Spoken-English coaching classes have been on the scene for decades and seem to be in good business. People learn in special class-rooms and from audio and video lessons. Different courses are designed for different age groups. The need and vanity of English is evident – probably not matched with commitment.
People good in one language are generally good in other languages too. Language is mastered when we take interest in formulating and expressing our thoughts clearly. This trait is independent of a specific language. If a person is good in one language, it is easy for him to learn another.
Use of language is a skill. Effective way of gaining a skill is application backed by theoretical knowledge – in case of language, the grammar. If we depend only on practice without theoretical knowledge, it takes longer to build the skill and it remains shallower, unable to cope with changing needs. Knowledge alone without application won’t prepare us to practice. Living in a city like Bangalore, we understand several languages that we cannot speak. There are many who have lived in Bangalore for decades but are shy of speaking Kannada. No practice.
Some people with good education and position do not use the opportunities to hone their language skills causing embarrassment to themselves and their organisation apart from being less effective.
“I am not sure whether leave letters/ or any other would be composed correctly in mother tongue either.
I studied in Kannada medium up to High school in our village. Each day we had only one class for English lesson. Yet we wrote correctly most of the time. When I joined the intermediate college in Bangalore , the only handicap I had was in spoken English, attributable to a feeling of inferiority vis-a-vis the city bred students. It took me three months of loud reading of some lessons from my books, The Hindu Editorial etc. to gain confidence. I had remembered one High School teacher was particular about some students by turn in the class room reading aloud which enabled him to correct any pronunciation and simultaneously test the attention of others. Reading aloud and listening to one’s own voice may improve attention. Perhaps this method now is old fashioned. I would recommend it anyway.”
I support this view. Among popular tips on public speaking, one is to read aloud the draft speech standing in front of a mirror. Reading aloud nursery tales to children is fun as it gives ample opportunities to modulate the voice. Reading aloud need not stop at school or in reading tales to toddlers. Read aloud to your teenagers and children in twenties or thirties. Read aloud sitting with friends and family members. Make reading clubs. Set aside hours to read together.
This can trigger love for languages and interest in general knowledge.