Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Chinese Educated English

My earlier post discussed the attempt by our Minister of Education to "placate" the Malay language nationalists to less antagonistic towards the promotino and the use of English language by asserting that "English is Malaysian". However, the Malay language nationalists are not the only community in Malaysia that needs a major change in mindset.

It is my opinion that the Chinese educationist die-hards require a substantial shift in the way they treat the English language as well. While I completely respect their right to their independence and freedom of thought, their resistance to even simple things like teaching Mathematics and Science in English is causing an entire generation of Chinese students to be inept in the language.

I've "complained" often with regards to the quality of English of many of my job applicants, particularly those from Chinese schools background, giving many anecdotes of the candidates writing skills in their application forms and resumes. However, I've just read a post by Rosalind on her blog which I thought was quite funny (in a dark sort of way) :)

In her own words, she was "bitching" about the standards of English amongst the Chinese educated student crowd. They:
1) Cannot speak proper English

2) Do not take the initiative to speak English in college (in class) to further improve their conversation skill in that language

3) Think that English speaking or Kebangsaan school students are arrogant and would look down on them

4) Blamed their lecturers when they fail to put their thoughts into words so to deliver a proper (understandable) answer in the exam which in the end will either cause them to get a weak grade or a fail.

5) Prefered not to talk to English speaking students because they do not want to speak to them back in English
Currently, while she is pursuing her degree at a private college:
...90% of the students in my tutorial are chinese ed students (those typical, never like to speak English at all kinda chinese ed students). These group of people would always be the ones working extra hard to pass their final exams at the end of every semester. When I say extra hard, I meant to say that they have to read their notes repeatedly and then translate it into Mandarin to understand those notes better.

Lecturers and tutors often find it tough to teach them because they would have to go at a slower pace during lectures and some had to be more lenient when marking the assignments as some of these students are a lil weak in their written English.
How-lah like that? :) While Rosalind may just have generalised a bit with regards to Chinese educated fellow students in her eagerness to "bitch" ;), there's more than a grain of truth in most of what she said.

I've blogged about "Chinese vs National schools" (part I and part II) and this is one of the main reasons why I'm hesitant about sending my daughter to a Chinese school (although I've not decided yet...). I'm certain that the Chinese education authorities can do much better than this.

92 comments:

thquah said...

To have an additional language is sure an advantage in the working world.I was so handicap in this (not Mandarin ed) ,so I have decided to send my 2 kids to Chinese ed.primary school and they are doing pretty well. Now both in secondary national type school.I can say they managed well in their studies.

globalsan said...

I always observe that Chinese-ed and English-ed students behaves differently. The latter group tends to be overt and vocal than the former. May be I am making a stereotype from what I have often observed. Any takers ?


What I would like say here is that, the former group could complement their experience with
reading of more novel books in English or joining co-curicular activities enables them to interact with those English-ed students.

I have recently read one good article regarding the goal of education process. The end of day, we want the children to have a balance worldview, to develop an inquitive mind, the courage to challenge new things, and the ability to enjoy the pleasure of life.

S-Kay said...

Ah...I've been mentioned twice on your blog already =)

I had my opinions bout sending kids to chinese schools here :

http://skay.blogdrive.com/archive/80.html

S-Kay said...

And thquah : I'm glad your kids are managing well...you must have put in alot of effort in guiding them as well =)

Parents who send their kids to chinese schools should really be there for their kids and guide them well up till secondary level. Once they're alright with the syllabus in their high schools then you know that they have adapted well and will not have any super serious problems in their studies especially when they step into uni.

Oon said...

When the Chinese educationalists fight for Chinese medium instruction -- even at the expense of English -- it's not just an education issue. Who doesn't want their children to be good in English? It's a cultural and socio-political issue as well. To these people (who are usually political in nature anyway), preserving the Chinese language in schools is a symbol of the last bastion of Chinese rights in this country. UMNO can get away with anything it wants when it comes to quotas and affirmative action programs for the Bumis. What no serious UMNO leader can get away with is doing away with the Chinese school system. If they did that, or even attempted to do anything close to that, there would be a serious revolt among the Chinese community. Most of us see English being used for Science and Math as purely an education issue. So, we have no problems with that. But for the Chinese educationalists, this is a slippery slope situation. Today, they take away Science and Math. Tomorrow, what's next? Thus the big fuss.

Jessy said...

I agree with you.
While perserving Chinese language, we should not neglect the importance of English.
In my opinion, the best way is to teach Maths and Science in both language.

~Jessy~

S-Kay said...

Then poor lil kids would be loaded with more work because they have to do Science & Maths in both languages. That way, no parents would want to send their kids to chinese schools anymore. Kids in these schools would be burdened with bus loads of work that they don't have time to socialise and it'll turn them into a total anti-social which would eventually affect them when going into the workforce.

Abydos One said...

Quote:
"their resistance to even simple things like teaching Mathematics and Science in English is causing an entire generation of Chinese students to be inept in the language."

I presume you are referring to the primary schools? If so, I disagree. Forgive my insolence but I think young minds have the rights & should be given the chance to know the world by being taught using their mother language. It is a non-arguable "belief" that children, especially young childrens tend to know or obtain new ideas more easily if they were to be educated in their native language. And I don't find any reasons that being chinese-educated at a young age would bring any profound implications to being inept in a specific language when they grow up.

This is a very personal matter, you can be very good in Bahasa when you're young and still good in English or Mandarin later on in life, provided you take the initiative to "deepen" your linguistic skills, which all of us should. Personally I come from a Chinese-Primary school, & ended up in a half govt & privately subsidised Chinese-Secondary school. I do not find the language a barrier to my understanding of lectures or in my social life. Adding to it, my colleagues having the same background as I do had no such problems either, we read English novels & Chinese ones alike, & benefit from both.

The bottom line is, any knowledge can be acquired as long as the right attitude is present. Any individual can be the kind of person he or she wants to be not because they were shaped to be but they chose to be. AND there shouldnt be any judgement made too early on primary school children being inept in anything because they're not done with education yet!

S-Kay said...

Quote, "The bottom line is, any knowledge can be acquired as long as the right attitude is present"

True BUT will the child by himself acquire the knowledge? Majority, won't. Majority know the importance of the language but they just couldn't care less about improving themselves in that language.

Only children with full proper guidance by their parents would excel in both languages (for chinese schooled children)

Tony P said...

Hey Abydos One,

Thanks for your comments. :) Note that I have absolutely no problems with the "right" to learn science, maths etc etc etc. in Chinese (as emphasised in the article).

What I disagree with you (and what is rightly pointed out by Oon) will be the fact that the later the children, particular those not from English speaking backgrounds get exposed to English, the likelihood that they will be fairly weak in their English language skills increases tremendously. This is a well-recognised fact in the scientific-linguistic community. The older you get, the harder to pick up a new language (barring talented exceptionals).

While fighting the "preserve" the right to teach in Chinese may be the politically honourable thing to do, this is resulting in the negative externality of weak English. I don't consider my English perfect (got a B3 for my 'O' Levels) but seeing the quality of English I get from some of the top students, it really makes you weep. This, I believe, is partially the direct consequence of the total lack of exposure to an English environment in the primary schools.

:) Tony

Jessy said...

"Only children with full proper guidance by their parents would excel in both languages (for chinese schooled children) "

Wouldn't it be the same for English educated students? They might speak better English but most of them can't even read a Chinese word.

S-Kay said...

How many documents in a company is fully written chinese? None, even big China based companies would have an English version of their contract.

Weigh the importance of both languages when you step into the workforce. Tell me how many companies would hire a person who can only read and write in Mandarin fluently and how many companies would hire a person who can only read and write in English fluently. The latter one would have more chances in securing a job because people would rather hire a person who is fluent in English than a person who is fluent in Mandarin but if they can have a person who is fluent in both then it is even better.

The point I'm trying to make is, being a chinese, learning Mandarin for kebangsaan schooled people is a choice and it would serve as an advantage for them but for chinese schooled people, there is no choice but for them to pick up the English language and master it or they'd be left behind. Knowing only the chinese language is a disadvantage to them.

Imagine this, out of 10 companies you applied for, 7 requires you to have the ability to communicate, read and write well in English. And because you are weak in English in the 3 fields, you just lost 7 out 10 possible jobs. Your choices of jobs would only be limited to 3. That is how it is in the real world.

S-Kay said...

And btw, the line you quote was irrelevant to what you asked =)

The Distributing Consumer said...

I've been annoyed, or even disgusted by the Chinese educationalists' underestimating(in some ways) the English language. I do think that preserving the mother tongue is important(and should be done), but the educationalists are not doing it right, because teaching maths and science in English does not harm students' ability to master tehir mother tongues. Having studied in an "independent school"(under DongZong), I really hope that more efforts will be done to promote the use of English among the students, because the standard is generally poor, or should i say, the knowledge gap of the language among the students is huge. In every class, there will be about ten students with solid foundation of the language out of sixty, and there will be a few who have hardly any foundation at all. During my years, I was one of the few who had a better grip of the language and while sometimes I had been apporahced for help, at other times I was perceived as a "westernized" kid. Chinese-ed students sometimes do think that English-ed students are arrogant But I think both parties are at fault here. Some(not all) Chinese who speak no mandarin or read no chinese do act arrogantly, while some are willing to learn their mother tongue. While many Chinese-ed students seem ignorant in learning English, it is ridiculous to say that all of them do not want to. Some of them are afraid of not being able to do well, and they need good guidance.

S-kay, while English is the lingua franca of business and IT, I can tell you that by knowing your mother tongue, you will gain a huge advantage. Don't look down on it, because I find that you are. We should respect and preserve the features of our ethnicity while at the same time strive to succeed in the "real world".

S-Kay said...

Distributing consumer :

Go read one of my REPLY (not entry) in my recent entry on Chinese Ed & English..you would know that I definitely am not looking down on my mother tongue and I know that it's a huge advantage. Read my comments properly before assuming that I'm looking down on the language. I was merely comparing the importance of it in the real world.

Jessy said...

While most Chinese ed students can write good Chinese and moderate English, most English ed students can write good English and can't write Chinese at all.

English IS important but it's not everything.

S-Kay said...

We're merely stressing the importance of English. Don't be too defensive. Btw, a bank just rejected 900 over applicants because none of them could write in proper English (moderate English was not acceptable and it was a Singaporean bank whereby most of their customers are chinese). And did you know that a lot of chinese ed graduates are crazily enrolling themselves into English classes now? Good effort made by them. I'm glad they realised the importance of mastering the language in writing and speaking in the workforce.

andycjw said...

as an chinese independent high school student myself, I beg to differ. not all chinese schools resist teaching maths and science in english, at least not in my own school (pay fong high school, melaka), which had use english textbooks for subjects in maths and sciences for so many years that I can't even find out since when this had started. It had always been the norm for us.

The lessons are conducted in chinese and english is used for clearer and more concise explaination (like scientific names, math theorem, just to name a few obvious example of which these can be very awkward to learn them in their chinese translated form, trust me)

Even the exams questions we took are in english, and do you know there is english version of exam paper for UEC available besides the default chinese version? (Unified Examination Certificate, chinese school equivalent of A-level qualification) And it is compulsory for us to take it in english.

But again, I have to add that the chinese educationlists' die-hard stance on preserving the mother tougue had a really strong influence on chinese educated students, most of chinese-ed students become ignorant and lack in desire to improve and learn the english well because of that, since they are taught that not knowing how to speak your own mother tougue is a disgrace, which is above all, and whether you can speak proper english or not is your own business.

But things are as not as bad as it seems, things are improving gradually, you can see from my school's english textbooks usage their intention on improving the situation.

Anonymous said...

Just how a student's command of English can be improved by teaching him maths and science in English is beyond my comprehension. The only way to improve on language skill is to use it frequently. Why are there so many politicians, nationalists and groups of people who are so selfish and short-sighted ? The system in the 60's and 70's were not perfect but a lot better than now. Malay was the official language, English was the medium of instruction and everyone had to pass Malay to get a certificate. You needed a credit in English to get a grade 1 in School Certificate. Those switching from the Chinese primary schools to English secondary schools had to spend a year in the 'remove' class. Why not go back to that system ?
The other alternative which is a far better way, is to look at our neighbour's system down south. We can throw in Malay and make it a compulsory subject in school and exams. Another thing, change the way English is taught. Don't just teach grammar and comprehension only but stress on reading novels with analysis, like the way English literature was taught in the good old days.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if a child be sent to sekolah kebangsaan could learn fluent english. Please take note that it is SEKOLAH KEBANGSAAN and the medium is MALAY. I wonder learning english will be a issue in deciding chinese primay school or national primary school.

Mother tougue language is a must to learn regardless its economical value. About national integrity and mastering excellent english, i believe parents' role are more crucial than the role played by the school.

My friends from sekolah kebangsaan do behave certain level of racist and chinese school friends are among the top students in my university (i study in a private university which english is our medium).

What i would like to share is: Chinese school may not teach your children to be good at english ( and be frank i do not believe a sekolah kebangsaan could do it better), but i believe the culture, the thinking methods and moral value of our own race is the being best taught in a place where our mother touge is the medium. Learning mandarin as an extra subject couldnt give the same effect as learning in mandarin.

Anonymous said...

English is no doubt important, but same to your mother tongue.

The sad thing about chinese is ecomical value is the most important factor in making decision, even a language with higher economical value could take away the opportunity of a child to learn and study in his mother tongue.

Tony P said...

Anon said:

"Just how a student's command of English can be improved by teaching him maths and science in English is beyond my comprehension. The only way to improve on language skill is to use it frequently."

Err... I think you sort of partially answered your own incomprehension. The idea of having additional subjects taught in English is in part to increase the frequency of English exposure and utilisation. It may not be the most effective way (for e.g., make English the national language(!)), but I can't see how it doesn't help towards greater English usage.

Anonymous said...

Tony

You don't understand what DongZong is doing because you don't read Chinese newspaper, I doubt you read any of the paper released by the organisation. Your source of information on this issue probably comes from English or Malay medium papers, which only tell you what they want you to know and think.

The English language problem was created by the system not DongZong. DongZong never denial the important of English language. It is how it is conducted and other consequences. In fact, my son's school started teaching English at Standard 1 before the ministry introduced it in year 2003.
After UPSR, preparation for English classes in Form 1 are also conducted.

I recalled I can't speak (no problem writing)English or good Malay after completed six years of Primary education(my neighbours are all Chinese speaking), the Remove class allow me to pick up the Malay language. I only pick up English in secondary school. This is possible if you go to a school with good language teacher.

Unlike me, my children have no problem communicating in English. They even know words that I don't know.

I believe 85% of parents who sent their Children to Chinese school are for what it is known for - dedicated teachers, value, mother tongue, academic standard. They send them to tuition centre when they want their children to do better in English.

The other 15% send their children to Chinese school for a wrong reason, so sometimes they are unhappy with DongZong.

You can't have the cake and eat it too!

FYI, DongZong is educationist, but our education policy is political driven. The current system which uses English and Chinese for Math and Science is confusing for my child, I feel that the policies maker does not have our young children at heart.

okaywhy said...

