Listening and Speaking

It is very true that the teaching of English as a second language focuses too much on analyzing the language. Even the native speakers themselves do not learn grammar as much as we do in Malaysia. It is misleading and the learners will end up thinking that English is very rigid hence become scared to use the language in their daily conversation.

Listening skill is very important in effective communication. There are many listening materials being produced and sold to people who have the desire to improve their communication in English. However, I find that most of these materials are not very natural. Maybe it is suitable in formal occasions such as public speaking, presentation and so on, but not in casual conversation. In easier words, it is not the way native speakers speak in their daily life.

Honestly, I do not believe that language acquisition has anything to do with a person's level of intelligence. It is whether or not that person get enough exposure to the input of the language especially through listening. Listening and speaking should come together; we have to listen and understand what others are saying to us before we could response appropriately. There are few things that we need to know before we could do that effectively. We do not pronounce English words based on the spelling or syllables, and this is a total opposite of Bahasa Malaysia. In English, the concern is more on stress; knowing the word stress and the sentence stress will help you understand others, and helps others understand you as well. Besides, some words are linked 
together creating new sounds which are usually different from when these words are pronounced individually.

It is best (I think) for us to go back to basic. Listen to stories meant for young children, where more stress and rhythm are used to make it interesting and understandable. Listen to simple and real English; it is much better to listen to the speech of native speakers themselves than the speech of native speakers wannabe...(especially those who are reading scripts on tapes). Identify common phrases used in their conversation. By knowing these phrases, it will be easier for us to convey our ideas because we do not have to think word by word while speaking. The question is, where could we get this real input since there are not many native speakers around us back here in Malaysia? the saying goes "When there is a will, there is a way."

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