oh my english

September 3, 2014

I don’t usually do the interviewing for recruitments at FV, but sometimes when no one’s available to do it, I have to stand in and be the interviewer. Not my favourite thing to do because I like people easily and if I have to not hire them, I feel very bad. If it were up to me, I would hire everyone who takes the time to come in! Which is why Dean never lets me handle HR in the company. Hehe.

 So lately I’ve been reading resumes and cover letters and seeing the exercises that they do in their first round of interview. And there are outstanding ones of course, whether or not we end up hiring them, I’m so proud Malaysia has such talent. But then sadly there is also the other side of the spectrum; the ones I would love to hire but just can’t.

 And it all boils down to one common element, I realize. Their lack of good English, written or spoken or both. When I spoke in Malay, all’s good and I saw the spark and excitement during the interview. Then when I switched to English, some of them just curled up and the confidence I previously saw just disappeared! It was really a shame because they were good! I’m like hey hey where did that lively confident girl go?!! As an employer, when given a choice, the harsh reality is of course I will hire the one with good English. And let me tell you that it is reallyyyy slim pickings out there. And it’s worrying!

 I’ve further realised the importance of good English after I needed to scale up the company. Putting ourselves out there to thousands of customers, potential business partners, especially international ones. Everyone in the office knows how anal I am about whether or not they use it or it’s or its correctly. Or when people say “It’s depends” or “That’s means”. Or how I want to pull my hair out if someone says stuffs or staffs (NO SUCH THING, PEOPLE!).  Or how I panic and tell off the marketing team when there is a newsletter or email that goes out with a spelling error. Oh my god, I am the worst, I literally scold, especially if it’s the third time it’s happened.


A joke my colleague sent me. Cringe.

Don’t get me wrong. I too make mistakes and I know if you search through this blog, you’ll find errors for sure. But if it happens in every post or every paragraph, would you hire me to represent your company? In many instances I’ve seen companies I look up to make banners or write captions on Instagram, and there I spot an English mistake. And my heart just drops. Like nooooo, please nooooo your branding was so goodddddd. Same way I feel if I spot one made by my own company!

Most of my growing up life, I was in an all-Malay medium in school so I really don’t believe that just because you’re surrounded by Malay, Malay and more Malay that you can’t have good English. As a child, I read A LOT, and I used to read out loud so I can hear myself and pronounce words. And I would watch so many English films that I even had a little American accent as a child. It was pretty annoying, I would slap myself as a child if I knew me then. When I was studying abroad, I noticed a lot of all-Malay-only groups who can speak good English, but they’re just not confident enough to mingle with non-Malays there. Naturally, after being sooo used to all-Malay friends, their English usage slowly fades away until they lose all confidence.

I’m not sure what the education system is like now, whether it’s changed again to an all-English medium like our parents’ times. For our Gen Z’s sake, I really hope it has because as much as I love our country and our language, the world is soooo much bigger than just us and it can take us far if we can actually speak confidently to the rest of the world. Like it or not, they speak in English. Then, if the next big thing is China, pretty soon, we’re all going to have to take up Mandarin lessons together too! #cannotcatchabreak