Have you ever fretted over learning the meanings of English words?
Logophilia comes to the rescue
As a student of Psycholinguistics, Dhruv Raj Sharma has always been fascinated by the origin and development of languages.
He took a special interest in the English language and started tracing the root from which certain English language words were formed or acquired.
This habit led to the establishment of Logophilia Private Limited in August 2010. Logophilia provides Etymology Education (Etymology is the study of origin of words in a language) to school and college students through simple educational programmes. “I designed a pilot test and class with 600 middle school kids and was amazed by the results. It was then that I decided to establish Logophilia,” explains Dhruv Raj Sharma, Founder, Logophilia.
Dhruv and his team teach six commercial programmes to train students in vocabulary.
“A basic understanding of words can be covered in four hours in our introduction class. Our full curriculum is designed at just 80 hours for middle-school kids, where they can learn 50,000 – 1,00,000 words,” explains Sharma. Their courses are affordable and priced nominally, with basic classes starting from Rs. 550.
To etymologise is to break-up a word into its constituent parts for logical explanation and hence, when English is learnt logically, all other areas of study can be easily mastered and understood, says Mr. Sharma. Ideally, etymology can be taught from the age of 12-13 years.
Upon taking up their teacher training programme, one can impart this unique form of education to others easily, he says. Along with teaching, team Logophilia publishes blog posts regularly, teaching netizens several new words, and have brought-out seven etymology based books.
Logophilia witnessed rapid growth within three years of its establishment, conducting several special programmes for India’s premier institutes including three IITs, St. Stephens College, Lady Shri Ram College and many more across six States in India and two schools in South Dakota, U.S. Logophilia claims to be the only known English Etymology Education provider in the world.
After their successful National Gala (A word Olympiad) in the last three years, they are hoping to expand it this year into schools. “Apart from the galas, we are working towards a vocabulary magazine, a first of its kind. It will teach etymology, spelling and pronunciation aspects of words.The idea of launching a trial beta version of our etymology app online is the other major target. It is in its final stages of production. This app was created with six lexicographers and etymologists.”
For all the English language enthusiasts, Logophilia has internship and recruitment offers in over five of its departments this year. “Our goal is to expand etymology education in all the 54 English-speaking countries of the world,” says Dhruv as he signs off.
- 12 May 2014
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What is Etymology Education?
Etymology Education is a system of study that enables students to learn the concepts of various academic disciplines through an understanding of words, and their roots, which constitute the subject. Words are the fundamental units of knowledge, and a strong grounding in the nature of words will greatly facilitate knowledge acquisition. It is a mode of experiential learning where the focus is on logicality, word formation and understanding.
Is Etymology different from Etymology Education?
Yes. Etymology is the general study of the origin of words. Etymology Education is a teaching methodology that uses knowledge of this field to deliver an understanding of language to students of different age groups, in classroom settings. Instead of teaching words independently, we instruct the learner in word construction itself.
How did you get inspired to design Etymology Education as a methodology for learning vocabulary?
While studying psycholinguistics at university, I conducted English vocabulary lessons for students. I noticed that English drew from Greek or Latin. My students benefited from this realisation and it helped us succeed. This soon grew into a passion, which steered me to Ireland, where I learnt Ancient Classical Latin. On my return, I founded Logophilia Education.
How does Etymology Education impact the way a student studies?
Students often devote a needless amount of time to memorising word meanings, spellings and pronunciation, overlooking the intuitive patterns that, once recognised, greatly simplify learning and make rote memorisation redundant. Etymology Education helps students to ‘etymologise’ (trace the origins of) words by ‘breaking’ them up. Once etymologised, the meaning, spelling and pronunciation all become obvious. In Greek, for example, the P is silent before a consonant; also, ‘psych’ in Greek means mind. If a student knows this when processing words like psychology, psyche, psychiatry, the meaning, spelling, and pronunciation become easier.
How many students have you been able to reach out to?
After 70 short and 32 long workshops in just over three years across six States (UP, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, TN, Karnataka and Delhi) Logophilia has a pan-Indian presence. We have done sessions in two high schools in South Dakota, USA. We have reached an estimated 1,00,000 students in India, a few hundred in America, and countless more virtually.
Your last word on how and why Etymology Education should be adopted and adapted to as a part of our education system.
A functional understanding of etymology can impart a large vocabulary to a student, and since words are fundamental to knowledge, it strengthens his/her knowledge whilst also saving time. We are preparing Etymology Education curricula to empower students with different curricula. We insist that every subject should have an Etymology Education supplement, so that students never have to resort to rote memorisation.
We live by the motto:
Teach a word, you will help for a day;
Teach Etymology, you will help for a lifetime!
