Saturday, July 11, 2009

Backward step?

Recently there has been a great debate on whether science and maths subjects should continue to be taught in English or back to Malay language. And due to great protest from various parties, the government has bowed to the protesters and decided to reinstate Malay language as a teaching medium for both subjects from 2012.

Some of the reasons given are: it undermines the effort to modernize mother tongue; and poor academic performance on those two subjects especially students in interior areas.

I began my schooling days (from kindy to primary 6) in a Chinese school before I went into a public school for my secondary years with Malay language as a teaching medium. From there I moved on to a college in KL to pursue my A-Levels before I furthered my studies overseas. Now, from my own personal experience I must admit it was not easy to study in different languages (Mandarin during primary school, and English during college and uni years) other than the language that I speak at home which is Malay. I struggled but I managed and in the end I would say I've certainly gained especially in terms of language skills hence no regret (though during trying times I did swear and curse hehehe). Though my Mandarin and English are not perfect but there have been many a times where it gave me some special advantage ;p For instant, I've always use mandarin language when bargaining with Chinese sellers of which I always tend to get more discounts ;p I was also able to avoid some insincere sellers (I could understand their conversation in Mandarin of their intentions...).

Anyway, back to the issue, if one intends to further his/her studies whether locally or overseas, he/she is bound to end up having to study from English textbooks anyway. So what better way than to start from young. I struggled quite a bit when I was studying my A-Levels and even during my uni years as I spent quite a bit of time just searching for meaning of words in the dictionary instead of studying and finishing up my assignments/ projects. It was definately a great challenge especially during exams time..imagine the situation where you are unable to answer the question just because you don't quite understand what it meant!!?? I could perhaps have done better academically if my English proficiency was better. That was why I am pleased when English language was introduced to teach both science and maths subjects in schools. It was a very good start coz to me it will definitely give Malaysia that competitive edge in the long term. Personally, I just can't see how teaching these two subjects in English will undermine mother tongue as the rest of the subjects are still taught in their own mother tongue. As for the interior students, I supposed a special syllabus or extra classes/ tuition can be offered to help them cope with the language. Besides, if previously our ancestors could embrace English as a teaching medium during those British colony time, why can't we now? It was even harder for them as they had to study all subjects in English but yet they survived. This include those from the rural areas. Both my parents are certainly not from the city and they were English educated too. But never did I once heard them complaining about it. And if you really look at it, you will realise that most of our parents who came from that era have better English proficiency than some of us. Moreover, I do believe kids nowadays are smarter too. But if we keep on spoon feeding them and always giving them easy ways, I wonder how are they gonna cope with the big jungle out there?!

If you ask me, I would certainly say no and will not change the policy simply because it is just making us Malaysia becoming more backward than anything else. Why backward you may ask, well, for a start how are we to achieve the much talked about Vision 2020 if half of us can't even speak proper English when it is an international language? Furthermore, Vision 2020 aspires Malaysia to be at par with the developed countries and for us to become a knowledge society. You and I know that most of the high quality non-fiction books/ materials including text books, reference books, journals, research papers, patents, articles, magazines, websites/ webpages etc are written in English. So how are we to compete with those big guys in that great big jungle out there if we don't get ourself prepare from now? So please don't just look on the surface but take a good deeper look yo!

Anyway, if you would like to express your say in this matter in a subtle way, you could cast your vote here.


Sindut said...

I agree it's a step backwards!!!

Agnes said...

It's one of the silliest thing that this government could think of doing.

sanmelmoma said...

tulah sia bilang...

this is why we are an UNDERdeveloped country.

ULAI said...

i'm speechless...from dumb to dumber!!!

Anonymous said...

ya..i really frustrated,further more,we the future english teacher will have to work really really hard to make our student can speak and understand english....!!!