IMPROVING ENGLISH PROFICIENCY: Read, write and speak it

Sunday, July 08, 2012

I READ with morbid fascination the issue on the deterioration of the standard of English in schools and universities (New Sunday Times, June 24).

I wonder as to whether our graduates and students can write several sentences without grammatical errors, forget the beautiful adjectives and the attractiveness of the tenor of the writing and the embellishment.

I do not hold a doctorate and neither am I a professor of English nor have I been teaching long. My only credential is my deep passion and love for the language. Let it be known that any language cannot just be learned, it has to be acquired.

Ideally, both approaches are to be taken simultaneously. In class, English teachers teach the technical features of the language. In this context, grammar is of utmost significance.

Teachers are advised to teach in a simple and easy-to-understand approach. For example, “she loves” but “they love”. And in expression, “a bouquet of flowers” and “a herd of cows”.

Secondly, the only effective technique to acquire fluency in a language is to speak it. It has to be spoken all the time. I suggest that all schools and higher educational institutions “enact” their own individual regulations stipulating that only English should be spoken within their premises and compounds. In this regard, all professors, lecturers and teachers should likewise converse in English with their students.

If our students speak English every day, in a few years, they would be able to acquire a command of the language. This applies to parents as well. Parents should speak in English with their children, if they can.

Writing is an art. Not many can write well. Generally, journalists and lawyers are excellent writers. Some of their articles are so captivating, alluring and inspiring. But lately, I notice that lawyers are no longer writing in the polished manner their predecessors did. To acquire a flair for writing, students must write as regularly as possible.

Thirdly, English programmes should start from primary school. The next elixir is reading as widely as possible.

Reading introduces the reader to a spectrum of writing styles and the appropriate selection of words and the nuance of expression. Make reading a favourite pastime.

Often we find that a formidable lawyer is not only sensitive to words, but also responsive to them. In this context, schools and parents have a crucial role to instil in students the penchant and hunger for reading.

To English teachers, love the language. Individually, in your own special way, summon your deep-seated creativity and innovation to teach the language in the most simple and interesting way.

Resurrect interesting and heart-warming stories to enthrall the entire classroom. Through these stories, teach students grammar and the technicalities of the language. Turn your English class into an animated adventure to create affection and fondness for the language. In time, your students will be impatient for the next English class.

 

Musa Ismail, Kuala Lumpur

Read more: IMPROVING ENGLISH PROFICIENCY: Read, write and speak it – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/improving-english-proficiency-read-write-and-speak-it-1.104191#ixzz205PvAj9U