Nowadays, practically everyone needs to be fluent in spoken English to succeed in career, business and life. Rightly so, for English is the fourth most widely spoken language of the world.
Your fluency in spoken English will determine your future prospects. Large companies hire staffs that are fluent in spoken English only.
Additionally, you need to speak English, or at least write well, while communicating for your business.
Furthermore, you require excellent knowledge of reading English and comprehending words.
Why do we need to improve spoken English?
Admittedly English is the world’s fourth most popular language since it trails behind Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua), Hindi and Spanish.
However, a majority of important text books and study material available around the world are written in English.
However, English is the lingua franca of the cyber world. Meaning, over 70 percent of all websites on the Internet are in English.
Nearly 55 percent of Internet users searched for websites in English, according to a report compiled by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Actually, these figures could be much higher, researchers claim.
English is the medium of instruction of choice at every reputed university, whose degrees are honored worldwide. English is the main language for banking and financial transactions.
Further, English is also the language most widely used in the world of medicine, engineering, law, IT and lots more.
Importance of spoken English
As we have seen, English is indeed very important for our daily lives. However, the most vital linguistic skill we all require is spoken English. Meaning, we need excellent skills to speaking verbally in English.
The better we communicate, the higher our chances of success at studies, work or business.
Generally, most of us learn spoken English during schooldays. In India, for example, English can be selected as the medium of instruction at school.
However, in schools where English is not used a medium of instruction, it can be taken as second or sometimes, third language.
The primary reason we accord such high importance to English is:
- The Constitution of India is authored in English.
- All Indian laws including the Indian Penal Code and Indian Civil Code are penned in English. However, this was inevitable since they were written by erstwhile British rulers.
- English remains the official language at banks, stock exchanges, financial institutions of India. Though other languages are used, English reigns supreme.
- National language Hindi is not widespread across India despite being accorded the status since August 15, 1947, due to various reasons. However, English is spoken widely in all regions of this country.
- Scriptures of every major religion in India are available in English because of high demand.
- India’s currency, the Indian Rupee, prominently displays features such as value ad issuer in English.
- Additionally, Indian passports feature English on its cover and other pages.
- A majority of job applications and interviews are conducted in English.
- Major initiatives of the Indian government including Skill India, Digital India and Make In India use English as the primary language. Hence, to benefit from these, you require great English language skills.
- Higher study courses including medicine, engineering, management, law, architecture and design, IT is mostly available in English.
Problems in learning English
Mainly, our own inhibitions and reluctance prevent us from learning English. Generally, students of English-medium school have better spoken English skills. Sadly, they are reluctant to speak English outside schools. Consequently, they lose practice vital to develop excellent spoken English skills and develop vocabulary. Understandably, parents of some students are unable to converse fluently in English. Hence, thousands of students shun English speaking at home and with friends. Inadvertently, they miss fail to develop spoken English skills acquired at schools. India’s state-run primary education system relies heavily on indigenous or native languages of the place.
Hence, whatever English is taught at such schools, does not impart sufficient skills for students to pursue English practice further. Generally, schools with English as medium of instruction are expensive compared to those where regional or native languages are used.
Unfortunately, a misplaced sense of nationalism and baseless fears in learning foreign languages deters thousands of people from English learning . They falsely believe that English learning or English speaking violates their cultural values.
Worse, they feel English learning would render themselves and their families prone to promiscuity or expose them to licentious cultural influences. The Indian government consistently pursues a policy of promoting Hindi and other Indian languages at its offices, banks, industries, schools and universities while English gets relegated. Lamentably, this causes a false belief that English learning is insignificant or useless.
Further, these factors have led to significant deterioration in the quality of written and spoken English. Consequently, educators themselves are not fluent in English causing an overall drop in the quality of training in the language. Myths that English grammar is complex and requires strenuous efforts to learn, also deters most prospective learners. However, with sufficient tenacity and verve, you can learn great written and spoken English for success in career and business.
How to Improve English?
Firstly, English learning is easy, so is acquiring great spoken English skills and developing vocabulary.
Remember, age, academic qualifications, gender and location pose no barriers for learning English. The only limitation exists in your mind.
Here are some simple ways how you can learn English:
1. Download Spoken English app on your mobile:
Free courses to learn English are available from special Android-based apps. Popular apps are Babbel, Massive Open Online English Course (MOOEC) and Duolingo.
You can also use Google Translate for translating words and sentences in your native language to English. All these apps include a listening feature.
Meaning, you can listen how a particular word or phrase is pronounced in English.
2. Enroll for online English courses:
British Council India, ELS Language Training Institute offer the best online English study courses. However, they charge a reasonable fee.
These assisted English learning courses are ideal for both beginners and those who want to acquire better spoken and written English skills.
British Council also has libraries featuring superb literature for students. Fees for these courses vary based on your knowledge of English, location and duration.
Customized courses for English teachers and other professions are also available.
3. Classroom study courses for Spoken English:
Hundreds of indigenous coaching classes across India offer courses for spoken English & written English.
Durations of these courses vary from 1 week to six months. Advanced courses can last up to a year.
