Improving and Growing Through Listening
Feedback is probably one of the most important parts of any kind of learning. How can one become better? How can I improve upon what I have been doing? Also equally important is the person giving you feedback. Luckily in language, integrating other people is a necessity, and if you have found a good solid mentor then you should receive consistent and useful feedback. Important is learning how to integrate feedback and improve. Practicing feedback immediately helps with integration into your language learning so be sure to stick to it and work hard at actually using your mentor’s feedback.
Example Activity One:
Each week I had a different topic or theme (e.i Work, school, hobbies, directions…) that I would base most of my conversations with my mentor around. We had a series of different dialogues that would be based around the topic of the week and practice using those and then breaking off from the set words to use our own scenarios. For example, if a dialogue said:
1: Saya sudah makan nasi ayam.
2: Kamu makan ini kenapa?
1: Saya makan kerana saya lapar.
1: I already ate chicken rice.
2: Why did you eat it?
1: I ate it because I was hungry.
We could then change it up…
1: Saya sudah minum limau-ais.
2: Kamu minum ini kenapa?
1: Saya minum kerana hari ini istimewa.
2: Istimewa? Kenapa?
1: Kerana hari ini Hari Jadi saya!
2: Selmat Hari jadi!
1: I already drank iced limau.
2: Why did you drink it?
1: I drank it because today is special.
2: Special? Why?
1: Because today is my birthday!
2: Happy Birthday!
We switched up the actions and continued on beyond the dialogue. This is a great way to not only practice listening and continuing conversation but also to learn what works and what doesn’t in speaking. There are times where I might say something like:
1: Saya mahu tanya kamu soalan.
2: Kami mengguna “Saya boleh tumpang tanya?” kerap bila kami mahu tanya soalan. Cuba ini.
1: Boleh, Cikgu, saya boleh tumpang tanya?
1: I want to ask you a question. (Incorrect/overly complex)
2: We use “Can I ask you a question?” often when we want to ask a question. Try it.
1: Can, teacher, can I ask you a question?
This then becomes part of your tools for conversation so I make sure to store it away and make sure to integrate this into your later conversations. Ask your mentor to be on the lookout for phrases or sentences that can be simplified or have common phrases in Bahasa Melayu that they can be exchanged with. This is so good for your learning to speak in a natural way.
Example Activity Two:
In addition to my weekly conversations with dialogues based on my weekly topic; I also would practice different affixes each week (one week it was practicing tenses) in an attempt to grow more skilled in my grammatic usage of them. Sometimes my teacher would give me a grammatical function like for example the affix “me…kan” and say:
Cuba membuat ayat dengan “me…kan.”
Try making a sentence with “me…kan.”
And my poor little heart would try using whatever words I could think of that would be applicable.
Me: Saya menusukan bayi kawan saya.
Cikgu: Jadi, kerap kami mengguna itu bila susu dari dada.
Me: Jadi “menusukan” untuk emak saja. Saya tidak menusukan bayi kawan saya. Bayi saya saja.
Me: I feed my friend’s baby milk.
Cikgu: So often we use that when it’s milk from the breasts.
Me: So “to feed milk” is for mothers only. I don’t feed my friend’s baby milk. My baby only.
This is great for contextual growth, but we also did this with tenses:
Cikgu: Mengguna “sudah ” dan “akan” dalam ayat.
Me: Saya sudah makan nasi goreng, saya akan pergi ke bandar yang besar miggu depan.
Cikgu: Betul. Untuk “akan” ini betul tetapi kalau kamu ada “minggu depan” kamu tidak perlu ‘akan”. Tetapi kamu boleh ada berdua.
Cigku: Use “already” and “will” in a sentence.
Me: I already ate fried rice, I will go to the big city next week.
Cikgu: Correct. For “will”, this is correct but if you have “next week” you don’t need “will”.
But you can have both.
And so forth…
These feedback activities can also be used in practicing your writing skills with your mentor. Make sure to pay special attention to all feedback and INTEGRATE it. If you only receive it passively and never work to use it, then it’s utterly worthless to you.