Spoken English communication skills for Himachal Pradesh students

As 3rd most literate Indian state, Himachal must claim it's rightful job share in the Tri-city and other Metros by sharpening their English Speaking skills.We must first diagnose what ails our learners. Regional colloquial aberrations must be isolated. Then an innovative and un orthodox pedagogy is required to neutralize the vernacular influences,so that our Himachali English speakers can join the mainstream with confidence and without inhibition.

As a proud Himachali, I am writing this article on the strength of literacy statistics which show Himachal as the 3rd most literate Indian state next only to Kerala and Meghalaya. This shows,apart from a conducive environment, enough educational opportunities provided by recent successive state governments as well as positive mindset of average Himachali, motivated enough to avail those opportunities. But the buck must not stop here only.Merely passing out of schools and colleges is not enough to add quality to our lives in general.Any education is good only as long as we are successfully able to convert it into gainful employment or a private enterprise.

Contrary to what many people thought, last decade has seen English formidably turning into a global link language. Ever since our planet has been accepted as a global village,many Indian students with the desirable level of understanding with English are able to reach educational institutions in the English speaking countries like the UK,USA,Canada,Australia and New Zealand. Within the country the students from major metros and other premier institutions have an edge over their counterparts from small towns of Himachal, Panjab and Haryana. With the fast emergence of the BPO sector, ample opportunities have opened up for the gainful absorption of Himachali youth in Tri-city(Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula) and Tri-city NCR(Delhi.NOIDA and Gurgaon).But there is a common factor. Whatever the curriculum,no pass-course,diploma or degree is enough unless the job seeker can comfortably communicate in English.

Recently I was given the responsibility to head the spoken English communication department at Indus International University in distt.UNA
Most of the students hailed from the neighboring districts.I would like to highlight a few of the regional lingual aberrations, I noticed.

Milk Milak
Silk Silak
Young Jung
University Juniversity
Vow Bow
Union Junion
Job Jobe
Lot Lote
Waterworks Batarburks
Quiet Quite
Lion Loin
A very few could coherently pronounce the words like Vivid, Vivacious and Rural.
Perhaps two students out of a class of thirty could articulately and spontaneously speak the following,

"Sushma Shastri sells sachets of shinning sea shells on the shallow sea shore"

and " Pot chalkstrips shops stock top chopstick"

Many more tongue twisters were devised to their specific lingual needs. It took me a few months to neutralise their regional, vernacular and mother tongue influences and I was able to refine their spoken English skills upto a reasonable level.
A few years back,during my visits to Europe I had met countless Himachalis engagged or employed in the hospitality and restaurant industry. Many of them struggled hard to get even paltry jobs only owing to a lack of cmmunication skills in English language.(English is spoken or understood in most of Europe). In Vienna and London,I had several opportunities of training combined classes of Indians,Pakistanis and Bangladeshis working in various hotels and restaurants.Only selected grammar enough for sentence making along with a comprehensive culinary terminology could do wonders in just a few days time. The efforts were highly appreciated by the respective managements.Interestingly more than 80% of the Indian learners happened to be Himachalis.

It is my advice to my fellow Himachalis that a mere working knowledge of English will not suffice. We have to have a command over it. Only then we can use it as a passport to our global bandwagon. We need to strengthen our basic grammar, which is the foundation for a fluent communication. Lastly, do not treat English as a foreign language. Make it your own.

NOTE: I shall be happy to make my humble contribution to the cause discussed above. If my thought is appreciated and the editors give me a nod, I want to keep posting periodically,the relevant study material as well as important tips to enhance the art of sentence making. To make it more user friendly and broad based, I intend the use of Hindi too.

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