TEACHERS should speak proper English in school as they are in an important position to influence students. We must be exemplary as we are moulding young minds and characters, and students take after us since so many things are caught rather than taught.
As English teachers we must never allow our students to speak their mother tongue during English periods. That is the only time when they are forced to speak English, especially in vernacular schools.
Sad to say, some teachers do not stress the importance of English, and allow the influence of the mother tongue to predominate.
It really irks me when I hear English teachers saying things like “give him eat”, “bring him come”, “take him go”, “take go home and cook”, which may sound familiar to those who speak Chinese dialects such as Hokkien.
Last year I trained a Form 5 boy for his inter-class elocution contest. I had also trained him in Form 4 and he won. By right, he should have represented his school in the Zone Public-Speaking Contest, since he was the winner of Forms 4 and 5 school elocution contests. However, the runner-up was chosen to represent the school in the Zone-level contest. He was not chosen because the teacher in charge of the public-speaking contest was not teaching him English.
Another disgusting incident was that he kept on saying, “When I do my work finish.” I asked him why he kept on saying that when I had corrected him before. His answer shocked me. He said coolly: “My English teacher speaks like this in class.” I was dumbfounded. How can an English teacher let her mother tongue influence her spoken English?
Is it any wonder that our standard of English has gone to the dogs? When teachers themselves are not bothered to be proficient in English, what can you expect from the students. This is the cause of the perpetual decline in our standard of English. It is a vicious cycle that will be repeated year after year! It is more of an attitude problem.
Last year when I conducted a workshop on Newspaper-in-Education for Form 1 and Standard 4 teachers, I reminded them of the dire need to speak proper English. If teachers teach in a weak school, all the more they have to speak good English to ensure that the standard of English will be improved.
If some teachers can say they are not trained to teach English, then they are very unprofessional. It just boils down to the fact that they are complacent and lackadaisical. They need to change their attitude because they are not fair to their students. In fact we have to give our students our best because of our influence on their lives.
When we had to teach Geography and History in Bahasa Malaysia, could we say we were not trained to teach in BM? We had to master the facts in BM and brush up our BM. Our students will respect and appreciate us deeply when we do our best for them. Loke Siew Hing The STAR Education April 16, 2016