Learning English

When I was sent to Hiroshima, Japan (2005) to support a Mazda project (Mazda CX-7), aside from meeting really cool Japanese friends, I also met very friendly Mormon missionaries from the US (from Utah and Hawaii). We talked and then one of them asked me, pretty impressed or probably just being polite, “how did you learn English?” My answer was, “I learned English singing songs and watching movies.” 


Okay, I validated and said, we have English subjects at school and of course I read (thanks to this amazing woman #7, she gave me my first dictionary too!). I have a pretty strong grasp of English as a language, but I still commit grammatical errors and my speaking skills, let’s just say, there is still a lot room for improvement. I am actually planning to enroll in a Toasmasters’ Club soon to work on my public speaking skills, but mostly, to just enjoy the process of learning something new and meeting new friends. It is something of a personal project like for 2011 it was blogging, this year, hopefully, public speaking.


Looking back, nobody did conversed with me in English when I was growing up.  At school, oral recitation is not a welcome event for me. I am not categorically shy, but speaking in English was just a tad bit intimidating. So I read. And read some more.


English is the medium of instruction in the schools here. My 4-year-old is learning SHE-HE, IS, ARE, THIS IS, THESE ARE, THOSE ARE, etc. I’ve mentioned here before my appreciation for parents who speak and teach their babies early on, English. I know of friends who have cute English-speaking toddlers. It was my plan too, but I wasn’t able to follow through on it, but now that Mikaela is in school, she gets to practice speaking the language. She is not proficient (yet), compared to her classmates but I am happy she speaks it albeit the wrong constructions and errors, which I gently corrects. I am pretty proud of her actually, errors and all. 🙂


A few days back she commented on her father’s unshaved beard and moustache, “Pa, I can see your white hair, your black hair and brown hair.”. The random comment drew out a surprise chuckle from her Pa and Ma. She can get  all worked out speaking the English language after marathon sessions of Phineas and Ferb episodes too. And Ayana Rhys, when asked something in English will inevitably answers “Yeah!” American accent. So cute and I’m just happy that they are learning something with the tv time and I re-enforce it (as often as I can) by asking them or speaking to them in English now. It is inarguably a very definite edge when you know how to communicate well using the English language.  


Which brings me to the point I am trying to make and that is, about my amazing new friends here in the blogsphere. I am learning and connecting to a whole lot of new culture and experiences because of the English language and what a happy experience it has been and still is and I have become a better person because of these connections. Thank you English language!



18 thoughts on “Learning English

  1. I am really impressed with your command of the language as well. I had no idea it was a second language for you.

    I have learned not to underestimate the power of media to help with language learning. Andrea has been trying to watch more animes that haven’t been dubbed and watching YouTube videos in Japanese. She’s not up to a conversational level by any means, but she’s picking up words here and there and figuring it out. When she starts taking Japanese in the fall, I have no doubt watching all these will just reinforce what she’s learning.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. 🙂

  2. I could have written this! Same as you, I learned by watching BBC and listening to tunes on the radio. Love what you said. English language is a common denominator between us all that helps us connect every day. I am so happy for that. You should read this post by Iza Trapani. You will love it: http://izatrapani.com/blog/?p=881

  3. I love this post,Ava! I love how you give gratitude to something so many people take for granted. I think the Philippines values education the same way Indonesia does – invaluable. I learned English through Sesame Street. I owe a lot to those puppets 🙂

    • I didn’t know there was Sesame Street then! I’m just glad to learn this language Grace for it lead me to a broader view of the world and the people in it.

  4. Yeah! That’s New York from what I’ve been told. You writing in English is impeccable with a capital I. Any time you want to practice conversation, give me a holler!

  5. Though I was born in Canada and have lived here all my life so far, I didn’t learn English until I was in kindergarten. I simply lived in a very sheltered world. So it was an enormous shock to me on lst day of school. I did have to take ESL outside of normal classes. Yes, of course, I didn’t know what was going on during lst few months.

    So I know precisely how immigrants feel.

    But assimilation as you know has a huge price, I lost alot of Chinese. We can barely understand /speak with our mother , who has not picked up much English since she immigrated in the late 1950’s.

    I did my university undergraduate degree in English literature and language. What is striking to study literature at that level is embedded cultural memory and history –that is Eurocentric. So incorporating words from other languages into English language is a good thing.

    • Thank you always for sharing Jean, your experiences are like opening a new door to me. So much to learn from you. I’m just so glad to have met and interact with a whole lot of interesting and good people here in this medium, you included! 🙂

  6. Hi Bang, I never knew you write! I’ve wanted to blog since like how-many-years now but whenever I sit down, everything suddenly runs in slow motion. The enthusiasm from reading your blog is a welcome feeling, I hope you continue even after your kids graduate.

    • Cy!! It is so good to hear from you. Like I’ve said, I’m truly really excited to read about your thoughts and experiences. I hope you get around to creating your own page soon!!!

  7. Pingback: The Good Life. :) « grapesandoranges

  8. Inspiring!!! I am excited for the TM. Hopefully we can join them, as member, on their next session. Keep on blogging too! Though sometimes, I heard your story already before I could read them on your blog. LOLz. Off course, that’s straight from Mikaela’s and Yana’s very proud Pa.

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