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There is general consensus among parents that there is vast room for improvement in the teaching and learning of English. (From left) Jeythevan Partiban, 37, Nik Noradriana Thani Norzrul, 28, Zamri Che Roos, 39, Shahrul Nizam Sulaiman, 46. — Pix by Asrol Ali
There is general consensus among parents that there is vast room for improvement in the teaching and learning of English. (From left) Jeythevan Partiban, 37, Nik Noradriana Thani Norzrul, 28, Zamri Che Roos, 39, Shahrul Nizam Sulaiman, 46. — Pix by Asrol Ali
KUALA LUMPURThe preliminary findings of the Cambridge English Language Assessment on the learning, teaching and assessment of the English language in Malaysia has sparked mixed reactions among parents. The findings, which revealed “positive indications”, was presented to Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during his recent visit to London. Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, announced that the results showed that “85% of students were interested in learning English and more than 97% of teachers teaching the subject were interested in the subject”. The report further said it was shown that 37% of English teachers in primary schools belonged to the C1 and C2 categories, which meant that they were qualified to teach English.The Rakyat Postconducted a poll to gauge feedback from parents in the city. There were mixed reactions shown towards the results, but the majority agreed that much could be done to improve fluency of English in schools. Jeythevan Partiban, 37, an owner of an Ayurveda centre, said he was not convinced that English competency among teachers in government schools was satisfactory. “Most of the people I know are unhappy about (English) teachers in schools. This is caused by the competency level of teachers, which is worse than that of many students in a lot of cases.” The father of one said that although he could afford to send his child to a private school, he preferred that his child went through mainstream curriculum at a government school. But he was now rethinking his preference due to the poor level of English taught in government schools. “The government must be progressive in implementing English medium schools as fluency in English will benefit the nation. “Many foreign investors come to Malaysia as English is widely used. I believe with greater proficiency, the nation will enjoy better economy.” Nik Noradriana Thani Norzrul, 28, an active blogger and former lecturer expressed her concern about how English was being taught in primary schools, especially for children who did not use it at home. The mother of two said: “I regard English as a first language and have experienced the phonetic reading approach practised at the private Montessori pre-school my children attended. “I have noticed that in the first month of primary school, my eldest has had to adapt to a ‘memorisation’ approach to reading and spelling. “This is proving to be quite a challenge even for someone who speaks English proficiently. So, I wonder what it might be like for children from rural areas who are only exposed to English at school.” Adriana felt that (teaching English) was not just the duty of both parents and teachers, but also that of society as a whole. Echoing Jeythevan’s view, she said that English was thelingua francaof our time and we needed to realise this and make English a priority in schools, homes and community. However, driver Zamri Che Roos ,39, agreed with the results of the study, which stated that English in schools was at a good standard. However, he felt that the current system benefited children who used English as a first language more than those who did not. “Primary school teachers usually expect children to know basic English. This only works for those who speak English at home. But those from the low- and middle-income brackets commonly use their mother tongue at home. “This will be an obstacle for these children to adapt to learning English in schools.” The father of four children expressed his desire to have his children more competent in speaking English through greater exposure to the language in schools. “I feel like my children lack competency in English as they have not been taught the language since young. My children went to a Malay-medium kindergarten. I think it will benefit children to learn English from a young age.” Senior manager of communications Shahrul Nizam Sulaiman, 46, said Malaysians should give credit to the government for its efforts to promote the teaching and learning of English. He cited studies which showed that Malaysians were ranked among the most proficient in English compared with other Asian nations. He believed that the government’s efforts had been positive. “Having said that, the teaching and learning of English has to happen both in school and at home.” He did not say the lessons in schools were insufficient. However, he admitted that parents had to play a larger role in a child’s education by sending children for tuition.  

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