As I read through the article and the comments, I realised that my early hypothesis about the so-called english-ed chinese to be absolutely right - they don't understand chinese-ed chinese, to some extent, they even look down on their chinese educated counterparts.

What's the underlying reason that induce such an ignorance in them? I can't fathom. Probably due to the humble adulation towards their all-mighty English Language.

My dear friends, please bare in mind that not all the Chinese are brought up in an English-speaking environment like you were. Primary school is a place where elementary eduation are conducted and it's undeniable that learning Science and Maths in mother tongue is the most effective. Mind you, please don't assume that all the chinese have such a high IQ like you, which miraculously enable one to learn and grasp a mathematical concept before one understand the language that the subject taught in. Why rush? It's always not too late to learn Maths and Science in English after the students enter secondary school.

Don't just restrict your horizon on the USA and UK or our neighbour, Singapore, take a look at the developed countries like Germany, France, Japan, Korea etc, they don't learn Science and Maths in English but yet they fare so well in terms of scientific achievement. End of the day, it's the scientific concept that matter, not the language.

I think the primary school should emphasise more on improving the students' proficiency in the English LANGUAGE itself instead of creating more problems.

Anonymous said...

First of all I would like to say that I speak chinese and its dialects to ALL my family members and about 30% of my friends. I was sent to a chinese school for my primary school education and then to kebangsaan school for secondary education. I took chinese as one of my subjects in SPM. However, I have no problems in communicating with people in english.

I am currently studying in Melbourne Australia. I recently had a business transaction with a China based real estate company and the first question the receptionist ask me when I step into the office is whether I can speak Chinese. On one hand, I was shocked... I am in Australia and I started a conversation in English and the receptionist ask me if i could speak Chinese, and I am not even in China! On the other hand, I feel that Chinese is becoming more and more important in the business world. I am grateful that my parents stopped me from dropping Chinese in secondary school.

It might be true that big companies in China have a copy of english contract for every business transaction, but may be just a business procedure. Throughout my negotiations with that chinese real estate firm, I used chinese because the agent is a China Chinese and cant speak fluent English. In one of the meetings with the director(a Chinese too) of the Australian branch, where i need to sign a contract, the director wrote the draft of the contract in broken English... I was like 'dude, am I even in Melbourne???'.

I am definitely not saying that English is not important, but what i am trying to say is that Chinese is gaining its importance since China's economy is growing. Even in Melbourne, so many miles away from China, some people prefer to do business in Chinese than in English. Even though I havent been to China, from this experiance, I got some idea of how the business world in China is going to be like. You just cannot do business in China without knowing how to speak Chinese, and for CEOs of companies who cant speak chinese and want to do business, you better get yourself a translator. And for your info, the firm i was talking about is in the Central Business District itself, and its not in ChinaTown.

Anonymous said...

Your supporting teaching Math/Science in English sounds a bit too much like rationalizing for the official lines. You appear to have stopped thinking rationally out of despise for a culture that you have not learned well. That is not to say there are no weaknesses among the Chinese educated.

Consider these issues you have ignored in your arguments:

First, those supporting Chinese educated are arguing it is more efficient to learn in mother tongue, Malays included.

Second, they support more English lessons, as in grammar, literature, and practical topics.

Third, the Chinese educated will already have gained a large increment of advantage in English language learning (compared to 4 years ago) just by having English re-introduced as medium starting SECONDARY school. Previously, the medium was in Malay - remember - sejarah, geografi, kertas am, fiziks, kimia, biologi, etc, except Chinese language lesson and extracurricular activities. That is why you observe the weak English among those fresh from school.

Fourth, the above plus the pressure to do "extra extra well" just to be able to smell the doors of the local universities contributed to a narrow focus on studies. Plus the intrinsic discipline and social introversion of the Chinese education, and you have your despised "isolationist" characterization of the Chinese educated new grads.

Fifth, what can you learn in cultural and spiritual fulfilment in a Malay-medium and shallowly verbal-English schools today unless you are muslim or Christians? This is about cultural aspects of religious grouping. The Chinese language carries with it more than words, but a set of philosophy and door to later identity and spiritual options. Chinese educated parents, especially lower-income group, risk generation gap by sending their children to non-Chinese-educated schools. But if you are going to send your children to non-CHinese school and if they do not convert to Christianity (they are free to do so, but if they do not), there is not much in an identity and spiritual resource for them to draw on. Yes Dickens and Shakespeare will make a fine person, but how much identity? So unless they immerse themselves in commercial endeavours the whole life ... I'm sure the CHinese-educated parents do not analyze this issue in such terms, but in reality they would see this by observing other Malaysians. (And this is not denying that there are still middle- lower-income Chinese-educated parents who send their kids to SK/previously English-medium school for the economic advantage.)

More .. but perhaps later. Just some issues to consider.

mobsterman said...

VERSATILITY is a virtue.

I agree with both the Chinese-ed and English-ed sides who've commented here. But I value most the very practical comment and insight shared by our Melbourne friend...

To thrive, we have to be versatile. Adaptable. Chameleon like.

My son started in Montessori playschool (very western system) when he was just over 2. At 4, we switched him to a kindergarten at a coveted Chinese school in KL. He spent 3 years there before moving up to the big-boy SRJKC.

His preferred language, I think, is English. Very fluent and no problem in that subject. He speaks Mandarin to his friends and cousins who are poor in English, and Malay to the maid (albeit pasar Melayu of the Chinaman variety).

I'm English educated and Mom's Chinese-ed (she realised the importance of English early on and is fluent). This is a fortunate combi and we split responsibilities for the 2 major languages. Being better at BM, I handle problems in that subject.

My son reads English materials as well as Chinese materials. In fact, he subscribes to a weekly tri-lingual magazine through the school. Yup Mandarin, English and BM. And because it's engaging, it's his diversion whenever bored or when there's nothing else he hasn't read!

He has Science and Math lessons in both English and Mandarin. He’s coping well and God forbid, he’ll never have to go for tuition.

I read to him in English from the day he was born. Today, he's an independent reader BUT wonder of wonders, he still loves bedtime reading by Mom or Dad.

Mom started reading to him in Mandarin later. Her reason was so he wouldn't be confused (?? hehe wife logic). She also doesn't speak to him in Mandarin. Not even now.

I couldn't understand it at that time. But now , I can see it was not a handicap. His Mandarin has not really suffered. I guess my wife's wisdom is that he'll get all the mandarin and cantonese he'll need at school. We just have to focus on his English and BM.

We hope he'll be a linguistic chameleon when he grows up. We see China being a major global economic force during my son's lifetime. And English-speaking India as well. That means a need to master Mandarin and English.

We fully agree with our Melbourne friend in that the formal documentation may be in English. BUT for the nitty gritty wheeling and dealing, knowledge of language and culture will get you miles ahead.

I realise the common perception that chinese school kids are more introverted and lack the muhibbah environment in school. However, we feel he can get that sort of education elsewhere - eg he has chinese and malay friends in his mental maths and swimming classes.

And the issue of parental guidance - I can't imagine parents not giving "full and proper guidance". At the end of the day we, the parents, have to spend the time and effort for our children. We can’t shirk that duty.

I'm not worried about my son picking up bad English from school or leaning towards introversion because he's in a chinese school. Why? Because we'll guide him and show him the benefits of language mastery and friendship and muhibbah. His education will not only be at school. We’ll do our part at home too.

So Tony, don’t be afraid to do what’s best for your daughter. Regardless of all the negatives they’ll get at whichever schooling system you choose, you’ll still be a stronger influence on your child if you start early.

And if you do what we did, don't worry. My son didn't have a problem migrating from Montessori to the regimented Chinese-system kindie. The fact that Mom's strong in Mandarin helped. On the other hand, I've seen Indian kids, with no Mandarin support at home, survive SRJKC.

My son adapted, survived and thrived. So will your children.

They all do... if we let them.

Anonymous said...

I have posted my comment on 7 Nov and I would like to comment more.

My advice to Tony, teach your daughter to read English books as early as possible(2 years old maybe??), then send your kid to Chinese school, at the same time,send her to English tuitions, and if you cant help her with chinese, send her for tuition in that subject as well. Sometimes, I hear people say that those people who go for tuition are being spoon fed, I dont like to put it that way. I view tuitions as a way to improve oneself. Tuition classes are so common in Malaysia, especially in the KL area that sometimes, teachers actually assume that you haf some sort of tuition. I have been taking tuition classes since my late primary school years, and now that I am in uni, I dont feel that the tuition classes I took made me less independent in any way.

I am a product of a Chinese school and I do admit that sometimes the students' English may not be as good as those from SK schools. However, the main reason for this is because their parents did not do their part well in making them proficient in both English and Chinese. Most of these Chinese school students did not have the opportunity to attend tuition classes or other English related activities. BUT, I assume that, you, Tony, as an Oxford grad and a CEO, have the knowledge and financial ability to send your kid to all these classes and you yourself may be able to teach her as well, so you should not worry that your daughter may end up speaking broken English.

Also, I find that what Jessy say is quite true. But she did not elaborate much on her points.
Quote,"While most Chinese ed students can write good Chinese and moderate English, most English ed students can write good English and can't write Chinese at all."
About the business deal I was talking about in my 7th Nov comment, I bought the property at a price 30% lower than the market price and the money saved from this deal itself is enough to cover my entire course fee in Uni. Although my parents did a big part by financing the property(I am still 100% financially dependent), but I have to say that without proficiency in Chinese Language, I would have turned my back on an extremely good deal. I doubt that I am bold enough to deal with people that dont speak the same language as me because a minor misunderstanding in this type of business may cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, by knowing the chinese language, I conversed with the agent and she told me quite a bit about the real estate market and the way things are done in Melbourne. These are things that you cannot learn in the class room. So from this experiance, I think that the Chinese language does not only gives you one more mouth to speak an additional language, it also gives you more ears to listen and learn more from other more knowledgeable people from different backgrounds, and most importantly, it gives you more eyes to 'see' opportunities. If I cannot understand Chinese well, I could have just missed this opportunity, there are so many other real estate companies that are based in Australia and employs English speaking staff. So, to me, what Jessy say has some truth in it. Even if knowing Chinese REALLY means that my English will lag a little, so be it. After all, the knowledge of Chinese just helped me pay my uni fees.

On the other hand, I feel that S-kay's vision is quite short in 2 ways. Firstly,
Quote,'Then poor lil kids would be loaded with more work because they have to do Science & Maths in both languages.'
If making the kids better means giving them more work, why not? I come from a Chinese school where not completing your daily homework means getting caned on your palm.I guess most Chinese schools are like that. While I admit that that was quite stressful(partly because I was a typical boy and was a bit lazy with homework) at that time, but now, I view that as something I would bring up and laugh about. I remember that my bag used to be half my weight, but neither me nor my friends have hunch back or whatever back problems. All these problems are short term problems and the kids will probably treat these problems as jokes when they grow up, like I did. Taking away a kids opportunity of learning Chinese for these reasons is not rational. The child might cry now and then for the beatings they get, but that is one way to learn. While these problems are small, the problem of not being able to speak Chinese is considerably larger.

Secondly,
Quote,"Btw, a bank just rejected 900 over applicants because none of them could write in proper English (moderate English was not acceptable and it was a Singaporean bank whereby most of their customers are chinese)." From what I see, while not knowing how to speak and write English is not acceptable in our society, being able to speak and write 100% PERFECT English good but is often unnecessary for most jobs. If being proficient in Chinese means sacrificing my opportunity to speak and write perfect English, why not? And skay also said that many people are rushing to take English classes to enhance their skills in that subject. While that may be true, do u know that many people here in Melbourne(I am not sure about elsewhere), many of them Indonesians, are planning to spend a year or 2 in China after they graduate just to learn Chinese? For your info, Indonesians, until recently, did not have the chance to study Chinese in Indonesia.

Also, when Skay say that the bank rejected its applicants, she did not say that many firms require applicants to be fluent in Chinese too, and i guess that these firms have also rejected many applicants who can only speak English. Big Chinese firms are making their presence everywhere from Sarawak to the Mid East, often forming joint ventures with the local firms. To make their parnerships with these Chinese firms as smooth as possible, the local firms will prefer to employ people that can speak Chinese in addition to English. So in this case, Chinese is at least as important as English, if not more. I foresee that the presence of Chinese firms will only increase in my lifetime and perhaps beyond.

Skay often emphasize on getting employed. While most of the people aim to be employed some day, some may not. Some people may have great dreams of leading a company etc. For these people, English alone is definitely not sufficient. In this era, when one speak about business, the topic will be linked to China. As I have said, business negotiations in Chinese exist not only in China, it is everywhere. And if a child happened to be one those who have these big dreams and ambition, not knowing Chinese is definitely a huge loss to them. So, from what I see, one should prepare one's child so that the child can reach his greatest potential. As far as you can plan, you should not let anything stand in his path towards watever goal he may have in his life. Sending him to a Chinese school is one of the things you can do, afterall, Chinese IS the language spoken by almost 20% of the world's population and learning it cant be too far from the 'right thing to do'.

And Tony, if you do send your daughter to a Chinese school, hopefully, one day, she will thank you as much as I am thanking my parents now for making the right choice.

TKW

Anonymous said...

Those supporting teaching Math and Science in BOTH English and Chinese obviously have not seen the primary text books. They duplicate almost exactly: triangle/square/cone shapes/plants need light/ringgit value/... in both Chinese and English. The text book+ activity book+ note books are duplicated exactly, almost lesson for lesson.

Consider the additional weight (about 1-2 kg), cost (especially the non-reusable books to rural families), boredom (to upper income kids), homework, and lost opportunities for PE/music/art/computer classes. Moreover, the science curriculum/per language is abbreviated; there is not much interesting science in there.

Most of all, consider the lost time/opportunity/money to teach reading in Treasure Island, Secret Garden, Tom Sawyer, ... summary, writing, and via language labs.

The upper income families can always drive the kids right to school gate, the grandpa/driver can even help carry the heavy bag up the steps, buy a fancier schoolbag, pay extra time and tuition, plus extra-curricular reading/VCD to teach them proper science and maths not included in school. The rich kids are the ones who need less strengthening of English language at schools anyway.

What about those at and below middle-income line?

---

Those supporting English-ONLY math and science lessons in primary school should consider this: The lower-income and the rural kids will again suffer the most. Because learning in mother tongue is more effective, it is the lower-income/rural parents who may not be able to attend to the extra language demand and pay for the tuition, transport to tuition class, etc.

Anonymous said...

Employ your staff based on their capability to deliver not base on English. If they are good, they can pick up English while they are working.

Having said that, obviously you need someone who speaks English fluently if he or she is to be a Salesperson.

I have employed staff who doesn't speak English well but perform very well, better than those who speak good English.

Anonymous said...

As a Malaysian living in Hong Kong,but having maintained strong ties to Malaysia, a question just crossed my mind.

Do Chinese parents living in the KL region mostly send their kids to National primary schools or Chinese Primary schools(SRJKs)?

