From the personal ESL file

It has been quite sometime that I have been walking on the ESL avenue. English, is not a language, its business, its lucrative connections over the world makes it as popular as money. If you Google, you will find random surveys where they say there are more speakers of English as a second language or a foreign language than native speakers. As a matter of fact, I still doubt the numbers. There is a constant need to upgrade once proficiency in this language for better survival. Population is ever-growing and so is the demand of English. Be it a job, a new school/university, student exchange programs in native countries, you know what’s your #1 priority. Countries with colonial pasts, now majorly thrive on tourism and if that tourism can also connect them with the powerful language, it just serves the nation with a better dream. This is one such angle where ESL teachers get to actually enjoy the whole idea of “travel and teach”. That is just one perspective. However, let us now discuss what it takes to be a good (if not successful) ESL teacher. With my miniature experience as a ESL teacher trainer, here are few of my observations:

    1. We have to carry around our ECG always- empathy, creativity and generosity. Language is the barrier, so you gotta understand that even to crack an unbiased joke, ECG is absolutely necessary.
    2. A lot of times non-natives complain about not getting jobs. What most of us do not understand is that there’s something called pronunciation and by that I mean, the sounds of English! It is unfair, I know, but you cannot deny the fact that people do not wanna take classes from someone who doesn’t sound like a speaker of that language; if not completely, but almost. May be that’s how the whole idea of near native/neutral accents became popular. People, we know we are not natives, but if we still want the job, we gotta work it out!
    3. Grammar is not restricted to only the generic terms and activities. What about……vocabulary and their usage? Their synonyms and antonyms? Collocations? It is about the understanding the best possible ways to know the differences in applications that make communications proficient, if not expert? See what I did there!
    4. Classroom management. Well, well, well…….from the moment you step inside the class, this button should be active in your mind controls. The age of your learners, level of comprehension, cultural background, ethnicity and community, and so on essentially contribute to a positive learning environment. Facilitating the fact that the classroom belongs to them more than you. If you are the typical “travel and teach” ESL educator, or aspire to be one, remember that you are the alien, they are not! Your personality should be adaptive.IMG20190924095810
    5. No certification is bigger than your dedication. There are various TEFL/TESOL/TESL in-class and online programs that are available in the market. Do not confuse the certificate as a confirmed ticket to get a job. It is a skill not a passport. As interesting as it may sound, the ESL industry is full of ambitious and determined educators/facilitators. With changing times, the demands keep changing as well. So, it is extremely important to be dedicated to your arena and keep yourself updated with the latest teaching designs.
Happy ESL life!
  1.  Your lesson plan is your willingness to connect. It is when you can deliver the lesson plan in English and keep the cultural context in mind, you will know your major work is done right there. You will be a favorite teacher if you can blend local references to set the tone of your topic. Everyday will be a success if you keep yourself away from grammar translation method and replace it with effective materials and teaching resources to connect the lessons better.
  2. Age and level of your learners have got nothing to do with intelligence. Body languages are universal and gestures play a key role in ESL classrooms. Use them wisely and rationally!


Inner voice of a not-so-old ESL teacher trainer!

“Here’s to another day of training a mixed group. Let me give them the benefit of doubt until they can no longer benefit from it.”

“Shut up, ABBA songs have more common nouns to play with than any of your favourite Cardi B song; abort mission. It’s Happy New Year everyday!”

“I should speak fluent Baby Boomer lingo. That way training is experiential and Gen X will be under control.”

“Classroom management or conflict management? If only ego was a talking parrot.”

“The projector screen is the gateway to my off duty personality. I hope I changed my laptop wallpaper to some mature philosophical jazz about winning.”

“You are not here to hangout with Gen Z. Or may be after the training is over. OK, stop being so partial.”

“Remember, never say “this is cute“. These are just flashcards!”

“Trainees want to know more about you. Sometimes these are just clever distractions. Mystery than memoir is the key, sweetie.”

