I REFER to the report “Concern over English teachers’ quality” (The Star, Sept 12).
As a linguist and a concerned parent, I would like to give my views on the issue.
First, I believe the incapability of some of the English teachers stems from their education and the teacher training institutes they are from. I do not to venture into the subject on how they became English teachers or qualified to enter into teacher training in the first place.
Second, as some of my colleagues who gave teacher enrichment courses say they had a different mindset.
Take the example in this news article where a teacher said the student was “too westernised”.
My question to the teacher would be, “What do you mean by “westernised”? Are you referring to the student’s character or the language?” I know teachers have dignity and they are too busy to care for the many little things. But this is not how it works.
From my experience, the problem could probably be the teacher’s pronunciation and grammatical mistakes.
There is no such thing as “perfect English” but “standard English” and its varies, hence the ‘Malaysian English’.
However, it is important to understand that there is a clear line between accent ,slang, jargon and acceptable pronunciation or grammar.
No one wants to misunderstand “shit” and “sheet”. But most teachers just seem either not to know this or just defend themselves that this is Malaysian English .
The fact is, even the Malaysian English is categorised into three levels, the Acreolect, Mesolect and Basilect, which is rojak English.
Just Google and one would see the language command of some of the trainee teachers from their postings.
Just think about how these teachers will teach our children makes me shiver.
The teachers should have equipped themselves adequately before going into class or even before their career; which brings me to my suggestion.
Instead of using so much money to bring in foreign professionals, why don’t we utilise our own first-class honour linguistic graduates to help the teachers or even to teach?
They have the linguistic knowledge required to answer the most tricky questions. It is their natural language command, which is the first qualification that brought them a linguistic degree. They will only need a post-graduate diploma in education and passion to teach the students.
Another proposal is to revive the teachers’ passion for language and teaching, so that activities such as memorising essays for Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah will not be a routine in Year Six classrooms. Let’s pray for our English.
Very Concerned Citizen Ipoh The STAR Online Home News Opinion Letters 13 September 2013