PETALING JAYA August 8, 2011: The 13 years spent learning English in school should arm students with a good command of the language.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia vice-chancellor Prof Tan Sri Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin said universities cannot waste time to retrain students to bring their English to an acceptable level.
“Our education system must ensure that at the end of 13 years, students are well-prepared for university education as far as language is concerned,” she said yesterday.
She said English should not be pitted against the national language.
“We do not promote one at the expense of the other. Both English and Bahasa Malaysia are important, particularly the national language as an instrument of unity.
“Promoting Bahasa Malaysia as an academic language requires strategies that give it academic value. It is not through the neglect of English,” said Dr Sharifah.
She added that the Education Ministry should look at the examples of other countries where students were equally good in English and their mother tongue.
National Union of the Teaching Profession president Hashim Adnan said it was unfair to blame teachers for the poor standard of English among students.
He stressed that there were many factors which contributed to students’ lack of good command of English.
“Students in school only learn English for 45 minutes a day, unlike more than 20 years ago, when students went to English-medium schools and learnt all the subjects in English, except for Bahasa Malaysia.
“So, it is hard to expect the standard of English today to be as good as those times,” Hashim said.
He added that students should have more English lessons, but this measure should not be at the expense of teachers.
“The teachers will be more burdened if the number of English periods is increased,” he said.
He suggested that more than one teacher be assigned to teach English for each class so that the teachers would not feel burdened when the number of English periods was increased.
"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,"
Deputy Prime Minister & Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
"There is nothing wrong with the textbooks or curriculum. It is all about the teachers. I am sorry to say this but our young teachers are simply not up to the standard when teaching English.
"We did have many good English-trained teachers before but most of them have retired."
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Hashim Adnan