THE commentary headlined "Will English pass-grade rule pass over, too?" in the New Straits Times on April 11 makes interesting reading. My sympathies to Year Three pupils for having an English language teacher whose command of the language is simply atrocious.
Gone are the days when we had teachers whose English was superb. I once had a teacher who later became a professor of geography at one of the local universities.
At that time, he was only a Senior Cambridge holder. The way he spoke and taught English and English Literature was music to the ears. It was a joy to listen to. His knowledge of the language was impeccable.
What do you make of a lawyer who graduated with an honours degree in law telling you, "Yesterday night, I go to your house but you was not in," or a doctor saying, "I shall saw you tomorrow," or an accountant writing to his client, "Please advice. I look forward to receive your dokuments without fail"?
The above is but a small example of the way some of our professionals are butchering the language. They just cannot communicate in basic English using simple words and phrases. Their tenses, spelling, verbs, adverbs and prepositions can be termed as "rojak". They are the product of inept and incompetent teaching.
One of the reasons for this state of affairs is teachers feeling shy to speak to one another in English. Their grammar is incorrect. Many do not read books, magazines, and newspapers written in English. They speak and communicate only in their mother tongue.
There are those who hold high positions in the public and private sectors. When they speak or try to explain in English, their grammar falters. Imagine if they were asked to make presentations during meetings and seminars: they would be utterly lost.
Although steps have been taken to improve the teaching of English in schools, the teachers themselves must improve their knowledge and skills.
The idea to impose English as a prerequisite to pass in public examinations is admirable. Whether this requirement is achievable largely depends on the teachers themselves mastering the language, otherwise, those parents who have the financial means will continue sending their children overseas.
Syed Omar Mohamed, Kuala Lumpur New Straits Times Letters to The Editors 21 Apr 2013