7 T.r.i.c.k.s on Fluency with English Book is up on Amazon for pre-order

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‘Hesitation Removal’ OR rather ‘Confidence Building’ as a part of Conversation in English program. Yes, it’s a bonus from our experts.

First of all, ‘Stop Hesitating’: if you are working with a personality coach or a language trainer, request him to give you some remedy or else speak to me… without any fear.Confidence

Throw your ‘fear of failure’ or of ‘being wrong’ out of the window; or else read this article on WikiHow with 7 Steps on Hesitation Removal

What? step # 6: Force yourself to do new things is a bit difficult as you need to decide ‘what new’ you could do.  Isn’t learning to speak in a new language something new for you?  So, you want help to ‘remove your hesitation’ to speak to new people along with Learning English or do you have stage fear? Do one thing, right as you begin a conversation in English program,  take the word ‘Hesitation’ out of your working vocabulary. I know, as language trainers, we are supposed to teach you new words and their usage. Since, you need to build your confidence for speaking in public, I will wear the hat of a personality coach to tell you How we have woven Confidence building as a part of the program itself. Don’t fret, I will compensate it with 10 extra words that you will learn when you work with me on your Language skills 🙂

As a start point for conversations between us:  never to use the word ‘Hesitation’- I suggest, we use positive words like courage, confidence, ‘Can Learn…’ and ‘Can Do…’ when you need to talk to me or are in need of some words of encouragement. On my part, I also promise NOT to use any negative sounding words  throughout this post and even during my program … I would also quote some ‘words of wisdom’ from Henry Ford a business leader whose name often appears  on our institute’s notice-board with his words appearing as ‘Thought of the day’.

I also get encouragement and confidence to Train people on Communication skills from  Mr. Rami Camel-Toueg – my  TTT trainer from Business Edge (IFC-World Bank group), the motto of his training and consulting firm in Egypt is “Learning is Doing; and Doing is Learning”.

So let me share with you ‘what we suggest to our students as: ‘3 Key Points to follow during the program for Building Confidence to speak. They come from my experience of training hundreds of people (of different ages: seventeen-seventy, from various professions and students) Some of the ‘to dos’ are also part of the approach we follow in conducting the English conversation skills program at T.r.i.c.k.s – You may also use them along with any other Language learning and/or Public speaking workshop. In my view, most people who have ‘the confidence to learn’ don’t need a separate confidence building work-shop.

Point #1: Let’s NOT Speak about the Problem; but FIND the Solution.

henry-ford-quoteConfidence is what you need and you will get it naturally as a bonus when you do practice of using English language in front of the class – as we learn by doing itself. Understand your learning style and follow a pace that suites you.

You will participate in a variety of Role-plays and activities where we create opportunities for you to speak more & more in real-life situations. We make the activity clear to you right as you begin to speak and at the same time making you comfortable doing it. I request for volunteers for my class activities – but those who participate most learn the most.

In the interactive class discussions we will do interesting and ‘easy to do’ things some individual and some in the group.

  • Describing a picture
  • Ask questions to figure out what is hidden
  • Face the Truth
  • Lie-detector test
  • Find an Object hidden in the Language Lab
  • Tell me the way to reach your home

Our trainers are smart enough to modify the activity brief to connect them with the profession or job of the learner where he/she knows it well enough to talk with confidence and ease. The feedback given is constructive. WE Don’t find Fault with you as a person, it’s the language we correct as you speak (with no disrespect to you for the first language influence), we simply repeat the sentence correctly and if explanation is needed we point out the mistakes with your grammar, composition or pronunciation – we may also give a better way to frame a sentence or a more suitable word in the given situation. Our communication or language experts give you a Remedy they don’t find fault. They give you positive statements to practice along with some tips to prepare your mind for the change.

 Point #2 : Say “I Can Learn to speak with confidence” and You would end up doing it.

Henry-Ford 2This is a simple ‘preparing your mind’ exercise: Say aloud some “I can learn…” and “I can do…” statements  as per what you want to do with your English learning on that day. You could do this exercise everyday in the morning ‘in front of the mirror’. Important is to say the statements with complete conviction and with a smile on your face.

It sounds funny but it works as you would find it for yourself. I also suggest that you speak out some ‘Can learn’  and ‘Can do’ statements in front of the class or share them with your learning partner or trainer so that he/she can correct them or suggest the appropriate one based on the learning stage you at and the next hurdle to cross. Be realistic, true to yourself and use numbers to make them measurable (as much as possible). Here are same ‘Can learn’ & ‘Can do’ statement groups, that I have suggested to some of my students depending on their position and what they must to ‘walk further or sometimes it is a prescription so that they don’t stop:

  • I Can Learn to make simple sentences in my mind; I Can Speak 5 statement to describe my company.
  • I Can Learn to frame open/closed questions today; I Can ask 10 questions in my practice with my learning partner.
  • I Can Learn 25 new words in this week; I Can use them to speak with confidence in my ‘coffee with a celebrity’ activity next week
  • I Can Learn to use ‘linking words’ for narration; Such that, I Can share the story of ‘how much I enjoyed my holiday in Shimla’ 

With regularity of practice, it is equally important to keep refining your learning objective and ‘Can do’ statements until you reach your ‘near-term’ goal for learning good English. Your goal for next 2-3 months can be: “I Can Learn to speak with Confidence; I Can make a 5-minute speech without repeating or without any fillers; I Can clear the communication round of the interview”… Yes, you can if you have enthusiasm.  

