Dr Dharmendra Sheth Founder, Fluentlingua www.fluentlingua.com +91 9825442418 fluentlingua@gmail.com

Seven Essentials of Effective Teaching

(Published in ‘The Journal of English Language Teaching – India [ELT@I] March-April 2010) Conscientious teachers often ask themselves, “Do my students learn what I teach, and how well?” “Am I a successful teacher?” “Are my students happy with my teaching?” I do not know if I am a good example of the class ‘conscientious teacher’, but, motivated by such fundamental and essential questions, I conducted a little informal survey. I asked about a thousand students from diverse academic, social and economic backgrounds to determine who, according to them, was a conscientious teacher. For a start, I proposed that seven traits—qualities or patterns of behaviour or ‘habits’—may be used as framework for responses to my query. So each student surveyed was asked to enumerate seven traits he considered essential to conscientious teaching. The result of the survey was most interesting as well as surprising. Here is a summary of its findings.   The first thing students expect from a teacher is a smile. A smile establishes an instant rapport between students and their teacher, which is a prerequisite for a successful class. Students cannot be bothered about what has happened to a teacher before he enters a class. A teacher must …

My letter to Mr Narendra Modi

માનનીય શ્રી નરેન્દ્ર મોદીજી,       અપાર લોકપ્રિયતા મેળવીને 2014ની લોકસભાની ચૂંટણી માટે વડાપ્રધાનપદના સર્વસંમત દાવેદાર બનવા બદલ અભિનંદન ! આપની સાથે હું યે ગુજરાતી છું તેનું મને ગૌરવ છે. પણ આજે મારે ગુજરાતીઓને માટે કાળી ટીલી ગણાતી અંગ્રેજી ભાષા વિશે વાત કરવી છે અને તે પણ શક્ય તેટલા ઓછા શબ્દોમાં.         1) રાષ્ટ્રીય સ્તરે કોઈપણ ક્ષેત્રમાં કામ કરવું હોય તો અંગ્રેજી પર સામાન્ય કરતાં વિશેષ પકડ હોવી અનિવાર્ય છે. જેટલા વધુ ગુજરાતીઓ રાષ્ટ્રીય સ્તરે કામ કરતાં થાય એટલું આપની રાજકીય સફળતા માટે સારું રહેશે. વ્યક્તિગત રીતે મેં તમારો અને ગુજરાતનો પરિચય અનેકોને કરાવ્યો છે પણ તમારે દેશની કાયાપલટ કરવી હશે તો સારું અંગ્રેજી જાણનારા ગુજરાતી બુદ્ધિજીવીઓ,  વેપારીઓ તથા અન્ય વ્યાવસાયિકોની ફોજ ઊભી કરવી પડશે.       2) ગુજરાતી માધ્યમની શાળા માટે ગુજરાત સરકારે તૈયાર કરેલ અંગ્રેજી વિષયના પુસ્તકોની ગુણવત્તા ખૂબ જ નબળી રહી છે. ગત વર્ષે મેં પુસ્તકનાં પાનેપાનેથી શોધેલી અ.ધ..ધ.. ભૂલોની યાદી સરકારના વિભાગો અને તજજ્ઞોને મોકલી હતી. આપને પણ એક નકલ અચૂક મળી જ હશે!       મને જણાવતાં દુ:ખ થાય છે કે આ વર્ષે અમલમાં આવેલા પાઠ્યપુસ્તકો પણ એવી જ ગંભીર ભૂલો લઈને આવ્યા છે. ગુજરાતી બાળકો અને યુવાનો આમાંથી સાચું અને સારું અંગ્રેજી ક્યારેય ના શીખી શકે! આ બાબતે આપે કઈંક નક્કર વિચારવું પડશે. શાળા કક્ષાએથી જ વિશ્વ …

Nimby

An interesting word. It means ‘not in my backyard’. After I posted this, some viewers/friends asked me to tell them how to use this word. So I have copied below the entry for the word ‘nimby’ from Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. I hope it helps. Nimby /”nIm.bi/ noun [C] ABBREVIATION FOR not in my back yard: a person who does not want something unpleasant to be built or done near where they live: The spokeswoman said that Nimby attitudes were delaying development of the site.   nimbyism /”nIm.bi:.Ism/ noun [U] Residents were accused of nimbyism when they tried to stop the new superstore development.

