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How To Improve English Speaking Skills in India – Dr Ashish Kushwaha
How To Improve English Speaking Skills in India
Smart Brains Spotlight
You learn something new every day; what did you learn today?
The Topic for today is How to improve my English speaking skills in India?
Learning should be for life. Every moment of every day we are being presented with new and important lessons.
Here we will present you one handpicked new and important lesson every day from smart brains and experts around the world.
Today we learned one of the most important secrets that Dr Ashish Kushwaha had mastered to help him improved his English speaking skills in India.
How To Improve English Speaking Skills in India
Dr Ashish Kushwaha
How an I become fluent in English speaking?
Answer by Dr Ashish Kushwahafrom India. All credit goes to Dr Ashish. Thank you!
” I am a Process Engineer with Intel by profession, but when I am not doing anything urgent, I am coding, or learning a new skill. I can icebreak too. Chemical Engineer, PhD, stocks trader and data analyst for fun. “ – Dr Ashish Kushwaha
A little background:
I was born and raised in India. In India, you get the option to choose the language of your choice for your grade school education. Some of the schools offer English medium education, and others the native language of the state, and you can pick the school you are convenient with – that is roughly how it works.
For some reasons, a huge majority in the elite colleges/universities consists of the students having English medium background, maybe because of the structure of the higher education, but that’s another issue.
Now the main story:
I went to a Hindi medium grade school, and not just Hindi medium, it was a mainstream orthodox Hindu school. For sixth to eighth grade, Sanskrit made a big part of curriculum and the exposure to English was almost zero. This happened to be a little better after eighth grade, yet English was not the strongest attribute we had. In high school, there was a quiz competition in the city, and my school had to send a team out. I was one of the team members and our teachers also wanted to check how good we can do in English. We had to speak on something for about five minutes. I knew I could improvise something, and when I started, I could not speak two sentences straight. Neither could anyone else (some of them had memorized things though, but that defeated the purpose I guess), but I had never realized how bad my spoken English was (our vocabulary was better than this though) before. This was as embarrassing as it could get, but since, this was one and only time this happened, I forgot this soon.
Few year later, I went to Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi for college. It is ranked pretty good in the country, and as mentioned above, I was the small minority with Hindi medium background. One day, it happened again – we were in a class, and apparently everyone had to speak a few sentences about their high school, and this time I had jotted down a few bullet points quickly, but I could not expand that to a small speech. Embarrassment was all I had. Before that, I could never speak in English with my dorm mates when we were hanging out, but I was too proud of being a Hindi speaker, and never thought I should have been fluent in English. That was the day that reminded me of the high school speech fiasco, and that was the day when I realized this was going to happen very, very frequently. I had to decide between two options – a. Thicken your skin, and stop feeling embarrassed, or b. Do something about your English. I decided to follow the latter.
So now I had to do something about my English. The first thing that I did was reading Delhi Times and sometimes Stardust . Having the most trashy content, these provided for something unique – very colloquial English, away from grandiose or technical language, which was necessary to make me feel comfortable. I used to read very slowly, because I took notes – I wrote down the words in a separate dedicated notebook, with the whole sentence they were used in. I also, in my head, used the word in another sentence. Later on I also read Chetan Bhagat’s bestsellers, Five Point Someone and One Night at Call Center. I still didn’t stop taking notes while reading them. Reading these books gave me a comfortable level of English vocabulary and these books make up a big part of my English skills.
Around the same time, I was talking to a classmate and I found he also had problems with English and he too wanted to improve his English, and I started doing an hour session with him every day – each of use brought five words that we had read that day, and discussed those ten words in an hours, extensively – grammar, etymology, usage, subtleties, whatever we wanted. There was just one condition – speak only English for an hour, no matter how bad. This gave both of us confidence and comfort.
I was getting better, yet I was still missing that colloquial component of English, and fluency. That was the time when I heard about the amazing sitcom Friendsand how everyone just loved it. I tried watching, but could not finish the first episode, because I was extremely bored since I could not understand more than 10% of the conversation. For a long time, I never thought I could watch an American sitcom. After a while, when I had just started using internet, I found out about these life-savings chunks of scripts called subtitles. I downloaded English subtitles and watched Friends again. I loved Friends, and this helped a lot, a lot to improve my English speaking and listening immensely. Listening to a language being spoken by a native speakers is the best thing you can do to improve your fluency, given that their are subtitles 😉
Soon enough, it was early fourth year in IIT, and there was this large scale debate competition, open to everyone. For a certain pass/fail component of the curriculum, there was this optional debate, and all the speakers were to be given extra credits. For the greed of extra credits, I registered. I had to speak for five minutes on “Is man a creation of God or God a creation of man?”. This was my first time ever speaking in English in public. The whole mass of about 90 speakers and five judges were sitting in the lecture hall and soon enough, I was standing in front of everyone to express my views. I started, I kept on for five minutes, I didn’t stammer, I had the perfect, or almost perfect voice modulation. I didn’t stop until they said, “time up.”. It was probably a very ordinary speech for everyone, but to me, this moment was the testimony that I had fulfilled a promise. A promise that I had made to myself three years ago.
So this was pretty much my story about how I went from ‘not-two-sentences-straight’ to ‘fluent-colloquial-English’ mode. I still have to improve a lot, but it has been much better since then. And I didn’t stop there. Later on, I qualified GRE and TOEFL with percentiles I can brag about. Currently I am in America, getting a PhD, with the one of the best things my English could have given me – a relationship with my girlfriend, who is now my fiancée.
Reference: Dr Ashish Kushwaha. “How can I become fluent in English?” originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
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If you think about it, our lives are an endless pursuit of answers and new questions. So how can YOU take action to ensure that your learning never comes to an end?