I grew up in a Mandarin-speaking family, and since young, my parents emphasized on the importance of Mandarin, which actually caused me to neglect my English skills. All along I thought that it was alright to speak broken English, as long as my friends understood what I was saying. However, I felt rather embarrassed when I realised that most of my classmates in secondary school were able to hold proper conversations in English. Furthermore, they often used vocabularies that I have never heard of, which made it difficult for me to understand them.
Since then, I decided to put in more effort during English lessons, particularly in my grammar. Without a basic foundation, I faced many challenges. For example, I often mixed up the past and present tenses as well as singular and plural. I even pronounced “soup” as “soap” once. Due to the lack of confidence, I seldom spoke English in public. However, I came to realize that the only way to improve myself was to use English more frequently.
Hence, I plucked up my courage to converse in English more often. My friends around me seemed to noticed my improvements subsequently, and I also started to have more confidence in myself. Every time I made a phrasing or grammar mistake, my friends would make an effort to correct me. That allowed me to learn much more than what I can in class. Even up till now, I do not get offended when people correct my English. I am glad that they do so because there will always be room for improvement.
In my opinion, being able to converse fluently in English is an essential skill in life. I may still make a few grammar mistakes here and there, but now I have the confidence to strike a conversation with a stranger in English.
(Amended on 8 October 2016, 10.03pm)