Club in Chennai helps people ace English

CHENNAI: A speaker concludes her table-topic speech, an evaluator scrutinises the content and a grammarian gives feedback.

This is a typical scene witnessed in our neighbourhood’s Toastmasters Club which was started in October 2018. But first things first: As a reader you may ask, who they are. It is a social platform that gathers every weekend to get a roll off the tongue.

Of course, it may not interest all, but this is an arena where aspiring debators or speakers thrive in.

In conversation with News Today, Sivathanu N, the club sponsor, speaks about the prompt to be a part of this social set-up, their activities and dreams.

Despite excelling in academics, having a way with words or becoming wordsmiths has always been a problem for non-native speakers, let alone participating in debates or discussions. It is this bitter truth that gave way to Sivathanu to have a devoted club in the neighbourhood.

Being in the IT sector, Sivathanu is approached by college students seeking guidance before attending a job interview. He says that it is one of those meetings that led him and seven others start Nanganallur Toastmasters Club.

Elaborating it, he begins, “Little do they know or not often do they understand the evaluation criteria. For fresh graduates, 80 per cent of the score is given to their presentation skills and the remaining is for the answers to the technical questions. They should possess the ability to articulate their accomplishments during their college days. I found it disappointing that the students did not even know to introduce them.”

However, Sivathanu says English is not all. “It is the content, sequence and articulation that enables people scale heights,” the resident of Duraisamy Nagar specifies.

The club has members aging 20 to 75 and has been hosting demo meetings for free of cost where any person can walk in, observe, participate and enroll with them if it suits their style.

When questioned about the segments, the 45-year-old software architect says, “We have three sessions – prepared script, impromptu or table-topic and evaluation session. On a regular basis, we invite eminent Toastmasters from other branches for keeping us on the track and motivate the speakers.”

To add extra value to their sessions, they have mentoring session; wherein a senior Toastmaster will review and provide feedback to the script prepared by the speaker. “However, since ours is new, we have mentors from neighbouring clubs.”

“When a participant enrolls as a member, they get opportunities to head as vice-president of various fields and participate in contests happening organised by Toastmasters International across the globe,” he added.

Since the society has 12 members, Sivathanu hopes to formally inaugurate the club once more people join their team.

Want to build a way with words? Join them today between 3.55 and 5 pm at No 2, Iyappa Nagar, Duraiswami Garden, Nanganallur.

For details, contact 9884081251 or 9840378332.

Bhavani Prabhakar