Just wondering, since I feel that
the ENglish-educated are concentrated in KL..and thinking about what choices they would make for their kids.

BTW, this is a great site for discussing M'sian education issues.

Anonymous said...

The question is not about rejecting English, it's the 'agenda' behind the move of teaching maths and science in English. I've seen maths teachers in national schools teaching maths counting with their fingers and science teachers who can't tell the difference between refrection and reflection. What worries the Chinese educationists is for these teachers to be transferred to the Chinese schools if the subjects are taught in English and any teachers can 'teach' maths and science in English! Sometimes we have to see the real objection of a proposal and what's underneath the still waters!

kampongbouy said...

Dear Tony,

As a language, English is not intrinsically better than Mandarin or any other language.

The problem is that many English speakers immediately assume, sometimes subconciously, that English is some how better than most if not all other languages. Unless this could be rigorously proven, it should not and must not be taken as given.

Unfortunately, from this flawed and false belief rise all other distortions in perception. If we rid ourselves of this false notion, it might then be possible to discover that perhaps communication is a 2 way process. If both parties are unable to communicate effectively, it make absolutely no sense to put the blame exclusively on one side.

From my personal experience, many English-speakers have the following annoying perceptions:

1. Good command of English equals intelligence, good upbringing, good education, etc.

2. Weak command of English implies weaker communication skills, weaker intellect...etc.

It is extremely unfortunate that almost unthinkingly, we make these stereotypes almost automatically. It is even more unfortunate that the leaders of our nation developed knee-jerk-reaction type policies based on false assumptions without a clear line of reasoning or worse, with a hidden agenda.

English is not a better language, it is just a widely spoken language. Because it is widely spoken, knowing English becomes important, as an effective tool for communications.

A widely spoken languge does not automatically mean that the language will be an effective medium of instruction. A rational mind would come to this conclusion naturally without being clouded by emotions. There are numerous exampls every where in the world supporting this conclusion. We need only look no farther than Japan. A brief survey of the Nobel prize winners in Physics, Chemistry etc. will no doubt also confirm this.

It therefore intrigues me how some among our society so strongly or rather blindly support this policy.

For me, it is completely without logic and merit.

And about the difference between the Chinese educated and the English educated?

For me, the main difference is the ingrained idea or rather the preoccupation with the "perfect self", perhaps originating from the teachings of Confucius. There exists in most well-educated Chinese-educated person a general idea of how a perfect person or a perfect society should be. It is very difficult to be that perfect self so almost everyone is in a state of perpetual improvement, ideally. As these ideas are all relatively old and new intepretations are not always taught nor discussed, the result is that most products of this education become rather inward-looking, but are more sensitized to traditional virtues and values.

On the other hand, the English-educated in Malaysia normally do not carry such burdens of tradition nor culture. Therefore they are perceived generally as more easy going, open and outward-looking. Politically, since they generally hold on to less, they can compromise more, hence are much more politically successful in a multi-racial and multi-cultural society. The downside is that most Englsih speakers in Malaysia do not, on the average have comparable level of appreciation, understanding or just plain grasp of the finer, richer or deeper of aspects of the English or Western Civilization when compared to the Chinese educated and the appreciation of Eastern or Oriental civilization.

Of course, these are broad generalizations.

Sally said...

Personally as a person fluent in English and Malay but unable to write or read proficiently in Chinese, I think all schoolchildren should be sent to a Chinese primary school (that's if you're Chinese). Some Malay and Indian parents have also started sending their kids to Chinese primary school, I say good for them! The reason I say this is because really, where and when else are you going to learn Chinese in order to be good in it?

My parents sent me to Chinese tuition classes but I thought those were a joke so unfortunately I never mastered the language. Just did enough to pass and now I can probably remember 100 characters in Chinese. Quite pathetic.

After primary school, you can always send your kids to a Kebangsaan secondary school. It will be a hard transition for some people but challenge propels success, right? This way, you are forced to be good in both Chinese and English. Some people are more inclined towards languages and will naturally be better than others. Those are factors we cannot control but at least we can make sure we have provided kids with both options.

Seriously, if you think your kid will be proficient in English by just attending Kebangsaan school, you will be seriously mistaken. These days, you can only be good in BM in Kebangsaan school. Form 5 English in Malaysia is more like Secondary One English in Singapore. I'm not disparaging our national level of competence. But you know this is true.

I have always loved English as a language and was gravitated towards the language since young. I read a lot and I think that helped my language abilities. We speak Chinese at home and I used to speak Chinese with my friends also. Granted, we spoke English in church but I wasn't really speaking English that well until I went to Singapore as an ASEAN scholar.

Singapore was difficult for me, as you can imagine. I had to relearn all my scientific terms in English and I struggled for the first six months. I left for JPA after that and am now in a US institution and haven't really had an problem with English in my science classes.

Moral of the story? If you are forced to learn, you will learn and adapt. After all, the most successful people are great at adapting and if you give your children that push early in life by enrolling them in a Chinese school, you are giving them an advantage others don't have. Having said that, you still need to brush up on your Chinese every once in a while if you attended a Chinese school.

My youngest brother attended a Chinese primary school and am now in a Kebangsaan secondary school. He hates Chinese and loves English. But his Chinese language is light years better than mine because he had to learn it in school. Right now, we're hoping his English will pick up as well.

Anonymous said...

Please to not discriminate chinese-graduates in such ways. Some of them are acting that way (having problems communicating in English) doesn't totally mean that the whole chinese education is a failure and thus depriving students from getting a better grasp in English. You all should understand the main factors of the chinese being unable to cope well in English. I must say that family background plays a significant role. One must be exposed to an English-speaking-environment to do well in English. It's rather undeniable that those who could converse well in English at young ages usually have a strong English-family background.

The way these chinese are having difficulty to master in English is just the same as those chinese that are born in an English-speaking family to learn Chinese itself. No one has the right to think that you're better than them just because your English is good. Provided you can cope Chinese as well as them.

S-Kay said...

The point I'm trying to make is, being a chinese, learning Mandarin for kebangsaan schooled people is a choice and it would serve as an advantage for them but for chinese schooled people, there is no choice but for them to pick up the English language and master it or they'd be left behind. Knowing only the chinese language is a disadvantage to them.



Hello? Being a chinese, learning the chinese language is a choice? Thus I can see how people prefer the mighty English over their own mother tongue huh? And why do people keep comparing whether mastering well in English or Chinese is better? It's the best for Chinese to be able to cope in both, since English is the international language, while Chinese, is the mother tongue of us chinese, and the language of the nation with most population in the world ... China. Mind your own words and don't go all snobbish that knowing English is better than knowing Chinese. That's not true.


Chinese school has never failed to teach good English. It's just the matter that sometimes the environment is not there. And I wouldn't say you can do any better in Kebangsaan schools either, since the actual medium is Malay, not English. If anyone really wants a perfect school to learn English, go ahead to International School then.

Other than that, personally, I don't think Maths and Science in English is doing much help in improving the standard of English. This is part of my younger sister's Std 1 maths textbook:

2 and 1 more is 3.
6 and 4 make 10.
1 add 6 is 7.
1 ten and 6 ones is 16.

Hello? Is this actually going to improve the children's English? I don't know but the sentence just seems weird.

6 and 4 make 10.
Bread and mlik make breakfast.
Hahah.

If the education department really wants to improve the nation's English level, they should do it from improvising the English language itself, and not translating Maths and Science into English and claim that it's going to help. The English level they use is still equally low.

Anonymous said...

I am a Malaysian Chinese who studies in Singapore, where the bulk of Malaysians there are Chinese-es.

Their characteristics:
1) Speak Mandarin and dialects most of the time
2) Fail their English entrance examination
3) Stick to themselves, seldom mixing with other foreign students
4) Think Singaporeans are too "Western" for them
5) Have difficulty with pronunciation( I just want to laugh when the whole bunch at the S.H.E concert shouts "AN-KOR!")
6) I had some non-Chinese friends think that Malaysians are not very friendly because they speak Mandarin even while having dinner with other foreign students
7) My Singaporean friends say my English is "quite good for a Malaysian" because the Malaysian students here "speak English got one kind wan"
8) Damn good at Maths and Science and anything which requires memory work but dare not take subjects which require creative thinking and writing
9) Their Malaysian Merdeka celebration would have certain parts held in Mandarin, to the disgust of the Malaysian Indian students there
10) Have never attended a Malay or Indian friend's party. Heck, I doubt they even mix frequently with them.

And the list goes on.

I am a Chinese who studied in National School all the way and I had many non-Chinese friends telling me the Chinese-eds are a very annoying bunch, due to their racist and always-want-to-stick-to-themselves attitude. How's that for the pride of the Chinese community? If they say that we are a disgrace to our race because we don't speak our own language, then what about them, who give bad impressions of the Chinese to Singaporeans, English-ed Chinese and the other races in Malaysia?

Chinese schools no doubt have their strengths, especially in the academic aspect. But scoring A's is only one SMALL portion of the entire package, which explains why many Chinese-ed graduates fail at getting jobs and etc, due to their lack of communication skills, narrow outlook and so on. I do not agree that Chinese schools are superior when it comes to education. Education is a big word which covers many aspects.

A Chinese-ed friend of mine said Chinese education is better because Chinese-ed students are more morally well-behaved. Some people also think that way. I totally disagree. Who form the bulk of Ah Longs, triad gangsters, gamblers, old uncle drunks at coffee shops and sexy dancers during the Hungry Ghost festival? Every language-community has its own social problems. Mastering Mandarin isn't a shortcut to Gandhiness.

I think it's time that the guardians of the Forbidden City of S.H.E start paying more attention to their abc's.

Anonymous said...

A language is a way of communicating and bringing forward ideas. Hence the more languages you know, the better off you are as u can convey your ideas to more people.

In the long run, a Chinese Educated Student will benefit more. When he goes overseas to study, say Australia coz I study there, there are so many people from different countries and speaks so many different languages (more than 100 if I am not mistaken), having weird accent when speaking English is not only acceptable, but expected at most of the time. Of course if u can speak good English, great.... but at places like this, even if u can't, no big deal. What... u gonna laugh at every single Indian or African or Chinese shouting Encore in accented English at some concert? You can... but u will need a constant supply of laughing gas to do that and people probably think u are crazy.. even lecturers have funny Chinese or Indian or whatever accent depending on their home country. Ohh yea... one has very strong Russian accent.. quite funny.. but I got used to it.

For a Chinese Educated Student... he probably will be able to pick up English fluency along the way... but for an English Educated Student, he probably will not be able to pick up Chinese as he probably will not even have the basics, unless he tries drastic measures like going to night classes.

In the previous comment, the writer classed Chinese Eds as a group which led to Ah Longs, triad, gamblers etc... This is discrimination!! There are black sheeps in every group of people... how can u judge Chinese Eds as a group like this? Are u sure that English Eds don’t do these stuff? A few of my English Ed friends do join triads in their secondary school years... but funny, none of my Chinese Ed friends were in triads. Similarly, I can list down many negative activities that I can link to English Educated Students, but I will not do so because it is not fair to criticize people as a group.

Just the other day I was browsing through the web pages of companies offering internship opportunities. Many of them are international firms and offer internship overseas. To go overseas, they require you to be proficient in that country’s native languages. By the way, many of them have HQ in China, Hong Kong and India. This means that Chinese is important. From this example, I think that although knowing Mandarin does not take you all the way to Gandhiness (a word used in the previous comment), but it definitely takes you a few steps (big ones) ahead of your peers who are not proficient in Mandarin.

Personally, for my case, I found that as I go from schools to colleges to universities, proficiency in Chinese has turned from a ‘disadvantage’ to a concrete advantage. By disadvantage, I mean that my English was really not as good as my English Ed peers and sometimes I do get teased with lousy pronunciations (now you know why Chinese Ed students stick to themselves) and Chinese is hard to learn. And now, since I picked up on my English fluency, I think the advantages of knowing both English and Mandarin are obvious, especially with China rising and with Mandarin as the most spoken language in the world.

So, if you don’t know Mandarin and can only speak English, please feel disadvantaged because you really are. Also, you should regret for not taking your parents advice to go to Chinese tuitions seriously. Learning Chinese is not so much about the pride and identity of our race, but more importantly, its really about its usefulness, especially when it comes to business and job application.

Anonymous said...

Especially with China rising and with Mandarin as the most spoken language in the world???? A really big big question mark. this is the utmost perception which got everyone wrong in the first place, no doubt mandarin has the most known and spoken language in term of number of people. But I sure you know English is the widely spoken languages... meaning in term of different nations in the world. What China thinks about their Chinese and English, if you were to follow up with some business magazines, you will get to know the importance of English in China and their impact of their way of seeing things. Now it's the time for China to learn English not otherwise, make this real clear. A lot of Chinese-ed or some parents have the mindset which are not right is China's expanding, learn Chinese quick. Actually I got to know this some biz mags and some reputable journals, stop bragging about the opportunity of China expansion.

I read someone saying about the Nobel Prize Winners, let me ask you do you know how many nobel's thesis was written in language other than english? I cannot recall any. Let me brief you on the importance of english, even the japanese need to score their english in order to get entry into their famous local japnese universities, even a finnish need to write a physics thesis for his Phd in Helsinki university, because most of the resources of modern knowledge are in english. you can figure it out easily why? if anyone of you been to Phd level should understand why english is such a important language better. Even japanese and french acknowledge the importance of english, in what circumstances you think chinese ego is greater than the french and japanese?

Here I just wanna tell you there's not much great importance in Chinese as other part of the greater world would perceive as exaggerated as in here. Yes, I am English ed but i have a fair respect towards chinese language in malaysia as a pillar of our socioculture. I did my chinese tutorials class when i was young, hehe... forced by my mom. I always have a deep flair to learn about my chinese background and origin. Chinese schools will alwys have my support .... btw, hows the Damansara Chinese School going?

Anonymous(1) said...

Quote from the second last anonymous writer from this entry:

"In the previous comment, the writer classed Chinese Eds as a group which led to Ah Longs, triad, gamblers etc... This is discrimination!! There are black sheeps in every group of people... how can u judge Chinese Eds as a group like this? Are u sure that English Eds don’t do these stuff? A few of my English Ed friends do join triads in their secondary school years... but funny, none of my Chinese Ed friends were in triads. Similarly, I can list down many negative activities that I can link to English Educated Students, but I will not do so because it is not fair to criticize people as a group."

I am the writer from this "previous comment" the writer of the above quote was referring to. All I can say is 1) you did not read my comment properly, or 2) you read but misinterpreted it or 3) you read but you don't understand it and jumped to conclusions. Whichever 1) 2) 3) it may be, let me re-quote what I wrote:

"Who form the BULK of Ah Longs, triad gangsters, gamblers, old uncle drunks at coffee shops and sexy dancers during the Hungry Ghost festival? Every language-community has its own social problems."

