For most of my life, I went to English-medium schools where nobody spoke English.
However, from grades 1-4, I attended a government school in Bangalore where kids used English even for social conversations. That is the only real exposure I had to the language. Yet, it gave me confidence for a lifetime.
Unfortunately, the world we live in is unfair to people not exposed to English.
And this is not just about India. The French are very proud of their language. Yet, at INSEAD, a top global business school near Paris, you need fluency in English, not in French.
But without exposure to English in early childhood, is there hope?
Yes, and here is proof.
My best friend and ex-boss in the IPS went only to Malayalam medium schools. When he spoke his first sentence in English after joining IIT Madras, people must have made fun of his accent.
Yet, such is his mastery that he was the first one to teach me the craft of writing. I can give more such examples.
This is not just about English — any skill is best learned early in life.
But if you miss the bus, don’t despair. With intense focus, we can learn anything at any age.
The world is unfair — we can’t change it, but we can change ourselves. If we are truly determined, there is nothing in the world we can’t master.