Grammar, the study of combining words to form sentences that help communicate better is often overlooked by most. As a result, mistakes occur in written and spoken English that can be avoided easily. To ensure effective communication, both written and spoken, there are several English grammar books available in the market. The question that probably bothers most of us is how effective they are? Are they easy to comprehend?
We know referring to books that are difficult to follow can be very overwhelming and demotivating especially when they are being used to learn something new or something that we are struggling to grasp. However, if the contents of the books are easy to understand, have enough exercises and examples and provide answers to questions then they can be considered as useful reference material. If they also provide additional content in the form of a CD that comes with the book, then they can become an individual’s guide to communicating effectively for life.
Therefore while buying grammar books or CDs especially if you need them in a classroom kind of an environment, besides keeping in mind the things mentioned, your best option is to buy those recommended by your instructor.
Of the several grammar books and CDs available in the market the popular ones are Oxford Learner's Grammar, Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English, A Students Grammar of The English Language, A Course in English Grammar and English4All. Visit our website to check them out and more.
Children during their growing up years cannot do without toys and always want more of them. However, as parents do we buy just about any toy that catches our child’s fancy or do we look for something more? Here are top five things that you must consider while selecting a toy for your child:
Durability and Safety – Most children have the tendency of using their toys for purposes other than just playing. This leads to wear and tear very quickly especially if the toy is a favourite with your child. Several toy companies therefore focus on making toys that would last for years no matter how or what children do to them. Quality of the toy then becomes extremely important as it’s your child’s safety which is also at stake here. Poor quality could become a safety hazard. Several toy companies such as Funskool and Frank Toys are registered with the Sports Goods Export Promotion Council (SGEPC), a Government of India sponsored organization that considers safety and learning of prime importance in toys manufactured by Indian companies.
Educational and Entertainment Value – This is crucial especially during the toddler years and between ages 4 – 8 when toys are used to engage children and help them learn basic things such as recognize alphabets, sounds, shapes, numbers etc, learn new languages in a fun way and discover hidden principles of science.
Price – When it comes to pleasing their child, parents generally do not consider how much the toy costs. However, since there are many companies that manufacture the same toy often the price varies from company to company.
Ease of Use – Buying toys that need multiple batteries or need to be assembled by an adult before they can be handed over can be a very frustrating experience for a child who is not willing to wait a moment. Toys that can function without batteries at least to an extent are the best option in a situation like this.
Innovation and Creativity – Since children get bored very quickly, the toy you buy for your child should be such that each time the child decides to play with the toy he/she discovers something new that engages the child and helps him/her to learn more.
Writing a book is not easy; getting it published is even more challenging. As a writer, you must be aware of a few things if you wish to publish your book in India.
The two major players besides you who play a very crucial role in getting your book published are the agent and the publisher. Agents are people who have contacts within various publishing houses and therefore act as a catalyst in speeding up the process and ensuring the manuscript reaches the hands of individuals who matter.
Publisher on the other hand is the company that will publish your book. The editors in the publishing house are the ones who select books that they deem worth publishing. In India, these editors can be approached directly by writers. However, you and your work both will be taken more seriously if you can be recommended by an agent.
In order to initiate the process, do not share the entire manuscript with the agent or the publisher. It is always advisable to write a query letter first. A query letter typically contains details about your manuscript, such as the name, type and length. It contains a brief synopsis on what the book is about, your qualifications and a thank you note to the editor /agent for reading the letter. Remember, the query letter should be a single page document.
After you submit your query letter, wait for a response. The response might not always be positive but the mantra is to keep trying.
If you want to read about an author's point of view about writing, read our interview with Manreet Someshwar Sodhi, the best selling author of "The Taj Conspiracy'
Comics have been entertaining children of all ages in India for years now. They are a great way to know more about the culture of our country. Since they are published in several languages, they are read by children from all regions.
Amar Chitra Katha, on which generations have grown, was launched in 1962 by Anant Pai. This series of comics, focusing primarily on Indian stories, legends, mythology and personalities is currently published in twenty different languages. Anant Pai also introduced Tinkle which had tales from India and other faraway lands.
Indrajal comics was launched by Bennet Coleman and Co. in March 1964. The first 32 issues contained “The Phantom” series. After that Indrajal comics published stories on characters such as Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Bahadur and more.
Chacha Chowdhury was a creation of Diamond comics, and remained popular for a long time with the fast thinking Chachaji and Saboo (a giant from Jupiter) and the main characters.
The recent super hit in India is, of course, Chhota Bheem. This series is a set of ongoing stories about Bheem (a super powered child) of Dholakpur and his friends.
With time, comics have evolved and besides being available in book stores they are now available in digital format as well. buy your favourite comic book now.
