Before new changes are implemented in the education system, it is vital to consider the pros and cons of the implementation, as well as their short- and-long-term effects.
In the case of making it compulsory for SPM candidates to pass English, it is quite an ambitious goal, considering the fact that the language is a second language that may be frequently or occasionally spoken by some living in an intellectual and urban environment.
However, those in suburban and rural areas may not be interested in making English their medium of communication unless their motivation and awareness is high.
This explains the poor percentage of English passes in many rural schools in public examinations.
The move by the ministry to postpone the plan gives teachers and students extra time to prepare so that the school’s performance will not be badly affected, while the number of students qualified for certificates will not be low and disappointing.
I suggest that English teachers gear up and work diligently, intelligently and effectively to help students pass English for university admission and future careers.
While teachers focus on advanced learners who strive to achieve excellent grades in examinations, students with less or zero interest in learning English should not be left unguided.
Teachers who ignore the latter will not help make a win-win situation.
Not only will the bad teacher-student relationship put teachers under pressure but the weak students will also gradually become weaker and problems will worsen when their inability to think rationally affects their perception of the importance of education and having a good command of English.
It is important for teachers to assist these unenthusiastic learners in every way possible.
I believe that identifying and rectifying problems is the first and final procedure of solving matters.
In the case of helping students perform and pass English, the lack of vocabulary may be the problem, while the use of a dictionary, the solution.
The main reason for students’ failure to pass the subject is because of their poor writing skill. Many candidates feel de-motivated, nervous, confused and stressed when trying to answer essay questions, resulting in some showing no attempt at all.
Truth be told, some students have never owned, used or learned to use a dictionary.
Consequently, they have not been able to spell simple words, let alone make sentences. Students should be reminded constantly to buy, bring or borrow dictionaries for use when doing English revisions or writing compositions.
Everyone needs to be given a chance to learn dictionary skills as this will help students with their reading, speaking and writing skills.
When dictionaries become close companions, it will encourage independent learning and students will eventually overcome their writing problems.
They may not be able to produce error-free essays but grammatically flawed compositions are way better than leaving the space blank. After all, it is the effort that matters. Muhamad Solahudin Ramli Marang, Terengganu NST Opinion 22 August 2015