OF late, we have been harping on the declining standard of English. We are looking at ways to improve the level of English, the last straw being "let's import English teachers from India".
I am reminded of my English teacher in Form 3 (in 1969), who once told me in frustration: "I looking very angry they all don't know talking English". Mind you, this was in 1969 and we are still harping on the issue. Of course, my English teacher then was just a normal teacher who was told to teach English, just like what is happening in some schools today.
We do not seem to be interested in taking the standard of English to a higher level. We need to make drastic changes or resign to the fact that our children are not going to be able to compete internationally, or worse still, be looked down or frowned upon when they speak to good English-speaking individuals.
We have many good English teachers, but we need to take care of them first. We must show them that they are appreciated.
All aspiring English teachers have to go through a selection process by an independent panel. The selected ones should be placed in a different category, with better salary scale.
With this, more quality English teachers can be produced. They will be proud to be English teachers as they will be looked upon with high regard by their students and others. This will give them more reasons to improve themselves.
In the same vein, we are encouraging the use of Bahasa Malaysia for correspondence in government departments. I had written letters in English and was told to rewrite them in Bahasa Malaysia.
To walk the talk, let's be sincere about wanting to improve the standard of English. Our prime minister and his deputy can speak good English. So, let's put it into practice, too. All letters to government departments can be in Bahasa Malaysia or English. The replies should be in the language used by the sender. In this way, people will take the effort to improve their language skills. The standard of both languages can be improved. Let's not have more instances of "You wait; wait, I looking how helping you" or "Can you talking bagus English, as my teacher no teaching I talk like you".
Enough is enough. Let's not just say things for the sake of saying. Most of us are in the position to make changes now. Let's move fast or our children will be the laughing stock in future.
Datuk Jaspal S. Korotana, Klang, Selangor | firstname.lastname@example.org New Straits Times Letters to the Editor 03 January 2013