Speaking English

Looks like I am having trouble finding topics to write on, isn’t it?

Why should I write about English language?

If someone speaks impeccably in the English language (or in any non-native language), that shows his or her determination to excel in corporate or even inter=personal communication, when the need arises. Speaking well in English without mistakes (and writing) constitute a critical business requirement.

Most youngsters do not understand the need for excellent English speaking skills, as they have probably grown up in a non-English speaking environment and the opportunity to speak English has been rather limited. I observed that even in Secondary Schools in Mumbai, the sound of English is not heard much. Almost everyone converses in a local language or Hindi.

There is no problem with that, but English is not something one can learn as a standard school subject, pass the exams, and then consider oneself as an “English Speaker”.

Constant interaction is required to improve one’s English skills, and reading English literature is not necessarily the best way to learn excellent English speaking skills. I constantly communicate in English both in office and home environments, and have consistently seen that the other employees or even outsiders strive to improve themselves in the language of the business world. Even at home, it helps to avoid misunderstanding (!) and clarity of thought. Obviously, it looks like I am not a big supporter of native languages, but that is not true.

I speak in my mother tongue only where it is needed and where it would have a big impact.

Languages, in today’s context, need to display their “economic” value. So, languages which have kept up with business and commerce, as well as arts and theatre, have tended to prosper more. Clearly, English is the language of world commerce and business.

If that is so, then there exists a clear need for excelling in it. I don’t think the schools do a great job of teaching English, as almost all teachers have been schooled in a native language medium in most Indian schools. Yes, they do speak good English, but teaching English with an objective of speaking exceedingly well, rather than doing just an English Composition, is a rather difficult task. Given that audio tools are not that widely used in schools, one needs to look at things like iPAD or smartphone tools to learn the art of speaking a foreign language like English.

It is surely a foreign language for all of us, but it is the one which is required for business and inter-personal success as one interacts with the world at large.

I am sure this argument is going to have detractors, but so be it. Welcome dissent.


Vijay Srinivasan
30th September 2012


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