Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Professor Mangaement Studies
Training, Motivational Speaker, Writing,
Zia Ahasan Rana
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At the outset let me tell you that the problem you have shared, is quite commonly encountered by many people.
To learn any language you have to first understand the rules of grammar of that language. This will enable you to think, speak and express yourself correctly in that language. To be an expert you will have to expand your vocabulary and keep learning new words, phrases, idioms, proverbs etc. So initially you must focus on the grammar and this may take some time. The English language has many exceptions to the normal rules of language which makes it complex. The good part about English is that unlike many other languages all inanimate (non-living) things are neutral gender so you do not have to by heart the gender of various inanimate objects.
It is essential also to remember that for anything you do in life, a clear goal /vision, adequate motivation / enthusiasm, hard work / discipline and the ability to take risks/ challenges are critical attributes. What you also require are the key attributes called 'discipline' and 'enthusiasm' with which you can achieve anything you want.
Your enthusiasm is the reason you wrote in to us. The next test is to be disciplined and follow the suggestions given here.
1. My first suggestion is to read ALOUD as much as possible matter from English books/ magazines / newspapers. Pretend you are a news reader and attempt to read a news broadcast. A standard daily English Newspaper and the Readers Digest have very good reading material. If possible record your voice and listen to it to know the areas the sounds, words and alphabets that give you trouble and on which you need to work. If possible read aloud to a friend who can give you his/ her feedback based on which you can work on improving your pronunciation as well as articulation.
2. The mother tongue influence is a problem for many considering that very few of us are native English speakers. To reduce that, make more English speaking friends and make a determined effort to speak only in English, even if you keep forgetting words, or tend to stammer or your friends tend to laugh at you. This will require a lot of will power but believe me you will soon improve. If someone corrects your pronunciation donít take offense, instead be grateful that he/ she is helping you correct yourself.
3. I would also suggest you try to learn at least 3 -5 new words each day and look up the meaning in a dictionary. Then try and use these words in your daily work and in your communication to improve your vocabulary. Find synonyms for words that give you trouble and use the synonyms where ever possible.
4. You must also try and write at least a page (or 300 words) everyday. You can maintain a dairy of your daily happenings or write on varied topics or write a letter to the editor about a social issue or even attempt film review. If you can share what you write with someone who has strong English language skills and who is willing to correct what you write, take the effort and get your writing corrected. Writing will strengthen your thinking skills, your ability to express coherently and logically and most of all enable you to identify the mistakes you make.
5. If you still feel that professional help is needed then you will have to attend English speaking classes
6. Finally, if you can, do visit my blogs listed below regularly and try to learn the new words in it and also be inspired by it. Try to read the blog content aloud and you can be sure it will be worthwhile since the blogs have a good response from the readers.
You may refer to earlier post on the same topic here:
I would like to add my opinion that read English Newspapers daily, Especially "The Hindu". And also try to find out meanings of 10 difficult words in a day which is there in the newspaper. Try to use those words in proper context, This will in turn improve a lot of English, if its continuously practiced for 8-12 months, definitely English will be easy.
Subject comes up for discussion after every 6-8 months. You may click the following links. These are the replies given me or by other seniors:
If you want to learn a language, listen to it. Listen to conversations, interviews, short films and plays on YouTube.
If you want to read, then read comic books, story books and easy books first. May be at a later stage you can switch over to the newspaper.
Improving Communication Skills
Every time we lament about the employability skills of the students passing out from colleges and we all know that communication is the main component of the Employability Skills. Many colleges go for an English lab or conduct workshops by English Professors to enhance the communication. But are English professors the best communicators?
For having the right communication (For employment it is taken as English), basically three things are required.
Vocabulary in the particular language
Ability to get the right word at the right time- the apt word.
Most of these things can be acquired by oneself in this era of technology without much difficulty. Based on my decade experience and experiments as an MBA teacher, I have the following solutions for the same.
Self Confidence: Please write in a diary about your goals in a detailed manner. Edit it and make it as crisp as possible. On any day when you are in your best mood, put on your best clothes and then record both audio and Video about your goals in your cell phone. Today most students have cell phone with camera. Make the recordings for at least 5 minutes and can go up to maximum of 20 minutes. Please see and listen with earphone just before going to bed and first thing after getting from bed for a month. You can see it in between also if you want. The idea here is (1) for every individual the best voice is one‚Äôs own and best image is one‚Äôs own and we are trying to improve ourselves. When we do this for days and months together, our mind becomes more oriented towards our goal and we are sure to reach the same. Always give positive messages. You can revise the video recordings once in a while to make it more focused. You can continue to listen to this for months together and you will definitely see the change of a positive you emerging from you.
Vocabulary: For a person to be fluent, one needs to have a vocabulary of around 3000 to 3500 words. Most of us know at least 1000 to 1500 words. So what we need immediately to increase it to 3000 words. For which we can start learning say 5 words daily which would make us to learn more than 1800 words by the end of the year. For this we can do the following (1) Read a newspaper or news feed and mark unknown words, look up dictionary and master the word by making a sentence of using that word. Website like Amulyam (http://www.amulyam.in/vocabulary.do ) etc gives you 15 words daily. You can use that also.
Getting the Right word at the right time: This can happen only with practice
(1) Reading: Make it a practice to read at least 1000 words daily. The more you can read the better.
Make Video recording of your reading of the newspaper etc for a minimum of 5 minutes daily and please listen to the same to find out where you can improve the pronunciation, your gestures etc. You can take help from your close friends and family members for the same.
(2)Speaking: Use every opportunity available to communicate with your friends/ and even strangers and you will find that you shyness to communicates just evaporate and you are able to get the right word for most of the time.
(3) Writing: Allocate 10 to 15 minutes daily to record the days events and write using the new words learnt about the events that took place or even a short story or article etc.
(4) Getting Feedback on the above three from well-wishers and friends so that you can improve.
If you continue these three steps I can assure you that your communication would improve immensely and then you will be able to achieve all your goals
This is an extract form the forthcoming book ‚ÄúFrom zero to Hero‚ÄĚ of Dr Ramakrishnan who is a research oriented teacher by passion. You can see his profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/drramakrishnan. Please give your valuable feedback by way of comments . Thank you in advance for reading the post.
You have written that "The language we use in newspapers is very different from the everyday language that we use in conversations.".
This is blanket statement. Newspaper language may be "very" different however, it depends on the level of the person with whom you talk to. Overall newspaper language is quality language and if we want to improve quality of or our spoken language, we must have quality reading as well. Output is directly proportional to the input, let us not forget this axiom.
It is not even a question of reading newspaper alone. While reading, we must keep dictionary besides us and keep on increasing our vocabulary. After reading the article news story, we must analyse it by paragraph and understand what was the central idea, what was the sequence of the thought, how author or columnist has given supporting examples, has he/she used specific words to emphasise the point, idioms and phrases used etc. When we do this for the years together, we will be able to improve our language, whether spoken or written.
Reading newspapers teaches us formal language. Now a days the biggest problem is people do not understand the difference between formal and informal language. Informal language not just crept in our conversation on written communication but we are deeply immersed in it. Those who have groomed at high level, they never accept this informal language and they frown at them.
In the last 10 years, I could get about five per cent of my business because of the quality of English or language.
For Supriya: - You have recommended reading "The Hindu" but it is generally considered as pensioners' newspaper. In contrast, I find that Times of India's language has far more punch. Their editorials are witty compared with the bland style of "The Hindu". Of course it is personal choice. You will also find quality language in "The Economist", "The Indian Express", "India Today" and above all "Filmfare".