Improve Your English Communication - Online Article



Many deserving candidates lose out on job opportunities because of their vernacular accent.

3 Golden Rules for Effective Communication

  1. Have you been wondering how to put together an impressively phrased PowerPoint presentation?
  2. Have you been wondering how to compose an e-mail that captures your strategies and goals effectively?
  3. It is time you do something about it.

As a young professional in todays global business world, it is imperative that you are competent in both oral as well as written communication.

Important forms of oral communication at the workplace include:

  • Building interpersonal relationships.
  • Giving presentations and debating viewpoints effectively.

You need to master oral skills for both in-person and over-the-phone interactions. Similarly, important written communication includes:

  • Writing professional e-mails (sans SMS slang).
  • Putting together concise reports.
  • Creating visually powerful PowerPoint presentations.

And the key to acing oral and written communication is to spruce up your communication skills. And it is a lot easier than you think.

Here are some easy tips to do it on your own:

Improve pronunciation and diction

There are a few tricks to making a vernacular accent more globally understandable.

  • Try making sure that ‘air comes out of your mouth when saying the letters, T, P, K’ and the sound ‘Ch’.
  • Focus on elongating your vowel sounds. This will also automatically slow down your rate of speech.
  • Sing English songs out loud!
  • Watch news shows on channels like CNN and BBC.
  • The web site www.m-w.com is great for pronunciation help.
  • I would also suggest buying books on pronunciation and language that come with audio cassettes.

A good book that I found really useful was Better English Pronunciation by J D O’Connor. It is part of the Cambridge series, and some of those books come with cassettes.

Spruce up your writing skills

  • Believe it or not, you have to Read More!
  • Well-written magazines, like The Economist and India Today, are great to read not only to improve language skills but also to learn more about the world.
  • In terms of books, read what interests you. The basic goal is to read as much as you can.
  • There are a plethora of good authors who are popular today. Some good writers whose language is easy to follow include Vikram Seth, Jhumpa Lahiri, Paulo Coelho, J D Salinger, Albert Camus and Roald Dahl.
  • People tend to forget basic grammar when writing e-mails. E-mail is nothing more than a letter, which is sent electronically.

Make sure salutations and content are professional. Use special phrases when attaching documents. For example, “Please find attached with this e-mail a report on This helps you sound professional.

Five exercises to practice every day!

  1. Pretend you are a newscaster and read out the newspaper to your mirror.
  2. Do not read local newspapers. Focus on national newspapers.
  3. While reading a book, underline all the words you do not know. Look them up in the dictionary.
  4. Make a list of these words, and make sure you use at least five of them in a conversation during the day.
  5. Most important, make an effort to speak in English to your friends and family.

Are You Listening Well

Etiquette and polish both in personal and business settings, are linked to how well we communicate.

Most people think communication is all about speaking and devalue the importance of listening.

And many others don’t realise what a vast difference there is between simply hearing what is being said and really listening.

People who know how to listen learn more, care more, and end up being the ones we want to be around socially as well as professionally.

Want to improve your listening skills? Understand why you need to listen and remember to practice these tips the next time you conduct a conversation.

Are your eyes listening?

Your eyes are a dead giveaway if you are not listening.

When your mind wanders and you begin thinking of something or someone else, your eyes show your disinterest. And the person speaking to you is well aware that you are not paying attention.

And this is true even if you don’t look away. Blank stares don’t conceal boredom.

How can you know if you are a bad listener?

A good listener uses his/ her eyes and mind while listening.

If you find yourself already formulating your next sentence in your mind while someone is speaking to you, you are doing injustice to the conversation.

You will get more out of the conversation if you understand, comprehend and assimilate what is being said BEFORE responding.

Good etiquette = listening!

Do you make these common listening mistakes?

The difference between being a good listener versus a great listener is using your heart in addition to your eyes and mind while listening.

Do you do this?

  • If a friend tells you something is wrong, you immediately tend to give advice or criticism.
  • If a friend tells you about something wonderful that has happened, you usually chip lfl with something similar that you have experienced.

Rarely do we share joy or sympathize with pain. Rarely do we just let others speak. To improve your listening skills, practice with those closest to you. When family members or friends share their thoughts and feelings, curtail the urge to delI we relate what you hear to one of your own experiences.

What if a conversation bores you?

