Importance of English Communication in Software Industry – Part 1

Do you speak English?

At INNOVEX ACADEMY we are meeting many young students every day. They are students preparing hard to grab a Software Developer job. Apart from putting effort to score good grades in university exams, they are preparing for aptitude and psychometric tests, learning trending programming languages and waiting for the next campus or walk-in drive to happen.

Last week I met two such students who are in their final semester of engineering and walked into our academy for an inquiry about the training programs we offer. During our conversation, one of them requested me to explain in Odia instead of English. Though I was not very surprised by this request, I asked – WHY? He started giving a speech on why everyone should respect their mother language and feel pride in speaking in his or her mother language always. He gave example how Chinese, French and Japanese people prefer to speak in their mother tongue wherever possible.

I had to handle this tricky situation intelligently because he was a potential client for us. So I asked –

“Do you want to work for domestic clients only as you want to speak in Odia and may be in Hindi (our National Language) and earn 1.2 LPA (lakhs per annum) – which is Rs. 10,000 a month for next few years. Or do you want to work for an organization with multinational clients that pays you at a salary range of 2 to 3 LPA to start with and promises a better career growth?”

He responded quickly –

“I want to start my job with salary 2 to 3 LPA “

The other guy started smiling seeing his friend’s instant defeat. I continued in English after assuring that I am equally fluent in English, Hindi and Odia and can switch to Odia in case he finds it difficult to understand at any point in time.

Within 5 minutes into this interaction, he interrupted me again and requested to explain the course modules in Odia, as that will be easy for them to follow and understand. I did that without any more hesitation. So, as you can understand, the sad truth is – this guy is in his Final Semester of Engineering but not skilled enough to communicate in English! And interestingly, instead of working to fix this issue, he is trying to hide his own weakness and has prepared a logic on how one should be proud of his or her mother language – more to convince himself if not others.

Loving and having a good command over literature and history of own mother language is definitely a very good thing. But forcing its use in an industry like Software Development is not the right thing always.

Whether you like it or not, the reality of the Offshore Software Development industry is – organizations from the USA, Canada and the European countries offload their work to cheaper offshore destinations like India having smart, intelligent, English-speaking people for their own cost advantages. And this, in turn, provides higher average salary package to software engineers than any other similar profession. So, if you are looking forward to work in this industry, you need to match their skill requirement and this makes your ability to interact in English as one bare minimum criteria for employment.

If you do not agree to the above – you should NOT look for a job in any software company operating with globally distributed clients. You can identify and apply to software companies who serve domestic (Indian) clients only. But as I warned you before, very few of those offer competitive salary structure to its employees. There are many suitable jobs outside software industry like banking, PSUs, railways, defense sector etc, that you can try and get into where speaking in English always is not as crucial as in softwares.

If you agree to the above and can communicate in English with people around you fluently — wish you best of luck for your job interview.

If you agree to the above but is not good at spoken English currently – this is the time to fix this problem. I know people from Hindi, Telugu, Odia and other vernacular medium schooling background taking this as a challenge and fixing it. It just takes 3 to 6 months of time following some simple tips mentioned below.

– Start with reading English newspaper daily and read it loudly in a closed room. Then pick any topic of that newspaper, and start speaking about it loudly in front of a mirror, as if you are a news anchor.

– Do not bother about grammatical errors or challenge of correct sentence formation at all. Continuously reading and speaking in English will slowly fix all those issues over time.

– Form a group of friends who understand the challenge you have taken up and ready to help you. Talk to them in English always.

– Dial to call-centers of mobile service providers or e-commerce companies, choose English as your preferred language and ask for pricing, discount offer and a lot of other random queries. Interact with them as much as you can.

– Do not try to fake British or American accent. Talk in your own original accent. Your accent will automatically improve with time.

– Once you reach at certain confidence level, try speaking in English in more broader audience groups. Try things like replying to teachers in the classroom in English, participate in group discussions in your hostel or talk to some foreigners if you get a chance. Do all these naturally wherever possible without forcing yourself to do these as an artificial behavior.

– And finally, understand that you need not become an English Language expert with 100% perfectness in every aspect of English communication. You just need to be a software professional who can blend technical terms in common English interactions so that you and your counterparts at client-end can understand each other properly.

Hope this post helps you in understanding “Importance of English Communication in Software Industry” and encourages you to bridge the skill gap if any. It’s time to act now – NOW or NEVER!

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[This is Part 1 of the series – Importance of English Communication in Software Industry. Part 2 will be published soon.]

– SD1