Saturday, June 9, 2012

News: A Headmaster's View on the Slide of English Proficiency in East Malaysia

Put a halt to slide in English proficiency — Headmaster – BorneoPost Online

by Lim How Pim, Posted on June 8, 2012, Friday
Anthony Layan Kayah
KUCHING: A teacher with many years of experience teaching English yesterday conceded that the standard of English now “is not as good as during our time.”
Anthony Layan Kayah, 56, said something had to be done to enhance the standard of English among the young ones.
Having been appointed as the headmaster of SK St Teresa since 2002, he said some children had the habit of mixing up English with Bahasa Malaysia while the others had grown used to the SMS style of communicating in the language.
“We have to constantly correct them, telling them that it is not for exams. We have to teach them to differentiate between exams and SMS.
“In exams, they have to write in full and proper English, but when they send SMSes, it is up to them. As far as exams are concerned, it must be grammatically correct,” he told reporters after receiving the Hyacinth Gaudart English Language Teacher Award during the 21st Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) international conference here yesterday.
Anthony, who has been teaching English for 30 years, noted that more and more Sarawakians used English in their daily life compared to a decade or so ago.
He said when serving in Simunjan and Serian prior to 2002, he had noticed that some parents did not realise the importance of English. “Back then, we even had a programme ‘SIR’, which is ‘Say It Right’ to encourage children to speak proper and correct English.
“You have to speak to them in English rather than using the translation method, which is no good,” said Anthony, from Kampung Paon Gahat, Serian.
One of the ways, he said, was for a teacher to demonstrate the act of drinking from a cup when teaching children to say ‘I want to drink’.
Saying young learners might not speak English “as good as the Queen’s English”, he was glad to note that at the very least, they were picking up the language.
Personally, Anthony said he preferred English as the teaching medium for Science and Maths. He reasoned that this would help keep Malaysian students on par with others.
“I do not want to blame it on education policy, but we shall adapt to changes and needs.”
On the standard of English of pupils at SK St Teresa, he said: “Based on the UPSR results in the last five years, many of our students got A for English, and the pass rate is 98 per cent and above.”
The school has 18 classes with 749 pupils.

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