Speaking English well

Speaking English well is not about having a native anglophone accent, e.g. Received Pronunciation and General American; but everything to do with clarity, diction and pronunciation. Think of stage actor Brendon Fernandez, television comic actor Chua En Lai, PM Lee Hsien Loong and his late father, newsreader Jill Neubronner, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and opposition politician Dr Chee Soon Juan, among others. All of them speak English well and with a Singaporean accent.

When my son performed in the showcase by the Singapore Symphony Children’s Choir that featured local conductor Darius Lim, the emcee for that event apparently tried to speak in a rhotic pseudo-American accent but committed several pronunciation errors that I could not help but wince. I am certain that there were English language teachers among the audience who thought the same way.