**This post was shared on my Facebook page on October 16.
Another parent today shared with me her concern over her son’s English proficiency. Her biggest worry was that his proficiency is deteriorating.
Till the age of 12, he was at home and spoke English regularly with his parents. He then left for boarding school at 13. Now at 17 and sitting for his SPM in 24 days, his mum just discovered that he neither speaks nor responds in English anymore.
She is mind boggled as to the reason behind this. So I explained. That at boarding school, they don’t speak English. And the harsher truth is that speaking in English isn’t really accepted. So to fit in, everyone resorts to speaking their mother tongue. The lack of practice results to the decline in English proficiency.
She then shared that she tried to start English day at home especially for her 8 and 11 year olds I tutor. It isn’t really working out. So here is my tip.
Everywhere, people try to implement English day. It has never worked. Some, I know, implement a fine system. And people pay the fine upfront to avoid having to speak in English. Others just don’t say anything to avoid being fined.
In truth, it is a lot to ask for someone who doesn’t speak English on a daily basis to spend an entire day speaking the language. So instead of English day, create English moments. 10-15 minutes of English everyday.
For home, use dinner time as the English moment.
‘Can you pass me the plate of vegetable, please?’
‘This is delicious.’
‘Can I have some more rice?’
‘I want some water, please.’
At the office, use lunch time or even the first 5 minutes of a meeting.
‘I have an idea.’
‘I like what you just said.’
‘Hurry! We’re going to be late for our meeting.’
‘What do you want to eat for lunch?’
Moments. Easy moments. Quick moments. Fun moments. That will eventually be a norm for everyone.