“To improve communication skills, you need to interact with as many people as possible.
“Try to be more fluent and not worry about accuracy.
“New words are always better learned in context so always record them as a phrase…”
In an online chat with readers on March 27, Kamini Taneja, Senior Training Consultant at the British Council addressed the queries and offered tips on how to speak and write better English.
For those who missed the chat, here’s the unedited trannscript:
Bhatu Thakare: For improvement in communication, we should listen more and more good English speeches, audio etc. Can you suggest a website or blog where we can listen good English?
Kamini Taneja: Hi Bhatu! A good place to start would be BBC World Service Learning English. Lots of podcasts and resource material to improve vocabulary and pronunciation.
dijoy: Mam could you please help me out that how to improve my vocabulary and sentence making..
Kamini Taneja: Dijoy, to remember new words you need to record them.
When recording new words, make a note of as much detail as possible such as antonyms, synonyms related to that word, write an example sentence and something that reminds you of that word.
New words are always better learned in context so always record them as a phrase or a chunk.
Aatish Jagmanani: Do watching english movies with sub-titles will practice the flow of conversation
Kamini Taneja: Aatish, this certainly helps and will take you a long way in making you better at using English. Have you ever tried writing the lyrics of an English song you were listening too?
Gavin: I read english very easily but at the time of speaking i get stuck after 2-3 sentences so please advice me what can i do?
Kamini Taneja: Gavin, you need to build your confidence and enhance your vocabulary. The more words you have the better you will be able to express yourself. So start reading now!
Abdul Warith: I live in an isolated area. So, I do not have friends to interact with so that I could practice speaking English.
Kamini Taneja: Abdul, internet is your best friend. Why don’t you start?
Abdul, don’t you go to a school where you may have some friends? You could start with a small conversation club and choose some everyday topics to discuss.
poonam: I am tring for job in Canada..and they are asking IELTS…its too tuff crack..kindly suggest
Kamini Taneja: Poonam, IELTS is a diagnostic test which benchmarks your level of English.
The test assesses you on Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing and you need to get the required band the university/organisation has asked for. Go to the British Council Learn English website for tips on doing the IELTS exam well.
Gurshan Gurmeet: I need a quick remedy of sorts because I have got a job interview in the next 20 days or even less. What is the maximum that I can do about it?
Kamini Taneja: Gurshan, prepare for the interview well, do your homework about the organisation and what will you bring to the job, why are you suitable for the post and keep some examples ready to demonstrate your skills and experience which can be matched to the job description.
ranbir singh: I am an employee. Here english is very important and spelling. After a long practice i could not rectify my mistakes and understand in well manner what will i do? how to improve drafting skills ?
Kamini Taneja: Ranbir, you need to work on your writing. I suggest you after you have written a piece of writing — check for logical development of ideas, paragraphing, if you have repeated any words, try to use a variety, grammar – do the subject and verb agree, punctuation and spelling etc. Proof read your work before submitting it
Consider improving English with a group of people with the same aim and may be an expert could help you.
AMIT SHAH: hi madamI have to make sentences hindi to english first in mind then i speak that’s why fluency not proper
Kamini Taneja: Amit, you are relying on translation method and this will not serve the purpose as syntax or how subject verb agreement works in two languages may not be the same. Case in point Hindi and English.
HANIF KHAN: hii I want to improve my communication skills, i was understood what people told to me, but cause of low confidence i could not speak in front of there. so plz help me
Kamini Taneja: Hi Hanif, you certainly need to build your confidence so focus on being fluent rather than being correct or accurate.
dinesh: Research has shown it takes about three months of daily practice to develop strong mouth muscles for speaking a new language.
Kamini Taneja: Hi Dinesh. I am sure what you are saying has evidence and this is particularly true of languages which may be very different from your mother tongue and would require possibly three months of practice so that your tongue is used to articulate the sounds. Japanese and Chinese come to my mind.
nayan: Many people hate to hear the sound of their voice and avoid listening to themselves speak.Will it help me to become conscious of the mistakes I am making.
Kamini Taneja: Yes Nayan, this is a very good technique to identify your strengths and weaknesses and raises your self awareness regarding areas to improve on. Keep up the good work!
Vinayak Tavade: Mam, I do not have friends to interact with so that I could practice speaking English. what is the best way to practice to speak english
Kamini Taneja: Vinayak look for other opportunities to speak in English; this means anybody who speaks English can help you!
Walk into a mall and have a coffee, don’t miss that chance of ordering coffee and snacks in English
Kamini Taneja: Vinayak, you need to make friends who speak English and watch a lot of English movies and this could be a discussion point or a conversation starter.
hardik: Many deserving candidates lose out on job opportunities because of their vernacular accent.Can I ‘neutralise’ my accent?
Kamini Taneja: Hardik, Good question! I am sure lot of people are in a similar situation.
