Friday, September 12, 2008

Teaching of Maths and Sciences in English - What do you think?

Kian Ming highlighted in Education Malaysia on 2 letters to editors recently on this topic of Teaching of Maths and Sciences in English.

One of them is by our YB Khairy Jamaluddin in NST and the other one is by Yap Soo Huey in The Star .

What do everyone think on this topic? Do you think that Teaching of Maths and Sciences in English would be the best way? Or what would be the best solution, judging from our country's current situation. I.e. if we want to move on from here, and you were the Minister of Education, what should you do?

Personally, I would like to say that I admire YB Datuk Seri Hishamuddin for being very thorough in getting opinion, before making up his mind. He is conducting various roudn tables to get feedbacks from teachers, students, parents etc, to gauge on this program of Teaching of Maths and Sciences in English. He doesn't change the policy overnight due to political reasons, although he could have easily done that.

As it has been rightly pointed out by YB Khairy, no one denies that we need Malaysians to have solid command of English. That is not the question. The question is how can we strengthen the institution of English Language.

Personally, I would like to suggest that for primary school, lets revert back to old system, but put in a lot of emphasis to bring up the standard of English Language. Bring back those retired teachers and I'm sure many Malaysians who are retired and yet with good command of English, wouldn't mind spend additional hours teaching the children - future generation of Malaysians English Language. It would take a lot of efforts, especially to bring up the standard of English for rural areas, since most of those retirees who can speak English are in urban area. But that would be a good step.

At the same time, lets have some English-based Maths and Science textbooks for parents to purchase for their children to learn on their own. This would enable those who want to go further have an avenue to learn. Perhaps, even allow those books published by those Singapore publishers to be sold here in large scale. That would enable more people to learn English.

From there, the students would hopefully have better command of English after Primary 6. Gradually increase the standard of English Language tested in UPSR and in school assessments. As what Andrew Loh mentioned, cultivate the learning of speaking and listening in English.

After my Form 5, while I am quite ok in reading and writing English, listening and speaking of English is a challenge, particularly on listening. This is the same experience, when I learned French at Cornell University.

So, my hope is that when it comes to secondary school, there would be whole-hearted effort to really boost up the English Language standard of students. And in fact, bring SPM to even earlier, say around June/July of Primary 6. After that, have the students learn the bridging of Maths and Sciences in English, while brushing up their language command. Maybe not just for English. This would prepare them further for secondary school.

It would take a leap of faith for our government to make this move. A lot of people are going to look into this issue from a political angle. But lets hope that goodwill will prevail, and we can do something for our future generation of Malaysians.

It is my hope also that there would be an online collaborations among Malaysians to set up a large resource of learning English for Primary and Secondary School students. Maybe this might benefit the urban and suburb one more, but with internet penetration growing, that would help a lot of students.

What do you guys think? Feel free to share your thoughts.

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sha said...

i strongly think the malaysia'as education system should be in english! kids should be exposed to the language since young. if english is stressed since primary (like singapore) im sure malaysian's english would improve tremendously and kids wont struggle like how they are now during spm. also seriously the malay language should be abolished. besides indonesia, the mamaks and the government offices, who uses malay?

just my 2 cents.

Madam Z Essay Helper said...

I am an English teacher in a secondary school in a rural area. The way I see it, the school children are showing a gradual change that I think Tun M would have approved. English command has improved a lot and even though students say they could not understand the subjects taught in English, I feel that most of them have the same attitude when the subjects were taught in Bahasa Malaysia. So, for a larger overall picture, let's get on with it.


Chen Chow said...

Thanks for the feedback.

I agree with sha that English should be given more emphasis. However, I do not agree that we should completely ignore Malay language. It is still our National Language and to me, all Malaysians should still be able to speak, at least decently fluent in it.

Madam Z Essay Helper, great to know that you are putting effort to help students and you have seen there is great improvement in students' ability in English. Great job!