Learning English

English has always been one of the toughest subjects throughout my schooling days. It was even worse in the elementary classes, and it would totally leave me in a state of hopeless. Although Mathematics wasn't my thing either while in primary classes (surprisingly I am majoring in Mathematics now!), I thought it was quite straight forward. We could practice, memorize formulas, and apply it accordingly! It was more of a puzzle game; if you try doing it again and again, you become good at it. But English doesn't have that sort of direct formulas. Let me be clear here, heres my confession: I don't know seriously!
It was in one of the English classes in Tshebar Lower Secondary School, Pema Gatshel, Bhutan, where I happened to ask question to an English Teacher in quest of solving my doubts. The lesson of the day was on "Present Tense, Past Tense, and Simple Present Tense", and I was stuck more with the latest one-the simple present tense. I appreciated the fact that the teacher tried his best to explain to us, but I somehow couldn't get it the logic behind. My main problem aroused when I saw some verbs ending with "s" while some were not. I still remember the teacher repeatedly saying something like "...first person singular, first person plural, second person singular...third person plural..." That made me even more confused!
However, I couldn't dare raise my hand, and request him to explain it more clearly. The doubts just got piled up, and I lost all connections regarding verbs, noun, pronouns and et al. At that hapless moment, luckily he happened to walk by the aisle leading to the back row. I hesitantly interrupted him, and ask him the questions. "Sir, why that verb has "s" at the end, while some others are not?" Sir looked back to the Backboard, and clarified :"Oh, it is simple. When its a repeated thing, then you use "s" after verb. For example, you eat food every day, so it will be like that 'Pema eats food everyday.' Okay?" Wow, thats simple?! I thought. But I feel ashamed of myself for not able to understand even that simple thing. So I thanked him, and proceeded with the exercise. I thought, and thought until I came up with a very interesting sentence. My thought process was that since I go to school everyday, my sentence about that would make a perfect sense. So I wrote, "I goes to School everyday", and with full of excitement proceeded to the teacher's desk upfront. As expected, he said "Excellent! You understood now," and rewarded me with a huge tick (correct) mark!!! By the way, in those days it was our stereotype that number of correct marks that we had obtained over the year determines the smartness of the student. I felt so happy to see my statistic go up!
Believe it or not, that powerful explanation of my teacher lived with me till I graduate high School, and reach here to the university which I am currently in. It wasn't until I came here that I knew it (the sentence I wrote in my class) was an awfully wrong sentence. Being a non-native english speaker, I had to do three months of Intensive English Course prior to the start of main academic courses. I had a tough time conversing with fellows for they didn't seem to understand even a single sentence that I spoke with them. I felt so ashamed, and sorry about my english. Literally, I learnt the "real" english during that three month long intensive course.
Now the issue is that our country in those days lacked qualified teachers who could really teach English. They were not only Bhutanese, but also just class ten graduates with a few years of training. The quality of Education which our government really stresses on would not be achievable unless best, and qualified teachers are recruited. Even more so, since our schools are English medium schools-all subjects except Language taught in English, without sound English background, whole charm of learning is lost.


  1. Hi Pema, i was very moved by this articles being me as one of the teacher trainee and at the same time englih being my subject.... i too was worried how could i convience my students. It also let me remember sir kinley,when at tshebar teaching our class, i too was enlight with some of his lesson in grammar............ thank u it was the piece of fact that u brought to ur life connection...................

  2. Yes indeed, we are equally grateful for our teachers. What and where we are right now is fully because of our tireless teachers.
    By the way, thanks for liking it.


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