Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Answers to the Top 3 Most Frequent Questions Asked by Future Brides

In the event you use what you learn you'll spend less and avoid a great deal of worry.I have uncovered these particular myths by doing work with a lot of brides to be as well as tons of researching. I have undertaken this kind of research so you and your family do not need to. Use this brief article to assist you as you plan your wedding you have always wanted. If perhaps you forget these sentences you'll encounter the same stresses and strains every other future bride has already suffered.

Question 1; Exactly how can I afford every one of these wedding costs?

You happen to be right whenever you think weddings are very pricey. The first and greatest mistake most people make while planning their very own wedding is certainly this; the organizing starts before the actual budget is set. You are going to have to utilize money you already possess. Set your wedding budget and remain inside of this allowed budget. The little things will likely start adding right up. Whenever that happens, the head pains begin coming.

Here are a couple suggestions. Keep in mind pretty much everything costs money. From remembering to tip the waiters to taxation on your cake, absolutely nothing is free. Arrange to expend around half of your budget on the reception. Be sure to set aside funds for the greatest and more significant things very first.

Question 2; How can I organize all of the plans?

A large number of future brides make the same error. They tend to make wedding plans as all the creative ideas start coming. Let me mention to every one of you ladies that you have excellent ideas. Just remember that whenever you begin putting ideas together left and right, you will get unorganized immediately.

So what is the response to the question? Plan first. In simple terms, put in writing each of your great ideas. You shouldn't purchase centerpieces or bridesmaid gowns or any other thing til you have a written plan of the overall picture. You will be thankful for me because of this recommendation down the road. Organize firstly, spend second.

Question 3; Just how long should it take to plan the wedding?

Months! Not just many months of thinking of your ideas but months of hard work. The common mistake made by virtually every bride can be defined by using a single word. Procrastination.

I have a question for you to answer. How come women are often stressed out for the final two weeks before the wedding day? This is because they believe they have everything under control for the previous months. We believe there is time therefore we aren't in a rush to get things done.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quran and Science - A Knowledge Controversy


the knowledge controversy... 'Deeni' Taleem or 'Dunyavi' Taleem??

"Thou read the book day & night, but thou read black what I read white" (Verse Bible)

Read! In the Name of thy Lord & Cherisher... And Read! Thy Lord is the Most Bountiful. He taught by the pen. Taught man, that he knew no (92:1-5, Quran)

The earth has turned into a battle field. With Black- Birds and Harriers ruling the warring skies; with the dropping of nerve shattering bombs in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan; with the core shaking screams of thousands of people of Ghaza Strip; with the breath taking and mind thundering scandals of Abu Ghraib prison-the world seems to be doomed. But what do we have except for cursing the officials who entitled Salman Rhushdi with 'Sir' or burning our own streets in protests? Despite these, the conditions are so pathetic that many Muslim countries buy even bullets of simple riffle guns from the west.

This is not a matter of core grievance. Something that almost blew the wind out me was when I heard a school bus driver telling a 5th grade boy that his school education was worthless in the Hereafter and added further that "your MBA won't go with you to the grave". Who are these people who partition knowledge as 'deeni' and 'dunyawi', even though knowing that the miseries of Muslims today in this world are due to their lack of knowledge of all kinds? Don't they know that these were the Muslims who literally made the world know what science and mathematics were? Shall we now consider a new revolution taking place in the Muslim World? A revolution of illetracy in the name of religion.

I often argue on calling literates of religious laws 'Aalim-e-Deen', for deen is very vast and no one can possess knowledge of the entire deen. They are in fact 'Aalime shariah' which is only a portion of deen. Let me prove this from Quran:

Quran as an evidence to scientific laws

The words "man" and "woman" have been mentioned 23 times each in Quran. Human body has 46 chromosomes and what is surprising is that exactly 23 of these are inherited from ones mother and 23 from ones father. No one except for a gynecologist can offer details on this subject. God famously described in 55:19-20, the "barrier" between the seas. Scientists have very recently discovered a barrier of 'surface tension' in water. Atlantic water has low salt and mineral density than Mediterranean Sea. Thus when the water of Atlantic splash into the Mediterranean, the surface tension caused by the different salt concentrations pulls water back, thus maintaining the unique characteristics of each. Who can describe this ayat of Quran except for an oceanographer?

In 57:25 god said "and we also sent down iron... " today astrologists have found out that iron is one of the metals that did not exist on earth but was "sent down" to it externally through the supernova explosion of other stars. further researches on the above surah "al Hadid" revealed that its numerological value (amjad) is 26, which represents the atomic number of iron. Thus Quran provides a portion within itself for chemists to research.