(We plan to carry a Logophilia Vocabulary Feature on a regular basis in the Student Edition. Don’t miss it.)
- 12 May 2014
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Question – What is Etymology Education?
Dhruv– Etymology Education is a system of education in which students learn the concepts of various academic disciplines from their word origins or roots. Words are the most fundamental units of knowledge, and a rich understanding of words directly correlates to strong knowledge- acquisition ability. The method involves experiential facilitation, with a focus on the logicality of word construction, so that students do not use rote memorisation but use understanding as a vital part of their leaning style.
Question – Is Etymology Education different from Etymology?
Dhruv– Yes. Etymology is the study of the origins of words. Every language has its own history (or etymology). There are several books written on Etymology (“Word Power Made Easy”, by Norman Lewis, is one of the most popular examples). What I have been developing for the past 7 years is a methodology to impart essential Etymology awareness to students of different ages, within classroom settings. In this method, we do not teach words one-word-at-a-time: we invest effort in learning the process of word construction itself, so that language can be understood logically, and without a debilitating dictionary-dependence.
Question – Why do you say that Maths is not the most important subject?
Dhruv– It is important to realise that Maths is just one subject: it has implications for only those subjects which involve “logico-mathematical intelligence” (e.g. Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science). English Vocabulary is not just any subject, but it is the code in which knowledge itself is expressed. Be it the Humanities, the Natural Sciences, or the Behavioural Sciences, everything is written in English words. Therefore, before we make an assessment of a student’s intelligence, we must make sure that she/he has enough Vocabulary awareness to be able to cope with the demands of the subjects she/he reads. It is extremely unfortunate that schools do not teach vocabulary as a separate subject anywhere, while a disproportionate emphasis is provided to the acquisition of numerical ability.
Question – How did you get inspired to design Etymology Education as a methodology for learning vocabulary?
Dhruv– At university, I studied Psycholinguistics, (the study of how the brain uses and learns languages). At the same time, I started teaching English Vocabulary to graduate students. While studying for my lessons, I noticed that most of the vocabulary books I was reading were either from Greek or Latin. My students found the application of these two languages extremely useful in learning new words. My practice soon grew into a passion, and set me thinking. At the end of two years, I went to Ireland to study Ancient Classical Latin in depth, and upon my return I founded Logophilia Education.
Question – How did u convert it into teaching practice?
Dhruv- I pilot-tested my methodology with 600 middle school students. The results were incredible! This gave me tremendous belief in the method I had created. I found that I was able to provide answers to age old questions of Education, like: why does ‘Psychology’ have a silent ‘P’; why is there a difference in pronunciation of ‘put’ and ‘but’; why are there double consonants in a lot of words, and so on. Suddenly, English was not a “funny language” at all: not to me, not to my students.
Question – How old is the system of Etymology?
Dhruv– The study of Etymology is very old. The Sanskrit linguists and grammarians of Ancient India are considered to be the first to make a comprehensive analysis of linguistics and etymology, tracing back to the 6th – 5th Centuries, BCE.
Question – How does Etymology Education impact the way a student studies?
Dhruv- Students (of most age groups) seem to devote a large amounts of time to rote memorisation. Students memorise word meanings, spellings , and pronunciations, without being able to notice the underlying patterns which would make this process redundant.
Etymology Education helps students to “Etymologise” (trace the origins of) words by “breaking them” up. Once a word has been etymologised, not only does the meaning become obvious, but so does its spelling and pronunciation. The Greek language, for example, makes “P” silent before a consonant; also, “psych” in Greek means mind. If a student knows this when processing words like Psychology, psyche, psychiatry, she/he would not have any difficulty remembering their meaning, spelling, or pronunciation.
Further, we have heard so many students complain that what they memorise cannot be retained for more than a week after their exams: forgetting is such a common student-problem that people develop silly mnemonics, memory pills, and crude learning aids.
We feel that memorisation is effectively the opposite of understanding. We find that when students learn through Etymology Education, their learning is deep, and more permanent. Etymology allows them to see the logicality of language, and make learning a pleasurable experience.
Question – Is Etymology Education relevant across all age groups, including Higher Education?
Dhruv– Yes. Etymology Education is important for absolutely anybody and everybody who intends to understand and learn what he/she is reading. Memorisation begins in school, when students start cramming simple word definitions; this moves on to full paragraphs and pages; and finally in higher education, students often resort to learning up entire chapters (sometimes even books). We ask how long this mindless practice can be tolerated, when students can be trained in actually understanding what they read!
Take the case of Medicine. A regular Medicine student is required to invest 4 years in putting to memory thousands of complicated medical words (body parts, names of diseases and pharmaceutical products). It is common knowledge in Linguistics that most words in Medicine come from either Greek or Latin. So, the question is, if all of these words can be understood, why should so much time be wasted in memorising them?
