Monday, May 1, 2017

THE UNSUNG MALI (Happy Teachers Day)

With the arsenal of sagacity,
And intention nobly borne,
Two hands-the teachers and the taught-
Sing in harmonious unison.

And the teacher sweat all through,
Until the task all done.
The guru is a fine tree to woo,
More than the jewels of this earthly sojourn.

They water, care and protect,
Until the boughs spread aloft.
Back they seldom take,
Save memories dearly loved.

So are the teachers unto students,
Like MALI’s tireless hand,
Set at work day one thence,-
Lest they trail into no man’s land…!

 ..................Here are my Gurus to whom I shall remain indebted eternally


Miss Tshering Lham my Class teacher during my pre-primary and 1st Grade

Lopen Ugyen Drukpa my Dzongkha teacher during Primary Classes
Mrs. Tenzin Wangmo, class teacher during my 2nd and 3rd grade



Mr. G.R Nirola, my English and Geography teacher during Primary and LSS level
Mr. Sonam Chogyel, Principal and History tutor during High School. A perfect Fatherly figure, you are no less than a father to me sir.
Mrs. Rinzin wangmo, class teacher during High School. A lady who had the greatest impact on my overall personality, the person who had known me more as a sister than anyone else.
Mrs. Dechen Choden, History Lecturer during my college days and a constant guide there after.
Mr. Tashi Gyeltshen and Mr. Ratan Rai, my mentor and focal person during my practice teaching @SLSS
Mr. Jose KC, a perfect synonym of inspiration...
Dr. Ganesh Man Gurung my geography lecturer and teacher friends who taught me the life and its reality
Geography friends and Mr. Hari Hara, the man who introduced me to the college life
........Thank You All and Happy Teachers' Day....
# the Mali here is a reference to a gardener in Hindi terms. This is the reproduction of my tribute to the teachers across the world who sets their tireless hand in molding the innocent hearts like Mali’s tireless hand,  published in the personal Helicon 2012.

Monday, April 17, 2017

What’s in the lAnGuAgE test..?


Avoid this PaNiC at all cost
IELTS is the Abbreviation of International English Language Testing System. Everyone I met in the last couple of years especially the urban folks either talks or know about this international standard test, while I had no clue until recently when I got myself registered for the test at a friend’s insistence. I had limited time and did not know what to do for some time but the wisdom of experienced friends and the superior internet connectivity really helped me prepare and perform. Considering the period of panic and blankness I underwent at the start I thought of sharing the little I learned from this experience.

Test Format:  There are two versions of the Test, 1. Academic Test 2. General Test. Both test tests all of your English skills- Speaking, Listening, Reading, and writing to reflect the real use of English for study, Work and play and its graded uniquely on a 9-band scale.  Since I took Academic Test I will focus on Academic test and formats, I am told that if we plan Diploma courses or vocational training in English speaking countries we can opt for General Test but for Undergraduates or postgraduates we are ought to take the Academic Test. The main difference is the writing and reading part. Speaking and Listening are same for all but in regard to writing and reading, I am told that its bit easier for the General module.

 Registration: All you need is a Xerox copy of your valid Citizenship card or the Passport for registration along with test fee (around Nu. 11,000-12,000 changes frequently so check it online) the test can be taken anywhere in the world but mind you verify the authenticity of the test centers. In Bhutan, there are two authorized centers 1. Institute for management studies (IMS) website: http://ims.edu.bt/ 2. Royal Institute of Management (RIM) website: http://www.rim.edu.bt

Test
Reading: For much Bhutanese, this is the toughest task as we lack reading habits. Three long passages with 40 tricky questions in a matter of an hour actually test you from all holes. Remember there’s no time separately allotted for transferring answer so consider doing it immediately and exactly in 1 hour. The reading techniques like skimming and scanning are a must asset here as you don’t have the luxury to go word by word and mind you it checks your comprehensive power and doesn’t ask for your narration in the end. 