God stated Alfred Wegener's theory of the moving continents in 27:88 and Einstein theory of expanding universe in 54:47. Yes it is all there in Quran! Biologists are invited to discover the stages of embryo's formation in mother's womb in 23:14 while geologists are told of the seven skies and the seven earthly cores in 65:12 and are informed of Dead Sea being the deepest portion of earth in 30:1-4. Astrologists are told of the black holes in 86:1-3. Even the theory of relativity of time is mentioned in 32:5. Further researches show that every word in Quran alone has a unique amjad number and a unique frequency.

Can anyone be a master of all this when God himself says "And there is no dry and wet thing that has not been mentioned in Quran"? This is true for the ones we call 'Alime-e-Deen' as well. Except for the one on whom this Holy Book was revealed, Prophet Muhammad (SAWW), no one bears the capacity to know the entire Quran. Now do you know why the Prophet called himself "The City of Knowledge" and why he said that if this Great Book was revealed on a mountain, it would have "shattered into bits". Thus, if some arrogates who think of themselves knowing the entire of Quran actually knew it, they would have been bits by this time.

Cause of conflict between Iblees and man:

The root cause of the conflict between Iblees and man was this knowledge. Iblees was a master of worship and he knew all regulations of prayers but that was the only thing he knew. God ordered all the angles to prostrate before Adam just because he was able to recite the names of certain plants, something they couldn't. We all know that Iblees condemned this, so his centuries of worship was nullified instantaneously. Thus when Allah did not consider decades of worship in front of the knowledge of Botany (not shariah) Adam had, how do some elements of our society consider them to be the true heirs of paradise, stopping others from acquiring knowledge?

And as far as MBA going to grave is concerned, one can imagine how much Muhammad Yunus may have earned for his hereafter by giving 6.6 million impoverished Bengalis new lives. It's hard to imagine how will the inventors of air conditioner, vaccine and the artificial Jarvik heart not go to heavens, even when I know they were not Muslims. I would only say that a good Muslim through his good education can earn both the worlds.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Am I making myself clear?

The other day, I came across a poster online and it got me thinking about several things.

From a teacher and linguist point of view, I started thinking about ambiguous sentences.

So I had a look around for sites with ambiguous sentences and came across several.

On the Fun with Words site, there is an amusing collection of ambiguous headlines, for example:




And I came across this sentence on Paul Butler's blog:

The complex houses married and single students and their families.

Most learners of English might know the word 'complex' as an adjective, but not a noun.  This is what English Profile reports about this word:


 Click to hear the British English pronunciation/ˈkɒm.pleks/Outline view
Word family:
Nouns: complexity
Adjectives: complex
B2 involving a lot of different but connected parts in a way that is difficult to understand
Cambridge Learner Corpus Learner example:
It took us two weeks to modify the results in a very complex operation.
First Certificate in English; B2; Spanish


C1 a group of buildings or rooms that are used for a particular purpose
Dictionary example:
a sports/housing complex
Cambridge Learner Corpus Learner example:
A visit to any local shopping complex suggest[speople between 14 to 35 years of age are the [mostfrequent shoppers.
International English Language Testing System; C1; Malay


C2 a mental problem which makes someone anxious or frightened about something
Dictionary example:
an inferiority complex
Cambridge Learner Corpus Learner example:
He began to feel like that character in "Psycho", afraid that the hotel manager would turn out to be some kind of maniac with an Oedipus complex.
Certificate of Proficiency in English; C2; Catalan

And of course, the word 'house' is known to learners very early on, whereas the verb 'house' meaning 'to give a person or an animal a place to live' is not reported as being used by students in the Cambridge ESOL exams till C2 level.

While looking around, I learnt that such ambiguous sentences are known as garden path sentences.  Didn't know that till now!

It's like those pictures you were shown at school and asked what you saw in them, like this one:

Well, I hope my post today was clear and unambiguous!!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Preparing for Interviews: 6 Tips for Easing Interview Anxiety

If you're not used to doing interviews, chances are the prospect makes you nervous. Even experienced speakers may freeze up in anticipation of unknown questions and uncertainty over how to answer.

Fortunately there are some steps you can take to reduce interview anxiety. Here are some tips on how to get ready before your interview to improve your performance and ease your stress.

1. Plan an Offer

Start by focusing on the goal of your interview. Knowing where you're heading will help distract you from anxiety and navigate towards the results you want.

If you're promoting a product or service, usually the goal is to get the audience to follow up with some action. The action may be visiting a website, calling a phone number, or buying a book, for example.

Decide what action you want your audience to take ahead of time, and plan your interview accordingly. Use the desired action to rehearse how you will respond to answers, and look for opportunities during the interview to invite your audience to take follow-up action.

You should also coordinate your follow-up action with any promotional partners you have. For instance, if you are selling a book, you might make arrangements with local bookstores ahead of time in order to set up a special offer you can mention during the interview.

