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Friday, August 19, 2011

Learning English for 13 years in school: Not enoughla! How come meh?


 This is not a new issue. It has been a hot issue lately since our fresh graduates especially Malays are unable to find jobs due to their incompetency in conversing in English. The fact that we have been learning English for 13 years is a huge puzzle even to our DPM. Some academicians have written some articles on newspapers about this issue. They shared their views on how to rectify this problem.

I'm just an English teacher who has been teaching undergraduates for more than 5 years in USM and 2 years in an international English centre in KL. I admit that I'm not so knowledgeable in teaching English nor am I an expert. BUT based on my own experience in learning English in normal daily school and 2 years in a residential school, I can share my own conclusion on what have gone so wrong.

Here is my own conclusion:
  • 13 years of learning but only 40 minutes, 3 days per week. (is it more now?)
  •  the teacher can only discuss mostly comprehension questions in 30 minutes, 10 minutes for other things not related to the subject. (checking attendance etc)
  • for writing essays, the teacher will spoon feed students on which topics that might come out in the exam. (be it UPSR, PMR or SPM)
  • not enough practice on conversation in class.
  • most students view English like other subjects that can be scored if they memorized, do more practice or study more on past years' exam paper.
  • students depend so much on teachers  that they don't have their own initiative to learn English and master the language using other methods.
  • we focus too much on English grammar per say that we are afraid to converse in English just because we don't want to make any mistakes. 
  • not enough support from parents, peers and the society for people who want to master English.   
 In our public universities, you can see that even our under graduates in the field related to English like TESL or ESL are not given enough support or they are viewed as people who are not patriotic just because they use English more than BM. My friends and I experienced a lot of bad experience in UKM because whenever we conversed in English, there were some people who looked at us and said, "HUH! They like to show off because they can speak in English". However, ironically when they needed our help to translate some articles from English to BM, they would come and asked for our help.

Thus, we need to change our attitude towards learning English first. In fact, learning any language requires a lot effort and hard work from us before we can use it. How many of us really know about BM? How many of us can really converse in perfect BM without any mistakes in grammar? Why haven't we worry so much about that?


yatie chomeyl said...

ore jepun lg dasyat, bljr english kat skoloh menengoh jah hehehe

at least ore msia lg ramai hok reti english compared to ore negaro lain. even ore spain & italy pun ramai jah x reti english sgt

Diyana said...

kak.kita kat malaysia ni belajar je bahasa inggeris,tp kebanyakkanye bukan jdkan bahasa percakapan di rumah dan dgn kawan2..mcmane nak fasih..?ini saya merujuk kpd saya sendiri la..saya on paper jujurnya mmg boleh score.spm pun dapat A1. tapi ka..cakap fail!!ngeh ngeh..

Diyana said...

pelik btuila saya awat kerajaan dok pulun sangat dgn bahasa inggeris tu..boleh baca, boleh paham ..cukup rasenye. ni skrg dgn konsep baru memperkasa bhs melayu,memperkukuh bhs inggeris la..agenda je suma ni. caca merba sistem pendidikan kita. ppsmi hari tu pun, elok dah..patutnye perbaiki ja sikit lg..bagi tempoh lagi 5-10 thn..

ni dgn dok kalut bawa mai native speaker dr mcm2 negara..buang duit btul.kak tau dak, mr john yg kena pantau guru bi sekolah saya,gajinya rm18 000.dpt kereta sebijik.siap boleh bawa famili mai sini utk 3 thn ni..rumah sewa tkmo cikai2,dok kulim ja..dia pilih rumah sewa rm1000 per month..gila kan punya banyak belanja utk depa ni. itu baru dia sorang.tak kira yg lain2 lagi. dah 2 bulan dah dia dok mai skolah..ppd turun,jpn turun pantau dia plak..depa pun kata, takde perubahan ape sgt pun dia bawa...membazir.hmm

Al-Manar said...

I am pleased to have stumbled on a blogger who teaches English at University level. The subject of this particular posting interests me greatly. Given time I shall read more of what you have posted.

I question the validity of your finding that "we focus too much on English grammar per say that we are afraid to converse in English just because we don't want to make any mistakes." I am not a teacher by profession and am wondering whether your view on this particular point is more valid than mine, which is diametrically opposite. It is a point to ponder indeed. I enjoy differences in opinion - the habit acquired from my old profession!

yushida03 said...

not directly related, but this entry reminded me to some friends n seniors who have mastered english fluently but yet cannot escape from the sound of their mother-tongue hence the term Kelantanese English, some even with the 'sabdu'..