English for Indians: What They Don’t Teach You in Schools
Most Indian students and working professionals find themselves stuck when speaking or writing in English, despite studying in English-medium schools and colleges. Blame your English teachers, for they never made English fun and easy.
Identifying a subject is so important that everything else in the sentence depends on the subject. Your verb depends on the subject. Your adverb depends on the verb you choose. There is a whole chain of words that depend on one single word – and that is the subject.
“It pays to speak English” – A 2006 study by economists Munshi, Kaivan and Mark Rosenzweig found that, in India, speaking English gave workers a 25 per cent premium in wages over non-English speaking workers.
The aim of this book is to help you understand the mechanics of writing and speaking well in English in flat 10 days. The chapters in this book have been divided in a way that you would naturally understand the sequence, making it easy to grasp and at the same time have fun. Very few English teachers know this technique of aligning the lessons with the thought process of students.
When you are in school or college, your English teacher took pains to make you understand so many rules of grammar that it is impossible to apply them consciously in a day to day situations. You don’t have to learn 100 grammar rules. Once you know some three or four rules, English will become entertaining for you.
The first step in learning English is not noun or pronoun or adjective or adverbs or verbs. That’s the wrong way of learning English grammar. So, what is the first step to learn English grammar? The subject of a sentence. The subject is a hero of a sentence because it is about this hero you talk about in the sentence. Every hero needs to perform some action. This action is called verb. Identifying the real verb and matching with the subject is the start of a journey towards becoming a master.
The 10-day rigorous program:
- Day 1 – What they don’t teach you about English in Indian schools
- Day 2 – The best kept secrets of English grammar
- Day 3 – The grand wedding between subject and verb
- Day 4 – The expansion principle you never learnt in school
- Day 5 – The signpost called prepositions
- Day 6 – The various avatars of a subject
- Day 7 – Be in the present
- Day 8 – Beware of the passive voice
- Day 9 – Since vs For
- Day 10 – Common construction mistakes
The book is written in a story format – a kind of novel!
Three friends – Archana, Rajesh and Archit –fail to clear first level interviews in their dream companies. Archana is a B.Tech graduate and she has been working for a small IT company for close to two years but she finds herself stuck. Like many of her friends, she wants to get into big companies but every time she gets rejected for the lack of communication skills. She scored good marks in academics but her ability to form correct sentences during the interviews was lacking. She is frustrated and she is desperately looking for help.
Rajesh is no different. He completed his MBA two years back and since then he is jobless. The reason? He is failing in every interview he attends. He knows for sure that he is lacking in his communication skills. It is not that he hasn’t tried to learn the grammar and sentence formations, but it is just that he hasn’t been able to apply the grammar rules. He sees so many of them that he gets overwhelmed.
Archit sails in the same boat as Rajesh and Archana. But the only thing is Archit is smarter of the two. He finds out a coach for himself and stays a bit ahead of the two.
Now the story is all about how Archit helps his friends and how the coach transforms the trio from the state of butler English to sophisticated English. The book is written in the story format so that you learn the language in the most joyful way. As you read this book, you will get into one of the characters and evolve along with them to a stage where you will catch yourself grammatically correct sentences.
The 10-day crash course gives you an insight several other aspects of English grammar which you would never have learnt in your formative years.
After you are done reading this book, you will be in a position to pick grammatical errors in newspapers and you will be able to explain why it is wrong. Grammar is fun and beautiful only if you know how to learn the right way.
Let’s see what happens on the Day 1:
At 11:30am sharp, the three friends meet at Alok’s place in Hi-Tech City, Hyderabad. As they are ushered in by his wife, dressed modestly, Rajesh and Sangeeta are stymied by the choice of wall colors and decorations inside the house. Alok’s wife Neetu is dressed just fine to look like a south Indian, although being a Punjabi herself.
A tall, thin man towering over everyone walks in and introduces himself as Alok. Rajesh and Sangeeta are of moderate height of five foot three inches, while Archit is five foot nine. Alok asks them to follow him to his studio room where he spends most of his time coaching students. He has a habit of smoking and keeps the balcony area free from any disturbance. He loves to write as he smokes.
“Okay, I know Archit. Can you two introduce yourselves?”
Rajesh looks at Sangeeta and nods for her to go first.
“Myself Sangeeta and I’m a native of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh and I work very hardly. My father he run a business in Guntur, and I and my brother are the only childrens. I completed my B.Tech from SKS College and looking for a job change. My hobbies are watching TV and reading books.”
Hearing this, Alok doesn’t react much. In his mind, he is trying to figure out where Sangeeta is going wrong.
“You know, Sangeeta, where you are going wrong?”
Even before Sangeeta utters a word, Alok continues…
“You are going wrong on two counts – one is the sentence structure, and the second is the usage of words/phrases. The plural form of child is children. So, you cannot say ‘childrens.’ Also ‘he run a business’ is gibberish English.”
“Do you know ‘working hardly’ means you are barely working? If I say, I hardly visit my native place, it means I barely go to my native place. If I say, I hardly work on my priorities, it means I scarcely work on my priorities. If I say, he hardly gets up early, it means he more often than not gets up early. If I say, she hardly takes any vacation, it means she usually doesn’t take any vacation.”
Sangeeta quips: “No wonder, I’m not being hired. How do we use hardly in that case, sir?”
“Just say – I work hard, not hardly,” clarifies Alok.
Now, Alok turns to Rajesh and asks him to introduce himself.
“I’m Rajesh and belonging to Guntur. I belongs to a Agriculture family and we are three brothers. I have done my MBA with 65% of marks and looking for a job.”
“You also need to understand sentence structures and usages, Rajesh,” Alok says, adding: “Sangeeta and Rajesh, you both don’t seem to have an understanding of subjects and verbs. You cannot say ‘I belongs’… this is gibberish English.”
For Alok, this brief introduction is enough for him to understand where his acquaintances stand. Alok has been in language coaching for more than a decade and has helped many people become masters of the language.