This article has been written by Harshini Naidu, from the Faculty of Law, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.
The Guest Speaker
Swaneet Bhatia is working as an Online Faculty for LawSikho’s Diploma in English Communication for Lawyers – oratory, writing, listening and accuracy. She is a Liberal Academic, a polymath and a language teacher. She is a well known and respected professional in the field of English teaching and training. She has also worked with MNCs in the past.
Anubhav Garg is working as a Content Writer and Event Manager with LawSikho (India’s Largest Legal EdTech Startup) where he secured a PPO during his internship with iPleaders. He is pursuing B.B.A. LL.B. from Delhi Metropolitan Education College affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. He is also into freelancing and web content writing.
How did you enter the field of training and teaching English?
After working in MNCs for a few years and also in the field of teaching, it was clear that teaching made me happy. It was one of the best decisions of my life to choose what made me happy – teaching and training people in the field of English Communication.
Which are some common mistakes committed by people while communicating in English – orally and in writing?
Some of the most common mistakes committed by people while communicating are:
- Prepositions(at, in and on): Prepositions are a very important part of a sentence. They have the power to make or break a whole sentence.
For example: people tend to use “We can have a meeting on next Thursday” instead of “We can have a meeting next Thursday”. There is no need to use a preposition in these types of sentences.
2nd Example: We need to use an ‘ing’ form in sentences like “I look forward to working with you” or “I am looking forward to work with you” but people end up using “I look forward to work with you”.
- Phrasing verbs – We have a habit of using terms like ‘pretty sure’ and ‘not pretty sure’ in sentences like “I am not pretty sure about the outcome” but the correct way to use the word ‘pretty’ is to never pair it up with a negative word like not. We should instead just use “I am not sure about the outcome.”
- Using terms like ‘a lot’ and ‘much’ – While describing expertise and experience, “I have a lot of experience in this field” should be used instead of “I have much experience in this field.”
- Incorrect order of words – “Describe me this topic” is used often but it is the incorrect format. The correct format of the sentence is “Describe this topic to me.”
These are some minor errors and minute details but they make a statement in the minds of the people you communicate with. These mistakes are also made by people who have an intermediary level of knowledge in the English language.
Which are the wrongly used learning methods in the process of developing our skills in a new language?
A language has various facets like speaking, listening, reading, comprehension and writing and in the process of learning, we need to focus on all of them. Grammar books and self-help books fail to help us in the process of learning a language as they do not focus on developing our listening and speaking skills. These learning sources do not let us practice speaking and listening.
There are 7Cs of Communication:
- Clarity – While communicating, it is necessary to know the intention and reason behind having a particular conversation.
- Completeness – A conversation has to be complete.
- Conciseness – Conciseness is the way in which you participate in the conversation. The method of communication should be such that the person on the other hand of communication is able to understand the message quickly and correctly.
- Concreteness – The facts, figures and statistics used in a conversation to make a point clear is the concreteness of a conversation.
- Correctness – The level of language should be based on the receiver of the information in a particular conversation.
- Coherent – The connection and logic behind all the points you bring forward in a conversation is the coherence of a conversation.
- Courteous – A courteous communication is friendly, open and honest. In a courteous conversation, we keep in the mind the viewpoint of the listener or a reader.
Have you witnessed any incidents where a person has to pay a heavy price due to a barrier in communication?
There have been various such instances where someone had to pay a heavy price for a minor error or due to the occurrence of a barrier in communication. There are times when people tend to use complicated words instead of simple words and as a result, even the meaning of the sentence could be changed or the recipient might have a problem in understanding what the speaker wishes to convey.
Can intelligence be weighed through the level of knowledge of a particular language?
In my viewpoint, the intelligence of a person cannot be measured through the medium of language. A person can be intelligent with or without knowing a particular language.
But the world’s viewpoint is different as English is at a certain level in the world where it is the official language and is used by most countries at present. In India, we have two official languages – Hindi and English but more than half of the time, the working language of our country is English. In our working framework, it is difficult to proceed and progress without this language as it also makes it difficult to communicate with clients and colleagues at the workplace.
What is the best strategy to overcome the fear of public speaking?
Having good command over the language in which you wish to communicate is the most powerful weapon in public speaking. It helps in expressing the thoughts in the most efficient way keeping in mind the interest of the viewers. Having good command over the language also makes us feel powerful which automatically reduces our fear of public speaking. Confidence while speaking spontaneously helps us by not giving us the time to rethink the words which can be used in the conversation. If you are aware of the subject you need to speak, it already empowers you and practice is what helps the best in overcoming the fear of public speaking.
