I have been getting consistent hits on my post “What to do after SPM/STPM?” that I thought I would write a follow up on it. One of the most important thing that you can do as a young student is to improve the standard of your written and spoken English. If you are proficient in other languages like Chinese, that’s great because it means you might be able to work in China (many multi national corporations are setting up base in big cities in China like Shanghai and Beijing). But even if one is proficient in another language, a person should never neglect his or her standard of English. A good command of the English language can only help you advance in your studies and career. Good English enables you to work in international companies and to be able to communicate with overseas colleagues effectively and with confidence.
So what can you do to improve your written and spoken English? Some suggestions include:
1. Read English newspapers every day. It is shocking how some students do not read the newspapers and are totally ignorant about the world.
2. You should also read English language periodicals like Time Magazine and Newsweek. Once your English proficiency improves, try reading the Economist as well. If you can afford it, subscribe to these magazines. If you can’t afford the subscription fees, then go to the library on a regular basis to read these magazines. As you read the articles – make a mental note on how the reporters write and structure their articles.
3. If you don’t have access to a library or can’t afford the magazines, read high quality online newspapers like Times of London, New York Times, the Guardian etc on a regular basis. Don’t waste too much time on the Net reading useless and childish blogs (of course, there are some blogs that are well-written).
4. Practise writing essays. If you have a blog, try writing in proper sentences instead of in SMS style.
5. Join debating clubs. Even if you don’t like to talk in front of strangers, you should do it. Debates will force you to articulate your thoughts and train you to speak in front of strangers.