BY Utpal Chatterjee

People cutting across various age groups have often asked me on how to communicate better in English. They ask in English, of course. They are perfectly understandable and some, in fact, are good. Why, then, the question? Obviously, they want to be more effective than they are. Starting with children to adults, I tell them “Read, read and read some more!” Indeed, that was the advice given to me many, many moons ago. After graduating from children’s books (which have been written so well) and moving on to the classics, you will find there is absolutely no substitute to good reading. Gradually, the language and literature sink in.Stick to this habit till the very end. Listen to good English ( or any language, for that matter) being spoken. Lessons in phonetics come in handy. When I was in the Fourth Standard at school, I was advised to listen to the great journalist, Alistair Cook, every Monday on the BBC Radio. The English was impeccable and pleasant with a good bit of wit thrown in.The 15 minute “Letter from America” was like his column in a major newspaper. He would sum up the week in his inimitable style. At that age, whatever I heard left a deep impression on me. He knew the world’s who’s who and vice versa. At the old Windermere library in Darjeeling, I was delighted to lay my hands on a book written by him on his meetings with some of the greats who had turned recluse like, say,Sir.Charles Chaplin. I have searched far and wide but have not been able to find another copy. When speaking to an audience, make sure of the content you intend to deliver. Develop your own style to communicate with short, simple sentences. If you can throw in a bit of wit, nothing like it. While speaking of communicating in English, be sure that you have equal command when it comes to your own mother tongue. Much, much more could have been written, but this much ought to do for the present. (Utpal Chatterjee, is former Sheriff of Kolkata, sports administrator & senior journalist)

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