THE BRUTAL TRUTH ABOUT LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

The major hurdle in any language teaching and learning is the approach used. The approach to teach and learn any language makes a world of difference to the person teaching it and to the person learning it.

When the approach used incorporates materials that contain a body of objective facts presented logically to teach and learn a language, it will definitely yield the vital results of language proficiency and usage among learners over a period of time.

Those materials containing a body of objective facts presented logically to teach and learn a language must not include fun in teaching as well as learning, telling stories, strumming guitars, singing songs and dancing. One cannot teach or learn any language in the world in a playful manner.

Those materials containing a body of objective facts presented logically to teach and learn a language must include its grammar, vocabulary, sentence structures, sentence-building, summary, reading, essay writing, letter writing and comprehension. To teach or learn such materials demands a teacher’s or a learner’s serious commitment on a prolonged basis.

Interest and motivation to learn that particular language that contains a body of objective facts presented logically will be aroused in the learners and that same interest and motivation will sustain the learners’ willingness to study the language further.

When countless approaches used to teach and learn English don’t give the necessary results in proficiency and usage among students for decades, then those approaches should be abandoned altogether as they have failed to sustain the willingness of students to learn English over a period of time. Naturally, the rot sets in and repels learners to continue learning English. Then, these learners will fear learning the English language altogether.

The true substance of English teaching and learning is its logical presentation of materials based on the solid foundation of grammar. The mastery and usage of English grammar related to its sentence structures as well as sentence-building sets the stage for further work incorporating its summary, essay writing and letter writing which are essential items for a learner in his adult life.

It is also a FACT that some races around the world will not have the ability to learn English at all but these same races of people display a lot of ability to learn other languages besides English. Wouldn’t a sane, sensible and thinking person then conclude that some races around the world are just not suited to learn the English language?

Consider the fact that some members of these races, who don’t have the ability to learn English, become teachers of the English language. Wouldn’t English teaching and learning become A HORRIBLE AND TERRIBLE AFFAIR? The standard of English can NEVER improve.

Some races of people around the world are not suited to teach and learn English.

CAN EVERYONE TEACH OR LEARN ENGLISH?

English can never be the lingua franca of the world. It has many contenders that aspire to be the lingua franca of the world. For many people, this is great news.

English is a major headache for many races in the world as they are just not cut out or suited to learn the language. As English is not a “straight-forward” language, the headaches grow deeper and more painful for these races to learn it. With the many exceptions spread throughout its grammar, sentence structures, variety in sentence-building, etc., the teaching and learning of English can be a monumental task even for the English people.

In an effort to minimise the numerous headaches prevalent in teaching and learning English in the current day, a lot of approaches have been advanced. By doing so, it is hoped that the fear of learning the language among the masses around the world can be eradicated. It is a mighty fine endeavour on the part of those who have advanced these approaches.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. When all these various approaches yield no practical and tangible results in English proficiency and usage among learners for decades, something is definitely wrong with the approaches used and the practitioners who advanced them.

It is futile to argue with arrogant and misguided people. It is not their fear of teaching or learning English. It is their inability to teach or learn the English language as the majority in some of the world’s races are just not suited for it. They should admit it. For that reason, they hide their inadequacies behind their pride which is their mother-tongues. Their mothers must be very proud of them. They vehemently clamour for the relevance of their mother-tongues for all eternity even though THE WORLD IS ENGLISH in terms of economic progress.

Only funny people resort to strumming guitars, telling stories, singing songs and dancing to teach and learn English. Only funny people resort to fun in teaching and learning English. Maybe it’s in their DNA to remain as funny people forever. That is perfectly understandable.

Can English proficiency and usage among users improve without the element of seriousness? The economic scenario around the world is very serious, and yet funny people persist in doing what they do.

People who are brutally honest about their shortcomings concerning any endeavour related to their everyday lives will eventually make the right progress.

The real truth hurts but it will propel us to better outcomes when we take stock of our real abilities.

Can people who are not proficient in the English language take on life with all its manifold and serious challenges in the global economic community?

World! Here we come!

A QUESTION OF PRESENTING THE RIGHT IMAGE

Some jobs require people who project a modern image to clients.

Sometimes, companies can’t advertise openly as to the kind of attire employees should wear. The companies don’t want lawsuits coming their way and also they don’t want to be seen as practising discrimination towards another race or religion.

Another most crucial factor that employers look for in a future employee is his or her ability to communicate and write well in English as it is a globalised world where companies are fighting for business in the world’s market. Companies NEED individuals who can blend in very quickly and who don’t need to be trained OVER AND OVER AGAIN to perform their tasks. Those companies don’t have the time and the resources to train new employees.

