Saturday, January 26, 2008

To the Young bloggers from Horizon Lanka – The best, fun and easy way to learn English…


To the Young bloggers from Horizon Lanka –
The best, fun and easy way to learn English…

It’s been a while since I’ve heard the revolution, which took place in Mahavilachchiya - an area ravaged by war. I was always fascinated by the story of the courageous people guided by Vanni at the fore end. Together, they showed how to beat the obstacles and conquer their path without dwelling in the past and cursing the society they live in.

Recently I have noticed a growing trend of young bloggers from Mahavilachchiya. They have put up really attractive blog pages. Sometimes it renders me speechless reading their genuine ideas and experiences. Seeing their sincere desire to learn English and IT and excel in the world they deserve to be, like the most, I want to extend my helping hand. So I have a few things to tell them, some with my knowledge and some with my experience. Hope that’d be of some help to make their journey a safer one. To start off, I’ll switch to a lower gear and make my language lighter, to make myself more comprehensible.

“So let’s talk a bit about learning English. First thing I want to tell you is, English classes won’t teach you real English. It’s only the practice and self-desire to learn it can teach you English. When I was studying at the University, I met a lot of friends from remote areas who could not even express simple things in English. But with practice, they learned English and became skilled with the language. I never went to English classes and in my family, we didn’t speak English among ourselves. I learned English by myself and from the outside. Trust me brothers and sisters, learning English is fun and easy…

“Don’t ever be shy to express your ideas in English. Just let your ideas flow in. Don’t worry much about mistakes that you make. We’re Sri Lankans, not English people. Try to write in simple, short sentences. If you can use the MS Word spellchecker, you can correct most of the spelling mistakes. Try to remember the correct word after the spellchecker has corrected it. Next thing is about the grammar. Do not rely on MS-Word to correct your grammar. So what you can do is, once you have written down your essay or paragraph, show it to someone who knows better than you. Maybe he or she won’t know a lot, but little things he or she may know can be of help to improve your English. Keep a dictionary. It’s great if you can use an English-English dictionary, because it gives the explanations of words in English. Some dictionaries, for example the Oxford dictionary gives the usage of most of the words by putting it in a sentence. That is a real good way to understand about the usage of English words. You can even download the pocket version of this dictionary to your computer. Try searching on Google for “Pocket Oxford Dictionary”. Keep blogging on the Internet. Never worry if people actually are reading them or not, just write them. Tell your friends and teachers to read what you’ve written in your blogs and ask for their ideas. Sometimes you may even get comments from idiots about your blogs. Don’t listen to them; they are just trying to discourage you. Get the daily or weekly English newspaper. Don’t try to read all things. Start with the last page – the Sports page. Start with your favorite sport – Cricket. Read carefully how they have reported yesterday’s match – the team who won the match, how much they scored, who took most wickets etc. It’s got to be fun. Another page you can try reading is the Kids’ page. It has lots of cartoons, essays and jokes that you can read and enjoy. Meanwhile, try to get some simple English storybooks and read them by yourself. If you find a difficult word, note it down and keep on reading. Later, refer to a dictionary and learn the meaning of the word. Often visit websites about things that you like. For example, nature, animals etc. Read them often and look at the way they have written in English. Get a simple English grammar book, or share it with your friends and learn the patterns of writing…

“Listen to English radio channels. Try to listen to a few channels and select what type of music you can enjoy. At the beginning you may not like English songs. But when you catch up, you will get to like English songs. Don’t watch Hindi movies or listen to Hindi songs. They don’t have a real core, and there’s nothing you can learn from it. If you’re not sure what to listen to, try to find some English pop songs. You can find mp3 songs from local shops where you can play them on your computer. You can easily find songs from artists like Westlife, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys. When you listen to the songs, go to the Google search and search for the song’s lyrics and copy them to your computer. So when the song is playing, you can read the lyrics along with the singer. Maybe you can sing it with them. You can even listen to radio channels over the Internet. When you watch cricket matches, turn the volume up and listen carefully how they express the happenings on the cricket match. Pay attention how they describe when a batsman hit a six, when he gets out etc. If you hear a word that you don’t know the meaning of, always refer the dictionary and learn the word...

