant contribution to the vocabulary of English language.   It seems all the expression or idioms related to this animal are based on its life.

This is a small English vocabulary lesson on Dog.  Let’s have a look.  This lesson is based on various sources like Compact Oxford Reference Dictionary. 

Dog in the manger policy:  To disallow others to enjoy something that one does not like too.  {From the fable of the dog that lay in a manger to prevent ox and horse from eating the hay.}
Dog Collar: A white upright collar worn by the Christian clergy. 
Dog Days: The hottest period of the year.
Dog eared: adj. having worn or battered corners. 
Dog end: a cigarette end. 
Dogfight: a close combat between military aircraft. 
Dog fish: A small shark with a long tail living close to the seabed. 
Dogged: (Adj.) Very persistent.
Doggerel: Badly written verse.
Doggy bag: A bag used to take home left over food from a restaurant. 
Doggy paddle: a simple swimming stroke like that of a dog. 
Dog house: a dog’s kennel.
In the dog house: in disgrace. 
Dog leg: sharp bend. 
Dog tired: extremely tired.
Dog tooth: a small check pattern with notched corners. 
To be dog cheap: Extremely cheap.
To die like a dog: die miserably without care.
Go to the dogs:
Let sleeping dogs lie: don’t poke the sleeping problems.
Rain cats and dogs: Heavy downpour.
Not a dog’s chance: no chance.
Love me, love my dog: to love one’s relative or friends.

February 25, 2010

Sachin the ton machine

“I’ve been privileged to witness one of cricket’s great moments… Frankly, I cannot think of how best to describe Sachin’s innings…It was awesome…His hunger for runs is quite unbelievable,” Darryl Cullinan, one of the finest South African cricketers said while paying tribute to the Little Master, when the Later scored the first double ton in the limited over format of Cricket. 

Sachin's first 200
Yes, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, has scored the first ever Double Hundred in One Day International Cricket.  On the 24th February, 2010, Wednesday, Sachin showed his appetite for hundred and rewrote history.  Gwalior is generally known for her impregnable forts, citadels and fighting royalty.   But history was slated to be written on an oval chunk of her heart.  The greenery and galleries of the Captain Roop Singh Stadium witnessed a great battle of willow and ball.  Bowlers of opposite South African team were helpless and clueless, as Sachin hammered them freely, as if balls were his servile servants.  He dictated the innings in his own fashion and created a Manhattan of eye-catching beauty.  Sachin Tendulkar eclipsed the earlier best of 194 jointly shared by Sayeed Anwar of Pakistan and Charles Coventry of Zimbabwe.

The ease of flow that Sachin showed while batting was full of youthfulness and ebullience. His running between the wicket with younger players like Kartik, Yusuf and Dhoni was unbelievable.  At 37, this much agility is really praiseworthy.  Modern Cricket demands 100 per cent fitness as more and more cricket matches are being played presently.  The demand of commitment is high and not easy to maintain.  But Sachin, despite age has come to rule both format of cricket for more than 20 years.  Right from 1989, he stands rock solid without looking back. 

Perhaps, it was reserved for this cricket Legend to achieve the jealous feat.  Stadium rose to instant frenzy when Sachin played football with the cricket ball.  There was no trace of lassitude in his face and body language though he batted for the entire innings carrying the bat. 

In his 442 match, he smashed as many as 25 boundaries and 3 sixes.  He took only 147 balls to reach the milestone.  He also made another record of hitting the highest number of ‘Four’ in an ODI innings that is 25. 

He came, he saw and he conquered, yes this adage fits well to this master batsman.  It was his 46th One day Ton as he has got 46 tons to his credit in the longer version of the game.  And the appetite is still on.  Here is a complete list of his One day Tons.

In two months time he will be celebrating his 37th Birthday.  Wish him good luck and energy so that India can win the 2011 World Cup.  Amen!


February 22, 2010

Save Tiger: Only 1411 Left

Tiger (Panthera Tigris) is a ferocious animal of Felidae family.  Etymologically, speaking the word Tiger is derived from the Greek word Tigris after the name of the river Tigris.   It means an arrow in Arabic language.  The name is a reference to its speed and precision of attack on its prey.  It is largely found in Eastern and Southern Asian dense forests.  Tiger reminds dark vertical stripes on near white to reddish orange fur.  It is a carnivorous animal who hunts herbivorous animal like deer. 

In India the Royal Bengal Tiger found in the Sundarban Mangrove Forest on West Bengal is one of the largest.  Tiger grows up to 3.3 meters and weighs as much as 3 tons.  It loves dense vegetation and water.  Tiger needs dense and large forest coverage to help it camouflage its stripy body while hunting its prey.  It can swim and among animals is known as a very good swimmer. 

