A recent newspaper report said that out of every hundred candidates called for job interviews, only five were found qualified for the jobs. It is not that they were technically not sound, but that they lacked in communicative skills in English.
Is English killing their careers?
A business barometer study(June 2009) done by Assccham on ‘Importance of Soft Skills: Students Perspective’ shows that 89 per cent of students feel that soft skills such as oral communication, written communication and team work needs to be enhanced to become professionally successful. Assocham Research Bureau (ARB) study says that out of 15 most effective skills necessary for professionals, oral communication was rated as the most preferred soft skill and voted by 76 per cent of the students, whereas written communication (72 per cent) and team work (67 per cent) were the second and third most preferred options among the students. Then where is the loop hole? Why the students are not able to compete in professional world in spite of realizing how necessary it is to have a good command on oral communication skills?The degree to which students develop these skills, determines how well they can communicate themselves to their prospective employers.
Corporate India has two major concerns, first to hire good employees and secondly to train them. Many a CEO would agree that it is indeed a sorry state of affairs that young men and women who walk out of colleges and universities speak little English. For them, it has been a subject to pass, not a language to master, and moreover, the focus has always revolved around technical subjects.
If things continue this way, India may lose out on the BPO and software industries.
The pressure today on youth is to complete a B.E., M.B.B.S. or an M.B.A. and become a professional. The subjects that they have to study to obtain these degrees are many and vast. They hardly find time to complete the recommended books of their subjects - forget reading general books. Reading for pleasure is becoming a rare thing. And the text-books are not a good source material for acquiring skills in spoken English.
Demographic patterns too are changing. A lot of youth from small towns and villages are moving to cities to study or work. Only when they come to a professional environment do they feel that their communicative skills in English need a total dressing up.
TV and movies offer no help. The language they dish out is Indianised English, and sometimes downright hybrid English that you find in popular music channels and typical Indian films.
With exposure to such kind of language, what kind of English can you expect from the youth?
The Ghost of 'Raj English'
English, as it is spoken and written today in India, is not free from the British who left us six decades ago. We still find phrases and usage such as 'residence', 'government servant', 'for your kind perusal' and 'my superior' in every Indian English. Surely, these are not good examples of English as it is today.
The Mother Tongue Influence
Not just in pronunciation, the mother tongue also influences the idiom of English we use. "Why do you get angry for small small things?", "I told you that day itself", and "What are you?" are examples of how we think in our mother tongue and use English to express the thoughts. As many mother tongues, so many kinds of English - no wonder that we are divided by the very English we speak.
Careers do not even take off just because of this variety of English or non-English that our youth is exposed to in colleges, universities, and the media. This is compounded by reluctance to make reading a habit.
Schools & Colleges
Teachers and lecturers are bound by the pressures of completing the syllabus, conducting revisions and preparing the students for scoring better marks. After all, it is the top marks that define a school or college as successful. Constrained by time, pressure, and rules of the management, teachers and lecturers neither have the mind nor the occasion to work on the communicative skills of the students. In some institutions, the teachers themselves need to work on their communicative skills in English.