Well, to the writer, notice the capital letters : BULK. Just in case you don't understand, BULK refers to the majority, and not ALL. I did NOT say that Chinese Eds as a GROUP are Ah Longs, etc, but the majority of such people are Chinese Ed. Intuitively, you can deduce that my message does NOT mean I look at Chinese Eds as a bunch of gangsters and neither am I saying that English Eds were never Ah Longs( you jumped to that conclusion, READ my comment one more time to clarify)

And now I would like to comment on your comment:

"Of course if u can speak good English, great.... but at places like this, even if u can't, no big deal. What... u gonna laugh at every single Indian or African or Chinese shouting Encore in accented English at some concert? You can... but u will need a constant supply of laughing gas to do that and people probably think u are crazy.."

Well, thank nature for nature. You and I and a few billion souls we don't know are living together in this world, with loads of gas supply, laughing or what not. Have you seen any face turn blue? It's not that I intentionally laugh at people anyway, EXCEPT when it gets too funny that I can't help it. I've had many Chinese Eds laugh at my Mandarin, see, there are people from your kind who do such things. And before you start saying I am stereotyping Chinese Eds for laughing at others, please READ through again properly.

"For a Chinese Educated Student... he probably will be able to pick up English fluency along the way... but for an English Educated Student, he probably will not be able to pick up Chinese as he probably will not even have the basics, unless he tries drastic measures like going to night classes."

Nonsense. I have many English Ed friends who could speak fluent Mandarin by mere practising and daily conversation. No books and tuitions needed.

"Just the other day I was browsing through the web pages of companies offering internship opportunities. Many of them are international firms and offer internship overseas. To go overseas, they require you to be proficient in that country’s native languages. By the way, many of them have HQ in China, Hong Kong and India. This means that Chinese is important. From this example, I think that although knowing Mandarin does not take you all the way to Gandhiness (a word used in the previous comment), but it definitely takes you a few steps (big ones) ahead of your peers who are not proficient in Mandarin."

Browse again. There are also many, if not more, Western or international companies offering internships etc. And besides, to get chosen by a Chinese-speaking company, speaking good English is also a bonus, if not a must for holding high positions. Wouldn't these Chinese companies want to do business with other countries as well? I worked in Popular Book Co( Chinese company with a Chinese Ed majority) and everytime I have my colleagues telling me they can't get high promotions because of their lack of English skills. And I also heard from them that the chief manager for the Malaysian branch is a banana Chinese. It might not be true, but if it were, I wouldn't be surprised anyway.

"Personally, for my case, I found that as I go from schools to colleges to universities, proficiency in Chinese has turned from a ‘disadvantage’ to a concrete advantage. By disadvantage, I mean that my English was really not as good as my English Ed peers and sometimes I do get teased with lousy pronunciations (now you know why Chinese Ed students stick to themselves) and Chinese is hard to learn. And now, since I picked up on my English fluency, I think the advantages of knowing both English and Mandarin are obvious, especially with China rising and with Mandarin as the most spoken language in the world."

Sorry to say this, but you got confused with your own facts. You mentioned that knowing Chinese is a disadvantage because your English was made fun of. It's not the Chinese fluency which is the disadvantage, it's the lack of English skill that is. Learning Mandarin does not necessarily make one less fluent in English.
And look, I don't know if your reasoning for Chinese Ed sticking together is true, but me and many of my English ed friends had our Mandarin laughed at by Chinese Eds...but do we stick to ourselves? Heck no. I might be generalizing, but if you guys take the issue of people laughing at your language skills so seriously, then I have to say this : get over it. We English Eds can, so why not you guys too?
And yes, Mandarin DOES have a VERY big advantage. I never denied that.

"So, if you don’t know Mandarin and can only speak English, please feel disadvantaged because you really are. Also, you should regret for not taking your parents advice to go to Chinese tuitions seriously. Learning Chinese is not so much about the pride and identity of our race, but more importantly, its really about its usefulness, especially when it comes to business and job application."

Now, pardon me for any personal attacks but I think what you said was really hypocritical, what more you being a Chinese Ed student yourself. You said learning Mandarin is not so much about pride and culture, but more of usefulness? Most of my Chinese Ed friends thought the other way round. Despite their disadvantage of not being fluent in English, they still upheld Mandarin because it is the pride of their race, despite it being not that practically important as English. Useful or not, they will still uphold Mandarin, because it is their mother tongue. And let me tell you this : me being English Ed myself, I also want to learn Mandarin because it is the gateway to my culture etc, not because of China's booming economy. Even if zhong guo were to go haywire and revert to extreme communism until it's economic power shuts down, I would still learn Mandarin, PRIMARILY because it is my language. Any practical usefulness is of secondary, or even tertiary importance.
And yes I admit that being not fluent in Mandarin, I am disadvantaged. Look, my comment was on the weakness of Chinese Education, not which language would bloom more flowers in a year. The Chinese school having weaknesses does not imply that learning Mandarin does not come with disadvantages. And oh ya, I should have listened to my parents =P

Anonymous(1) said...

From previous comment:

"The Chinese school having weaknesses does not imply that learning Mandarin does not come with disadvantages." Actually, it's DOES come with disadvantages. My typo.

kt said...

Hello anonymous(1),

Actually I was trying to say that sending children to Chinese schools will benefit them more than sending them to Kebangsaan schools. I am not sure what your stand is on this.. but from your post on Sat Sep 02, 01:51:43 PM, which in essence emphasized on how disgraceful Chinese Eds are, I assume you and I do not think alike. I assume that you think that children would be better off with Kebangsaan school education. If I am wrong, please correct me.

Quote:

"Who form the BULK of Ah Longs, triad gangsters, gamblers, old uncle drunks at coffee shops and sexy dancers during the Hungry Ghost festival? Every language-community has its own social problems."

From what I see, Ah Longs and gangsters arise from families with parents who either do not care much about their children or are not highly educated. It is just so happen that most of these parents chose to send their children to Chinese schools (I think it is because they themselves cannot speak English/Malay properly and perhaps they think that they can communicate more effectively with Chinese school staff etc, just my view though). Hence, the situations you talk about arise, where most Ah Longs are Chinese Educated. I believe that if parents who send children for Chinese education are responsible in caring for their children’s growth in general, such scenario probably will not occur. If parents do not care for their child, sending them to Kebangsaan schools will not help prevent them from being influenced. Plus I don’t remember being taught to become an Ah Long in a Chinese school…

Quote:

“Well, thank nature for nature. You and I and a few billion souls we don't know are living together in this world, with loads of gas supply, laughing or what not. Have you seen any face turn blue? It's not that I intentionally laugh at people anyway, EXCEPT when it gets too funny that I can't help it. I've had many Chinese Eds laugh at my Mandarin, see, there are people from your kind who do such things. And before you start saying I am stereotyping Chinese Eds for laughing at others, please READ through again properly.”

Well, what I was trying to say is that ANYBODY who doesn’t speak Queen’s English often has some sort of accent. To e.g. Europeans, or Australians, you (an English Ed whom I assume spoke English for all your life) will still have an accent, it’s the Malaysian accent. I also found out that Indonesians have accent, similarly, my Indonesian friends tell me that we Malaysians have accent. Sometimes it is funny, I know. But when everybody has it… it becomes less funny after a while. In your case, both you and your Chinese Ed friends have accent, the difference is that you dont realize that you have it, until you go UK or other English speaking countries.

But if you are saying that we Chinese Eds speak English with grammar mistakes, then as I have said before, it can be corrected by using the language more often (during secondary school or college or university years). I also said that Chinese Educated people can pick up English relatively easily as compared to English Educated people picking up Chinese. When I say English/Chinese, I mean the whole package, speak, read, and write. We Chinese Eds, normally can read and write as good as English Eds (please don’t talk about those potential Ah Longs and gangsters, because you tend to like to look at the extremes) if not better. I say it’s easier for us to pick up English because we merely have to brush up on our speaking skills. While it is considerably harder for English Eds to pick up Chinese because they need to learn to read, write and speak, on many occasions, from scratch (yes, the certificate is important). One simple proof is that almost 100% of my all my English Ed friends who attended Chinese tuition did not complete the course (many if not most of them did attend some sort of tuition at some time). Whatever the reason, nothing seem to be able to teach Chinese as good as SRJK( C) Chinese schools.

Quote:

“Browse again. There are also many, if not more, Western or international companies offering internships etc. And besides, to get chosen by a Chinese-speaking company, speaking good English is also a bonus, if not a must for holding high positions. Wouldn't these Chinese companies want to do business with other countries as well? I worked in Popular Book Co( Chinese company with a Chinese Ed majority) and everytime I have my colleagues telling me they can't get high promotions because of their lack of English skills. And I also heard from them that the chief manager for the Malaysian branch is a banana Chinese. It might not be true, but if it were, I wouldn't be surprised anyway.”

No, don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that Chinese is more important than English. At this point of time, English is definitely much more important than Chinese. Definitely, English is a must in almost all the firms in most parts of the world. BUT, language can coexist with each other!! What I am trying to say here is that English with the complement of Chinese will greatly increase your employability or your capability when negotiating with people. Since, as I have said earlier, that going to a Chinese school is the best way (if not the only way) to learn and be proficient in both Chinese and English, so I think that sending one’s children to Chinese schools is definitely the way to go. If you are giving constructive criticisms on what is wrong with the Chinese education system, I must give you credit. But from what I see (unless I understood you wrongly, correct me), you are discouraging parents too send children to Chinese schools. I don’t see why. I wrote a comment on Mon Nov 07, 09:09:32 PM about my experience where Chinese is gaining importance.

Quote:

“3) Stick to themselves, seldom mixing with other foreign students”

“And look, I don't know if your reasoning for Chinese Ed sticking together is true, but me and many of my English ed friends had our Mandarin laughed at by Chinese Eds...but do we stick to ourselves? Heck no.”

It was not MY reasoning that Chinese Eds stick together… its YOURS! -.-“
Quote:

“Sorry to say this, but you got confused with your own facts. You mentioned that knowing Chinese is a disadvantage because your English was made fun of. It's not the Chinese fluency which is the disadvantage, it's the lack of English skill that is. Learning Mandarin does not necessarily make one less fluent in English.”

If a person speaks Chinese at home and receives Chinese education, like I did, that person must, to some extent, however small it may be, sacrifice some fluency in English. I mean like how can a person be fluent in a language without speaking it often enough? I am trying to say that for these people, Chinese fluency is often bundled together with English which is less fluent compared to their English speaking peers, until they get the chance to use English more often in secondary schools and beyond. Sorry to say, learning Mandarin really does make one less fluent in English, especially when one speaks Mandarin at home. Of course in the long run, this should not be a problem because Chinese Eds will get exposed to English speaking people in the future.

Quote:

“Now, pardon me for any personal attacks but I think what you said was really hypocritical, what more you being a Chinese Ed student yourself. You said learning Mandarin is not so much about pride and culture, but more of usefulness? Most of my Chinese Ed friends thought the other way round. Despite their disadvantage of not being fluent in English, they still upheld Mandarin because it is the pride of their race, despite it being not that practically important as English. Useful or not, they will still uphold Mandarin, because it is their mother tongue. And let me tell you this : me being English Ed myself, I also want to learn Mandarin because it is the gateway to my culture etc, not because of China's booming economy. Even if zhong guo were to go haywire and revert to extreme communism until it's economic power shuts down, I would still learn Mandarin, PRIMARILY because it is my language. Any practical usefulness is of secondary, or even tertiary importance.”

I am sorry (sincerely), being quite a down to earth person that I am, I was too focused on writing my previous comment that I forgot that not everyone are like me. Therefore I focused on talking about the benefits of Chinese in the business world. Whatever reason to learn Chinese you have in mind, China’s booming economy is a bonus for doing so. Just that I place it before pride and culture.

Quote:

“Look, my comment was on the weakness of Chinese Education, not which language would bloom more flowers in a year.”

Actually you don’t state your opinion clearly. You merely said that Chinese Education has problems, but does not say if the problems offsets the advantages completely. You did not compare them to Kebangsaan schools. A reader of your comment might ask where one should send his children. And yet, after reading your comment, he will not find out your opinion or your stand. So commenting on your words is quite hard as I can’t deny that there are weaknesses in everything, including Chinese Ed. In my view, the advantages of Chinese Ed far outweigh the disadvantages.

Just for you to ponder over, even Australians in my uni learn Chinese. I was quite shocked to see them writing Chinese characters. It was a funny sight at first.

Datin Freida said...

I actually wrote this article for The Star newspaper but they decided not to print it. so here it is for your comments:

I refer to the above in the Sunday STAR (10 December, 2006), in particular to the views expressed by four former Directors General of Education.

With the notable exception of Tan Sri Murad Mohd Nor, the views expressed not only miss the fundamental reason for Cabinet’s policy decision to have Science and Math taught in English, but also do an injustice to the capacity of our students to rise to the challenge.

I disagree with the view of the retired educators that English is being reintroduced to make children “conversant” in an additional language. It is an attempt at “making children conversant in English, beginning with Math and Science,” as one of them put it. Another said, “I don’t think that teaching and learning Math and Science in English is a good way of improving students’ proficiency in the language.”

They miss the point. The former educators had failed to grasp the real reason for teaching the two subjects in English.

To put it simply, it is in our national interest to do so. We need to equip our next generation to access the wealth of knowledge in science, and to penetrate the technological, financial and commercial world of the 21st century. We can no longer afford to remain ‘jaguh kampung’ and oblivious to the rapidly changing world around us. Instead our children, if we truly care for their future, must work hard, gain an edge, and emerge competent, competitive and confident. It is a question of our future survival in a highly competitive world.

I agree, as mentioned in the article, that a number of our students have succeeded in gaining admission to famous ancient universities. That much is true. But at what cost? I know for a fact that Malaysian students abroad handicapped by poor English, struggle through professional courses such as Medicine, Engineering and Architecture.

Their success came despite their handicap in English, not because of it. It is hard and brutish. They had to struggle hard, to master both the language as well as the content of their courses. They have to put in double the effort of their peers. This is an unnecessary and self-inflicted hardship, and an unnecessary degradation of our human capital resource. On the other hand, an early acquaintance with English would have resulted in many more students being admitted to the better universities, and coming out with even better results.

Clearly, then, it cannot be denied that a working knowledge of English is exceedingly useful in important courses at university level, and would enhance our human resource asset.

I now wish to touch on this issue at another level. There was a time when our students were among the most proficient in English in this region. Today we have lost that important edge against our ASEAN neighbours. They are now doing much better. Our Government is trying, rightly, to regain that relative advantage.

Since it is for our own good we, as a nation, must unite and support that policy. We have to be technically proficient and business savvy. We have no choice in this. We must recognize that our national unity, and the dignity of every community in this country, will depend on competitiveness, real economic growth and material wellbeing. Not on false pride and sentiment.

We must also recognize that a working knowledge of the international language of science and commerce does not make one any less Malaysian or less patriotic. Far from it. Our top leaders today are fluent in both Bahasa and English, and they are respected at home and abroad for it.