Speaking fluent English is no exception to what Mr. Ford very nicely said “You can do anything if you have enthusiasm”. So, above all keep-up your enthusiasm, the good news is your ability to learn new things does not reduce substantially with increasing age.

Point #3: There is NO age Bar in a language class, keep your motivation high for Learning skills that directly affect your earning.

Henry-Ford-quote 4Retain your confidence to Learn or else your will not earn what you should, with your qualification and experience. People sometimes lose confidence due to age; and 20-something or 30-something is not the age to stop learning but rather its the age to start learning professionally relevant skills that even an MBA won’t cover. Some of the skills that you learn with us are  such that they ‘get you a job’ or make you start to  earn faster or these skills will step-up your existing earning – Just keep up the motivation to learn.

English is the language of Business, and business leaders speak well in English. Most BIG businesses work in English. Requirement to make Presentations, or talk to your team members or public speaking opportunities come to you only after you have some experience as your profile is enhanced. At most times, your promotion is directly liked to your communication skills or ability to Learn new skills. How can you afford to lose confidence in your area of interest with only a Language or medium to communicate becoming a barrier.

Anyone at any-age can learn to speak-well and can learn English easily – I can say this as I have trained several people up to twice my age and similarly I have also learned many things in life from my teen-aged children.

There is in fact a better realization about the importance of communication skills with the increased role and you need to step-up your motivation. Choose a role-model from your industry  who can give you the motivation to be confident like him/her, have faith and be confidence that you will learn given the right environment – of practice-field.  Start learning under a confirmed communication expert who understands the kind of performance pressures you face in your industry. Each person has different pace and method of learning and this has nothing to do with age don’t compete with the students in the class…. try to learn something everyday and practice until you gain confidence to speak it up in public.   As a trainer what I suggest to my students is keep a tab on your own understanding, learn and continue your practice. Its okay to miss a day if you are travelling but continue to practice and try to speak in English particularly with new  contacts/relationships.

Don’t Let poor English conversation skills come in the Way of your Dreams!

Interestingly, its the ‘linking words’ and not conversational ‘fillers’ that make you a better communicator!

A week link breaks the chain of Thoughts not only for the speaker but also for the listener.

To impressively speak your sentences together, first of all, learn to use some ‘linking words’ such that you form a connected speech and therefore your listener enjoys it as a story. As experience with real-life conversations tells us, that the stories are comprehended easily and are listened with much interest and therefore are appreciated more than some ‘d-i-s-j-o-i-n-t’ sentences which are spoken merely to fill the allotted time. Eventually, it’s the usage of ‘Linking words’ as underlined that make an otherwise boring speech to flow like a story. In short, it makes better sense to tell a story since people enjoy it. After-all Stories sell!

In my opinion, they are as salt in a recipe so when composing a simple description –where you need to add more information, as well as while narrating an event; you need to use them just right. In brief, don’t use too little salt neither too much!

Could anyone understand the paragraph ABOVE without ‘linking words’ that I have underlined?

While reading, you would not have reached to the end of the story (where I talk about ‘salt in recipe’) AND if you somehow have due to some compulsion to read, you would not understood whatever I meant.

Read on  if the above makes sense to Learn some commonly used linking words (an English professor my like to call them by various names – phrasal-verbs, conjunctions) I also give my views on how and where to use them (or not to) to be an impressive speaker or a story-teller.

Here are six fundamental types of speaking that you may normally do in an official environment or even when appearing for a critical interview:

  • Describing your company or product – providing additional information.
  • Narrating events or answering ‘How to’ questions – something that goes in a sequence.
  • Doing Comparison or Contrasting – your company’s services as compared to the competition.
  • Explaining Cause and Effect – giving explanation or reason for the delay, for instance. Caution: Don’t do it until asked for with a ‘why’ question
  • Entering into an Arguments or Debate – everyone doesn’t need to be lawyer but argument do happen and you have ‘make your point’
  • Summing-up or giving overall conclusion – giving information in brief for example what happened in the meeting.

Don’y even try to open your mouth to speak to someone ‘any of the above’ without the connectors or ‘Linking words’.

