KOTA KINABALU August 9, 2011: English can be used as the teaching language for several other subjects in schools, such as Geography or History, to build the students’ foundation in the language.
Asian Tourism International College (ATIC) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau said there was insufficient English language lessons in school.
“It does not matter if we use English to teach Geography or History,” he said when commenting on Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s call to re-look at the learning of English in schools.
“The point is to use English in other subjects in schools, or else students do not speak a word of English a day.”
Wong suggested that foreign teachers could be recruited to enable better teaching of English, as what had been done in China.
Although English is a compulsory subject in schools, Wong said it had not produced students who are proficient enough to communicate in the language.
Citing Singapore as an example, Wong said the standard of English was better because they use the language as the medium of communication in schools.
“We speak Malay or Chinese in school; English is not given priority. It is only natural that we come up with students who are not good in English.”
In addition, the ever changing education system in using Malay or English in teaching Science or Mathematics is not contributing to the situation.
“Teaching of English should not be politicized,” Wong said.
Furthermore, Wong said teachers also played a vital role in the learning of English, adding that some English teachers were not proficient in the language.
“Take China for example, they recruited foreign teachers to teach English.
“If we can’t train our teachers, then we might need to employ foreign teachers, if the government is willing to invest.”
Wong pointed out that the English language should be prioritized if Malaysia aspired to be an education hub like England, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
“Countries such as England, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, they make education their source of revenue; some of which contribute 30 to 50 per cent to their national incomes,” he said when contacted yesterday.
He further said that education was the biggest industry that involved more than 50 per cent of the worldwide businesses.
“Computers, Internet, hardware, software, papers and pens, they are all directly or indirectly related to the education industry.”
He pointed out that the education tourism was a big and sustainable sector.
“For instance, if you study in England, you will return to England several times in your lifetime, and might even send your children there to study.”
Muhyiddin said he had ordered the English Language Curriculum Division to have a relook at the learning of the language in schools to ensure students can master it as a second language.
The Education Minister said he had directed Education director-general Datuk Abdul Ghafar Mahmud to carry out a review on the learning of English Language in school.
“How the national education system involving 13 years, with five years of secondary school, is still unable to provide our students with a good grasp of the English Language, I, myself, am incapable of answering,” he said on Saturday.
Muhyiddin said the review might determine if the weakness was due to a shortage of English Language teachers, equipment or due to other causes.
He said mastery of the English Language was important because it was the main language in international communication and the economy.