Friday, January 15, 2016

Have Fun with Words by Maria Sarkar

No.of pages : 74
Publisher : Austin Macauley
Published on : August 29th 2014
Genre : Non-fiction
Author links : Goodreads

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About the author

Have fun with words and increase your vocabulary is written by Maria Sarkar who graduated  from the University of Hong Kong, MA from the University of Grenoble. She has taught English and French in three countries, namely Hong Kong, India and United Kingdom.

My review

What is more difficult? To teach a child or a grownup. Majority of the answer is obviously, the children. That’s why author, Maria Sarkar has done a fabulous job by writing a book keeping in mind, the mindset of the children aged 9-12. Thanks to her nieces, this book has come out well. It is not Maria Sarkar who is teaching English, it is Buz, an imaginary character who is funny, conscientious, sociable, cheerful, reliable, and a happy guy. He understands the psychology of the children.Throughout the book, he helps the children increase their vocabulary through fun activities.

English is a compulsory subject and is part of the curriculum in almost all countries. In India, except other medium schools (Tamil, Telugu, Kannadam, Hindi, etc)  in all English medium schools, other subjects like History, Geography, Biology, Physics, chemistry, etc are written in this language. So if the children are taught this language with genuine effort by teachers, they will score high marks without being told often is my assumption.

English is considered as the universal language. Does this make the children learn this language that easily? Nobody in this world has mastered this language(any language) yet is my humble opinion, even Maria Sarkar. It is a language that still needs to be explored. If we find a difficult word, our hands automatically picks up a dictionary and nowadays we can just make use of the internet.It is that simple.But there are people who don’t have that facility. We cannot expect the poor people to have dictionary and internet connection at their homes.
  
I will not say this book is waste. This book is a real gem. To catch a criminal, we have to think like a criminal. If the teachers and parents want to captivate the children’s mind, they have to enter into their world, understand it, think like them, have some empathy(we were children once upon a time) and make them sit down and make them learn this language by cajoling them and using word play as an important tool. Buy this book as it is just made for parents and teachers who find it hard to teach the children. How to teach a problematic child? Ideas are found inside this book.

The primary duty of the parents and the educators is to lay a solid foundation for the children by making them learn this language using fun methods.Do not spoil the children by being too strict or by being too calm and carefree. It will have adverse effect as I have some experience teaching children especially few from 6th grade and 8th grade and many students from 9th grade(hostel students in Madurai-government school). Some children just give up learning. How many times we repeat the sentences, make them learn word by word, the next day they become blind(Have anyone experienced this?). Once again, I had to start from scratch which is an excruciating process.

So the problem with many children is that their basement is weak but building strong. The responsibility of the teachers is to break the building no matter how many days, weeks, months and years it takes to build the basement strong. Once the teachers become successful in building the basement strong, the children will automatically use their brilliance to build a building of their own beautifully, they don't have to depend on anyone for anything.Just catch them young.

There are 16 chapters in the book.In each chapter, we learn something. Adjectives, Synonyms and antonyms, Verbs, Nouns, Roots, Prefixes and suffixes, Adverbs, Abstract nouns, Guessing the meaning of words, using a dictionary,  Idioms, Phrasal Verbs, Collocations, Geographical terms, Nautical terms and use it or lose it.

Practice makes perfect and Honesty is the best policy, these are proverbs which must be implemented in our life (Buz says this too). The more and more we practice, the more and more we will be able to attain perfection. Some people find it uncomfortable being honest especially teachers. The fault is with the teachers not with the students, they don’t know HOW to teach the children. There is a famous proverb, A child is the father of man. Have we ever seen a child lie, may be. When a child grows up, who teaches them to lie and be dishonest, be lazy, be arrogant, be selfish, be a pain in the ass? Teachers. Even parents are teachers because they teach their children. They are the first teachers to a child. As the saying goes, a child is the father of man. When a child is born what he or she brings to this world. Nothing. So teachers (also means parents) must have common sense and make the children learn any subject without expecting anything from them. Have zero expectation and achieve the impossible. Seeing their teachers, the children will be inspired and seeing the grownup children (youths), the society will be inspired

 My hopes and expectations were fulfilled after reading the book. A sample from introductory chapter-“Vocabulary does not only refer to single words; it is much more than that”. Some examples are lexical sets, collocations, parts of speech, synonyms and antonyms, dependent proportion, etc. The colorful cartoon pictures are eye candies to the children. They will surely draw the attention of the children and instill enthusiasm.

Noteworthy lessons from the book
·         Unscramble the letters to create an adjective
·         Do the crossword
·         Fill the gap with appropriate adverb
·         Use abstract noun to complete the proverb
·         Guessing the meaning of words
·         Using the picture as a clue, guess the idiom and write out its definition

My verdict

I will say the book is incomplete. Maria Sarkar has written this book solely for the age group 9-12(she is capable of adding more chapters and simplify the lessons even more), she can write a book for age group 2-8 and 13-16 if she can.What these books must contain? Alphabets, vowels, nouns, preposition, conjunction, direct and indirect speech, active voice and passive voice, punctuation, past, present and future tense, superlative and comparative adjective, letter writing, personality development. She can send these books to schools in all Asian countries. This is a must read book. An abundant source of knowledge for parents and teachers. It will do wonders in the life of children.Have fun with words and increase your vocabulary is nice but some children don’t know basic grammar. I hope she publishes her second book on the topics I suggested.I thank her for giving me this book for free.

Rating 3/5

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