Monday, 20 February 2012

How I Came to Love English

My bff and I text every day. Well, almost every day actually. Contrary to popular belief, bffs don't talk to each other every day; we give each other space too, you know.

Yesterday, she told me that she has started reading English children's story books to her baby before bedtime. Her baby is not even one yet, but I'm glad that she's so enthusiastic about educating her baby. She wants her son to grow up knowing how to speak English fluently.

I would do the same thing when I have children in the future. I would want my kids to learn English at a young age, as children pick up quicker when they are very young. However, I would also want my kids to learn Malay and our mothertongue. I'm a proud Selakau or Salako, which is considered part of Bidayuh, although our language is totally different from say, Bidayuh from Padawan or Bau.

Growing up, I didn't have anyone to converse in English with. We communicate in Malay mixed with Selakau at home, even until now. My parents were educated in a secondary school with English as its medium, but my father speaks English more fluent than my mother.

When I was in primary school, my father would help me with spelling and dictation, and I've always scored in both. I wish I have my books to show for! I would excel in oral and reading too, as well as writing compositions and tests. However, I was not fluent when it comes to speaking with others.

As I entered secondary school, I gained more confidence about speaking in public, although I was still shy. I would always feel nervous each time my English teacher called my name to read a passage in class, fearing that I might make a mistake when pronouncing long words or worse, stammer. However, each time after, I would feel this overwhelming confidence, thinking wow, I should have volunteered to read more often in class.

Boybands were huge back then, and I was a big fan. British boybands were formed, and I would buy the now-not-in-production UK magazine called Smash Hits (1978-2006). I would read and at the same time, a colleague of my father gave me his old Oxford dictionary, which I treasured until today. That dictionary was like my bff; I would read my pop magazines and refer to Mr. Oxford for definitions and pronounciations.

I have my Form 2 English teacher to thank the most, though. If it wasn't for her, I won't be good in writing or fluent in English at all. One day, she called my name to read out a passage, and although I was nervous, I did well. She praised me in front of my classmates, saying that I had good diction, and everything I read was clear. I was overjoyed. I was beaming the whole day, although I did not show it. She gave me the confidence and I don't think she had any idea how her praises affected me. Since that day, I started conversing in English with my classmates more, and I gained more confidence each day. I have loved English ever since, and for my SPM, I excelled in both SPM English and English 1119.

If you're reading this and want to improve your English, don't hesitate. Just go ahead, speak, write, even sing if you want to. Singing helps too, but only if you choose the right songs. Lol! Make the dictionary your companion, and don't be lazy to refer to it whenever you come across bombastic words. Writing is not about using big words, but using simple words to convey the same message. My teacher used to say, the bigger the words you use, the higher the chance for you to make mistakes. Nevertheless, always learn from those mistakes, and don't be shy to make one.

I hope my sharing inspires you in some ways. I'm still learning too, so please pardon my English. :P Have a great, productive week. :)

Learn a new language and get a new soul.  ~Czech Proverb


  1. wow.. we hv almost the same experience..however I thank my brother for his effort taught me very well in English since age 8.. sampai nangis I baca english book in front of him..LOL

  2. have a good brother, Marvic. I am the eldest, so I had no mentor. :) But we did well, huh? Bravo!

  3. I think what Yenny is doing for her son is amazing! I really commend her efforts. Reading this post, it makes me realize how much I've taken for granted that English is my first language and a language that I was born into.

    But like you said, we're all still learning. And although I've known the language ever since I've learned to speak, my Form 1 to Form 3 English teacher helped a lot with learning new words.

    She'd do a segment called "A Word A Day" where all 50 students in our class take turns to write a word from the dictionary together with the meaning and write it down on the blackboard for others to copy down. Then it went on everyday for 3 years. I've learned a lot from that. Big words, small words.. I'm thinking of doing that with Buddy too now that he's in school.

    1. Hi Shem! I think your English teacher is superb! I would've enjoyed her classes too. It's a good and fun thing to do with Buddy and Allie, I think. :)

      Thanks for dropping by, Shem. :D


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