I believe 'interested people are interesting’. Similarly, ‘boring people get bored’. You don’t need to know a lot about a subject to have a conversation. You just need to have a desire to learn, understand and make things interesting.

For example, if someone tells you they are a teacher, instead of saying, ‘That’s nice,” and moving on to the next topic, try to find out why they are teaching, how they decided on this profession and what their current thoughts on teaching are.

Dig deep and create meaningful conversations.

How do I get others to listen to me?

  1. Listen more intently, question more, and speak with emotion. Build interesting conversations instead of one-way lectures.
  2. Engage people while you speak. Ask questions like, What do you think? or “Do you are not agree?

Try not to speak continuously for long periods. People tend to have short attention spans. When you do not listen to what others are saying and only care to listen to your own voice, this is an indication that you really do not care for other peoples opinions. Think about whom you really enjoy being around, at work or in your personal life. Usually it is those who really listen and care about you. Are you listening?

Want to ‘Neutralise’ your accent?

How would you describe the term communication? Is it merely the act’ of sending or receiving a message, or is it the ‘process’ of sending a message? Actually, it is both the act of sending and receiving a message as well as the process of doing it. The process of communication also involves getting the desired response.

Can I ‘neutralise’ my accent?

Yes, you can. All you need to do is train yourself to speak English as comfortably and perfectly as you speak your mother tongue.

How do you train yourself? By inculcating certain practices in your daily lifestyle. These will get you closer to sounding like a native English speaker and equip you with a global accent -- and you will speak not American or British English, but correct English.

This is the first step to learn any other accent, be it American or British or Australian. Lisa Mojsin, head trainer, director and founder of the Accurate English Training Company in Los Angeles, offers these tips to help ‘neutralise’ your accent or rather do away with the local twang, as you speak.

  1. Observe the mouth movements of those who speak English well and t,y to imitate them. When you are watching television, observe the mouth movements of the speakers. Repeat what they are saying, while imitating the intonation and rhythm of their speech.
  2. Until you learn the correct intonation and rhythm of English, slow your speech down. It you speak too quickly, and with the wrong intonation and rhythm, native speakers will have a hard time understanding you. Don’t worry about your listener getting impatient with your stow speech -. it is more important that everything you say be understood.
  3. Listen to the ‘music’ of English. Do not use the ‘music’ of your native language when you speak English. Each language has its own way of ‘singing’.
  4. Use the dictionaty. Try and familiarise yourself with the phonetic symbols of your dictionary. Look up the correct pronunciation of words that are hard for you to say.
  5. Make a list of frequently used words that you find difficult to pronounce and ask someone who speaks the language well to pronounce them for you. Record these words, listen to them and practice saying them. Listen and read at the same time.
  6. Buy books on tape. Record yourself reading some sections of the book. Compare the sound of your English with that of the person reading the book on the tape.
  7. Pronounce the ending of each word. Pay special attention to S’ and ‘ED endings. This will help you strengthen the mouth muscles that you use when you speak English.
  8. Read aloud in English for 15-20 minutes every day. Research has shown it takes about three months of daily practice to develop strong mouth muscles for speaking a new language.
  9. Record your own voice and listen for pronunciation mistakes. Many people hate to hear the sound of their voice and avoid listening to themselves speak. However, this is a very important exercise because doing it will help you become conscious of the mistakes you are making.
  10. Be patient. You can change the way you speak but it wont happen overnight. People often expect instant results and give up too soon. You can change the way you sound if you are willing to put some effort into it.

Quick tips

Various versions of the English language exist. Begin by identifying the category you fall into and start by improving the clarity of your speech.

  • Focus on removing the mother tongue influence and the Indianisms that creep into your English conversations.
  • Watch the English news on television channels like Star World, CNN, BBC and English movies on Star Movies and HBO.
  • Listen to and sing English songs. Wed recommend Westlife, Robbie Williams, Abba, Skeeter Davis and Connie Francis among others.

Heard Of Accent Neutialisation?

  • He has got a strong Malayalam accent.
  • She is Bengali but speaks with an impeccable English accent.
  • He speaks with a broad! heavy/ strong! thick Bihari accent.
  • I thought I could detect a slight south Indian accent.
  • He spoke in heavily accented English.

What exactly do we mean by the above statements? An accent is the peculiar style and rhythm of speaking a particular language; we also call it speech music’. Factors like mother tongue, socio-economic background and medium of education influence ones accent.