For questions like paragraph headings and information matching just read the first sentence as this is the information sentence and holds all you are searching for. There’s one question that’s not familiar to Bhutanese education system i.e. Yes/No/Not given or True/False/Not given questions. Yes/true means information matches with content in the passage and not your personal view or prior knowledge, No/False denotes the information in passage and question doesn’t match and not your view and finally Not Given means what’s asked in the question is nowhere in the passage.
You will be marked based on the number of right answers you wrote and there are no negative markings so, never leave a question blank, at least write something. I did exactly the same here; I couldn’t finish up some questions so I wrote YES for all Yes/No/Not Given questions and later I realized that I have 3 right responses from my game with luck. There’s no harm in trying your luck but only when that’s the way out.

Writing: writing isn’t a tough trial for Bhutanese as ours is a culture where we do relatively more writing than reading and speaking. You need to write two essays in a span of an hour. First is a descriptive essay reporting the information you are presented in a form of a graph/table/numbers. All you need is translate the data into words and make few comparisons, DONOT include your personal views or hypothesis, save it for the second one; just describe what you see in 150-180 words. The second one is either a discussion essay or argumentative essay usually on current affairs or open-ended topics on varying subjects in no more than 250-290 words. Make yourself thorough with the essay formats, don’t worry you will find the unlimited resource online. Use the variety of vocabulary; include personal experiences and creative ideas.

Be expressive and manage the time judiciously, allot no further than 20 minutes for task 1 and 40 minutes for task 2. Use at least 5-10 minutes for planning as it saves a lot of time when you have plans in a logical sequence you can write well and fast saving a lot of time and scoring higher. Always keep time for a review because when you write against time you trend to make lots of silly mistakes affecting your overall scores greatly.

Speaking: The speaking module last for around 11-14 minutes conducted separately and consisting of an introductory session followed by three parts, they normally ask for our name and checks nationality and cards. The real test begins with audio recording and questioning. In part one they usually ask simple conversational questions like our personal experiences, likes and dislikes for around 2-3 minutes. In my case they asked me about my home town and if I have any plans to live there or move out. Part two is also called as cue card session they usually give us a paper containing a topic and a pencil. They provide us 1 minute to prepare and ask us to talk about the given topic for around 2 minutes followed by few follow-up questions. Part three is the toughest one as it involves discussions on abstract ideas based on a cue card or can be anything. All the questions are pre-written and across diverse field and topics, so only luck may give you a topic of your choice. We must have a good speaking culture to score well in this area. The scores are based on our fluency and coherence, structure (grammar) and vocabulary (Lexical resource) in our store and pronunciations’. The best way is to listen to the questions carefully and respond logically using a variety of vocabulary, avoid repeating the words and use as many synonyms instead and try to correct yourself anytime you make a mistake like sorry/ I mean to say/pardon me etc it carries mark. The only area you can CHEAT is by making excuses while you seize the time to think Example: you may say oh! It’s a tough question/I never thought of it/it’s something I need to think hard etc. By saying so you indirectly organize your response simultaneously at the back of your mind. I had a tough time with Doma Thicken tongue so, it’s wise to stay away from this culture of ours.

Listening: This is a task that lasts for exactly 40 minutes, 30 minutes of listening and 10 minutes of transferring the response to the Answer sheet. The test consists of four sections and 40 questions. The first section is the easiest and 4th section the toughest, each candidate is provided with a head phone and a volume controller before the real test begins examiner plays some recordings to check the head phone and to adjust the volume for oneself. Make sure everything works before a real test because once the test begins there’s no consideration. First sections normally is a conversation between two people asking for personal details/filling up a form/ making a reservation etc. the second section too is more or less a continuation of the first part or a social conversation usually a monolog or a conversation involving two to three people. The third section usually involves a group of three, four or five people engrossed in an academic discussion, its one tough test for nonnatives. Finally, the last section is a lecture section or continuation of the previous session typically spoken a bit faster by a lone speaker. All the answers are in order of the recordings so don’t lose track, in case you do please don’t panic and move on with next one you still have 39 more questions. You can always guess or try your luck as there’s no negative marking. Make predictions and read the next questions every time they give you time to review.

Listen to a variety of accent like British, Canadian or Australian; familiarize yourself with different accents by listening to BBC news, Sports commentaries, take online mock tests or the provided materials, my weekends over EPL (English Premier League) helped me get past this with a relative ease.
Some useful links:
4. http://ieltsliz.com/

FINAL QUESTION: what’s the secret to success in IELTS?

