I Just thought of writing this today because this question which I’m going to discuss in this article is getting asked to me by lot of students/Juniors/Friends and my Colleagues since last few weeks, mostly those who have just started their MBA journey or corporate career and those who are beginners/people from vernacular mediums.
I thought of writing this as I cannot attend everyone because of a hectic schedule.
(IF YOU ARE ALREADY GOOD ENGLISH SPEAKER/ GOOD AT SPEAKING ENGLISH THEN YOU MAY CHOOSE TO SKIP THIS)
The Question is…
“HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY ENGLISH/SPOKEN ENGLISH?”
Whenever a person asks me this question I usually laugh and reply back with, “You are asking this question to that person whose English is just pathetic/bad.”
When I say this, people either gives me a very weird look or starts laughing and say that if you don’t want to help then don’t help but don’t act like a student from a class who says I never study and still scores 90%+.
Then I laugh when they say this and give/shares my hacks.
But let me tell you very honestly, my English is not that great, so you may find a lot of grammatical errors in this article too. So, I hope you will bear with me!
I’m still learning and working towards building and improving my English as I fall short of words while speaking and sometimes my grammar goes very wrong.
THEN WHY DO PEOPLE STILL ASK ME THIS QUESTION?
I’m basically from a Marathi medium school but the fun fact is I sometimes tell/suggest English medium people/students how they can improve and speak English fluently when they ask me the same question.
👆Now why did I mention this here? To brag? To show-off? NO! Then? Just to tell you that English has nothing to do with you being an English medium or Marathi or some other medium student.
It’s definitely true that English medium students are at more profit/Advantage of course because of their backgrounds and they have been speaking and practicing it since a very long time but even if you start now, trust me you’re still not late!
NOW WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
People say I’m very bad at English. No! You are not bad at English, it’s just that you just do not get enough room/circle/environment/friends to practice your English with.
WRONG WAYS TO START IMPROVING YOUR ENGLISH ACCORDING TO ME
Reading the Newspaper and learning 5 new words daily!!😛
Now don’t take me in a wrong way but I generally laugh and do not follow this. Because some people think it’s enough to do this and then complain that I read a lot but still my English doesn’t get improved.
I’m not against Newspaper reading/Novel Reading and not saying that you should stop it but you should do it to as a supplementary thing to enhance your knowledge and build a good vocabulary. You should definitely read more and more novels, newspapers, articles, blogs etc. every day but,
Tell me one thing…
How did you learn your Mother tongue? By reading newspaper? 😛 By writing down 5 new words every day when you were 2 to 3 years old?? No, right?
You actually learned it by listening and then speaking it on a regular basis, at times you did fumble but your parents or grandparents corrected you and that’s how you improved.
1) LISTEN, READ AND SPEAK
Watch YouTube videos, English Netflix series and While watching those listen carefully what and how they speak and read the subtitles.
By doing this you will understand how particular word you’re supposed to pronounce and how and where particular line/statement you’re supposed to use. When you do not understand particular sentence, do stop there, go back or pause the video and read the line/sentence again and again till you get it. Also, understand the way they say it, tone, pace etc.
2) USE THE LINES/SENTENCES ALREADY SPOKEN BY OTHERS
As I said if you go to Learn English as a Subject then you will never ever learn it. You speak particular sentence in a particular way because you hear someone saying the same, you brain then Accepts the fact that if he/she is saying it then it would definitely be correct.
When I used to call someone at the wrong time, I generally didn’t know what to say and how to ask if they are okay to talk at that particular time.
When I was watching Money Heist there was a scene where a Berlin (Character) calls somebody at the wrong time and asks, “Hello ma’am, I’m so sorry for calling at this hour. Is it a good time to talk?” Aah… sounds cool, right? Then why not to use it when you come across the similar situation like this? Do not watch videos and Web-series just for the purpose of entertainment. Learn from it and use it accordingly. I generally use this sentence or line when I call my boss/professors at odd timings or when I’m not sure if they are okay to talk at this time.
3) NOTICE OTHERS WHEN THEY SPEAK/TALK
Noticing someone and analysing them is an art. Whenever a person speaks fluently, we just say wow I wish I could talk like him/her but we generally fail to analyse what they do and how they do. If you really want to be like a fluent English speaker like some of your colleagues then you should notice and analyse how they speak and what they speak. If you concentrate on how they speak, you will generally understand when to be louder and when to be soft while speaking and if you notice what they speak, then that helps like what I mentioned in tip no. 2.
Initially while giving the presentations I didn’t know what to say when moving from one slide to another slide or while handing it over to another colleague for his or her turn.
I notice someone speaking and using lines such as “Moving ahead with the next slide, in the next slide and Over to you XYZ/my friend XYZ will explain you the next slides” etc. So, I used the same.
4) LISTEN TO YOUR OWN VOICE
If you’re a beginner always remember that it is very much important for you to hear your own voice. Whenever I give presentations, most of the times I download the recording of my lecture and listen to my own voice being a third person which helps me knowing where did I fumble, where I made a mistake or if I had said a particular sentence wrong then it could’ve been said like this etc. The presentation part was for online students but if the recording option is not available then record your own voice (In English) and listen to it. Then change your tone, pronunciations and accent accordingly.
5) PRACTICE BOTH IN COMFORT and OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Speak English even if it is not necessary.
If I ask you to stand in front of a crowd of say for 100 people and ask you to say How are you all then you will definitely say it. Why? It’s so easy and you have been practicing it from a very long time, you are confident about it that you won’t go wrong, you won’t fumble. But if I ask you to stretch it to a speech then you will probably never reply me with yes, I will do it.
