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Why the bad English?

BN does not need to spend another RM10 million to hire Mckinsey Consultants to prepare 1000 pages report.

My dear Muhyiddin Yassin, my first answer is not Malay first, Malaysian last.

This letter is a bitter experience sum-up from a victim under the new educational system introduced in 1972. The generations borne in 60s and afterward are condemned for poor English instead of the fault of our own system.

The government has to look at the system itself and rectifies all weaknesses in the system, otherwise the grouse on bad English will be repeated year after year for another 50 years by our ministers, employers and parents as well.

First, our English teachers especially in the rural areas are POOR and incompetent. English grammar can be taught and grasped by any students easily if the methodology used is right and simple. There is a certain pattern and formula for the English grammar, but sadly most our English teachers have never learned about it.

Besides, how many local English teachers can teach English phonetics subject to students? My nephew in Singapore had learned English phonetics at the age of six in the kindergarten, he pronounced every single word on The Star main page to me when he was just six years old.

There was no English teacher during my form one in a rural school for one whole year. The teachers assigned to teach English in my remote class, form 2 and 3 are not qualified English teachers.

It is too late for any student to catch up when he/she enters form 4 and 5 for weak foundation and poor grasp of vocabulary in English.

Second, English is seen as unimportant subject for no distinction passing mark is compulsory in the public examinations, and MUET’s band 1 only (no band at all for some universities) for admission requirement to public universities.

Third, no conducive environment to practice English as practices make perfect rule cannot be followed with above 99% parents in the rural speak no English.

Fourth, Malay or Chinese dubbing in English TV programs hinder the normal learning English process. The brain is forced to translate English to Malay or Chinese and vice-versa is a screw-up or ineffective learning method for any language.

Malaysia also needs a special English TV channel if government is serious to make English, an effective and popular business communication language in the commerce sector.

Fifth, some Malay nationalists and Chinese chauvinists demonizing English as the colonist’s language. In fact, these people object English due to their retarded brain, unable to learn a new language, not because they are more patriotic.

Why the bad English?

New Straits Times
Sunday, Aug 07, 2011

By Rizalman Hammim

LABIS – Are teachers incompetent, or school books unsuitable?

The Education Ministry will look at these factors to determine why students continue to have a poor grasp of the English language.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also education minister, said the ministry would review the curriculum with regard to the teaching of English as well as identify the reasons behind students’ poor command of the language.

Muhyiddin said even after learning the language for 13 years at primary, secondary and matriculation levels, some students still could not master English.

“I have no answers for this problem. I will ask the (Education) director-general to review the English curriculum to find out the reasons behind the problem.

“Is it because the teachers are not competent or there are not enough teachers, or because the books are not suitable?We can’t ignore this anymore.” He said this during his visit to SMK Maokil here yesterday.

Present were Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan, Bukit Serampang assemblyman Tahir Taat and school principal Noor Hashimah Hassan.

He said many parents were worried when the ministry changed its policy from the Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI) to the Upholding the Malay Language, Strengthening Command of English (MBMMBI) policy.

“They were concerned that English would be ignored and considered as unimportant.

“This is a wrong assumption.

As the education minister, I have always stressed the importance of mastering English as a second language as it is a language for international trade.” He said students must be given the opportunity and exposure to speak and understand both languages.

During the visit, Muhyiddin presented awards to the school’s top Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia students of last year.

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great thinker says:

“Fourth, Malay or Chinese dubbing in English TV programs hinder the normal learning English process. The brain is forced to translate English to Malay or Chinese and vice-versa is a screw-up or ineffective learning method for any language.”

I strongly disagree with this. Think of it, after decades of airing cartoons in English, why people never improve their command of English, while in Europe, people grow up to speak English impeccably despite little or no exposure to the language on TV?

To me, the prevalence of English in kids’ TV is actually putting off many parents from English as it would be seen as a malignant cultural influence. Airing so many English cartoons, and only making websites in English for local consumption, in a country not culturally defined by English proved COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE to efforts to make Malaysians appreciate English.

This “English vs native languages” thing is a global issue, too, even in UK where there are native minority languages like Welsh and Gaelic. After a century or so of stuffing English in the mouths of the Welsh, Irish and Scots, the central government now makes up for its sins by opening Welsh-medium and Gaelic-medium schools where kids learn maths and science in those languages. You respect their native tongue, they respect yours.

nkkhoo says:

Your watching cartoon example is like teaching maths and science to our pupils in English.

How on earth our kids who have never learned English grammar and vocabulary can master English by just watching English cartoon shows on TV?

My nephews in Singapore have to learn English from the school, not from English cartoon shows. Of course, there are few genius who can learn any foreign languages by just watching TV soap operas.

European languages have strong similarity with English, therefore they can master English faster than Malaysians or other Asians.

great thinker says:

Exactly, but if you read my comment more thoroughly, you’d know I have weighed on the ‘cultural’ aspect of the issue. The ‘respect’ part, you know. It cannot be denied PPSMI arguments have spilt into concerns of cultural sensitivities (like “BM is dying because of PPSMI”) and I wanna suggest ways to make people stop believing that English will kill BM. That’s why I’m for dubbing.

nkkhoo says:

Malay dubbing still can going on for Mandarin and Hindustan movies, let the English movies clean as what have been enjoyed by native speakers.

Learning by translation is one main obstacle in mastering any language.

great thinker says:

“Malay dubbing still can going on for Mandarin and Hindustan movies” – won’t that offend a larger group of people (Chinese and Indians)? Sheesh. You could’ve said Japanese and Korean instead.

“Learning by translation is one main obstacle in mastering any language”

Have you attended a foreign language course before? To learn new languages at our age we need to be instructed in a language we already understand to better grasp the grammar of the language we are about to acquire.

nkkhoo says:

Start learning a new language is different with thinking with a language in your brain.

I see many Mainland Chinese writing English in Chinese grammar. That is learning by translation.

You have to shut down other languages when you use a certain language.

Sam Utd says:

No worry for the MARA folks as they are taught Cambridge curriculum in English?

And our dpm deprived the rest of us PPSMI!!!