Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Future of English in the World of Communication

English – History

Britain’s colonial expansion established the pre-conditions for the global use of English, taking the language from its island birthplace to settlements around the world. The English language has grown up in contact with many others, making it a hybrid language which can rapidly evolve to meet new cultural and communicative needs.

English in the 20th century

The story of English has been closely linked to the rise of the US as a superpower that has spread the English language alongside its economic, technological and cultural influence. In the same period, the international importance of other European languages, especially French, has declined.

Who speaks English?

There are three kinds of English speaker:

- Those who speak it as a first language

- Those for whom it is a second or additional language

- Those who learn it as a foreign language.

English is remarkable for its diversity, its propensity to change and be changed. This has resulted in both a variety of forms of English, but also a diversity of cultural contexts within which English is used in daily life.

The main areas of development in the use and form of English will undoubtedly come from non-native speakers.

Major International domains of English

  1. Working language of international organizations and conferences
  2. Scientific publications
  3. International banking, economic affairs and trade
  4. Advertising for global brands
  5. Audio-visual cultural products (e.g. film, TV, popular music)
  6. International tourism
  7. Tertiary education
  8. International safety (e.g. ‘airspeak’, ‘seaspeak’)
  9. International law
  10. As a ‘ready language’ in interpretation and translation
  11. Technology transfer
  12. International communication.

English is the most widespread language on the earth, and it is second only to Mandarin Chinese in the number of people who speak it.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has five official languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese.

In the era of communication, English is gaining a strong position.

English -The most widespread language on the earth - How?

- When an Indonesian businessman meets a customer from Finland, they converse in English.

- Airline pilots flying international routes communicate with their controllers in English.

- 76% of the content of the Internet is in English. (The runners-up are, in order: Japanese, French, German, and Chinese.)

- Out of 193 countries of the world, 43 are English speaking []

- English is the second most spoken language in the world

- There are 57 million blogs on the Internet. English and Japanese remain the two most popular languages in the blogosphere. []

- Most people use English language to communicate using SMS.


English and computers have seemed, for decades to go together. Computers and the programs which make them useful were largely the invention of English speaking countries. The hardware and software reflect the needs of English language.

English will continue to be spread via software products and digitized intellectual property.


  • English and the International Economy

The shifting patterns of trade and new working practices are affecting the use of English language in complex ways. At present there is a considerable increase in the numbers of people learning and using English.

  • English and global culture

As the number of people using English grows, so second-language speakers are drawn towards the ‘inner circle’ of first-language speakers to the ‘outer circle’ of second-language speakers.

  • English as a leading-edge phenomenon

English is closely associated with the leading edge of global scientific, technological, economic and cultural developments, where it has been unrivalled in its influence in the late 20th century.

In four key sectors, the present dominance of English can be expected to give way to a wider mix of languages:

- The global audio-visual market, especially satellite TV

- The Internet and computer-based communication including language-related and document handling software

- Technology transfer and associated processes in economic globalization

- Foreign-language learning, especially in developing countries where growing regional trade may make other languages of increasing economic importance.

  • A bilingual future

There is a growing belief among language professionals that the further will be a bilingual one, in which an increasing proportion of the world’s population will be fluent speakers of more than one language.

  • Social value shifts

The spread of English has been made more rapid in recent years as a consequence of decisions and actions taken by governments, institutions and individuals.

The economic argument for English also may be challenged as developing countries make more careful evaluations of the costs and benefits of mass educational programmes in the English language.

Language shift

In many parts of the world there are ongoing shifts in the status of English.

In the countries listed below, the use of English for International communication is largely increasing:

- Argentina

- Belgium

- Costa Rica

- Denmark

- Ethiopia

- Honduras

- Lebanon

- Burma

- Nepal

- The Netherlands

- Nicaragua

- Norway

- Panama

- Somalia

- Sudan

- Surinam

- Sweden

- Switzerland

- United Arab Emirates.

DISCLAIMER: I have taken some information and print screens from an eBook at

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


While selection tools and techniques like tests, interviews etc. provide good data about an individual, they fall short in providing real life data of how an individual would be performing in a real life situation especially a group situation. Team work being an integral part of the any work profile, it is important to ascertain group and inter-personal qualities of an individual. Group discussion is a useful tool to ascertain these qualities and many organizations use GDs as a selection tool along with Personal Interviews, aptitude tests etc. A GD is an activity where
Groups of 8-10 candidates are formed into a leaderless group, and are given a specific situation to analyse and discuss within a given time limit, which may vary between twenty minutes and forty-five minutes, or

They may be given a case study and asked to come out with a solution for a problem