Surround yourself with people who speak English but speak English also when you’re with non-English speakers, do it even when they are not interested. It will boost your confidence.
6) DON’T OVERTHINK and DON’T HESITATE
Do not overthink or stress yourself because of what people will think about me if I speak wrong English. Trust me, we are not in a 10th grade where people make fun and laugh of each other. Nowadays people do understand and have accepted the fact that English is just a language and not the certificate of Excellence. They do understand that people are from different backgrounds and not everyone gets enough room/environment to practice and not everyone is familiar with English language.
It’s ok to be bad at English but it’s not ok not to improve it.
And even if someone laughs at you, let them.
They are anyway going to do it and this is something which is not in your hand and you cannot control it. So, remember that you are at no loss.
7) SPEAK CONFIDENTLY EVEN WHEN YOU KNOW YOU ARE WRONG
Speak English confidently even if you are speaking it wrong/even if you are going wrong.
This is a secret hack/tip which was suggested to me by my Office-trainer Sneha when I was working with WIPRO LTD.
Now here, she is not promoting that you should speak wrong English but the thing/fact is that no one is perfect at speaking English. Everyone makes mistakes but when you show it on your face and voice then people do notice it otherwise sometimes, they don’t. So, even if you know you are speaking wrong, speak confidently and later work on it and improve it.
8) HAVING AN EGO is GOOD
Play the Ego games sometimes. The reason my English is little good is because when I was in 10th grade, some of my friends always used to make fun of me and my English. Some of them were really good at it, so, I used to think and ask myself that Why I cannot speak like them? I always compare myself with few others like why I cannot speak English like them, why I cannot speak fluently like her or him. Comparing yourself with others is not a good idea but sometimes it helps.
It sets you on fire to improve your own self.
9) PARTICIPATE IN MORE ACTIVITIES and WORK with MNC’s
Work experience always help as you come across various activities, tasks and different kinds of people who teaches you a lot and also you learn how to deal with different kinds of people. People generally tells me that I did not/will not/cannot participate in this or that Activity or competition because I cannot speak English. You should actually participate because you do not know how to speak English. When you participate in such activities you learn, even if you fail you still get experience and your confidence levels increases. If you start participating then with the increasing experience and learning, you wouldn’t think twice before appearing in such activities next time.
10) USE THE INTERNET WISELY
Internet is a great source of valuable resources. Trust me there are plenty of resources available on the internet about how you can improve and speak English fluently. There are plenty of videos available on grammar, phrases to use, when to you ‘could have, should have’ etc. Use those videos to correct your grammar and vocabulary. Watch the interviews of actor, actresses, businessmen, politicians etc. and learn and note how do they speak, how do they respond and their tone and pronunciations while speaking.
11) KEEP IT SIMPLE AND SPEAK SLOWLY
You do not always need to speak English as others do. If you are a beginner, always start slow. Do not try to use heavy English words and sentences if you are not confident about it. When I used to fumble, Anil, my office-trainer always used to tell me that, Speak slow and simple. This makes you go smooth and the chances of fumbling and getting stuck while speaking are low. Many people face this issue that they cannot speak English because they fail to frame the right sentence required at the right time. For this you first need to go slow so that your brain/mind will get enough time to frame the sentence and you will not fumble. Do not always try to think in Mother tongue and then convert it in English, sometimes it will work but it won’t work always. You need to think and speak in English only, so work on it likewise.
12) SEEK HELP FROM OTHERS
Last but not the least, do not hesitate to seek help from others those who are good at speaking a good English. Ask them if they can help you improve your English and if they can practice it with you.
When I was working with WIPRO LTD, I was working for US client. I generally used to get scared while speaking in the weekly meetings with Off-shore team. I discussed this concern with my manager. To be honest, I was very lucky because my manager was really very good. He used to guide me a lot and He already knew that that I’m going to go for MBA. His name is Sanil. In the One-O-One meeting when I discussed this with him, he simply said,
“GET EXPOSED NOW, INSTEAD OF GETTING EXPOSED LATER, YOU ARE ANYWAY GOING TO GET EXPOSED SOMEDAY.”
Now understand this👆
Lot of people fear to speak English thinking that what others will think but trust me you cannot hide for long. So, instead of regretting it later, get exposed. Feel bad. Get embarrassed but come out of this fear and work on it right away.
Later I always used to seek help from my Team leaders/members (Sneha, Ronisha, Anil, Abhilash, Emma etc.) to assist and help me in improving my English and to practice my English with. The reason I mentioned their names is because they supported me a lot. So, there are people out there who will always help you, guide you and push you if you ask for it. Also, remember that when you seek help from someone, always accept and respect them when they correct you when you are/go wrong.
Just do not sit silent and expect that the other people will come and push you towards your goals. That’s not going to happen for sure, unless you do.
In case, if you do not know this then let me tell you I’m the CR of my class and also the member of college LinkedIn committee. For me it is always necessary to speak and communicate with Professors on a daily basis.
In a meeting with Professors, Presentations, regular lectures and even in the meetings with the Director sir I fumbles a lot and even at times I speak wrong English but the only difference is, I do not let this embarrassment turn myself into a quiet or silent person. I keep moving. I keep exploring the ways to speak English differently. I try to improve. Remember, the more you try the more you will learn and understand.
“Speaking broken or wrong English is still far better than not trying at all, not working on it and not speaking English at all.”
The changes will definitely not happen overnight but I hope you will follow this and I hope this helps.
Enjoy the process.
God bless you all!!
(If any constructive feedbacks do let me know)
P.S.- To be honest, I’m still trying to improve my English. 😛