Saturday, May 17, 2008

Teaching to speak English quickly

Jacob Nettikkatt says students know to read and write the language, but are unable to speak it

By Shevlin Sebastian

One day, in 1984, when Jacob Nettikkatt was reading a newspaper in Kolkata, where he had been working for many years, he saw an advertisement for a personality development course by well-known motivational speaker Aparesh Acharya.

Jacob rushed to take part. “Within one and a half hours of listening to Aparesh, my imagination took wing,” he says. “Aparesh spoke about the consequences of having the right and wrong attitude.”

Soon after this course, Jacob, who worked as an export manager, says he got a divine call to be a teacher. He decided to teach an export-import management course. Once he began, he came across many students who could not communicate in English and so he decided to start an English-speaking course. Thereafter, teaching English became his passion.

In 1992, Jacob returned to Kochi and began teaching this course at the Renewal Centre at Kaloor. He did it for 15 years, and in 2006, he brought out the four-volume, ‘Easy Way to Learn English’.

In 2007, he established the Xavier Institute of Management ( on Azad Road, teaching English to students.

“There is something wrong with our educational system, where students know how to read and write English, but are unable to speak it,” he says.

Jacob has developed several techniques to enable students to pick up a fluency in the language.

He has divided a sentence into three parts: Action/Action taken/Receiver. Jacob teaches his students on how to fill these columns with the appropriate words.

He agrees that it is similar to subject, verb and object, but “in schools and colleges, they don’t teach you how to fill up the columns. So, the student cannot construct his own sentence.”

Jacob also realised that students can gain fluency in spoken English quicker if they know how to develop the powers of the mind. So, he has written a book on the ‘Mind and its functions’, which was released last month.

“More than 90 per cent of the students are unaware of how the mind works,” he says. “So, their functioning as human beings is in a state of disarray. A student should learn to develop the different powers of the mind as explained in the book.”

For example, if a student has a tendency to forget, he suggests that he or she should visualise a TV screen. Then the student can write something on that screen by using the imagination.

“There is no need for any paper and pen,” he says. “Try to read the written matter from the mental screen, with the inner eye.”

Jacob says that if you are able to do it, then you can write messages or even speeches on the mental screen and read it back when required. “You will not need to write down anything ever again,” he says. He calls this the power of visualisation.

He has other suggestions: in order to have harmonious relationships, people should always look at life from the other person’s perspective.

“Most of the time, people only see things from their own viewpoint, so it becomes a one-sided thinking,” he says. “When we look from the other person’s angle, we are able to avoid saying hurtful words.”

Meanwhile, Dr. G.P.C. Nayar, the chairman of the SCMS Group of Educational Institutions, who wrote the foreword, says, “What I like about the book is that Jacob has based it on his own observations. Usually, when a person writes a book on the mind, they refer to so many books, but he has avoided that. This book is based on a lifetime observation of human behaviour.”

Jacob’s understanding of human nature has come through his own suffering. His eldest son contracted meningitis when he was seven years old and the treatment lasted for 14 years. “He has also become mentally challenged,” he says. But his second son is an engineer and works for a German multinational company in Dubai.

Jacob’s future plans include writing more books and spreading his methodology of teaching English in various parts of India.

(Permission to reproduce this article has to be obtained from The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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