Monday, September 21, 2009

Hysea Awards ...

Hysea Awards happened a few months ago, and although, rather delayed, I wanted to post some pictures here. Our stall was the busiest of the lot--tsk, I don't have a picture to prove that :) We did not win the award, (it went to the Andhra Pradesh Government)--but the participation was totally worth it. We met some very smart people- those that were awed by our work as well as those that critiqued us. Yes, we need them all—I'm still learning the tricks of business relationship management and how to sit gracefully while someone tells you, "This is not going to work"! (Not that we heard such responses very often--just about everyone was positive and impressed. There were a couple of people who had more questions than enthusiasm, but more on them later.)

For now, I leave you with these pictures.

Reading to learn English faster and better

Students keep asking me how they can improve their English. I give them tips now and then but I thought writing about my experience could help them.

For me, reading was by far the most enjoyable and easiest way to perfect my English. Sure, as I began, it took maybe 10 days to finish a 100 pages book, but that’s just the way to go about. I‘ve probably read a few thousand books over the years, but the take off wasn’t easy. Our school did not have a library, you see. So unfortunately, unlike children in good schools where learning English came by default, I had my own little struggles as I manoeuvred to keep that undying zest to speak English going. My initial reading started with the comics—Tinkle was a hot favourite. I even had access to Tintin thanks to my friend’s brother who happened to be a fan. I read these first for entertainment but I also had a secret agenda—to improve my English--as I was told very often that reading was an assured way to get you to speak good English.

I upgraded to reading Reader’s Digest, but avoided the long stories. I would start with the “Humour in Uniform” and the little snippets here and there. The moment I started reading the long stories, I also began to take notes. I would write down all the phrases I thought I could use with my teachers and those few friends who spoke English. It sure did make me feel good that I was into real reading.

My first real novel was Jeffery Archer’s A Quiver Full of Arrows I barely understood any of the stories but it’s on record and it’ll go down in history as my first real book. As I went on reading, I also began to notice that my letter writings became more interesting. I took to writing answers on my own instead of mugging up the teacher’s notes during exams. I started participating in debates and essay writing competitions--in fact, all those literary activities in school that required the use of speaking and writing in English.

It was a conscious effort although the fact that I enjoyed what I did came as a bonus. If you still haven’t tried reading, start with the comics and the newspapers. Each morning as you wake up, get hold of the English newspaper. Start with the section that interests you the most. Skip words that make no sense to you. Get the hang of reading first, then you can start looking up the dictionary. Make it a habit-- keep reading and keep talking. Annoy people if you must--soon you’ll impress them. Being able to speak English will make you feel good about yourself and will definitely help you to get better in life.

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