Which brings us to accent neutralisation? It means removing all traces of the mother tongue rhythm and adopting the native rhythm of the language you are trying to learn -- English in this case. With the onset of BPO and international job opportunities in the Indian market, there demand for candidates who can speak English without their local accent creeping in.

Your English. influenced by your Hindi?

Many speakers do not realise they are incorporating English words in Hind, sentences or Hindi words in English sentences.

Take for example:

  • "Pitaji, time kya hua hai (Father, what is the time right now) ?"
  • "1 have hazaar things on my mind right now (I have thousands of things on my mw, right now)."

Today, ‘Indian English’ is widespread and well known for Its many eccentricities. For this reason, its grammar must be taken with a pinch of salt.

Indian accents vary greatly from those who lean towards a purist British language to thou who lean more towards speech that is tinted with the ‘vernacular (Indian language).

  • The most common instance of modified sounds is the changing of the soundi of English letters like ‘D’, ‘T’ and ‘R’.
  • South Indians tend to curl the tongue more for the ‘L’ and ‘N’ sounds.
  • Bengalis (from both India and Bangladesh) and Biharis often substitute ‘J’ for ‘Z’ (as in ‘jero’ instead of ‘zero’).
  • People, especially from the Sindh (this pertains to both Indians and Pakistanis) have the habit of changing the ‘W Sound to ‘V’ (as in ‘von’ instead of ‘when’). The rule to follow to overcome this habit is to ‘kiss’ your ‘Ws’ and bite your ‘Vs.

What we are striving for is the ability to communicate effectively, especially in the English language, which has the reputation of being one of the most complex languages to learn. l reiterate -- not difficult, but complex.

Guidance Note: English Language Communication

The purpose of this note is to provide structured guidance to students to improve English language communication skills. Let me make it clear at the outset, this guide note alone is not enough to acquire desired proficiency in English communication. Yet, the note will serve the purpose of making OU realize the problems in your communication skills and in the way you read or speak English.

Some elementary speaking exercises have been suggested which are easy to practjce and can be done even while you are alone. These exercises if done seriously must make difference to your communication skills. After undergoing these exercises, you must be more confident and comfortable while communicating in English. The exercises are as follows:

  1. Regularly take one national English newspaper daily. Focus on the editorial and business page and any article, which involves analysis of issues.
  2. 1st Exercise: Take the newspaper and stand in front of mirror. Pick up any article on editorial business/sports page and read it aloud while looking into the mirror.
    1. In the beginning, it may not be possible to look into the mirror while reading but try to pick 3-4 words from the sentence and once the immediate memory of your mind has stored them, speak them out while looking into the mirror.
    2. For example, if I were to read first sentence of this note, I shall read it like the following.‘The purpose of this note” “is to provide" "structured guidance to students to“ improve their” “English language communication skills”.The words with in inverted commas will be read as a group and not separately. After a short practice you would feel that it makes a difference in the way you speak.
    3. This exercise should be done for at least 10 minutes then only you will get used to it.
  3. 2nd_Exercise: Completely read an article (preferably from the editorial page). Throw the newspaper aside and write down the summary of this article in your own After that throw the summary aside and speak, (Speaking in front of mirror is ok but it would be great if you can speak in front of someone who has read that article) whatever you could remember from the article as well as your summary.
    1. After completing your exercise, review your summary and check for grammatical errors. Check if you can make out the same meaning as you made after reading the newspaper article.
    2. If you are speaking in front of mirror, notice how are you looking, how many times you are stopping to think and then make an assessment whether you can make other person understand about your points. If you are speaking in front of another person, ask him/her if he/she has understood what you want to explain.
  4. Try to expand the nature of topics that you read or study. For this you should read a good news magazine like “India Today’ or “Outlook”. The topics covered in these magazines are quite comprehensive and the language is simple to understand. If you are interested in cricket, read a cricket magazine, as it would be easier to understand and it will increase your familiarity with English language.
  5. As I come to the end of this note, it is my duty 10 beware you that the above- mentioned exercises can only work as a good foundation and that too when you seriously work upon them. You would be considered an effective speaker only If you can address a group of people and make them understand your point of view. These exercises will only provide you the right beginning to make you an effective speaker. And believe me, right beginning is more important than the end result. I wish you luck and seriously hope that you would reach much beyond these initial exercises.

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