Let's learn English. Today, in our country, it is almost compulsory for each and everyone of us to be able to communicate in English. We started learning this language when we first started school at the tender age of seven. So, why can't still many of us speak this language?
First,I think, we were afraid to make mistakes in grammar and that people would laugh at us (through my own experience).
Second, we don't have enough confidence in ourselves. We hesitate and we think too much.
And the third, we'd rather speak in our language because everyone can understand, so why bother.
I too, wasn't bilingual until about seventeen. Oh I can understand the language alright but to speak to another person, I can't. I would usually stammer and then I will revert back to my mother's tongue. Hey kids, just for your information, I started school in 1970 and since I lived with my grandparents I was sent to a Malay school. During that time, there was no kindergarten or a preparatory school like today. I know nothing. I can't do a simple maths or write down my own name, let alone understand the very basic of English. But I salute teachers those days, they were an awesome lot. And mind you, their English was way better than us today. Probably because we were once under British colonization that theirs was a British English. Very proper and polite.
Even my grandpa, a farmer on his own, illiterate as he was, would sometimes use a few English words to remind us of our school work. He'd go like this," How come none of you are reading or doing homework? Open the BOOB and do something with it. Of course what he meant was book but he can't pronounce it properly. And for that matter, so did we. We didn't know then that boob means something else.
So you see, just like many people out there, my English was terrible.
Then, when I was thirteen, I came back to live with my parents. From there, I can see my father will sometime speak English with my other siblings. Both my sisters are fluent and my brothers too, though they were not as fluent as my two sisters. I envy them then and slowly I began to learn on my own. My father read only English newspaper so I had no choice but to read that paper as well. Little by little I began to absorb the pronunciation and to make a sentence. In school, English was my favourite subject. I remembered one day when I was reading my dad's newspaper and the word "guilty" came out as the first word that I don't understand and how to pronounce it correctly. I looked up in the dictionary and the next day I went to school I asked my teacher how to pronounce "guilty". I was determined to be as good if not better than my sisters.
I was a high school drop out. In Malaysia, our last grade in school would be when we were seventeen. After school, I started working. I got a job as a receptionist in a hotel. It's a beach resort. When it's a beach resort, it only mean one thing. European! Full of them. And what language will they speak? English..at least 50% of them. I am so dead. Imagine, having just left school and I am to start working at a leading hotel and as a receptionist for that matter, I was kind of terrified. What if the hotel guests were asking too many questions? How would I answer them?
But you know what? The jitters didn't last long. I got my courage after a few months. I will usually listen how they speak (especially the British) and I will then correct my sentence until it became perfect. Even if its a little sentence. To this day, I am still learning.
Mind you, if you are in Malaysia for the first time, don't worry if you don't understand our English. That's because we speak or called it Manglish (Malaysian English). Yes, it's English but it's a mix with Malay, Chinese and Tamil thrown into one sentence. I give you an example, here goes: So expensive one lah this shirt. Ask for cheaper sikit lah from the owner. You know him what. Kowtim lah with him."
Translation: That shirt is pricey. Since you know the owner, why don't you ask for less. Talk to him nicely.
Roughly,that's the translation.
Most of the expat who lives here can understand Manglish. Doesn't matter how it sounds, we understand one way or the other. What I am trying to say is, most Malaysian can speak English but we were so used to speak broken English that we don't really bother to upgrade ourselves to a better English.
One blogger wrote, Just write. Write what people want to read. Don't worry too much about the grammar.
She gave me the courage to write. So everyone, just read my blog. Don't bother much about my grammar. Sooner or later I'll be better!! Yeah.
Just for general information, Malays are the poorest in English between the three biggest ethnic in Malaysia. (Malays, Chinese and Indian) I don't really know why but most probably because Bahasa Melayu (or Malay language) is the national language so everybody must speak the language. Thus, we took it for granted by not giving much thought to learn a second or third language. What a waste.
I had exposed my children by talking in English to them every now and then since they were little. Now, good for them, they had become confident with themselves and ready to take on the world.
For children out there, be brave, don't be shy. Speak English coz that's the language that can bring you further in life.
Have a safe day. Out for now.