Does English pay rich dividends?

Dear all, The British Council has arranged a Lecture Tour by Hywel Coleman on the topic “Do English language skills pay an economic and social dividend?” I would like to have your views on this, preferably with real-life examples. Best wishes, Dharmendra.

Words…words…words…

Dear all, Your command of words and success go hand in hand. The more words you know the better you can express what you have in your mind, be it feelings or facts. For the past decade or so, I have been learning about 30 new words every day from my personal reading, listening and talking with friends who are better users of English than me. When I look back, I wonder how I expressed my views in the past without the words that I have learnt in the last decade. I was a fluent speaker then too. That means that at that time I used to ‘impose’ meanings on the words that I knew, and expected people to guess at the meaning on the basis of the contexts. I sincerely apologise to those who had to struggle to understand my English. That doesn’t mean that now I have all the words and phrases that I need to express my views or describe what I see, smell, taste, touch, hear and feel. My vocabulary learning campaign is an ongoing process. In the recent past I have developed a fancy for idiomatic expressions. I am on cloud nine, i.e., I am …

Introduction to ‘English for life’

Hi, there! Everything one does should lead one to happiness. I firmly believe in it. I often tell my students, who are non-native learners of English, that studying English is a part of our larger campaign in life: to become happy. A good command of English opens an entirely new world for you. You truly become a citizen of the world. You get a chance to peep into various cultures. You get to know what the best is in every field. You can know where you are in comparison with others. You come out of the complacent attitude like a frog in a well. In short, an ability to use and understand English will help you lead a qualitatively better life, no matter what your profession is. So, if you agree with me, or even if you don’t, just drop me a line. Best wishes, Dharmendra.

How to overcome ‘writer’s block’.

How to overcome ‘writer’s block’. Hi!, Whether you are a novice or a seasoned writer, you will experience ‘writer’s block’. You can’t do away with it. However, there is good news. You can cheat that bug. Here are some tips. First of all, remember that ‘writer’s block’ is a problem more of attitude than skill and knowledge. You will perhaps agree with me that our brain is the laziest organ in our body. It can justify anything–good or bad. If you tilt a little, it will drag you down in that direction. So block the thought of ‘writer’s block’ in the brain itself–nip it in the bud. Once that happens, there is no alternative but to write. Secondly, don’t waste a lot of time thinking about the topic; just start writing. The theme will emerge and will become clearer in the course of time. Next time when you experience ‘writer’s block’, start writing about it. You may begin with the title ‘How to overcome writer’s block’. Thirdly, write in simple, conversational style. Don’t try to show off your knowledge and send your writing as a challenge to the reader. Try to use simple words. It’s great if you have a …

Welcome to the world of writing.

Welcome to the world of writing. Hi! This blog is for me, and for you, if you like. Everyone has an inner desire to express. A blog provides a platform for it. You can practise your art and skill of writing, and have fun in the process, too. So start blogging! The best part of blogging is there is no need to get anyone’s approval, nobody to judge whether what you have written is good or bad. You just write following an impulse to write. Neither the topic nor the treatment matters. You just write what you like, conditions DO NOT apply. Why do I write? Well, I write because I have to. I need to shake off the weight of the day, and dust my brain. I need to reassure myself that I have beaten the monotonous routine, and I am deadly alive. The more I write the more I will perfect the techniques of writing. Till then, till creative juices start oozing out, you will have to bear with me! Good bye. Best wishes, Dharmendra.