A lot of people ask me how I learned to speak good English. Some ask how come I have good written grammar. Others ask me to help them speak English better. (No problem!) Answering the first two questions would be like telling you a good chunk of the story of my life. Anyway, by the end I have tips to help you speak better English.
People learn to read, write and speak English in different ways. I first learned at home and then formally, in school. We speak Filipino, my native tongue, at home. But I think my parents taught me English by reading me children’s books. One time, I was watching home videos of my first few days in school and I was more than a little bit shocked to hear me and my classmates addressing the teacher in English. I was 4 years old. We were responding to her questions in English. From that, you can see the big part parents play in teaching children a new language, for how else could we already speak the language at the start of school? It may also be that we were just repeating the English like a series of words we were taught to say in reply to a certain other set of words. But we also know that very young children naturally pick things up at sci-fi/Matrix-like speeds. I think it’s a combination of all of those that eventually led me to know English as another language.
However, if I had my teachers as the only source to learn from, you wouldn’t be reading this kind of English from me. Your maybe read stuffs lyk dis or probably its more worser already.
I don’t know why, but I learned to love reading books. No, honestly, I don’t just love books- I LOVE books. It’s because of that that I can write good English even at a young age. By reading as much as I did, you can’t help but absorb the grammar and nuances of the language. I wish I can say the same for my speaking skills but it’s a very different story. I only started to learn speaking with good diction when I was 15. Oh yes, I already spoke English well before that, but I had an improper diction and with plenty of Filipino-isms.
I remember when I was about 12, I was enrolled in a Speech Power course- presumably to teach me confidence and better public speaking skills. Looking back, it wasn’t that much help. All I remember taking away from that course is the correct way to pronouce Psalms (say Sam!) plus a hair-raising memory of being made to dance ballet in front of so many strangers… with no ballet shoes… in a mini skirt… and just my knickers underneath… flashing everyone.
Anyway, no offense, but majority of the English-speaking Filipinos have terrible grammar and are prone to pronounciation slip ups. Which is nothing to be ashamed of, really, but when you need to have the skill of proper English, it’s a horrible problem. I blame it all on the English teachers whose idea of enunciation is making children open their mouths wide and say /wAAAAAshing mAAAAshin/ - with the widest mouth doing it the best. No, they’re really not!
But poor kids, right? How do they know they’re being taught wrong? Well, they find out as young adults wondering how much it costs to attend John Robert Powers courses because they’re looking for some sort of miracle English elixir to end all Engrish fails.
I said I started learning how to speak well at 15. That was when my family left Philippines and lived in a European country for a few years. One day, one of my British classmates asked me, “Jootakaht?” and I couldn’t for the life of me understand what she was asking! After I asked her to repeat it 4 more times, with her considerably slowing down after each word, I finally understood she was asking me if I was taking the Art course, too, because she was.
I wasn’t consciously bettering my English then, but as I had to speak it every single day and the people talking with me had the accents that they have, young me was absorbing it all. I proceeded to get A*s in English, but that isn’t really THE accomplishment- English has always been my best subject at school even before. The real achievement was that I spoke more confidently, shed the diction errors and was understood by and can understand native English speakers.
But now that you’re looking to better your English, what can you do?
I would recommend reading books but not everyone wants to do that. And this will mainly address just your written skills. Listening to audio books and reading along with the speaker would be good. Listen to the sound of the language. When you say “Ano daw sabi niya?,” listen to the melody the speed and stresses. It’s very different from saying, “What did she say?” English and Filipino have different melodies. And the quickest way to improve your accent is to realise this and work on it.
The easiest, painless way to speak better English is to watch the news and try repeating after the person currently reporting. Try both BBC and CNN. I say both so you have a balanced accent if you do this long enough. You don’t have to speak American English or British English, just correct English. Afterall, there are few things more annoying than a little twit with a pseudo Valley girl accent and a sprinkling of bakels here and there.
Although you shouldn’t be shy to speak English normally. You don’t have to dumb down your English just so you won’t come off as a poser.
Just watch the news anchors- their jaw and lip movements, their gestures and body language. Try to emulate how they enunciate words. If you come across words you don’t understand or only vaguely understand, ALWAYS look them up and use them in a sentence. If you don’t, it’s useless.
Do this for as much hours a day as you can tolerate and see if you don’t get better.
By doing this, you also pick up new industry-specific words, you get a better accent that not only fellow Filipinos can understand, you learn to listen to and understand fluent English-speakers better AND as a bonus- you’re updated with the world news. That will be extremely helpful in developing your English as much as it develops you as a conversationalist. Just honestly learn more about the language and don’t concentrate too much on accents- that will gradually come later on.
Also try chatting with someone you know is a good English speaker or better, a native. Try talking to them everyday.
Why does it work? Let me tell you another story. When we lived in the other country, we took courses to learn their language which is Dutch. I can still read and write basic Dutch but not as well and my spoken Dutch is only good to, as my dad says, “vis in de vismarkt te kopen” (to buy fish in the fish market). There are many language schools with different methods there to learn the language. There’s one where you stay, you actually live, in a convent of nuns who will only address you in Dutch, nothing else. Even if you know not one word of the language, they say you learn to speak Dutch in a month. Plus, you’ve heard of kids picking up funny Engrish if you leave them with only their nannies to talk with, right? What does it mean? You can study intonations, nouns and P & F pronouciations all you want but I think surrounding yourself with the language is the only way to be proficient in it. The same way that I learned when I was surrounded by native English speakers. So be careful who teaches your kid English, they can only learn what the teacher can teach.
Of course, you can always ask me if you have any questions related to this, too. :)
For the State of the Nation Address, I expect to hear about actual state of the Philippines- infrastructure, healthcare (how is the Philippine General Hospital for example), education(how are the public schools, the teachers they employ, literacy etc.), are there any new local products to be developed etcetc., then what are the actual PLANS. Then what we need and what we NEED to DO achieve the plans. NOT chismis (gossip) about the previous president (AGAIN), showbizz, scores & ratings. We don’t need those to prevent another Filipino from dying of hunger.
I have lots of dull fabric scissors and I always forget to have them sharpened. I remember only when I need to use them again. So I looked for instructions to sharpen your own scissors with things you have at home. Most of what I found say that cutting aluminium foil would work. Other say you should “cut” smooth cylinders such as glass bottles. And yet others tell you to use sandpaper. Almost all of the instructions I found were for paper scissors. I need my scissors to cut fabric.
I found a really good method to sharpen scissors. I tried two methods, the aluminium one and I also tried using that knife sharpening stick that comes in kitchen knife sets.
Just watch this lil video I made! My brother helped me edit :3
..that Osama Bin Laden goes to hell on the same day that Blessed John Paul II is beatified: May 1, 2011.
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden will have to answer to God for having killed many people and exploiting religion to spread hate, the Vatican said on Monday.
Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that while Christians “do not rejoice” over a death, it serves to remind them of “each person’s responsibility before God and men.”
“Osama bin Laden, as everyone knows, had the grave responsibility of having spread division and hate among people, causing the deaths of an innumerable number of people and exploiting religion for these purposes,” he said.