Dear David,


You must be the pal called Spectator I met in the community. Thanks for your appreciation of the way I talk and I laugh. Ha-ha.


There should be no dispute at all over my nationality. I am proud to be Chinese and I respect that faraway land called the UK and its language and culture. If you will take time over some more entries of the blog, you will be convinced I am truly your compatriot.


Encouragement, flowers and applause from pals like you cheer me on in my endeavour to learn the language. Learning English can be a lonely affair, especially in this country of ours. The biggest challenge for all learners is that we rarely have an opportunity to put what we have learned, no matter how much or how little it might be, to actual meaningful use. Some friends tell me they learn the language as kind of a hobby. For me, the language could not be more important.  I learn the language as a career. I am very lucky I teach the language and I have been working in the field for over ten years. I use the language in my classroom teaching and I talk with my colleagues in English in the office, although some of them are not very keen to speak English. Through my daily use of the language, I have come to know its beauty. (Chinese is beautiful, too.) And only by using English for a meaningful purpose can learners appreciate its taste and as a result they will feel energetic in their efforts to progress further.


Why do I talk in the room as a volunteer speaker? The reason is not that I am a perfect speaker of British English. Neither is it that I am pursuing fame, money, or online affairs. My motive is simple and clear: I need the talking time to further my talking skills and to maintain my oral competence. Meanwhile, I hope my talking can make the learners’ effort more meaningful, more interesting and more enjoyable. Most of the friends there learn on their own. This chance to use the spoken word in the virtual world should help them fare better in their learning.


To tell you the truth, I have never talked with a living UK citizen in the real world. I bet the way I talk is heavily influenced by the amount of exposure to BBC online I have applied myself to. I have been a regular listener to BBC World Service radio shows. Before I had access to the web, I tuned in to BBC on a shortwave radio. But interference has always been some headache for short-wave listeners here in China. Things changed when I bought my computer in 2003. I got wired in 2004. Since then the radio programmes offered by BBC through podcasting have been my daily relish. And has aided me further in my learning. Compared with my shortwave days, I am in heaven.


British English or American English? In my opinion, it is simply a matter of personal preference. I prefer the former to the latter. Most British English speakers feel sad that the Chinese youngsters subscribe so much to American English. Though it’s rare to hear a good speaker of American English in this country, the majority of learners, I dare say, are trying to speak that way, for they say Uncle Sam is the undisputed sole superpower. Well, that’s true.


To be honest, learners in China learn English as a foreign language. I don’t believe accent counts the most when it comes to the quality of one’s speech. What matters is clarity. Speak loud and clear. When a speaker is clear, he/she will certainly end up with their own distinctive way of talking, be it Chinese, American, British, or whatever.


Please don’t take your mail as some disturbance. (Sorry I cannot reply to all the mail I receive.) It has given me more confidence and I will work harder. No one is perfect but everyone can be better. I firmly believe there will be a day when I talk freely and elegantly. When I feel down on the road to "perfection", I will read your letter and urge myself on.


And it’s never too old to learn. I bet you have laid a good foundation in the language since you had three British teachers at college. I was wondering if you still used the language for a purpose. If so, you are using it daily. If not, you can still maintain or upgrade your English proficiency by doing some language practice every day.


Thanks for writing, my comrade.


Best wishes,





1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. young
    Apr 26, 2010 @ 12:02:44

    Shengliver,well done!We can get many tips from your writing,you are a great example for many people~~ —susie


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