“Wow! This is a great group photo. I need to caption and post it on Instagram……can’t wait till the class is over….aarrghhh!!”

“Be pragmatic and idealistic. This is real life and not Romedy.”

“Is my outfit of the day trainer enough?”

“1/4th prep and 3/4th theater. Do not switch the training fractions.”

“If only the Great Vowel Shift was sensible enough, the orthography would have made more sense.”

“It is /ju:/ not EWW!”

“You thought you know it all? Dear trainees, let’s take a modal verbs pop quiz!”

“For Freaking Vowel‘s sake, yes you have to know what are labiodental fricatives.”

“Yes, NO is a diphthong.”

“Suggestopedia, do not suggest. EVER!”

“I love my job.”




It was my millionth time to Kochi last month. It is a thriving port city of Kerala, one of the less exploited yet very tourist-ey state of India. The beauty of this place lies in the fact that it has a perfect blend of city and countryside. The people here makes it even easier. With the huge number of travellers visiting the place every year, the people are always welcoming. From the local auto-rickshaw drivers to the local people around: they are always ready to help a stranger. I was there to conduct a TEFL/TESOL batch. It is a 3-weeks teacher training program. I checked-in my company sponsored accommodation near the Kaloor neighbourhood. It was not near to the institute. That meant I had to travel local. I availed the metro train and oh my my! The metro trains that I have availed in other major cities vs. what I experienced here seemed way different. On the good side of course! It is faster, cleaner and efficient as compared to the metro system of other cities. The ride was wonderful everyday. When the locals could understand that I am not one of them, they would have this inquisitive stare which was quite natural. when the stares used to get too obvious to ignore, it was quite charming to see how a smile from the either ends will always cover for the awkwardness. The universal language always comes handy it seems!

The classes were during the weekdays. So I had a chance to explore the place over the weekends. This time I thought I would explore Fort Kochi. It is a water-bound region towards the south of Kochi. Now if you want to be a tourist you can always hire an Uber. But if you wanna be a traveller and stay local, you have to take the ferry from Ernakulam to Fort Kochi. The ticket is sweet cheap and it is 4 rupees only. There is another stop in between, Vypeen. The smell of the ocean water, witnessing big vessels anchored or sailing along with your ferry makes the ride worthwhile.

I went with 2 of my trainees, Nivedhana from Tamil Nadu and Konika from Arunachal Pradesh. Once we got down at the Fort Kochi ferry point, it was time to hang around and explore. We cracked quite a cheap deal with an auto-rickshaw driver. He agreed to show us around just for 200 rupees for 2 hours. We went almost at lunch hours. So we added a waiting time for him with an extra 50 rupees. We started off by visiting 2 churches back to back- Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica and Saint Francis Church. It was quite interesting to see how the churches operated were so strikingly different. The first one had this commercial touch to make it a mainstream tourist spot while reserving the religious terms. With its elaborate structure and huge open area it is a great spot for social media freaks to get their double taps and followers soaring! Since photography was allowed we did take our fair share of advantage of clicking the structure for our group photo background.

Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica

Saint Francis, on the other hand, had a very orthodox outlook. Photography sadly was not allowed. The architecture was very gothic and it had a strong vibes of stringent religious atmosphere. The draconian structure also has its historical significance. The famous Portuguese traveller, Vasco da Gama was buried here before his body was claimed by his son and took permission from the church to take it to the homeland.

It was almost lunchtime when we went to our next stop; Fort Kochi beach. We thought of taking a break and grabbed lunch meanwhile. The food prices are quite high, if you intend to eat lunch there compared to transport which is relatively way too less. However, the quantity, taste and the atmosphere are beyond expectations. The shacks mostly serve freshly cooked items. However, this comes with long waiting time before they serve your food.

After we had our quite a royal seafood meal, we planned to visit the couple of other places before we end our sightseeing trip. While we went to the next point, Mattancherry Palace Museum, we checked out the streets where they mostly sold souvenirs. There were spice shops, essesntial oils and perfume shops. The mixture of exotic fragrances and flavours captivated the entire stretch of souk. They sold chestnuts for 50 rupees which you can dip into any oil and massage on your body. Well, it did relieve me from the 80 year old body pain trapped in a late 20’s body.


