Improve the quality of teachers
New Straits Times (Malaysia)
08 Jun 2006


MICHAEL Ng of Seremban raised a good point regarding the change from English- medium schools to Bahasa Malaysia in the past ("Accord English greater priority" — NST, May 26), but one must realise that at that time we were trying to forge national unity through a national language and the leaders then considered it necessary to sacrifice the use of English.

I disagree with his suggestion that we revert to English as the medium of instruction because earlier in his letter he pointed out that even teaching Science and Mathematics in English was already a problem as it was difficult to find enough teachers to do the job.

I would rather urge the Education Ministry to concentrate on improving the quality of teachers teaching English, Science subjects and Mathematics presently than to involve every teacher to teach every subject in English.

A few weeks of courses will not make a teacher proficient in using English for the teaching of any subject. The public should not expect our teachers to improve overnight.

A lot depends on the students, too. We can give them the best teachers and facilities to help them improve their proficiency, but if they do not want to put any effort into improving their English, there is little even a professor of English can do.

To improve one’s English proficiency, one must read, hear, write and speak English. It is useless if we use English during lessons and then revert to "Malaysian English" or our mother tongues outside the classroom.