Malala Yousafzai, left, and Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.CreditLeft, Olivia Harris/Reuters; Adnan Abidi/Reuters BERLIN — Reaching across gulfs of age, gender, faith, nationality and even international celebrity, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2014 peace prize on Friday to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India, joining a teenage Pakistani known around the world with an Indian veteran of campaigns to end child labor and free children from trafficking.

Ms. Yousafzai, 17, is the youngest recipient of the prize since it was created in 1901. Mr. Satyarthi is 60. The $1.1 million prize is to be divided equally between them.

The awards were announced in Oslo by Thorbjorn Jagland, the committee’s chairman, who said: “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”


Ms. Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for working on behalf of girls’ education. CreditAndy Buchanan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” Mr. Jagland said. “He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.”

Despite his works, Mr. Satyarthi is not nearly so widely known as Ms. Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for campaigning on behalf of girls’ education in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. She was 15 at the time. Since then, she has become a global emblem of her struggle, celebrated on television and publishing a memoir.

She “has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations,” Mr. Jagland said. “This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle, she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.”

Underscoring the hostilities the Nobel committee seemed to wish to ease, troops from Pakistan and India had exchanged artillery and machine-gun fire across their disputed Himalayan border in the days before the announcement. The most recent eruption of fighting has so far killed 11 Pakistani and eight Indian villagers, but by Friday, a lull had set in, news reports said.

In the speculation that invariably precedes the announcement of the award, Ms. Yousafzai had been a favorite for two successive years. This year, some forecasters spoke of Pope Francis, and others said it was likely the committee would withhold the prize, as it last did during the Vietnam War in 1972 because the global horizon seemed so scarred by conflict.

The nomination of Ms. Yousafzai, however, seemed in part to be intended as an inspirational message, offering a counterpoint to conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

Last year, Ms. Yousafzai won several European awards and published a memoir of her experiences, “I Am Malala.” The title echoed the circumstances of her shooting. When the Taliban gunman boarded her bus, he called out, “Who is Malala?” As she noted in an interview last year, her voice is now heard “in every corner of the world.”

British news reports said Ms. Yousafzai was at school in Birmingham, England, where she has lived since being treated for her gunshot wounds, when the prize was announced and was taken out of her class to be informed of the award.

In many ways, her story has come to symbolize the trauma of modern Pakistan, as the nuclear-armed nation has struggled to reconcile the opposing forces of violent Islamism and those who envision a progressive, forward-facing future for their country.

Six days after the shooting, she was airlifted to a specialized hospital in Birmingham.

The Taliban were the reason that Ms. Yousafzai had come to public prominence. She wrote a blog in 2009 that detailed life in the Swat Valley under Taliban rule, at a time when bearded fighters, armed with Kalashnikovs, had terrorized the valley’s residents and made particular efforts to shut schools where girls were being educated.

After the Taliban were expelled from Swat, Ms. Yousafzai went on to become a national media figure. Ms. Yousafzai spoke passionately about the need for peace and education for girls on television programs. She was encouraged by her schoolmaster father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who had nurtured his daughter as an outspoken advocate from an early age.

But that advocacy earned the wrath of the Taliban, which convened a secret meeting to plan her assassination.

In the months after her recovery, Ms. Yousafzai took the first steps toward establishing her global celebrity. She met with a President Obama and his family in the White House and was lionized by a host of celebrities.

Back in Pakistan, however, things were less clear. Conservative Pakistanis spread malicious stories claiming that Ms. Yousafzai’s plight had been exaggerated by a gullible Western news media, or that she was somehow in the employment of American intelligence. The Taliban vowed to redouble their efforts to assassinate the schoolgirl should she ever return to the country.

A 2009 documentary by Adam B. Ellick profiled Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl whose school was shut down by the Taliban. Ms. Yousafzai was shot by a gunman on Oct. 9, 2012.

Video by Adam B. Ellick and Irfan Ashraf on Publish DateOctober 9, 2012.

The conspiracy theories reflected broader tensions between Pakistan and the United States. Although most Pakistanis prize education, and a minority sympathizes with the Taliban, the rush by Western leaders to heap praise on Ms. Yousafzai was seen by many as a rebuke of Pakistan at a time of painful relations with the United States.

