Meeting workplace demands

Is English training required for corporate employees in India? My answer to that question would be an emphatic “YES”. Although many Indian schools have been providing compulsory English education for more than two decades, there are still a lot of people who are unable to articulate their thoughts clearly in English. I interview and train fresh college graduates and barely 10% of the candidates who walk-in for a job speak good English. That’s clearly a very low number.

In my opinion, schools are the best places to train children. Although schools are not the only source of knowledge, this is the time when children learn the most. Hence, as trainers and teachers, let us examine some of the factors that prevent children from learning the language right.

Are children interested in learning English the way it is being taught? Have we tried activity based learning?

Some children pick up the language fast and others don’t. When we try to force the weaker students to speak in English, they tend to resist and eventually lose interest. Some of my trainees have mentioned that they did not learn to speak fluently in English as their friends, and shockingly in some cases their parents too, have made fun of them when they had attempted to do so. Others have even stated that they had always regarded languages less important than other technical subjects! It is important for schools to give as much emphasis to English education as they do to science or arithmetic. In most companies, people with very good communication skills climb up the ladder faster for the mere reason that these companies now have global clients. With English being the global business language, it is imperative that everyone be able to communicate effectively. (Of course, they should be smart enough and have the necessary skills to get the job done too).

Usually, when school children are motivated, they tend to perform and learn better. Some ideas that we could use to evoke interest to learn and improve English speaking skills among students are:

  • Mock job interviews (wherein teachers act like employers and interview students for various roles): this could be supplemented with group discussion sessions to help students discuss familiar topics in English. For example, teachers could encourage students to discuss the future benefits of Metro Rail versus the inconvenience caused presently.

The author is an Assistant General Manager for Learning & Development at a leading KPO. She has been mentoring and training people for more than 8 years. She can be reached at

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