WANSON (not his real name) is a news intern who scored A+ in SPM English but after he enters the working world, he realises that his command of the language is extremely weak and this factor is pulling him down. Below is Wanson’s take (heavily edited) about how he has wasted his chance to learn the language during school and how it has brought him to his present dilemma.
“Wanson, can see your answer ah?” is one of the phrases I often hear from my classmates every time before English lesson starts in school. Each class bell that rang signifies a moment of salvation for us students who have not yet completed our homework. In that short break period between classes without any teacher, my classmates will start to seek out anyone in their class who is most proficient in certain subjects depending on which homework they want to finish last minute.
Coming from an English education background with a decent command in English in a co-ed public school in Kepong makes me their best friend as they butter me up with compliments so as to borrow my exercise book before our English teacher steps in to inspect our homework. It is annoying to let them copy every answer which I have taken hours to complete and have them ravage them in a matter of minutes. But I wouldn’t deny that I felt good about myself every time they come looking for me.
I felt like a king every time when it comes to English lesson. Over the years I kept scoring A+ for my English without any lifting my finger to study. Praises continues to pour in from my classmates and that have made me too proud of myself. Because of that, I did not take English lesson seriously.
This is my way of telling my classmates “I don’t need to hear this nonsense because I am already good at it”. It’s this arrogant mindset that would spell my doom in the coming years.
Besides that, I have never picked up any of my English textbooks to read, let alone study them. Having an English education background and having spent much time watching Hollywood movies and MTV, have allowed me to score an A easily for my English test in the public school. Although my grammar is poor, my vocabulary is still good enough for my teacher. If someone were to ask me the meaning of Simple Present Tense or an example of it, I would just freeze like an idiot.
Maybe it’s the question used in the test or how interesting the English teacher I get during my secondary school years that had affected my grasp of grammar.
How could anyone take grammar seriously when questions such as “fill in the blanks” or “underline the mistake” are given in the test? Such tests, you would think, is only given to a mere primary school pupil.
Finally reality came crashing down on me and the fantasy of being “king of the world” is over once I entered college. Scoring an A+ in SPM has exempted me from taking Basic English subjects in college. So I was more focused on other subjects that emphasised on contents and hardly anything on English lessons especially about grammar.
This situation has pitted me against others who have better command of the language and make me realise how arrogant and foolish I was in the secondary school. However, the marking scheme in the college was still more focused on the contents so I didn’t see the need to improve my English.
As years passed by, I realise that my grammar skills are near zero especially when I started to enter the working world. I started to see how important grammar is because language accuracy is imperative to deliver a clear message to the readers, audience or bosses.
If the message is not clear, the output of my work will be badly affected. No amount of regret is going to absolve my poor attitude, arrogance and indifference to the importance of English. Sigh!
The STAR Home News Nation 11 November 2015