Speaking good English is a matter of both conscious effort and habit, as this year’s campaign emphasizes.
By Yong Yung Shin
Broken English makes for good comedy. For example, a well-meaning sign at a hotel reception reads as follows—“Please leave your values at the front desk.” Another one at the entrance of a store: “Goods soldout are not returnable.”
But humor aside, there is much value in learning to speak and write proper English. This does not mean speaking in a faux foreign accent, but communicating in grammatically correct sentences with proper pronunciation in order to accurately convey to the other party one’s ideas and intent.
On Sep. 27, the Speak Good English Movement 2012 was launched at Food For Thought, at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. This year, the movement aims to “make good English stick” by encouraging Singaporeans to develop a conscious effort of speaking standard English, while in its early years, the objective was to build awareness of the importance of speaking good English. It was first launched in 2000 by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.
“Speaking good English does not equate to using big words. While it is important to have good vocabulary, speaking well is about the ability to communicate our thoughts, ideas and feelings well enough so that others can understand us,” said guest-of-honor Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim.
As part of this year’s theme, the Speak Good English team will be planting visible reminders around Singapore of the need to make good English stick. As with previous years, these friendly reminders in the form of Post-it notes can be seen in public spaces, including the newspapers and on double-decker buses.
“By reading, we can learn sentence structures and different ways of sending ideas. Many of us skim for content when we read. I suggest that we slow down and read every word so that we can appreciate the way the writer expresses himself. Reading aloud will help you discover how words are stressed in effective communication,” advised Mr Goh Eck Kheng, chairman of the Speak Good English Movement.
He also added that one should speak in full sentences. “Think before you speak. Take time to form your idea into a sentence before saying it. As much as possible, practice speaking, especially with those who are more proficient in the language.”
The event also saw a one-of-a-kind fashion show, where models paraded in garments made out of sticky notes, designed by students from the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS).
Want to know where your English stands? Log on to www.goodenglish.org.sg and take part in a 30-question self-assessment quiz.