Sunday, March 12
I'm an English teacher. Of the non-teaching sort.
Twice in a week, i had to explain what 'Tell me about it' means to two people who hold dear to me. First, my beautiful friend Stefanie in Chile and second, my lovely cousin Dicey from Malaysia who's pursuing her Bachelors in Canada.
Cultural and locality differences aside, both ladies have two things in common. English is not their first language, and are constantly learning and surprising themselves with the depth and complexity of the language. They're also gutsy ladies who're blessed with the nerve to travel overseas and experience something 'different'.
Both women are more similar than i'd thought. Stefanie is by and large your everyday South American cowgirl. Growing up in Osorno and now residing in Santiago, she loves horses, Argentinean men and travelling. She's backpacked through Europe, went to Thailand and Indonesia on a whim, and has lived in Singapore for 5 months. All this with Spanish as her native language.
Dicey lives the dream many Malaysians pen their thoughts about. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario and loves her travelling, shopping and music. Her passport is a 'who's who' of a tourist's wet dream. Switzerland, Holland, Germany, France, England and now Canada. Don't get me started on Asia either. Amazingly, English is her third language.
English phrases, words and idioms we take for granted and use liberally on a daily basis are very much the chagrin of non-English speakers. Take, for example, 'Tell me about it'. As if on cue, Stefanie and Dicey both ask me 'tell you what?'
On both occasions i've had to stifle a little chuckle. I was just glad that it was only 'Tell me about it' i had to define. Imagine if it were 'The whole nine yards', 'Mum's the word' or the really bizzare, 'Get up on the wrong side of the bed'. Where should i start? Haha.
Both ladies are eager learners and aren't the least bit embarrassed when they're unsure. I've had Dicey asking me random questions on MSN for English assistance and Stefanie using opportunities to practice her English with me. I'm all for questions and conversations. Ask and blabber away! Just one note ladies: My blog isn't the New Testament for English. Read it for a laugh but please do not pick up the little nuances. Terrible grammar, spelling and punctuation. You're better off reading the daily papers.
That's not to say i'm not qualified to suggest reading material. For anyone who're keen on improving your spoken and written English, i strongly recommend comics as your sparring partner.
No you didn't read wrong. I grew up on comics. One of my fondest memory of reading/learning English was sitting in the family couch in the late 1980s with a giant hardcover copy of The Amazing Spiderman issue 1-49. While i was cheering and rooting for every decision Peter Parker makes, i was also busy making observations and studying the American lingo and 'spoken' English.
"Comics also play a crucial role in expanding the student’s vocabulary. In fact, comics can introduce them to non-standard words and phrases which are not typically found in traditional text books. For example, comics tend to utilize daily language commonly used in conversation such as slang, idioms, onomatopoeia, abbreviations, etc. Mastering these aspects of the English language is important for assimilating into a new culture."I've found an interesting link that describes how comics can and will aid anyone with a keen interest in English. The quote above was taken from the link. Come to think about it i'm amazed at how comics almost single-handedly kick-started my lifetime quest for English perfection. Stranger things have happened.
Keep learning and speaking ladies. The seeds you sow now are bitter, but the fruits will be sweet.
Do you need me to explain that as well? *chuckles*
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