For all that, news of the Nobel Prize on Friday inspired jubilation and well-wishers in the Swat Valley, who spilled onto the streets and distribute sweets in a traditional celebration.

“We have no words to express our feelings,” said Ahmad Shah, a family friend, speaking by phone from Mingora, the main town in the region. “Her efforts have been recognized by the world with this great prize. This is a victory for the people of Swat and of Pakistan.”

For months after the attack on Ms. Yousafzai, some residents criticized the schoolgirl, fearing publicity around her case would invite further Taliban attacks. But now, Mr. Shah said he told Mr. Yousafzai by phone, “even those who were opposing Malala are happy.”


Wait.. the what sound?

Schwa Sound.

In linguistics, specifically phonetics and phonology, schwa (sometimes spelled shwa)[1] refers to the mid-central vowel sound (rounded or unrounded) in the middle of the vowel chart, denoted by the IPA symbol ə, or another vowel sound close to that position. An example in English is the vowel sound in the ‘a’ of the word ‘about’. Schwa in English is mainly found in unstressed positions, but in some other languages it occurs more frequently as a stressed vowel.

In English, schwa is the most common vowel sound. It is a reduced vowel in many unstressed syllables, especially if syllabic consonants are not used. Depending on dialect, it may correspond to any of the following written letters:

  • ‘a’, as in about [əˈbaʊt]
  • ‘e’, as in taken [ˈtʰeɪkən]
  • ‘i’, as in pencil [ˈpʰɛnsəl]
  • ‘o’, as in eloquent [ˈɛləkʰwənt]
  • ‘u’, as in supply [səˈpʰlaɪ]
  • ‘y’, as in sibyl [ˈsɪbəl]
  • various combinations of letters, such as ‘ai’ in mountain [ˈmaʊntən]
  • unwritten as in rhythm [ˈrɪðəm]

Schwa is a very short neutral vowel sound, and like all vowels, its precise quality varies depending on the adjacent consonants. In most varieties of English, schwa occurs almost exclusively in unstressed syllables (although there is also an open-mid central unrounded vowel or “long schwa”, represented as ɜː, which occurs in some non-rhotic dialect stressed syllables, as in bird and alert). In New Zealand English and South African English the high front lax vowel (as in the word bit) has shifted open and back to sound like schwa, and these dialects include both stressed and unstressed schwas. In General American, schwa and ɜː are the two vowel sounds that can be r-colored (rhotacized); r-colored schwa is used in words with unstressed “er” syllables, such as dinner. See also Stress and vowel reduction in English.  [wikipedia.org]

And for a more… “informal” teaching:

Good luck!

taken from News.Mic. ByTom McKay.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 9.07.22 AM

Learning more than one language isn’t just good for traveling — it may actually make you better at performing tasks that aren’t even related to linguistics.

A recent study in Brain and Language by University of Washington researchers generated this somewhatsurprising statistic: Bilingual people are about half a second faster at executing novel instructions, like “add 1 to x, divide y by 2, and sum the results” than their monolingual cousins.

In short, the approximately 20% of Americans who are bilingual may tend to have better executive functioning — the network of cognitive processes involved in reasoning and problem solving, among others — than the rest of us.

The study: UW’s Andrea Stocco and Chantel Prat reached this conclusion by subjecting 17 bilingual and 14 monolingual people to a battery of arithmetic problems, each comprised of a set of operations and two inputs. Pacific Standards’ Nathan Collins explains the process involved:

First, participants ran through 40 practice problems using just two operation sets. Next, they went through another 40 problems, this time a mix of 20 new ones, each with a unique set of operations and inputs, and another 20 featuring the previously studied arithmetic operations, but with new inputs for x and y. Finally, the groups worked through 40 more problems, again a mix of familiar and novel, but this time, they completed them inside a fMRI brain scanner.

The good news for those of us who speak only English is that monolinguals evenly matched bilinguals on accuracy and solved the familiar problems just as quickly. But when the bilingual group was asked to complete the novel problems, they beat out the one-language crowd handily. The brain scans show that the basal ganglia, which exhibits influence on the motor system and action selection, was more active when respondents were completing the unfamiliar problems.