2. Prepare Index Cards

To help your host promote you, you should prepare a set of three index cards before your interview: one for the producer, one for the host, and one for the station's phone operator. The index cards should contain key information to facilitate your desired follow-up action, such as your name, the name of the product or service or event you're promoting, the price, and instructions with a toll-free phone number or website link audience members can use to contact you.

3. Prepare a List of Questions and Answers

Preparing questions and answers ahead of time in written form helps both you and your host. It helps you plan what to say, and it saves your host research time. Of course your host will have their own questions as well, and there is no guarantee they will follow your script, but suggesting some questions and answers will help them in developing good questions that will work towards your benefit.

Typical questions involve topics such as how you got started, what you're currently doing, your future plans, and tips for your audience. Think of questions that give you an opportunity to invite your audience to your desired follow-up action. However, remember that the purpose of your interview is to serve your audience's needs, and beware of turning the whole interview into a self-serving plug. Find the common ground between you and your audience that meets their needs with what you have to offer.

4. Practice Relaxing

Interview anxiety tenses you up physiologically, affecting your muscular tension, breathing, and concentration. You can alleviate these effects by practicing relaxation techniques regularly and before your interview. Good posture, deep breathing, and mental calming exercises will help you relax and focus during your interview.

5. Practice Annunciating

Interview anxiety tends to make you breathe shallower and faster, which can make your speech harder to understand. This can aggravate any habitual speaking problems you may already have.

Counter this tendency by practicing your annunciation. A good way to do this is to practice breathing slowly and projecting your voice while reading aloud or carrying on conversations. You can practice with your interview questions and answers as well as with other material.

6. Rehearse

One of the best antidotes to interview anxiety is rehearsal. Even running through your questions and answers aloud once will help you feel more prepared. I find that rehearsing once the night before and once an hour ahead of an interview helps tremendously.

For extra practice, get a friend to play interview host. Ideally your actual host will run you through a mini-rehearsal before your interview. This is not always possible, but if you know the host or have enough time you might arrange it.

You can also think of each interview as a rehearsal for the next one. Hosts will often repeat the same questions, and the more interviews you do, the more naturally the answers will come to you. As time goes on, you'll find interview anxiety becomes less and less and you feel more and more comfortable giving interviews.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Teaching is like ....

Been a bit of a busy week, so I was catching up on a few emails that have come in and came across this blog challenge by Brad Patterson.

1) Challenge one: what is your “teaching is like____ ” metaphor?

2) Challenge two: what experience, activity, or lesson that is completely non-teaching related has brought more to your classroom than anything else?

Brad himself answered these two questions:
1) Teaching is like surfing. It requires patience and often more observation than action. Knowing how to push up, stand and guide your board is useless if you’re not in tune with the ocean, its movement and timing.  Each wave is unique and never again will you enjoy the one you’re on now, so carpe diem and enjoy class!

2) I think my experiences with yoga and being a massage therapist have brought more to the classroom than I can easily express in logical terms.  They’ve brought me an awareness and sensitivity that would have otherwise been hard to learn through a training course, or “tough”to pick up while on-the-job.
Being able to observe reactions to our efforts and attuning oneself to learners is a balancing act, just as noticing how students’ energy is throughout the day, knowing when to wait, when to be firm, smile or just move on… these are things that I feel I cultivated in these more physical-mental-spirtual arts and they have served me well in the classroom.
I then read a few of the answers to the challenges and particularly liked Cecilia Lemos' replies (maybe it's because I have a weakness for shoes and also do pilates!!!)
Cecilia Coehlo
PilatesClasses .ie
So what are my answers to this challenge?????
For me, teaching is like gardening.  
In a garden, there are lots of different kinds of plants.  
Some need sunshine, 

some need shade.  

Some need a lot of water, others need less.  
They will flower and shine out at different times.  
Some are obvious, whereas you notice others when you get closer to them or really take time to look.

Together, they can form a beautiful garden and they all have a right to be there and to get the attention they need!!
I'll give you my answer to the second challenge question in another post!
And think about and share your answers too!  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Academic Writing: How to Deal With Writer's Block

Several situations can combine to cause a block as you engage in academic writing. This block is what is usually referred to as writers' block. The number one culprit is anxiety. As a student the best thing to do is probably talk to your tutor. Let's look at a few case scenarios and see if we can find solutions for them.

a. Attempting to start your academic writing without any previous preparation.

A student will naturally get stuck doing this. It is counterproductive. To quickly get out of this situation, use invention strategies. Write down your primary ideas in bits and pieces; this will give you a clearer picture of what you want to write. Develop these bits and pieces and you have your outline. Having an outline makes it easy for you to plough along. Remember that a good academic writing does not materialise overnight.

b. You have a topic that you consider to be boring.

