Learn English The Gujarati Way

by Abhishek

If English is not your native language and you are in an Industry which is highly dependent on English communication, it will be tough for you to come out in crowd and excel. I am one of these people. I am a Gujarati (Resident of Gujarat, India) and I work in IT industry. Gujaratis are one of the worst performers in India when it comes to English. That is one of the reasons we do not have an active IT industry like Bangalore or Pune though things are changing very fast now.

Many developers in my company struggle in English communication and I have to accept that fact as a founder director. We have taken few initiatives to improve it overall but according to me it is your own game. No one can teach you English except yourself.

Here are few tips on how you can teach yourself English. These are all tried and tested methods by myself and results are great for me.

1) Read at least one English Newspaper daily

  • Go through all the headlines vigorously
  • Read at least couple of articles you are interested in, don’t worry if you do not understand anything inside the article.
  • Continue with this habit forever (Remember, Rome was not built in one day!)
  • I started reading Times of India from 10th standard and doing it till date. Initially I did not understand single headline of the newspaper but I never gave up. I have to thank my dad for this.

2) Watch English movies (Lots and lots of them)

  • Watch at least one movie daily or one in couple of days (What do you do once you are back home?)
  • We all have HBO in India if you have cable connection. We do not have to pay extra for it like other countries so here is your chance.
  • Now a days on HBO each movie comes with the English subtitles so at least you will understand what is going on in the movie. It will also help with the accent.
  • Watch it even if you do not understand it. I have seen many movies multiple times and every time I get to know one new thing in the movie which I did not know previously. I still do not understand many parts of “Matrix Trilogy” even though watching it for tens of times. 😉
  • Watch English movies in theaters. Sometimes they are cheaper to watch and they will improve your taste for movies 🙂 (You will dislike bogus Bollywood movies which are not worth your money or your time)

3) Listen to Cricket commentary

  • I found this one of the most efficient way for spoken English. Here are my reasons
  • Almost everyone in India know a thing or two about Cricket.
  • We know the players and commentators so when they speak we can identify them.
  • Indian commentators have the accent we understand.
  • We understand the foreign commentators too why? because they are talking about Cricket!
  • Try to deliver commentary in English when you are playing a local cricket match. Don’t announce that you are going to do it, just start and trust me, nobody will laugh at you.
  • If you are a sports fan, watch “Sportscenter” on ESPN everyday. It is a great daily dose for a sports junkie like me and fun way to learn foreign accent too.

4) Read English Fiction, Non-Fiction (Whatever you like)

5) I can walk English, I can talk English, I can laugh English (Practice, Practice and Practice)

  • Practice makes you perfect
  • All the above methods will go in vain if you do not actually speak in English.
  • Start speaking short sentences with your friends, colleagues, boss etc (Don’t worry if you are wrong or if they laugh)
  • Initially when I tried to speak in English the opposite person used to reply in Gujarati (which meant that person understood that I was bad at English). But I never gave up and I am good at it now.
  • I was fortunate to have a client from US as soon as we started our company. We had to communicate in English and had to understand his accent. Communicating in English with your foreign clients is the best opportunity you have. They are almost always courteous and never make a fuss about your poor communication skills.

6) Have an English speaking Girlfriend or Wife (Boyfriend or Husband) spouse

  • Well this has been one of the most effective way for me. My wife is excellent in English and without her I may not have come this far. She constantly pinches me whenever I speak or write incorrect English.
  • I know this is not possible for everyone out there but those of you who do not have one, keep this in mind.
  • If you have a girlfriend or a wife who is not good in English, ask her to read this article 😉

So this is my story so far as far as English goes. What’s your story? How did you learn to speak and write in English?

If you have any more points to add please leave them in comments, readers of this blog and thousands of Gujaratis like me will be grateful to you forever :). Also please feel free to point out my mistakes in this article, because as I said I am still learning.