Harish Jharia

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09 February 2010

Learn English: How To Speak Better English (Part- 1)

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© Harish Jharia

In the modern corporate world, English speaking is considered a must. You would attract attention of the listeners far more than others would, if you are able to speak English in an effective way. Just speaking English would not be enough; your speech should rather emerge like a natural instinct. You should not appear to be trying to speak out by making extra efforts and mincing words and often repeating sentences for an effective communication. You are expected to speak with the same ease and comfort as you speak your mother tongue or the local dialect. 

Let us discuss the basic requirements for effective English speaking.  Most of us do not adequate vocabulary and we do not know the difference between pronunciation & accent. Let us have clear concept of these basic requirements for English speaking. They are enlisted as follows:
  1. Grammar
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Pronunciation
  4. Accent
Grammar:

Grammar is the basic requirement for speaking any language including English. Without having knowledge of grammar, you would not be able to read, write or speak any language. We will proceed with this article, with the presumption that we are well aware of grammar and discussing on a dedicated project - “Let Us Learn Speaking English”, without discussing about grammar.

Vocabulary:

Vocabulary means your stock of words. One day my father asked me to write as many English words as I could. Those days I was doing my graduation in engineering. I studied all through my academics in English medium and knew quite good English. In spite of that, I could not write more than 50 words.

Then my father helped me out by asking synonyms of the words that I wrote on the paper and to my astonishment by trying out for meanings of those words, I could write another 25 words. I tried my best; yet, I could not cross the magic limit of 100.

Based on the above exercise my father told me that I was having vocabulary far less than 100. He asked me to read more, strive hard to learn and understand more and more words, and make it sure to cross the magic figure of 100.

The bigger the stock of words we have, the easier would be for us to speak better English in a better way.  That means that we should know and understand the use of as many words as possible.

Here are some examples of synonyms of words:

security = safety, refuge, sanctuary, safekeeping, safety measures, defense, protection, precautions
 belief = faith, conviction, principle, idea, confidence, trust, certainty, credence
betray =  be disloyal to, give up, hand over, let down, deceive
trouble =  problem, difficulty, dilemma, mess, nuisance, snag, danger 
Pronunciation:

Speaking words with specific sounds may be called ‘Pronunciation’. Utterance is also a synonym for pronunciation. Your pronunciation should be right for a right speech.

Examples:

Look how pronunciation changes-  ‘hop’ & ‘hope’; ‘save’ & ‘shave’; ‘dose’ & ‘does’; ‘advice’ & ‘advise’.
There are many among us who cannot pronounce ‘sh’.  We speak ‘sssss’ in place of ‘sh’
Similarly, most of us do not pronounce the word ‘pleasure’ in the right way. We pronounce it as ‘pleazere’
We pronounce ‘window’ as ‘bindow’ or even ‘bhindow’
We pronounce ‘four’ as ‘phore’ and ‘foreign’ as ‘phoreign’
We pronounce ‘film’ as ‘philm’
We pronounce the letter ‘L’ as ‘yel’ and ‘H’ as ‘hech’
In addition to the inherent phonetic reproduction for a particular pronunciation depending on the local dialect or mother tongue that influence and affect our pronunciations while speaking English. There are the different styles of speaking English in the different parts of the world.

Slightly different pronunciations are used in different English speaking countries for the same words because; the phonetic reproduction depends on the dialects spoken in those particular parts of the world.

The number ‘8’ is pronounced differently in different countries like in Australia they pronounce it as ’aight’ and not as ‘eight’ as pronounced in other countries.

We must remember that we In India have adapted ‘UK English’ for studying in our academics and working in offices. Nevertheless, we come across ‘US English’ while watching Hollywood films and working on computers and internet. In spite of all this fuss, we should not try copying the English speaking styles from different parts of the world all at a time.

We should follow the pronunciations and accents of English that we have learnt from our primary schools and kept improving as we promote ourselves all through up to our university levels and venture into our professions or jobs.  It is always better to speak a fluent Indian English rather than stammering while copying Australian or American styles.

Accent:

Speaking any word by breaking it in two or more pieces and stressing at any latter is called accent. Pronouncing with an accent is in fact speaking by highlighting, stressing or giving a higher pitch to a part of word while pronouncing it.  We may compare accent with the notes and percussion beats or rhythms giving to a line of a lyric for making a musical piece.  Accent gives speech a musical twist and makes it distinct for an effective phonetic reproduction.

Examples:

If we consider ‘examination’ for example; while giving accent to ‘examination’ we should break it into 2 pieces and stress on particular letters for making it easier to speak and for sounding better and specific. Just do it as follows and see how ‘examination’ and a few other words sound and make easier for you to speak:
  1. Examination = exa-mi-nation*
  2. Visualization = visuali-zation*
  3. Vandalism = vandal-lism *
  4. Thermodynamics =  thermo-dyna-mics *
  5. Entertainment =  enter-tain-ment*
  6. Rise = rise ***
  7. Rustic = rus-tic*
  8. Rigorous = rigo-rous
  9. Decoration = deco-ration
  10. Extravaganza =  extra-vagan-za
* (‘Dash’ shows break; ‘underline’ shows stressing)
*** (Need not break being small word)

If you carefully study dictionaries, you will find that there are specific punctuation as guidelines also provided for accent of words in addition to pronunciation. 

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Read more articles on similar subject: Click on the following links
Discover Life: Speaking English- 1  
Discover Life: Speaking English- 2  
Discover Life: First Step to Speaking English (Words)  
Discover Life: Second Step to Speaking English (Sentences)  
Discover Life: Speaking English (Speech)  
Discover Life: Speaking English (Practice)
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1 comment:

  1. Your blog is simply superb. I love reading your blog posts. They cater to diverse topics. Yes, English learning is a problem for many and you have explained it in a simple way.

    ReplyDelete