They may be given a topic and are asked to discuss the same

1. Preparing for a Group Discussion:
While GD reflects the inherent qualities of an individual, appearing for it unprepared may not augur well for you. These tips would help you prepare for GDs:
Reading: This is the first and the most crucial step in preparation. This is a never ending process and the more you read, the better you are in your thoughts. While you may read anything to everything, you must ensure that you are in good touch with current affairs, the debates and hot topics of discussion and also with the latest in the IT and ITES industry. Chances are the topics would be around these. Read both for the thoughts as well as for data. Also read multiple view points on the same topic and then create your point of view with rationale. Also create answers for counter arguments for your point of view. The electronic media also will be of good use here.
Mocks: Create an informal GD group and meet regularly to discuss and exchange feedback. This is the best way to prepare. This would give you a good idea about your thoughts and how well can you convince. Remember, it is important that you are able to express your thoughts well. The better you perform in these mocks the better would be you chances to perform on the final day. Also try to interact and participate in other GD groups. This will develop in you a skill to discuss with unknown people as well.
2. During the Group Discussion:
What do the panelists assess:Some of the qualities assessed in a GD are:
Leadership Skills - Ability to take leadership roles and be able to lead, inspire and carry the team along to help them achieve the group's objectives.
Communication Skills -

Candidates will be assessed in terms of clarity of thought, expression and aptness of language. One key aspect is listening. It indicates a willingness to accommodate others views.
Interpersonal Skills -

People skills are an important aspect of any job. They are reflected in the ability to interact with other members of the group in a brief situation. Emotional maturity and balance promotes good interpersonal relationships. The person has to be more people centric and less self-centered.
Persuasive Skills -

The ability to analyze and persuade others to see the problem from multiple perspectives.
GD is a test of your ability to think, your analytical capabilities and your ability to make your point in a team-based environment.

These are some of the sub-skills that also get assessed with the skills mentioned above:
- Clarity of thought
- Group working skills (especially during a group task of case study discussion)
- Conflict handling
- Listening and probing skills
- Knowledge about the subject and individual point of view
- Ability to create a consensus
- Openess and flexibility towards new ideas
- Data based approach to decision making

While, it is not possible to reflect all these qualities in a short time, you would do well if you are able to show a couple or more qualities and avoid giving negative evidence on others.
Participating in the GD:
Generally, with the topic you are given 2-3 minutes to structure your thoughts. Make good use of this time. Note down all the points that come to your mind. This would help you not to forget any important points and also to listen to others during the discussion. If you have been given a case, reading it carefully, underline salient points and make notes.
Should I start or not:Start the discussion only when you are thoroughly conversant with the topic/case or else let others speak first. If you decide to start, it is best to elaborate the topic and put forward various dimensions of the subject in front of the group. If it is a case, list down the facts briefly, mention what needs to be done and details factors that you think are crucial to decision making in that case. Do not put forth your opinions, arguments and conclusions to the group as the next speaker might argue against them leaving you with a feeling that your best points have been knocked off. Elaborating the topic for discussion would reflect upon your clarity of thought, holistic approach and leadership skills (providing the group an approach to discuss a problem thread bare). Speak for not more than a minute as others would be too anxious to speak and you might be interrupted in-between. If you decide not to start, make sure that you are amongst the first 3-4 speakers. After that, the best points would already have been taken and you would not be able to create an impact. Some effective ways to initiate a discussion would be to make/give:
i. Quotes
ii. Definitions
iii. Questions
iv. Facts, figures and statistics
vi. Short stories
vii. General statements