I now wish to touch on our children in school. I am disappointed to note that, except for Murad, the retired educators interviewed show no confidence in the capacity of our children to rise to the challenge. Instead, they despair and mentioned a litany of ‘problems’, displaying an air of tired defeatism. Is this a reflection of their personal opinion, or that of our teachers as a whole, simply arise from a lack of leadership? Is it simply a failure to define our objectives clearly, and articulate the reasoning that supports our policy?

Whatever the reason, our children deserve better. They deserve strong and intelligent leadership. They have the energy, resilience and intelligence of youth, just waiting to be unleashed. They deserve our active encouragement, not benign resignation and excuses. Our senior educators, in fact educators at all levels, should make a serious effort to understand and appreciate the farsighted Cabinet policy decision, and work together to achieve its objective. I am confident that we can do better for our next generation, and I say from many years of experience and observation.

My father, now 89, came from the kampung in Kuala Pilah. He learnt English the hard way, sat the Cambridge School Certificate before the War, and joined the Police Force. He served with distinction during the Emergency, attended Staff College in England, and rose in seniority in the Force. My mother, also from the kampung, learnt English the hard way. She went to night classes to learn English and is today fluent in Malay, English and Arabic. Thus, I do not accept the postulate that we Malays lack the character or the capacity.

I am an educator, with over two decades of experience with children. Today, I educate over 2,300 Malaysian children from all backgrounds, urban and rural, the rich as well as those on financial assistance. I find that all children, Malay and non-Malay alike, respond well to challenge and encouragement. If they are weak in English, we should strategize measures to help them improve in it. We should not complain and whine about it.

Adults play an important role in children’s self-perception and self esteem. Children everywhere are naturally smart. We must never underestimate them. Have faith in them. They know instinctively when we truly care for their development and future, and they respond accordingly. Have no faith in them, and they will have no confidence in themselves.

To all educators I say this: have faith in our national policy, have faith in our children, and have faith in ourselves. If there are problems in policy implementation, let us analyze them and together solve them. Let this be a test of our national resolve. Problem should drive us to seek solutions: they should never cause us to pause, whine, complain or backpedal.

A nation that backpedals will never move forward

Datin Freida binti Dato Mohd Pilus,
Chairman, Cempaka Group of Schools

Anonymous said...

Chinese educated have low self esteem because they have always been told that their language consist of profanity. I have worked under chinese educated men. They are absurb, speaking filthy language towards others and looking down on those who cannot speak Mandarin... I have no reason to ill-speak of them because I believe that you reap what you sow. My point is to despise chinese who think that they are well versed in Mandarin and treat their fellow chinese who cannot speak the language like dirt.
As for the command of chinese educated in speaking English, there is no problem at all. I went to college with Taiwanese and people from mainland China. They speak very fluent English.
My disillusionment is with Malaysian Chinese who criticize their own race. I have enough of that and I wish the Malaysian Chinese can unite together and not have differences. I see Malays being very cooperative among themselves. The same applies to Indians. Why are the chinese so cruel and wicked among themselves? I was being victimized when I worked for my Malaysian chinese bosses. Both males and females treat me as slaves///

think different said...

Regardless of which language we choose, it is just the medium of instruction. What matter most is the mentality behind it. What is a Chinese educated person compared to an English educated? It is perhaps the way how we process our thoughts, our actions will then speak of ourselves.
Having a good command of a certain language does not indicate the person is more capable of the other. It is how that person thinks that makes a difference. One can debate that it might have something to do with the cultural background, education and family upbringing. Has there been any concrete evidence that the western societies are more successful compared to the eastern world or vice versa? Guess not.
As the world is beginning to shrink with the help of the internet and globalization, English has been generally accepted as the common mode of communication and thus we have to be able to use it. Where will be a better place to start learning than in our primary schools?
Change is always a very bitter capsule to swallow especially for the old schooled, but it has to be done for us to propel our generation forward and believe me, our world is indeed shrinking! Think different.

Best of both worlds said...

I come from a Chinese language background, my native tongue is Mandarin, I was brought up in Chinese primary school. My parents had the foresight to enrol me to a quality English tuition centre to supplement my English command as English was only taught starting from Primary 3.

In secondary school, my kebangsaan school did not offer Chinese as a subject and my parents effectively forced me to go for private Chinese tuition.

I absolutely hated my parents at that time for all the extra donkey work dat i had to do and running the risk of spoiling my SPM grades as it was (still is i believe) notoriously difficult to get good grades in Chinese SPM.

In the end, I got A1 for SPM Chinese, A1 for 1119 English and 8.0 in IELTS. When I came over to UK to study medicine under JPA scholarship, my English proficiency was better than most of the local Brits and I could converse fluently with Chinese mainlanders perfectly.

In hindsight, I couldn't be more grateful to my parent's foresight in recognising the importance of mastering both English and Chinese and took the initiative to help me achieve that. When I have reunions with my friends, it was clear that many of my primary schoolmates have woeful English and have trouble in job application and expressing themselves in English AND Bahasa. On the other hand, many of my secondary school friends wished they had learnt Chinese, esp now that Chinese language's importance is growing in the business world. Regretfully, some still look down on the Chinese-educated (I believe they are overtly criticising their poor grasp of English while subconsciously envious of their counterparts' command of Chinese language - i mean for the Chinese students who have no grasp of their own mother language). I for one, will definitely follow my parent's footsteps when it comes to helping my kids master English, Chinese and Bahasa in the future.

Coming from backgrounds of both Chinese and Kebangsaan (my secondary school was almost an English-medium school as it was ex-missionary school), I can say there is definitely a different mindset in both sets of students. GENERALLY speaking, Chinese educated students are ingrained with the core values of Respect, Virtue, Transparency, Humility/Dignity. Hence they are generally more respectful to authority/elders (heck, we bowed to our teachers in school! maybe that's why i've got a backache at the tender age of 25), and more reserved. Non-Chinese educated students tend to be more opinionated, vocal and brash (pros & cons to it).

Nowadays, more and more people are recognising the importance and benefits of being multilingual. It is almost no longer surprising to see Bumiputera parents sending their children to Chinese-medium schools, I feel it would be a shame for the Chinese to forsake their own language in pursuit of better command of English. Hopefully the Chinese-medium schools should realise that neglecting good teaching of English and Bahasa will be to their own future's detriment.

Enough said, now back to my elementary Spanish lessons. Adios.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

The solution to the mess created by the Brits who allowed the development of vernacular schools is simple. We should do away with Chinese and Tamil medium schools, have two mediums of instruction i.e. English and Malay while Mandarin, Tamil etc are just linguistic subjects. This will create an entire generation of competitive school leavers who are culturally adept with the various ethnic groups,globally mobile and versatile in the workplace.

We all know that vernacular schools are training camps for future Nazis who are limited in their outlook towards other ethnic groups. You can see that at work in society today. This demand for education in one's mother tongue has become bothersome (anyway if you are still holding on to this notion you should just probably exit the country) and is politically motivated by liars who school their own young in English private/international schools.

Let us all join together and really strive for a single system of education.

Anonymous said...

Apa khabar? I'm fine. Have both English and Malay as mediums of instruction in school? Cadangan itu agak menarik, namun, selamat mencuba dalam usaha menrealisasikan cadangan itu di negara kita.

If you think vernacular schools are training camps for future Nazis who are limited in their outlook towards other ethnic groups, you should first fear Islamic/religious schools who most likely will have not only limited, but also intolerant outlook on other ethic groups and other religions.

Anonymous said...

Through my interactions with the Chinese educated community, I believe they are by far the worst of the lot. The habits of the average Chinaman are inherited through Chinese education. They have crude manners, antisocial behaviour(mingling with themselves and not those of other races), restricted knowledge(Chinese music and Chinese pop shows and nothing else),robotic approach in their studies, eg memorizing like parrots, and even a horrible sense of dressing. Their academic pride is delusional. Getting straight A's does not prove academic mettle; it just means one is good at memorizing. This is why Chinese educated people are so inferior and inadequate in other aspects of education like communication skills , creative thinking and giving public presentations.

At first I believed that the English-speaking Chinese community practised discrimination when they looked down on their Chinese educated counterparts. Now I realize they have a good reason to do so. Chinese educated people are so rude and unsophisticated, they just get on your nerves. And since they are so large in number, they're like a growing virus population. I'm not sorry I said that.

If you Chinese educated people do not want to be looked down on by others, then prove your worth. Respect is earned, not demanded.

Anonymous said...

'The habits of the average Chinaman are inherited through Chinese education....'.It is a heinous remark by one who claim to have higher taste.

'They have crude manners, antisocial behaviour(mingling with themselves and not those of other races), restricted knowledge(Chinese music and Chinese pop shows and nothing else),...'
If you are well-educated, prove it by providing evidence.

'robotic approach in their studies, eg memorizing like parrots, and even a horrible sense of dressing. Their academic pride is delusional. Getting straight A's does not prove academic mettle; it just means one is good at memorizing.' Again, a sweeping statement.

'This is why Chinese educated people are so inferior and inadequate in other aspects of education like communication skills , creative thinking and giving public presentations.' What kind of communication skills? With whom? You? 90% of Malaysian Chinese pupils are attending Chinese Primary Schools. Are they all lacking creative thinking? You are so creative to fabricate this.
Public presentation? You confirm your impression (bias) study.

'Now I realize they have a good reason to do so. Chinese educated people are so rude and unsophisticated, they just get on your nerves. And since they are so large in number, they're like a growing virus population. I'm not sorry I said that.'' Respect is earned, not demanded.'
I do agree with you. If you say all this to your father, you will not earned respect from him. You have betrayed your fellow country folks.

After all, you are just a small and stupid snob. In fact, most of the Chinese school students manage to finish tertiary education speak fairly good English. A large number of them are professionals (lawyers, doctors, accountants)in Malaysia. They use English as the working language. But there are certainly many of their old classmates end up as losers in competition. Are these loosers you despise?

Are there a truely 'English speaking community'?

Anonymous said...

"It is a heinous remark by one who claim to have higher taste."
=>You must be that typical Chinese educated person who tries to act all Western. How do I tell? Your grammar =)

"If you are well-educated, prove it by providing evidence."
=?What do you want, a formal statistics report? The evidence is in the millions of Chinese educated people who irritate the living hell out of me, my English-speaking friends, my Indian friends, my Malay friends. If that doesn't convince you, open you mouth and ask around.

"Again, a sweeping statement."
=>Because the streets of Malaysia are filled with dirt like them.And you.

"What kind of communication skills? With whom? You? 90% of Malaysian Chinese pupils are attending Chinese Primary Schools. Are they all lacking creative thinking? You are so creative to fabricate this.
Public presentation? You confirm your impression (bias) study."
=>If memorizing like parrots and speaking broken English are considered creative traits to you, then perhaps, no, in fact, you are having a problem. And what on Earth do you mean by me confirming my impression (bias) study?

"I do agree with you. If you say all this to your father, you will not earned respect from him. You have betrayed your fellow country folks."
=> God damn your grammar, son. And what do you mean by fellow country folks? Just what kind of Chinese educated nonsense is that? Fellow country folks?! This ain't China, son. My country folks are the people I meet, REGARDLESS of their race, REGARDLESS of their nationality. We divide the world into different nations, but really, the world is but one nation, and the people its citizens. That's Bahai for you, son. Know what Bahai is? You don't, not until you started to Wiki it right after I brought it up. You know nothing but your country folks and your goddamned country folk songs. Go back to China dude.

"After all, you are just a small and stupid snob."
=> You have inferiority complex, dude? See your psychologist. I mean, your singseh, your sifu, your yi sheng, or whatever word you goddamned Chinese eds use to address a person skilled in medical treatment.

"A large number of them are professionals (lawyers, doctors, accountants)in Malaysia."
=>"If you are well-educated, prove it by providing evidence."
=>"You are so creative to fabricate this."

"Are there a truely 'English speaking community'?"
=> IS there a truely 'English-speaking community'? That's the correct way to say it. By the way, there will never be a true English-speaking community unless people of your kind continue to pollute our country.

joseph said...

of course mandarin is the most spoken language in the world because China has the biggest population in the world and there are many chinese spreaded all over the world. language is power. the more you know, the better it is. we have to come to realise that English at this moment is still the universal language for people to communicate. if this is the case, the emphasis in english language is inevitable unless everything changes. China keeps the mandarin to unify the ppl from all over the provinces because they have 50++ tribes and their dialect/mother tongue. If without a common language, how are these people going to communicate. why not throw the issues about which language is more important but look at the mind development of those who are chinese-ed and english-ed. be honest to observe ppl around you...... which group is more creative, outspoken, well-mannered, social skills, ability to reason, music talent, acting and many more qualitative aspects. i have interviewed many but i have to say that overall the english-ed fair better than the chinese-ed. i have not included the grammar part but just zooming in on the qualitative aspects.

Anonymous said...

I've been through discrimination from these Chinese Educated community before. It's funny how they looked down upon a Chinese who's English Educated with a down-graded ability to communicate in Chinese. Yes, I admit. I'm no-good when it comes to Chinese. I can't read or write. I can only rely on my listening ability to produce some verbal understanding between us. Still not good enough for you? Let's start learning sign languages then :D

It's like they were hynoptized to some degree, that there's a silent law that says "You no know Chinese, you bring shame. Bad people!" O.o Okay, which God actually said that? An international law powerful enough to rule Malaysia that I've never heard of?

Undoubtly that mastering multiple languages can bring lots of advantages. I'm not so perfect with English either but hey, as long as we can talk properly and negotiate daily, is that another issue we need to argue about? I've never once looked down upon their "Engrish" either but their egoism just rubs off at times. I'll only help correct them to the extent of my knowlegde in that language but truthfully, I hate grammar no matter what. I'll only use it as a thrump cards on those boring essays. :3 No grammar for me! XD

"Is you say one", "You so noisy", "Over there, turn right then left, roud about there turn right,"

o.o It's time to call the Grammar Police Woot! Should we start establishing one right now? XD

I don't know about being rude from Chinese pop culture and all but it seriously depends on that person. You should watch how Japan teach English on their TV. Its worth a whole lot of laughter in a good way [comedy]. :D

Anonymous said...

As a Malay and have seen the life of Cape Malay in Soutern Africa who have forgotten their Malay language, I could "feel" on the feeling of Chinese in Malaysia who want to preserved their mother touge here. In addition to that, I think the policy to teach math & science in english is a misguided and stupid policy. What is the objective? to increase the fluency of english or to learn math/science? The fact is you good in math/science not because fluency in english (too many example if you care to look) and you can be good in english and stupid in science/math and in the world of work there nothing wrong with that especially if you in human relation business. Scrap the policy is the only best answer.

noman said...

I'm chinese ed~6 years in chinese primary school and 6 years in chinese independence school study with mandarin subjects in science and maths. I got problem when study engineering course at UTAR because all classes are conduct in english. Soon or later, i'm able to catch up by putting a lot of effort. Now i'm as an engineer work in a MNC.

Maybe those "chinaman" that you all met make you crazy... ...but there are a lot of chinese ed are performing well. Maybe hardly to met them...because most of them are at overseas.