Therefore, we really need to project an appropriate and right image through our articles as well as comments on social media platforms like WordPress, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Those postings reveal our competence and personality to others.

THE SMOOTH ECONOMIC FUNCTIONS WITHIN A STATE

Governments run on the supply of money. Governments don’t run on the supply of water or praises to God. Least of all, governments don’t run on faith in God alone.

War costs money. A government itching for war must realise the costs involved when war plans don’t proceed accordingly. Otherwise, the coffers of the state will disappear quickly as it tries its best to finance the cost of a protracted war with an enemy nation.

Peace costs money too. To run the daily activities of a state requires prudent planning in terms of money well-spent for its peaceful existence. Even during peaceful times, the coffers of a state need to be maintained to finance its services to its citizens. Without money, everything comes to a standstill.

War as well as peace can afford some greedy politicians and their cronies opportunities to make money for themselves.

The supply of money is needed for war and also peace. Without money, nothing happens.

Moreover, no amount of religiosity can finance any endeavour. The religious bigots from all persuasions need to etch this statement into their thick skulls. Try praising God on an empty stomach and watch if He definitely and quickly answers one’s prayers during pressing times.

Therefore, the rapacity of the governing class and the religious fervour displayed by some members of a state must be controlled by a stronger electorate to safeguard the public finance of a country.

The economy of a country functions smoothly in the absence of greed and extreme religiosity exhibited by some members of the country.

EXTRAVAGANCE AND WASTAGE CURTAILED

Difficult economic times demand difficult remedies. These remedies can be backbreaking for some in the financial sense. But allaying the fears of the majority of the population through high-sounding economic phrases doesn’t seem to provide the necessary peace of mind to many people. In the present economic scenario, that peace of mind is more focused on how to hold the purse-strings.

Loosen the purse-strings and one goes bankrupt. Tighten the purse-strings and one may be able to weather the economic tempest growing globally without any positive signs of abating. So, where does that leave governments?

Policymakers can’t just purse their lips and leave everything in the economic sphere of their respective countries to market forces. The market forces going in the opposite direction have awakened to become GODZILLAS rampaging and destroying everything in their paths, economically and financially.

Governments seriously need to take stock of what is going on globally. Many economies have been experiencing a substantial and sustained turbulence since July 2014, and yet some governments are still banking on a rebound (a miracle?) to happen in the economic sphere of things. The rebound is possible when everything in the economic sphere is managed properly. Otherwise, the rebound will just stay in the clouds.

That so-called rebound should have happened a long time ago. After 2.5 years, there are still no tangible signs of a rebound. The only thing happening is a relapse into unconsciousness. Any economic doctor around?

Governments need some heavy “dose” of practical and relevant economic advice to run their respective countries. This is not the time for extravagance and wastage anymore. If the extravagance and wastage continue, they portend more trouble for the world’s economy.

May the force be with the governments.

A FUNNY WORLD

Do you think life is funny? Do you think life is a playground filled with circus clowns?

If your answer to both questions is a resounding “yes”, then you are a funny person indeed. But if your answer to both questions is a resounding “no”, then you are a normal, sane, sensible and thinking person. You are a normal human being as homo-sapiens were intended by nature.

There are a lot of funny people in the world today.

There are funny people who claim that one can teach or learn English without its grammar, sentence structures, variety in sentence-building, composition, etc.

There are funny people who think that they can take on the world without their possessing competence in the English language.

There are funny people who run countries according to their whims and fancies – one rule of law for those who govern and another rule of law for those who are governed. I can; you cannot.

The world is turning into a NUT HOUSE with all these funny people running loose in all human endeavours. There is no limit to their funny antics anymore. They even dare to make brazen claims which defy sanity at times. They are getting funnier by the day and that isn’t funny for normal human beings anymore.

According to Emerson, there is always a “levelling circumstance” to all of man’s activities that threaten his existence in the long-run.

If some members of the human race keep getting funnier by the day, then it is an overwhelming indication that their funny activities are about to be levelled very soon. It is then that the normal human beings will take over and run man’s activities accordingly.

It is perfectly natural to be funny in its proper context. Circus clowns and comedians are funny in their proper contexts – their vocations demand so. Take them out of their proper contexts and place them in other endeavours and watch their antics. Is it proper for them to be in other occupations?

In other human endeavours, we do find funny people who are not even supposed to be there in the first place. They are turning the earth into A FUNNY WORLD.

TRUE TEACHERS

People who have the knack for teaching can make a lot of difference in a learner’s life.

