LAST week, we featured two articles written by stuff@school’s teenage writers on their learning journey with the English language. As promised, we are publishing two more articles this week. They are bonus features for StarEducate readers. Enjoy reading!
By MUHAMMAD NUR RAZIQ MARZUKI, 18
Formerly from The Malay College Kuala Kangsar, Perak
ENGLISH is considered an important language to master seeing that it is widely used around the world.
Our country has seen it it fit to give priority to English and it is our second language.
While Bahasa Malaysia (BM) is undoubtedly the country’s national language, English, has also been given much focus in schools lately to ensure that Malaysians become proficient in the language.
For students like me, we sometimes fumble when speaking English because it isn’t our mother tongue, or the language we use when speaking to our friends and family.
I’ve had my share of experiences with the English language, both bitter and sweet. Recalling them might be a good way for me to appreciate the language even more.
Growing up in a small town in Malacca, I wasn’t aware of the importance of learning English. I was surrounded by people who didn’t speak in English to children.
But I don’t fully blame them for this. As a child who was undergoing my formative years, my mind was mainly filled with thoughts of play and cartoons, instead of linguistics.
As long as I knew my ABCs and how to make simple sentences, was good enough for me.
It wasn’t until I turned 10 that I started to take the language seriously.
My mother enrolled me for English lessons at a tuition centre.
I learnt more about grammar and was happy with the challenge of constructing complex sentences.
However, knowing how to write alone wasn’t good enough. I had to start speaking to others in the language.
I enjoyed watching cartoons on TV that were translated in BM so that I could “fully” enjoy the shows.
But I was bored eventually when the channel kept airing the same episodes in BM.
That’s when I thought, why not watch the cartoons in English?
Since I had memorised the lines in BM, it was easy for me to know the meanings for each word and what the character was going to say.
From then on, I only watched my cartoons in English.
Once I was familiar with the language, it was easy for me to speak and think in English.
Moving to a secondary school where I could freely talk to my peers in English without getting mocked at for not using my mother tongue, had also helped me enhance my proficiency in the language.
All in all, English is extremely beneficial as it helps us progress, communicate and connect with others in today’s world. You might be criticised by some for conversing in English, but you will see its value when you step into adulthood and the real world.
A love that runs deep
By RESHME SUBRAMANIAM, 17
SMK Kota Kemuning, Selangor
MY mother introduced me to the English language when I was a toddler. She spoke to me in English, and read to me English nursery rhymes, stories and poems.
Naturally, the more I was exposed to the language, the more interesting I found it to be. You could say that my first love was English, for it opened my mind to a world that I found magical, which was the world of books.
Growing up, I was a loner andwasn’t naturally a sociable person. But I didn’t mind, for I was occupied in my own little world of reading.
I remember reading Enid Blyton’s books as a child and then, reading the abridged version of Jane Eyre when I was seven.
Needless to say, English became my favourite subject at school and I excelled at it.
However, I still lost marks because I was not careful.
I took part in choral speaking, public speaking and debates, as well as activities organised by the English Club at school.
I fared well in speaking as my family speaks English at home, and not Tamil, much to the despair of my grandparents who think I’m losing my roots.
They do have a point. I can understand Tamil, but I can’t speak the language.
I suppose it is a disgrace and I am going to make an effort to speak my mother tongue.
Through my love for the English language, I have developed a passion for writing and for expressing my thoughts. stuff@school’s Starstruck! Young Writers Programme gives me that opportunity, which I am grateful for as I am able to pursue my passion at such a young age.
To those of you who struggle with English, my advice is simply this: read! It is the only way you can pick up a language. Variety is important, too. You have to read magazines and newspapers to gain knowledge of the world and storybooks to improve your language and to bring out your creative side.
I have to confess that I am drawn to fictional stories, and I rarely read non-fiction. There has to be a balance. If you think that reading is too tedious, go slow, and set yourself small tasks.
If you want to experience fun while learning English, you could watch this television series called Mind Your Language, which is a comedy about an English Teacher and his motley crew of foreign students. You can watch the whole series on YouTube.
English, or any other language, is not just a way to communicate. It’s a way to express your thoughts and feelings, a way to get everything in your head onto paper, and that’s why I love English, for I can describe myself and who I am, through words.
stuff@school’s teenage writers are participants of our year-long Starstruck! Young Writers Programme. To read more of their works, sign up for stuff@school through school subscription of The Star. Or, call the toll free number 1-300-88-7827 (Mon to Fri) 9am to 5pm. The first issue of the year will be out on Jan 11.