However, crash courses or those claiming to teach great spoken English skills in a week can be a disappointment.
Generally, such courses offer only very basic training on answering telephone calls, greeting people in English and elementary correspondence.
4. Self study books and guides:
At best, these are useless. At worst, you can consign them to your nearest dustbin. A plethora of self-study books and guides are available in the market, with prices ranging between Rs.20 and Rs. 1,500.
Moreover, these books also promise that you can learn English on basis of your native tongue.
They contain common sentences in your language and translation in English. Motley tips on pronunciation also feature on these books.
Remember, it is impossible to learn English, or, for that matter, any language on basis of such books.
Unless of course you are willing to exert superhuman efforts that stretch beyond any known physical boundaries of our frail human body and brains.
The only book I can recommend you is Word Power Made Easy because it increases your word power that helps for spoken English in future.
5. Private coaching and tutor for English Speaking:
By far, this is proven as the most efficient way to learn English or any other language. However, costs involved are the greatest inhibitor.
A private coach/ tutor can cost anything from Rs.10,000 per month to Rs.25,000 per month.
The greatest advantage of such tutors/ coaches is personal attention.
You can also practice your English skills with these coaches and seek professional guidance on how to improve spoken English & written English.
6. Audio and video study material:
They fare better than self-study books and guides. However, they have inherent issues as well.
Firstly, audio and video study material comes with instructions on how to speak and write English well.
Yet, they lack proper instructions on grammar, formation of correct, comprehensible sentences and use of vocabulary.
You can try this audio and video study courses if you plan on taking a full English language course.
They can serve as starters.
Take help from English dictionary and thesaurus
Considering you have working fluency in English or studying an English course, there are several options available to improve your skills.
To do so, you will have to invest in a good dictionary and a thesaurus.
Some dictionaries you can consider include:
- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
- Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
- Chambers English Dictionary
- Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
- Oxford Dictionary of Current English
Here, we recommend you opt for advanced versions of any dictionary for two reasons. Firstly, they contain all English words that are currently in use.
Secondly, they also contain instructions on pronunciations in the international phonetic.
You can buy a dictionary and download one on computer and mobile. Having a dictionary app is a great way to check out on English words while traveling or during spare time.
The best thesaurus we recommend is
- Roget’s Thesaurus
- Webster Thesaurus
A dictionary and thesaurus are two different types of books.
A dictionary will tell you what a particular word means and its usage, grammar and etymology.
A thesaurus will give other words of the same meaning and their use in sentences. It helps you to expand your English vocabulary.
Other steps to improve your English
Shed your inhibitions, shyness and start speaking in English. There is no alternative or substitute for speaking English.
Of course, you will make mistakes when you begin. Worse, you can become a laughing stock or butt of jokes.
However, persistence and ardor will see you acquire great spoken English skills.
To do so, you can enlist the help of your English teacher or friend who is fluent in spoken English.
1.Read English language newspapers and magazines.
Usually, you will come across new words and phrases. You can look up their meaning in a dictionary.
Make it a habit to read at least two or three large news reports daily. Generally, news reports on Page-1 that are turned inside or extended to other pages are large enough.
Newspapers will teach you how to convey something in the minimum number of words while writing of speaking English.
2. Write your own essays
You can do this by selecting a simple topic and describing your experience in about 300 words. Writing helps you improve grammar and vocabulary.
Writing in English also helps you develop great spoken English skills. To check where you go wrong, ask your English teacher or friend fluent in written English to mark correction.
Watch News channels & English Movies with sub-titles
Watch news channels offering bulletins and news features in English. Generally, English news channels use very simple English since they cater to a very wide audience.
Try to comprehend how a sentence was made and how words are effectively woven.
Watching English movies with English sub-titles is also the great way to improve English.
Develop a habit of reading English books.
Wide assortments of English books that cover almost every sphere of life are available. Reading helps you assimilate difficult words easily.
In addition, you expand your knowledge through reading good books, regardless whether they are fiction and fairy tale or esoteric subjects.
Learning advanced English
Frankly, there is nothing called Advanced English. The term stems from verbal and written skills.
Beginners are those with basic English language skills while ‘Advanced’ means those possessing much higher level of written and spoken fluency.
You can also acquire so called Advanced English fluency through some rather simple techniques. Interestingly, you can do so during your leisure and enjoy immensely.
These techniques include:
- Solve Crosswords
- Play Scrabble
- Participate in word games
- Identify missing words
- Look up words at random in your dictionary and thesaurus
- Read interesting websites that offer unique content on topics of your interest
English or American English
For the uninitiated, this is just a play of words. People in UK and some 17 countries worldwide who speak the language are called Native English Speakers.
India, for example, is a non-native English speaking country.
English spoke differently in the US, though the country features in the list of Native English Speaking Countries. Hundreds of words are spelt and pronounced differently.
Over decades, new words have crept into the English language spoken in the US. Hence, the language spoken in USA is sometimes called American.
To avoid confusion over the way words pronounce or spell, it is ideal to choose either UK English or US English.