This is not a short cut, all right. You can develop these target skills in no time, but coupled with patience and emotional attachment, new and exciting doors open in your new-found language.


Question: How important is grammar in speaking and writing?

Grammar is another word for rules, and using grammar is basically is knowing how to play by the rules of any language. It’s easy for anyone to understand you if you’re making sense in a conversation and if your sentence gets the meaning across squarely. For that alone, grammar is important– because it keeps communication clear for both parties. However, we do make occasional slips and with that the accompanying sentiment is one of tolerance. As long as the gist is clear and it doesn’t lead to a misunderstanding, then it shouldn’t bother anyone. The only time we should be super conscious of grammar is when are asked to say our sentence a third time.


Is it true watching cartoons and animated films improves one’s English?

The was a time watching TV and listening to the radio were discouraged by teachers and parents alike in the belief that these two pastimes are counterproductive. It was believed they do nothing to improve one’s communication skills–and and may even worsen them. But it has been proved many times that exposure to English language shows on TV and radio helps one to listen and speak well. Constant exposure to a second language by listening and imitating its speakers not only tweaks vocabulary but also fine-tunes speech. Cartoon characters serve as role models.


People make a fuss about American British, Canadian and Australian English. What’s the crack really?

There’s bound to be differences big and small in a language that is used by people living in different continents and countries. We shouldn’t expect standard English to be a wholesale deal across all users and nations. This goes for all languages: Language use and nuances depend on factors such as geography, history, culture, climate, economy, level of education, among a few others. The circumstances of one country, say, Canada, are the same as those in Australia, so even while they use the same language, their location and history will help shape the way their citizens use the English language (and among their peoples, there’s bound to be variances as well). The similarities and contrasts in the way a language is used by speakers coming from different places revolve around idioms, connotations, nomenclature, and sentence structure.


They say Filipino English is neutral and can be understood anywhere in the English speaking world.

There’s a news item lately quoting English language experts at Oxford University that Philippine English is now recognized as a variant of world English. But this is nothing new. This has been the case as early as the 1920s, back at a time when Spanish was widely spoken in the country. What brought Philippine English to the world’s stage, however, is its much sought after BPO (Business processing outsourcing ) professionals who have no trouble (and are many times better than their American counterparts at ) using the English language. The Philippines has proved to be an extremely strong competitor in the industry, taking the lead from India and Singapore.

Today the BPO industry is the second biggest economic contributor in the Philippines, employing hundreds of thousands of young professionals who will never be mistaken for a second language speaker by speech alone.


Why do they complain about my Visayan/Ilonggo intonation in English? How does intonation affect spoken English?

This issue comes about when we only have a single notion of standard English in mind. And that is, Hollywood English (most of it anyway) where characters invariably speak with a flat West Coast accent. Speaking in a Mid- Atlantic accent is almost like speaking posh in the United States. These have counterparts across the pond, in the UK., as well. However, speaking without an intonation is equally problematic as it could result in misunderstanding—not knowing when to rise and fall in a sentence can shift the emphasis on trivial words, thus getting cross something that one shouldn’t have in the first place. English speech thrives on rising and falling intonation patterns to be able to get meanings across , so that a miscalculated rise or fall changes the meaning altogether.


Visayan and Ilonggo speakers of English, other hand, are known for their “melodic” and sing-song intonation. To a native speaker’s ear, who has heard the garrulous and masculine speech of Manchester in England, an Ilonggo intonation in English is crossover jazz. As long as the words are properly placed and vowels are sounded flat enough, there’s going to be a good conversation between parties. What this means is that, as long as intonation doesn’t toss meaning around in a sentence, all is well.


Finally, is using idioms a good way to keep a conversation going?

Idioms or everyday expressions are basically conversation lubricants. Just when you find you’re at a loss for words and that your intended meaning escapes you and your audience, using idioms (the more casual the better) is an excellent fall back to get the conversation going. This is not to say you spray your sentences with idioms. Occasionally you are hard put to explain something to someone in a straightforward way and so resorting to idioms such as butterflies in the stomach for anxiety and dead end for the absence of options makes it all clear and colorful.