How to Improve Your English? (Versi Orang Kampung)

I know it's very contradictory to write a post on "How to Improve Your English?" by mixing Malay and English but this has always been my way and I'm comfortable with it. So, bear with me? :)

Disclaimer: I'm referring to myself when I use the Orang Kampung in the title. I'm the orang kampung! I live in a place that I considered a kampung and spent years studying in suburban schools. I'm a kampung girl through and through! :)

Rasa macam tak layak nak share benda-benda macam ni sebab Bahasa Inggeris saya pun tak perfect, grammar pun masih tunggang-langgang lagi, pronunciation pun ke laut, tapi rasa terpanggil bila tengok orang-orang sekeliling saya yang masih struggle lagi dalam menguasai Bahasa Inggeris. Jadi, saya nak share cara saya improve English saya. Again, please remember my English is far from perfect and I'm still learning but I really want to help other people to start enjoying English. Also, do note, whatever that work for me may not work for you.

Short backstory about English and I
Back then, I hated English to my bones and it was my least favorite subject ever. Anything English made me want to throw up. However, everything changed ever since I met my English teacher in Standard 5. She changed my opinion about English and helped me to improve my English tremendously in two years. After that, English became my most favorite subject!

1. Attitude

You have to have the right attitude in learning English. Firstly, kena kuatkan hati dan pekakkan telinga especially when you have unsupportive people all around you. Back in high school, I got so many comments like, "Poyonya kau ni nak speaking. Cakap Melayu sudahlah. Semua pun orang Melayu kat sini." Unfortunately, I succumbed to these negative comments and I stopped speaking in English. This is something that I regret until today. Well, sampai sekarang pun saya dapat reaction yang sama juga. My own parents and sisters roll their eyes sometimes whenever I speak in English. However, I'm a bit wiser now so I don't let their reactions bother me. Ingat, kena kuatkan hati dan pekakkan telinga! :)

2. Familiarize yourself with English in fun ways

I know English can be daunting for some people so I would suggest you to start step by step. Get yourself familiarize with English in fun ways. Kalau suka menyanyi or dengar lagu, cuba banyakkan dengar lagu English. Kalau suka tengok movies or TV shows, banyakkan tengok English TV shows or movies. Kalau suka membaca, cuba start baca buku English pula.

3. Read a lot of books

I'm a reader so I chose to read. I used to take a week or two just to finish off one book. It took me that long cause I wasn't used to English books and there were so many words that I didn't know. I had my dictionary with me all the time whenever I was reading. Now, I can finish reading an English book in one day or two depending on my free time. I personally think this is the best way if you want to enrich your vocabulary. Also, you can see different sentence structures. 

4. Watch movies, dramas, or TV shows with subtitles

I'm not sure about you guys but I find watching movies or TV shows with English subtitles helps improve my English. I watch everything with English subtitles and when I say everything, I mean everything - Malay, Korean, English, Japanese, etc. I picked up a lot of new words this way.

However, I have to say that I experience a downside as well. The downside of watching anything with English subtitles is I become lazy in listening as I tend to read the subtitles? Whenever I'm watching anything English, I tend to forget to listen to how they pronounce words. Which is why my pronunciation ke laut T^T Kalau tengok cerita Melayu pula, memang tak tumpukan perhatian dekat apa yang pelakon-pelakon tu cakap. Unless kalau ada perkataan yang saya tak pernah jumpa dekat subtitles tu baru saya macam, "Eh, sekejap. Sekejap. Tadi dia cakap apa eh?"

5. Fully utilize the resources around you

Kalau ada any activities or workshops related to English, join! Gunakan teachers and lectures awak. Gunakan kawan-kawan awak. Ask them to help you. Back when I was in university, I joined quite a lot of academic writing workshops because I wanted to improve my writing. Writing has always been my main weakness (other than my pronunciation) so I forced myself to join the countless workshops. I still think that my writing sucks but it's a lot better than when I was in the first year.

I also joined a program called Conversation Partner when I was in my second year. Most of my acquaintances joined this program because they wanted to make new friends. As for me, I joined the program because I wanted to get used to talking in English. Thankfully my partner was very helpful and understanding. She helped to fix all my mistakes instead of mocking me. She was also very patient while dealing with the awkward me.

6. Be the supportive and understanding person that you wish others would be to you

I can't stress enough about the importance of this. While trying to improve your English, you may find people with the lower level, same level or higher level of English than you. Please please please, jangan pandang rendah dekat orang lain. Please don't have the holier-than-thou attitude. You have no idea how someone may get affected by your words or response. I personally got hurt so bad once by one of my friends. She belittled me just because I pronounced a few things wrongly. On another hand, I was so motivated to improve my English when one of my friends helped me to fix my pronunciation and my grammar.

7. Be confident and don't be afraid to make mistakes

Saya tahu memang susah nak jadi confident untuk guna English lagi-lagi bila kita tak biasa tapi pernah dengar tak phrase, "Fake it till you make it?" Acah acah confident so that insya Allah, satu hari nanti boleh confident betul-betul? And along the process, please don't be afraid to make mistakes. Semua orang pun akan melakukan kesilapan masa belajar. Dan daripada kesilapan tu, kita boleh belajar supaya tidak membuat kesilapan yang sama.

