Having a working knowledge of functional English is essential for survival in this fast-paced competitive world. Almost every reputed firm or multinational company today requires you to be fairly acquainted with English, with some even providing higher salary packages to those candidates whose are more fluent in the language. Some students and working professionals prefer immigrating to countries like Canada and Australia, which again requires you to be conversant in English and tests your proficiency in the IELTS exam.
Now, there are different ways to learn and improve your English. If you are running out of time recommended you join an institute like Pep Talk India where you can make significant improvements in a short span. Alternatively, if you are looking for long-term improvement and don’t have enough capital or time to pursue an English speaking course, then there are effective ways through which you can make a steady improvement over a period of time:
1. Read newspapers editorials
Take any good newspaper with quality content viz. The Hindu or The Statesman. Make an effort to read their editorial page in detail. You will be exposed to a variety of ideas and opinions on different subjects that will help boost your knowledge of current affairs and also improve your English. The prose in such editorial pieces is usually very hard-hitting and the more you read it, the more you will get an idea of what good English comprises of.
Recommended activity: Allot a special notebook for editorial pieces and use a highlighter to mark particular sentences that stand out for their brevity and clarity. Note these down in your notebook and try to use them in any future write-up or conversation.
2. Communicate in English at home
Unless you are a complete loner who doesn’t have any friends and doesn’t stay in touch with his family, you can significantly improve your spoken English by conversing daily with your family members or your roommates. If none of them speak English then just start practicing in front of a mirror and get yourself video-recorded for self-evaluation. You will be able to identify the major gaps just by looking at yourself speak.
Recommended activity: Reserve half an hour to 45 minutes to make a speech or deliver an extempore on any topic. Use your camera to record yourself or ask your friend or family member to do the same. Take honest feedback for all aspects of your speech and then gradually work to cover any possible gaps.
3. Write articles on current topics and read them aloud
There are many burning issues in the world today- climate change, nuclear security, artificial intelligence, crimes against women, growing communalism and so on. Take any such topic and write down an article on it. Read it aloud. Do you think this is something you would be proud to present in front of your parents or teachers? Do more research. Look up interesting articles, expert viewpoints, and recommended books to enrich your write-up. Read it aloud again. Does it sound good? Make this a habit!
Recommended activity: Again, make a specific notebook for this. Write in longhand for the first draft. After you have done enough research, then make a detailed document in your computer. You will eventually have a valuable reference repository that will also improve your English and can act as a go-to manual for any topic you want to be well-acquainted with.
4. Watch English movies and TV shows with subtitles
If you want to enjoy yourself while learning English then make a list of some really good English movies and TV shows and watch them with subtitles. Some of these shows have excellent dialogues and you can enact them with anyone (willing friends or family members). This will not only help you become more fluent in conversations with different but also boost your confidence while delivering a public speech.
Recommended activity: There are a plethora of TV shows and movies available for streaming, courtesy Netflix and Amazon Prime. Take a subscription of any of these services and start watching some highly recommended shows like Breaking Bad, FRIENDS, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Billions with subtitles. Note the diction and pronunciation, the word usage, and the phrases used by the characters. Enact these dialogues, get yourself video-recorded and repeat it this exercise till you can fluently voice the same like a native speaker.
5. Call up different customer services and converse with them in English
This is a very effective way to become more proficient in telephonic skills. Your mobile can be a great source of learning if used in the correct way. We pay bills for electricity, water, telephone and so on. Though it is easy to make the payment through online services like Paytm, you can always call their customer support to enquire about one thing or the other. Whenever the option comes up for Hindi or English, select English, record your call for later review, and then proceed.
Recommended activity: Make a point to call three customer support services daily. These need not be the services you necessarily subscribe to but can be anything at all. For example, you can enquire about some new plans offered by a mobile operator or actually have a conversation with all the pesky credit card and life insurance telecallers. Review yourself on a daily basis and note whether you are making any improvement in the quality of your conversation.