“I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English, because English is a funny language. Bhairon becomes barren and barren becomes Bhairon because their minds are very narrow…”
This popular dialogue from the movie, Namak Halal brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. Besides the entertainment value, it puts succinctly the obsession of Indians with spoken English. Everyone we know wants to talk English, walk English and laugh English.
The debate about westernization aside, English in this country is more a skill than just a language. It has emerged as the primary mode of communication across India also because of the diverse linguistic spread. If one wishes to excel in the professional world, communication in English is imperative.
As a professional communications trainer, I come across multiple requests from qualified Engineers who are still struggling in the corporate world, owing to the lack of effective communication skills. They tell me the inability to speak fluently in the English language affects their work, confidence and chances of success.
More often than not, my students’ primary desire is to be able to speak fluent English. My students range from regular college going kids to working professionals. All of them are looking to groom themselves and believe working on their speaking skills is the first step. I most definitely agree.
Based on experience with the students, I am sharing some of the key points that can help in this direction:
- Listen: A friend of mine visited her doctor with the concern that her child was two years old and had not started to talk. The doctor advised her to talk to the kid as much as possible. Just like babies, adults also grasp by listening. Think of all possible avenues of listening.
- Read: I once trained a student who had good command over grammar but could not complete his sentences. We together worked on building his vocabulary. This is not to say that I made me memorize the dictionary. I assigned him reading comprehensions. Reading develops the ability to understand the rules that makes sentence structuring easy.
- Speak: People often complain that they hesitate to talk in English for the fear of making a fool of themselves. My advice to such students is to create a small friends circle, the ones they are most comfortable with. Talk to your bunch in English. Send out those long text messages in English. In driving lingo – unless I take my car out for a ride, I will not know where I need to improve.
- Think in English: Many students break their sentences unevenly while speaking and use fillers like aaa. This shows the speaker is trying to translate thoughts he had in his native tongue into English. Stop this practice. Think in English. Start with a simple morning routine, while you are in bed think about your day and plan in English. All this is in your head, so no fear being judged. Simple!
- See and learn: The mechanical way of learning grammar rules and then doing an exercise can get boring. I suggest my students watch English news channels, if politics and sports interest them. If you are looking to pass time casually tune on to F.R.I.E.N.D.S and laugh it away while learning.
- Fluency training: A technique of working on your fluency is using mirrors. Give yourself a topic and practice speaking it out loud in front of it. You will be able to judge yourself best. One can also try image training, for instance you are waiting to place an order at a restaurant, practice what you will tell the waiter in your head before making a call. Remember how they show in cinema, love struck nervous guys in front of a mirror with a rose, practicing how to approach a girl. Use it now.
If you have done all of this and imagine yourself to be a pro at English speaking, I will leave you with these fun lines with you to twist your tongues:-
“How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would
if a woodchuck could chuck wood.”