I hear so many people complain that their communication isn’t good or effective. But often, what they actually mean is that they are unable to converse well in English.
Communication in itself is a whole different ball game – and mixing it up with spoken English is the biggest error you can make!
Here, I will be sharing five steps to speak fluent English – and not all of them are easy! But all of them are effective!
1. Learn to hear English and repeat words and sentences as heard
The first step is to stop ‘reading’ English and start ‘hearing’ it. Most Indian languages are ‘sound based’, that is, you hear the word and write it just as it’s pronounced. Here, there’s no concept of ‘confused pronunciations’. In English however, different alphabets can be used to create the same sound. For example, S and C both can represent the sound स (‘see’ vs ‘cease’); K and C both can be used to create the sound क (‘kite’ vs ‘create’).
This causes a lot of angst and issues! So simply stop ‘reading’ English to get the pronunciations right – start ‘hearing’ it. Watch many English serials and movies, and make a note of how the words sound.
Some serials which may be interesting to watch are “Friends”, “How to Get Away with Murder”, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, among many others. In the same vein, some movies that may be interesting to watch are “Spider-Man”, “While You Were Sleeping”, “Superman”, “The Avengers” and others.
Just remember – in India, we are often good at learning things by rote! So, you just have to learn up the sounds of the words used!
2. There are no shortcuts to learning basic English grammar, but there are some ways to ease the pain
Start watching English movies which are classics, which have grammatically-correct English even in their dialogues. And watch each of these movies at least 15 times!
The idea is to get you to learn the dialogues – quite like the way a Shah Rukh Khan fan will problem remembers each dialogue of DDLJ, and also knows what DDLJ means. So, you need to remember the dialogues along with their sentence structures. Again, this isn’t a reading technique, but a listening technique.
In my opinion, the must-see movies in this regard are “The Sound of Music”, “Gone with the Wind”, “Casablanca”, etc. You need to watch each movie in isolation (and without distraction) a minimum of 15 times. By the fifth viewing, if you have been doing this honestly, you should have started remembering all the dialogues. Please don’t stop! Go on till the 15th time to master fluency. Remember how we learned our maths tables in class?
3. The tough part
After learning the dialogues, move back to your Wren and Martin, and try to make sense of why a particular line was spoken. This task should be done only when you have learned all the dialogues. This step shall help you strengthen your logic of why something is being used in a sentence.
Note: Wren and Martin are the authors of an English grammar book.
4. Read, read, read some more and read out aloud to the mirror
Do this only after you have sorted out the pronunciation of words from step 1 above. Do not read before you have sorted your pronunciations. Else, you shall be back to where you started – reading and mispronouncing the words.
5. Start talking to everyone in English
This should be done only after you have completed steps 1, 2 and 3 above.
People may laugh at you for this. People may say that they don’t understand English. In such a case, simply translate your English sentence into the colloquial language. But, do not stop speaking in English out loud! Each person you meet – right from the vegetable vendor and your teacher to the petrol pump attendant – should have heard you speak a minimum of two sentences in English.
These steps may seem easy. But they aren’t. The toughest step is probably step 1 – the one about ‘hearing’ English and not ‘speaking’ it.
However, these are tried and tested methods to learn English the way the West speaks it. Consequently, it will take time. However, the time you invest doing this will give a ‘return’, worth the 16 years of education which you may have already undergone, or are going to undergo.