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Is the use of correct English important?

Most English speakers will not be offended when someone makes an effort to speak English, but does not do so perfectly. There are other cultures that would correct them when making mistakes, but English speakers are generally happy to help when asked and just appreciate the person’s efforts to communicate.

As language facilitators, we assume that foreign language students are normally quite shy and scared to speak because of them making mistakes. We therefore encourage them to speak even if they make mistakes. After all, speaking practise is more important than making mistakes, right?

Mistakes are not harmless, as every time you utter an incorrect phrase in a foreign language, you increase the probability that you will say that phrase again. This means that you are using incorrect grammar. Many teachers think that it’s important to improve fluency rather than accuracy, however, it is much harder to change bad habits once learnt than to work on fluency.

It is much better to speak slowly and correctly than to be fluent with loads of mistakes. Why? Well, when you speak slowly and correctly, you can easily work on your speed. However, when you are fluent with mistakes, it is much harder to fix your mistakes and retain your fluency at the same time.  

Improving your English skills will help you communicate more easily and effectively. In many companies in South Africa, valued employees make up a number of various ethnic groups. Communicating successfully in English can pose a daunting challenge for employees in such companies. It is important to have suitable language skills to be able to communicate effectively and accurately with work colleagues and superiors.

Having a good language foundation eliminates language barriers to understanding policies and procedures. It also strengthens your business relationships through improved written and spoken communication. Having good language skills conveys credibility in a specific workplace environment.

Most people underestimate the importance of mastering English. This is especially true for people who live in English speaking countries such as the United States or Great Britain. Because they are raised speaking the language, they don’t feel that it is all that important. They think they can get by on the basic language classes they took in school while they were children.

There are a number of ways to improve your English skills, such as:

  • Read more.
  • Attend English language classes.
  • Find online material that will help you improve your skills.
  • Increase your vocabulary. Keep a notebook where you can record new words. Use the new words in sentences and try to use them when you speak.
  • Always use a dictionary and a Thesaurus.
  • Practise the four core skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
  • Watch DVDs rather than TV. It’s better to use something that you can watch over again so that you can catch the information you might have missed the first time.
  • Newspapers are a good place to find passive constructs. Read through an article and see if you can find the passive sentences.
  • Keep an English diary or journal. Start writing a few sentences every day and form the habit of writing regularly.

Various studies have demonstrated that those who have an advanced knowledge of the English language are much more likely to advance their careers. A strong command of the English language will lead to higher paying jobs, more social mobility, and better social success.