India is not an English speaking country. We don't normally come across a native English speaker easily. Most schools in the country prescribe English as a second language only.  Learning English and improving fluency in the language is still an urban, middle-class phenomenon. However, the enigmatic English language is slowly, but surely, beginning to break its stereotypes as more and more non-native speakers express their interest in speaking English fluently.

English courses in a language school are gaining traction as English is no longer looked upon as a foreign language.

Mastery over English language skills has become a necessity to excel in academic as well as professional and social lives. English is also one of the two official languages used in the business of governance in India. It is an important means of communication as global language barriers are slowly coming down.

However, due to certain factors unique to India, like the method of primary schooling, linguistic background, family environment, regional influences, etc. many students find it difficult to get a good grasp of the language. Often, vital aspects of learning a new language, like vocabulary, tenses, terms, pronunciation, synonyms, grammar, etc. are not taught properly.

The art of writing
Writing is an amalgamation of ideas, analytical skills, grammar, vocabulary, syntax, and interpretation | Source: Aaron Burden on Unsplash

All that can change with the right initiative from both students and teachers, and with these helpful tips on how to improve English reading and writing skills, along with proficiency over literary analysis.

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Basic Starter Kit on English Writing

Many people struggle with writing in English and it can seem like a real challenge to improve. Here are some simple steps that you can take to improve your written English and score good marks in the CBSE Board examination 2020.

The Old-Fashioned Technique

Writing is a lot about putting pen to paper, literally speaking. So, brace yourself with a pen and a notebook and write down your thoughts and ideas. Try to avoid typing as machine learning is often a sure way to kill your natural instincts.

The association between your mind and the words that will flow through your pen will consolidate the foundation. 

Get creative. Play around with your words and sentences. For example, change the mood and tone of a particular sentence, or change the verb tense, use synonyms, and correlated words. This also helps to enrich your vocabulary and syntax.

Read regularly

It's an old saying, really. People learn the best ways to write through reading and listening. Reading in English is useful in many ways.

  • You are able to form an idea of the stylistic variations of a new language.
  • You get to improve your use of words and learn how to use them appropriately.

Always try to choose books or articles about topics that interest you. Learning should interest you and not put you to sleep! Read each line multiple times until you are certain of what they mean.

Dictionary

A dictionary is probably the most useful, yet underrated tool to learn the meanings and usage of words and sentence formation. Simply, note down a new word and check with a dictionary to gain knowledge about its meaning, etymology, etc.

With the availability of online dictionaries, it is even easier now to master this exercise! However, nothing beats the smell and feel of a classic dictionary from the Oxford University Press.

Crossword and Scrabble

Crossword puzzles, and Scrabble, the word game, are both challenging and fun-filled ways to learn new words in the English language. Get a hold of the newspapers and magazines in your home, and start solving, or playing. You can also learn English online as these resources are widely available on the Internet.

new words-scrabble
Word games like Scrabble and crossword puzzles are a fun way to learn new words and improve your vocabulary | Source: Moritz Schmidt on Unsplash

A New Word Everyday

Learning new words every day and improving English vocabulary is a progressive way of English learning. English learning is an ongoing process. Indeed, it is true for any language course. Therefore, students must ensure that they learn new words and phrases, along with their meanings and uses in a sentence, every day.

When you learn a new word, try to learn it in all their forms.

Pro Tip: A good way to memorize and retain new vocabulary words is to also learn the prepositions, conjunctions, articles and other parts of speech that go with them.

Dot the I's and Cross Your T's

Spellings of English words can prove tricky in many situations. Students need to know how to spell words correctly. Incorrect spellings can completely alter the meaning of a sentence. 

Using flashcards to practice your spellings can be a handy method of testing yourself.

This is equally true for the use of punctuation in sentences. For example, notice the difference between these two sentences - "Let's eat grandma", and "Let's eat, grandma." We wouldn't want cannibalism to be one of our characteristic traits!

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Improve Your Grammar

English grammar is critical to the quality of your writing. Not only should students pay close attention to the grammar lessons in school, but they should also learn grammar through regular practice at home. Proofreading what you have written is also a great way to ensure your grammar is in order.

Grammar rules, writing style, and punctuation are incredibly important if you want your essays and answers to be understood and taken seriously.

Your understanding of basic grammar should be on a solid foundation before you can ace the writing part. The fundamentals of English grammar include verb and subject agreement, proper article and pronoun usage, and well-formed sentence structures.

Finally, in academic writing, the tone of voice is very important. Try to use the active voice instead of the passive. This will make your essay stronger in tone and your language concise.

A magnifying glass focussing in on the word "grammar." Portuguese grammar can be difficult at first for beginners.
The rules of grammar are the building blocks of the English language | Source: Visual Hunt

Article Format for CBSE Class 12th English Board Exam 2020

Article writing is usually considered a relatively easy exercise. However, if not done right, you can lose precious marks in your exam paper. Every year, the CBSE Class 12 English paper carries one question, of 10 marks, on article writing. The question evaluates format, content, unique ideas, and original suggestions, if any, of the student. The prescribed word limit for writing an article is between 150-200 words.

Format 

To write an article, students must follow the following format, as laid down by the Central Board of Secondary education (CBSE) and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT):

  • Provide an apt title, along with the writer’s name (1 mark)
  • Introduction to the topic, suggestive measures (if necessary), along with conclusion (4 marks)
  • Ensure grammatical accuracy, appropriate word use, and correct spellings (5 marks)

The presentation of relevant ideas and creative, and original ideas, backed by logical argument are given extra weightage.

Letter Format for CBSE Class 12th English Board Exam 2020

A well-written letter addressed rightly, can always create the desired impact. Letter Writing is a compulsory question, carrying 6 marks in the CBSE Class 12 English paper.

Types of Letters

The most common forms of letters included in the CBSE syllabus for English Core Class 12 are:

  • Informal letters (to close associates)
  • Formal letters. These can be further categorized as:
    • Business or official letters
    • Letters to the Editor
    • Job application.

The prescribed word limit for writing a letter is between 100-150 words. 

writing letters
Letter-writing is one of the oldest form of exchange of human emotions | Source: Rae Tian on Unsplash

Format 

The correct format for writing letters, as stipulated in the CBSE guidelines, are as follows:

  1. Sender’s address
  2. Date
  3. Receiver’s address
  4. Subject heading
  5. Salutation
  6. Complimentary close.

Note: The first paragraph of a letter typically consists of an introduction and the reason(s) for writing the letter. This is followed by the contents related to the given topic and the conclusion.

In Conclusion...

Try your best. Practice hard. Desire and determination can take you places, including mastery over the art of English language writing. Don't give up easily, especially when the going gets tough (for example, you can't figure out the meaning of the phrase that seems critical to the crux of a given passage). Discuss with the experts, such as language trainers and private English tutors who are in a position to provide you with valuable feedback.

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Shreyanjana

Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.