Wednesday, May 30, 2012

* Boosting Brain Power *

Learning a second language can boost brain power, scientists believe.
The US researchers from Northwestern University say bilingualism is a form of brain training - a mental "work out" that fine-tunes the mind.
Speaking two languages profoundly affects the brain and changes how the nervous system responds to sound, lab tests revealed.
Experts say the work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides "biological" evidence of this.
For the study, the team monitored the brain responses of 48 healthy student volunteers - which included 23 who were bilingual - to different sounds.
They used scalp electrodes to trace the pattern of brainwaves.
Under quiet, laboratory conditions, both groups - the bilingual and the English-only-speaking students - responded similarly.
But against a backdrop of noisy chatter, the bilingual group were far superior at processing sounds.
They were better able to tune in to the important information - the speaker's voice - and block out other distracting noises - the background chatter.

Differences were seen in the brainstem (coloured orange in this picture)

'Powerful' benefits
And these differences were visible in the brain. The bilingualists' brainstem responses were heightened.
Prof Nina Kraus, who led the research, said: "The bilingual's enhanced experience with sound results in an auditory system that is highly efficient, flexible and focused in its automatic sound processing, especially in challenging or novel listening conditions."
Co-author Viorica Marian said: "People do crossword puzzles and other activities to keep their minds sharp. But the advantages we've discovered in dual language speakers come automatically simply from knowing and using two languages.
"It seems that the benefits of bilingualism are particularly powerful and broad, and include attention, inhibition and encoding of sound."
Musicians appear to gain a similar benefit when rehearsing, say the researchers.
Past research has also suggested that being bilingual might help ward off dementia.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

* While Answering It *


 I know it doesn’t suit me much to write about this but I just hope that at least it can help some of the readers out there. Since it’s the final exam fever for IIUM-ers, it suddenly popped out in my mind that I want to try to write something regarding it. Precisely, I will talk about the tips for answering questions and not the tips of studying smart. Lol. This is so not me.

These are just some of the observations I made from what my lecturers used to say to us after they mark our papers. I am not sure whether these tips are applicable for all courses but for IRK students like me, inshaAllah you may try them if you like. :)

Firstly, I remember that Sir Israr Ahmad Khan reminded us to answer the questions as if WE ARE THE LECTURER AND OUR LECTURER IS OUR STUDENT. So try to explain as clear as possible. For example, if the question asks: Give four reasons why sunnah is very important in our lives. Basically we need to explain the meaning of the word sunnah itself first. Then only we can start giving the reasons. Each of our points needs to be elaborated in detail, together with concrete argument from alquran or assunnah (if any) and finally it’s your time to give example to make your explanation more crystal clear. (In order to exercise this tip, it is highly recommended for us to make a study group and try to be the lecturer to our friends. Because sometimes we think we really understand certain topic, but when we were asked to explain about it verbally, no words come out from our mouths. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. That’s what Albert Einstein said!) 

Secondly, BE CRITICAL, especially when you encounter the ‘we never learn this in class!’ type of question. Think out of the box! No need to recall each and every page of your course materials or notes because the answer is not there. Instead; be calm first, then try to really understand what is the relationship between that question with every topic learnt, analyze as much as possible. Think rationally because some lecturers really want us to master the subject thus having the ability to relate it with any questions given. For example, I was once asked this question: Explain the features of Tafsir Imam As Syafie. It really makes me shivered at first because we didn’t cover that topic at all during lectures. Then I tried to remember that Imam As Syafie was a well known scholar in the field of jurisprudence (fiqh). Hence, I wrote what are the possible points regarding jurisprudential tafsir .

Thirdly, sometimes the question is a confusing question, meaning to say that we can’t recognize which topic discusses about it. In order to help us answering such question, try to think about the course outline. Seriously. Remember the LEARNING OUTCOMES part? It actually tells you what the lecturer wants us to benefits from the course. And they need to know whether they succeed to meet their goals of teaching us the course, simply by testing us whether we can grab what they’ve taught us throughout the semester or not. Plus, it is also their responsibility to create exam questions in accordance with the learning outcomes stated there. For example, when I sat for my Language for Occupational Purposes paper, this one question asked us to write an informal letter to our friend who studies oversea. All of us thought it was really a piece-of-cake question. However when we got back our papers, all of us got very bad mark for that question. Then our lecturer explained to us that in order to answer that question correctly, we need to remember the goals of learning that subject and we need to write that informal letter by including all the related stuffs about ‘occupational purposes’, by using the exact related terms. Gosh, I should make a note about my course outline...

