When I came out of high school, I could not communicate in English even though my medium of instruction at school was in English. I thought I could make amends but the situation remained more or less the same when the same me came out of College and landed a job as an instructor. When I started giving instructions , it was then I came to know that I was a below average speaker and needed to bring the level of fluency to a level where my students didn’t get frustrated or dozed off so much so, that they fell off their chairs.
To cut a long story short, here is my recipe for fluent communication in the English Language for those whom it is not the native language. It should work out for other languages too, but then English is a language which you hear often but have trouble speaking when the need arises…
1. You should have a good reading base.
If you never had any affinity for reading, this is the right time to catch up with whatever time you have lost in the bygone years. A strong vocabulary will come to your rescue when you started speaking in sentences, otherwise you could never frame a sentence without a lot of conjunctions in between. The poorer your choice of words or the scarcity of the right word, you would start sprinkling if’s and buts & and’s more than the amount of pepper in a soup. I don’t have to tell you where you would land..
2. What should you read?
Read the newspaper or pick up any book on any subject that might interest you. It could be on the Arts, pure science, religion or even Humanity. I am sure there would be one or a couple of subjects that might interest you..
Is there any rule to read a book so that my communication improves?
Yes there is. You are not going to read the book or the newspaper at least in this context to memorize it. You are going to read the book fast, slow and loud (not necessarily in that order) so that your articulation of words and training your tongue on how to pronounce words becomes easier. Loud reading is a must for you to be a good communicator. Read some paragraphs of the book loudly as if you are reading to a small crowd that has gathered to see what is wrong with you. Silent reading for an hour is also important as that helps the brain to store them somewhere up there.
3. Why can’t I learn new words and improve upon my vocabulary rather than reading a book?
Good question but honestly reading a book helps you not only to understand the meaning of most of the words automatically based on the context in which they were used and fitted, but also to reproduce them the same way whenever such contexts arise in your communication. How does this work you might ask? Don’t worry, your brain takes care of it, you need to just do the reading part. Sometimes you switch to a fast gear of reading some paragraphs, so that you can talk fast when you are in a situation where you might get only a minute to explain what happened in an incident ( or an accident) before you pass out. Also check up on those words that acted as speed breakers, this means you are not confident on them, hearing it for the first time or do not understand their meaning. An online dictionary helps with their meaning and how they should be pronounced.
4. Ok the reading part is going on, what next?
The reading part has to be a continuous exercise like the one you do at the Gymnasium in case you want to remain fit in communication. The next step, jokes apart, you have to start communicating now…
5. Who is going to be my audience? And what Topic should I select?
Ok let us put it this way. There is a small dummy invisible group of people who have assembled in your bedroom wanting and waiting to hear from you on the book you have just read. You do not have to blurt out everything you have read, but can tell them a summary on what the book was all about. Wait a minute. If this sounds scaling or climbing the Himalayas, let us make a small note of it on paper. Go through the main points and once you are confident, it is time to face the group. If you can give some 5 to 10 speeches to such an invisible audience, then you are ready to face your close friends who would like to listen how you have improved on your communication levels.
6. When you start speaking, always know that it would turn out to be interactive.
Which also means that the sort of preparation that you did for your dummy audiences won’t help. It has to be more of a dynamic talk with your friends. Ask them to be a bit patient with you in your trials of surmounting your hurdles. Instead of using your native language for day to day talk, supplement your talk using English.
7. Start listening too…
Switch on your Television and let news channels in English take at least half an hour of your siesta at home. It would be good to listen to the BBC or the CNN or any such native channels in English, so that you know and learn how to pronounce words correctly as you hear them right from the horses mouth as they say…
8. When I start speaking, to whom can you speak?
Start speaking to yourself first silently. For example, narrate to yourself the entire events of yesterday at work or at home and see where you stumble in your silent talk. Imagine yourself being the expert commentator of a cricket or a football match and let go of what ever emotions you think of the rascals on the ground making mockery of the game and the nation they represent..
9. Changing your notes.
Once you have gained ground on your silent speaking, you can switch to a more resonant audible note, yet not strong enough to attract attention. It can be a murmur which you can practise while travelling or commuting as they say or while you are just standing for that idiot friend of yours for the past one hour with still no sign or sight of him or her …
I understand that all this won’t happen in a day. It may take at least a few months before you are confident of yourself to be a good communicator and once you are confident enough having practiced all that has been written above, please let me know by Email so that I can send a certificate to you 🙂
Just to list some of the hurdles below that keep you from communicating in English. My humble suggestion would be to kick all of these to the nearest bin and out of your mind.
