English as a second language

When we talk about English, the first things that come to our mind must be about the people in United States of America or Europe. However, believe or not English is actually a West Germanic Language that once was widely used in German. The word English itself was named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to England. Nowadays, English has become a global lingua franca and is an official language for at least 60 countries across the world.

I believe that English as a second language is beneficial to humanity as a whole, especially those who are coming into an academic setting because English is the most widespread language of the world. We also cannot deny the fact that not being able to speak good English does not mean that the people or the country itself cannot success. This has been proved by China, which is the most influential country in economics although they do not use English as their official language or not even closed to use it as the second language. However, if we narrow the scope to the society, English can be very helpful in our daily lives. Today there are many jobs and occupations that either require or would benefit from English. Even simple every day jobs can profit from knowing English. For example, grocery clerks benefit from their knowledge of English by being able to help customers that do not know English and need help finding what they need. Taxi drivers also need to know various languages at least English to communicate with passengers and to know the destination they intend to go.

When we take a look at the education or to be exact at the school, actually they are a numerous number of students that can not speak or even write English very well. I gladly would like to share to the students on my experience and how I used to learn English. Malaysia is one of the countries that practice English as the second language. All students from all level of education starting from the primary school until university are compulsory to learn English. Luckily for me as a Malaysian, I found it was not very hard for me to learn English because we started as early as seven year old. At this age, we learn how to speak and write in English and even there was a special class for pronunciation. There was a funny stories when I was in primary school and I remembered it very clearly. When I was in standard five, our English teacher had made a new rule that it was forbidden for the students to speak in Malay language during the English class and whoever broke the rules, he or she had to pay a fine for 50 cents. During that class, there was a time when I wanted to go to the toilet so I went to the teacher desk to ask for the permission and somehow I was totally blank on how to ask in English. At that time, it was a silence for at least five minutes and all eyes not only the teacher but my friends also were focusing on me. Finally, my teacher taught me how to ask permission to go to the toilet in English. Although I felt very ashamed, at least I learned a new thing in English.

In secondary school, I learned English for almost 4 years and usually students in secondary schools will learn how to write an essay that is 3 pages long and also learn the poem and short stories. When I was in third year, my English teacher, Ms Wong, was a Chinese Malaysian and she was a very strict person. Everyday, she would made us to copy 3 essays, 10 grammar questions and 15 idioms. At that time, I thought like how could she made us to do this “mountain looks like” homework when we also had other subjects to study. I realized the purposed why she told us to do that homework after we took our PMR exam which is one of the most important exam for the Malaysian students. After we did the homework for nearly six months, actually we memorized all the English format essays and not only that, almost all English idioms were just at our finger tips.

I like to read a newspaper when I have a free time because it is same like a television that can give you information about anything that happen in the world just that newspaper is cheaper than television. One day, when I was reading the newspaper, my father saw me and ask what newspaper I was reading. I told him that I was reading the Malay’s newspaper and he just smiled. He told me “ why didn’t you read English newspaper instead of Malays’s newspaper? By doing that you can kill two birds with one stone”. I was like what actually my father was trying to tell me. He said when you read English newspaper, you do not only gain information about something but at the same time you can also learn English as well. The point that my father was trying to make sense to me and starting from that time, I no longer read Malays’s newspaper. I would read English newspaper and if there were any words or sentences that I did not understand, I would search it with a dictionary. I was amused by my father because he will read the English newspaper for at least one hour everyday and actually there was a small room that keeps all the newspaper that my father had read.

In conclusion, there are many ways for us to study English but the basics are three things; by hearing, reading and seeing. Hearing is one of the most important part in learning any language so you have to practice yourself to hear as many English words as possible. For example by hearing music. Reading on the other hand is the common part because by reading English novels or books you can learn many new words that you have not ever seen. Finally, seeing can be practiced for example by watching English movies or drama. By doing so, you can also learn how to pronounce English words correctly. In my opinion, English is important for our daily lives and English also can help you to achieve something not only in your own society but also in worldwide. As we all know, Jack Ma one of the most successful entrepreneur in the world started to learn English when he was still young. He used to work as a tourist guide because he wanted to learn English and at that time he believed that if he wanted to be a successful man English cannot be put aside.

(3M Amirul Yusoff)