Make your social group bigger and you will see more than your thought!

Anonymous said...

well, i'm a product of both chinese and kebangsaan school (which taught mandarin as a subject within the normal school syllabus), and i felt that it was a wonderful experience learning both english and mandarin. it is not necessarily that a kebangsaan school graduate would have a good command of english, and it should not be generalised that all chinese-ed graduates are poor in their english, though admittedly some are. it all depends on the individual, whether he/she has the initiative to improve his/her language skills. as for people who does not know mandarin and look down on people who can't speak proper english and vice versa, i think it all boils down to inferiority complex.

yl said...

chinese school students are already so filled with homework that a little extra wont hurt. i was in a chinese primary school as well and i am now attending a kebangsaan secondary school. i've managed to attain good results in both maths and science even though it is now conducted in english, whereas we studied it in mandarin. It is relatively easy after 2 or 3 months, once you get used to it.

trilingual (supporter@fan.com) said...

I just want to focus on the issue of "English for Science & Math in Primary Schools".
It was a MAD decision.
Have anyone ever thought of such approach could bring upon declining result on both the subjects? Ripping off our children interest on both subjects?

Let us go down to the basic, the origin.

Ask ourselves these questions:
What is the PURPOSE of teaching Science & Math to our Primary Schools' children?
To gain knowledge on both subjests or for mastering the English language?

If it is the former, then why it had to be delivered in English?
Had there been sufficient research or trial, if any at all to justify the effectiveness of English as the medium for both subjects at Primary Schools?
And I doubt anyone with a sane mind would opt the later.

Then why delivering Science & Math in English at Primary Schools?

Please consider the fact that our children in the Primary Schools are from a diverse background, with many whom their mother tongue is anything but English. You can imaging what these children are going through.

Have anyone seriously thought of the suffering of our children having been pressured to master the knowledge of science & Math with the additional burden under
a distinct language/medium?
Science & Math itself could have been nightmare for some of the kids not to mention from a disctinct language.

I agreed the importants of strenghtening our kids' ability in mastering English but forcing English in Sci & Math is not the way.

Anonymous said...

For chinese school, Science & Math should be teach in english in secondary school rather than in primary school. They should have the basic idea before they go for english.

Anonymous said...

I plan to send my daughter to english school, this is because my english is not good. I have no problem with chinese and I will monitor her.

Anonymous said...

Hello, there is no English school in Malaysia anymore, unless you are refering to international school.

To those who may think you are able to teach your children Chinese, please think twice. Chinese is not an easy language to learn compares to English. I can write English letter but not Chinese even though I am Chinese educated.

I was toying with the idea of sending my kids to Singapore but finally decided local Chinese school as I wanted them to have the "Chinese root". I thank my parents for sending me to Chinese school while my elder sis & bro were sent to English school (during 70's) as those days English educated were held high regards.

I only pick up English during my tertiary education and now, most of my friends are surprised when they learned that I am Chinese educated.

Mynn said...

Allow me to add my two cents' worth .

I agree wholeheartedly with mobsterman . The way he is bringing up his son is the same way as I was brought up . My mom was , and still is a teacher in a Chinese primary school . However , she used to read to us every night in English when we were young and my brother and I are avid readers now . We speak English at home and to our friends .I really think that parents play a big role in ensuring that their children are exposed to various languages from young .

Just like TKW , I was sent to a Chinese primary school and then to a national secondary school . In primary school , I really hated having to learn Chinese . Now , however , I really appreciate being forced by my parents to learn Chinese as it really is becoming more and more important in our era .

I do not have any experience in business dealings but in my opinion , knowing how to speak , read and write fluent Chinese is always an asset . I am saying this from my relatively narrow experiences as a student living abroad in a non-english speaking country .

As a student in Moscow where the Chinese students' (from China) population is rather significant , I definitely feel that these students from China tend to befriend us BECAUSE we can speak Chinese . Of course , friendship is never built on that but being able to speak a common language often eradicates most barriers of communication , especially in a country where the people either just refuse to speak English or can't . It's either that or speak in Russian !

Heh so don't be afraid to send your daughter to a Chinese school . Yes , the teachers are overzealous and strict sometimes but she will be thanking you in the future for it .

Anonymous said...

anonymous ,

When you said : 'They have crude manners, antisocial behaviour (mingling with themselves and not those of other races), restricted knowledge(Chinese music and Chinese pop shows and nothing else),robotic approach in their studies, eg memorizing like parrots, and even a horrible sense of dressing.'

Are you saying that in general of the Chinese-ed community or is that just what your narrow mind can regurgitate ? You really sound like one of those English-ed 'snobs' who look down on the Chinese-ed . Well , technically I am Chinese-ed but I also regard myself as a half 'banana' because I speak English in my daily life but I do take offense with the generalization of your comments .

Firstly , you cannot say that ALL OF THE CHINESE-ED PEOPLE have crude manners , antisocial behaviour etc etc . There are always black sheep in any community and personally , I've also encountered some English-ed people who are like that too .

Secondly , you said : 'This is why Chinese educated people are so inferior and inadequate in other aspects of education like communication skills , creative thinking and giving public presentations.'

Again , ALL OF THEM ? I'm really sorry if you think that ALL Chinese educated people are inferior . The biggest contradiction of all would of course be the owner of this blog !

Hazidi said...

If we are to be a one nation, we should have only one education system, ie, one type of school. In this school we should teach in Bahasa Malaysia and English. IN these schools, all students irrespective of ethnic background must be taught Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin and Tamil, and possibly Arabic too. Children can master a whole number of languages, this is proven.
As for sending your children to SMJK (C), I would not recommend it. I have taught in a Chinese school and it is not the kind of learning context that I would inflict on children whom I love. I even wish my Chinese friend would stop sending their children to these schools.

Marsha said...

i do agree with hazidi on having a single education system for Malaysia where Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin, Tamil and other languages are being taught in schools.

We should take a leaf from Singapore's education system - like ours, its not perfect but what is interesting is that it allows the students to take up other languages in school that best suit them. Its part of their curriculum.

Why have different types of schools when we can incorporate all the important and positive elements into one proper system that works?

By the way, my eldest child is studying in a SJK (C) school as I thought it would be good for him to have a good grasp of another language besides Bahasa Malaysia and English. The only draw back is that these type of schools tends to make the children do alot of memorizing and too little chance (if any is given) to them to voice out their curiousity (my son informed me that the teachers always tell them to "shut-up" whenever they have a question regarding the subject being taught).

This only kills the creative and enthusiasm in them. I only wished that the national type school would start having chinese classes as part of their curriculum soon - where was the promise made by the education minister?

Anonymous said...

I can see that you guys really love each other in here..!!! LOL. There's so much 'heated' debates going on... over which school to send your kids, chinese Eds VS English Eds, Zhong guo, Ah Longs and Nazis..all thrown into the same arguments. I realised as parents, we try to do the right thing for our children..in terms of education, regardless of whatever culture or race we come from. Speaking as an observer, I couldn't agree more about bringing your children up with a strong sense of Self-Identity,loyalty, responsibilty and above all..respect for all other fellow human-beings on this planet. Well, atleast that's what we all hope for. As far as languages are concerned, it's always a BIG advantage for anybody who's proficient in several Languages..when it comes to who's going to get the job. It's all about giving your kids the best possible chances in life to fend for themselves, and to do well in life..isn't it.? However, life is never always fair nor equal..as much as we would like it to be..for whatever reasons..politically, racially or financially. The bottom line is..if you have well off to do parents, those kids will have a better chance than if your parents were from the lower-income groups. There are no questions about that. Now..somebody mentioned earlier..that he or she was studing in Melbourne and recently purchsed a Real Estate..mostly funded by his parents and yet in the same sentence said that he was totally independent.??? I don't quite get that.I'm only voicing my opinion on behalf of the 'poorer'people who may not be here to defend themselves or have a say in this matter. Are these poorer people more inclined or susceptible to becoming the 'misfits' in society..such as Ah Longs, mafias..or whatever.?? or because they were sent to chinese schools..in the first place? Or perhaps they came from broken-up families, as someone kindly pointed out..parents who didn't care about their children.? I suppose it takes all kinds to be'crooks', what I mean is..you have the uneducated Ah Longs..and you have the guys in smart 'suits' ripping you off..!!! So what's the difference? I only dropped in accidently..looking for Tuition-centres..LOL. I'm OUT of here.. and leave you all good people to battle it all out between yourselves and wish you folks a NICE DAY..!! Somebody ought to make an ebook out of this discussion and make lots of money on the internet.:))

Anonymous said...

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:%E9%A6%AC%E4%BE%86%E8%A5%BF%E4%BA%9E%E8%8F%AF%E4%BA%BA

This discussion has hit Wikipedia (Chinese version, but English and Malay accepted in the discussion page), any of you interested please join

Anonymous said...

Dong Jiao Zong's policy

A "Root" Chinese

According to UCSCAM (United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia), known as DJZ (Dong Jiao Zong - the stronghold/fortress of Chinese), it was the British colonial policy (1786-1957) allowing the vernacular language schools to exist and develop, at the same time enabling the Malays while placing restrictions on the Chinese. Students of British school gained better opportunities in employment than any other schools. Nevertheless, under such policy, the development of Chinese language education is thriving. Before Malaysia gained independency, the Chinese has had 1300 primary schools, nearly 100 high schools, and even a Nanyang University, built without the financial support of the government. The report of UCSCAM claimed that the main reason so many Chinese parents sending their children to Chinese school is that Chinese parents generally hope their next generation can become "A person that is like a Chinese people", with love and awareness of nation, love their own culture and traditions, ethnic pride, and most importantly to have ethnic "root".

Mr. Lin lian yu (Chinese:林连玉), known as the "Soul of ethnic Chinese" (Chinese:"族魂"), he is the former president of Chinese education, said: "One’s culture is the soul of one’s ethnic, its value as important as our lives." And if any of you (Chinese) want to inherit Chinese cultural heritage, and if any of you (Chinese) want to live a "root" Chinese, your children must be sent to Chinese school.

"Final goal"

The UCSCAM believed that the government of Malaysia is having a "final goal" to eradicate the Chinese schools and Tamil schools. The report claimed that the Government of Malaysia's culture and language education policy, over the past 50 years was, to not give up implementation of the "final goal", that is, only a final national origins of the school - "national school" with the Malay language (National language) as the main medium of instruction. The language of other ethnic groups, namely Chinese and Tamil, and so can only serve as a foreign language. The reason given by the government was that the Chinese and Tamil primary schools are the root cause of disunity of this country. In order to achieve "national unity", all other non-National Schools should be restricted on the development, and finally merge with the National School.

"Do not give up and do not compromise"

The standpoint of UCSCAM is, only the implementation of multilingualism origins of school policy is the answer to Malaysia's truly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-language, multi-religious multi-national situations. Dong Jiao Zong's distinctive position for this protest is unchanged over the last 50 years. Therefore, Dong Jiao Zong will continue to neither haughty nor humble in attitude, standing firm in maintaining the mother-tongue education, do not give up, do not compromise, ready to fight again for another 50 years.

http://www.djz.edu.my/hjdaobao/hj.php?id=79&period=54

Anonymous said...

英文教育回流对
马来西亚华文教育的挑战
⊙ 莫泰熙
2003年10月22日至23日,中国华侨大学华文学院假厦门集美大学举办“国际华文教育研讨会”。马来西亚董总首席行政主任莫泰熙受邀在大会演讲《英文教育回流对马来西亚华文教育的挑战》。兹刊出专题发言提纲全文。

前言

在五、六十年代,英文、华文、马来文及淡米尔文四种源流学校虽然并存,但待遇不同。当英文还是政经文教的重要语文,不利华校生存与发展的年代,马来西亚仍然有超过70%的华裔家长选择将子女送进华文小学接受六年母语教育。七十年代英文学校被改制为马来文学校(国民学校)。政府大力发展马来文教育,国民学校到处林立,同时超过90%的教育资源分配到国民学校,但选择华文小学的家长却有增无减,近几年来进入华文小学的华裔学生人数超过90%。2003年马来西亚政府全面让英文教育回流,各源流小学的数学和科学由一年级开始改为英文教学。华文小学,母语教育的最后防线已出现了缺口。在华文华语越来越重要的21世纪,马来西亚的华文教育再次面对英文教育的挑战。这一次的挑战,不再是华文学校面对英文学校或国民学校的挑战,而是在华文小学内起了质的变化,华文小学已面临变质的危机。这一次的英文回流将是华文教育一百多年来面对的最严峻挑战。

184年的血泪奋斗史

马来西亚面积33万平方千米,人口只有2千3百多万,是一个由多元民族组成的小国家,具有多元文化、多元语言、多元宗教的国情。华人人口占25%,约6百万。这6百万华人在文教事业上创造了两个世界上少有的奇迹:

① 超过90%的华人子弟送进华文小学接受完整的6年华文教育;

② 第一所华文学校在1819年创办至今已有184年的历史。这是一部马来西亚华人经过几代人努力,仍然保有完整的从幼儿园、小学、中学到大专学院完整母语教育体系的血泪奋斗史。

爱华文,更爱华文教育

在马来西亚“华文教育”指由“华文学校”所提供的教育。除了国文(马来文)和英文,其他知识学科的教学、考试及学校行政主要是华文华语,这样的学校才是“华文学校”。在华文学校,华文为第一语文,而国文和英文则为第二语文。对马来西亚的华裔子弟而言,华文教育就是他们的母语教育。在马来西亚代表并领导华文学校的有两个非营利民间文教组织:① 马来西亚华校董事联合会总会(简称“董总”)及② 马来西亚华校教师会联合会(简称“教总”)。由于这两个组织长期并肩奋斗,一般就统称为“董教总”。

马来西亚有1285所华文小学,学生约63万人。华文中学(称为“华文独立中学”)有60所,学生约5万3千人。3所民办学院(设有中文系,具华校特征),学生约4千人。马来西亚的华文小学虽然已纳入国家教育体系,但政府的拨款不足,须靠华社筹款建设。而60所华文独立中学及3所学院(分别为南方学院、新纪元学院及韩江学院),则是100%由华人社会出钱出力创办、维持和发展的非营利教育机构。马来西亚的华人社会,每年要捐献最少马币2亿元以维持上述小学、中学及学院的办学经费。

做一个有“根”的华人

马来西亚在1957年从英国殖民地主义手中争取得独立。国家独立前,英国殖民地主义者允许各语文源流学校存在,但独尊英文,扶持马来文,限制华文。当年到英校念书的学生,不论升学和就业,机会都比其他源流的学生来得多。虽然如此,华文教育的发展还是生机勃勃。当时不但拥有1千3百多所华文小学,近百所华文中学,甚至创办了一所华文大学——南洋大学。为什么在念英校“左右逢源”的时代,还是有那么多华裔家长将孩子送进华校呢?其中一个重要的原因是家长普遍希望自己的下一代要做一个“像华人的人”,一个热爱国家,又热爱自身民族文化传统,有民族自尊、有“根”的人,就像被马来西亚华人尊称为“族魂”的林连玉先生所说的:“民族的文化是民族的灵魂,它的价值,跟我们的生命互相比重。”要承传文化,要做一个有“根”的人,就得将孩子送进华校。


