All the subjects in school are taught in Bahasa Malaysia except for English Language. Thus the opportunity for using English in school is very limited. I do converse in English with some of my friends, but only with a few of them. This is because most of the others cannot converse in English.
Some of these others do not have ample command of the English Language. Yet there are other who are either too shy to speak English or they simply refuse to do so. The teachers are not much help either for some of them can hardly speak English. It is only outside school hours that I get to speak English to teachers who can do so. Such opportunities only come when we have to return to school for games or other activities.
It would be beneficial if the school could have special periods or days each weak where the students and teachers are encouraged to converse in English. In that way both sides benefit and we do not have to be at a disadvantage because of our poor command of English. My father’s generations are proficient in English because English was the medium of instruction then. I am not saying we should go back to their time. I am just saying that we should not lose our proficiency in English and thus become handicapped when we face the outside world.
However the mass media provide much opportunity for listening to English. Television especially is very helpful. Most of my favorite programs are in English and we hear it being spoken although mostly by Americans. I cannot complain though for I do learn a lot from them. In fact I can see how different spoken English can be in the U.S.A, England, Australia, India, Malaysia and other countries. Though it is basically English each speaks, the pronunciation, accent and local flavor are plainly discernible. I can, quite accurately, tell where a person is from by listening to the English he speaks.
Unfortunately while I can hear English being spoken via television or radio, I cannot speak back. So again the opportunity to speak English is limited.
I suppose I have to live with the fact that the number of opportunities for listening and speaking English is limited. That does not mean that I give up using English. I realize that English is a very important language in the world and it is definitely important that I become proficient in it. We all should be proficient in it because most of the important discoveries and advances in science, technology and other fields are available in English. So if our command of English is lacking, we lose out and always are left behind.