Referring back to my post dated November 30, I thoroughly agree with those friends who suggest reading English newspapers as the best way to improve English.
Reading an English newspaper is not a big problem because you already know from other sources (TV news channels, Urdu newspapers etc) what a news item is about. The English newspaper just gives you the same news in English. While reading the news in English, the language learning mechanism in your brain picks up and stores the key words and phrases. We may say the brain downloads words and phrases, and uploads them while you speak or write.
I have a lot more to say on this subject (reading a newspaper) in the next two or three posts. But first I would like to make sure you understand the point I have tried to enunciate today. 2 December 2017
A newspaper offers the latest vocabulary on every subject from politics to sports. All the English newspapers are available online. You don’t need to buy one. Couldn’t you spare just 10 minutes everyday to improve your English by reading ? If you honestly wish to learn, that shouldn’t be difficult for you.
At the initial stage read just those news items about which you know something. You will feel encouraged as you read on.
More of this tomorrow, InshaALLAH.
By the way, where are my worthy colleagues, Zafar and Fayyaz? 3 December 2017
At the initial stage you can also read letters to the editor, because most of the letters are about issues that we already know.
Don’t run after every new word. I mean don’t use a dictionary. Your mind gets a rough idea of most of the new words.That is enough at the early stage. If you start consulting dictionary for every new word, your reading speed slows down, and you feel discouraged. 4 December 2017 .
Haven’t seen Sameera Hayat and Hidayatullah Niazi around past two days. May they be fine.
As for editorials and articles in the newspapers, I don’t recommend reading those at the early stage. I am addressing the beginners, you know.
I expected a controversy over my advice against use of dictionary. Mercifully nobody challenged it. That means you all agree with me. Thanks, if you do.
And now tell me honestly, has anyone among you started reading an English newspaper ? 5 December 2017
Our subject for today and a few days onwards will be use of dictionary.
Please note that the dictionary is a book for reference, not for learning the language. You may use it to know or confirm the meaning of a word or a phrase. Trying to learn the meanings of all the entries ( words and phrases given in a dictionary) from A to Z is an unwise (not to say stupid) exercise for two reasons.
Firstly there are many words and phrases that you never have to use in speech or writing. Secondly, you may easily forget many of the words or phrases learnt in that way.
I have, by the Grace of ALLAH, a vocabulary of about 100000 words and phrases. I acquired that vocabulary not from dictionaries, but from reading hundreds of short stories, novels and newspapers etc.
And, believe me, I have never looked up the meaning of any word or phrase from the dictionary.
I know you would find it hard to believe that, but I am ready to face your questions, which I ‘ll answer in my next post, InshaALLAH. 6 December 2017
The words and phrases that you learn through reading , come to you in sentences. As you already know what the news or story is about, you can easily guess their meanings. To make this point clear, I repeat what I said in a post about 2 years ago.
Suppose you see the following news headline :
5 DEAD , 7 INJURED IN BUS-TRUCK COLLISION
You can easily guess the meanings of ‘injured’ and ‘collision’ if you don’t know what these two words mean.
The words and phrases acquired in this way become a permanent part of your vocabulary, and come readily to your mind when you are speaking or writing. In other words, your brain downloads them while you are reading, and uploads them while you are speaking or writing. 7 December 2017
Let’s roundly condemn the viciously anti-Muslim attitude of US President, Donald Trump. His provoking words and deeds are very likely to spark off third world war. If that happens, US too would be reduced to a heap of ashes. One wonders why American voters failed to see they were voting for a maniac who could only cause destruction.
Isn’t it time for the Muslim world to unitedly resist Trump’s anti-Muslim moves ? What is OIC for, if it can’t denounce Trump’s latest policy announcement about Palestine ?
We’ll resume our English learning business tomorrow, InshaALLAH. 8 December 2017
We were speaking about use of dictionary. To refresh your memory, I would like to repeat that use of dictionary should be avoided as far as possible. Trust the natural ability of your mind to correctly guess the meanings of words and phrases when they come in news or stories. It is a special gift from ALLAH which should not be ignored.