多元与单元的抗争

五十年来马来西亚政府的语言文化与教育政策,一直没有放弃贯彻“最后目标”,即最后国家只有一种源流的学校——“国民学校”,以马来语(国语)作为主要的教学媒介语。其他族群的语文,即华语和淡米尔语等只能作为一种外语来学习。官方所持的理由是,华文小学和淡米尔文小学的存在是国内种族两极化的根源。为了“国民团结”,除了国民学校,其他源流的学校应被限制发展,最后与国民学校合并。于是2000年提出“宏愿学校计划”(即三种源流学校置于同一个校园,以逐步实现“最后目标")。这项计划受到各民族语文教育工作者及家长强烈反对。因此,官方虽然宣布有关计划“势在必行”,但却无法如期全面推行。2003年新学年开始时,政府突然宣布,为了提高国民的英文水平及更有效地吸收科技知识,各源流小学由一年级起,数学及科学两个学科,放弃母语改用英语教学。董教总为首的华人社会反对以“国民团结”或“提高英文水平”的理由,将各民族母语教育的地位削弱。我们认为各民族应享有公平合理的公民地位才是民族团结的基础,而数理英化以提高英文水平是违反语文的学习规律,是不科学的。董教总维护母语教育,主张执政者应尊重各民族的共同诉求,实施尊重各民族母语教育地位的政策,放弃单元语文教育的同化思想,确保各民族的母语教育有公平合理的生存与发展空间。只有实施多种语文源流学校的政策,才真正符合马来西亚多元民族、多元文化、多元语文、多元宗教的多元国情。董教总为这一鲜明立场而抗争,也是五十年不变。因此,不论将华文小学“马来文化”或“英文化”,董教总将继续以不亢不卑的态度,站稳维护母语教育的岗位,不放弃、不妥协,作好准备继续再奋斗五十年。

结语

马来西亚华文教育有今天的发展成果,主要的原因是从一开始,董教总为代表的华人社会就从大格局来思考语文教育问题。我们认为母语教育是一个民族的根,是一项不能通过多数人立法而给予否定的基本人权。我们也认为,马来西亚华文教育受到限制、压制不只是华人的问题,它是国家政策是否公平对待各民族母语教育问题,是各民族间是否享有公平合理地位的问题。我们也坚信,各民族的维持良好关系,团结一致是全民必须努力奋斗的目标,但它的先决条件是:承认多元的国情,让各族共存共荣。*


2005-08-26

http://www.djz.edu.my/hjdaobao/hj.php?id=79&period=54

banlat said...

First of all, let me introduce myself,

I studied my secondary school education in Chinese Independent School and sat for the Unifiend Examination Certificate adminstrated by DongJiaoZhong. Hence, I should be “the most” Chinese educated by Malaysia Standard.
After that, I completed my BEng in Singapore (Half year Exchange Program in UK) and MSc in Germany. I have also worked in Singapore and have internship experiences in The Netherlands and Germany. Currently, I have secured a full-scholarship funded by a UK university to pursue PhD later this year.

First of all, I would like to classify the stream of education in my discussion into 3-main stream:
1. Chinese-stream: Graduate from Chinese Independent School, Graduate from Sekolah Kebangsaan who sat for Chinese until SPM or STPM level.
2. English-Stream: Graduate from Sekolah Kebangsaan with Strong English-heritage (Typically these are Catholic or Christian schools) and student from Singapore Education system.
3. Malay-Stream: Graduate from Sekolah Kebangsaan with little or no English-heritage.

From my personal experience, I have the following observation, which should not be generalized to all cases:

After the students have graduated from Secondary school
1. English-Stream have higher level of command of English compares to Chinese- and Malay-stream
2. There is no significantly difference between Chinese- and Malay- stream
3. Finally, it is a less-publicised fact that, there a significant number Chinese Independent School, which actually teach Math and Science in English during the senior level, i.e. the last 3 years of the secondary education, because the candidates can choose to either answer in English or Chinese in the Unified Examination Certificate. In this case, the level of English is in-between English-stream and “pure Chinese-stream”.

After the students have graduated from post-Secondary education
1. The written-, listening- English ability of Chinese- and Malay- stream will have improved significantly as most post-secondary education is in English so they need to learn it.
2. The oral-English ability of Chinese- and Malay- stream may or may not improve depending on one’s personality to mix around with different cliques.
3. Normally, there is no significant improvement in Chinese-ability for all stream of student after secondary school as the need is not strong.

After the students start working for a few years
1. It really depends on one’s job nature and job location. In some cases, student from Malay- and Chinese- stream can achieve a higher level of command of languages than average students from English-stream. On the other hand, the Malay- and English stream may also improve their oral-Chinese due to their job nature.

From the observations that I have presented above, I feel that
1. One’s language ability is not a static, but dynamic, i.e. it can improve or worsen over time.
2. The English-stream has clear advantage in term of English in the early stage of their post secondary school education, which may be less obvious in long run. It should be noted that early-English advantage is very important for internationally competitive scholarship. Thus, outstanding Chinese- and Malay- stream will need to compensate this with extra effort.

At a personal level, I feel that family culture and education is more important than “Chinese or English-educated”. I have always proud to tell others that I am from Chinese Independent School. Although my Malay has worsened throughout the years, it is mainly due to the fact that I am in overseas most of the time. My classmates, who work in Sales in Malaysia, already speak Malay with typical Malay accent. The most important things I learnt from Chinese independent school are to be self-reliance, as we constantly need to raise fund for ourselves, and to treasure, defend, and appreciate our Chinese culture. Whether or not this Chinese culture is important really depends on your personal values. But after some years in overseas, especially in Europe, when the question of self-identity comes. I always proud to relate myself to my Chinese-root.

RobynHood said...

I realise this discussion has been ongoing for 3 years, which shows it is a favourite topic of discussion. To share my story...

I came back from Singapore two years ago, and had no choice but send my eldest child who was already in upper primary then to an international school because he had not had any exposure to BM and would not be able to cope with many subjects that are taught in BM.

As for my younger children, I have chosen to send them to a Chinese primary school because I want them to learn mandarin well. National primary schools have poor reputation and I did not consider it a real option. The other option was a private school but the emphasis on mandarin was likely diluted, not to mention the cost.

So far, my experience with the chinese primary school has been good. I am pleasantly surprised at the quality of teaching in the school. Even among Chinese primary schools, it would seem there are different strata? This school is obviously well-funded with good facilities, has hands-on management, has developed a system that works and the teachers are dedicated. I could not ask for more.

And many of my children's classmates converse in English during recess or when they play before school - that is another pleasant surprise. I later realise that many of them actually come from English-speaking homes, like my children.

The syllabus for primary school is heavy. For a child to learn 3 languages at the same time is not easy. Luckily, my children are able to cope, with no tuition, but sufficient guidance from me.

Like what many posters/contributors have said, there are many factors to consider when choosing a school. It really depends on one's value system and background.

I think it is not necessarily true that Chinese-ed students will end up with a poor grasp of English. It is up to the parents to guide them. Exposure to the language is important. For those who like to read, they can get exposure from books. But it is also important to see the language come alive. So to those who do not speak English at home, I would advocate letting them learn from the Disney channel, Animal Planet or Discovery channels. It is a worthwhile investment.

leeyen said...

This is the first time i discover this blog and this issue really interests me as i have just written it on my blog about whether "To speak English or Mandarin"! Anyway, it doesn't matter you are Chinese ed or English ed, you are still a "Chinese" in the eyes of other races. Your mother tounge identifies your race and your ethnic root which i always think one should appreciate it. Language is a tool of communication, especially in this multi-racial country, so the more languages you know, the better.

Bessima said...

I have just finished my SPM last year, and I am now waiting for my results. I am of Arab and Bajau (an ethnic Sabahan race) descent. I attended a Chinese primary school, and studied Chinese as a language till Form 3 in a partially government-subsidised Chinese school.
At home, I am a native English speaker, and I read widely in 3 languages (Malay, English and Mandarin). I find that while its true to some extent that Chinese-ed students tend to be weak in English, I believe its beccause of a lack of exposure to the language at an early age.
Most Chinese students dont have anyone to speak to in English at home, and their friends in school also prefer to converse in Mandarin.

Although I didnt have anyone to practice my Mandarin with at home, my schoolmates and I always conversed in Mandarin, so I had no problem coping. And thanks to my dad and mom's guidance, I could also speak my two mother tongues, Arabic and Bajau. I definitely agree that the more languages you know, the better. There has been many instances when my knowledge of Mandarin has helped me, including in helping me get a part time job at a hotel, which is part of an international chain.

So I dont think its fair to put so much blame for poor English on the system. Parents should read to their children at an early age in English and also in their mother tongue. Chinese educationists should focus on increasing the children's exposure to English (i find reading and analysing literature the best and most fun way to learn a language), while parents should also not focus too much on English as to abandon the mother tongue, which is the root of our identity. In fact, I find that Chinese ed students are more hardworking, more disciplined and polite too ( due to the harsh disciplinary system, I guess), so there's always pros and cons to consider.

When there's a will, there's a way, so regardless of what education you receive, individual effort and initiative, by both parent and child, always makes a difference.

Coltz said...

Not to troll by reviving this thread, but some of the comments here really irritate me in the scale of their ignorance. As long as this article remains on the "recent popular" list I need to address a few things.

1) Arguing over whether teaching in Chinese is "better for the kids" is kind of pointless in a Malaysian context because the main point of the Chinese education stems not from educational advantage (which actually exists, but that's beyond the point), but from a very real insecurity of identity wipe by the authoritarian government. The "Final Agenda" in Razak Report, the repeated oppression of the Chinese Independent system, the parroted nationalistic chants of the likes of Hazidi above me - they raise all kinds of alarms within the Chinese community. A lot of the times, with some well-warranted knee-jerk response.

2. English-educated people often fail - spectacularly - at understanding this fear of identity-wipe. Which I can't blame them for, but at least try to use some sense before you speak out. By the way, if Malaysia doesn't have a long history of racial oppression via DEB/May 13th/Nanyang University Seizing (by our wonderful neighbor!) etc., the Chinese education movement would probably be much less potent. Ah, ditto for the Indonesian Chinese who provided interesting specimens, as to what happens to an ethnic group that lost its cohesiveness via language in a nation full of bigots.

3. Students that turn out to be reclusive and intolerant jerks? The "oppressed" mentality probably contributes more to this than anything. Also:

4. Guess what, Chinese school kids, in greater proportions, come from families with strict disciplines and poor economic backgrounds, unlike some of the elite-English-school educated Chinese out there. The poor and oppressed cling to their pride - an academically above-average system - what's wrong with that?

5. I personally don't think a student of similar caliber will do any worse in Chinese school than in an elite English school - bad teachers exist anywhere, and losers will remain losers whether they're loud-mouthed or not. I have personally gone through the Chinese independent school system and I have to say that the young, highly-knowledgeable teachers (available in greater numbers than most SMKs because of the willingness to take fresh university graduates) are quite willing to help out those that show real talent and curiosity. So the English schools don't have a monopoly on opportunities, sorry to burst your bubble.

Anonymous said...

Most of the comments here are debating about English vs. Chinese. What about Bahasa Malaysia? Don't forget that we are now living in Malaysia, and most of us will make a living here in Malaysia after our studies. Whether we like it or not, academic excellence plays a very important role on securing a place in uni. or in securing a good job. In my opinion, whether we send our children to SK,SJKC or SJKT,they need to have proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia if they are to study in SMK (government funded secondary schools).

Most subjects in secondary school are taught in Bahasa Malaysia. Most teachers will teach in Bahasa Malaysia.. and questions need to be answered in Bahasa as well. As a secondary school teacher, from my observation, more than half of the chinese or indians who came from sjkc or sjkt are very weak in Bahasa Malaysia, thus making them unable to understand the lessons taught in Bahasa Malaysia. Being unable to understand makes them unable to catch up on the subjects. Most of them will lose interest in studies, sleep in class or just won't come to school.

So, eventhough English and Chinese are important to master, we as Malaysians should never forget that mastering Bahasa Malaysia is very important too esp. during the primary level. Without the proficiency in BM, how do you expect our children to go through their studies in goverment secondary schools? Unless of course you want to send your children to international school or chinese independent school.

So as a teacher, I do strongly believe that no matter where we send our children, we as parents must instill the love of reading to our children since young and be there to guide them.. esp. in mastering these three languages.
A word of advice though, if you are a Malay with zero knowledge of chinese, if you plan to send your child to a chinese school, be prepared to send him or her for extra chinese classes unless your child is really smart without the classes, of course. As for chinese who are not good in Bahasa Malaysia, sending your children to a chinese school can be risky as their BM might be very weak, unless you expose them to books in the language since young.

I as a teacher has seen a lot of chinese and indians who can't even master the basics of Bahasa malaysia, thus making them drop out of school halfway eventhough they have no disciplinary problem. Enough said, Bahasa malaysia is still a very important language for us malaysians, to give us a headstart in life..

yvettemly said...

I don't think there is any problem of learning in any language. Of course, if the child goes to SMK, his English or Chinese may be weaker, if he goes to Chinese sch, his Malay or English may be weaker. I think our educators cum teachers fail to be innovative in their teaching method. Most of the time, it is blah, blah, blah ! in boring fashion. For children in SMK or Chinese schools to like English, the teaching style has to change to become more fun learning, like exposing the children to musicals in English, acting & drama, even dancing, eco trips, etc, etc.

I have also observed that in Speech Competitions in Chinese, English or Malay, the teachers just pick the few good ones to put up a show, there is no serious effort to get out those weak ones to try speaking.

I know there are many good & dedicated teachers out there, but at the same time, I have to hit out at those that take teaching merely as a "stainless steel rice bowl"(SSRB). These SSRB couldn't be bothered whether the students understand their teaching or not. They just continue blah, blah in their same old boring fashion. Anyway, whether the students pass or fail, these SSRB teachers still collect their salary at the end of the month. This also accounts for the sprouting of tuition centres everywhere.

I think teachers' attitude, recruitment of teachers, teachers training and their teaching methods need to be revamped. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

i like eveybody's comment here.... no right or wrong answer...it's very passionate & personal opinion it shows that we all have the love for education....

Anonymous said...

i absoblutely not agreed with chinese ed students more polite than english ed students. As far as i can see english ed students might be more polite. I came from a chinese family background and studying in a chinese school now. Honestly, I felt that chinese ed students' behaviour seemed to be more rude, unlike english ed students, i never saw them talking in bad words. Lastly, i would like to say chinese education really bad, everything subjects were teaching in chinese, we got completely no chance to speak or even write in English. So whoever that planning to send their children to chinese educated school, tell you better not if not you would probably regret after doing that.

Anonymous said...

