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Uzma Kayany

Don't be afraid of teaching/learning English

By Uzma Kayany

Since we Pakistani bear a fear and scare of English Language but to me there is nothing in it to be frightened about. I suggest few stress-free practical things to do on daily basis that how you can get over your fear of English.
Thomas Carlyle has rightly said that "The first duty of man is to conquer fear; he must get rid of it, he cannot act till then". One basic difficulty in learning English is fear of making mistakes. When it comes to learn a language; it is quite natural and normal to make mistakes, so with the English. Remember! Making mistakes in language learning signal your learning. Make mistakes and learn from them. English language is one of the most popular living languages and a dire need of the day. This is the language of every advance knowledge i.e. sciences, mathematics, cosmology, computer etc. Nobody could deny with its significance in present-day. I have seen plenty of scared learners (students and teachers) of English Language during my educational and professional career thus writing to help those who still find English a tougher target. Firstly I recommend you getting over your fear to interact in English. Secondly few useful things to remember while learning English and lastly some low cost no cost activities which would give you a hand in getting mastery over English, either you are a teacher or a student.

Get Prepared for Teaching /Learning English

1. Vocabulary

As vocabulary is an overlooked aspect of learning English language in Pakistan as a compulsory subject. However, the vocabulary has moved from the outside into a central position. True self-expression is an ability that many speakers struggle with, especially when trying to master the complex English language. There is a tendency when learning any language to study just enough to get by in daily situations. Even those who learned English as their first language often suffer from a restricted vocabulary. But if you truly want to sound like a native speaker, expanding vocabulary will open many new doors of communication. Though it seems scary, you'd be surprised how quickly you can train your brain to constantly absorb new words. Doing so ,you would forget about the fear you might have had because of less vocabulary simultaneously newer vocabulary builds up your self-confidence. The subsequent tips cum instruction are going to help you surely.

Read everything you can get your hands on. If you come across a word you can't define or understand, use a highlighter to mark it and look it up in a dictionary, then use a thesaurus to see what other words have the same and opposite meanings.

Play games that involve words and wordplay. Scrabble is an excellent example, as multiple players take turns coming up with difficult and unique words. Hangman is another fine vocabulary learning game. These games require a dictionary to check words and definitions as the games progress.

Spend time with the newspaper, crosswords and jumbles are included in almost every English newspaper (The News, Dawn, Pakistan Today).They come in varying degrees of difficulty. Puzzles like these not only boost your vocabulary up, but they have a positive effect on cognition in general.

Learn a "word a day." This is a fun approach to vocabulary enhancement that involves skimming your dictionary every day until you come to a word you don't know. Once you've studied the word and its definition, you must now find a way to work that word into your daily life. Since you are learning English as a second language

think of all the ways that you express yourself in Urdu language and jot them down. Then start asking people for the English equivalent or search online. You'll be surprised at how easily you can fit in the translations into your daily life.

Go online. There are dozens of language Web sites, such as vocabulary.com and nonstopenglish.com that focus specifically on broadening your English vocabulary. Many of these sites have games, tests, puzzles and exercises that will allow you to learn new words as well as track your progress. Read the English magazines like Reader’s Digest is popular for easy learning language. Old book shops have low cost English magazines and newspapers.

2. Learn Parts of Speech

By recognizing parts of speech such as nouns and verbs, you would have a skill to understand and construct meaningful sentences at your own. Learning nouns and verbs would assist in building vocabulary. National Curriculum standards for language arts require you to recognize sentence structure and using it properly in written and spoken language. Providing with games and clue devices related to nouns and verbs help you easily remember the parts of speech when reading and writing texts. It takes time and practice to learn the different parts of speech. Be an improved teacher, writer, and reader by learning parts of speech. These parts of speech help to construct complete sentences from words. The nine parts of speech are

noun, verb, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction interjection and article. You don't need to include each part of speech in every sentence to be grammatically correct. Hence we will go through the parts of speech and imply them using in daily life routine.

Open a book a read a paragraph aloud. The paragraph can be in the beginning, middle or end of the book. You will be using this paragraph to help you identify the different parts of speech.
  • Look for all the nouns in the paragraph. A noun is a person, place or thing. For example, in the sentence "Mom ran to shop," the word "Mom" is the noun. In this case "Mom" is a person, "books," "Lahore City," "burger," "bus" and "Punjab" are examples of other nouns. A noun can be singular or plural.
  • Find all the verbs in the paragraph. A verb is considered to be the heart of a sentence and shows action or the state of being. For example, in the sentence "Mom ran to shop," "ran" is the verb, since that shows the action of the sentence.
  • Spot all the pronouns. Pronouns are words that are used instead of a noun. Words like "he," "she," "it," "them," "they," "him," "her" and "me" are all examples of pronouns. In the sentence "Aisha took her mother to the store," the word "her" is a pronoun. In this case, "her" is referring to Aisha.
  • Identify all the adjectives in the paragraph. Adjectives are words that describe a noun or pronoun. For example, in the sentence "The fat dog slept outside," the word "fat" describes the dog and is an adjective. The noun in the sentence is the "dog." Adjectives typically appear before the noun it describes, like fat dog, sleepy child, and cold day. "Fat," "sleepy" and "cold" all are adjectives.
  • Look for all the words that give more information about verbs or adjectives in terms of time, frequency or manner. For example, in the sentence "The cat ran quickly after the mouse," the word "quickly" describes how the cat ran and is the adverb. An easy way to spot some adverbs is to find the words that end in "ly." Most, but not all, adverbs end with "ly."Something that adds to a verb is an adverb.
  • Look for all the prepositions in the paragraph. A preposition shows relationships among other words in the form of direction, place, time, cause, manner or amount. For example, in the sentence "The family arrived by car," the word "by" is a preposition because it shows the manner in which the family arrived. In the sentence "The talk show starts at two o'clock," the preposition is "at" because it tells the time that show starts. In the sentence, "The cat sat under the table," "under" is the preposition because it tells us where the cat sat. As a rule of thumb, prepositions are almost always written before a noun or pronoun.
  • Look for all the words that connect a word or group of words together. They are called conjunctions. Words like "and," "or," "but" and "so" are examples of coordinating conjunctions. In the sentence "Sarah and Reema are best friends," the word "and" is the conjunction because it connects the two nouns, "Sarah" and "Reema."
  • Interjections are words used to express emotional states. They can usually be found in narrative writing, interviews, and in spoken English. They can stand alone. For example: Oh!, wow!, Ouch! Oops! Hey! Punctuation Note; They are punctuated with either commas or exclamation marks. Mild interjections are followed by a comma, but stronger interjections are punctuated with an exclamation mark (!) .Oh, we’re late for the party. Generally, the party is not an important destination. Therefore, the person making this statement will sound less urgent than the next example. Oh! I’m late for office.
  • Articles are the, a, and an… What do articles do in a sentence? Articles signal that a noun is going to follow e.g. who invented the telephone? the wheel? the refrigerator? the airplane? A cat was chasing a mouse in my back yard. The indefinite article ‘a’ can only appear before nouns that begin with a consonant sound: a hand, a book, a world, a computer…The indefinite article ‘an’ can only appear before nouns that begin with a vowel sound: an apartment, an hour,an article . Articles sometimes behave as demonstratives, possessives and often as stressed version of anything.

