Be fair to English language teachers
MUCH has been said about the poor proficiency and competency of our English language teachers and English language teaching.
A media report has revealed that 15,000 English teachers are not proficient enough to teach the subject.
According to the report, only 20,000 out of the 60,000 English language teachers are proficient, competent and confident to teach the language.
But before we start throwing brickbats at the Education Ministry or the English language teachers, it would be good to know the real scenario of English language teachers in our schools.
There are two types of English language teachers.
Most of our English language teachers have been trained as English teachers at teacher training institutes and universities where they took the English Language as their major.
Though they are Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) trained, they came through the Bahasa Malaysia medium of instruction in schools where everything was taught in Bahasa Malaysia except for the English language subject.
Despite this many of these teachers scored excellent results in the English language subject in public examinations.
To be an English language teacher, the candidate has to be competent and proficient in the language and this is normally assessed from the candidate’s academic qualifications based on public examinations – SPM results.
Though they have good grades in English it is not fair to compare them with teachers of the bygone era who were schooled in English schools where everything was taught in English.
The second group of English language teachers comprise teachers of other options who are proficient in English.
Since there is a shortage of English language teachers in schools these non-option teachers were given in-service training and “converted” to English option teachers.
Many senior Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil option teachers, who have studied in English schools, were co-opted to teach English in schools.
Many of them were given the impetus to attend regular workshops and courses to upgrade and develop themselves professionally and linguistically.
Good teachers are a rare breed. Let us not be too judgmental on the linguistic ability of our teachers.
Teaching is a vocation that demands devotion and dedication of a life time.
Some of the English language teachers may not be competent and proficient but they have the passion and desire to teach. Samuel Yesuiah Seremban The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 26 Mar 2016
English classes for 15,000 teachers
KUALA LUMPUR: The 15,000 English teachers, who were found ill-equipped to teach the subject, have been sent for training, said Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon.
“We have been sending these teachers for training since 2013,” said Chong, referring to the Professional Upskilling of English Language Teachers (Pro-ELT) programme.
Teachers who failed to obtain the desired scores in the Cambridge Placement Test and British Council’s Aptis English test, he said, would be sent to training for six months.
|Priority on education: Chong ‘signing off’ on the Yes, You Can campaign at the launch. Looking on are (from left) Eric, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus Head of School Dr Ganakumaran Subramaniam and SJK (C) Choong Wen headmaster Wong Shee Fatt.
Teachers who still failed the tests after training would not be allowed to teach the subject anymore, said Chong.
He was responding to a statement by Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan, who was quoted as saying that there were 15,000 teachers in the country who were found ill-equipped to teach English.
Kamalanathan had cited this as the reason why plans for a compulsory pass in English for the SPM examination in 2016 had to be postponed.
To help boost proficiency among teachers, Chong said it was also carrying out the Native Speaker Programme, which saw mentors with a native grasp of English going into classrooms and helping teachers learn creative techniques in teaching.
Acknowledging that the country’s English proficiency had been steadily declining for the past few decades, Chong said the ministry was taking the matter “very seriously” and would “face it head on”.
“I believe we need better policies as well as strategic action to rectify them,” he told reporters after launching Erican Education Group’s Yes, You Can campaign yesterday.
As a result of the sliding proficiency, the ministry, he said, had reversed its policy to teach Mathematics and Science in English in 2012.
“Schools are given more freedom now. Those which are ready, can choose to teach in English. My final wish is to see all schools adopting the English medium (for teaching Science and Mathematics),” he said.
Erican Education Group founder Datuk Eric Chong said it would be giving RM1mil worth of scholarships to 500 financially deprived students via its Yes, You Can Campaign this year.
The campaign will also be offering free workshops to 10,000 student from both primary and secondary schools throughout the nation.