How do I take my chance to speak:
Trying to interrupt others while speaking would only harm your chances. Instead, you may try to maintain an eye-contact with the speaker. This would show your listening skills also and would help you gauge from his eye-movement and pitch of voice that he is about to close his inputs. You can quickly take it from there. Also, try and link your inputs with what he has spoken whether you are adding to or opposing his arguments. This would reflect that you are actually being participative rather than just doing a collective monologue.
How do I communicate in a GD:
Be crisp and to the point. Be fact based and avoid making individual opinions that do not have a factual base. Make eye contact with all the members in the group and avoid looking at the panelists while speaking. The average duration of the group discussion provides an average of about 2-3 minutes per participant to speak and you should try to speak about 3-4 times. Hence, you need to be really crisp to reflect the most in those 30-40 sec. slots.
How do I convince others and make them agree to my view point:
A lot of candidates make it their mission to make the group reach to a conclusion on the topic. Do not forget that some of the topics have been eternal debates and there is no way you can get an agreement in 15 mins. on them. The objective is not to make others toe your line but to provide fact based, convincing arguments which create an impact. Stick to this approach.
Do leadership skills include moderating the group discussion:
This is a myth and many people do try to impose their order on the GD, ordering people when to speak and when not to. This only reflects poor leadership. Leadership in a GD would be reflected by your clarity of thought, ability to expand the topic in its different dimensions, providing an opportunity to a silent participant to speak, listening to others and probing them to provide more information. Hence, work on these areas rather than be a self-appointed moderator of the group.
This is a key quality assessed during the GD about which many participants forget. Active listening can fetch you credit points and would also provide you with data to discuss. Also, if you have an average of 2-3 minutes to speak, the rest of the 20-25 minutes is required to spent in active listening. For this, maintain eye contact with the speakers, attend to them (like nodding, using acknowledging words like -I see ok, fine, great etc.). This would also make you be the centre of attraction as you would appear non-threatening to the speakers.
Behaviour during the GD:
Be patient; don't get upset if anyone says anything you object to. Stay objective and don't take the discussion personally. Also, remember the six C's of communication - Clarity, Completeness, Conciseness, Confidence, Correctness and Courtesy. Be appreciative & receptive to ideas from other people and open-minded but do not let others to change your own viewpoint. Be active and interested throughout. It is better to participate less if you have no clue of the topic. You may listen to others and take clues from there and speak. You would be assessed on a range of different skills and you may think that leadership is key, you need to be careful that you don't dominate the discussion.
Quality Vs Quantity:
Often, participants think that success in group discussions depends on how much and how loudly they speak. Interestingly, it's the opposite. Also, making your point on the topic, your views are important and the group needs to know. This will tell you are knowledgeable and that you participate in groups
If you have not been able to initiate the discussion, try to summaries and close it. Good summarizing would get you good reward points. A conclusion is where the whole group decides in favour or against the topic and most GDs do not have a closure. But every GD can be summarized by putting forth what the group has discussed in a nutshell. Keep the following points in mind while summarizing a discussion:
Avoid raising new points.
Avoid stating only your viewpoint.
Avoid dwelling only on one aspect of the GD
Keep it brief and concise.
It must include all the important points that came out during the GD
If you are asked to summarise a GD, it means the GD has come to an end.
Do not add anything once the GD has been summarised.
Some Positive Task Roles in a Group Discussion:You may want to play one or more of them:
Information seeker
Information giver
Procedure facilitator
Opinion seeker
Opinion giver
Social Supporter
Tension Reliever
Negative Roles to be Avoided
Disgruntled non-participant
Some suggested GD Topics:
Is coalition politics here to stay?
Does India need a dictator?
What ails Indian sports?
Success is all about human relations
Borderless worlds - Dream or reality?
Quality is a myth in India
Will China overtake India in IT
India - the back office to the world by 2020
Does Indian IT industry need to focus on products rather than services
The BPO age - heralding a new employment revolution
The BPO revolution and its impact on the society
Education and success - Is there a correlation?
We don't learn from history, we repeat it
Do we need a global policeman?
Indian villages - our strength or our weakness?
Management Education - Is it necessary to succeed in business
Kids today are not what they used to be
Repeated elections - Who should pay for them
Indian bureaucracy - foundation strengths or colonial hangovers?
In India, the whole is less than the parts - Do we lack in team spirit?
"" companies - Is there room for everyone?
Artificial Intelligence - Will man be ever replaced by machines?
Materialism - Have we sold our souls to the Devil?
Role of ethics in tobacco industry, liquor industry etc.
Are we unfit for Democracy?
Survival tools for the new millennium
Examinations - has it killed education
Should doctors be tried in Consumer Courts
Is E-Commerce the best thing for India
Feedback template: While doing mocks for GD preparation, you would get benefited by the feedback of others. For the purpose, we are providing a template for feedback - both quantitative and qualitative. The items described over there are a suggested list and not a complete one. You may make changes in it depending upon your need.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Listen. . . . . . .

It is obvious to say that if you have poor interpersonal communications skills (which include active listening), your productivity will suffer simply because you do have the tools needed to influence, persuade and negotiate – all necessary for workplace success. Lines of communications must be open between people who rely on one another to get work done.
Considering this, you must be able to listen attentively if you are to perform to expectations, avoid conflicts and misunderstandings, and to succeed - in any arena. Following are a few short tips to help you enhance your communications skills and to ensure you are an active listener:

1. Start by Understanding Your Own Communication Style
Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. Understanding your personal style of communicating will go a long way toward helping you to create good and lasting impressions on others. By becoming more aware of how others perceive you, you can adapt more readily to their styles of communicating. This does not mean you have to be a chameleon, changing with every personality you meet. Instead, you can make another person more comfortable with you by selecting and emphasizing certain behaviors that fit within your personality and resonate with another. In doing this, you will prepare yourself to become an active listener.

2. Be An Active Listener
People speak at 100 to 175 words per minute (WPM), but they can listen intelligently at 600 to 800 words per minute. Since only a part of our mind is paying attention, it is easy to go into mind drift - thinking about other things while listening to someone. The cure for this is active listening - which involves listening with a purpose. It may be to gain information, obtain directions, understand others, solve problems, share interest, see how another person feels, show support, etc.
If you're finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try repeating their words mentally as they say it - this will reinforce their message and help you control mind drift.