Regional accent does not really matter as long as it does not impact intelligibility.
As long as people can understand you it is not a problem. However, pronunciation is something you need to work on as this can cause problems. For eg, if you say there is a meeting in the hall, but hall sounds like ‘Hole’, it is a problem.
Regional accent cannot be neutralised and it should not be a problem as long as doesn’t impact intelligibility.
Incorrect pronunciation can cause problems so listen to people with good models of English carefully to notice correct form of pronunciation. This will help you improve.
Imroz Saeed: I can’t speak English very fluently. Help me out to improve my written skills – Adil
Kamini Taneja: Hi Imroz! I am not sure what kind of writing you need to do. A good point to start would be to analyse sample pieces of writing. Ex, emails of different types such as Emails of Complaint, Inquiry, etc.
Notice the features, language used, opening and closing and this will help you draft your piece of writing more efficiently and effectively.
PAWAR : I am graduate but still i can’t communicate fluently in english. Please suggest something to improve it.
Kamini Taneja: Pawar, it is possible that the environment you studied English in did not give you enough exposure in the language.
It is time to work on advancing your level of English by studying grammar and vocabulary and practising speaking with your friends.
rakesh: I am from a vernacular medium and i find it tough to understand lectures that are said in english, what do i do?
Kamini Taneja: Rakesh, you need to improve your listening skills. This means you need to be exposed to a wide variety of accents and you will be able to find many podcasts on British Council Learn English website and BBC World Service Learning English. All the best!
Siji : hi want to speak fluent english from where to start…
Kamini Taneja: Siji, If you live in Delhi, you could go to the British Council office at K.G. Marg and join courses at the Teaching Centre.
venu gopal: I want to speak fluent English how to practice? please suggest me a better way
Kamini Taneja: Hi Venu Gopal! To be more fluent, you need to practice your speaking.
Think of joining an English course.
If that is not an option, then find every opportunity where you can speak in English, such at ordering a Burger in English at McDonald’s or speaking to customer services on the phone when you have an inquiry.
umamaheshwarao: Is it better way to improve English communication skills by watching BBC news. movies channels and reading Deccan Chronicle and Hindu news paper, Pls suggest me.
Kamini Taneja: Hi. You could also refer to the British Council Learn English website and BBC World Service Learning English website. There is a wide variety of resource to improve Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.
x y: I am working as a private secretary in the industries since last 25 years.
I feel still I have to improve in so many areas i.e. my letter writing skill to improve. What to do?
Kamini Taneja: Hi, writing needs to be looked at as a process, so your first copy is not your final copy. Proof read it for logical development of ideas, paragraphing, spelling, grammar, repetition of words, etc.
You will be able to improve the quality of your writing to a large extent on your own.
RUPESH-YADAV: I am not good at speaking English.Is it possible to improve English communication skill on own?
Kamini Taneja: Rupesh, to improve communication skills, you need to interact with as many people as possible. Try to be more fluent and not worry about accuracy.
MAHESH MOHARIR: My written English is ok but I would like to improve it along with speaking skills
Kamini Taneja: Mahesh, Find a friend who you can have a conversation about everyday topics and discuss them at length and ask a lot of questions.
Sriram: I am an employee. Here english is very important and spelling. After a long practice i could not rectify my mistakes and understand in well manner what will i do? how to improve drafting skills?
Kamini Taneja: Sriman look for patterns in spellings and notice where combination of letters normally vowel or vowels make different sounds. This is something you will need to remember. I hope this helps
jayanta ghosh: I would like to enhance my fluency in English. My written communication in English is more or less okay but I would like to increase my vocabulary and english speaking skills. How to go about it kindly suggest
Kamini Taneja: Jayanta, you need to make vocabulary notebook to record new words.
Buy a good dictionary and when you make notes notice what part of speech the word is.
Write an example sentence, opposites, synonyms, etc. Always write remember a word in context. This will help you remember it better.
haresh: I tend to lose out on words when i speak anything in English, what is the best way to rectify this?
Kamini Taneja: Hi Harsh, do you mean you don’t have the words or you make mistakes.
The key is to expand your vocabulary by reading a lot and listening to news items in English.
The more your read, more words you will have to use in your speaking and this will enhance your confidence.
Aatish Jagmanani: Is it possible to improve English communication skill on own?
Kamini Taneja: Aatish one can’t learn swimming unless they dive into a swimming pool so to become more fluent in speaking you need to speak to someone and you can’t do it on your own. Unless you mean being more fluent in writing skills.
Nitin Deshmukh: I am not good at speaking English and I tend to stammer, when i am said to speak in English on any particular thing, can you give me any advice how to improve my stammering.
Kamini Taneja: Hi Nitin, I think you need to build you confidence in speaking English.
The more you practice the better you will get and don’t worry about making mistakes — it’s not always about accuracy, you need to focus on fluency at the moment.