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Please read Part I of this series posted on 28/04/2011 in career (COMMUNICATION SKILLS- it really matters)


“I don’t know English grammar.”

This is the usual complaint of people who are not able to speak well in English.

May I tell you one thing?

For speaking in any language you need not be a master in the grammar of that language.

Take the case of your mother tongue (MT).

Are you a master in the grammar of your mother tongue?

I’m sure majority of you are not masters in the grammar of your mother tongue.

Interestingly you still speak in your mother tongue. You don’t have the fear that whether you can speak in your mother tongue.

Another interesting point is that you speak in mother tongue without too many mistakes. Everybody understands what you are saying. Remember you are not a master in the GRAMMAR OF YOUR MT.

If you are able to repeat the very same thing in English language also, your problem is over.


How can you do that?

Repeat the learning techniques that you have adopted to learn your MT. Observe a child very closely. That will give you some input.

How does a child learn to speak in his MT?

He observes the conversation of others. At first, he learns the name of things and words. Then he learns simple sentence etc.

Does anyone tell him the grammar at the time of building his language skills?

No. But still he does not make too much mistake in usage.


He learns from the conversation of the people surrounding him and he speaks in that way. Similarly, if the people surrounding him mispronounce a word, he will also repeat the same mistake. Here is an important lesson for you.

“You can speak well by hearing others speak. If you are listening good English conversation you can speak good English.”

What are the sources that you can use to build your communication skill?

Start speaking English. In the initial stage it will be difficult for you. Don’t lose your heart because you want to win. Be in the company of reasonably good English speakers. Start speaking English with whom you are more comfortable. He can be your senior, junior or even your Boss who are good communicators. Observe and patiently listen how they are speaking, the words they are using and the sentence construction. Speak without any hesitation.

Again let me tell you, most of the people will laugh on you or make fun of you. I’m sure that you will face such a situation because I have faced the very same situation years before.  Whenever you hear such bad comments, tell yourself that “I have put a target for me and I will reach there.”

Fortunately, at the school level itself I realized the significance of communication and English language. Exactly, when I was in my tenth standard, I started my English speaking exercise. Remember, it was a MALAYALAM medium school. At that stage I committed a lot of mistakes. All the teachers and friends laughed upon me and demoralized me. They asked me “Are you from England?” But one teacher named Mr. Radhakrishnan was so special. He encouraged me. He pointed out all the mistakes to me and rectified me. He taught me the basics of English Grammar. Interestingly, his academic specialization was not English. He was a graduate. He told me, “If I can do it, you can also do it.” I still remember that powerful words. I repeat those words here, “If I can do it, anybody of you can do it.”

Here I wish to put forward a suggestion:

Find a good English speaking person in your area and spend some time with him every day. Speak to him in English. Speak about anything. Let him rectify your mistakes. Friends, this exercise can bring dramatic changes in your communication skills.

During this stage, inadvertently you may come across some grammar rules. You may get confused and may face some doubts. Seek the help of a good English teacher in your area. Sure, he will help you. People having a lot of knowledge will be happy to share it and help others. So don’t worry. Approach him with confidence.

Also buy a good English grammar text. How you are going to use it is important. Don’t try to read it as if you are preparing for an exam. If you do so, you will be more concerned about grammar rules and there is every chance of it becoming a barrier. Instead use it as a reference text. Learn from your surroundings and refer the book for just clearing doubts. This process will gradually increase the quality of your language.

Now you speak English. This is not enough.

You have to improve the quality and beauty of your language. If you follow correct usage and apt words, that will bring beauty to your language.

How can you do that?

Answer is simple. We must be familiar with more words and usage. In other words you have to increase your vocabulary and sentence construction skills.

How can you attain that?

Just take the example of a system.


What is given as input is processed and then delivered as output.

It means your output and its quality is depending upon input.

In case of communication skill, if you want to use apt words and style you must know a lot of words and usage.

How is it possible?

Can you read dictionary back to back and improve your vocabulary.

As a normal individual, I can’t do that.

May I suggest another method?

Regularly read an ‘English daily’ and a magazine. While reading, keep an English - English dictionary and a notebook by your side.

Whenever you come across a word which you don’t know, underline that word with red ink. Completely read the news item or article. Now you may get an overall idea about the news or article.