A boring topic can effectively kill the creative spirit in you. To get past this, find an aspect of the topic that is of interest to you. Tackle your essay from this stand point. You may be pleasantly surprised to find you actually enjoy the topic. Another alternative would be to talk to your tutor assuming you have one. Discuss with your tutor how you can personalise your topic and make it speak to you.

c. You simply are not in the mood to do any academic writing (Maybe because you don't fully understand the assignment).

When the scenario above happens, it is important to first realise you must write whether you like it or not. That said, enquire from your teacher or tutor (in some cases fellow students) exactly what is expected of you. Look through your text books to gain a better understanding of your topic.

d. Let's assume you are in the exam hall and when it's time to start your academic writing, you freeze. Your brain finds it difficult to communicate with your hands to write..

Before going into any form of academic writing, you need to stop this from happening. Consciously stop the negative thoughts in your head and replace those negative thoughts with positive comments about yourself. Be productive and tell yourself you can do it. It may be useful to develop a ritual to help you get past this freeze phase. You may need to chew a gum or hum a song. The focus is to motivate you to write. At this point, come back to the task at hand and rehearse it. You will be surprised at how easily you will begin to write afterwards.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Speaking tests

As I said in a recent post, we Cambridge ESOL Speaking Examiners are very busy at the moment.

For some examples of Cambridge ESOL speaking tests, you can visit the Research website.

And for some useful tips for the exam day, candidates can visit the Cambridge ESOL website here.

Good luck to all candidates and their teachers!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Burning Questionnaire

In a recent post, I mentioned my guest post on take a picture and ....

Fiona Mauchline emailed me a couple of days ago to tell me that the questionnaire I'd completed was now up on the Burning Questionnaire blog.

I was also asked to choose some pictures from eltpics.

In this one, you can see my shadow reflected in the grass (third from the right - my parents are the ones to the right of me!)

While I was writing this post, I popped back to eltpics again.  It's impressive how it's growing!  Well done to Fiona and Sandy and everyone else!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Busy times

Today, I have finally returned to this blog - at least for long enough to sit down and write this post.

Busy times!!

Right now, my roles of Speaking Examiner for Cambridge ESOL and Supervisor and Coordinator for the YLE Tests in my area for centre ES027 are taking up most of my waking hours!

Yesterday, during the Advanced Speaking Tests, candidates gave lots of different reasons for why they are studying English:  students in their last year of high school who will be heading off to university want and need a qualification to help them along their path towards a career; engineers and businessmen and women for their current or future work; more than one candidate who had lost their job recently and need to prove that they have an advanced level of English on their CV.  I hope they find a job soon.  I have never come across so many people in one examining session who had lost their job at this point in their lives.

Lets hope the situation here in Spain (and other countries) picks up soon.

A week ago, I travelled along the north coast again to San Sebastian, but this time, not for work, but to watch Bruce Springsteen in concert.  Fantastic experience!  Best concert I've ever been to I think.

Bruce sang lots of songs from his latest album, including Jack of All Trades, which he dedicated to all the people in Spain who are affected by the current economic situation:

You can listen to a better recording of the song here:

Jack of all trades is a term that we could apply to us teachers.  I could add more roles to this poster, and I'm sure you could too!

Well, that's my post written for today - now I'll turn to something else on my 'to do list'! ................

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Learn To Write Articles At Home

If you want to learn to write articles from the comfort of your home, it will not be hard when you take advantage of online resources. You will find many places that are interested in content and it is not hard to use these services to become published. Here are some tips for article writing that you may find helpful.

Take your time and do not get in a hurry. Also, do not expect perfection. Once you proofread something twice, you should have grammatical errors and spelling taken care of. Do not spend a lot of time trying to create the perfect article. When you take too much time you may become tired of writing and you may simply give up.

There is an old saying that a fireman puts out fires. A policeman enforces the law, and a writer writes. If you want to be a writer you have to sit down and write something each day. It is similar to exercising. You need to exercise your "writing" muscles" so they will become stronger and function better.

Sometimes you feel that your writing skill is not good. But before you start writing, you should understand what kind of article you are planning to write whether it is a journalism article, or a professional article, or a review article, or maybe an article for a blog.

There are lots of types of articles, and each type has their own required writing style, just like different cultures have different customs. That's why, you can not write the blog articles the same way as you expect to write an article for a journal and vice versa..

Whenever you know what type of article you are going to write, keep looking for related articles. It is good to develop your style of writing.

Apply to a few online article writing services. You may not make much money, but you will gain some valuable experience. Make sure to take a few days studying their rules so you can deliver the kind of content that the service is looking for.

To gain writing experience, start a daily blog. You will not have to invest any money. Treat it like a daily column and begin writing about things that interest you.

If you seriously wish to learn to write articles, sit down and begin writing. Start simple with online article publishing services and use them as a teaching aid. Writing every day is very important and if you start a daily blog you will gain new insight into the world of writing. Also, do not over think your articles, as this can cause writer's block.