The researchers believe the “generalized improvements in cognitive performance” seen among the bilingual crowd indicates their brains are more easily able to adapt between various competing sets of rules, allowing them to adapt more quickly to new situations. Since learning even one language is a tremendously difficult task, Stocco and Prat believe that the process of learning an additional one has long-lasting cognitive benefits.

Other benefits of bilingualism: The study is far from the first to suggest that learning two languages has an array of other benefits for cognitive health. In the U.K.’s famous long-term Lothian Birth Cohort study, language researchers compared 1,100 monolingual 11-year-olds in 1947 to the remaining 843 of the original test subjects some 60-plus years later.

They found that only those who had learned an additional language in the interim had noticeably improved cognitive performance. The results suggested that learning more languages trains the brain to process incoming information more efficiently, resulting in increased performance in other domains. The team also demonstrated the positive effects that follow can occur even in full-grown adults.

So for anyone who didn’t bother learning another language, this newest study provides some evidence that you’re not just missing out on the ability to speak to the locals on your tour of Mexico City — you’re also not training your brain to work more efficiently. Fortunately, the research demonstrates that when it comes to language, it’s never to late to teach an old dog new tricks.


Did you know that you put in a comma in your writing whenever you take a breath? (I assume that means while reading aloud.) How about a period? Well, I guess that’s a deeper breath.

You might also try putting a period at the end of a “thought.” And what about semi-colons and colons? Well…maybe those are for exceptionally long breaths and thoughts? Okay, I guess you can see that these are no official “Strunk and White” rules about usage but rather the kind of myths about standard punctuation that are perpetuated, sometimes by educators, I’m afraid. Add to this the concern that writers, such as novelist and poets, often employ their own creative punctuation: for example, poet e.e. cummings wrote in all lower-case; popular novelist Stephen King, a former English teacher, writes long, run-on sentences to indicate stream-of-consciousness thought. So by the time students come onto a college campus, they’re often under the impression that punctuation doesn’t matter, or is arbitrary, and makes no sense—sometimes all three. Teaching students standard punctuation is usually a semester-long odyssey that involves first disabusing them of “punctuation myths” they have been exposed to.

1. Attack the Old Belief

I’ll stop short of saying telling students “Forget everything you learned before about punctuation,” but I think a good starting place is finding out what students already know. I take a quick inventory, “What does a comma do?”or “Who knows what a semi-colon does?” Students’ answers rarely involve dependent and independent clauses but rather breaths and thoughts and other unquantifiable items. I’ll then ask “So how much of a breath before I write a comma? A short one or long one? Or do both get commas after?” Student laughter indicates that they are starting to see how nebulous these “rules” are.

2. Take a Survey

Another way of exposing these past beliefs on punctuation is to have students take a short questionnaire, with questions like the following, mixing in actual punctuation rules with the myths.

1. You write a comma when you take a breath. T F
2. You write a colon before a list. T F
3. You write a period after a thought. T F
4. A letter S should always have an apostrophe before it. T F
5. A period should be written after an independent clause. T F
6. “Mother” and other important words should always be capitalized. T F

Seeing their beliefs on punctuation “exposed” in black and white print sometimes gets students laughing, which is good because it shows they understand the silliness of the rules they were taught in the past–with all good intention, probably: it’s much easier to talk to a third grader about breaths than about clauses.

Going over these myths can also give students a good laugh, not a bad thing when discussing the dry topic of punctuation.


3. Teach Students Basic Sentence Structure

Students can’t really understand punctuation without understanding basic sentence structure because punctuation connects different parts of the English sentence.

Sentence: A simple sentence is also known as an independent clause. It has a subject, verb, and a complete idea: for example, I drive. This is an acceptable English sentence with a subject (I), a verb (drive) and a complete idea, I drive, meaning I drive every day or habitually; I know how to drive, etc.

Dependent clause: Must be attached to an independent clause for correctness. It has a subject and a verb but is not a complete idea. Because I drive This is not a complete sentence but a dependent clause, and if a student puts a period after it, I will mark it (F) for fragment.

Dependent clauses need to be attached to independent clauses with a comma after if the dependent clause is first

Because I drive, I have car insurance.

or no comma if the dependent clause is second

I have car insurance because I drive.

