No time for stories?
It’s a sad state of affairs indeed when bookstores have more assessment books than storybooks.
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.