After debating for weeks, the IIT Council finally gave its go ahead on the new format for the common entrance test for admission into engineering colleges, 2013. The test will now be a two-tier test where students will need to first appear for the JEE-Main examination followed by JEE-Advanced. Only the top 1.5 lakh students who clear JEE-Main will qualify to appear for JEE-Advanced (formerly known as AIEEE) which will be held for those students seeking admissions into the IITs. However, of the students who clear the advanced examination, only those who were the top 20% in the various board exams will be granted seats in the various IITs.
Since the number of students clearing the JEE-Advanced examination is high, the council is now deliberating upon whether to adopt a subjective test approach for the advanced examination. Currently, the JEE pattern tests students using the Multiple-choice questions (MCQ) format.
If the format of the examination changes to a subjective format, the preparation for the exams will need to alter accordingly. For a subjective paper, students will need to understand the concepts well and apply them appropriately to succeed.
With the possibility of a change in pattern, the books that students will need to refer to might also change. Watch out for the latest on IIT JEE Books as chances are what you have or are planning to refer to while preparing for the exams are not up to date.
Vaania Kapoor Achutan won two golds at the 29th National Sub-Junior Aquatic Championships in Rajkot. An ace swimmer, Vaania is a class V student at Primus Public School in Bangalore. She is also a KOOLSKOOL customer, and Primus is one of our affiliated schools.
KOOLSKOOL met up Manreet Sodhi Someshwar at the book launch of her latest novel, "The Taj Conspiracy" (which has recently been declared a best seller). Manreet talked to Suhas Dutta (KOOLSKOOL founder)in an exclusive interview.
Suhas Dutta: Manreet, in our conversation today lets take a different orientation and perhaps speak more about you being an author than necessarily your latest book if that is okay. The Taj Conspiracy is your third novel, the first of the thriller genre and the first of the Mehrunisa trilogy. Many authors write one novel and fizzle out. Did you always have a novel or five inside you, besides even the short stories?
Manreet Sodhi Someshwar: My first novel, which got published second, because it took me 7 years to write is The Long Walk Home. The Long Walk Home is the first fictional examination of the turbulent twentieth-century history of Punjab. Starting with pre-partition India, the narrative arc comes all the way to the present. It is told in parallel threads, the past and the present, and history is refracted through the life of one ordinary Punjabi. After TLWH I thought I'd do something lighter - a thriller with history thrown in, since I am a history buff, seemed ideal. Of course, I was unaware what a hole I was digging for myself Historical research in India is hampered by scarce records which then aren't accessible easily. The Taj Mahal, for instance, is a monument every Indian knows about - yet what do we really know about it except for the love legend behind it?
SD: Did you always know, you wanted to be a writer? or was it something else, and one day epiphany happened?
MSS: To answer your question, I'll have to tell you how writing waylaid me. I grew up in Ferozepur, a small town located on the Indo-Pak border. It saw some of the worst rioting during Partition, lived through 3 Indo-Pak wars, and I witnessed the Khalistan movement firsthand whilst growing up in the town that was branded a "terrorist hot-bed" by the Press.
Writing waylaid me in early 2001 when after a hectic corporate career that had involved much travel (across marketing, consulting, advertising) I took a sabbatical in Singapore where hubby's bank had relocated us. With my head in the clouds (blame it on a Sing skyscraper - we were on the 33rd floor) I thought I'd take a shot at a short story. I had had this vague notion that I'd write but my experience was limited to powerpoint presentations. With a touch of naivete I went about it, wrote one, enjoyed the experience tremendously, followed it with some more, and showed it to some friends who concluded they weren't bad and, obviously, I was desperate for I took that as validation and persisted with the writing. Sabbatical went from 6 months to 12 and a short story demanded to be converted to a novel. Being a Punjabi, I don't do, I overdo - so I decided to persist, gave short shrift to my corporate career and began to tackle the writing of what would take 7 years of my life writing - The Long Walk Home, which is the first fictional examination of the 20th-century history of Punjab.
SD: In one of our conversations, you had mentioned that you create a plot in your head, put in on paper and then sort of storyboard it, put in on sticky notes and move them around to fit, to tighten the plot. That sounds almost the way someone would create a movie, or certainly an animation movie. One would expect an author to just write / type and polish draft after draft. Does this story boarding mechanism enhance your creativity, or makes the work more publishable?
MSS: I think you missed some of that discussion. I start with the first draft which is always fluid and I have only a vague notion of where I want to go with it. It's usually an image in my mind that propels me on. After I have a first draft ready, I put it aside for a while and then tackle it again. The next phase is what I call sculpting, others call editing. This phase is about cutting the extraneous, re-focussing the narrative, tying loose ends. The final phase is 'Kill your darlings!' where I try to be ruthless with the writing so that it is of the finest standard possible.
In the case of The Taj Conspiracy, since its a thriller and the genre has its own conventions - pace, multiple threads - I resorted to storyboard in Phase 2. Storyboard doesn't enhance creativity but it makes the process more rigorous since the demands of the genre dictate that.
SD: When you write, do you go into seclusion, or does normal life go on?