Finally, it will be a big help too if we USE OUR LECTURERS’ PHRASES or words in our answers (I mean the words they used when they were explaining the subject to us). It will make the lecturers know that you gave a deep focus during their lessons. And, somehow it will let them to have more pride, knowing that their students really adore their teachings hence the focus and usage. :)

I know some of these tips are very awkward and not familiar to you. Yes, I intentionally did that. I just want to share some points which we might overlook them for all this while. Sorry if they’re totally not applicable. Well, they are just some of my observations and experiences. They don’t work for everybody I guess. By the way, I really hope somehow in some way, this writing can help you a little bit to answer your examinations. Ma’an najah my fellow IIUM friends! :D

p.s.: I really have this one disease; I can’t get over the fact that I am no longer a degree student. I am very obsessed with my degree life. Deal with it, but I till today, I still read my mind-map notes of every subject, my calendars for each semester, my little notebooks about anything during degree, as well as my marked mid semester’s papers. Weirdo. Yes I am.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

* We Were Once Just Like Them *


Having a baby really teaches me a lot about adult. It reminds me things we as adult sometimes tend to forget. Nothing very significant, it's just that I feel like sharing what I experienced and noticed throughout my 11 months of breathing with a baby beside me.

* Babies really need to be pampered and comforted especially when they are physically hurt. The hourly flowing tears without comfort and caress from mommy will eventually makes them grow up with no empathy towards others. Yes, a research regarding this matter has been conducted and it is proven that it is very vital for babies to not to be left crying alone for a long period of time. So what does it has to with adult? One thing I notice, everybody really needs to be pampered when they are hurt. Even if it's just a shoulder, a hug, or a look saying that "I know, I really understand your pain..." And i guess people who suffered from pain, without being comforted, their heart will eventually grow stronger. Or sometimes it becomes harder, especially if the sadness is attached with revenge and hostility.

* Babies wake up from sleep and immediately will look for the most important 'thing' for them; mommy. They will cry when mommy is nowhere to be seen. Exactly like us, I think most of us wake up from sleep and straight away will check our handphones, the most vital part of our lives nowadays. Some of us will look for our spouses, whether they are still beside us or gone somewhere. And some better people will start their day by remembering Allah first, which is to recite the du'a after waking up, perform the wudhu' and pray.

* Being loved and needed 24 hours by your baby will somehow makes you feel great. Love is indeed a sacred blessing from Allah. And as for us, we really long to feel needed, wanted, and loved especially by someone we care about.

* When we have babies, it will trigger us to present only the best for them, and always to look good in front of them. Same thing goes to adult. We always want to be the candy in the eyes of the people we love. It's a good thing isn't it? To have someone that inspired our soul to keep doing the best we could.

After all, babies are human being just like us. So the way they communicate with others is of no difference with us, except they are cuter. ;) But there's a difference between their tears and our tears. Guess what?

Babies cried out loud to seek attention and asking for comfort, meanwhile adult cried silently, though deep in their hearts, they really want someone that notices their sadness and heart that understands their devastated feelings.

Just my 2 cents.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

* The Vow*


There are times in life where we keep vowing to ourselves that we will change to be better only after we reach certain phase of our lives. Some hearts might whisper:

"I'll wear hijab once I've performed my hajj..."

"I'll stop doing this bad habit after I am married..."

"I'll become a good muslimah after I become a wife..."

"I'll do taubah when I reach 40..."

and the list goes on...

Those are good intentions carved in heart, but, sometimes when we already reached the phase that "we've been waiting" for to do the change, we notice that we are still the same person as before, perhaps, worse! Unfortunately there are also people who don't even reach the 'target' because Allah invited them to move to another world before they could prove that they can be better or able leave their sins behind.

So, maybe it's important for us to keep have it in my mind, that the best time to change to be better (or to repent) is NOW.

Before it's too late.