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Proficiency In English Is Just A Skill, Not A Measure Of Your Intelligence

Posted: May 21, 2020

In India, proficiency in English is often considered a sign of intelligence; however, it is just a useful skill, like any other skill needed at work.

Since childhood, I was fond of writing. My earliest notebooks were full of random scribbles because I was too young to express myself in words. At school, I excelled at languages and loved writing, reading and weaving words into little chunks of paragraphs in my journals.

I loved how the teachers encouraged and praised me. I particularly remember my Class IV teacher describe my handwriting as ‘pearls’. “Wow”, I thought, “I am so amazing”. Nothing else mattered to me.

Except, it mattered in the report card. Because other boring subjects poked their noses into my little happy life.

You might have lived a similar story, where you effortlessly sailed through life. I believe we all have a specific gift that comes naturally to us or at some point, we acquire skills that we quickly master.

English is no different

The ability to speak fluently, to express yourself in writing or speech is just a matter of skill. A life skill. You might like it or be hesitant to try something new, but believe it or not, you need it for a lot of reasons.

Languages have a lot to do with personality and confidence. They help you communicate clearly and even leave an impression of your persona. A good speaker of English can crack interviews, influence people and can even be popular.

At the same time, a learner of English or a non-speaker of the language might feel a little hesitant and even reluctant to engage in conversations where English is the medium of communication.

And the point I am about to make is a result of observations, experiences and a lot of conversations with my students, colleagues and friends.

People are often judged for their proficiency in English

Many are often looked down upon as incapable, under-qualified and unfit because they are not fluent in English. Not being well-versed in a particular language, can be an outcome of various reasons like the medium of education, exposure to the language and that is perfectly fine.

However, to understand the need of the skill, to be able to relate it to your personal and professional needs is equally important. If you are doing just fine at work with sufficient proficiency in English, that is enough. That is great (unless, you are a teacher of English!). But, I think it is a good idea to be open towards new ideas and newer words.

And here I stand for all of you learners; nobody, absolutely nobody has the right to belittle you or tell you, you are not good enough for something, just because you are not proficient in English. And no, English is not the measure of your knowledge or intelligence. It only helps you exhibit your knowledge. And if you find someone teasing you, mocking you for your language skills, do not hesitate to give them back (royally)!

Channelise all of your anger and fear positively to read and study English. It’s like swimming, where you do your bit daily. Give it time and read something every day.

Read anything; there are many choices apart from expensive books. Read wrappers, labels, billboards, book synopsis on the back cover, instruction manuals, blogs, subtitles, anything of your choice.

Frankly, it’s no big deal and language learning is a never-ending process for all of us. And also, ‘Learn English Within 30 Days’ kind of books or coaching classes are just not enough. So, make your own smart moves.

You are far more than you know, you are far more than they tell you.

First published at author’s blog

Image via Canva

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I write because basically I can't paint as vividly as I would like to.

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