More of this tomorrow, InshaALLAH. 9 December 2017
For those who are interested in dictionaries, here are the names of the world’s best dictionaries:
1.Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
3 Cambridge Dictionary
4.Webster’s New World Dictionary
5.Chambers 21st Century Dictionary
There are about half a dozen other good dictionaries, but those I have named above, are the best. And they are all available online. Personally I prefer Collins.
I came to know a lot about dictionaries from my father, may ALLAH Infinitely Bless his noble soul. He was a graduate from Government College, Lahore, and retired as Deputy Director of Education. Collecting dictionaries was his hobby.
More of this tomorrow, InshaALLAH. But please remember, I do not recommend dictionaries as a source of learning English. 10 December 2017
Without changing my views against the use of dictionary, let me tell you something about English-Urdu dictionaries.
Kitabistan’s English-English-Urdu dictionary is a very good dictionary. It contains English as well as Urdu meanings of words and phrases. It is available in several editions and sizes. Kitabistan’s Practical Dictionary is the most popular edition. It is also available online.
Ferozesons and Rabia dictionaries are also popular English-Urdu dictionaries.
These English-Urdu dictionaries are recommended for use in offices for translating English texts into Urdu.v 11 December 2017
A dictionary gives you words and phrases with their meanings. A good dictionary also gives examples of the use of words and phrases.
But that is not all you need to learn about the use of a language. You need to learn the proper way to express your own needs, ideas and feelings. That means you should be able to use various sentence structures according to various situations and occasions.
There is almost endless variety of sentence structures in English. New structures are coming up every day You get acquainted with this variety , not from dictionaries but from reading newspapers and books. That is why I always say, the more you read the better you can write. 13 December 2017
I hope our discussion about the use of dictionary was helpful for you.
Let’s now turn to the use of grammar in learning English ; starting with a debate over the general misgiving that we can’t learn English without learning grammar. I believe we can. If we could learn our mother-tongue and Urdu without learning their grammar, why not English ?
Please note that I am not against grammar. Like the dictionary , grammar too has some uses. But I refuse to believe that you can’t learn English without first learning English grammar.
I addressed this issue in my early posts, about two years back. But at that time I had only Zafar Niazi, Masroor Javaid and Prof Abdul Ghaffar Bhatti with me. Now that we have a larger class, I hope more people can benefit from our discussion. 14 December 2017
I agree with Zafar’s comment on my last night’s post. A teacher ought to be conversant with grammar. Firstly, because grammar is a part of the examination questions in English up to degree (BA) level. Secondly because he has to check the students’ assignments, and point out the errors of language in composition (essays, letters etc) . We all agree that knowledge of grammar is not essential for learning a language. So to speak, the passengers of a bus need not learn driving. That is the driver’s job, you know. 15 December 2017
Pakistan suffered two great losses on this day.
Way back in 1971 Pakistan lost its East Wing known as East Pakisan. It was the result of a deep conspiracy hatched by India and perpetrated by some traitors in both parts of the country.
Exactly three years ago, a gang of terrorists attacked the Army Public School, Peshawar, and killed 133 innocent school kids as well as 11 teachers and other school employees.
The day is also marked by a tragedy in our family. On December 16, 1986 my elder brother, Malik Muhammad Anwar Ali, died in a traffic accident. He was on his way back to Daudkel when the wagon fell into the canal near Kutchehri canal bridge in Mianwali.
Let us pray for all the noble souls that departed in the three sad incidents. May ALLAH Bounteously Bless them all. 16 December 2017
To give you an idea of the immense variety and beauty of expression in English, from tomorrow InshaALLAH, I’ll start a series of posts on this subject. I hope those posts will be helpful in improving your expression. 18 December 2017
English offers a rich variety of expression. That lends beauty to what we write. Look at the following statement (sentence) for instance :
I could not attend the meeting because I was ill.
