For the past week, I’ve been on a rather surreal adult learning course where everyone around me could not really speak English. They are all lovely people, and I thoroughly enjoyed their company….but I felt terrible how I kept wincing in agony every time I heard the English language being crucified (e.g. “The staffs there can helps you, I likes it there because they put the very nice smiles on.”) What was even more disturbing is that the people sitting around me could not spell so they practically copied everything off my workbook just so they could get away with passing the course.
Most of these people are mid-career people, some even in management positions. I really wonder how do they get by with e-mails or reading business documents or giving presentations for that matter? I’m so, so, so perturbed. After this, I’m actually really doubting that English can pull it off as a first language in Singapore.
However, because these said course mates could not really communicate in English, they did not have much choice but to tolerate my half-baked Mandarin. I bet they were wincing pretty hard too. And I’m starting to understand why the Chinese-speaking camp does not want me to torture their ears with my garbled Chinese.
And you know what’s even more scary? The so-called “next generation”, because of some weird form of language education they received, are not getting any better in terms of English AND Mother Tongue literacy. In the end, this society has a lot of people not being really good in any kind of language. And with a limited grasp of language, it means a severe shortage of self-expression and meaningful communication.
I’m not sure why, but I find this thought so absolutely terrifying!