Well its about time the Education Ministry comes up with this idea. After all these years nothing much has been done to alleviate the weakness of our students in English. Yes is it true the Ministry implemented the PPSMI to help and prepare the students in the real world of science and technology which i think has helped a lot in improving students performance but if we look at the big picture it failed tremendously to help the majority of the students who have problems in the language itself. Let us reflect how much PPSMI has done to help the students especially those who are in the rural area? And not to forget the Science and Mathematics teachers. To what extent have their performance in the area of teaching english in science and mathematics improved?
From my observation, it is sad to say, they have learned nothing. After spending millions, the results do not reflect the amount of money and time we spent to help those teachers to use English to teach the subject. One of my students came to see me and complained about the teacher who used 100% BM teaching Biology. I couldnt answer her and it was quite an embarrassment to the teacher and to me as well. How can a class of weak students have the opportunity to improve if they are taught those subjects which sound gibberish to them?
Ironically , all the PPSMI teachers from my school failed in their PPSMI Exam conducted in the mid of June 2008. They either obtained Band 2 or 1. The passing band is Band 3. I was the Team Leader of a group of English teachers conducting Speaking Assessment to all the PPSMI in my areaand it 95% from nearly 1200 PPSMI teachers in my area,were unable to speak acceptable english during their speaking test. Based on feedbacks from the Writing Test , their performance were so bad . Even graduate teachers couldnt even string a good sentence. So E-Tems failed terribly and miserably in its quest to help those teachers.
While it is good that the government is willing to relax its stance on continuing PPSMI and try a new altenative, but we need to be mindful that whatever decision we are making, we cant afford to be make decision based on political views. If that the case, Im sure the implementation would fail. Whatever we do, it has to be for the sake of the children, not to involve politics. Lets there'll be no controversies otherwise it could jeopardise our aims to arm the students be it domestically or internationally.
One of the problems will be encounter in the initial stage of implementing the new alternative is that do we have enough manpower aka English teachers?? Of course our very own local universities offer TESL( Teaching of English as Second Language) to students but the question is how good they are ? Are they fully prepared? Or are they Linguistically Competent in teaching the language? Im not so sure about that. The reason is that most of the graduates are ill prepared.I was also horrified to learn that this local graduates are not competent. This is due to the fact that theire command of English is in question here. It is sad to see that Fresh TESL teachers nowadays are not on par. From my experience i notice that most of them whom i talked to were unable to use grammatically correct english while communicating with others. So it is not a surprise to read their writing piece with gross grammatical errors especially the "Subject Verb Agreement". It makes me wonder who is at fault here? The students? or the ministry? To me, in order to be an English teacher, there are many aspects we need to decide whether they are eligible. The most important element is their proficiency in all the four skills in English but i guess those people in the ministry have overlooked this important element and now they live to tell all about it. As a result they can barely make good public speeches and unable to use proper grammar due to their limited linguistic skills. So how are they going to teach appropriately??
1. Teach Grammar separately from the main English Language. As for now the teaching of English is merely on communicative English. So they students still are having hard time understand the structural part of it. At the moment schools are only alloted 5 periods of English subject. So it would be better if i considerable time to be allocated for teaching grammar as well.
2. Yes make it compulsory to pass English Subject . So students would be more motivated to learn the subject so they will be able to function domestically or internationally. Offer more perks for those who obtain distinction in that subject such as scholarships. loans and other things that they ministry see fit.
3. Similar to PPSMI , Im of the opinion that they ministry should allow a period or time, say make it 5 years to allow students to learn English and by the time they are sitting for SPM they will be able to pass the subject. So it will be fair for all. Otherwise the students in rural school would lose out to those in the Urbans.
4. Make sure that only genuine candidates to be given the opportunity to teach English. Only accept those who obtain A1 or A2 in their SPM or Band 4 onwards in MUET. Of course elegibility or assessment test must be conducted to ensure validity. Make sure they fully have operational command of the spoken language. It means they are able to handle communication in most situations, including unfamiliar or unexpected ones.and also ble to use accurate and appropriate linguistic resources to express complex ideas and concepts and produce extended discourse that is coherent otheriwise it would be impossible for them to deliver especially in the secondary school.
5. Teach English as a language and not as a subject. Make Malaysian interested in the language before getting to master English. This is the first priority the ministry has to deal with. Im sure they will get a lot of problems from other non governmental organisations such as GAPENA and the oppositions and in the end the Government will be branded as unpatriotic for deliberately worshipping or glorifying colonial language than its own . It means they are going to get less votes from the voters and BN cannot afford to take that chances. I know its a Herculean task,So please no politics.
Of course to implement this, it cannot be done overnight. Im sure it will be a success in future if all of us join hands to overcome whatever obstacles before us.