fluency-b They know their trade, but possess poor spoken English skills No English, No Fun. Know English, Become No. 1.   Young engineers, otherwise bright and intelligent, are severely handicapped by their poor spoken English skills often adversely affecting their employability. Lack of fluency in English or,for that matter, the lingua franca of the country where you work, can upset your career. In May 2015, Anshu Jain, CEO of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank, started his speech at the bank’s annual meeting in Frankfurt, saying in German, “On this day, every word matters.” And then he delivered the rest of his 2000-word address in English! Less than three weeks later, Jain resigned as co-CEO after losing the confidence of investors. While his failure to master German didn’t cost Anshu Jain his job, it drew criticism in his host country and deprived him of a valuable tool for connecting with local shareholders, customers and colleagues. Even though borders have faded considerably in much of Europe, language can still be a barrier. Switch to India and the situation has a unique twist. A land of immense cultural diversity, Indians in various parts of the country speak different languages. The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution grants official status to 22 languages, leaving it to English to serve as the link language and the medium of learning in higher education. English is also the lingua franca in corporate entities - management cadres across the country communicate in English. ENGLISH UNSPOKEN, CAREER BROKEN Yet 97% engineers in India cannot speak English required for jobs in corporate sales and business consulting which command 30-50% higher salaries. More than 60% engineers possess grammar skills no better than a class VII students. Only 7% engineers can speak English with fluency that renders speech meaningful and have the ability to speak or respond spontaneously in English. These are the findings of the National Spoken English Skills (SES) of Engineers (2015-2016)report on the state of spoken English capabilities in young engineers and how their employability is affected by their Spoken English skills. According to the survey, conducted by Aspiring Minds on 30,000 engineers across 500 engineering colleges in India, the key problems faced by engineers are fluency skills, pronunciation, grammar and sentence construction in English. Even students who crack the prestigious entrance exams to the IIT and NIT are not comfortable with English and find it difficult to cope with the undergraduate curriculum. Failure to comprehend lectures in English is a major cause of academic stress. One of the key qualities recruiters look for during an interview is English fluency. It is here that more than 90% of engineering graduates lose out as they are unable to even communicate technical ideas clearly in English. Spoken English skills are required also to connect with peers, employees and consumers - very critical for international and intra-national businesses. Most engineering institutes now offer bridge courses in English. Science students in school, even though their focus is to crack the all India competitive exams, need to give time to English language skills. Another option is to join an English speaking course.

Vinod Agarwal, 24 July, 2017 (7:24 AM)

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