2009 is finally here, Happy New Year to the readers of this column. I thank you for continuing to read this column as it enters another year.
The beginning of a new year always feels like the turning of a new page in a book. 2008 is now behind us and now we have to focus on the year before us.
It is a very common tradition around the world for people to set targets at the beginning of each year and working towards achieving them by the time the year reaches the half way point or simply before it comes to an end.
I have tried several times to set New Year resolutions but I must admit it is no mean feat. The problem is that in most cases we set resolutions and do not take time to think about how we shall achieve them.
When a goal is set, steps to achieve the goal must also be put in place and adhered to in order to achieve the goal.
Last year the most significant development, with regards to education, was the government’s decision to drop French and make English the language of instruction at all levels of education.
Now the trend all over the country is that of endeavouring to get in line with the new government policy. The impact of the new policy shift has not been limited to only those in school.
Thousands of Rwandans in and out of school are making an effort to learn and even communicate in the English language. On many occasions I have called several people and started a conversation in Kinyarwanda only for them to insist that I speak in English so that they can also learn the ‘Queen’s language’.
Even my regular banker at Banque Populaire Mr. Kanimba at Kabuye always indulges me in a conversation for about two minutes in English even when there are several customers waiting.
He clearly understands that constant practice of the language will go a long way in helping him to master it quickly. And by the way, he is making great progress.
I may not know Kanimba’s resolution for this year but I believe many people have declared already that they have to learn how to effectively communicate in English by the end of this year.
This is a very good resolution and trust me it is actually achievable. At the beginning it may appear like a tall order but as the Chinese love to say, a long journey starts with a single step.
It will be quite a shame if the year comes to an end when you have not made any significant progress towards achieving this goal. You will all agree that practice makes perfect and that if done then learning English may prove a much easier task.
All you have to do is get someone to regularly practice the language with. Use all available opportunities to speak, read, listen and write in English. Do not be deterred by the mistakes because it is human to err.
If this is done the year’s end will find yourself more of an Anglophone than you would have ever imagined. Another strategy I would recommend is that you buy easy-to-read story books, the ones usually written for children and learners of English.
Try to read one every month and keep trying to read more complex ones as you pick more English words. Taking formal English classes is also not a bad idea.
So as you go about setting your new year’s resolutions, you need to make them work by giving it your best so that at the end of the year you are satisfied with your plans and look forward to doing something else.
For those in the school system, the best resolution is that of working hard to be promoted to the next academic level.