I also teach run-ons at this point as the running together of two or more independent clauses without the correct punctuation:

I drive I have a car and I like it a lot

Working with the students, I revise the above sentences with periods and commas:

I drive. I have a car, and I like it a lot.

Or even, if some students know the semi-colon:

I drive; I have a car, and I like it a lot.


4. Teach the System

Now that some basic sentence structure has been discussed, and students have some understanding of it, punctuation can be delved into more deeply. I usually give a handout of the punctuation mark, a name, a definition and what the mark does, and an example of its use. Introducing punctuation this way emphasizes that it is a system with logical and consistent rules.

5. Punctuation Marks

, =comma. Separates two independent clauses with a conjunction or separates items in a list

I have studied on this campus for three years, and I have learned a lot.

This semester I am taking Spanish, Algebra, and English.

; =semi-colon. Separates two independent clauses

I have taught here for ten years; I like the campus very much.

: =colon. Placed after an independent clause and before a list

On the day of the final, please bring with you the following items: a pen, a pencil, an eraser, and an exam book.

. =period. Placed at the end of a sentence

Danielle is returning to France for the winter break.

By seeing the major punctuation marks, with their names and a brief definition, students begin to understand it is a system that makes sense.

Follow up activities can include reading a few paragraphs out of the course textbook and discussing punctuation decisions the writer made; proofreading a sample paper as an exercise, focusing on the punctuation, and then moving on to proofread their own and their peers’ work.


from: busyteacher.org

from: ESLabout


Does this situation seem familiar to you? Your English is progressing well, the grammar is now familiar, the reading comprehension is no problem, you are communicating quite fluently, but: Listening is STILL a problem!

First of all, remember that you are not alone. Listening comprehension is probably the most difficult task (noun=exercise, job) for almost all learners of English as a foreign language. So, now you know you are not alone….! OK. The most important thing is to listen, and that means as often as possible. The next step is to find listening resources. This is where the Internet really comes in handy (idiom = to be useful) as a tool for English students. Here are some suggestions for interesting listening selections:


Once you have begun to listen on a regular basis, you might still be frustrated (adjective=upset) by limited understanding. What should you do?

Here is some of the advice I give my students:

  • Accept the fact that you are not going to understand everything.
  • Keep cool (idiom=stay relaxed) when you do not understand – even if you continue to not understand for a long time.
  • Do not translate into your native language (synonym=mother tongue)
  • Listen for the gist (noun=general idea) of the conversation. Don’t concentrate on detail until you have understood the main ideas.

I remember the problems I had in understanding spoken German when I first went to Germany. In the beginning, when I didn’t understand a word, I insisted on translating it in my mind. This approach (synonym=method) usually resulted in confusion. Then, after the first six months, I discovered two extremely important facts; Firstly, translating creates a barrier (noun=wall, separation) between the listener and the speaker. Secondly, most people repeat themselves constantly . By remaining calm (adjective=relaxed), I noticed that – even if I spaced out (idiom=to not pay attention) I could usually understand what the speaker had said. I had discovered some of the most important things about listening comprehension:

While you are listening to another person speaking a foreign language (English in this case), the temptation is to immediately translate into your native language. This temptation becomes much stronger when you hear a word you don’t understand. This is only natural as we want to understand everything that is said. However, when you translate into your native language, you are taking the focus of your attention away from the speaker and concentrating on the translation process taking place in your brain. This would be fine if you could put the speaker on hold (phrasal verb=to make a person wait). In real life however, the person continues talking while you translate. This situation obviously leads to less -not more- understanding. I have discovered that translation leads to a kind of block (noun=no movement or activity ) in my brain which sometimes doesn’t allow me to understand anything at all!

Most people repeat themselves

Think for a moment about your friends, family and colleagues. When they speak in your native tongue, do they repeat themselves? I don’t mean literally (adverb=word for word), I mean the general idea. If they are like most people I have met, they probably do. That means that whenever you listen to someone speaking, it is very likely (adjective=probable) that he/she will repeat the information, giving you a second, third or even fourth chance to understand what has been said.

By remaining calm, allowing yourself to notunderstand, and not translating while listening, your brain is free to concentrate on the most important thing:Understanding English in English.