After buying a few souvenirs, we headed to the Mattancherry Palace. The entrance had steep stairs that took us to the ticket booth. Photography was not allowed here as well. So we were left with any option to take home all the memories with us. We just had to sink into the momentary experience. The palace is turned into a museum now where we learnt about the royal family of Kerala, the water route for early trades and international allies. They also had the real-time palanquins and royal household items and costumes preserved for the visitors to see. It was quite surprising to see that how awesomely rich the economy and culture used to be in early days; however, we were never educated about any of this.

Finally, we asked the auto-rickshaw driver to drop us at the beach where we thought to enjoy the sunset before we left Fort Kochi. And let me tell you, I have lived most of my life by coastlines, very less places defined sunset. Fort Kochi beach is one of those rare shore to boast of a perfect romantic sunset. It was way picturesque. Funnily, we got so carried away and this time when we had a chance to click pictures, it went out of our minds. Guess, that’s what beautiful things around does that to all of us. You forget to freeze time and become a part of it!AirBrush_20190218191702

The Dreams

I did not really have an ideal teenage. Like few other kids, I suffered the lack of love from both my parents. Mom said Dad was wrong and Dad said Mom was wrong… know what I mean. Plus the adolescent passage of life  was on its pioneer twist. The usual confusion of when to act mature or be the kid, the cyber addiction, the depression, body image, etc took their major turns in sabotaging the peace of my mind. Also, school was a different pressure. Having boyfriend was a cool thing. So I had to look out for one as well! I sound mad, do I? No, I do not. This is real life drama I’m talking about. Teenage was quite a task. PHEW!!

In the middle of this drama what I forgot was to not follow the crowd and take my childhood wishes seriously. I always wanted to play the violin. My dad used to play one. So may be it was kinda passed on to me. I always wanted to read a lot of books and write even more. I had a bucket list of doing things that as a child felt like a dream. As I grew up, the peace of mind was over shadowed with sometimes necessary and sometimes evil challenges. The Dreams felt far fetched and so was my peace.The book worm and the author in me spirit transferred with a couch potato. I started living my life in a virtual bubble of T.V. drama series to escape from the bad phase. Somehow I survived school.

University was another episode straight from the bratz block of pettiness! “Having fun” was like breathing. Going for the classes with a weekday hangover was considered the it thing. So was the urge for promising myself to be sober from the next weekend. Deep down I knew I was clearly not feeling good about myself. Amidst all the fun and fancy all I craved for was some silence where I could have a mindful rendezvous with myself. It was exhausting! And it’s been 5 years that I completed my degree, still I wonder why I was being so away from myself and The Dreams. I started blaming my parents for everything that went wrong. I witnessed their broken marriage, so I always felt insecure in matters of love relationships. I made mistakes and got into unnecessary attachments. I was mean and pathetic.

I always scored good marks my whole academic life, so I presumed job will be a piece of cake. Then came the reality slap.

Getting a job that loves you is not easy, people! It took me 5 years after my degree to actually figure out what kinda job would not make me regret the weekdays! So now that I found what I should have done all these years, I finally realized dreams of the childhood is something we all should hold on to. The mind then had zero knowledge of the planet. It was a clean slate. So the dreams were even clearer. As we grow up and the never ending tricky and sticky situations knock us down, we forget to get up. We forget the fact that we own our lives and the dreams in it. We own the time that we are born with. We either start racing towards the uncertain or just go with the flow. It was one helluva revelation that changed my perspective in a lot of things.

