One of my lawyer friends called me a month ago with a proposal, “some of my colleagues wanted to upgrade their English communication skills, can you take it up.”
I said, little apprehensively, ‘why not?.’
My apprehension: lawyers are little tough to handle with, the norm goes, that they are too critical, argumentative. Besides, most of them in their forties, I had my doubts about their sincere intent to sit and listen every day for an hour. Can I be assured that they would be punctual to allotted time? And why, at this point, these advocates are aspiring to sit down to pick up the communication skills?
Of late, it has increasingly become evident, ‘poor English’ as one ubiquitous disadvantage that is haunting the classrooms and corridors of many Indian Colleges! Perhaps the advocates, anticipating the demands of the upcoming High court in our city, had now become aware of their language crunch!
English: I cherish, I praise and enjoying thirty long years affair with it. I adore it as an art form. While exploring fine arts like dance, dramatics, music, or painting to excel, one needs to have firstly, a deep passion, then disciplined practice and grabbing as many opportunities to demonstrate it. English is not a subject to be learned, but one has to pursue as a personal pilgrimage that has no precise endpoint. To use it to good advantage requires the dedication to brace it, involving a lot of reading, and put in an earnest effort to build up as much vocabulary as one’s self-discipline allows.
Like oxygen to high altitude climbers without which they are troubled along the way up, similarly, without the supply of sufficient flow of vocabulary the chances anyone would become active in the language are discouragingly low. It is said by Jules Renard, “Words are the coins making up the currency of sentences, and in English, there are always too many small coins.” Aptly, said about the ever-expanding stock of the English lexicon.
Accepting the assignment, on day one, I was ready with all my teaching gadgets. Seated in front of me are around forty lawyers – diffident, murmuring. Staring and struggling to collect my thoughts it appeared to me standing as if I’m the main accused fenced by a string of lawyers waiting to grill me! After a while, on the contrary, I couldn’t but warmly appreciate their attentive listening and noting: a sincere enough attempt to add a measure of merit to their profession. Their candidness delighted me to go about illustrating the essential building blocks of English and nut and bolts of the grammar.
The distressing difficulty I have noticed when I visit colleges or academic groups is that everyone is aware and ambitious, to be conversant in good English communication. But, deplorably, many of them are poorly guided about the ‘know how’ mechanism; to gain a grip on the most fluid, the mercurial language in the world: English. And certainly, it’s not student friendly.
Skimming a few grammar books can never tame English. It is not a subject to be picked up cursorily, a problem to solve attending a few monthly courses, a mastery attained by coursing through few related publications.
Enjoying, reading, and speaking English is artistry; wishing for its enormous advantages involves multi-branched sincerity and enthusiasm to own it.
Planning to be well versed in English expression at best to a limited proficiency is a three-step journey; has to be followed through like a religious ritual. Firstly feel it as a possession – a passionate love to grasp it! Read, Read and Read as many books, any genre, classics or contemporary novels, autobiographies, essays, articles, newspapers, and magazines. Thankfully, today everything is easily accessible, conveniently –off-line, online, available and downloadable freely.
Every day, pouring over favorite books, topics enable to identify the method of English expressions and importantly the vocabulary: the lifeline of efficient exchange. The more vocabulary one can amass the best hold one can enjoy with the language, thereby, smooth conversation, one can engage in. Creating a personal reserve of vocabulary is the second fundamental petition for English language worshippers.
Listening and practicing is the third step any aspirant of the English language has to take up as an obsession! Listening to TV shows, news channels, audio-tapes, You-tube is one enormous resource to form a habit of listening and practicing.
Recommending the three essential factors to acquiring conversational skills, I follow it up by, “Your zeal to learn English must be as high as your career ambition you set” this I appeal to all the young adults, budding professionals who sit in my classes. All I say, “I can only shine a learnable bright light, in front of your path ahead.” Further, I add, “ It’s your choice to follow that path, and it is your inner intensity that would decide the acceleration to reach your desired end point” Here, the proficiency and ease in commanding English skills.
At the end of my one-hour session, every day, to the advocates, discussing the nuances of English grammar, hearteningly, I note a fifty-year-old woman, a practicing advocate shyly asking that she requires some additional explanation. And another youngish good looking budding lawyer, perhaps in his thirties capturing all the projected notes on his smartphone! Whatever may be the means they are receiving my sessions, they are there, willingly spreading their notebooks writing, listening and nodding: a smile of appreciation and thankfulness. Their receptive gesture I felt, a sacred enough blessing any teacher would indeed humbly treasure.