Friday, August 07, 2009

My Take on the issues of Teaching English

Much has been said about the need to improve students and teachers'English Proficiency. The Government has indeed made plans to get this done. Millions of Ringgit will be spent in order to achieve this. As the Education Minister said, they are going to bring in Aussie University to share their experience in helping students to master English. Well, in my opinion, after teaching ENGLISH more that 19 years , even getting teachers from Australia or Britain will be fruitless. I think our present local Universities have done a good job in producing TESL Teachers. Afterall we are following their techniques and methods in teaching. Books, articles or even research texts are easily available in the University's inventory. I do not see any good in spending more money implementing plans hastily which we dont even know the level of success yet.

What we need to do is to change the students' attitude. In order to do that we need to educate the parents. After all these years their mind have been set to reject English. Most parents in rural area are not well educated. Most of them are farmers,working in the palm oil estates, fisherman and other low income sectors. From my experience these students did badly in their academics, what more English? well we need a miracle to achieve that vision. What makes the Ministry think they could solve this problem by having specially trained English teachers ? The way I see it we have to bear in mind that their(Australia) success in helping students in rural schools is largely due to the fact that Australia's First language is English . In the contrary ours is Bahasa Melayu.Their language of instruction is English so its easier to get them to master English there.

Secondly i am of the opinion that the ministry should build a language lab specially for learning English. As we know children learn language by exposure and hands on. Im sure the present computer lab in schools is a perfect place to be utilised for that purpose. Rather than spending money on getting their expertise, i think it is more relevant to develop their language mastery by having more practice. This is even better as the language lab can motivate them instead of boring conventional English class.

Yes i do support the ministry move to make it compulsory for form 5 students to pass their English in SPM Level. But why do we need to just merely adopting the rules to the SPM Students? why not Form 3 students? By doing this we will be able to detect students' success rate of the language as early as UPSR or PMR. So they do not have problems sitting for them SPM English paper later.

Lastly, i do hope that the ministry to monitor closely the students who are enrolling TESL course in Universities. These students are going to be English teacher and they should have all it takes to be one. They should be chosen on merits. This is to prevent further embarrassment to the eduction ministry later as for now we can identify a lot of these English teachers who fare poorly especially in their grammar knowledge. I do see lots of English teachers who do not even know what is Subject Verb agreement. This is a very serious issue.

There are lots of measures to be taken for that purpose but i guess that the ministry people have their own point of view concerning the teaching of English. Whatever it is
i hope before they implement anything , they should consult the teachers' view. They never know they could generate more ideas which are not time consuming and expensive.

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