I refer to the report "Hard getting quality people to be English teachers" (NST, Nov 6). Professor Dr Zakaria Kasa, the deputy vice-chancellor of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, was reported as saying that one problem was related to the difficulty of getting suitable people into the university's teaching of English as a second language programme.
This is because the intakes are restricted to those within Band 4 of the Malaysian University English Test qualification. The issue raised by Zakaria concerns quantity. This inevitably leads to the question of quality, that is, whether on the basis of the selection procedure, training institutions have been able to produce English language teachers.
This is because the ability of teachers who have been trained to teach English in schools is doubtful, judging from the low standard of English among most school leavers.
This is also evident from the recent step by the government to recruit more than 300 teachers from overseas for the purpose.
This is a temporary measure. We need a long-term measure to get the people who are really proficient to teach English.
The urgent issue now related to the training of English language teachers for schools is, firstly, getting the required number and, secondly, ensuring that those taken in have the basic skills before they enter the programme.
To obtain the required number, the intakes cannot be confined to Band 4 candidates. I believe that candidates who are qualified enough for university education, irrespective of their English language ability, are qualified to be given an intensive crash programme of between six months and a year, provided the right approach is used.
The aim is to provide the candidates with basic English language skills to enable them to begin training to be English language teachers.
Source: 17 November Letters to the Editor - New Straits Times