Often students come to me and ask if there is any short cut or crash course to learn a language. Let me be more specific, since it concerns the Indian domestic students, it is about English. And my answer to ‘em is ‘No’.
When my students hear a NO, they get disappointed. After all, it is a fast paced world, where people do not even have time to eat, how could we expect them to devote all of their time in practicing and studying the big rules of grammar. But here lies a key…
I tell my students to forget all the rules; it’s just about switching habits. Here, I would like to narrate a very interesting real time experience of mine. My cousin and I were living in a rented house in Masjid Moth area of South Extension part –II, New Delhi. My landlord was a proud owner of a Mithai(sweet) shop. His belly conspicuously proclaimed his profession. He wore a lungi and a vest or was usually topless. We used to call him Dholak. He was a jolly person who lacked good communication skills and had little knowledge of English. We often exchanged Namaste or bartered the samosa or mithai. For around three months we didn’t see him at his shop. We didn’t even bother to ask his mother. One fine day when I went to buy a samosa from the shop, I saw a man, wearing a beautiful shirt neatly tucked in his denim jeans, selling the mithai at the shop. To my surprise, he turned out to be none other than Dholak. Seeing him after a long time I greeted him with a ‘Hi’, which he too returned with a ‘Hello, How are you?’ I further asked him,” Where had you been? “To my astonishment he replied, “I had moved to Noida where I joined a Coffee shop. By the way how have you been?” I was pleasantly surprised to hear him talk fluently. This was the time when I conformed to my learning that to learn a language we do not need to carry big books, but we need to either create an environment or enter a place where we are surrounded by such environment.
Now, what I mean here is if we need to learn a language, it becomes very important for us to only focus on that particular language. As Amitabh Bachchan said, “I can walk and Talk English”. Yes, this is what we need to do. Let us deprive ourselves of the luxury of knowing the mother tongue. No matter, how difficult it is, but do not give up. Keep trying. Switch to English news, television serials, movies, books. Do not consult an English to Hindi dictionary, rather keep it English to English. There are several clubs that are established to keep interaction of this kind in mind. If you are a college student, participate in various clubs that encourage speaking and presentation such as dramatics, literature, reading clubs. Accept challenges. Do not wait for others to delegate tasks, rather take ownership. Challenge yourself and speak only in English. If you are working, try to speak to your peers in English only. Speak to your friends in English. Follow a correct pattern of learning. Those who are seeking a school of language, select your trainer who is well versed with the subject and has a passion for teaching. The trainer shouldn’t pile your table with spiraled notes and thick books, but should be able to make the class enjoyable and worth by following a more relevant and practical approach.
Learning English or any other language is not a rocket science or a result of constant mugging up. What is needed is just perseverance.
Ms. Anushree Dixit, Centre for Communication & Critical Thinking, JKLU