When we speak of flowering, we mean becoming beautiful or becoming mature, complete, productive. In a sense, we are thinking of proficiency. The full beauty of the English language is available to us when we are proficient in its use.
Learning English can seem like a journey through a long, cold winter. But there’s hope with every flower.
It begins with the snowdrops. Your first few words. “How are you?” or “1, 2, 3, 4, 5”.
Then a crocus pushes through. “I’m Peter. What’s your name?”
The crocus is joined by others, purple, yellow…. and in the same way, the range of your vocabulary increases.
Here in Wales we celebrate our national day, 1st March, by remembering our patron saint, David. Unusually, we have two national emblems, the leek and the daffodil.
Daffodils are everywhere in March. Their sunny yellow heads shine and make us smile. Like the feeling you get when you use “I swim” and “I am swimming” correctly. It fills you with happiness. It’s a solid foundation for learning more English and fleshing out your sentences, just as daffodils and St David provide strong traditions on which Wales and her people can build an exciting future.
But the daffodils are not alone. This spring, the primroses were magnificent. Hiding in every corner, the way you shyly experiment with new phrases.
While over their heads are branches full of magnolia blossom, showy, magnificent. Your favourite idiomatic expressions, the ones that make you sound for a moment like a confident native speaker, are there to be displayed. So use them!
Spring has arrived in all its glory!
Daisies are joined by buttercups. You learn to manipulate verbs in different tenses. The heavenly sight of wisteria against a fading stone wall. The specialist vocabulary that so impresses your colleagues.
The shock of a red poppy, surprising us in a field or garden. Those occasions when you use a word or phrase and wonder “How did I know that? Where did it come from?”
When roses are blooming, we approach them closely to appreciate their delicate scent. Sometimes a thorn catches us and draws blood. You have to concentrate your ear to understand a new accent, but the effort is worthwhile.
Summer is here and the development of your English sees you gathering resources.
Some plants provide food for hungry caterpillars. You nourish your English on grammar and song lyrics, novels and newsfeeds or the latest TV series from the USA.
When a chrysalis opens, a butterfly is revealed. It is a fragile thing but utterly beautiful. Tiny buds also open, allowing us to see the full depth of their colours and breathe their fragrance. Your transformation from someone who is learning English into someone who speaks English is almost complete.
By autumn, chrysanthemums are in abundance, the complex layers of their petals enhancing their hues. Your English is enriched by the various styles you have come across in your reading and listening. Your efforts are beginning to bear fruit.
Christmas roses come at a time of celebration. Even when the holly stabs us, we love its glowing red berries. As a fluent speaker of English, you are infuriated by the mistakes you still make. But you find joy in your command of the language. You understand the precise meaning when others speak and write. You are able to express yourself without hesitation.
How does this magic happen? What does it take to bring about this change, from seed to bud to bloom?
Flowering is a natural process, requiring water, sun and nutrients from the soil.
Your curiosity, your interest in others, in other cultures, is what drives your desire to learn and speak English. It is the water that sustains you on your journey to fluency.
The glow you feel when you receive encouragement from native speakers is your sunshine. In every brief conversation, every chance encounter that proves you can speak English and you do understand native speakers, you feel its warm rays.
Your essential nutrients are the resources you have at your disposal. Audiobooks are a great way to improve your intonation and pronunciation. Try TED talks at https://www.ted.com/ or listen to the BBC World Service.
Like plants, we have an urge to grow. We need to communicate. You force yourself through the hard earth to bloom and speak. Your determination is the key to your success.
Are you ready to flower? Wherever you are on your journey to proficiency, you know that frequent speaking practice is essential. Make it happen.