I REFER to the current reports on making it compulsory to pass English in SPM. It is welcoming news indeed that we want to raise the standard of English in the country.
And I do agree that making the subject a compulsory pass will force students to improve their command of the language.
The standard of English among the young is really embarrassing. It has reached a stage where they cannot write proper sentences with correct grammar or spell correctly.
I was blessed to be a student at SMK Convent, Teluk Intan, when we were taught by the last batch of English teachers from the British era.
My English teachers, I still remember, sometimes forced us to refer to the dictionary. In fact, my teacher practically memorised the whole dictionary and could point out our mistakes easily.
Another teacher made us sit in pairs during his lessons – one student with a better score in English and the other with a lower score, so that the better student could help the other.
You cannot master a language overnight. It is learnt through reading, listening and speaking frequently.
I have attempted to learn Japanese but I never made much progress as I was not able to find the people to converse with.
While there are many measures taken by the Education Ministry to improve the standard of English, I would like to point out a few weaknesses and in turn provide a few suggestions.
Firstly, if the current English teachers are not trained with proper English, how would they teach correctly? I am in no position to humiliate teachers. There are really good ones, too.
Secondly, “importing” English teachers from overseas will not solve the problem unless we replace the incompetent teachers.
Thirdly, by the time we train up teachers, students may not be able to benefit as soon as we wish to.
There are still many retired teachers from the British times who have a very strong command of English.
I recall a politician suggesting that the ministry consider recruiting them as part-time teachers or tutors.
These teachers could also be English trainers for the current English teachers.
Then there are the efforts by English newspapers like The Star through its Newspaper-in-Education programme to help improve English in schools by providing newspapers as a teaching tool.
The ministry could look into developing language learning as a fun and interactive session.
Reading is also an essential practice for improvement in any language.
Therefore, schools perhaps could allocate time periods for students to read in the library.
Lastly, I’d like to suggest that students should re-sit language papers until they pass. If they fail the language subjects in Form One, they should not attempt to learn the Form Two syllabus until they have passed Form One.
This will ensure that their weakness in the language will not be dragged on from the first year of secondary school until they leave school, which is what is happening now.
I hope these humble suggestions could be taken into consideration and I thank the Education Ministry for its continuous efforts to improve the standard of education in the country.
CHEW HOONG LING
Voice of Women Association
Published: Thursday March 14, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday April 18, 2013 MYT 12:52:03 AM