Book Review: Don't Speak Good. Speak Well!

More than a decade ago, I stepped on the operations floor of a call center and started taking calls. I was fresh from product training and was excited and anxious. Before my first day ended, I took a very difficult call. To cut the story short, the caller requested for a supervisor because he couldn't understand me. I was furious and confused with his request since I was fluent in English and answered all his questions correctly. I eventually learned that he didn't understand me because of how I spoke my English. It didn't sound American-like. Although the words coming out of my lips were the English language, he couldn't understand me because I didn't have the twang. Matigas ang dila ko.

When I was still a student, English was one of my forte. I wrote and speak the language well that I joined contests at school. Even though we don't use English as our first language at home, I had a good grasp of the language because of my school. We had to speak English even if we were just to buy iced candy at the canteen. In a way, I was trained. However, when I went to college in UP, things have changed, I preferred Tagalog.

After graduation, my tongue was so used to the native language that when I spoke English, it was how most Filipinos speak English. I don't blame UP for it, it was because I chose not to practice the English language.

When I entered the BPO industry in 2003, I had to undergo a separate language enhancement training before they could place me to a regular training program. That was how bad my English pronunciation was. Through the years of learning and practice, I have developed the skill and moved from being a student to training other employees and inspiring call-center agents, to developing training materials.

I got the book, "Don't Speak Good. Speak well! Nosebleed Edition," by the American English Skills Development Center. It is a book to help guide Filipinos speak English. I can't help but reminisce my journey learning and unlearning the English language as I read the book and listened to recorded audios from their e-learning website.

First Impressions

I was surprised when I received the book because it was small, light, and very handy. You can easily slip it in your bag, carry anywhere, and read while waiting for a queue at the bank or during a coffee break. It has only 115 pages and I wondered how this short book can help Filipinos be better in English.

The Contents

The book starts with a chapter on Filipinisms, English expressions used only by Filipinos. It shows examples of expressions we use, its errors, and gives alternative phrases and sentences to use.

Divided in three parts, the book covers the rules of the English grammar, conversation strategies and expressions, and pronunciation.

Part 1

  • Parts of Speech

  • Nouns

  • Pronouns

  • Verbs

  • Modal verbs

  • Subject-verb agreement

  • Adjectives

  • Adverbs

  • Prepositions

  • Active and Passive Voice

Part 2

  • Strategies to Sound More natural when Conversing

  • Conversation Starters

  • Carrying on a conversation

  • Ending conversations

  • Expressions

  • Alternatives for over-used expressions

Part 3
This unit is best partnered with the online audio files from the website of American English. There are a lot of informative lessons on proper pronunciation. I was not able to listen to all the lessons from the e-learning platform but I can say that I am impressed on how the audio files turned out. They were clear and easy to follow. There was an error however on the file of lesson 10.5, when I clicked the player it ran the file for lesson 10.4.

The final pages contain answer keys to exercises, additional resources, and instructions on how to log on to the American English website using the product key to access audio files for pronunciation and accent practice.

Lasting Impressions

The book is a useful companion not only to those who are in the BPO industry but for all Filipinos who'd like to step-up their skills in the English language. The words used were concise yet easy to understand. The lessons were laid out in such a way that the reader will not get bored. There are also quick reviews and quizzes to help the reader strengthen their understanding of the lesson.

In addition, the e-learning platform that accompanies this book has a great collection of complementary video and audio files.

Easy. Handy. Appropriate pacing.

It is a great tool for homeschool moms like me as it serves as a review to the rules of the English language in preparation for more in-depth lessons on grammar with my kids. It serves as well as a handy collection of Filipinisms I need to remind myself not to use.

For just Php590 for this book, you can save time and thousands of pesos on English courses. The book covers the essentials you need to develop your conversational English.

To learn more about the book, check American English website and their Facebook page.