Monday, January 22, 2007

Can speak English or not?

According to a recent Star report, teachers who don't pass an English proficiency test might have to go back to school to brush up their English. My question is - what were they doing teaching Science and Math in English in the first place?

I would have thought that English proficiency would be one of the subjects in which ALL teachers are tested for in teacher training school, not just those who are supposed to be teaching Science and Math in English. For these teachers, shouldn't the bar have been set much higher? Shouldn't they have been better trained to begin with?

It probably has to do with the hurried nature in which this policy was implemented. The then political masters (under Dr. M) wanted to push through this policy in a hurry without first putting in the measures (such as adequate teacher training) to ensure that there was sufficient qualified personnel to teach both of these classes in English. Now, 4 years into this new policy, it's time to play catch up after complaints from all sides:

The teaching of the two subjects in English was introduced in Year One, Form One and Lower Six in 2003. Since then, many parents have voiced concerns over the quality of teaching, including in the media. Their children, they said, were unable to follow the lessons properly as the teachers were less than proficient in English.

I guess this is better than doing nothing about the whole situation and letting those kids who have poor teachers suffer. But again, this shows the seriousness of trying to implement a policy without putting in place the necessary infrastructure to support these policies.

I wonder if the Ministry will place public the % of teachers who have to go through an English 'refresher' course after failing this exam?


Anonymous said...

I know how bad can the English gets in class.

My sister's math teacher taught her that "Five push two is three" (Lima tolak tigak ialah dua). I don't know what the other students think of it.

Sam said...

I had experienced this for about one-and-a-half years during my stint in Form Six. My teachers, who are mostly fresh graduates, have problems communicating in English. Their pronunciations are horrible, but the one thing I noticed, they are really working hard to overcome their weakness. At least, they put in the effort to learn from mistakes. They are truly a great bunch of people...

Anonymous said...

My old school is filled with old horses, horses trained in that era, that era where everything was in English. No problems for those lucky the teachers, it's back to the good old days.

Your Fellow Anon said...

Aye, I remember fondly at my form 4/5 physics and chemistry teacher teaching in English while using terms from the book (asid pekat vs saturated acid). Alas, the fresh graduate teachers taught us in BM.

What really scares me is most is that these seasoned teachers who were trained in English will retire soon. Eons ago, these teachers are among the top students in their class who had few options when it comes to post secondary education. Things have changed a lot since then.

Anonymous said...

UMNO says.."Thousand apologies.."

Anonymous said...

You all should hear how lecturers in UM speak English!!! hehehe

Anonymous said...

It took 11 years of schooling in English gammar and comprehension for the seasoned English-trained teachers of the 1960s-70s to master the language.

Is the Education Department willing to let those teachers who failed the proposed English 'refresher' course go for an 11-year course in English gammar and comprehension?

Anonymous said...

I think there's no use in all these policies and tests. The teachers still do not teach at all in classes, resulting in poor education levels and discipline. That's why some one said that JK-school teachers might be posted to non-JK school teachers, to teach as those in non-JK...are not doing their job.

Ah Teng said...

Anonymous said...
You all should hear how lecturers in UM speak English!!! hehehe

1/23/2007 09:12:59 AM

Dear Anon above,

Tell us how? Dont just simply he he he. This is very serious as u named the institution.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, when I read about a letter to newspaper that the phrase “I go school” is considered grammatically acceptable, I know our English standard is going down the drain fast. So what’s happening now is of no surprise to anyone.

Anonymous said...

The whole snafu started in the mid-70s when MThir, the then Education Minister, dropped the English Syllabus based on grammar and replaced it with a Communications-based syllabus. For instance, the useful A.R.B. Etherton grammar-based textbooks were replaced with the idiotic books written by incompetent local writers. English lessons have become a bore not only to the students, but more important, to their teachers.

For the next 30 years till today, students have to grope in the dark to express themselves in correct English. The SPM English paper of today is much easier than the LCE English paper of yesteryear. And teachers with a F9 in SPM English are taken in to be trained as English Language teachers, thereby maintaining the cycle of GIGO.

Anonymous said...

I am the local product (kebangsaan to universiti) after British left Malaya. So, I can not speak England properly then I "kena" for those who speak fluency English from this forum. What can I do? Don't scold me lah.

Is me, the student.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when the nation's leaders flip flop on a basic policy decision. We cannot wholly blame the teachers for their weakness (not incompetence, mind you).

