IMO view: Better language skills come from practice
Paper Edition | Page: 8
Some friends of mine send me messages via Facebook; “How do you constantly come up with ideas to write in English?” I have frowned over this question.
Frankly speaking, I have thought hard to find the answer. Writing always comes naturally to me, almost like breathing. So, I don’t really think about it when I do the thing I love the most. It is natural and fun to put your ideas into written words.
When I write, time seems to distort, my brain turns to sweet mush, and the words just arrive on screen. It feels like I find a great tropical rain forest to explore, and I could never finish my adventure in one short excursion. There will always be another calling to have another quest.
Time is my only restriction, especially when there’s so much on my desk and my brain is mixed up at work. Sometimes, I find writing in English is so much easier than in Indonesian since I am used to writing my ideas in that language on my blogs. That is definitely my answer “better English skills come from practice”. So, I reply to the question with that quote. Anything will improve with practice.
It’s not that I love English better than Indonesian; that would be absurd. My reason is so much simpler. I write in English to practice, not forgetting the lessons I’ve received during college, I’ve studied the language, so it would be ridiculous if I lost the skills to do so.
Speaking skills take two to practice. Since I have no partner with whom to practice it’s hard to improve my oral capability. There’s always a slip of the tongue anytime I speak in English due to a lack of practice. As writing offers a solo rehearsal, I don’t need a partner to practice.
So, I try as much as I can to write down any ideas crossing my mind on my blogs. I find life never works except in retrospect. You can never control life. Often life turns out the opposite of what you expect but, in writing, at least you can control your own version. You can create any character you want, any ending you want, etc. Gradually, it becomes a habit. Then it becomes a natural activity. Also, it develops better thinking skills.
There are some good ways to practice your thinking skills. You can sit and think, for starters. You can work on specific puzzles and problems but I don’t like puzzles and problems, yet I love sitting at my desk composing words. You can also have interesting discussions with others.
However, I never have the opportunity to attend formal meetings or discussions so this is not an available option for me. Therefore, I find the “best” way to practice my thinking skills and boost my brainpower is to write.
Unless you are just copying words, to write is to think. You have to think how to connect your trains of thought into a series of sentences that makes sense. Putting your thoughts into words is a process of telling yourself the logic behind what you feel or what you only partly understand in the same way that talking forces you to clarify your thoughts so that others listening can understand you.
Compared to talking, however, writing has the disadvantage of not giving you direct external feedback. When you talk, people can confront you instantly and you have to defend your argument in that instant too. But when you write in your blog, it takes perhaps days for you to receive any feedback from your readers, to disagree or agree. You therefore get ample time to express and develop your thoughts without interruption. This is a great way to work on your thinking skills at a slow, relaxing pace. Over time, your skills will improve greatly. It will boost your “brainpower” to explain.