True teachers can make their complex subject-matters look simple and easy for the learner to understand. Hence, such teachers need to keep learning themselves in order to improve the presentation of their subject-matters.

They are the true teachers who go to great lengths and breadths to improve themselves by constantly learning new materials pertaining to their subject-matters.

 

OF MONEY AND ITS STABILITY

“The usefulness of money largely disappears if it loses its chief characteristic, which is stability, or constancy of value”.

The business and economic fronts are unstable these days. The unstableness on these fronts in the long-run can lead to political instability in a country. The economy matters. A man’s whole working life is dedicated to his economic needs. Without a stable and growing economy in his country, can a man fulfil his basic needs of food, clothing and shelter?

Economically, things as well as events won’t remain on a steady and growing path all the time. There will always be hiccups in a country’s economic performance. Even a simple layman like me knows that.

Don’t the well-educated and trained professionals in charge of managing a country’s economic performance know that? What are they doing? holidaying? travelling? bungee-jumping? praying? By not coming to grips over things on the economic front, these professionals portray to a simple layman like me that everything is being conducted in a reckless manner. Where does that leave the ordinary man on the street?

When the whole world perceives a nation’s currency in a negative light, what are the policymakers of that country doing to reverse the negative perception? The policymakers can’t just keep reiterating on how good and sound that nation’s economic fundamentals really are. The rise and the fall of a nation’s currency speak volumes.

When a currency loses its constancy of value, can the layman go about his daily routines confidently and peacefully? When the currency keeps depreciating or see-sawing, can a layman be assured that the cost of living will not spiral out of control? Wouldn’t he be worried about how to provide the next meal for his spouse and children? What is the layman going to feed his dependants – dog food? And what are the dogs going to eat then – junk food?

To remain economically relevant and competitive in these trying times, a country needs to project a serious image to address all the negative issues pertaining to its economy quickly. Otherwise, negative perceptions once formed on the economic front will be very difficult to break in the coming future. Perceptions, positive or negative, matter!

EFFORT

Without a serious effort of any kind in any vocation, no practical and tangible results will be forthcoming.
Therefore, a person learning English must put in a lot of effort to learn HOW the language actually works. There is no place for FUN at all. Those who employ fun, dancing, immersion and storytelling are just misleading people who are serious in acquiring the English proficiency necessary for career advancement.

THE PURPOSE OF WRITTEN ENGLISH TESTS

Why even have written English tests? Are they for fun or are they intended to test a candidate’s ability to express his thoughts in the written form?

Written English tests have a greater purpose than the testing of all the other three skills combined – listening, reading and speaking. A candidate is forced to express himself correctly according to the accepted conventions of writing. He is not in a position to scribble away his thoughts as he wishes. If he does that, it only shows that he wasn’t trained to marshal his thoughts in a logical and orderly manner for others to understand his written work. Thus, that candidate can be deemed a funny scribbler.

And how is a candidate trained to marshal his thoughts in a logical and orderly manner? It is only through the study of grammar geared towards the knowledge of various sentence structures and variety in sentence-building. Without that knowledge pertaining to sentences, a candidate has a very shallow understanding when it comes to written English. Plainly speaking, that candidate is relying on guesswork.

The purpose of written English is to empower students to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas completely, clearly, coherently, correctly, concisely and convincingly.

How do students attain that ability in writing English well? Again, it is only through the prior study of grammar that specifically teaches students how to write effective sentences in a logical order. Gradually, steadily and surely over a period of time, students will naturally write well as the laws of grammar related to sentence structures and variety in sentence-building have been drilled into them in their primary and secondary schooling. That gradual and natural progression in writing English correctly will inevitably lead the students to face any written English test at the O Level standard and beyond confidently.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

In the same vein, the journey of writing good English sentences begins at the Primary One standard and stretches right up to the Secondary Four standard when students sit for their O Level written English examination in the form of an ESSAY. Writing English well is not a mixture of events that can be bundled into a neat package offered at the foundation course in a college or university setting.

A journey of a thousand miles in writing English well cannot be delivered in colleges at the 999th mile alone. That is the greatest lunacy. English teachers who don’t cover exercises in writing English correctly from the 1st mile till the 998th mile in primary and secondary schools are also misleading their students. Eventually, at the 1000th mile in university, these students cannot write assignments and prepare their theses in written English at all. Sometimes, I really wonder how they graduate when their subject-matters are all delivered in the medium of instruction called English. HOCUS-POCUS?

I am talking from personal experience in my six years of primary and five years of secondary schooling. In all those eleven years of schooling, I was misled to believe that my English language capability will steer me through life after my Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination. The SPM examination is equivalent to the O Levels. I was dead wrong.

