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.  


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