MSS: Normal life goes on. I am a full-time writer and a full-time mother and the two roles cohabit I write daily, weekdays, 8 am to 2 pm, after which my daughter returns from school. But then, there's always writing in the head thereafter, on the couch, in the shower...
SD: Your latest is on the best seller list already. That makes you a successful writer for sure. But, it is not that easy to write, and get published for the first time. What would you say to younger people who want to write but get baulked with the thought of the manuscript coming back?
MSS: Persist. There is no shortcut and writing truly is a labour of love that can go unrequited. Do it only if you feel the strongets compulsion to do so - there are easier ways to earn a living! And behind the glamour is a lot of grit that remains invisible.
SD: What made you move away, and write a thriller?
MSS: The genesis of The Taj Conspiracy lies in my last visit to the Taj Mahal on a crisp winter morning As our guide urged us through the Jilaukhana, forecourt, I caught a fleeting glimpse of the white mausoleum perfectly framed in the arched entrance gateway. Before we could savour the moment, we’d stumbled through the gate into the lush gardens.
The green of the chahar bagh contrasted with the red sandstone platform upon which stood the famed white mausoleum with its flanking buildings. Everything sang harmony - except our guide. Intent upon hustling us on, he ignored the perfect symmetry of the gardens, dismissed the central pool - almost as famous as the celebrities who pose from across it, gave a wide berth to the garden wall pavilions with their intriguing verandahs accentuated with coupled columns and arches ...
No, for him, the Taj Mahal was only the white marble building at the north end, which, in turn, was some periodic table, materials and numericals interwoven, in which ‘marble’ and ‘sandstone’ popped with unsurprising periodicity.
Admittedly, I was nonplussed. I am a writer, I like stories - they tell the truth, about the world, about ourselves, and since inception, homo sapiens have deployed stories to learn and remember by. When I objected to the lack of a narrative, he nodded sanguinely and proceeded to a garnish of urban legends.
Earlier that year, we had toured the Vatican museums with a guide who had brought alive the magic of Renaissance. Here was the world’s most beautiful marble monument that should be pulsing with life stories, yet its narrative was buried under bloodless piling of numerical detail and credulous myths when the true story of the monument was far bigger?
When we departed, I turned once to look at the Taj. This time, unhindered by the guide, I savoured it framed within the arched Darwaza-i-Rauza, the mist swirling around its marble dome. Somehow, the Taj looked forlorn, as if it needed someone to tell its story...
I resolved that day to write a novel around the Taj Mahal, one that would rescue it from ignorant guides and benighted rumours and show it for what it really is - as the colour white contains all colours within it, this monument of white comprises multiple, diverse threads of a pluralistic India.
SD: Manreet, this was wonderful...I could ask you plenty more but thank you so much for talking to us
MSS: Thank you!
KOOLSKOOL attended the launch of "The Taj Conspiracy", and spent time with the author Manreet Sodhi Someshwar in Bangalore. Manreet's new book is her first in the thriller genre, and revolves around Mehrunisa (a Mughal scholar) discovering the murder of the Taj supervisor, and then unraveling a sinister plot to destroy the Taj Mahal. The book written in short chapters moves in rapid pace from Agra, to Delhi, to POK and into Chhattisgarh.
Manreet uses extensive research to also dredge up some of the urban legends at the contradictory fact of the Taj not having been built by Shahjehan.
This book is the first of the Mehrunisa trilogy.
Some of the conspiracy theories (unproven either way) have been put forward by:
P N Oak in 1965 who submits that the monument was actually a Rajput palace. In 1968 he also found Shahjehan's confession to that effect.
Similarly V S Godbole has agreed with Oak's theory, and also published a paper in 1982, to that effect.
Manreet, from the research she has used, does not subscribe to the contradictory theory.
Manreet Sodhi Someshwar An award-winning writer (Commonwealth Broadcasting Association), and copywriter (Creative Abbey), she is a popular blogger as well.Manreet's other books include "Earning the Laundry Stripes"
It's back to school time again! For some of you, the schools have just started or about to early next week. Many of you are likely feeling excited to get back to school and perhaps a bit sad that your summer vacations are now over. Some children also feel nervous because it will be the first day a school, with new teachers. In some cases, your section might have been changed too, and thus you will have a new set of friends to make. Luckily, these reasons for apprehension are very temporary.
On the first day, usually teachers start off the school year by introducing themselves and helping children introduce themselves. She would talk about what you will be doing for the rest of the year, and provides a bit of an orientation. She might also involve the class in an activity to let each child tell about her /himself to the rest of the class.
Your teacher might also introduce you to the class room rules about what you should do, and what you should not. Pay attention to all these, and ask should you have a question.
If you are in a new section, this is a great chance to make new friends. Another reason to be excited about while going back to school are for your new set of books, notebooks, craft material, new shoes and uniform, your new school bag and so many other things that you will be carrying now.