Skills needed to learn English

We need four skills to speak the language:

  1. Grammar
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Pronunciation
  4. Tone & Voice Modulation

Grammar:

Grammar is the backbone of any language. Without it, it is very difficult to frame the sentences. There is no literature without grammar. Basic English Grammar, starting from the Parts of Speech proceeding to Kinds of Sentences is covered in this course, first explained in Tamil and then in English. So that Learning English through Tamil becomes easier for the learner to understand English Grammar clearly. It lays a strong foundation for the learner to understand, speak, read and write without making any mistakes. When he learns the the corresponding technical terms in Tamil, his understanding has no boundaries. For example, when we teach about framing a simple sentence with noun + verb or Subject, Predicate, Object and Component, the relevant words in Tamil…(Ezhuvai, payanilai , seyapaduporul) are used to make the learner understand it easily and enable him to speak the language fluently.

Vocabulary:

We have already talked in detail about vocabulary. Many suggestions have already been mentioned to improve your vocabulary.

Pronunciation:

Listening and Reading aloud help you a lot in improving your pronunciation. We, Indians, always have our Mother-Tongue-Influence (MTI). Listening and Watching the BBC News Channel help us a lot to overcome this problem. Many CDs like Linguaphone are available in the market to improve our listening skill and pronunciation.

Tone & Voice Modulation:

Our tone plays an important role in expressing our feelings. Be it Happiness, Sadness or Anger, we can make out from the tone itself. Voice Modulation also is necessary to express feelings, suggestions and advice. As a teacher of Spoken English I will casually ask my students – Who is their favorite actor and whether they could quote any dialogue from their movies. Usually they will say one or two words or at the most, a single line. But when I mentioned, *“Veerapandiya Kattabomman” they immediately started narrating the famous dialogue in that movie. How is it possible? That movie was released in 1962. Many of the students were not even born at that time. At the most they might have watched the movie in TV on special occasions. Then how is it possible to quote the lengthy dialogue? It is because of the tone and the voice modulation of the actor *Mr. Sivaji Ganesan (who is no more) which has made a great impact on the audience.

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Process of Learning a new Language

The Five natural ways of learning a language:

  1. Listening
  2. Understanding
  3. Speaking
  4. Reading
  5. Writing

How do we learn our mother-tongue?

We learn it through natural ways. Usually a Child learns his/her mother-tongue by listening to the parents, who in their excitement and anxiety always tell the child to say ‘amma/appa” (mummy & daddy). The baby blinks, but soon learns to associate the lady as his/her mother and the gentleman as his/her father and tries to say amma/appa. The understanding starts here. Soon the child is successful and begins to call his/her parents amma and appa. When the child goes to school at the age of 5, he/she learns to read and then to write. Since we learn our mother-tongue in this natural way, we are able to speak our mother-tongue fluently without making any mistakes. But this process is reversed when we learn a foreign language. We become familiar to the language when we go to school. We learn to:

  1. Read
  2. Write
  3. Speak
  4. Understand
  5. Listen

Exactly in the reverse process. That is why it is difficult for us to speak the language fluently as ‘Listening” does not take place either at home or in school. So, whenever you attend any coaching classes for spoken English, please always find out whether they are stressing on the natural way of learning and give enough exercises to improve your Listening, understanding and speaking abilities in English.

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Tips to Learn English

Tip I – Our Attitude plays an important role in our life. Those who have a positive attitude achieve success at any cost while those with negative attitude fail miserably. Our attitude determines our Altitude. This applies to learning a language also. The learner should never think it is difficult to learn a foreign language. He/She should always think “I can learn English and I will speak English”. This should be the “mantra” of the positive learner.

Tip II – Secondly, we should not be afraid of speaking/using the language in public. Whether right or wrong, start speaking in English, though your vocabulary will be limited. Do not be ashamed or feel inferior when you make mistakes. Even if somebody laughs at you, always remember that English is not your mother – tongue and you are not a native speaker. If you make mistakes while speaking your mother-tongue, you should be really ashamed. But English is the Universal language and you are learning it to improve your communication skills. Can you imagine a foreigner speaking our mother-tongue without making any mistakes? Don’t we get excited and thrilled when they say “namaste” in Hindi and “Vanakam” in Tamil? So, using simple words, start speaking. A healthy and confident child never learns to walk without falling down.

Tip III – Reading aloud helps a lot in improving your Vocabulary (words) and pronunciation. So, every day, preferably in the morning read the English news paper like ‘The Hindu’ or any book aloud.  If you do not understand the meaning of the words, do not run and get the dictionary immediately. Very few people understand and know the meaning of the words in the first attempt itself. Read the same paragraph thrice and try to relate the meaning with the context. Slowly, the meaning will be registered in the mind vaguely. Now, if the dictionary is referred, you will be quite surprised and excited to know that you have almost guessed it right. ‘The Hindu’ news paper is suggested for good reading, because of the perfect construction of sentences, good vocabulary and error-free grammar.

Tip IV – Another way to improve your vocabulary is to take five words from the dictionary and learn the meaning and use them in sentences. This practice will help you a lot in improving the vocabulary. Please remember that without words, no sentence can be framed or spoken. If you know many words only, people will be interested in listening to you. They will not be interested, if the same words are used again and again or you get stuck in the middle of the sentences due to lack of suitable words. Reading loudly for thirty minutes is suggested as a regular exercise to improve the vocabulary and pronunciation.

Tip V – Last, but not the least, whenever you watch Television, watch English News, English Commentaries and then English movies. It will sound as Greek and Latin in the beginning. But don’t give up. Keep on watching and Listening. Listening is a wonderful skill which enables us to learn everything. While watching the movies, please observe the following:

  1. How do the characters start the conversation?
  2. What kind of words are they using?
  3. How do they form (construct) the sentences?
  4. How do they use their tone & voice?
  5. Which tense is used in the dialogue?

These observations will be very useful for spoken English. Try to frame your sentences in the same pattern, while beginning a conversation.

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