It is about time for me to post my first article here on Nciku. To tell the truth, when the finger pointing, name calling incident was happening to me a while ago, it was also my busiest time writing my second term report cards. I was stressed out with final evaluations and report cards writing while all the heated debates were going on in my cyber backyard. I didn’t really have time to pull my thoughts together then. Now the reports are done, signed, and ready to go home, I can finally kick back and ponder what to write next.
I actually have cold feet testing the water here on Nciku. Like many other old friends I met online, I have put a lot of time and effort into promoting the daily communication in English (in all four areas of expressive and receptive language skills). Learning a language is like playing the piano. The only way to improve the skill is to practice consistently. Unfortunately, unlike playing the piano, a language is a tool for communication. You cannot practice the language alone behind the locked door for ever. At some point in time, you do have to put it to use.
A social site, either Nciku or the “orange one”, is a great place for people to come practice their language skills through the exchange of different opinions. People, however, are funny creatures and like to fill in the blanks in their own mind. A rumour is such a nasty thing! Just because I always write and post my articles in English, it does not mean that I snub writers in Chinese. Some readers like to read the conversation posted between two people and immediately fill in the blanks with assumption of their own. Dichotomy continues to be at play in many instances; if I were not black, I must be white. What kind of logic is that? Do I really have to pick a side for “either or”? Why can’t I be somewhere in between or simply offer a totally different third opinion? I always think that different opinions and voices should be heard and respected as long as with good intention and courtesy. Respect should be valued and practiced!
People might have different philosophy when it comes to learning a new language. They tend to use their own learning experiences as the ruler of measure to judge how the others should learn. We are all creatures of judgment and I am no exception! After teaching for so many years, one thing I have learned is that all students, regardless their abilities, can learn at their own pace and in their own way. Every student has their special learning style just like each individual teacher has their own unique way of teaching. There is no right or wrong as long as you are in pursuit of your goal. One’s strategy may not be another’s cup of tea. No matter which way strikes your fancy, a consistent practice is always the key to successfully learning a language.
I am all for putting the language into practice in our everyday life. Inter-communication among friends reduces the stress and formality of learning. Through the interactive exchange in a foreign language, we actually utilize the skills we’ve learned and enhance our ability to express in a more natural and spontaneous manner. Those people who participate in the exchange of thoughts also indirectly help shape the characteristics of the cyber community and create a cyber culture. I have to admit that the greatest blessing that I have received is the precious friendship established through the online community. Who would believe that I could make so many good friends online?
I am indebted to all my friends’ great sense of humour, encouragement, and persistent support to help me make it to this far. Hopefully, no one would have to go through the same horrible experience and be judged by a whole bunch of people who know nothing about the person of discussion or the essence of the matter. Every cyber citizen can choose what and how much he or she wants to contribute to a discussion; however, no one should abuse the true power of “freedom of speech” and use it as a tool for personal attack on others. We have to be responsible for the words we choose to say in public. A respectful attitude should the guiding light in the cyber realm as well as in the world of reality.