Monday, 29 July 2013

Disconnect between teachers and learners

By Dr Albert P’rayan

I am writing this column on the eve of the Eighth International and 44th Annual ELTAI (English Language Teachers’ Association of India) Conference at SRM University, Chennai from 18 to 20 July. The theme of the conference is ‘21st Century Learner: Learning Styles and Strategies’. I have been invited to take part in a panel discussion on the topic ‘The disconnect between teachers and learners in the English classroom’.
The term ‘disconnect’ in the English language teaching (ELT) context can be defined as an instance in which a teacher of English fails to connect with learners and hampers learners from learning the English language effectively. In simpler terms, ‘disconnect’ is an instance in which the teacher distances himself/herself from learners. The topic implies that teachers of English are expected to connect with their learners.
The answer to the question of whether there is a disconnect between teachers and learners in the English classroom is YES and NO. In most cases the answer is YES and in a few cases NO. ‘Disconnect’ in this context is not an alien concept in India. Even after 14 years of learning English (from LKG to Class 12) and having English-medium education for over a decade most students who begin their tertiary education are not able to converse in English or write without grammatical errors. Many students who lack proficiency in English are scared of making presentations in front of an audience, taking part in group discussions or appearing for a mock interview. It affects not only their academic performance but also their career. Such students with poor English language skills or communication skills face rejection in campus recruitment. Most educational institutions have failed to enhance their students’ English language skills. Who should be blamed for this? The education system? English language teachers? English language learners?
This tragic reality or situation is a clear indication that there is a huge disconnect between teachers and learners in the English classroom. Twenty-first century English language learners are different from learners of the previous century. Their learning styles are different. Their language needs are different. Are teachers ready to accept these differences? Do they treat these differences as challenges or opportunities? Are the teachers ready to match teaching styles with learners’ learning styles? Are they ready to undergo a paradigm shift?

 We have five categories of English language teachers:
1. Teachers who have language proficiency, pedagogical skills and professional skills

 2. Teachers who have language proficiency and pedagogical skills but lack professional skills
3. Teachers who have language proficiency but lack pedagogical skills and professional skills

 4. Teachers who lack  language proficiency but have pedagogical and professional skills
5. Teachers who lack language proficiency, pedagogical skills and professional skills

 Only the first category of teachers — teachers who have proficiency in all three — can connect with students and enable them to become effective learners. They are reflective teachers. They reflect on lessons they are going to teach, lessons they have taught, the target learners and their learning styles, their interactions with learners, learners’ feedback, etc. Professional ethics here means teachers are morally bound to connect with students.
Passion for teaching and a desire to connect with their students are two important characteristics of successful teachers.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Puthiya Thalaimurai TV is a 24x7 live news channel in Tamil
Puthiya Thalaimurai TV is a 24x7 live news channel in Tamil launched on August 24, 2011..The channel looks at issues through the eyes of the common man and serves as a platform that airs people's views.The editorial policy is built on strong ethics and fair reporting methods that does not favour or oppose any individual, ideology, group, government, organisation or sponsor.The channel’s primary aim is taking unbiased and accurate information to the socially conscious common man.
Besides giving live and current information the channel broadcasts news on sports, business and international affairs. It also offers a wide array of week end programmes. The channel is promoted by Chennai based New Gen Media Corporation. The company also publishes popular Tamil magazines--- Puthiya Thalaimurai and Kalvi. The news center is based in Chennai city, supported by a sprawling network of bureaus all over Tamil Nadu. It has a northern hub in the capital Delhi.The channel is proud of its well trained journalists and employs cutting edge technology for news gathering and processing.
Due to its independent editorial stance it became extremely popular in India and abroad within days of its launch and continues to remain so till date.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

HTC Desire 600 launched in India at Rs 26,860

NEW DELHI: Taiwanese manufacturer HTC has launched its Desire 600 smartphone in India. The new handset has a 4.5-inch screen, quad-core processor and dual-sim functionality. At a price of Rs 26,860, this new smartphone will compete against the likes of Google Nexus 4, Samsung Galaxy S4 mini and Sony Xperia SP in the Indian market.
The all-new HTC Desire 600 has a Super LCD 2 display panel with 960x540p resolution and 245ppi pixel density. It has a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, backed by 1GB RAM, and runs on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Onboard memory in the phone is 8GB, with microSD support up to 64GB and free Dropbox storage of 25GB.
An 8MP autofocus camera with LED flash is strapped to the back of Desire 600, while a 1.6MP shooter is placed in front. The phone comes with connectivity options like 2G, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.0 and NFC. The phone has Blinkfeed content aggregator and a 1,860mAh battery, along with BeatsAudio and BoomSound sound enhancement technologies.
HTC Desire 600 is the only smartphone in its price band to feature dual-sim functionality.
Faisal Siddiqui, country head, HTC India, said, "The HTC Desire 600 dual sim combines speed and easy multitasking with the truly innovative HTC BlinkFeed home screen. The result is an affordable mid-range phone that sets the standard for its class, keeping the busiest user up-to-date at a glance and offering them the power and range of features to switch between work and play."

