No time for sto­ries?

It’s a sad state of af­fairs in­deed when book­stores have more as­sess­ment books than sto­ry­books.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS - I could see in books but could not be­cause I didn’t know English. Like my niece, I used to have to cir­cle many words so I could look them up in the dic­tionary and soon, my in­ter­est dwin­dled be­cause of the has­sle, and my con­fi­dence un­der­mined.

Of course, it’s true that we need to pre­serve our own na­tive lan­guage, and it’s true also that the English lan­guage is be­ing taught at Malaysian schools. How­ever, as most will con­cede, we end up be­ing “half a bar­rel full” in all three lan­guages.

A friend of mine who now re­sides in San Fran­cisco puts it most aptly: “We are only seem­ingly trilin­gual. Be­cause the Chi­nese peo­ple from China can hardly un­der­stand us. The English-speak­ing world mocks our ac­cents, and the Malays, thanks to our kind friends, ba­si­cally have to read our lips to un­der­stand us.”

How to teach my niece dur­ing her stay with me in Syd­ney? I was clue­less at first. So I made a trip to the lo­cal li­brary and picked up some books that are much eas­ier.

As I ex­plained the mean­ings of some the words she did not know, I was re­minded of my­self when I was her age. While cor­rect­ing her pro­nun­ci­a­tion so her “one” and “want” don’t sound the same, I was as amused as I was in­trigued.

Th­ese books aren’t to be read in such straight and spiky tones, I ex­plained to her, the words are curvy and so should your sound be when pro­nounc­ing them. Only then can the story be felt and en­joyed.

My niece, hav­ing trav­elled and stayed with us for a month and who will be stay­ing on for another three weeks, will have her English re­vamped so she can be in­tro­duced to the won­der­ful world of Roald Dahl.

Food for thought: Do we even in­tro­duce the clas­sics to our fu­ture gen­er­a­tions nowa­days or are we way too busy get­ting them to do home­work?

Abby Wong hopes more kids will be able to en­joy English clas­sics as it is a whole new world await­ing them.

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