8. Acknowledge your weaknesses and try to improve yourself

For you to improve yourself, you need to acknowledge your weaknesses. I have mentioned this before but my main weaknesses have always been my writing and my pronunciation. So, I started to find ways to improve myself in these two aspects. On writing - I read a lot in the hope that I can incorporate some of the writing styles with mine. I also write my daily journal in English. On pronunciation - the Cambridge Dictionary is my best friend. I make a habit of pronouncing at least 5 words a day.

9. Open your heart and mind and heed constructive criticism

Bila ada orang yang betul-betul ikhlas tolong tegur awak, tunjukkan kesalahan awak dan cuba betulkan awak, terima dengan hati terbuka. Kuatkan hati awak dan jangan berputus asa. Dan, jangan fikir yang mereka ni sentiasa cari kesalahan awak kalau diaorang ni betul-betul ikhlas. If you find these people around you, approach them, stick to them, and ask them for help.

Good to know

1. Not everything that you read or listen to is grammatically correct. So, please be aware.

I have read so many blog posts and books with major/minor grammatical errors. Some of them were written by native English speakers, TESL students, and overseas-bound students. Saya pun salah seorang yang selalu guna grammar yang salah. haha T^T

2. Just because someone pronounces words differently than you does not mean s/he is right or wrong. People pronounce words differently according to their accents even though English is their first language.

Kita ketepikan Malaysian accent or any accents of Asian countries because English is not our first language. But, seriously, have you heard American, Canadian, British, Australian and NZ accents? I'm all good with American or Canadian accents as they are the kind of accents that I'm used to but British, NZ, and Australian accents scare me as I tend to take a longer time to process whatever they are saying.

3. Try to stick to one 'version' of English. If you are comfortable with British English then use British English. If American English is your thing, then use American English.

Tak tahulah awak perasan ke tak tapi dekat Malaysia kita guna dan belajar British English dekat sekolah. But we tend to pronounce things in American English (or to be exact Malaysian English)? I'm still struggling with this one cause I tend to mix British English and American English when writing. But I do know that I use American English whenever I'm speaking (minus the accent).

That's all from me. I know all of the points are menial and more like common sense but I hope at least some of you may find them helpful! :)

Post a Comment


  1. so much helpful..thank you...i really need this tips, i really agree with all the tips given but its just me who does not want to start.hehe..hopefully,after this i will start to read more and be friend with dictionary...pray for me!

    1. I guess at the end of the day, it all comes back to ourselves. Sama ada nak ke tak kan? :)

  2. a thing I hold on about improving my English, is never stop trying. I always have low confidence in speaking before (even till now tho) but I believe I have improved much since I need to survive with English as primary language to understand people in Czech (though they don't speak English much)

    Now, I am glad I can present cases in dwi language (mix English and Malay) as it is more understandable :D hehehe

    1. Betul tu! Never stop trying. Otherwise, how can we improve our English kan? The key is to start and be consistent. We may not see the effects instantly but few years along the road, we can definitely see the fruits of our labor :)

      As for us, I guess we we were lucky as we were kinda forced to use English all the time to communicate when we were doing our degree ^^

  3. i need this, thanks a lot for the tips!
    i hope i can improve my writing and speaking skills in english :D

    1. Good luck, BV. I do think you have a good English speaking skills based on your IG videos :)

  4. Nice sharing! Nani pun selalu tekankan dekat students point nombor tiga dengan empat tu. It's okay to make mistakes but learn from that mistakes. Kalau nak power cakap English tapi malas nak practice memang tak dapat lah nak tolong.

    1. Betul tu. Don't be afraid to make mistakes because we can definitely learn from our mistakes. And yes, memang kena rajin practice. Kalau tak, takat tu je la level kita.

  5. kita setuju dengan entry Farah ni!! especially part tengok movie dengan English subtitle. though most movies banyak bahasa pasar. tapi belajar banyak sangat dari situ. and lagu pun membantu.

    betul. kita tak boleh nak dengar sangat apa orang cakap. bukan kita buat benda tak baik pun kan.

    1. Yes, I learned a lot by watching anything with English subtitles. Tapi tu la, jadi malas mendengar sikit. Hahaha.

      Yes, tak boleh nak layan sangat apa yang orang lain cakap.

  6. teringat lecture sy dulu ada ckp, cara dia nk improve english adalah tutup kt bahagian bawah tv. jgn tgk / nampak langsung subtitle. just dgr je. kalau cikgu BI ms sekolah dulu diorg suruh kitorg dgr lagu2 inggeris tanpa tgk lirik. lps tu cuba tulis lirik lagu tu then compare kan dgn lirik yg betul. tp bak kata peptaha, di mana ada kemahuan di situ ada jln. kalau betul nk kuasai apa jua bahasa, perlu ada tekad yg kuat

    1. Betul, memang kena ada tekad yang kuat kalau nak belajar bahasa ni. Kalau tekad tak kuat sangat, memang susah sikit la.

      As for your points, I can understand why your lecturer and teacher said that. I think that's the best ways to improve our listening and understanding.

  7. Love your tpis :) Mostly i will learn english by listening music english and watch youtube without subtitle english. Now im a bit improving..

    - saya Follower yang ke #165

    1. Good that you actually found your own ways in improving your English :)

  8. kena practise kalau tak smpai ke sudah takkan bercakap.. walaupun english kak nina pun tahap lingtang pukang


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