Regrettably, tiger population in India is dwindling gradually and tiger is declared an animal on the verge of extinction.  There are many causes of its depletion in number.  Among the principal causes we can count, loss of habitat due to large scale deforestation and poaching.  Poaching is a significant threat to tiger’s life.  It is believed that tiger claw, teeth, skin, hair and other parts of its body have got aphrodisiacal property. But there is no scientific evidence or research to corroborate the fact.  In many countries like India an China trade in Tigre related objects is illegal.

Way back in 1973 the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi thought to help raise the number of tiger and started the Project Tiger.  As a result of that decision today there are many tiger reserves like Sundarban and Similipal to breed and save the animal.  But still instead of rising the number is rising and today only 1411 tiger left in India

Tiger is the national animal of India as it symbolizes India’s wildlife wealth. Respect and revere our national animal and take resolve to rescue the animal from the verge of extinction.  Share and spread the message to as many people as possible to help generate a buzz and awareness about Tiger. 


February 17, 2010

Boat and Ship

Here is a small English vocabulary lesson about boat and ship.

A mechanical device that prevents a vessel from moving: Anchor.
Boat race In Kerala
A vertical spar for supporting sails: Mast.
An implement used to propel or steer a boat: Oar.
A small open boat:  Dinghy
The place in a harbor where boats come in to load and unload:  Quayside.
The back of a boat: Stern.
The front of a boat:  Bow.
Cruise: an ocean trip taken for pleasure.
People who work on or operate a boat:  Crew.
Sailing round the world: Circumnavigation.
Jetty, Breakwater: a protective structure of stone or concrete; extends from shore into the water to prevent a beach from washing away.
A boat race: Regatta.
A passenger boat: Ferry.
Fifty Oars Boat
The main part or body of a boat or a ship:  Hull.
A long narrow boat which is used to carry people or goods along a canal: barge.
1852 meters: a nautical mile.
Sailor: any member of a ship's crew
Navigator: sailing master: the ship's officer in charge of navigation.
Quay: wharf usually built parallel to the shoreline.
Here is a link to know more about boat and its types. 

February 11, 2010

Pronunciation matters

Pronunciation is an important aspect that must not be ignored by non native-speakers. While speaking, heavy tinges of local language should be avoided though it is but natural.  Teachers should try to neutralize Accent as far as possible and not thrust their pronunciation as happened in country like India.  When I was in school little attention was paid to this vital aspect of English language as I came to know when I was introduced to the internet. 

It happens in India that English teachers are not required to have extra qualification.  To teach physics, chemistry, mathematics or any other branch of science streams special qualification is required but to teach English no extra qualification is required.  I have seen my teachers who were jack of all trades as they were required to teach two or three subjects.  In colleges however one is required to have special qualification like Post graduation in the same subject. 

This is quite absurd.  Any Tom, Dick and Harry cannot teach English as that is a foreign language and teachers should have special qualification.  Sadly, there is no special degree or course in country like India

Hence as a result, there is less stress on accent neutralization.  In India one can find many of ways of pronouncing a single word.  All speak according to their whim. It results in misunderstanding or one cannot drive home one’s point clearly.  As far as possible, we should strive our best to pronounce as the words are pronounced.

Television and radio are useful media to help in neutralizing the accent of non native speakers.  Television channels or radio stations broadcasting various kinds of programs, like news help in neutralizing accents in a great way.  They choose special people and train them to speak the language as it spoken by the native speakers.  British Broadcasting Corporation radio programs are very useful in achieving that coveted goal.  I was a regular listener of News Hour in BBC radio and it helped me in a great way to learn individual pronunciations of various words. 

In India there are various private institutions having special courses on Speaking English.  The presence of these institutions only for speaking English shows that, English teaching is not being done properly in schools.  The opening of market has led to the growth of BPO sector and this required professionals having expertise in speaking English. 

But technologies are there to help you learn this aspect of the language.  My last post emphasized on dissemination of technologies uniformly.  If you have got a computer and internet connection then you are well placed to learn.  Internet has revolutionized learning and interaction.  It has changed the outlook and behavior of people.  People have benefited in a large way from internet.  It is for this far reaching effect of the internet, it is nominated as a contender of Nobel Peace Prize.  It has got immense possibilities and if channelized in a proper way, it can usher in a revolution.  No doubt its impact is far reaching in the life of its users. 

I have been using a program distributed by the Oxford Advance Learners’ Dictionary to mend my pronunciation apart from online dictionaries.  For the first time I learned about a site especially devoted to pronunciation that is http://howjsay.com thanks to my first blogging friend Aniya. You can also find her in twitter @theEnglishteacherl. The original post can be accessed here.

The site distributes a program for computer users called Cleverkey.  It is a small program that takes you direct to the dictionary.com of course you can access the website directly from your browser but the program is useful as it integrates with the Microsoft word and also works right from the word window. 