Personally speaking, I hate giving explanation as also noting down the minutes of meetings but it may just be part of the job and some the job-saver or the job itself…… In contrast, I love to give examples, adding more information so that students have it all (giving reason 😉 ). As a result, the understand more and listen to the story on ‘How to learn…’. In short, I want each lesson to go like an interesting story.

For your to weave your stories together, it is important to learn how and where to use the right linking words. As I said, they add the required flow to your speech when you speak even 4-5 or more sentences together.  To keep the interest of the listener alive, Learn to use these words appropriately:

Note: This is the list of most common 'Linking words' Compiled by T.r.i.c.k.s - there can be more. This is for Usage of Students from Intermediate class (they may Learn 2/3 of each type). Whereas Students of Advanced Classes may do ALL.
Note: This is the list of most common ‘Linking words’ Compiled by T.r.i.c.k.s – there can be more. This is for Usage of Students from Intermediate class who may Learn 2/3 of each type. Whereas Students of Advanced Classes or those preparing for IELTS/TOEFL may do them ALL.

‘How to best learn them such that you immediately gain advantage:

Here are some tips from my experience and some that I picked in a T.r.i.c.k.s class for intermediate/advanced students:

Learn linking words

Its better If you practice them with other learners in a supervised environment, at first, there are less chances of your being wrong afterwards, as you start speaking in public.

You get many examples right and wrong (and both help) from other learners… as also there is someone to point out the over-usage – a communication expert and not just an English professor.  ( like me 😉  for instance. Am I taking too many liberties with the smilies?)

How boring it is to listen to someone’s daily routine with 5-6 usages of ‘then’ : “I start my day at…then… then…then…then”. I rather stop this speaker short on communication skills,  though grammatically nothing out rightly wrong in it.

Some more DON’Ts I have noticed: Don’t over-use any of them, particularly  ‘because’ before all the statements even when you are telling ‘what do you like’ where justification or explanation is not required. Never get into the habit of using some of them as ‘a filler’ word such as: Really or Actually.

Enjoy speaking naturally and I am sure your audience will equally well enjoy listening to your story!

Confidence Counts more than Speaking Fast: Can you Speak without Filler words?

Avoid these Fillers
Avoid these Fillers

Fluency demands that you avoid the filler words or conversation fillers as much as possible and you know it but can’t help it… Here are my views on how to find them, count them how often you use and where so that you can finally avoid them. Using them show lack of confidence and listener doesn’t get the right message.

The hallmark of good communication is that each words or every sound is conveys what you really mean. Just mean it and don’t say ‘I mean…’ after you have said it.

Have a look at an interview conversation:

Candidate: Um.. I don’t know.. like… I can tell you. Uh Yes My choice is ‘xyz’. Um. you know what I mean.

Interviewer: Shall I take it as your final answer

Candidate: Umm.. Yes, I guess that is my final answer.

The Candidate is a reject case on ‘communication skills’ even if his final answer is technically right! The example shows how filler words can be more than ‘time to think’ – they can be deadly. It shows lack of confidence. Susan Ward, a speech specialist, told the Wall Street Journal. “Using excessive fillers is the most irritating speech habit, They distract your listener often to the point that he doesn’t hear anything you say. Your key message is entirely lost.”

If the interviewer asks a person to stop and shows that he does not want to listen further even before the allotted time… the reason in most cases is the above.

Fortunately, filler words can be trimmed from speeches, when: find them out for our students and they work on it. Here is how you can learn to cut down on these verbal mistakes – so that when you open your mouth, you don’t say “Ah.” (sound ‘Ah’ is often interpreted like usage of an ‘article’ which is definitely misplaced)

Don’t worry about silence or a pause.

Most beginning speakers are afraid of pauses. They believe their audience will think they can’t speak fluently if they pause to think of what to say next, so they use filler words to avoid the silence. However, a pause is actually more impressive than a filler word. Listeners know that the speaker is thinking, trying to find the right word. They respect this. Sometimes a pause can actually improve a speech, as when ‘Amitabh Bachan’ uses a dramatic pause to catch the attention of his audience. A natural speaker shouldn’t be afraid to pause occasionally during a speech; it shows self-confidence. Otherwise it may also look like a crammed speech.

Ask your trainer or your speaking partner to find them… and if too many to count them.

In India, having listened to hundreds of speakers we find the following words/phrases far too often than necessary:

1. Um  2. Uh-huh  3. Right   4. Cool   5. OK  6. Yeah  7. Like  8. Really 9. That’s interesting  10. Ah or Aaa  11. All right 12. Good question 13. I’ve heard that  14. Is that so   15. You know   16. I know  17. I hear you  18. You don’t mean to say  19. Seriously  20. Basically 21. Got it  22. Used to (when don’t mean it)  23. I mean

I have to use ‘Got it’ often to confirm if my students are understanding my English… some of them get it as they repeat my sentences… I’m sorry will avoid it. You can ask me or someone else point it out to you (as the speaker generally does not notice it)  you can even get the listener to count them for you.