Golconda Fort-India’s most magnificent fortress complexes

Originally a mud fort founded by the Kakatiya Kings of Warangal during the 13th century, Golconda attained glory under the Qutub Shahi dynasty (1518 to 1687). This is where the priceless Kohinoor diamond was found. One of the famous forts of India, an added attraction here is an enchanting sound & light show in the evenings.
One of the most interesting look of Golconda Fort is its system of acoustics. The sounds of hands clapped at the entry gate can be heard clearly at 'Bala Hissar', the highest point, a kilometre away.Golconda (sometimes spelled as Golkonda) Fort was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Golconda which flourished in the 14th to 16th century. It is situated 11 kilometers from Hyderabad, the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh. With walls ranging from 17 to 34 feet broken by 87 semi-circular bastions, some reaching 60 feet in height, and built on a granite hill that is 400 feet high, it remains one of India’s most magnificent fortress complexes.
Even before the kingdom of Golconda rose in prominence, the beginning of the fort was thought to be in 1143, when the Kakatiya Dynasty ruled the region. According to legend, a shepherd boy found an idol in the area. When this was reported to the Kakatiyan king, he ordered a mud fort to be built around it. The fort eventually became known as Golla Konda, which in Tegulu meant Shepherd’s Hill. The area eventually became a heated battleground between three kingdoms, finally culminating in the victory of the Islamic Bahmani Sultanate and the fort became a capital of a major province of the Sultanate. When Quli Qutub Shah declared his independence from the Bahmani Sultanate in 1518, the Qutub Shahi Dynasty arose and Golconda became its seat of power. Over the next couple of decades, successive Qutub Shahi kings expanded the mud fort into a massive and expansive fort of granite, with a circumference that extended to around 5 kilometers. The fort remained to be the dynasty’s capital until it was moved to Hyderabad in 1590. The fort was then expanded to have a 10-kilometer outer wall that enclosed the city.
In 1686, the Mughal prince Aurangzeb started to lay siege on the fort of Golconda, with the intent of claiming Hydebarad, the wealthy capital of the Qutub Shahi dynasty. The fortress proved to be as impregnable as its reputation claimed. It wasn’t until the year after, in 1687, when Aurangzeb finally managed to breach the fort after a nine-month long siege. It was said that the fort only fell down because of a traitor who sabotaged the gate.
The Fort Today
Today, even after almost 800 years, the fort still stands as one of Hyderabad’s greatest architectural wonders. One of it’s gratest engineering marvels is the fantastic acoustic effects: one handclap at a certain point below the entrance dome can be heard at the highest point of the pavilion almost a kilometer away. This was said to be used for warning the royals in case of an attack.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Gehry tower-Lower Manhattan

High and Mighty 
 The Frank Gehry–designed New York by Gehry tower, which was completed in the spring of 2011, rises 76 stories over Lower Manhattan and stands 870 feet tall, making it the tallest residential building in North America.

 Also lending to the structure’s unmistakability is its asymmetrical steel facade, which appears to ripple like fabric. Ninety-six percent of the 899 residences in this landmark design have been rented, but one of the three recently completed penthouse units—Penthouse North—is still available.

This 3,771-square-foot unit, which is being offered for $35,000 per month, includes 10-foot-high ceilings, white oak floors, and east and west views. Fittings and appliances from Dornbracht, Duravit, Liebherr, and Miele outfit the space, as do motorized solar shades, built-in speakers, and radiant-heat flooring. Giant bay windows allow residents to “step into space,” says the architect. Amenities available to all residents include concierge and valet services, a screening room with Gehry-designed amphitheater seating, a library, a catering kitchen, a private dining room, a fitness center and spa, a game room with golf simulators, and a 50-foot swimming pool with retractable glass doors and a wraparound sundeck.

