by Rudy Irawan Kadjairi
When I used to teach English to foreign students in Singapore, I saw young minds determined to make good of the opportunities accorded to them at such a young age.
These were “young adults” no older than 15-16 years, left on their own in a foreign land, and expected to deliver on their academic prowess.
They came mostly from China, Vietnam, Indonesia. Most of them were respectful. Most were hungry to learn. All of them wanted to be successful.
I did the best I could to excite their senses for the English language; there were countless quizzes, treasure hunts, debates, mysteries to solve, etc.
But my favourite tool was always to play the music from the greats, and going line by line of the lyrics to get these young minds to think about analogies, innuendos, references, interpretations, assumptions, presumptions….and how language could be used to powerful effect to sway hearts, opinions and imagination.
I would play songs like Saltwater by Julian Lennon, When A Blind Man Cries by Deep Purple, Imagine by John Lennon, Mr Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan, One by U2, Mad World by Tears for Fears……
I just wanted my students to understand how words, when used carefully and creatively, could influence others in ways they may not even have been intended.
And here’s my point I’m trying to get at:
I find that lacking in our current leadership, whether they be from the ruling party, or, from the alternative political parties trying to usurp the former.
We have not heard anything inspiring, hardly anything rallying, nothing that would spur a unanimous sense of collective pride and unity.
The language of our current leadership seem bound to things that are scripted, stoic, obvious and too deliberate. Of late, the language used has been divisive.
There doesn’t seem to be anything natural about the way they speak or orate. Almost everything sounds like they’re being held up by a hidden agenda. And they always end up sounding how it comes out – awkward.
Their lack of verbosity, effusiveness and passion with their words are exactly why so many in this country are left disillusioned, demotivated and detached.
Is it any wonder why we find ourselves in the state we are in?
I think some of my former students would do far better in delivering rallying speeches, fiery ones even.