Usage of ‘filler words or phrases’ can be replaced with the right Linking Word.

Active Vocabulary for Speaking with Ease

Vocabulary for Speaking English
The above image of words related to Vocabulary-Building is created using : www.wordle.net – Thanks for allowing free usage of a wonderful tool!

Here are some statements, we often hear from ESL students as we counsel them to Learn Conversations in English (‘Spoken English’ as it’s popularly called):

“I have crammed many word-lists given to me by my test-prep teachers”

“I did my B.Tech and/or MBA and medium of study was English”

“I know all the words that you show me on this slide in this Wordle or whatever”

“I understand the word when I read it but it doesn’t come to my mind when I speak”

“I watch Hollywood movies but they speak too fast so I do not get the words; reading the sub-titles helps but only very little”

“Living in India and Exposed to English; I have listened to thousands of words spoken to me in real-life situations”

In my view, ‘Exposure to English’ as expressed in the last statement is most helpful towards building adequate and active vocabulary. First and foremost the English Learner has to be ready to receive the words from all the available sources and a vocabulary class is no different…We use all the available media and examples that help you Learn.

A statement that I often make in the class (sometimes I repeat it for emphasis)  “thousands of English words are now part of our everyday speaking as we do in cities like Delhi or NOIDA” . This fact also gives us a positive start for building Active Vocabulary for English Conversations.

Do you know the Hindi word for a Pencil or a Glass?. I am sure, you don’t use it even if you know it. As an adult person exposed to life in a city in India, people are using mobile-phones, internet, e-mail and with that they use hundreds (even thousands) of English words that they confidently speak as a part of every-day conversations in Hinglish (a mix of Hind-English as spoken in Indian Cities). So, you don’t speak 100% correct or pure Hindi but speak it easily and fluently and usage of new ‘Hindi’ word comes naturally to you. You don’t need to do any extra effort or attend my class for it the Environment teaches.

Pay attention: sometimes, the pronunciation of the English word when spoken in a local language is changed!

You may also come to think that “I know thousands of words in English but am not able to Speak even a complete sentence”.  So how would adding more words help me. Other questions, some of them are excuses coming from our natural lethargy to learn are:

  • How is adding words to my vocabulary (active or passive) different for English as a second language?
  • Do I need to learn more words and spend time building English vocabulary?
  • I have a lot of hesitation; OR How would i develop confidence to speak?
  • I don’t have the environment at home or office; How will English environment help me?
  • I also need to Learn Grammar; How much emphasis will you give to grammar?

Some of them may be true while others are myths…let’s discover what is Active Vocab and how you build it.

Active Vocabulary is the 1st thing that is needed to Speak in English. We all Learn ‘new’ words when we get in contact with them, understand the meaning by looking it up in the Dictionary…LEARN to refer to the dictionary on-line or off-line, doesn’t matter.

For Some of you who can Read well and have good working Vocabulary, you just need to ‘Learn 5 New Words’ everyday or Activate the words that you know. It is important to add some ‘Adjectives or describing words as we may call them’. Adjectives are the jewelry of any Language and make it beautiful! The effect is that you enhance the impact of what you say and write.

The instructors will help you discover the meaning of the new words from a Flashcard (picture) or PowerPoint Slide or a Wordle, As an instructor I give a  lot of examples so you understand the context in which this new word can be used (or not used) and learn its proper usage when you speak or write. You will be encouraged to make 2-3 sentences (affirmative, negative and interrogative) with the new word and speak the sentences out to the class. Finally, you will be given the opportunity to speak on a topic ‘depending on you ability’ where you can use the ‘new’ words.

The result is, that you ‘develop your active word-base and are effectively able to use the new words at appropriate places even outside the classroom in real-life situations. With adequate Vocabulary, you express yourself, more benefits of superior word-power are:

  • Speak more clearly….without repeating and using filler words/ jargon or slang
  • Express yourself freely….on personality of an individual, explaining your project etc.
  • Converse confidently…even with people from other professions
  • Make extempore speech/presentation ….. on a wide variety of topics
  • Gain Confidence….as you don’t fumble as you speak.

You are able to ‘strike the right word at the right time’ and be more Fluent as you practice usage of your words more and more… It is my firm belief that you learn best in real-life’ situation so doing role-plays will help you not just with you vocabulary but also with understanding of the grammar.

Isn’t it true that ‘Words Shape your Future!’

At T.r.i.c.k.s – Noida, you will attend a number of Active Vocabulary sessions so that you add words to your ‘word-bank’ and start speaking simple sentences within 10-15 days…. Fluency development can take its time put the right path and progress is assured. Number of Active Vocabulary sessions you attend depends on your Level and the Module you choose.