Friday, May 15, 2009

Mastering a language needs constant practice

From my own experience, I find that to master a language, one needs to practise using the language constantly, preferably every day. As I am trilingually educated, I can read, write and speak Mandarin, Malay and English.

When I was teaching in Jerantut, I got the chance of using the three languages every now and then. This is because I was teaching Integrated Science in both media of instruction which means I would speak or teach in English in one class and conducted the Science lessons in English in another class. In the staff room, there was one Chinese teacher who spoke to me in Mandarin only though I spoke to most of the other teachers in English or Malay. Under such circumstances, I had the chance to practise speaking three languages almost every day.

I was renting a house with two other housemates. Both of them did not buy any reading materials. As for me, I bought Galaxie (an English magazine), Dewan Masyarakat (a Malay magazine). On Sundays, I would buy newspapers in three languages, namely Nanyang Siang Pau (in Chinese), New Straits Times (in English) and Berita Minggu or Mingguan Malaysia (in Malay). I feel that we need to read newspapers, magazines and books in the languages we wish to master to be able to achieve our aim.

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