Now see how we can convey the same meaning in various forms.
1. I could not attend the meeting as I was ill.
2. I could not attend the meeting for I was ill.
3. I could not attend the meeting, since I was ill.
4. Being ill, I could not attend the meeting.
5. Illness did not allow me to attend the meeting.
More examples of variety will be given in the days to come. 19 December 2017
As we noted yesterday , English offers more than one ways to convey an idea, feeling or information. Here is another example:
1. Although I asked him twice, yet he didn’t answer.
2. He didn’t answer, though I asked him twice.
3.I asked him twice, but he didn’t answer.
If you read these sentences carefully, you can understand and freely use these sentence structures in speech as well as writing. 20 December 2017
Let’s take a closer look at the three sentences that I brought to your notice last night. They were
1. Although I asked him twice, yet he didn’t answer.
2. He didn’t answer, though I asked him twice.
3. I asked him twice, but he didn’t answer.
The first sentence is in Formal English. Formal English is the language that we use in official letters / applications etc. We also use formal English in speaking or writing to our superiors or strangers.
The next two sentences are Informal English. Informal English is the language that we use in everyday speech or writing. The last sentence is closest to everyday speech.
These days Informal English is being freely used in place of Formal English. It means the simplest form of language is being preferred.
I hope you understand what I have said above. 21 December 2017
Grammar is sometimes replaced by usage. Usage is the way in which language (a word, phrase or sentence structure) is used by native speakers (people of England, America, Australia etc).
To speak and write up-to-date English, usage should be preferred to grammar where it differs from grammar. Look at the following examples, for instance :
1. GRAMMAR : He is more intelligent than I.
USAGE : He is more intelligent than me.
2. GRAMMAR : It is I.
USAGE : It is me. 23 December 2017
Let’s take a look at your word power today.
Make as many words as you can from the letters given below. Each word should contain 3 or more letters. Your score will be announced at 10 pm.
Here are the letters :
Examples : rid, tree
You will get 1 mark for each word, and 2 for the Master Word containing all the 7 letters. 24 December 2017
For those who love to read beautiful English, I recommend the book JINNAH, Creator of Pakistan by Hector Bolitho. The book gives amusing glimpses of the personality of our beloved leader. It narrates many interesting incidents. It was published in 1954, but is still very popular across the world. Several publishers have brought out its beautiful editions. The book is also available in pdf format. 25 December 2017
Here’s another test of your word-power.
Make as many words as you can from the following letters. Each word should contain at least 3 letters. Double letters not allowed :
One mark for each word. Master-word containing all the 7 letters will get 2 marks.
********** I’m a bit preoccupied these days. Will resume our discussion of English language on Thursday, InshaALLAH !!!! 26 December 2017
The world remains the same, But not to me Since the day you left.
The mobile phone/cellphone SMS (short message system) has introduced a new type of English. Look at these two SMS sentences, for instance:
u n i r 1 : (You and I are one)
i ♥️ u : (I love you)
It is alright for SMS, when the SMS is used in an emergency, though I see no emergency requiring you to say ‘I love you’ or ‘You and I are one’.
But I’m annoyed to see when people use this distortion in writing on paper. I hope you agree with me.
28 December 2017
Mobile phone and internet have given us a number of English words which are in daily use across Pakistan. They have become a part of not only Urdu, but all the languages spoken in the country. Even uneducated people in remote rural areas freely speak those words. Some of the most frequently used words are
SIM (Subscriber’s identity module), battery, charging, package, easy load, message, folder, delete, send etc.
Similarly many English words have come into our life through the means and system of transport. Let us see the words that you have learnt that way. 29 December 2017
In my last night’s post I had asked you to give the familiar English words related to transport. Perhaps I failed to make my demand clear enough. As a result some of the friends wrote words related to cellphone and computer.
Let us try once more. You are to name the English words pertaining to transport that are most commonly used by the people of Pakistan. 30 December 2017 .