Hill Forts of Rajasthan- India UNESCO World Heritage site

UNESCO World Heritage site
Hill Forts of Rajasthan- India

The serial site, situated in the state of Rajastahan, includes six majestic forts in Chittorgarh; Kumbhalgarh; Sawai Madhopur; Jhalawar; Jaipur, and Jaisalmer. The ecclectic architecture of the forts, some up to 20 kilometres in circumference, bears testimony to the power of the Rajput princely states that flourished in the region from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Enclosed within defensive walls are major urban centres, palaces, trading centres and other buildings including temples that often predate the fortifications within which developed an elaborate courtly culture that supported learning, music and the arts. Some of the urban centres enclosed in the fortifications have survived, as have many of the site's temples and other sacred buildings. The forts use the natural defenses offered by the landscape: hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests. They also feature extensive water harvesting structures, largely still in use today.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Delhi comes to a halt as downpour floods roads, snaps power, razes walls

NEW DELHI: It was a deluge that the city was totally unprepared for and in no time washed away the false claims of government and municipal agencies that they had done their job. An amount of Rs 23 crore - PWD spent Rs 20cr and the three corporations Rs 3cr - got drowned in the downpour in the capital on Saturday. About 100.3mm of rainfall between 12.10pm and 2.30pm brought the city virtually to a halt, flooding roads, underpasses and colonies, snapping power, stalling traffic, damaging cars and bringing down walls. At least two Metro stations got inundated and had to be closed while the showcase T-3 terminal at IGI Airport once again got partially flooded.

 That it was the third heaviest in a day in 10 years - 123mm - made matters worse and plunged the city into a crisis. Within hours, all the agencies - PWD and the corporations - and the political parties were indulging in a blame game even as people struggled to make their way through waterlogged roads. Guiding them through this mess were the men of Delhi Traffic Police and other cops, standing in the knee-deep dirty water, drenched but determined. Additional CP (Traffic) Anil Shukla could barely hide his disgust as he blamed the improper geometric design, clogged drains and repeated laying of tar on roads for the situation which his men were trying to deal with to the best of their ability. Delhi Police had put about 3,000 men on the roads.


Google to introduce new Nexus tablets at July 24 event

The good news for Nexus users, Google all set to introduce the next generation of its Nexus tablets at July 24 event in San Francisco. Google has just sent out media invites for its Android event at at a July 24 event in San Francisco.The Google event will be hosted by the Sundar Pichai ,a Google executive, who manages the company’s Android and Chrome operating systems.

Android, the world’s major mobile operating system, powers Google’s line-up of Nexus tablets. Those devices have surfaced as a popular alternative to Apple Inc.’s iPad since Google launch the first Nexus tablet with a 7-inch screen last July.It has become customary for top-selling gadgets to be upgraded at least once a year, creating a speculation that is what Google is about to do with the Nexus next week.

Supreme Court cancels common medical entrance exam; Government seeks legal opinion

The Union Health Ministry has sought legal opinion on whether it can file a review petition on the Supreme Court order quashing a common entrance test for admission to under-graduate and post-graduate courses in medical and dental colleges.
Top health ministry officials were in a huddle last evening to discuss the ramifications of the Supreme Court order.
Over seven lakh students took the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) this year for under-graduate courses conducted by the CBSE on behalf of the Medical Council of India (MCI). Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that the NEET cannot continue because the MCI is not empowered to hold it. So private medical and dental universities and colleges will now have the right to conduct their own entrance exams. Critics point out that in many of these institutions, admissions are sold instead of being based on merit.
Without a common entrance exam, they argue, the colleges will have a free run to sell seats.
"MBBS seats are sold upto 40 to 60 seats are sold for upto two crore rupees and this will get worse," said Dr Ravindranath who belongs to an organisation called Doctors for Social Equality, which is committed to eradicate "poverty and suffering" in Tamil Nadu.
The managements of private colleges, many of who had fought the common entrance exam, deny malpractices and say they must have the right to determine their own admission processes including exams.
Students worry that they will now have to spend much more on traveling to different places for the multiple entrance exams. Aravint Santhosh, who is 18 and studying in Chennai, said that students will now have to prepare for an array of exams for Delhi's famous AIIMs, the Armed Forces College, and others.
The three judges who heard the case included Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, who was judging his last case. He was one of two judges who said that the council is not empowered to conduct the exam. One disagreed."Holding of National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) is legal, practical and is the need of the society. Hence, I have dissented," Justice Anil R Dave said.
The judges made it clear that the verdict will not affect the admissions which have already taken place.

