You may be leaking precious time and energy without even realizing if you don’t ask few important productivity questions. Here they are:
(This post comes from my experience of adding 5,000+ words to my active vocabulary, the one you can actually use when speaking and writing.)
Don’t you get impressed when a news anchor or other proficient speaker uses just the perfect word, and not a long-winded explanation, to describe a situation without a pause?
Those apt words are a result of a large active vocabulary.
We’ll learn more on what active vocabulary is later in the post, but in short it means vocabulary you can actually use when speaking and writing, the holy grail of any vocabulary-building exercise. If you introspect, you’ll realize that although you can understand lots of words when reading or listening (also called passive vocabulary), you can use only a minuscule fraction of that in speaking and writing (also called active vocabulary).
This post focuses on, first, building active vocabulary and, second, making this process efficient by building on words you already know – passive vocabulary – thereby making for faster progress.
Mispronouncing a word is one of the fastest ways to leave poor impression of your communication skills, especially when those listening to you are good at it. Even 1-2 pronunciation slipups in a 10-minute conversation are enough.
People naturally goof up at complex pronunciations (complex because the pronunciation can’t be inferred from the way the word is spelt, which is so common in English language), but I’ve observed many mispronouncing even common English words.
‘Despite years of trying, I’m not able to speak fluently in English.’
‘I can read and listen almost anything, but I’m average at speaking.’
‘I often get stuck while speaking, because the right words elude me.’
‘I first think in my native language, then translate into English, and then speak.’
‘I hesitate when pronouncing certain words, not sure what others will think of my mispronunciation.’
These, and other, thoughts may have crossed your mind while working on your English speaking skills.
In this post, I’ll cover how you can address these and other challenges that may be coming in your way to become better at spoken English.
Why be fluent in English?
That’s the first thing that comes to our mind. Whether you like it or not, English is the de facto language of business in many countries and for cross-border communication, and interviews for most meaningful jobs are conducted in English.
And its importance is only going to increase in future (point # 3 further down in the post).
I don’t need to convince you on importance of speaking fluent English for professional success. You would have observed this around you and probably experienced too.
Do you forget stuff in few weeks even if you study it diligently?
I know the answer. Almost everyone faces this forgetfulness.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we can retain what we study (wider connotation than just academics) for long?
Yes, it would be… and it is possible through spaced repetition.
Have you ever missed a zero, or added instead of subtracting, or put the decimal in the wrong place in math paper?
Have you ever failed to answer a question fully because you missed one of its sub-questions?
Have you ever misread a question and, as a result, answered it in a tangential direction?
These are all silly mistakes, and they’re big sins because you lose those marks which were 99 percent yours.
How do you avoid these careless mistakes in exams?
What if someone told you that you can attain high level of proficiency (a level you admire, and aspire to achieve) in android development or writing or public speaking or a sport or any pursuit in 2-3 years. You’ll likely not believe.
People, by and large, overestimate what they can achieve in the short term (say, 3-4 months) and grossly underestimate what they can in 2-3 years.
What is deliberate practice?
For the uninitiated, deliberate practice is a focused form of practice wherein you proactively look for improvement in whichever craft you’re trying to become better. Deliberate practice was first advocated by Anders Ericsson, who suggested that the top performers in any field reach the levels they do through deliberate practice. Think Roger Federer, Lionel Messi, Magnus Carlsen. Anyone can practice deliberately though, and improve her/ his level at a rate much faster than others’.
How is deliberate practice different from the practice that most of us go through?
Have you failed to complete a test paper because you ran out of time?
Have you blanked out on seeing a tough test paper?
Have you been routinely losing marks because of silly mistakes?
And what if you were not in your peak state of mind while taking that important test?
These aren’t uncommon situations. Many struggle with these and many other issues while writing exams, which you can better cope with if you’ve a good test-taking strategy.