Is being able to speak and write in English a basis of intelligence?
No — or at least not exactly. The words “Yes” and “No” are english. We have and do stuff or things without a specific identifier in our vernacular. We speak and write in English everyday, even unconsciously.
But is having a near-perfect English grammar a basis of intelligence? IMHO, technically, yes. Why?
As far as I can remember, we have English as a subject in school from 1st grade, and the contents of the syllabus, study guide or discussions are the same — parts of speech, subject-verb agreement (S-TV-IO-DO), etc. — until 4th year high school. Only the examples being used change because we construct longer sentences. College english may be different because it has more research and writing exercises.
As defined by Merriam-Webster, INTELLIGENCE is
(1) the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (such as tests)
(2) the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations
(3) the act of understanding : COMPREHENSION
Howard Gardener’s 8 Theories of Multiple Intelligence also include the Linguistic-Verbal intelligence, which is somehow related to what this post is about.
We’ve been studying English and had exams/tests/quizzes about grammar almost our whole school-life. But I still read stuff (like simple emails from the boss(es), or even those who graduated with the highest honors) with incorrect subject-verb agreement. I mean were you able to graduate or pass the English subject yearly?
Don’t get me wrong. I honestly and definitely still have moments where I proofread/re-read (more than 5x) what I write or have written, and I still find it cringe-y because of grammatical errors. So I ask my mom or my friends if a sentence is correct, or is there a synonym for this word, or even if I used a term correctly for what I want to convey. But I think that’s the thing. We should already know what needs correction or changes and doing something about it.
Here’s how you improve in speaking and writing in English with minimal grammatical errors:
- READ anything in English. From magazines, romance pocketbooks and fictions, e-books, recipes, simple navigation or route instructions, manuals of your new gadgets, The Bible, essays, etc. It may sound boring, but reading gives you an idea of different writing styles and how words are used appropriately.
- Always have a dictionary ready. Or a thesaurus, whichever will be fine. This will also help expand your vocabulary as well as English spelling and pronunciation. I have the Merriam-Webster app on my phone. (Gotta love technology. I used to bring a mini dictionary with me all the time 😅)
- If you’re not into #1, watch English movies/TV series. This works. BIG TIME. I used to work in a call center, and people who do have the ability to turn their English-speaking-self mode on and off. During my days off, I make sure to always watch Charmed, FRIENDS, and other movies a day before my work week starts so when I go back to the office, I will have no problem in enabling my English-only mode 😆.
- Practice. Have a physical diary, or have a blog. You can start with two paragraphs, or even make a list in random but complete sentences a day. Do an “English Only Policy” challenge where you just speak the language for 24 hours when communicating with others. Then encourage them to tell you if you have improved. (This is a segue to the next one).
- Be open to other people’s comments or corrections about your grammar. Most of them mean well, especially your friends and family. There are only a few who will think that “your grammar sucks” and they’re not worth your time. Don’t be intimidated. At least you’re doing something for a better you. Self-improvement is the best “clap back” to your haters. Also, asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence.
- As much as possible, avoid reading tabloids and online grammar checker/composer. Tabloids often use informal english, slang or based in urban dictionaries. They’re not wrong, it is just that most words and phrases are made up. Also, the online grammar checkers that use A.I usually translate literally.
In summary, being able to communicate in English with correct grammar can be considered a basis of intelligence. If you think otherwise, that’s fine. But don’t let the “English isn’t a measurement of intelligence” phrase be an excuse not to learn the how-to or the basics of the language, and when others correct you.
Also, never settle in being fluent in English because it makes you sound intelligent. You should also have wit, and your way of thinking combined with your knowledge are more important. I mean you can consider yourself linguistically blessed in being able articulate your exact thought process in writing and verbally. However, if there’s no substance, those are just words.
To the people who know better, we must not look down upon or degrade anyone who do not have the same abilities that you think you have. If you claim that you’re superior, have the interpersonal intelligence to educate others in a pleasing manner. 🙂