Question- How many languages can this system be applied to?
Dhruv– The practice of Etymology Education can be applied to a large number of languages. With specific reference to the languages related to English, there are 3 dominant language families: the Helenic (Greek), the Romance (Latin), and the Germanic (Old English). A very large number of Modern European languages are derived from these language families. For e.g. Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. are all Romance languages, which means that studying Latin etymology can be very helpful to students when they study these languages, because of their common origins.
Question – Can Etymology be read or learned through a book?
Dhruv– Theoretically, yes, Etymology can be studied through a book. That is how I trained myself in the discipline; but that took me 7 years, and it is difficult to imagine that students would have that kind of time or devotion. Further, there is no single book that can be considered a comprehensive reference point for self-study. We took a lot of pains to consolidate Etymology knowledge from a vast variety of old and new books, to structure experiential programmes that fit well to the requirements of the Modern classroom.
Question – What’s a good age to start learning etymology?
Dhruv- While at Logophilia we aspire to create Etymology Education programs for junior school, we presently believe that the study of Etymology Education requires a basic cognitive maturity which middle school seems to have more than junior school. Therefore, we find 12-years onwards to be the appropriate age to start.
Question- Your last word on how and why Etymology Education should be adopted and adapted to as a part of our education system.
Dhruv- To answer the “why” first, we believe that: (a) words are fundamental to knowledge; (b) a student with a weak vocabulary = a weak student; (c) a really large number of words can be easily understood, and remembered, using a functional understanding of Etymology; (d) it is entirely ridiculous that students should have to waste time memorising words or concepts.
Hence, we are preparing Etymology Education curricula for different academic requirements, so as to empower students with the vocabularies necessary for their respective requirements. We insist that every subject, for every class, should begin with an Etymology Education supplement, so that students never have to resort to rote memorisation as a learning style.
Concluding lines for closure.
Dhruv- Teach a word, you will help for a day; teach Etymology, you will help for a lifetime!
About Dhruv and Logophilia
Dhruv Raj Sharma is the Founder and Chief Ideator of Logophilia Education Pvt. Ltd. – an organisation dedicated to the development, promotion, and imparting of “Etymology Education”. Possibly the only Etymology Education organisation anywhere, Logophilia was founded in August, 2010 by Dhruv, and strives to create global awareness about the fundamentality of Etymology Education in school curricula across different levels of academic advancement. Their activities include: a. Teaching: through Experiential Vocabulary Programmes; b. Writing: books, blogs, and online applications; and c. Quizzing: Logophilia organizes the Logophilia Gala – War for Words – an National competition where schools and colleges compete on-stage in Etymology-based English questions. Logophilia started their Etymology Programmes with a small workshop in IIT Kanpur, and now run across many states in India.
- 12 May 2014
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Dhruv Raj Sharma studied Psycholinguistics, (the study of how the brain uses and learns language) and also taught English vocabulary to graduates around the same time. While preparing lessons, he noticed most English words are derived from either Greek or Latin. He began to study the linkages of the two languages to English, deeply. This quickly grew into a passion and formed the beginning of ‘Etymology Education’ and now Logophilia based in Allahabad (U P). Logophilia hopes to reach out to an international audience in the near future. Autar Nehru interviewed Dhruv on this learning concept, and his successful education company.
How did it start really and how did the founding team meet?
Upon the completion of my degree, I travelled to Ireland to study Ancient Classical Latin formally, and founded Logophilia Education on my return. I first pilot tested an Etymology programme at a CBSE school in Allahabad. Deriving encouragement from its success, Logophilia as an organization was registered in the August of 2010. Logophilia has always had a very strong and popular internship programme, even before it was formally registered as an organization. There were a few interns working for the cause of Etymology with me. In due course, a number of interns joined the company professionally and became important members. Of the original interns, some important positions in Logophilia: Kushagra Singh, Amber Sharma, Kay Kay Tiwari, to name some.
What are some of the innovative solutions your company has come up with? Any international collaborations?
Logophilia asserts that the vocabulary of English taught in schools by class XII is a mere fraction, some ten thousand, of the total size of the English vocabulary, which is about a million words. Students are therefore left with a very impoverished vocabulary, which leads to a whole variety of deficiencies and impairments in their learning styles. The most frequent compensatory behavior is that of rote memorization.
Rote memorisation is the problem Logophilia seeks to eradicate. Logophilia helps students understand language in general and vocabulary in particular, in a very logical and systematic fashion. They teach vocabulary through Etymology Education, which involves experiential education, to help children learn how to make and break words. Etymology helps students develop a deep understanding of word meaning, spellings, and pronunciation, all in the same effort. Presently, we are awaiting international collaborations in time for our on-stage Olympiad in November. However, in the past, Logophilia has worked abroad in a few schools in South Dakota, U. S. A. So far working in six states across India (Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Maharashtra Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Bihar) is keeping the company very occupied.
