Wednesday, June 25, 2008
To be honest, I do not remember exactly at what age I started using the English Language. All I know is that I was blessed to have my late Father (God Bless his soul).
He was the biggest influence on my English proficiency. In his younger days, he was the fortunate few who attended school in the English stream .
I remember how proudly he would talk about Victoria Institution. As a student, he was an active member of the school band. He played the fife then. On his own he picked up playing the piano although he could never afford to buy one for himself. – not until the day he retired from his job, and with his gratuity money, he bought himself one.
I was a College student already when he retired..I remembered listening to him on the piano every morning and evening, playing a few Malay traditional songs and mostly English pop songs of his time. I could name the titles of his favourite tunes, but readers would never know them. So I’ll spare you that.
So my interest for English songs was ignited by him . I can recall when I was as young as 5 years old, my three siblings and I would be awakened at 6.00am in the morning when he would switched on Radio Australia on the short-wave radio and we had to listen to the kookaburra (Australian bird- I think) cry as the signature of the Australian Radio . After that it would be followed by strings of English pop songs of the period.
He would buy all the latest records (vinyl discs) of the pop scene. We would listened to the foxtrots, waltzes, tangos and the beguines (all song rhythms and dances at that time.) As a kid I would sing the songs with correct lyrics and pronunciation, although without actually understanding the meanings
My love for songs continued through out my schooldays following the music of my period. I went through the era of all the genres of music as they came along. This has not stopped – even up to now.
You may ask me what has all this got to do with English Language. ....A lot.
The melodies motivated me to know the lyrics which made me sing along with the song, which taught me to appreciate the meanings of words and which I would proudly use in my studies and conversations.
The Comics –
I grew up with them. Be it cartoons or space adventures, or detectives . But most of all, there was a series of comics called Classics Illustrated. I have benefitted from these comics which stories arre always based on classic novels. It had been simplified and made easier to read . But the English language was very good.The newspaper was another source of reading. I remember fighting and quarellng with my sisters as we rushed for the newspaper every morning. I used to get so addicted to the daily cartoon strip.
Story books ---
I remember starting with children’s books like Noddy. Then I went on to Enid Blyton's series like Secret Seven and Famous Five series. Oh and of course , The Readers’ Digest too played a part for me.There were so many more but suffice to say that I gew up with books.
The Library –
We could not afford the fees to join the National Library, but my siblings and I did ---we joined a free Lbrary called USIS or the United States Information Services. Of course the books will be about the American way of life, their history, legends and so on. I could still remember charaters from their books like Johnny Appleseed, the Wright Brothers, their declaration of Independence, Davy Crockett, the Alamo, and many more . But who cares ! I only wanted to read.
So now , I am still what I was ....