U KHIN MAUNG
(A retired diplomat)
I think, English language is gaining a growing popularity day by day. And around the world, more and more people are learning English in earnest. Why? Simply because they wish to be able to communicate with the rest of the world. In other words, people, these days are learning to achieve global literacy, i.e. the ability to communicate and converse with the rest of the world with Information Technology tools, such as, the computer, the Internet and the command of English as the international lingua franca.
Well, then, you might wish to ask me, “how should we learn and improve our English? or “how should we improve four skills; reading, listening, speaking and writing English?” To be honest, I am not a scholar, nor a linguist; but I’am still a learner, in the literal sense of the term. As such, I would like to offer the following suggestions which may be all too familiar to you.
To start with, I wish to quote Francis Bacon, “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man”. So, if you wish to learn and, of course, improve your English and then become also a man of knowledge, you must read and read. For how long? For the rest of your life. And you must ever remain a voracious reader, if I may say.
In this connection, I would also like to quote, “KandawminKyaungSayadaw”. If freely translated, I think, it may read, “please don’t consider any knowledge to be too little to be of any significance, If we take note of anything we have come upon, anything we have read, it’ll be just like single rain drops, when accumulated and thus become plentiful to fill up fisheries, streams and lakes”! Knowledge is cumulative. “Knowledge is there in literature.”
And in cultivating a habit of reading, you should start with those reading materials that you could easily understand. Then, you must build up your vocabulary and read those books and writings whatsoever your hands could lay on. Here again, I wish to quote what Francis Bacon said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. And concerning “habit and custom” may I also quote Charles Reade.” It reads: “Sow an act you reap a habit. Sow a habit you reap a character. Sow a character you reap a destiny.
In this, I think we don’t need any further elaboration. So, please first “sow the act of listening and then you reap a habit”. Simply put, please cultivate a listening habit. And please listen to Myanmar Radio and Television in English, C.N.N.C.N.A and all other programmes in English just for the sake of improving your listening skill and level of comprehension.
There is a wise old saying- a very well — known and a much note-worthy one; “practice makes perfect.” To this, I would like to add something I have learnt; practice does not only make perfect, but it also makes permanent. So, practise speaking English regularly. All genuine knowledge and perfection come from practice. Here again, please remember a Myanmar saying “a step a day, Bagan (an old royal city of Myanmar) will not stay away for ever from you — you’ll reach it.” Please believe me, “constancy of effort is always crowned with success.” “regularity is the source of success.” Therefore, please practise speaking English whenever you have the opportunity and the right environment. When it comes to speaking English, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, learn from them. “You can’t be taught (spoon-fed) to speak and write better English. You have to learn it.”
Writing is an art. To become a writer, and a good writer at that, is not as simple as you may think. I believe it takes a parami — aptitude to become a writer and then to become a celebrity. Nevertheless, to try to become a celebrity writer is one thing and just to write for your own improvement is another. So, practise writing now: do it now.
All in all, “to increase your knowledge and masterty of the English language” and to gain proficiency in English it may be rather difficult, but it’s not impossible. “Where there is a will, there is a way.” A strong will, dedication and determination are all that we need so as to improve and gain proficiency in English”. I hope you’ll agree with me. What do you say? Let me have your views and comments. In conclusion, I would like to quote MR. Norman Lewis as follows: “No educative process is ever the end; it is always the beginning of more education, more learning, more living.’”
1. သိပၸကိုမူ၊ နည္းသည္ဟူ၍၊ မေအာက္ေမ့ႏွင့္၊ ေတြ႕ရာမွတ္သား၊ မိုးေပါက္မ်ားေသာ္၊ အင္းနားေခ်ာင္းကန္၊ ျပည့္ေသာဟန္တည့္၊ (ကန္ေတာ္မင္းေက်ာင္းဆရာေတာ္)
2. The New Light of Myanmar
3. The Straits Times
5. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
6. A book of essential quotations