3. Use Nonverbal Communication
Use nonverbal behaviors to raise the channel of interpersonal communication. Nonverbal communication is facial expressions like smiles, gestures, eye contact, and even your posture. This shows the person you are communicating with that you are indeed listening actively and will prompt further communications while keeping costly, time-consuming misunderstandings at a minimum.

4. Give Feedback
Remember that what someone says and what we hear can be amazingly different! Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. Repeat back or summarize to ensure that you understand. Restate what you think you heard and ask, "Have I understood you correctly?" If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: "I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is XXX; is that what you meant?"
Feedback is a verbal communications means used to clearly demonstrate you are actively listening and to confirm the communications between you and others. Obviously, this serves to further ensure the communications are understood and is a great tool to use to verify everything you heard while actively listening.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


'Self-improvement' is a concept that is not so easily understood by common people. They do understand the literal meaning, but they really never think seriously about improving themselves. In fact, the first step on the ladder of self-improvement is to realise the need for improvement; and this, of course, is a realization that demands a good deal of emotional as well as intellectual clarity and strength.

It is difficult to confine the meaning of the term 'improvement'. It can be there in any walk of life. Right from one's own appearance, one can have an improvement in life-style, attitudes and even in intellectual level. So, let’s take the term in its wider meaning. What does the term actually mean? It means change, for sure. But can every change be called 'improvement'? Not at all. A change can be called an 'improvement' only when it is positive. If a graph showing one's health goes down, it is also a change. But we don't call it improvement. Thus, the term inevitably takes with it a sense of positivity and this positivity is the key to all improvements.

How can we improve ourselves? On this they arrange numberless seminars and lectures, and people take part in them in such a large number that can surprise anybody. But one who is determined to improve must keep in mind that unless and until it becomes a two-way process, such seminars and lectures will turn only into a useless activity. Only the conviction for improvement is not enough. It should accelerate the desire to achieve the goal in the way that one must learn to force herself, to stretch herself. We must learn that to improve is all about going against the habits that are once set. The keener one's desire to improve is, the more forcefully she will be able to drive away the old things. The keenness of desire will help in becoming even rude to the old self, and this will lead to create a new self. One should view herself more and more objectively in order to have a better self. In this way, only 'wish' to improve is not sufficient. It should turn into a strong will. Then only some seminar or lecture can help one.

Conviction and will-power, if accompanied by organized efforts, result into a great success. Methodical efforts should be made in order to achieve fast and exact results. For example, a lady has some problem with her memory. Her long time memory is good; she never forgets her own residential address. But she often forgets the things that are there in her short time memory. From the market, she always rings up at home to ask her husband for what she had gone there. Tired and determined to change herself, she starts listing down the things to do and keeping a diary of it. This works wonderfully and gradually she overcomes her weakness. Now she is more organized, happier, and works more efficiently and effectively. This example indicates how methodical efforts help a lot in improving one's self. The only thing needed here is a highly analytical approach to one's problem and its possible solutions.

Added to all the things we have discussed, to be aware of the current concerns of the world around us is also of equal importance, if we want to walk with the world. Comparison is the base of improvement, and when we look at the world around us, we compare ourselves with it. This motivates us for improving ourselves.One who succeeds in self-improvement gains a great self-confidence. To hold and mould one's own self is not an easy task as we already discussed. It requires a great deal of understanding, self-discipline, patience, analytical power and practical point of view. It is well said: 'One who wins the self, wins the world'. In order to be successful and happy in this world, let’s start from the self.


Monday, December 12, 2005


A lifelong process in the human life, COMMUNICATION is a way to express oneself in various ways : using words and without using a single word.

COMMUNICATION is the exchange or interchange of ideas or objects between two people or designated locations. More precisely the definition of communication is the consideration and action of impelling an impulse or particle from source point across a distance to receipt point, with the intention of bringing into being at the receipt point a duplication and understanding of that which emanated from the source point. The formula of communication is: cause, distance, effect, with intention, attention and duplication and understanding. Communication by definition does not need to be two-way. Communication is one of the component parts of understanding.

COMMUNICATION is the process of exchanging information and ideas. An active process, it involves encoding, transmitting, and decoding intended messages. There are many means of communicating and many different language systems. Speech and language are only a portion of communication.

Ask yourself: Who? What? How? When? Where? Why?

- Who are you speaking to?
- What do you wish to communicate?
- How can you best convey your message?
- When? Timing is important here.
- Where? What is the physical context of the communication in mind?
- Why? What disposes them to listen?

COMMUNICATION requires effective time management : RIGHT WORD AT THE RIGHT MOMENT...