Select a word and hit CTRL + L.  Bingo it will take you to the dictionary.com for synonym, definition, use and of course pronunciation.  Don’t you want all these?  Of course you do.  I have downloaded the program and it is working fantastically in my computer.  It does not work properly in Window Vista.  An Iphone application is also available.  


Give it a try. 


February 03, 2010

Technology and education

Today’s world is really complicated; thanks to the advent of technologies, human being has broadened his outlook and limit of thinking.  Technology has made possible the concept of globalization.  Globalization has posed new challenges to both policy makers and educators to devise new ways to meet the challenges thrown by globalization.  Shut your door, you would rue for the wind passing but not penetrating.  Be open and broad to take utmost benefit from globalization. 

Today in the era of globalization, no country is independent, having an independent set of foreign policies.  All countries are dependent or inter-dependent on each other or one another, on various matters like commerce, education, culture, science and technology or information technology and others of mutual or multilateral concern.  No country can live in complete seclusion from other parts of the world. 

And thanks to globalization time has come to rethink the education system of all countries.  Needless to say, education of all countries should be that broad like globalization.  Teachers or educators are well placed to initiate reforms in education sector.  As they are cogs of the education system, obviously, if reform of education sector comes, they should be involved in the process in a large way. 

We cannot ignore the administration and the administration should be there to facilitate things but not to regulate things.  Let ideas flow freely from the learned brains of educators.  The administration should keep a tab on such free deliberation or flow of ideas.  It should provide suitable platforms to facilitate easy flow of new ideas, so that a synthesis of various streams of ideas can be made.  Rigidity in any form should not be there, as rigidity closes the door of reform.  There should be commendable flexibility in sharing opinions.  All educators should be encouraged to participate in the process of reform.  On comprehensive deliberations, we can reach to an agreed set of reforms in the education sector.    
It is good that all have come to accept, that the need for change or reform is there.  This is but a beginning rather a welcome beginning.  We need to change our system and manner of teaching to equip our students with all possible knowledge.  Unless we give the benefit of technologies to our students, we cannot produce quality Human resources.  Quality human resources are but assets of a country and a country should direct a sizable part of its resources to produce quality professionals to serve the country in various forms. A country is said to be advanced according to the quality of its human resources. 

Internet has changed the way of thinking of many people and those who have got access to current technologies are well placed or have an edge.  Technologically forward areas and students are far better than those students without any access to technologies or internet.  Internet has certainly changed the outlook of people, as it has broadened the scope of thinking.

Investment on education is a social spending and instant profit is not there like other commercial activities. But we cannot live without education or infrastructural development.  It is the infrastructure that sustains all other structures.  Education is but a vital infrastructure that no country can afford to neglect.

Hence administration should be there to fund freely.  Educational projects should not be stalled for lack of fund.  Money should be directed to nurture a dedicated band of educators in Teachers training institute. Then well equipped school should be there to spread the benefit of education to all.  Administration should collaborate with parents for full participation of their wards. 

Education is a training process that equips one with all possible ways to face the music and solve every kind of problems.  Education is a dress material that everyone wears in one form or other but the beauty from that dress, lies in the wearer and the manner of dressing.  It is available for direction in whatever way one can and there lies the success or failure. 

Computer and internet has revolutionalised teaching and administration should provide technologies to all institutions to give the benefit of technologies to all students.  Days are coming when a classroom would be equipped with technologies.  Cell phone a small device that fosters easy communication at rock bottom rate has got immense potential and if used to its fullest extent it can help in easy learning.  Notes can be taken in class and those notes can be backed up using GPRS connection.  And the same can be accessed from any computer.  This is nothing but a rough copy.  Through internet the same cell phone can be used to learn or read many things while moving.  

Internet has helped in disseminating learning and of late blogs maintained by teachers or enthusiasts are but added benefit to the students. All school should have computer and internet connection so as to foster reading and learning. 

So are you ready for a new era of education?  I know you are.  Easy access to technologies means development.  Open for changes and be there to direct technologies in right direction.  Right technologies mean right development. Let the education change for the better and let resource constraints do not come in the way for change.  Administration be there to fund projects. 

Administration, educators and parents should collaborate freely for the betterment of an educational institution.  Each one should play its role in right way and should be flexible or open to new ideas.  The administration should give incentive like tax waiver to Donators who come forward to donate to educational sector.  Administration should also levy educational cess on various specialized services to develop education. 

Good luck to education and its development.  