Think of those days when you used to make handmade cards for your mother, or you believed in Santa. Go back in time. Think of those things that filled your bucket list for the future when you were a kid. Those dreams were not influenced. Those dreams do not need a background mention. Think of the times when you were a kid and you wanted to achieve something when you grew up. If you are not being fair to yourself or that is a universe away reality, at least take some mindful time out of your schedule and focus may be, 10 minutes of your day on those things. May be you wanted to be a singer and now you have a sales job! So what? Dreams are not always money-friendly. These are here for you peaceful state of mind. Spend 10 minutes learning a new song everyday. Sing to yourself. You will have a happy good night sleep!

Millennial-ly challenged!

Whoever are from the 90’s, people let me tell you all, WE ARE THE BEST THE UNIVERSE HAS GOT IN THE MOMENT! A big shoutout to all millennials who think life is not fair. It  is very very justified to complain about everything. To be impatient. To feel “hangry” and then complain about getting fat. To get sloshed and then complain of a hungover and wasted Sunday. It is absolutely legit to be the fox who thought the grapes are sour. It is the coolest thing ever to fake a good life on social media to feel the emotional void and confusion. After all, we are adulating, right? And it is not a piece of cake!

Being an adult is matter of time. Adulting is a matter of choice. We are so busy giving names to our bosses but what about the fact that we are too distracted to get our jobs done? We are watching online videos of how to stay in shape but what are we actually doing about it? We plan to save money but what about the fact that we invest into our impulsive buys and then few days later we even forget about it? We think we are “not meant to be” but what about the fact that we only WANT and do not GIVE into the relationship? We say we are still in love with our ex-partners then why do we need a rebound? And then again why do we deny it is not just sex? We want to do so many things in life but we end up watching T.V., eating junk and sleep, then why do we blame it on our “hectic” work schedule? If you are happy being single then why do you get drunk at a friend’s wedding and steal the spotlight from the newly wed couple? Because life is not fair? No bruh! It is you who is being unfair to your life.

My belief says every cause has an effect. The choices we make, makes us who we are in the moment. As I write this, I wonder why are we not happy with the fact that we are officially adults? I mean we always wanted our credit/debit cards to swipe and shop, take our own decisions, think of investments, dinner dates and talking mature stuffs and so on. When we were kids, it was a dream to do all of that. To grow up and be like the adults of the family. Get a job, have our own homes, doing things that we were not allowed to do by our parents, own cars like dads, wear high heels like moms, make life decisions like parents without getting guided, etc, etc. So what happened when its actually our chance to do all of that?

First of all, accept the fact that its our time to be finally self sufficient. It is about time that we stop confusing our mind to infantilize ourselves. I mean our parents did not send us to bunch of expensive schools and helped us to get degrees to just get rocked to sleep at 25! It is not fun to be productive. The more you say that everything is unfair and being an adult is not an easy task, you disrespecting your parents, do you realize that? Our parents had 2 kids and a dog being spoon fed at our age along with their jobs plus a personal life to take care of. It was not any jugglery! And we were absorbed into that idea of managing life like them when we were in school. And now when the stage is all ours we want to chicken out.

Second of all, every stage of life is hard if we think like that. Because we are supposed to improve everyday. That is called progress. When we were kids we were struggling with homeworks but now when we look back it feels the early life was an easy one. Let us just understand that we cannot go back in time and do things we already know and show off the fact that we are ‘adulting like a pro”. Accept who we are and learn to know your aspirations. A hope or desire is not something which only has to be a big plan. We all can start small. For example, writing down a to-do list every day. Keeping a check on how much water we drink every day. Or even better help or make someone smile to help or make yourself happy. No hope is a lame one. Every small step however absurd it might be for the rest of the world, you know what you want. Clear the clutter. For every complaint that you have there is an answer. The cause was created deep from your mind which is affecting your happiness in the moment. Before you create the question, look within. The answer is right there! Organize your life in bits. The dots will connect eventually. If you feel negative and regret about anything, make a point to feel lucky. You are only giving yourself a chance to correct the errors. Correct your errors in your pace. Be consistent. Life will be fair and being an adult will be a matter of achievement. Happiness is in your mind. Let it stay away from its premature demise.

P.S. This was not alcohol but a life experience of a 25 year old!