We’ve been getting emails from you guys saying that you have no confidence to speak because you have poor grammar and you’re afraid people will laugh at you.
Does that sound familiar?
So here’s my take on these two concerns.
- You have poor grammar.
Imagine if people were only allowed to speak English if they had perfect grammar. No one would utter a word! Native English speakers make mistakes all the time.
I’ve learned that one of the reasons why we Malaysians are so concerned with grammar is because we were taught the technicalities of it in school. Most of us probably felt the whole subject of grammar was overwhelming and we could never fully understand it. Kind of like most of us with Maths (or in my case, Chemistry).
Here’s my personal take on grammar. Grammar can be taught by teachers who are experts on the subject, but it mostly comes naturally to us through a lot of reading and writing. I honestly believe that we can improve our grammar over time as we consistently expose ourselves to the language.
Besides, when it comes to speaking, we should be focusing more on the message we’re trying to convey than the grammar.
So how can we improve our grammar? Here are a few tips.
- Read, read, read.
Whether it’s books, online articles or magazines. Don’t stop reading. No, your Facebook Newsfeed is probably not the best of reading materials. Look for blogs on topics you’re interested in or from inspiring public figures. That way, you’re not only enriching your mind, but you’re also improving your grammar without even realising it. Win-win!
- Write and make mistakes, too.
Writing is a great form of practice to improve your grammar. Publish your writing through a blog or in your Facebook posts. If you know someone who has good English, ask them to read through your work and edit your grammar. If you don’t have anyone to help you do that, just publish it anyway.
It’s okay if there are mistakes here and there. We all make mistakes. Over time, you will be more aware of other people’s writings and how they structure their sentences. You may like certain styles of writing and want to apply them to your own.
- Know that learning and improving your grammar takes time and practice.
We sometimes tend to think that people with good English become that way because of some advantage that we can never have. For example, she’s good in English because she lived in England for 10 years. Or, her parents speak to her in English every day.
Now, yes, those could be reasons as to why a person would have good English, but if you think about it, the only advantage they have over you is time. The 10 years, or speaking English every day is translated as time. How can you make that your advantage?
The answer is by putting in your own time to learn. Yes, it takes hours to learn something new. So you can start today by reading or writing in English for an hour. Do that again tomorrow for another hour and the day after that. Before you know it, the advantage of time will be in your hands.
- You’re afraid people will laugh at you.
Does this ever really happen? Maybe you’re one of the few surrounded by people who laugh at other’s mistakes.
Remember this. Mistakes are important stepping stones for success. As what Tina Fey, Hollywood actress and comedienne says,
“You can tell how smart people are by what they laugh at.”
So if anybody laughs at you for making a mistake… Let’s just say that they don’t know you’re on your way to success.
Keep on speaking. Make mistakes. Make people laugh and eventually, you won’t really be bothered when they do.
You speak because your opinions matter. You speak because you know the things that you say can make a difference.