Tamil Nadu to recruit 7,000 teachers for govt schools

In order to maintain the 1:40 teacher-student ratio in government-run schools in the state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today directed creation about 7,000 new additional teacher vacancies.
The Chief Minister has directed creating a total of 6,872 graduate teacher vacancies in the current academic year, which would result in the government incurring an expenditure of Rs 181.36 crore annually to recruit the personnel. A state government release here said she had also directed creating 1,590 additional post graduate teaching vacancies to cater to the said student-teacher ratio in government-run higher secondary schools. The state exchequer will incur an additional sum of Rs 45.25 crore to hire the requisite number. Further, the government also announced hiking the monthly wages of guest lecturers in Government Arts and Science Colleges to Rs 10,000 from Rs 6,000 per month.

NIT aspirants in a fix again

There seems to be no end to the confusion of students aspiring to get into the prestigious National Institutes of Technology (NITs).
A week ago, they were restlessly awaiting their delayed results. On Friday, many of them were shocked to be allotted seats in NIT-Patna.
Due to a technical glitch, over 1 lakh students were allotted mechanical engineering seats in NIT-Patna.
“I registered a complaint with the reporting centre immediately. NIT-Patna was not even in my list of preferences,” said Sharan Kumar, a city student.
“Even after the complaint, my name was missing from the database. I am very tense because now admissions to all reputed engineering colleges are over,” said the high scorer.
Over 3,000 students cleared the JEE (Mains) this year.
This was the first time a two-tier system of testing was evolved for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), while the NITs, for the first time, also considered class XII marks of students.
Sunil Sarangi, chairman, Central Seat Allocation Board (CSAB), put up an apology letter on the CSAB website on Friday admitting to the technical glitch.
The software should have been tested properly before being put to use. This is the second apology issued by the board. This is unfair to so many students who have put in years of hard work to get into the NITs,” said education consultant, Nedunchezhian D.
Divya Nambisan, a student, said the CSAB had not followed the schedule in announcing the seat allotment or results. “Most engineering colleges will begin classes this week. And here, we don’t even know where we are going.”

Water level at KRS reaches 117 feet,Dam maximum level 124 feet

As a result of incessant rainfall in the catchment area of River Cauvery, an increase in inflow to Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoir was recorded on Saturday.
Owing to this, the water level at KRS Dam rose by two feet in a single day. The water
level at KRS Dam was 117.35 feet, compared with 77 feet recorded on the corresponding day last year.
Inflow to the reservoir on Saturday was 42,724 cusecs, against 19,330 cusecs on Friday. With rains continuing in the catchment area, water levels are expected to rise significantly in the next few days. The maximum level of the reservoir is 124 feet.

Cauvery flow spreads cheer in Tiruchi

The drinking water shortage faced by the city over the past four months is expected to ease considerably as the Cauvery water released from Mettur reservoir reached here to provide a much-needed wetting of the water sources on the riverbed on Thursday.
The newly built check dam across the river, though yet to be completed, has helped in a big way to head up the water for a depth of about four feet around the city’s main drinking water sources at Kambarsampettai. The source of the Ramanathapuram Combined Drinking Water Scheme upstream also stood to benefit immensely by the recharge of groundwater.
With the Cauvery remaining dry for six months consequent to last year’s monsoon failure, the yield from almost all water pumping stations on the river had gone down drastically.
The combined yield from the four main pumping stations of the Tiruchirapalli City Corporation from the Cauvery slumped to a low of 12 million litres a day (MLD) from 80 to 85 MLD. The new drinking water supply augmentation scheme (still under execution) with its source at the Coleroon river, helped meet the shortfall to a large extent as the civic body was able to pump about 40 to 45 MLD even before the scheme was fully commissioned. This averted a major crisis as the supply level to the city was maintained at around 60 MLD over the past two months.
The corporation had to resort to alternate day supply of water to residents served by the Woraiyur, Marakkadai, and Virugupettai overhead water tanks in nearly a dozen wards in the city since May-end. The duration and the quantum of supply was reduced in many other places. Several other parts of the city, including Woraiyur, airport, and Crawford, were facing severe scarcity of drinking water supply.
The release of about 3,000 cusecs of water from Mettur over the past 10 days following good inflows from Karnataka had prevented the situation turning worse though it took quite a few days for the water to reach here as the riverbed had turned completely dry.
According to Public Works Department officials, more than 2,000 cusecs of water was being realised at Upper Anicut. The check dam at Kambarasampettai will help retain substantial quantity of water to provide continuous wetting to the sources on the river bed.
The check dam, sanctioned at a cost of Rs. 32 crore, is coming up just a few metres away from the city’s main drinking water pumping stations.
Already, over 87 per cent of the work on the structure on the riverbed has been completed, the officials said. Only the sand vents on either side are yet to be built