Sunday, March 13, 2011

Oh, My Diction!

Master English, Beef Up Your Vocabulary!
Reminiscing those halcyon days (-school days!)… Our English teacher encouraged us, students, to keep an exercise book where we could record all the new words.  The book was called the vocabulary book. I read a lot of books and recorded hundreds of new words.  I became a bookworm of sorts.

More often than not, I found new words that I did not know.  I wrote down those words with their meanings, in context, in that vocabulary book.  Every day I read and re-read them in order to commit them to memory.  I made it some kind of a 'second hobby', sort of ...

I found that that strategy to be very effective in mastering more English words. One of the effective ways to increase our mastery of English. It had stood the test of time and would always do so.  Take it from an old master (yeah, … I am a school master and I am old – tee-hee!), to try an old way – what they say, from theold school”.

In retrospect, a brief history of my school days:  I entered secondary school – a boarding school, in 1969.  That was way back, many years ago!  In that year, American Astronaut, Neil Armstrong became the first person in history to land on the moon.  Many of you, dear readers, were not born yet.  MUET? - Never heard of.

New intakes, hardly thirteen-years old, had to undergo a spell of one year's immersion in a "remove" class - to master English.  Being from a Malay-medium primary school, we had to do that one year class.  It was the practice those days that, one who came from a Malay-medium primary school and wanted to study in an English secondary school, had to do one year of "remove" class.

In that English immersion year I worked hard on my English, voraciously digesting books and magazines to read stories, read about space flights and other things and, many, many, new words.  Of course, I became more knowledgeable.  I used those new words, experimented with them in my essays and found overseas pen-pals to write them letters, sometimes sounding a bit "bombastic" - with new sophisticated words.  I continued that habit for many years onwards.  That vocabulary book method proved to be very effective and I am thankful to my English teacher, that particular one, who showed me the way.

Mark Twain, the famous American writer, who 'created' Tom Sawyer, used to say, “If you find a new word – use it three times and it’s yours”.  There is a lot of truth in what he said.  The use of that humble vocabulary note-book had proven its effectiveness, to me - at least, in the effort  of mastering more English words, and thus strengthens my mastery of that language.  With that strategy one's English can improve by leaps and bounds, God Willing!  Try it yourselves – it surely works!