Teaching/learning parts of speech through educational activities

Knowing the parts of speech is one of chief stages of learning English language. You should be able to define all parts of speech with examples. Just reading about these or getting lectured on parts of speech is not enough. Keep yourself learning parts of speech through activities to make skill meaningful and long last. This ensures fully retain the concepts. Here I have few games to make learning English friendlier. Remember, this will also expand the bank of your vocabulary automatically and effectively.

Bean Bag Toss

Teach students the meaning of nouns by allowing each student to provide examples of a specific noun. Students will participate in a bean bag toss game that revolves around nouns. Place a grid on the floor made out of a large sheet of paper. In each square of the grid, write a description of a noun. Words inside each grid can include "person," "place" or "thing." Students will form a single-file line and toss a bean bag onto the paper with the grids, one at a time. Whichever noun description the bag comes closest is the one for which the student must give an example. For example, if the grid says, "place" the student can respond, "grocery store." Explain that students may not use proper nouns like the name of a specific grocery store (Hyper Star). Make sure all students get a chance to act out an imitation at least once.

Charades

Teach students to recognize verbs and adverbs through a game of charades. On note cards, write down one verb and one adverb for each card. The verb should be an action word and the adverb should be a word that describes the verb. For example, a note card may read, "bounce/quickly." Have the class compete individually or in two groups. For the example given, the students who draw the note card would bounce around the classroom in a quick fashion, waiting for students to guess the correct verb and adverb being portrayed.

Posters

Teach students about interjections by assigning poster projects (charts). Interjections are words that show excitement or emotions and are often followed by an exclamation point. Assign each student a word that qualifies as an interjection. An example could be, "Wow!" Then, have each student create a poster that shows the feelings associated with the interjection he was assigned. Students can cut out magazine words or pictures that reflect the interjection. If a student was assigned the word, "wow" he can cut out photos of a person who shows excitement. He could also write words like "happy" or 'surprised" on the poster or cut each letter of the word out of a magazine. On the due date of the posters, have each student present his poster to the class.

Newspaper Searcher Hunt

Teach students what a pronoun is by having students find examples of pronouns in a newspaper. Explain to students that the pronoun, "she" replaces the noun, "girl." Other types of pronouns to discuss as a class include "he," "they" and "them." Give each student a section of the newspaper. Have students highlight as many examples of pronouns as possible. This activity can be done as a type of searcher hunt where students highlight various parts of speech with a different color. For example, students can highlight nouns in green, proper nouns in pink and pronouns in yellow.

For having a quick note onto your laptop or as sticky notes or a mind map, here it goes a table of parts of speech.

part of speech

function or "job"

example words

example sentences

Verbaction or statebe, have, do, like, work, sing, can, mustGoogle.com is a web site.
I like google.com.
Nounthing or personpen, dog, work, music, town, Islamabad, teacher, JavedThis is my dog.
He lives in my house.
We live in Islamabad.
Adjectivedescribes a nounsome, good, big, red, well, interestingI have two dogs.
My dogs are big.
I like big dogs.
Adverbdescribes a verb, adjective or adverbquickly, silently, well, badly, very, reallyMy dog eats quickly. When he is very hungry, he eats really quickly.
Pronounreplaces a nounI, you, he, she, someTayeba is Pakistani. She is beautiful. Her father is a doctor.
Prepositionlinks a noun to another wordto, at, after, on, butWe went to school on Monday.
Conjunctionjoins clauses or sentences or wordsand, but, whenI like dogs and I like cats. I like cats and dogs. I like dogs but I don't like cats.
Interjectionshort exclamation, sometimes inserted into a sentenceoh!, ouch!, hi!, wellOuch! That hurts! Hi ! How are you? Well, I don't know.
Articleprovide information about nounthe , a ,anThat is a table. That is the table.

So putting the discussion in a nutshell, we came across with vocabulary and parts of speech; the building blocks of written and spoken language. To sound like a native, you must learn them slowly but skillfully. The knowledge of aforementioned vocabulary and parts of speech is indispensable to write accurately and speak fluently.

Uzma Kayany is Research Officer at National Educational Equipment Centre Lahore and can be e-mailed at here.

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