Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How to have good command of the English Language

I've been asked on a number of occasions by my famous little sister, Waridah the story teller to write on tips to be competent in the English Language. I'm not saying my English is any good but I guess it's good enough that I could understand when the language is spoken by its native speakers. So, this entry is an attempt to fulfilling her request.

My siblings and I were brought up in a military quarters not too far from the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Our dad used to work for the armed forces. I'm not quite sure what exactly did our dad do. All I could remember was that he would sometimes bring home exam transcripts to be marked. There were even times when he'd return grunting about how bad some of the cadets' English was. If I remember correctly, in his grunt, dad said sternly, "I don't want any of my kids to write like this. You must all have good command of English. You must speak fluent English". That was the beginning how my sister and I were trained to be competent in the colonial language. Our dad would bring home comic strips for us to read and he'd pushed us to volunteer to do public speaking at our school assembly. I didn't quite like it then but I guess I have to thank him now. Had it not been for him, I don't think I'l ever manage to over come my stage fright and gain the courage to speak in public. Our dad conversed in English with us at home to further improve our fluency. During our birthdays, dad presented us with English novels. I still remember as I entered my teen ages, dad bought me my very first set of Nancy Drew's mystery novels for my 13th birthday. Other than books, our dad encouraged us to watch English tv programs be it cartoon show, tv series or movies. I must say watching a lot of tv shows and movies have tremendously helped me to converse in English. Not only do I get to listen to the way words are pronounced but also I learned to understand spoken English. 

You see, that was the kind of regiment our dad put us through to ensure that we are moulded the way he wanted us to be. Sure at first I felt forced, but the more I read the more I understand the language. And as I have better understanding in the language, I started to love it as much as my dad's love for the language.

Whoa! That is a long rambling on some tips. Let's summarise them for your ease of reading:
1-Read a lot of English reading materials be it fiction or non fiction books, magazines, newspapers. In the beginning, it is best if you read out loud in order to pronounce the words correctly and hear how you sound if you are to converse in English.
2-Get a good English-to-English dictionary for you to refer to if you need to look up for the meaning of words you're not familiar with. Avoid using English-to-other language dictionary because doing so would discourage thinking in English. 
3-Watch tv programs in English, or movies at the cinema. And if you're watching a movie on dvd, be sure to put the English subtitle on because you'll do both listening and reading at the same time
4-Practice the language by having conversations with others
5-Keep a diary written in English. The best way to practice writing is to tell the story of your everyday life. I learned this tip from my English teacher when I was 13. 
6-Don't worry too much about grammatical error. As you read, you'll subconsciously learn and know what is right and what is not right.  

Do try the above tips. You'll begin to notice the difference within a year or less if you follow them religiously.  


Sunday, May 14, 2017

So it has been 20 years since Titanic...

and it has been seven years since the last time I posted anything here. I have one thousand and one reasons for putting this blog on a long pause, most of the reasons are discreet and I prefer to keep it that way. Recently however as I was re-reading my past entries I decided to resume the sharing of my thoughts into the cyberspace as they will soon become distant memories for those who knew me. And I for certain want my children to read and share these distant memories with their children when my time is this mortal world is put to a halt. I want my memories and stories be told to my descendants for they may learn a thing or two from my past.

Anyhow, last night as I was watching e-news on the television, the entertainment news caught my attention when the reporter interviewed the singer of Titanic theme song, My Heart will Go On; Celine Dion asking the infamous singer what did feel when they recorded the song 20 years ago. It was then that I realised Titanic was first released twenty years ago. It struck me then that it was some 20 years ago I first set foot into a cinema with my friends from college. I could vividly recall our first experience like it was yesterday. We were all drawn to watch the most anticipated romantic movie of the year on the big screen mainly because of the actor ie Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo was a heartthrob (he still is) to many teenagers back then. I went to the cinema twice just to watch Leo fell into the deep ocean on the big screen and I cried every time that handsome face of his slowly merged into the sea.

I wasn't the only one who was crazy about Leo and Titanic. It turned out my little sisters too had a crush on him. When I returned home from college, I was surprised to be greeted by a big poster of Titanic at the back of our bedroom door. Not only that, they even had a booklet of Leo's photos. Never had I realised that my sisters and I would share the same interest. Despite having watched the film twice at the cinema, I watched it again and again with my sisters at home once the CD was released. I remember how we criticised the way Leo's character; Jack gave up a chance to save himself from freezing to death to Kate Winslet's character;  and how we wished for Jack to not die too soon in the film. Perhaps it is not too much for me to say that Leo was our first crush.

Leo is no longer a young man as am I. A lot of things have changed since Titanic first's screening in the lives of its casts, production crews and its millions viewers. Leo has finally won his first Oscar last year after numerous nominations and his heroine Kate won her Oscar a few years back. The phrase "tonight Titanic celebrates its 20th anniversary", kept ringing in my ears and suddenly it dawned on me, what have I achieved in these past two decades? Hmmmm