OTOH, my schooling was 100% in BM but I managed to be reasoanbly fluent in both written and spoken English ( and I'm from rural terengganu). So I guess it's still down to individuals and to a lesser extent, the teachers we had while in school.

All it takes is a bit of effort.


Anonymous said...

My daughter complaints to me about her science teacher :

Her teacher said "What is the means(should be "meaning")of .."

Tony , what shall I do , ask my daughter to correct her teacher ?

Anonymous said...

I agreed with one of the comment. Rome was not built in a day.

It takes years to master fundamental english with proper grammar.

It seems that the government way is to ask the teachers to memorise the keywords and terms of science and maths and deliver to the students with mixed english and malay in between.

Pity those teachers , after all it is not their fault

Anonymous said...

Fellow bloggers,

Well, our teacher may not be that fluent in english. But, we (Malaysian) never claim english is our first language...:-)

You guys should go to Singapore and ask for direction. You will be surprised...e.g. "you walk, walk, walk until you find..." give some credits to fellow Malaysian...

annoyed said...

last lat time, good students will became teachers. nowadays, if you are not smart enough, you end up as teachers. this is not to ridicule the profession, but admitted by one of the most senior teachers in a premier school.

teachers take instructions and personally went through the education systems themselves. pls understand and stop putting the blame solely on the teachers. if you are so fortunate to have learned well in english, be grateful. ask what you can do, with the sound english you have, to help the many teachers and students.

keep on playing the blaming game and do nothing, tell me, what will improve then?

Anonymous said...

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP)should protest to safeguard the interest of its members. We know it is not solely the fault of teachers.

However, it is a perception in Malaysia that the teachers are lazy and waiting for holidays to come.

The professors and lecturers of local university are more lazy. When is the last time they publish some commentable research paper ?

Anonymous said...

i sure hope that the big G's mind is made up; no changing back, and move forward. I still hear people hoping that science and math would be reverted back to BM...This is why we can't move forward. Stick to the plan!!!

Anonymous said...

They shouldn't just test the Maths & Science teachers - in fact they should also test the ENGLISH subject teachers as well. The results may be enlightening.

Anonymous said...

I had remember back in 2005 that when the first batch of students that were taught Science and Mathematics in English went for PMR, the results was that the BM papers were answered more than the English ones. I was dumbfounded. If the syllabus was taught in English, how can they know how to answer the questions in BM? Until today I read The Star. Some teachers still teach their students in BM.

I was kind of disappointed because there were no action taken for those who teach in BM. If the government wants students be proficient in English in terms of Science and Maths, then do something about this!

When I was in school, I remember that my school has many English teachers who had to teach other subjects such as Sejarah and Sains (in BM), because those are the only vacancies available. Now that I'm off school, where are all the teachers who are TRULY proficient in English?

I hope the government is not playing the fool of us with all these "policies". Abolish the bilingual paper already! Everyone attending secondary school now is learning Science and Mathematics in English there is no need for the BM paper to exist anyway.

What can we do? Listen to John Mayer's "waiting for the world to change", because truly, We Malaysians are "waiting and waiting, waiting for the world to change....."


Anonymous said...

To Anon 08:56:08 PM

If the bilingual papers in Mathematics & Science is turned into single language paper in English, as much as 80% of the candidates would hand up blank or partially blank answer scripts.

Some teachers still teach Mathematics & Science in BM for the simple reason that their students could only understand the lessons in that language. The students mentioned above are from the rural areas where English is scorned as the language of the infidel colonialists. Our anti-colonial sejarah textbooks which lionize 'heroes' such as maharaja lela, tok janggut and so on only serve to reinforce this concept.

Anonymous said...

Sorry teacher I come school late. My school bus died on the road!The police came and see the tyres got no flower. The driver tried to live the bus a few times but the engine died

Ah Teng said...

Agreed with your comment Kian Meng about getting the infrastructure in place before implementing a policy.

On the other hand the burden should not be on the school or teachers per se. Parents also need to play their role.

Guys, stop make fun of the teachers. Please show evidence that there are teachers taught two push two equal to zero. OR you read it in a cartoon section many years ago when the policy was introduced.

I strongly believed that my teachers contributed in one way or another in my career development. How about you? Do you have the same thought? So pls dont belittled the teaching profession. Play your part in improving our children proficiency in english. May be for a start you can donate English newpapers to their school every day.

