How to Improve English Skills – Spoken & Written? | Oliveboard

How to Improve English Skills – Spoken & Written? Over 840 million people speak English as a first or second language, making it the second most-spoken language right after Mandarin. It is an official language of a whopping 67 countries. Other 27 non-sovereign entities, such as Hong Kong or Puerto Rico, consider English their official language. Moreover, it serves as a second language or a working language for many speakers. As a result, speaking fluent English is an instrumental skill/talent.


Do we have your interest in the blog yet? Yay! Let’s juice you up with a few fun facts about the language!

Some fun facts! – How to Improve English Skills?

  • One-fourth of the world population speaks at least some English.
  • About 4,000 words are added to the dictionary every year.
  • The two most common words in English are “I” and “you”.  And “Go!” is the shortest correct sentence!
  • 11% of the entire English language is just the letter E.
  • More English words begin with “s” than with any other letter.
  • The word “bookkeeper” (along with its associate “bookkeeping”) is the only unhyphenated English word with three consecutive double letters. Other such words, like “sweet-toothed”, require a hyphen to be easily readable.

Oh, and did you know that a sentence which contains all 26 letters of the alphabet is called a “pangram”? And that the pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is often used to test typewriters or keyboards.

Okay, last and Oliveboard’s personal favourite. Ready? There are seven ways to spell the sound ‘ee’ in English. “He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas” is a grammatically correct sentence requiring all 11 pronunciations.

And a major fact? All competitive examinations, generalist in nature, including SBI PO, IBPS, SSC CGL and also the technical papers like CLAT, AILET and other law entrances, etc.

Now as important as it is to acquire this language, the task is no mean feat. Especially with the careers going global, now is the time for people to work on their Spoken and Written English. In this blog, we’ll talk about how to work towards improving your English Skills – spoken and written, especially for CLAT. 

A systematic approach to learning the language – How to Improve English Skills?

To learn English, or any new language for that matter, work on the three prongs – Reading, Pronunciation and Grammar – to master the key abilities of “Listening”, “Pronunciation”, “Speaking” and “Writing” to help you master spoken and written English. But before we begin, remember that none of these abilities works in silos. To gain control and mastery over a language, you need to gain mastery over these abilities and their interchangeability.

1. Reading

 “Reading” helps you expand your horizon on a language by helping you expand your vocabulary and being a better writer. You’re introduced to new ways of using the language you already know and communicate better. 

Secondly, as George R.R. Martin says, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”, reading books allows you to develop a creative imagination, broaden your vocabulary, and improve your academic performance. Take a look at the pattern of question paper for CLAT – 

SectionNature of the Passage
English Language450 words long Passages derived from contemporary or historically significant fiction and non-fiction writing.
Current Affairs (including GK)450 words long passages derived from news, journalistic sources and other non-fiction writing.
Legal Reasoning450 word long passages related to fact situations or scenarios involving legal matters, public policy questions or moral philosophical enquiries.
Logical Reasoning300 word long “short” passages to assess your mental ability.
Quantitative Techniques“Short” sets of facts or propositions, graphs, or other textual, pictorial or diagrammatic numerical information representations.

The passages range from fictional writing to short passages on mental ability. Your comfort with a language can not be achieved unless you inculcate “love” for the habit of reading. 

If you’re a beginner in learning the English language, you can consider beginning with the following set of books –

  • “Word Power made Easy”, by Norman Lewis – Strategically designed to improve vocabulary. It can be taken up as a time-bound exercise to help you gain mastery in a shorter period.
  • Fictions like “Da Vinci Code”, “The Origin”, etc by Dan Brown. Books, like “The Krishna Key”, “Chanakya’s Chant”, etc., written by his Indian Counterpart, Ashwin Sanghi can also be checked out. Fictions nurture your interest in a language.
  • Newspapers like “The Hindu”, “Indian Express”, “The Mint”, etc can be followed. Diversify your knowledge and vocabulary by reading the Business and Economy sections of the paper. 
  • Non-fictions in your area of interest should also be extremely helpful. Run a google search for good books in your category of interest.

Note – While reading something new, you can always pick up the habit of note/summary making for the added advantage of retention and enhanced recall. Wouldn’t you just love to drop in references to your favourite character, fun facts, etc in a conversation?

2. Listening

According to studies, listening accounts for roughly 45 per cent of all communication time, followed by speaking (30 per cent), reading (15 per cent), and writing (15 per cent) (about 10 per cent). In fact, Steve Kaufmann would even go to the extent of saying that “If you develop good listening comprehension, the other skills will come, the speaking will come, even your grammar, your accuracy. All of these things will come if you have had so much exposure to the language that you understand it when it is spoken by a native speaker.”

Now, you’re especially in luck here! The internet era has made several sources available to us for developing this skill – 

  • Audiobooks – Listen to audiobooks available online on various sources like Audible (we are not promoting anyone), etc.
  • Podcasts – This medium is especially helpful. Listen to native speakers of the English language speak about topics of your interest. A plethora of content is out there on subjects ranging from human biology, and psychology to ethics and cartoons. Choose your jam. You can always diversify later to expand your knowledge in other subjects while having fun learning English.
  • TV Series & Movies – This mate, we believe is the most efficient way out there for learning English! Why? Simply because it is an audio-visual way. You can turn on the subtitles initially to learn from your favourite characters on screen. Eventually, start turning the subtitles off and understand the communication from just your “listening skills”. Also, there is an added advantage of learning the way English can be used by natives playfully – like making puns, jokes or wordplays. You could also pick up the accent! Fun, right? 
    • Some recommendations from our side – 
      • Planet Earth II,
      • Chernobyl,
      • Peaky Blinders, 
      • Breaking Bad,
      • BoJack Horseman,
      • Homeland, etc.

Another advantage of listening is picking up the correct pronunciation for the vocabulary you built reading! You can only learn that “Ch” of “Chimney” is pronounced different from “Ch” of “Chamomile” or “Chameleon” only when you hear it being pronounced! (Unlike what Ted Mosby would love to believe!). How to Improve English Skills?

3. Grammar

While it’s acceptable to loosen your grammar in some instances, for example, it is okay to use informal or simplified language while messaging a close buddy, on engaging in social media, correct grammar is essential for smooth and confident English speaking. Knowing your grammar can help you avoid making mistakes.

In fact, there are several instances where English grammar is particularly crucial. If you’re going for a job interview in India or in an English-speaking nation, the quality of your spoken and written English will be important to the company. In fact, according to a recent poll of UK employment recruiters, the most common reason they hate an application is poor spelling and language. This is because “correct grammar” demonstrates not just your command of the English language, but also your diligence and attention to detail.

Where do you start? How to Improve English Skills?

  • Buy a High School level grammar book, like “Wren & Martin”, or “Oxford English Grammar” by Sidney Greenbaum. Read it cover to cover.
  • Next, you should make a note of important rules, for example –
    • Correct usage of Nouns
    • Pronoun Related Errors
    • Correct usage of Adjectives and Adverbs
    • Subject-Verb Agreement
    • Verb Tense errors
    • Prepositional errors, etc.

Be a Focused Warrior! – How to Improve English Skills?

Teach yourself this highly effective mantra by Dan Millman (Author of “Way of the Peaceful Warrior – A book that changes lives”). Teach yourself the value of being mindful of what you are doing by asking three questions and internalising the corresponding answers –

“Where are you? Here.

What time is it? Now.

What are you? This moment.”

And you are all set to learn! Ciao.


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