None of the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) Approach practitioners ever taught me how to write correct English sentences according to the laws of grammar in all those eleven years of schooling. English grammar specifically related to sentence structures and variety in sentence-building was TOTALLY ABSENT.

Hence, the very act of IMMERSING in the communicative aspects of the English language alone has made young Malaysians unable to speak and communicate well after 11 years of schooling. Shouldn’t IMMERSION in the English language make them better communicators in the English language? Instead, one sees only FAILURES UPON FAILURES in the form of incompetent users of the English language using the CLT Approach for 47 years. Isn’t that an observable fact?

After the SPM examination, I was faced with the harsh reality of communicating with the outside world in an alien language called English. The CLT Approach to teach and learn English in my eleven years of schooling reduced me to a mumbling puppy in the real world that used English in all human endeavours.

For reducing me to a mumbling puppy in the English language, I have to thank the practitioners who taught me ONLY HOW TO COMMUNICATE IN ENGLISH using the CLT Approach.

The CLT Approach practitioners never ever taught me how to write English sentences logically and correctly in those eleven years of schooling. All they did most of the time was just TALK and TALK and TALK and TALK and TALK and TALK and TALK. And they even invited native English-speaking experts to teach them how to TALK and TALK and TALK and TALK and TALK and TALK and TALK further using the CLT Approach to teach and learn English. Voila! Today, after 47 years of using the CLT Approach to teach and learn English, the majority of Malaysians can’t even TALK and COMMUNICATE with others in proper and standard English. In their obsession to teach Malaysians how to communicate using the CLT Approach, the practitioners have achieved the opposite for young Malaysians by reducing these youngsters to babblers of the English language.

When I don’t know how the English language actually works, how can I teach others how it actually works and in the process improve their English language proficiency? When I don’t know the right way to Destination A, how can I possibly show others the right way to Destination A?

Nobody dares to look like a fool when he is speaking in public. Likewise, nobody dares to look like a fool when his written English is under the scrutiny of the reading public, for his written English (if it is not plagiarised) shows his level of education and thinking to others. In short, ordinary people can detect an individual’s real level of education through his written English if that individual has been awarded a degree, a masters and a doctorate in the medium of instruction that is English. Hence, testing an educated individual on his written English is a sure-fire and jolly-good way to know how deep his learning really is.

During the present economically challenging times, it is vital that firms employ staff who can communicate in spoken as well as written English well. Employing such staff also saves costs for the firms in the long-run. With heightened competition and cost-cutting measures (a deadly combination) on all fronts in the business world, firms run the risk of going bust when they hire people who can’t even communicate in basic English fluently.

When the vital and required information pertaining to written English from the 1st mile to the 998th mile is MISSING in the English language syllabus from Primary One to Secondary Four, do Malaysians honestly expect their children to do wonders in writing English well at the 999th mile in college and the 1000th mile in university? When the majority of young Malaysians can’t even talk and communicate in simple English, what wonders can they possibly show in proper and standard written English?

It is pointless to set lofty goals and visions to chart the future progress of a country in a globalised world when the majority of its population can’t even communicate and write confidently in the very language used globally – English.

When Malaysians can’t even adopt the lingua franca of the world – English – to deal with the outside world in all spheres of industry, how can they possibly adapt to a competitive world in the economic arena? Most Malaysians don’t display an urgent sense of adaptation in the global economic arena. How will the world’s economic community be expected to adapt to Malaysia’s future economic performance now that the revenue from the O & G (OBSOLETE and GONE) industry takes a terrible downward tumble.

A time span of more than 2 years is a very good indicator of how things and events will turn out in the O & G industry. The whole world is on edge.

Are the majority of foreign investors fools to keep investing in a country whose working population lacks the global outlook? As the various economies around the world experience a grudging slowdown, their leaders in business, industry and other vocations will be naturally forced to look towards competent individuals to carry on the work of sustaining economically what has been left in their countries. Then, nobody will be in a position to dice with the economic future of a country.

One cannot keep harping on how good and effective a theory is when the tangible advantages of that theory has delivered NOTHING for umpteenth years.

We tell young Malaysians that the world is their oyster. Really? With their current atrocious standard of English, most young Malaysians can forget all the pleasures and opportunities that life has to offer. Instead, they will end up eating oyster stew judging from the present-day worsening economic conditions globally.

It is high-time that Malaysians take stock of what is happening in the teaching and learning of English among their young in particular as it can make a world of difference for Malaysia economically.

Surely, there must be a real and underlying purpose for examination bodies to hold written English tests.