Anonymous said...

Wat?? Donate newspapers to correct the standard of English?

Come on...look at the political content of our local papers......!!!!!! Unfit for students consumption

mocs said...

Anonymous said...
You all should hear how lecturers in UM speak English!!! hehehe

To anon, can you give us a sample? Is it something like:

nonymous said...

My daughter complaints to me about her science teacher :

Her teacher said "What is the means(should be "meaning")of .."

Tony , what shall I do , ask my daughter to correct her teacher ?

terrabaca said...

It is the taught curriculum (English as taught) that compounds the problem and breeds learning disability, and not the quality of the official curriculum or the various suggested tools of instruction available. Language is not taught as language is to be taught.

"One of the 4 objectives of the KBSM English language programme states thus:

'At the end of the secondary school English language programme the students should be able to read and understand prose and poetry for information and enjoyment'.

For this to happen under present English teaching and learning circumstances, the Ministry has once published a Compendium Bahasa Inggeris KBSM outlining, inter alia, on the need to introduce Class Readers, suggesting that one-fifth of the teaching hours be slotted for this. And to date, that suggestion has remained in the Compendium.

The number of class students and the lack of time, books and competent teachers plus general apathy to anything which is not examination business have turned reading into a foreign element in the educational and teaching process. And the price for that could be seen in the fall in the standard of language fluency and proficiency, thus perpetuating learning disabilities. What is most troubling is the sure prospect of a continuous 'tikus baiki labu' scenario in the attempts to remedy the situation.

We have looked at the reading disability problem in the schools at close range, and have drawn certain conclusions that coincide with the comments made in the Compendium. It is the taught curriculum (English as taught) that compounds the problem and breeds learning disability, and not the quality of the official curriculum or the various suggested tools of instruction available. Language is not taught as language is to be taught."

"The programme that we envisage, and whose worth has been proven in our rural and suburban 'laboratories' basically underline basic aim of CERAP; to enhance/boost/ supplement/develop reading and learning skills among low achievers in English (especially among students whose academic records tend to veer downwards), via an approach to pedagogy that is simple, practical and yet effective. And more importantly, to ensure that the high-achievers be put on an extensive enrichment practice, for it is from their lot that the quality coaches come from."

"An enforced literacy programme such as CERAP is able to raise literacy and the appreciation of the written word, allowing them to acquire a sustainable second language leading to post-SPM level.More importantly teachers are now forced to polish their basic language skills via their participation in the programme"

"Language is taught without sound recognition, without students use of the tongue. Therefore both pronunciation and grammatical errors and confusion arising from use of first language 'sound box' and grammar/nahu by teachers and students leaves a vicious trail that plagues school-leavers for life. This is compounded by the fact that many teachers, though aware of the idiocy, obediently use modules prepared and sold to schools by the State Education department. And which modules perpetuate the notion that mute testing upon mute testing is language teaching. And when asked, the notion that Jabatan rules immune to linguistic logic and common sense "

"The term 'bilas' or rinse is used to describe CERAP's proposed module to assist TEACHERS relearn correct English and thus enhance their language skills up to High-Intermediate level. Thus, Bahasa Inggeris-Latihan & Ajar Semula means relearning English through practice. And this is most useful REFRESHER PROGRAMME for teachers unable to cope with the language yet required to teach it. From our experience the paradigm shift created from a never-asked-to-read-before to a must-read environment is enough to propel progress."

Anonymous said...

i agree with some of the statements above when saying that "students with F9 in English had been taken to teach English". i'm not really agree with that because i myself had A1 in my English in Form 5. But one thing i noticed is that, education system in Malaysia is not really encouraging to the growth, the expansion, to master English, not that encouraging for the students to really practice their English skills(we have to really scratches our own English ourselves). And futhermore,some students and parents thought(assume) that BM is much more important in the government offices and agencies. So that's why, most students are really go ahead with their serious study of BM.
From their social perspectives, it seems to me that our Ministers (seems to)doesn't really care about the future of our students who might one day be able to go abroad(should he/she fluent & proficient in English language). one of my presumption was that, Malaysia's minister dislikes Westerners(or their politics(but this question pop-up into my mind: Why do they send their childrens overseas to study?")

Anyway, these are my observation on some development of the Education system in malaysia especially when comes to the topic of English subject/language.