Watch English movies. It’s the most fun and enjoyable way to learn English. Try to look for movies for children. Few good movies I can remember are: IT, 101 Dalmations, Home Alone, Space Jam, Harry Potter etc. Even cartoons are good. These movies have a lighter language that is easier to understand. Go to Google and search for children’s movies. Always ask someone before getting the movie and make sure it’s good enough to watch and that it would suit you. After watching the movie, go to the Internet, search for it, and read what other people have said about it. You can even read how the movie is created, and similar movies like the one you watched. http://www.imdb.com/ is the best site for movies at present. If there is a specific phrase you liked, maybe a joke, try to write it down on a book or copy the text to computer. Download wallpapers of your favorite movies. If you liked a special actor or an actress, try to search for other movies in which she or he acts...

“Talk in English with your friends. There’s nothing to be shy of, because everyone is in the same level, and after all, they are your friends. You can even try to speak in English with yourself when nobody is around. This way you will get use to pronounce English. Read aloud storybooks and English lessons that you find in schoolbooks. If you can, have someone with you who can correct some mistakes that you make when reading aloud. If you can’t find how to pronounce a word, get a Sinhala-English dictionary. They usually have written in Sinhala, how to pronounce the word…

“If you’re using the Internet, there is a great way to improve your English, which is chatting. I do not recommend this to young people like you, because if you don’t be careful enough, you can easily fall in to trouble. Voice enabled chatting can vastly improve your English. The biggest advantage is that aince you don’t see the face of the person with whom you’re chatting, there is little embarrassment. You don’t have to worry about making mistakes because you don’t know that person. But once again, I do not recommend chatting, because the people are not always nice. However, if you go on to chatting, make sure you don’t reveal your identity…

“There is one golden rule to learning English. Always have a guide with you who or that will correct your mistakes. That way you will know when you make mistakes and how to correct. Otherwise you will keep repeating the mistakes without improving yourself. Don’t rush with things. Sometimes you may hear people talk in English so speedily, where others can’t easily understand. By talking fast some people can hide their mistakes. So remember to talk slow and learn the best practices of English, and always be clear of what you say or write...

So those are some tips from me for you guys. If you need more clarification or help, you can email me or call me. I will try to answer whenever I can, when I’m not busy. Keep it up and good luck. The nation is proud of you all…

13 comments:

Nandasiri Wanninayaka said...

Thanks a lot Asanka,

As a result of these new developments with blogging in Mahavilachchiya and other parts of the island, a US firm is ready to make Sri Lanka a hub of an e-learning content creation project where students can create e-learning material in English and earn some money as well. Why don’t we use this great opportunity? I am against providing scholarships for the students without looking at their performance and this program comes as a solution to this problem as well. Rather than getting a ‘doll’ the students should ‘earn’ them. (Many would disagree with me though.)

There are a lot of unused talents and we need to explore them. The most valuable unused talent in Sri Lanka I have seen is the university undergraduates. I never went to a university (as a student) but I know there are a lot of good talents which idle unused there on a broader level. These young university students love to get involved in some meaningful ventures. Their vacations, spare time can immensely help the rural and semi urban education sector.

මලින්ත සමරකෝන් | Malinthe Samarakoon said...

That's some great stuff there bro.

Lady divine said...

read your comment on my blog..:-)
let me consider... give me your mail addy so i could mail you..:-)

knightshifters said...

Re:Malinthe
Thanks mate!

knightshifters said...

To lady devine:
Sure thing...
knightshifters@yahoo.com
Yahoo chat ID is the same...

Michael Strong said...

"First thing I want to tell you is, English classes won’t teach you real English. It’s only the practice and self-desire to learn it can teach you English."

This is profoundly true, and the remaining suggestions are spot on. Although I am a native English speaker, I've found in learning other languages that other than the basics of grammar (and I mean basics) and some basic vocabulary, by far the most effective way to learn a foreign language is by means of practice in contexts that you find enjoyable. Asanka's advice is very practical.

I am among those who are tracking Wanni's extended, growing on-line community in Sri Lanka, and am very interested in seeing his efforts succeed and doing what I can to help.

Half Doctor said...

I wish I'd had such sound advice on learning English!
Great post Knightshifter!

knightshifters said...

To Michael and Half Doctor:
Thanks a lot guys. Appreciate your comments!

Lady divine said...

u alright?
I mailed thee but never got a reply..

Anonymous said...

i'm an engineering student also in Kandy and trying to lean english since 1992(when i was in grade 1)...attended to various english classes...but not success...after all i desided to learn it alone...thanks brother u gave me a big hand..thanks a lot

Rajika said...

Asanka you made it sound very easy.. very encouraging. Im sure lots of people will appreciate your great effort. keep going :)

Paulina said...

You write very well.

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