I want to share my own experience in education. I believe that there are a lot of people have the same experiences as me. I studied in SRJK(C) for my primary education. All the scientific and mathematical terms are in Chinese. As I was from Hokkien family background and I was from a small town, I had no much chance to watch English or Malay television program. My Malay language and English are so poor that I was failed in my UPSR. After I enrolled in to Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan, or Malay National School, it was totally a nightmare for me. I had to learn mathematics and science in a "foreign language". In the beginning, I was failed, in my mathematics, as I didn't understand the contents of the textbooks at all. After 3 years of hard works, at least, I can change my "thinking mode" from Chinese to Malay, and all the scientific and mathematical terms shifted from Chinese to Malay. But, my English still very poor, as my secondary school didn't have good talents in teaching English, and the environment in learning English is totally disappointed. After my STPM, I had the chance to continue my education to tertiary education. However, this is another nightmare to me. I had to take a English test for the enrollment. According to the standard of the university, I was failed in the test. Therefore, I had to take extra English course to remedy my English. But it didn't help. How can you learn a language in one-semester course and in the same time you have to take courses, by using English? And again, I have to do extra hard works to shift my scientific and mathematical terms from Malay to English. This was not as easy as before. For the workload of university was more heavier than secondary school. Even though I can cope better in English now, but does it worth?

Lo said...

"...their resistance to even simple things like teaching Mathematics and Science in English is causing an entire generation of Chinese students to be inept in the language."

I don't agree.

Hello, I came from chinese primary school, did Maths and Science in English in government school (SMK), and now doing second year of edexcel A-level.

In my course, almost all of my friends learn maths and science in English. However now we have a major problem in scoring good marks in AS English 8693 paper. Why?

Because most of us are from chinese-speaking family and we are less exposed to the English language. Comparing to my friends (so-called banana) who are coming from English-speaking family, they seem to have no problem with the paper.

In order for one to be competent in English language, one has to speak English more frequently and get exposure from the mass media like newspaper and television, not learning it in the class.

Clytia said...

When I first started working in Singapore, I was taken by surprise. NOBODY (okay, maybe there are a handful few) in my company spoke to me in English at all! Imagine how flabbergasted I was because I received English/Malay education only throughout all my life. Mandarin, for me, has always been self-taught (not for the purpose of "identity preservation" but simply because I have always been fascinated by various languages). Nevertheless, in less than 6 months, I could speak fluent Mandarin with my colleagues to the extent that most of them thought I had always been a native speaker of it. I have to admit that even though I received 11 years of education in Malay, I can hardly construct a proper sentence now (and I used to score at least a B for Malay while in school)! The key to learn a language is to use it. If you think our dear "neighbours" speak perfect English, think twice. The amount of Singlish (our Manglish equivalent) they speak is sufficient to make you think that that is a new language altogether!

While identity preservation is important, it should not of sole consideration. I do feel strongly that the Chinese education system should implement English usage in their context. We are all living in a globalised world. Unless, in your ideals, you would ONLY trade with Chinese speaking countries/customers and hire ONLY Chinese speaking staffs. The concern here is that while it is good for Chinese schools to use Mandarin as the core language of teaching, you cannot deny that English is the official language for global communication purposes. I applaud the fact that many parents send their children to Chinese schools since they recognise China's rise to power. Increasing the usage of English in Chinese schools would only give their students the comparative advantage in the market and in the long run, people will certainly choose to send their children to Chinese schools instead of national schools. Compared to our peers in China and Taiwan, we have the obvious advantage of being exposed to various languages since we are young. Language is a tool for communication, let it serves its purpose.

 鍾祥尉 said...

A lot of you here do not seemed to think that English as educated or spoken in Malaysia or Singapore is problematic. Most, if not all, of the English as spoken in both countries are the so called "Manglish" and "Singlish", a form of pidgin English that is Chinese in terms of grammar with words in English.

Surely, a lot of English Educated ones will blame it all on Chinese educated for all the problem associated with poor English standards, as if they have never spoken Manglish/Singlish themselves.

I would like to point out the fact that both Malaysia and Singapore are complicated culture wise and if we think we can achieve or becoming an English speaking country, we must be kidding with ourselves. We simply don't have English culture background to understand why many things are said and written the way it is in English. Unless of course one admires the English culture and studied it closely.

Again, many keep chanting that learning English will boarden your world and blah blah blah. Exactly what kind of world are we talking about. We don't need to look far, but look at Japan. How many of them are English literate and how many of them are fluent in English? But yet, is Japan the sick man of East Asia without English? I am sure you know the answer better than me.

I agree with Kampungbuoy above. I seems that many in Malaysia are thinking that English is a superior language and we are following this blindly without thinking it through. Many English Ed seemed to be very outspoken and they bitch just about everything because they tend to bitch in a situation where English is in demand. Let's see if they can utter the same deal in Chinese.

Identity and culture is important to a country. The last thing we want to do is to be seen as an English speaking country or western country in South East Asia. Singapore for example, might excel in terms of their Economy, but culturally they are a not too far off from a western country. What kind of society are they? Heck, even their beloved leader, Minister Mentor Lee had realised this problem of bilingual education (with emphasis on English) and seek to eradicate the past wrongdoings.

I simply don't see why one will need to resort to Camp A (Chinese Ed) or Camp B (English Ed). The short falls of Chinese Education is not something that cannot be repaired or reformed, just like many other situation or cases. It is simply that the Chinese education system needs to be reviewed and reformed. Personally I would like to see more of the lateral and "out-of-the-box" kind of thinking fostered in Chinese education.

Whether one is to be successful or not, it has a lot to do with their thinking and actions. I don't believe that by speaking English you will be the most successful person on earth. I have seen too many intelligent person who tour around the world for talks and whose English standards are no better than primary school students.

Anonymous said...

[quote]Nonsense. I have many English Ed friends who could speak fluent Mandarin by mere practising and daily conversation. No books and tuitions needed.[/quote]

Hello?? How do you think they fare when they are flying blind without the appropriate instrument?

What I mean was, do you really think learning a language without going through books and tutorials will be sufficient? So, if that goes by your logic, would a person who is able to speak fluent English but unable to read and write be okay?

I am highly amused by the scale of ignorance of some of these so called English Ed who thinks "able to speak Chinese alone is enough, don't need to read and write it". I call these people Chinese.

Imagine, if everyone in China is doing the same thing, how the hell do you think the 5,000 years of history can be passed down? It is a challenge for those who are Chinese literate to read ancient literature of Chinese. How would you English literate be able to understand all these Chinese literature? My hunch is to resort to an English based literature on Chinese subjects - perhaps, not, because for them Shakespare would be even more interesting!

Raine said...

Whether one is to be successful or not, it has a lot to do with their thinking and actions. I don't believe that by speaking English you will be the most successful person on earth. I have seen too many intelligent person who tour around the world for talks and whose English standards are no better than primary school students.

You are right. By speaking English, you may not be the most successful person on earth. However, do not forget the motive behind learning a language. If people cannot understand what you are speaking, how can you even convey your thoughts effectively? Hire an interpreter maybe?

What I mean was, do you really think learning a language without going through books and tutorials will be sufficient? So, if that goes by your logic, would a person who is able to speak fluent English but unable to read and write be okay?
I have met some Chinese (from China) clients who can speak rather good English but writes poorly. Do you think that's a problem? You may think I'm ignorant but I don't think it is a problem at all. If they can read and write perfect English but unable to speak a word of it, don't you think it is ridiculous if we only communicate through email alone even though we sit in the same conference room? Or should we start passing papers instead?

Anonymous said...

Precisely what is wrong with hiring interpreters? They are the ones who will convey the message clearly since they have spent the considerable amount of time in the language.

Again, I stressed, we simply do not have a good environment in Malaysia to speak English as it is spoken in the USA, Australia, NZ, Britain and Canada. The English as spoken in Malaysia is tainted and screwed up severely local languages. How do you think we can communicate effectively with Manglish or Singlish? I hear "pardon" or "Can you repeat it again" all the time from Australians when they spoke to Manglish speakers. How do you expect to get respect from other foreigners when you speak like Phua Chu Kang? The grammar and pronunciation are both weird.

I think you are confused. I was mainly commenting on those who stressed the importance of learning English but neglect the importance of Chinese (by reducing it to speech Chinese without learning how to read and write it).

Again, I stress, if you are serious about learning a language, do learn to speak, read and write it. If you only learn to speak Chinese without learning to read and write it, you can't really go far.

Anonymous said...

[quote]I have met some Chinese (from China) clients who can speak rather good English but writes poorly. Do you think that's a problem? You may think I'm ignorant but I don't think it is a problem at all. If they can read and write perfect English but unable to speak a word of it, don't you think it is ridiculous if we only communicate through email alone even though we sit in the same conference room? Or should we start passing papers instead?[/quote]

I assume you are Chinese? In that case perhaps you should use Mandarin for effective verbal and written communication. My Chinese client and I communicates fully in Mandarin, although I must admit I am still learning the technical terms as used in the mainland. Generally the meaning is more straight forward than using English.

education resources said...

His reason was that there could be instances where "well-to-do" parents refuse to finance their children's education as they may not place their child's education resources
as priority.

There could also be a situation whereby those "well-to-do" parents have a large number of children and it is beyond their means to finance every single child in the family, he said.

Trixie said...

hi tony, and everyone,

what an interesting forum this has been! however, i am curious to know what tony has decided for his daughter? what schooling system have you chosen, tony?

as for me, i am a kadazan with a sino-kadazan mother, and had 2 years of kindergarten in a chinese kindergarten. my mandarin is still with me today, although i cannot write or read it.

my little boy is coming 4 yrs. i've a mind to enroll him in a chinese kindy soon, just so that he can say that he did it like his mom :) i think he will like the exposure, he is the energetic sort, and any kind of creative learning, including language learning will be fun, and hence, educational for him.

trixie

p/s oh yes - what did tony decide again??

Lost Teacher said...

I am teaching in a chinese school. I am not a chinese but for some reason or other, I was posted at a chinese school. So, I may not be qualified to talk about this issue.

Although my school is a chinese school, we have a mix of bumi and chinese students (I think this is normal in Borneo).

I am teaching English and also BM. Frankly, I do not think 2 periods per week for years 1,2 and 3 are and 4 periods per week for years 4, 5 and 6 are enough. the govt is saying that next year years 1,2 and 3 are going to have 2 additional periods.

compared to national school (SK), right now they have 8 periods per week for years 1,2 and 3 and 7 periods per week for years 4,5 and 6.

this is just my opinion but i happen to think that ETeMS gave chinese school students more exposure to the language and more opportunity to master the language. FYI, ETeMS takes only 2 periods for Maths and 2 periods for Science per week.

This is especially true for my students who mostly came from low SES family. They could not afford to attend English tuition outside of school.

I'm only saying this here to let you know about my students' situation. At first I was a bit frightened to know that I was posted to a chinese school because chinese schools are known for their high academic standards. I prepared myself for a rigorous work schedule and demanding parents. However, my school defies the stereotype for chinese school.

I am almost venting here. I'm not really sure if I have anything to contribute to the issue.

I think ETeMS has its own merits if you look at language immersion programs in Canada (French/English) or in the US (Spanish).

I think a lot of the problems with ETeMS lies with the teacher and NOT the students. Kids absorb language like sponge absorb water.

As to the quality of teachers, I think the government should regulate the intake of teachers. I am talking about the district I am teaching in.

Most of the teachers in SJKC are Guru Sandaran. They first become Guru Sandaran then they enroll in programs such as KDC (which stands for Kursus dalam cuti? I'm not sure but after 3 years they got to be real teachers).

The requirement to be Guru Sandaran in SJKC is 5 CREDITS in SPM and that is lower than local university admission requirement which is 6 CREDITS.

I have met a lot of older teachers (who began teaching as Guru Sandaran Tidak Terlatih) who are dedicated and desires the best for their students in my district (we have 7 SJKC here).

However, I am very sorry to say this, the younger ones (around my age group, that's 19-30 year olds), who became GSTT, are not as dedicated as the older teachers. The schools are more interested in hiring someone from their district than hiring a competent teacher from elsewhere.

i have a chinese colleague with a degree posted to the same school but the school is doing their best to transfer her to another school because she is not a local. (it's a bit hard to transfer me because I'm an English optionist).

I'm rambling a bit here but I am unhappy about the way things are because it is also affecting the students. Although Mandarin is taught at my school, the students can't hardly speak Mandarin. Most of them can't even recognise their names written in Mandarin. This has brought quite an embarrassment at district level competitions.

I am sure chinese schools have a regulatory body somewhere but I don't know where to take my woes because I don't speak mandarin or any chinese dialects.

I am not trying to tarnish my school's image but I feel bad looking at the condition of my students. Sometimes, I felt that ETeMS is a huge opportunity for them to have a chance at attempting their M3 and Science UPSR paper.

I'm just venting here because I don't know who to talk to. I'm sorry if I've offended anyone.

Anonymous said...

study in SJK(C) then in SMK would be the best

Anonymous said...

I think points from both sides are good. While it is true we need to improve our English, we also need to learn our mother tongue. Besides, as pointed out by one commenter, versatility is the key. Wouldn't it be better if we can speak more than one language? It may help us deal with various problems that arise due to language. Not only that, it is fun to learn languages as it can take you from one culture to another. Language is a reflection of a culture to a certain extent. About the chinese and english-ed, I think it is time we stop stereotyping. It is hard to pin down a category on both sides because not all Chinese or English educated people are like what some people say. Everyone is special regardless which language they use as their medium for education or in life. That is my personal opinion, feel free to disagree.

wabbert said...

I think with any life choice that is a matter of personal preference/opinion, in this case the Chinese-ed non-Chinese-ed and so on, we're bound to get defensive/religious with our choice. Until we have someone who has gone through an extensive time being educated under 2 different systems, we can hardly provide an unbiased analysis of any system.

I'm a programmer. We use different types of programming languages to complete our tasks. It's normal to find a programmer who likes a particular language almost unequivocally, which is normally the one s/he uses most often.

Can anyone here say which religion, political system is the best? Again it's subject to one's believe, personal experience, thought etc. The problem with such issues is the difficulty in obtaining hard evidence to say A is A and B is B. We can say this: "In my opinion," I think A is better than B. Or, "In my experience," B is better than A.

I personally think if we are to have a unified schooling system, at least during the primary stage, is good. The early years tend to cement one's ideology more easily than the later years. If we as a nation are already divided (education-wise) at such age, I don't see how we can appreciate different sides later on when all the differences have already been identified on one another.

My GF is a Chinese-ed from a Chinese-ed family. I'm a non-Chinese-ed from a Chinese-ed father and non-Chinese-ed mother. There're (alot of) differences in the way we think. Heck even how we treat our parents. But as long as we look past our differences and try to focus on the reasons we're together, the things we both believe in, then we're good.

If you want your child to be unbiased and fully-equipped (language-wise), then introduce her/him to all the languages you want her/him to know. I think in a fragmented system, the best is to know all sides. By all sides I mean Malay, English, Chinese and Indian. But come on, let's be practical and pick a side?

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