How did you become so good in English?

improve vocal  english

Answer by Soumadeep Mazumdar:

I am not a native English speaker, and neither is English my first, or even second language. As far as my command of the English vocabulary is concerned I will let you be the judge of that, but I would like to think of it as quite "tolerable". Although my tips might not seem conventional and are not guaranteed to help you, it certainly did enrich my vocabulary enough to fetch me almost a dozen nominations of the "book bucket challenge" on Facebook, by users who seem to think I am some sort of "virtuoso in vocabulary". Here goes,

  • Books go hand in hand with the Thesaurus.
    I remember the days when every paragraph of an Agatha Christie novel took me about an hour to go through. The reason – whenever I encountered a word or a phrase I didn't quite understand, I used to bookmark the page then and there and refer to my dictionary. Oh yes, it was the good old days of the hand held dictionary and not Google. I searched for the word, read the meaning a few times over, till it almost got embedded in my mind. Then I went ahead to discover the uses of the word in sentences and also study their etymology and it's use as different parts of speech. Hence it usually took me quite a while to get back to my novel at hand.
  • Practice makes Perfect.
    If you talk to any of my friends or even my parents, they would testify to the fact that I have an awkward habit of being obsessed with a particular word for a brief period of time. I learn a new word, use it over and over. Exhaust all possibilities of the word being used in a sentence. I even conjure up new sentences just to satisfy my need to use that word. For example, all my mates during 5th grade were tired of hearing me use the word "rendezvous" in any and every context possible. Currently, I am obsessed with the word "ineffable". After a while, the word will start getting more and more sparse in your day to day discourse, but will get absorbed in your jargon permanently.
  • Listen.
    I seem to have picked up 90% of my vocabulary from Hollywood movies. Surprisingly, I picked up considerable amounts of other foreign languages like French, Spanish and German, just because of my tremendous fascination with movies. Use subtitles if you need. Listen to informative YouTube videos. (I am not talking about those crap like, "Epic Fails", and "Best Pranks". More like videos depicting the "10 Best Modern day Inventions", or "A Documentary about World War II".) Once again, my habit of extensive thesaurus browsing strikes back, and it takes me about 3 hours to finish a 100 minute movie reel. But, I guess it pays.
  • Company.
    Always converse extensively with people whose vocabulary is at least 10% better than you. That way, not only do you pick up some fine "one-liners", "proverbs" and "phrases", but you can also pick up the way they frame their sentences. The positioning of the figures and parts of speech. The use of modal clauses, not to mention, some new words.
  • If you have it flaunt it.
    There is a quote by John Keating which goes something like,
    "So avoid using the word 'very' because it's lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don't use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won't do in your essays."
    One couldn't be more correct. Don't be lazy with vocabulary and grammar. Don't bring your levels down just to make the opposite party understand your propositions. If they are worth it, they will make an endeavour to enhance theirs. Whenever possible use words that manifest your skills with the language. Avoid saying "according to your choice", use the word "discretion". In fact here is a list of words that can be replaced in accordance to the quote.

  • Don't go overboard.
    With language as with alcohol, only indulge yourself as much as you can handle. There is no use wearing stilettos if you have a tough time walking in them. Nothing worse than a huge vocabulary and not knowing which piece of the puzzle fits where. It's better to do the good stuff well, rather than mess up the fancy stuff. Much like sex. In both the cases, if you don't know which goes where and what is what, you will end up as a laughing stock.
    Remember Joey Tribbiani's letter to the adoption agency?
    If not, let's jog your memory a bit.

How did you become so good in English?


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