English Is Our Second Language!
By: Noel D. De Ocampo, MSN/ED, RN
April 7, 2010
I don’t want to create animosity, I don’t want to chastise or be chastised, and I will never say I am best in written or spoken English. I can’t say my command of the English language is perfect because I know it’s not, but I think it is very important that Filipino nurses discuss the importance of knowing, speaking, and writing (in) the English language. Katulad ng karamihan, sa mahal kong Pilipinas din ako ipinanganak at lumaki. Mahal ko ang aking sinilangang bansa at mananatili akong marunong magmahal sa ating wika. I’m not saying that all of us are using English primarily at work. Of course it depends on what country you are residing, but English is still the preferred way of communicating, even here on Facebook.
How can we promote ourselves to be the best nurses around the world if we can’t correctly express ourselves in English? How can Filipino nurses convey a message if constructing simple English sentences is considered a challenge by some? I admire those who are continuously posting Facebook messages in English, but I think we all need to be cognizant of how we construct our statements. You can get angry at me, but I’m just trying to be constructive.
Why talk about it? All of us knew that wherever we go, even in countries where English is not used, we tend to speak to locals in English until we realize that they don’t understand the language as well. In nursing school, we use American books, or English language books, as the most common method of learning (and teaching). We had English courses since grade school and half (or more) of our college courses are also in English. We, Filipino nurses should set higher expectations for ourselves. If we were able get through nursing school, we should at least be able to know if the way we are using the English language is right or wrong, verbally or in writing.
There are many ways to improve command of the English language. Read, read, and read. Watch English talk shows. Use Microsoft Word when writing, even for short sentences in Facebook (just copy and paste it). It will tell you if you’ve done something wrong. Use the Thesaurus option to check your choice of words. Practice, practice, and practice, again and again and again. Accept criticisms.
I won’t blame anyone for getting angry at me for saying these things, but I want to again reiterate that I didn’t write this piece to promote myself or to say my command of English is better than all of you. The fact is, Filipinos are still better than most non-English speaking countries as far as command of the English language is concerned. North Americans, Australians, and Europeans respect us for having this asset. Let’s keep that respect coming. Thank you!
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