There’s no magic to IELTS success, practice is the only key

 
………………………………………………Good……………Luck………………………………………………….



Thursday, November 24, 2016

What about a literary restaurant..?



What could be a better treat than drinking and eating while reading? Necessity is the mother of all invention, so a saying goes. This thought struck my mind when my plan to transform Dorokha into a small literary home failed miserably.

A year ago I got inspired, proposed and finally materialized a small public library in Dorokha with around 500 books received as generous help from Writers Association of Bhutan, Mr. Ngawang Phuntsho, Mr. Passang Tshering, Mr. CB Rai and all others kind supporter. A little over a year from its inauguration I have around 450 costumers of which 85% constitute the students.  Sitting in my book café I watch people prefer bar over books, get drunk rather than divine, spend so much on drinks overlooking the books and my little free service dedicated to 1. National Reading Year 2015 2. 60th Birth Anniversary of the great Forth and 3.To keep reading habit alive.

As my dream faded further and my book café became a little abandoned book museum, I got to make a second move. I love a cup of tea to treat my times over books while some may prefer a cold drink, or some may love books over food or why not drinks? No wonder some great writers were notorious drinkers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hunter S. Thompson, and John Cheever, to name a few LOL.
 
As a business opportunity and a new approach to promoting books and reading culture I have planned to loan out(cost free)the café to an enthusiastic educated and unemployed youth. So the person could established a literary restaurant which could earn a little more than living for the person, my café will have a permanent librarian and my café turned abandoned book museum will have visitors finally.

This is a small trial I am planning in a very small and secluded place like Dorokha but I foresee a better success in a town like Thimphu and Phuntsholing where literacy rate is almost 100% and number of intellectuals outnumbers the whole population of Dorokha Drungkhag. City like Thimphu caters all needs for youths and adults alike but not for book lovers except for a black coffee the Junction Books offer.


NOTE: hope somebody takes it up as a business and a new approach to promoting books and reading.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Deep into the Lhop valley (Memories from an excursion to the Doya museum)



The lack of writing culture has left us with a few pictures, some utensils, a handful of household and hunting items and nothing else to keep us thinking and still thinking. Here are some memoirs from a trip to the LHOP (Doya) Land this weekend:-
http://asteesmemoir.blogspot.com/2015/08/amo-chu-and-her-ecosystem-doyas-in-focus.html (visit here for more information on the Lhops

This is ROMBO/Rombu the grave yard. The lhops bury their dead member in a stone wall with fencing and roofs for protection. its believed that the most dear ones are buried nearer to home and if smell from the rot comes home its believed to be a  blessing for the family. 
the dis play of their old containers in the museum
Deep in the lhop land with traditional lhop house in the background...

This is the food prepared for the dead members during the burials

Maize the main cereal in different stages with grander in the background




These are Rombus and the ones with roof and fencing are the recent ones.

He's Passang Dendup Doya a Tarayana volunter operating the lhop community Radio.

A little amount they charge for the announcement in the radio.

This is how Doya/Lhop men use to dress


View of Lhop village from a roadside

My students entering the Lhop Museum

A better view of the Lhop museum that displays lhop lifestyles and photos

this is the view of a typical stove and utensils used by the Lhops


Mr. Sangay Khandu a teacher posing over lhop stove..

This is an aged graveyard. when the Lhops die, a share of their belongings including grains, money,jewellery and everything they are entitled to during their life should be buried with them. Therefore its said that people trend to break into their Rombu for jewelries and money

they call it a chungchu, used for storing their utensels and meat items at times

The picture shows a roster head being offered to appease the deities. its believed that the roster should face Dechenphug as a reverence to Zhabdrung Rinpoche.

Torma the ritual cakes displayed during the lhop offering and rituals as displayed in the museum.

The picture here shows the lhop tradition of marriage ceremony

This is how the Lhops dry their main cereals (Maize)






My class girls trying lheu,making chilli powder
 Note: Most of the photos uploaded here are captured from the museum....