You have conducted workshops, Olympiads etc. across schools and colleges. What is the process of doing these? (From the point of view of someone interested)
We run a number of programmes that cater to different age groups. Our quickest and most fundamental programme is the UNI Workshop, wherein we teach 1000 words in 3 hours, simply by highlighting the relation between Greek and Latin, and English. This programme has been very popular. Our flagship programme is the Fundamental Etymology Workshop (FEW). It is a week long programme in which participants find their learning styles rapidly and significantly improving via a thematic arrangement of Latin and Greek roots. Logophilia also hosts programmes at aimed a college audience, such as the Medical Programme and the Latin for Law programme. Students find it much easier to see through the academic terminology with these two programmes.
Apart from this, we also host communication programmes that give participants training in verbal communication. Schools and colleges interested in our programmes, or wishing to join our War for Words Olympiad can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How do you plan to scale it up?
Logophilia not only teaches Etymology programmes but also writes books and blogs, and entries into a unique online dictionary. Presently, we are engaged in writing the world’s first etymologizing online application, which is called
‘Etymologise’, which is designed to help users break up any word into its logical parts. The intention behind ‘Etymologise’ is to overcome the shortcomings of the regular dictionary, which only manages to impart information on words one at a time. Logophilia aims to provide the service of ‘Etymologise’ to users worldwide. Logophilia organizes the world’s only Etymology based on-stage Olympiad ‘The Logophilia Gala’.
While the Gala currently involves schools from six states in India, the goal is to make the Gala an international ‘War for Words’
- 12 May 2014
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For most of us, the word ‘sandwich’ brings to mind two slices of bread with your favourite childhood filling tucked between them. To Dhruv Raj Sharma and his vibrant team at Logophilia Education Pvt. Ltd. However, the word ‘sandwich’ tells a story about John Montagu (1718-1792), the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. A compulsive gambler, he was so obsessed with the game that even hunger was a secondary thought. When hungry, he’d often put together slices of cold meat and bread instead of ‘wasting time’ eating a whole meal. From this humble beginning came the simple ‘sandwich’.
While we won’t forget that story in a hurry, Dhruv insists that every word has an extraordinary tale to tell. His fascination with words began at the early age of eight, when he dictated manuscripts to his father – a writer – as he typed it out on a typewriter. Later on, his brush with Psycholinguistics – how the brain understands and uses languages – during his post-graduation was when a thought dawned on him. He figured that since there is a so much more than meets the eye in the case of most words, connecting with words was the best way to study anything.
Dhruv started Logophilia Education Pvt. Ltd. in 2010 on a mission to demystify words and make sure that we don’t pre-order vodka when we hear the word ‘isobar’ – a noun that means a line on a map connecting points of equal (-iso in Greek) atmospheric pressure (-bar in Greek).
“Guess-work is one of the ways in which the human brain deals with ambiguity. Whenever we don’t know something, we speculate. If we are doing so much guessing I think our guess-work should be a little more trained and that’s what I do,” says Dhruv to summarise his work.
Rebelling against the ‘one size fits all’ policy that our education system generally imposes, Logophilia has put together a number of programs to suit the needs of colleges, schools and corporates etc. The start-up has travelled across five Indian states to some of the best institutions like IIT (Kanpur, Delhi, Madras), Lady Shri Ram College, St. Stephen’s College and even to two schools in the United States of America.
Dhruv enthralled and educated the 200-strong audience at the recently concluded Logophilia Uni Workshop at Saarang, IIT Madras. His tools of choice – word roots, suffixes, prefixes, stories, bad jokes, etc – were all gainfully employed to make this live performance fun.
Logophilia claims to be the only known English Etymology Education company in the world and if that was not reason enough to celebrate this start-up, Dhruv lures us more towards etymology using the one word that unfailingly works its charm on us all the time- Food!
And that is how we figured that the biscuit we love to dunk in chai has Latin origins from the word (panis) bis coctus or ‘(bread) twice-baked’ indicating that it is cooked twice. Vinegar is derived from the Latin root ‘vin’, which means wine and comes from the preparation process, which includes fermenting ethanol, similar to making wine.
That’s not all, as Dhruv surprises us with more. The delectable pasta we drool over, literally comes from Latin and means ‘dough, paste’ while the Taishan dialect of Chinese brings us Chowmein (‘fried flour’) and the French word mariner lends itself to marinate or ‘to pickle in sea brine’.
With such a rich platter of words, we commend Dhruv’s idea to change the way we look at words and we were left asking for more of both – words and of course, food too!
- 10 May 2014
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