BM complements English not compete
Posted by page-azimah on December 22 2015 14:39:40
Home > Metro > Views
Saturday, 14 November 2015
High time we take English seriously
by sharon ling

At the end of the day, we need to take politics out of education. Yes, political will is needed to institute reforms in the education system, but there is no place for politicking when it comes to teaching our children.
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Home > Metro > Views

Saturday, 14 November 2015
High time we take English seriously

by sharon ling

Poor language proficiency is harming our youth’s future

AN all-too-familiar issue resurfaced this week with reports that young doctors and medical graduates are struggling with poor proficiency in English.

Their weak English is the main reason some 1,000 medical graduates ended their ambition of becoming doctors. Concerns were also raised over the poor command of the language among new doctors.

“It is not just a problem among medical undergraduates. We can detect similar problems with young doctors.

“With all due respect, it is apparent in hospitals when they do their presentations and converse with their peers and seniors,” medical deans council of public universities chairman Prof Datuk Dr Raymond Azman Ali was reported as saying.

He added that this would affect how they communicate with patients and their counterparts, including presenting or publishing their work as 90% of journals were in English.

“How do you expect them to comprehend medical theses and help patients if they cannot understand them in the first place?” he asked.

It’s a fair question, and probably one that is on the lips of many Malaysians.

The declining standard of English is not a new problem, nor is it limited to the medical profession. It cuts across all sectors and age groups in the country.

Recently Pemandu released three videos on the importance of English proficiency and the dire state among students. In the videos, teachers lamented that many students lacked even basic grammar and struggled to write 300-word essays, while students who were interviewed either went blank or answered in the vernacular.

But they understood the importance of English and, along with parents and teachers, called for the language to be given more prominence in schools.

Pemandu had earlier conducted an online survey on the importance of English-language proficiency, with questions such as “Would you consider some subjects in school to be taught in another language besides Bahasa Malaysia”,

“In your opinion, should some subjects in schools be taught in English to improve students’ proficiency in the language?” and “Do you think teaching other subjects in English would reduce the importance of Bahasa Malaysia as our national language?”

The second video said that 54,250 people had responded to the survey, with 99% agreeing that proficiency and exposure in English needed to be increased in schools.

This overwhelming percentage underlines what many of us have felt for a long time. Indeed, there has been much lamenting about the decline in English proficiency over the years and many calls and proposals have been made to address the situation.

Yet here we are once again wringing our hands over the poor grasp of English in our students and graduates.

Now the Government has come up with the Highly Immersive Programme (HIP) and Dual Language Programme (DLP) to improve English standards in schools. The Prime Minister also announced this week that a special taskforce has been set up to ensure that graduates from local universities have a good command of the language to enhance their marketability.

This may be a step in the right direction but let’s be honest, we’ve been there before when new programmes and policies have been announced in relation to English, yet there has been little improvement.

So much has already been said about what needs to be done, from empowering teachers and schools to teach English effectively to a complete overhaul of our education system and the way we approach the teaching and learning of English.

We also need to get our heads around the idea that mastering English will in no way affect Bahasa Malaysia’s status as the national language. In fact, it is possible to be fluent in both languages, with each complementing, not competing, with the other.

At the end of the day, we need to take politics out of education. Yes, political will is needed to institute reforms in the education system, but there is no place for politicking when it comes to teaching our children.

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