February 02, 2010

The Younger Ones

In English language, there are special vocabulary items for younger animals.  It is nothing but to differentiate the younger ones from the older ones.  Here is a short lesson on the vocabulary terms to denote the younger ones of various animals. 
Bunny: A young rabbit. Also Kitten. 
Calf: A young cow or bull. Also, the young of some other large mammals like elephant
Colt: The young of a horse
Cub: The young of a fox, bear, lion, wolf or other carnivorous mammal.
Cygnet: A young swan.
Duckling: A young duck.
Eaglet: A young eagle.
Fawn: A young deer in its first year.
Foal: A young horse or related animal.
Gosling: A young goose.
Joey: A young Kangaroo.
Kid: A child or young person, a young goat.
Kit: A young Fox.
Kitten: A young cat, rabbit and beaver.  
Lamb: A young sheep.
Larvae: Bee
Leveret: A young hare in its first year.
Puppy: A young dog
Whelp: A Young Lion. 


January 30, 2010

Kids you can

You Can is a miracle sentence that has got something inspiring in it as kernel. If similar feeling makes home in your brain then rest assured that will result in generation of immense energy. If channelized in proper way, one can do miracle. This video is a Ted Talk delivered by Kiran Bir Sethi of Riverside School. First I saw this video in Shell Terrail's blog who shares everything in a twitter. series 'What did they tweet.'  It was shared by one of her follower and I got a chance to watch this video. Thanks to Terrail a reservoir of ideas led by an 'I can' feeling. Thanks to her for re-sharing the video. So here is the video.

January 22, 2010

So and Neither and I am afraid So

Well, English speakers use So and Neither to make their speaking abridged, effective and pleasant to the listeners.  When one thing or action or place is liked by two persons or two different groups of people, we generally use both the words according to the situation to omit the main verb.  Well, by using these words we sound to be effective and (repetitive) avoid using the same main verb twice.

In positive sentences or agreement we use So. So is used in the sense of Also and Too. 

For Example:

Nisha: I like coffee.
Asha: I also like coffee.

In the above conversation it is obvious that both like coffee.  In the second sentence Asha has used Also to show that she also likes coffee.  Well, we can use So in this sentence.

For Example:

Nisha:I like coffee.
Asha: So do I. (I also like coffee, I too like coffee, I also coffee as well))

Here there is agreement of both speakers about their likings. Hence, we have used So.

In case there is negative concurrence or agreement we use Neither.

For example:

Nisha: I don’t like tea.
Asha: I also don’t like tea.

We can use neither to rewrite the speech of Asha. 

Like: Neither do I. (I also don’t like either)

Remember: Not either means neither. 

Auxiliary verbs or Main verbs following So and Neither.

In the above examples we have used, Neither do I. (Auxiliary verb)
So do I. (Auxiliary verb)

There have got a good future.
So has Ram. (Proper form of Have, Auxiliary)

He can’t chew.
Neither Tom can. (Main Verb, can)

I am from India.
So am I. (Auxiliary) (Funny isn’t it? Ms word suggests, ‘So is I.’)

I must obey the traffic rules.
So must you.  (Must, modal/auxiliary)

In the above examples, please mark that the first speaker or doer uses the main verb and the second speaker or doer uses the auxiliary Do and its derivative verbs, according to the situations.

Suppose so/ Hope so/ Afraid so

Study the examples below.

Amber: Are you ready to pull?
Sanjay: I suppose so.

Amber: Will you finish editing your novel this year?
Sanjay: I hope so.

Amber: Is the main road closed?
Sanjay: I am afraid so. (No I don’t think so)

As you enjoy reading EFL lessons, so do I. So, here I come to the end of the short…boring lesson, isn’t it? Lol.


January 03, 2010

What A Shame

This is really a misleading expression often used by English speakers both in writing and speaking. 

What a Shame is different from Shame on You.  But very often it leads to misunderstanding. 

Primarily, we mean by shame as an emotion resulting from awareness of having done something disrespectful or some unworthy, degrading acts.  Interestingly, the word has got as many as 15 meanings, yes fifteen, you heard it right.  It is used in various ways in various contexts.

Let’s discuss those meanings:

1)     A painful sensation excited by a consciousness of guilt or impropriety or of having done something which injures reputation or of the exposure of that which nature or modesty prompts us to conceal.
2)     Reproach incurred or suffered; dishonor; ignominy; derision; contempt.
3)     The cause or reason of shame; that which brings reproach and degrades a person in the estimation of others; disagree.
4)     The parts which modesty requires to be covered; the private parts.
5)     To make ashamed; to excite in (a Person) a consciousness of guilt or impropriety or of conduct derogatory to reputation; to put to shame.
6)     To cover with reproach or ignominy; to dishonor; to disagree.
7)     To mock at; deride.
8)     To feel shame.
9)     An unfortunate development.
10)A painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy or guilt.
11)A state of dishonor.
12)Surpass or beat by a wide margin.
13)Cause to be ashamed.
14)Compel through a sense of shame.
15)Bring shame or dishonor upon.