Then start referring the dictionary and find the meaning of all underlined words. Write down the words and their meaning in your note book. I am very specific to use an English - English dictionary because while referring a word, you get its meaning in English and that will add to your word power.

Start reading the news item/article again. This time your reading will be more meaningful and you can also concentrate on sentence construction and usage.

Now read the news item again and read the words and meaning in your note book. Find that words got registered in your memory.

You may be wondering, how is it possible to read a news paper in this way. I ‘m sure you can’t read the entire news paper in a day. Do this exercise for at least a news/article every day. That is enough. Over a period of time you will improve and you can grasp it in first glance itself. If you come across a word which is not known to you, refer the dictionary. Refer the dictionary immediately. Never postpone it.

Then we have to address another concern regarding your English communication.

That is your accent. It is nothing but the way you pronounce the words in English language. Our English pronunciation is largely influenced by our mother tongue. We have a tendency to pronounce English language in the same way that we pronounce our mother tongue. This will be confusing for others. That means we may not be able to convey the idea.

So we should pronounce English words as they pronounced in that language. It doesn’t mean that your accent should be like that of the people of English speaking countries. It is very difficult. But you must understand one thing. The purpose of communication is served only when others understand what you are saying. Even the English should understand what you are saying. If your English pronunciation is influenced by your mother tongue – Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam etc. the listener may not be able to understand what you are saying. The very purpose of communication is defeated here.

How can you solve this issue?

Your accent need not be like that of the English. But even he should understand it. For that you need to neutralize your accent. That means reduce the influence of your mother tongue on your English pronunciation.


Do listen good English. Use all possible resources.

Let me tell you my experience again. It was painful for me to miss the All India Radio English news. It helped me a lot in neutralizing my accent. I used to watch various English channels. Yes, it was a great help. Kindly go to ‘YouTube’ and download good English speeches, clippings etc. and repeatedly hear it. Change your accent accordingly. Be patient. Slow and steadily reach there.

Follow second technique. Read loudly the English news paper, magazines and even your professional study materials everyday. Try to neutralize and improve your pronunciation as you have heard in the AIR news, news channel, YouTube clipping etc. Over a period of time you will build your confidence. Your Oxford dictionary will help you in finding the correct pronunciation of each English word. Your trusted English teacher can help you in using the pronunciation key.

This way your accent can be improved. Still we need to improve another thing.

What is it?

You are finance professional. So when you communicate in your professional capacity, it should appear to be that of finance professional. You should not use a five sentence description in the place of a business jargon or term that is commonly used.

How can you achieve this?

Be prepared to work hard!

Are you interested to know my technique?

I was the regular subscriber of a Business daily and a Business Magazine. I was not able to understand most of the business terms during the initial days. But, on a fine day while surfing through a book store, I happened to see a Business Dictionary. Frankly speaking, I was not aware of such a dictionary ever before. I bought it immediately. It helped me a lot in learning the business terms and jargons. With at most sincerity let me suggest you one thing. Please regularly read at least one Business daily and a Business Magazine. Make sure that a business dictionary is there in your book shelf. Of course you have to use it.

Do one more thing! Watch a business channel of your choice regularly. That will help you in improving your vocabulary, style of presentation and in updating your knowledge.

Avoid turbo lag!

Our thinking process generally takes place in MT. When we speak in another language, normally the thinking process takes place in MT. Then, we translate that idea into the other language. It will consume some time. If this time lag is significant, that will affect the flow of your conversation.

What can you do to solve this issue?

Try to think in English language. Initially, you can’t do that easily. Whenever the thinking process derails to MT, make sure that you do it in English. At the beginning, it needs your conscious effort in every few minutes.

This effort will help you, at least in improving the speed of the translation process. So, in that way you can make sure that the flow of your conversation is not affected.

I can’t put a full stop to this write up without mentioning one more thing.

For every good performance you need rehearsal. Spend some time before a full sized mirror. Choose any topic. Deliver a speech in front of your own image for at least ten minutes in a week. Rectify the shortfalls in your body language. Whenever you get an opportunity to speak in English, speak out. Over a period of time you will become a good communicator. No doubt...........

If you sincerely invest your time in practicing the above techniques, you can be good communicators. There are no magical remedies to solve your communication problems. Work hard and reap the benefits!


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