Which are the things one should focus on while public speaking?
- The language in which you think, articulate your thoughts and the language in which you convey them to the audience should be the same.
- Expose yourself more to the English language by regularly communicating with people, watching movies and listening to songs in the same language.
- Pick up a topic and record yourself while you speak on the same topic. This helps in figuring out what goes wrong and helps us in correcting mistakes.
How does developing skills in a language help someone to get ahead in life?
There are instances in life where we have the technical knowledge required to reach the desired destination or grab the dream job but the language stands as a barrier between the person and their dreams. Training, learning and developing your skills in the language brings people one step closer to their destination.
People have received a promotion after learning the language which was standing as a barrier in front of them. Some people have gained the confidence to start something of their own as they are now capable of approaching new people for business and networking with them. Language should be the least of the barriers which stop people from achieving better results hence training in English does help a person go ahead in life.
Where can someone find a safe space to learn and develop oneself in the area of English language?
Making mistakes and learning from them is the first and the foremost important step which needs to be taken in to learn a new language. It is important to try and work on ourselves. People who laugh when you try to learn something new should not stop you from learning and practicing the same. One should not hesitate in making mistakes as it is a practical approach towards learning something new.
What are the best ways to improve our vocabulary?
- Read more – Reading helps in enriching our vocabulary as we come across a lot of new words while reading a book. The more we read the better is our vocabulary.
- Make a diary of all the new words which you came across while reading the book, note down their meaning and keep referring to the diary on a regular basis. This will help us in adding new words to the conversations happening in our daily lives.
- Understand the reason behind why a certain word is used in a sentence.
- Use these new words while communicating with people in your daily life.
- Make new sentences by including the new words added to your vocabulary and practice the same.
What can be done to correct our mistakes in a conversation?
It is not possible to take our words back but in order to correct our mistake, one can reframe the sentence soon and put it forward in such a way that the recipient or the listener understands what the speaker has to convey. One can paraphrase the sentence so that the message is conveyed more easily with these selected numbers of words.
How can one try to avoid making spelling mistakes?
In order to avoid making more spelling mistakes, one can try and improve with the use of Phonetics. Phonetics is the study through which we understand the science behind the pronunciation of a particular word. After we learn about the way in which the word is pronounced, we automatically tend to make fewer mistakes when it comes to written communication and spelling mistakes.
What kind of approach should be followed while making an elevator pitch?
While making an elevator pitch, the following steps can be followed:
- Introduce yourself through a short paragraph.
- Explain the purpose of the meeting in bullet points.
- Don’t let the conversation happening in the elevator pitch be vague.
Avoid being vague.
- Keep it conversational, let the other person ask questions if they have any.
- Be confident about yourself, the choice of your words and the idea which you are pitching for.
How to deal with issues faced due to regional accent?
There are ways in which you can overcome the issues faced due to having a strong regional accent. In order to lose an accent, one can try to come up with a neutral accent.
- Break down the words while communicating.
- Speak slowly while you are breaking down the words and using them in the conversation.
- Understand the various sounds in which a single letter can be used, and try to incorporate those changes in the conversation.
- Listening to the correct pronunciation of the particular word in a neutral accent helps us to pronounce the word correctly the next time.
Which are the things to be kept in mind while writing an article or a blog?
In order to come up with better-written content while writing an article or a blog, one has to keep in mind the target audience on the work (the people who will be reading the content), try to be as clear as possible with your choice of words, read more articles and blogs to enhance your vocabulary. Make a separate notebook for the words you learn in the process and the words which you wish to use in your article or blog. Frame sentences using those new words and come up with an article which is easy to read for the readers.
How will LawSikho’s Diploma in English Communication for Lawyers cater to the needs of lawyers?
The level of knowledge regarding the language needed for a lawyer is high as lawyers have to constantly be a part of conversations, arguments, meetings, conferences and language is the most important in all aspects of communication. The course focuses on the importance of Legal English in the lives of lawyers and has been drafted keeping in mind the daily needs of a lawyer. It consists of Latin terms which are used in the Indian Law and the ways in which one can overcome semantic barriers. The course will be taught in various means – the ones which a lawyer comes across in their day to day life. These means are contracts, FIRs, Bail applications, Arbitrations, Mediations and various agreements used by lawyers. There are new methodologies which will be used to make the lawyers comfortable with English and which will make the work easy for a lawyer. These methodologies are designed by combining language and discipline.
The classroom of LawSikho’s Diploma in English Communication for Lawyers gives the members in the course a safe space where lawyers can make mistakes and learn from them while not being judged for the same.
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