Wednesday, July 11, 2012
MUCH has been said about learning English, yet nothing seems to work well despite all the methods advocated.
Let me share with you what proficiency and practice are all about.
In language learning, one has to use it to be confident, that is, one must practise it without fail as practice makes perfect.
So, school heads must be good at two languages. If they can use English to address their audience — staff, support groups and pupils — the whole school would benefit from it.
I did not speak Bahasa Malaysia when I was at school as all of us spoke English with each other.
As the days went by, we became fluent by leaps and bounds.
My parents were illiterate, but two-thirds of the children went to English-medium schools, so we picked up the language like ducks to water.
When I entered college, the scenario changed and I had to start conversing in BM, except during English lectures and tutorials.
Nevertheless, with perseverance and true grit, I survived because I made the effort to learn and use BM with my collegemates, who were conversant only in BM then.
I was always careful when it came to grammar and you could say I am a grammar freak.
When I was promoted to a senior assistant in a Chinese school, I was forced to learn to speak Mandarin as it was the survival of the fittest at such schools.
I am proud to say that I survived, even though it is not my mother tongue.
How did I do it? Simply by using the language daily and making sure I practised it with my colleagues.
They would never speak English with me, no matter how hard I tried as, to them, it was Man-darin that they practised in Chinese schools.
I am glad I took the trouble to practise each language I wanted to master as I wanted to make sure I could speak each of them properly.
I am proud to say that I have managed to speak English and BM well, and Mandarin, too, effortlessly.
So, to those of you strug-gling with English, go out and do it.
Open your mouth and speak the language and you will find that you will build up confidence as the days go by.