Learn English with your child


Learning any language takes time. And that includes English as well.

In corporate India, many people want to learn English words and phrases that are directly related to their work. They often do not have the time or inclination to strengthen their foundations (grammar, vocabulary, writing skills, reading skills, listening skills, and speaking skills).

If you focus only on the language you need for your current position, you will not have the flexibility to express yourself in a wide range of situations. You can only communicate using set phrases and limited grammar in certain fixed, routine interactions. This means that you might find it challenging to communicate subtle meaning or complex ideas. As you move into new, higher positions, there will be more demands on your communication skills.

How can you strengthen the foundations of your language when you work long hours? If you have a child at home, consider yourself lucky. You can learn with her. Together, you can practise reading and answering questions from her textbook. You can use the content in the textbook as a launchpad for further learning. For example, if there is a lesson on food, you can read articles or watch Youtube videos on the topic. When doing so, be sure to be an active reader/listener. Make a mental note of new vocabulary, grammar structures, and pronunciation. See if you can identify any of the words / grammar that you and your child have come across in the textbook.

Many people do not speak English at home. If one wants to learn any language, the secret is immersion in that language. The language needs to be around you and you need to be using it. With your child, you could set aside some time where both of you speak only in English. At the dinner table, you could revise the words / grammar that you have together looked at. Practise, practise, practise, until it becomes second nature.

It is said that the child is the father of man. I believe that the child is an excellent English teacher for man or woman. Learning with your child is a fun and natural way to learn and practise the language.

If you choose to learn with your child, make sure that it is a long-term engagement. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see immediate results. Slow and steady wins the race!


4 idioms related to war


Photo taken at the Maharaja Ranjit Singh War Museum in Ludhiana, Punjab


At times, it may seem that there is more war than peace in our working lives. Here are four idioms which may reflect what is happening at your office. See if you can use them.


  1. to cross the Rubicon

During Roman times, the modest river Rubicon marked the boundary from where Gaul (France) ended and Italy began. As a rule, Roman generals returning to Italy were ordered to disband their armies before crossing the Rubicon and entering Italian soil. Of course, the victorious and ambitious Julius Caesar thought otherwise. He crossed the Rubicon with his battle-hardened army and thus started a civil war.


To cross the Rubicon is take a decision from which there is no turning back.


By agreeing to consider the proposed changes, the Minister has crossed the Rubicon.


  1. to look daggers at somebody


Quite simply, this means to look sharply or furiously at someone.


“At the meeting, the production manager looked daggers at me. What did I do?”


  1. a loose cannon

In sixteenth-century English warships, cannons were mounted on carriages. And when the ships swayed back and forth, and moved up and down, some of these huge guns would roll about dangerously, endangering the crew.

In today’s world, a loose cannon is a person who behaves in an unpredictable way, often causing some form of disorder.  I’m sure you’ve come across at least one loose cannon in your life.

“Careful, he is known to be a loose cannon.”


  1. on the warpath

The warpath was the route North American Indians would take to meet their adversary.

Nowadays, the term has come to mean being in an aggressive mood and looking for a fight.


“Avoid Prashant. He’s on the warpath today!”


I used Dictionary of Idioms and their origins by Linda + Roger Flavell as a reference for this post. If you would like to learn more about idioms and their origins, do pick this book up.