  • Listen to something you enjoy

Probably the greatest advantage about using the Internet to improve your listening skills is that you can choose what you would like to listen to and how many and times you would like to listen to it. By listening to something you enjoy, you are also likely to know a lot more of the vocabulary required!

  • Listen for Keywords

Use keywords (noun=principal words) or keyphrases to help you understand the general ideas. If you understand “New York”, “business trip”, “last year” you can assume (verb=to take for granted, suppose) that the person is speaking about a business trip to New York last year. This may seem obvious to you, but remember that understanding the main idea will help you to understand the detail as the person continues to speak.

•Listen for Context

Let’s imagine that your English speaking friend says “…I bought this great tuner at JR’s. It was really cheap and now I can finally listen to National Public Radio broadcasts.” You don’t understand what atuner is. If you focus on the word tuneryou might become frustrated. However, if you think in context (noun=the situation explained during the conversation) you probably will understand. For example; bought is the past of buy, listen is no problem and radio is obvious. Now you understand: He bought something – thetuner – to listen to the radio. A tuner must be a kind of radio! This is a simple example but it demonstrates what you need to focus on: Not the word that you don’t understand, but the words you dounderstand.


It might seem to you that my ideas on how to listen encourage you to not understand everything. This is absolutely correct. One hundred percent understanding is something to work towards (phrasal verb=to have as a goal, a plan for the future) and not to expect of yourself now. Listening needs a great amount of practice and patience. Allow yourself the luxury of not becoming nervous when you do not understand, and you will be surprised by how quickly you do begin to understand.

Listening often is the most important way to improve your listening skills. Enjoy the listening possibilities offered by the Internet and remember relax…

From HelloGiggles.com

When she was 12 years old, Sarah Van Auken’s father, Kenneth Van Auken, an employee at the investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Now 25, Van Auken has written a one-woman play about the experience she had growing up with the trauma of 9/11 and the aftermath, as well as her mother’s fight to create the 9/11 commission. The play debuted in Philadelphia, but premieres today in New York, to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11. Its title is “This Is Not About 9/11.”

“The pain that people feel, specifically the pain that family members feel on the anniversaries, myself included, is very real and very valid. It is not to be taken lightly,” Van Auken told Hello Giggles. “That being said, I’d like to simply shift the conversation.”

Van Auken said that the point of the play is to examine the way that we talk about 9/11, and the way the event has been portrayed by politicians and the media.

“I want to highlight the fact that it isn’t about 9/11, it’s about us,” she said. “We are all a part of what happened because it happened to all of us. What I’d like to encourage audiences to do is to involve and attune themselves to what’s happening in the post-9/11 world.”

It’s been a long journey of grieving for Van Auken, who like so many relatives of 9/11 victims, has had to relive those terrifying moments of loss in a public forum each year on the anniversary of the day that changed our country.

Transforming her experiences into a show helped her process her experiences, and also consolidate the message that she wanted to share about it.

“Turning my experience into a show was therapeutic. It was also quite challenging in that I wanted to stay away from being self-indulgent,” Van Auken said. “I really had to figure out how to tell a story, and it took a bunch of edits and rehearsals to get the script to a performance-ready place.”

In a review of the play, the Philly Declaration’s Dustin Slaughter describes it as a “performance mixed with rage, incredulity, and strength, as she refuses to pander to the veneer of sentimentality initially forced on her by the faceless, booming voice of the interviewer, who may be more interested in collecting her grief than in actually listening to what she has to say.”

Van Auken addresses the issue of how those mourning the loss of their loved ones unwittingly served as a platform for politics, and what it was like to become a public symbol of grief while enduring personal loss.

If there’s one thing that she hopes the audience will take away from her show, Van Auken said, it’s that the attacks on that day changed the way that everyone operates.

She hopes it “encourages people to think about how the world has changed, not just in the larger ways, but in the subtler ways, as well—and then, formulating a point of view about said changes,” Van Auken said. “Educating one’s self about what’s happening in the world as a result of 9/11 is another way to pay tribute to those who died that day. Perhaps then it’s possible to live in a place of awareness instead of fear, or worse, apathy.


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