Written By Girish Seshamani
As a trainer for CAT\MAT and other competitive exams over the last ten years, I find lot of intelligent students not being able to crack the Group Discussion and Interview. The fear of the unknown is so high, that these set of students, see themselves as failures.
In our country, English is the second language. Apart from metropolitan cities, which have a number of convent schools, all other students stand at a huge disadvantage, since they are not exposed to the English Language. In all these states, even though the English Language is part of the curriculum, the English Language is taught in their mother tongue. The teachers themselves are not trained properly and they do not have the ability to make the English Language interesting. Moreover the interaction between students also happens in their mother tongue, with the net result being a rude shock, when they get exposed to the outside world.
When I interacted with this category of students at length their concerns were:
If we try to converse in English with our teachers, they reply in our mother tongue
English is not required for me because I am joining the family business
Our friends make fun of us or treat us as social outcasts, if we try to converse in English
Our parents are not educated and our siblings are also sailing in the same boat
Our teachers discourage the use of English
We know only a few words
We do not know how to construct a sentence and pronounce the word, so we will end up making fools of ourselves
Inability to speak in front of a small group or public speaking
Thinking in one’s mother tongue and translating into English
After listening to their concerns, I just asked them one question, How did you pick up your mother tongue? The answer was prompt. We learnt to speak our mother tongue by listening to our parents speak. My next question was, Did your parents teach you grammar? The answer was No
I then went on to tell them, the English Language also needs to be learnt, the same way.
I worked out a plan of action which I am listing below:
Be passionate about the English Language
Make it a point to watch News Channels, Animal Planet or National Geographic. Close your eyes and focus on the words. Likewise, if you share a passion for a particular game, as in, cricket or football, listen to the commentary
In the initial phase do not bother about your grammatical accuracy, fluency or vocabulary. Your focus should be to reach a level, where you can boldly communicate in the English Language, with whatever vocabulary you have
Identify one person in your locality who speaks the English Language fluently. Have a serious discussion with this person, and tell him that you want to improve your language, and you are prepared to stretch the limit. Ask him to correct your mistakes. Fix up a time convenient to him and interact with him for anywhere between 10 – 15 minutes daily. This conversation can be in person or on phone. Ask him to correct your mistakes and make it a point, not to repeat the same mistake again.
Avail of every opportunity that you get to speak. Never bother about the reaction of the audience. There are bound to be people in the audience who will smile sarcastically or may laugh at you, while you are delivering your speech. Let me tell you that these people are failures. They have not achieved anything in their life, and are filled with envy. Make yourself mentally so tough, that nothing should pull you down, and destroy your confidence
Do not compare yourself with anyone. You are unique
Read any magazine which is related to your area of interest. If you want to go in for fiction, there is nothing to beat, James Hadley Chase. You will not put the book down, till you have finished, reading the book fully. The language used is also simple.
Always think in English. If you think in your mother tongue, and translate into English, the structure will go horribly wrong. Let us take a sentence; Rita is beautiful, which is the right structure. Assuming that your mother tongue is Hindi, the translation will be, Rita khoobsurat hai, which when translated to English becomes, Rita beautiful is. Always remember the basic structure of the English Language, which is, Subject + Verb + Object
Practice Auto Suggestion. Human beings are blessed with two minds, conscious mind and the subconscious mind. When we go to sleep in the night, the subconscious mind comes on top and the conscious mind goes down. Auto suggestion means feeding your subconscious mind with positive thoughts. In this case, let us assume that you have to deliver a speech after one week. Everyday before going to sleep, imagine that you are one of the best speakers in the world. People admire you and they have come in huge numbers to listen to you. See yourself talking confidently, and the audience listening to you, with full attention. After your speech gets over, the entire crowds’ gets up from their seats and give you a standing applause. Do this everyday without fail, and more importantly, believe in the power of the subconscious mind. Visualize this whole scene again and again. The great tennis player, Andre Agassi, is a master of the subconscious mind. When you get up in the morning, the conscious mind comes on top, and the subconscious mind goes down. The job of the conscious mind, is purely to implement the commands, given to it, by the subconscious mind. You can rewrite your whole destiny, if you tap the power of your subconscious mind
Before I wind up, I would like to quote Martin Luther King, who said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenges and controversies”