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Improving English: Grammar comes first
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February 28, 2007

English, is a language universally used to communicate all over the world, be it at your workplace or a social occasion.

However, not all of us can manage its correct usage. Some of us are good with grammar but not with pronunciation, while some have excellent vocabulary but are struggling with fluency.

It's important to ensure that you don't lose good jobs solely because you don't know good English.

According to communications expert and Director of Formal Education at IMS Learning Resources Charanpreet Singh, "If you are confident of the content, the language is no longer a barrier. Increase your reading in English and read from a variety of subjects -- discuss different topics with people -- form opinions. This will help."

Charanpreet answered a number of queries on English during a chat on February 22.

For those of you who missed the chat, here's the transcript.


Charanpreet Singh, Director, Formal Education, IMS says, Hi this is Charanpreet - I am ready to take your questions.


pradip asked, pls suggest how to improve the pronunciation and fluecy. I am comparatively good in grammar and vocabulary.
Charanpreet Singh, Director, Formal Education, IMS answers,  Hi. I guess there are four things you can do with any language -- read, write, listen and speak -- in your case, I feel that listening to people who speak well and grabbing every opportunity to speak would be helpful.


ruby asked, HI.......IN INTERVIEW...HOW TO START WHEN ASKED....TELL US ABOUT YOURSEL....HOW TO START TELLING IN A IMPRESSIVE WAY
Charanpreet Singh, Director, Formal Education, IMS answers, Hi Ruby, there are various ways of approaching this question -- I am not sure it is really what we have gathered to discuss -- but you need to prepare a two-minute capsule articulating your background, academic and career history, strengths and interests, as well as aspirations..


Munir asked, Hi Charanpreet, I am working as a software engineer in a software firm. I can communicate in English but I don't have command over english. Many times it becomes difficult for me to manage such situations. Also, I need to interact with UK, US clients and it becomes very difficult to understand their accents. Could you please give me some tips to improve my english? Thanks.
Charanpreet Singh, Director, Formal Education, IMS answers, Hi Munir -- you are not alone, but that doesn't solve the problem, does it? Feel free to speak the language -- that is key to gaining confidence and fluency. Also, since you are a software engineer you would be analytical by nature -- use this strength to make your communication well-structured. People understand structure even if your language skills are not the best. Accent are a different ballgame altogether -- you just need to listen more attentively and watch American films!


kumar asked, hello sir i can speak english to certain extent, but i wanna improve my communication skills to business level plz suggest me some good coaching institutes in mumbai who can help me out
Charanpreet Singh, Director, Formal Education, IMS answers, I wouldn't know about coaching institutes (other than IMS, of course) ...


venu asked, Where should one's concentration to go. Is it in spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary or grammar or style?
Charanpreet Singh, Director, Formal Education, IMS answers, Hi Venu, good question. The easiest answer of course is everything. But I guess grammar is the first -- correct English takes you forward. Style would be the last -- lots of people mess things up because they make things complex -- spellings are important for written communication and pronunciation for oral. As far as vocab goes, the idea is to use simple words.


bala asked, I am confident while speaking on technology / my subject. When it comes to general topics, I feel my speach delivery is not that good, pls help me to improve it.
Charanpreet Singh, Director, Formal Education, IMS answers, You have a domain problem -- if you are confident of the content, the language is no longer a barrier. Increase your reading and read from a variety of subjects -- discuss different topics with people -- form opinions. This will help -- reading always helps!


Ashwini asked, Hello Sir, Now a days every institute boasts to improve your english within some weeks.I want to know , is it really possible?
Charanpreet Singh, Director, Formal Education, IMS answers, Hi Ashwini, I am a little sceptic about such claims -- how does one define improvement, and how do you know what level the student is and where he or she wants to go. A few weeks can only make you aware of what you need to do to improve -- improvement is a life-long effort...


Shilpy asked, I want to improve my spoken english. I have even joined a few English speaking institutes but of no avail. I belong to Punjab so there is a lot of mother tounge influence in my speech.I want to improve it. How?
Charanpreet Singh, Director, Formal Education, IMS answers, hi Shilpy. I belong to the Punjab as well, though I did not live there. The mother tongue influence can only be in pronunciation -- so you need to correct that by being aware of the problem and making a consciuos effort to correct it. If you have gramar problems as well, you need to read more and work on those aspects as well. There is a lot of work you have to do on your own -- no institute can wave a magic wand and make you an expert.


Vanitha asked, how do i make my child talk in english smoothly. should i talk to her continuosly in english or any other way ?
Charanpreet Singh, Director, Formal Education, IMS answers, Hi Vanitha. I am answering your question but the answer applies to all the parents who have difficult getting their children to speak English. Speaking English with him is going to help a lot -- watching cartoons in English helps too! I have seen a lot of children improve dramatically and even develop a sense of humour watching cartoons. Be careful though -- don't put pressure on him. Also, always speak to him the way you would to an adult -- he will pick up the language faster.


Tomorrow: Part II of transcript

-- The author is passionate about training students in the art of communication and has conducted several workshops, and delivered lectures at IIM-C, XIMB and IISWBM. Currently the Director of Formal Education at IMS Learning Resources, he passed out of IIT-Kanpur and has an MBA from the University of Iowa, USA.


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