1. My Grammar is poor.
2. What would others think of me when they hear me out?
Let others think of you or have perceptions based on when they hear you. Let them see your progress and then commend or comment. Be steady, calm and sustained in your efforts to get there.
Your grammar should improve faster once you start communicating because somewhere at the back of your mind and based on the amount of pages that you have read so far (especially if the books had been well written), your brain immediately tries to correct you as you speak, first slowly and then On Demand as you gain in confidence…
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Try and Try till you succeed is a good punch line aimed at school goers..but the punches are so forceful that students duck for cover..The difference between a champion in academics and an average grader can always be pinpointed to practice, talent and interest. Like the hare and the tortoise story, an average student can come close to beating a topper with consistent practice…but the question is will they last till the end (read success) without motivation..
At school, we have people who are invited as guests who lecture on the importance of studying, getting good grades allowing them to choose the best universities and so the saga continues..but looking from the student’s perspective, what motivates him or her to perform is what we are going to look here in this post…
Let us look at some simple facts here…
1. I get motivated as my teachers bestow praise upon me.
2. I get motivated when girls and guys look up to me for help in studies.
3. I get motivated if my teachers regard me as their right hand in helping them out.
4. I get motivated if only my teachers could motivate me relating studies to my favorite sport.
5. If only, teachers could spend or devote some time maybe an average of an hour as to see how am I progressing and where I need correction and spell that out to me on a weekly basis.
6. If only, my parents sat with me and saw how am practicing for my exams, instead of just saying, GO and STUDY!
7. If only we friends could group together and have competitions fixed for half an hour to assess our level of understanding on the subject or chapter that was taught in the last class.
8. If only my Headmaster or the Principal knew my skills personally..
9. If only they could give me due recognition as an individual and treat me as potential athlete at a sports academy.
10. If we had monthly motivating sessions that could lift us from slumber or polish us up on lagging skills in certain subjects.
In a nutshell, motivation means all of the above and more…If my teachers knew my academic strengths and weaknesses and could sit down with me to iron these out, I know I can get inspired to excel…
We all step into our careers before we can think of it and then starts a never ending story of experiences before we finally decide and call it a day and retire. In the 30 years of our working tenure maybe with one firm and several departments or with several firms, we enrich our experiences with what we absorb from each of these firms. We tend to become busy so much so with work and with our family when we get home so that we tend to overlook one fact and that is ourselves. Did we set any Goals where you wanted to be when you retired?
Chart out your Personal Milestones on a yearly basis
We create milestones, deadlines to our projects and strive to execute them in the best ways possible but we forget to set some realistic milestones to our own personal career graphs and rectify defects/shortcomings in our personality. We overlook our shortcomings, some ignore them and some behave in such a way as if no shortcomings exist. Taking a honest opinion about ourselves is always what we try to put-off. If only we could have polished our personality, our skill set, had a look at the industry as to what it expected of us, the changing trends and how we strove hard to meet the demands, we could have been in better positions than what we are today.
If Only I had….
When we start our career we always feel, Oh !! if only I had put in more hours to my studies I would have got good grades which would have come in handy while applying for jobs. When we are towards the end of the career we again get the same feeling, if only I had put in a few hours in my spare time to pick up new technologies, if only I had learnt how to manage Time so that I always had some time left to do certain things which I could not have done otherwise, I would have been in a much better position by now. I could have taken an early retirement so that i could do the things I always dreamt of doing…
Keep a Role Model
There are times we get into a depressed mood. A depression can set in any time due to several factors. At this time a biography of a personality or following what a role model did in adversity would help you to charge your batteries and move forward. The rule is Do not get bogged down by Depression. This will slow down the path of progress.
Make those little sacrifices
A few people use this technique of increasing their will power to achieve a certain thing in their lives. Like, I will forsake sugar in my tea at home till i get a Certification or for some … I won’t enter a movie/cinema house again till I learn how to kick off my smoking habit. By making the spirit crave for a certain thing till a conscious condition is met would keep the means of achieving that condition alive in your subconscious mind.
Increase your Willpower
Come what may I am going to achieve this in life and no factors would either stop me or slow me down.