What do you think about Indians who have very good command over their written English but can't speak it well? What conclusions do you draw from such situations?
I think its a confidence issue and they should be encouraged to speak in English. Maybe they dont like their accent and fear ridicule whilst they feel safe in writing English. I think they are better at spoken than they realise and shouldnt be so hard on themselves. I love the Indian accent and have met many who understand long and complicated words but struggle to find the confidence to speak in English.
Shankara Narayanan Sethuraman
I got a interesting perspective on this when I was planning to move to the USA for higher education.
One requirement for the same was the TOEFL exam which tests English language skills specifically in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
For me and my peers in college, most received 95+% in reading and 90+% listening. Writing and speaking scores were much lower with speaking being the lowest for everyone. This was after all of us had had English as the medium of instruction starting in primary school up to college.
In this context, it is important to dive deep to understand speaking skills are poorer compared to the rest.
Education throughout school was about the final scores which depend on the ability to write answers to questions in exams. Since all the answers are learnt by rote, the aspect that is horned the most here is the ability to read and comprehend. Hence, across the board Indian students with a decent English medium education can read and understand English quite well.
For kids born after the 1990s, listening to English via songs, dialogues in cartoons and movies, TV Shows, etc, makes us familiar with the American and British accent. This in addition to English being the medium of instruction makes listening ability come to at least 90% of where is reading ability is.
Next comes writing. While we all can write in English, we haven’t horned our ability to write creatively given all the years of rote learning and reproduction. This makes writing scores only up to 75–80% of where listening scores are.
Finally, we come to speaking. This is the worst of the four. Most students aren’t required to explain and/or present their own ideas verbally throughout their student life. In addition, we almost always speak an -glish language with friend and family - Tanglish, Hinglish, etc. This makes speaking skills as low as 60% of the listening scores.
Overall, we can read English well and reproduce it in written format. All other aspects of using the language - thinking, speaking, original writing, etc., have never been honed.
I did my entire schooling from Hindi medium schools. We were introduced to basic English like A for apple from class 6th.
My father understood the importance of English as a language. From the very begng he made it a point to ensure that we learn English. He had subscribed to an English newspaper and insisted that we read it everyday. In the evening when he sat with us, he made us read the paper loudly. He would then ask us the write the editorial page in a notebook. He bought an English dictionary for us and asked us to make it a habit to use it frequently. He also used to speak to us in English during that half
As a result of all that exercise, our written English improved substantially.
But since there was no tradition of speaking English either in our house or school or among friends, we lacked it. We couldn’t generate that kind of confidence to speak English at public place.
When we went for higher education such as engineering and MBA, we got the real opportunity to speak English and hone our speaking skills.
It’s the non availability of opportunity to converse in English which is the root cause of finding it difficult to speak good, fluent English.
English is the primary mode of instruction in the Indian education system, so most high-school educated people have a good amount of exposure to the language.
However, since an overwhelming majority of Indians have a different first-language at home, the linguistic characteristics of their native language seep into their conversational English. This is also why ‘Indian english’is replete with peculiarities adopted from Hindi/ Tamil/ Marathi/ Kannada or any of the 20–30 major Indian languages. The vocabulary is pretty much the same, but the flavor is different depending on where you grew up. Teachers transfer these to students, and on it goes.
For people who spend a lot of time communicating in their native language, this translates into being able to write English sentences that just about make sense but are structured heavily along the word-order of their native language - therefore making their writing poor in fluency, but just about adequate enough for a reader to know what they’re trying to say.
There are several reasons why many Indians may find it difficult to speak English, even though they can read and write it. One reason is that the English language spoken in India is often quite different from the standard British or American English that is taught in schools. Additionally, many Indians may have had limited opportunities to practice speaking English, particularly in rural areas where it may not be widely spoken. Additionally, the lack of exposure to native speakers, who could help improve their fluency and pronunciation, could be a factor.
Additionally, some Indians may have learned English academically, focusing primarily on reading and writing, rather than speaking and listening. Cultural and linguistic differences between English and native Indian languages could also make it harder for them to adapt to speaking English.
But in the end it's just language which one can improve with continuous practice.
Main reason is the environment or surroundings.
We need to practice the language once we learned. Because most of the Indians don't use English at their home. Although, children learn English in school but they don't get the environment to practice at home.
Second reason, some people hesitate to speak in English and they think they might get wrong. But No!
If we speak hindi at home, and did we speak perfect hindi when we were infant? No!
Similarly, we have to converse in English. Let's start from broken. And overcome your hesitation. And try to listen and practice English.
Listen to English news, watch English movies and practice the way they speak.
Then try to speak it with your friends or the person who knows English.
Think about a topic and try to speak on that for 5 minutes daily.
After a week, recall your daily activities and try to speak on that for 15 minutes. Gradually, increase the time and then see the difference in you.
The majority of people in the world have difficulty speaking a non-native language.
Americans are at top of it.
Those who know three languages are called trilinguals. Those who know two languages are called bilinguals. Those are who know only one language are called? … Americans.
Not sure what can be the intent of this question. when you said the majority of Indians have difficulty in speaking English, what is the expectation? Why do you have that expectation? Which country is a benchmark in speaking the second language? Must be one Cameroon, Uganda, or Nigeria, where a higher fraction of the population speaks English as a second language. Even after being better English worshipers than Indians, the countries do not excel in anything, because English is not a skill investing too many resources on this will always be counterproductive.
The number of Indians who know English is about 1000 times more than those who should know English. About 10% Of Indians speak English which's too much and very counterproductive, a waste of precious human energy and human resources.
To spend our energies for the right purpose, We should match this number with advanced countries like China, Japan, South Korea.. and bring the number of English speakers down to 0.01%
These countries effectively do business with the world using those 0.01% people, basically low-paid translators. While for a useless skill such as speaking English we pay pretty high, a reason for lack of deep skill and innovation.
Even when you copy America, England, Australia, New Zealand you forget they are speaking their mother tongue. It’s mother tongue that is the key, not English.