First and foremost, before I embark on an embarrassing attempt to do an entry regarding the topic of the day, allow me to apologize for all grammatical errors that I might make in this post. I am after all, a Malaysian girl who went to a Malaysian national school that does not teach grammar during English classes. Or did it? I can’t remember. It has been 6 years since high school and 11 years since primary school. But feel free to correct my english! As long as I’m alive, I’m still learning. 🙂
In my opinion, I felt like I was actually learning something during my primary school english classes. I remember trying to rebuild sentences which were jumbled up. Sentences such as “Is an Vendor He Ice-Cream” were included in exercises and I remember this one in particular because I did not know what was vendor when I was 8 years old and ended up getting 98% for that my mid-term paper. ARGH!! (ya bragging. hahaha.)
I did learn when and how to use plural, past, present and future tense, adjectives, nouns and all those other terms used in english grammar classes. After awhile, a sentence just doesn’t “sound” right when there’s a grammatical error in it. I relied on this ‘sound’ thing throughout my entire lifetime of english usage. Be it in examination papers, homework or even blog posts.
Actually, my multi-subject tuition teacher Pn. Kogi deserves credit for my english fundamentals. She would buy Singaporean english grammar text books and make us do the exercises in it. Those were some tough cookies but because of her, the few of us had a better grasp of the language.
In high school however, english classes did not get any deeper and my friends and I have always put it on the same level as our PJK ( a super duper lame paper.. something to do with Health and Sports ) paper. English class was only an outlet for us to show off our essay writing skills. To wow the teacher with our awesome imagination. “..and then Angie woke up from her dream.” was how most of our mind blowing essays ended. If English was our final paper, we’d be out catching a movie the night before. Getting anything less than an A for English earned you ridicule from the kids at my school.
I missed the Teaching of English in Maths and Science by a couple of years but that did not hinder my transition in applying english for my A-level subjects. The first few months were a little confusing but with a good dictionary, I had no problem.
Six months into A-levels and I had totally forgotten how to use BM at SPM level. Like what was diameter in BM?! Periphery?! At least I still remember Luas is Area. All is not lost.
I am obviously all for passing english as a prerequisite to obtaining your SPM cert. And for the sake of the rural kids, take things slow. We don’t have to pass a bill overnight. We have Standard 1 kids coming in every year and if aÂ proper English syllabus which includes both grammar and communication can be drafted out for the next intake, the children can be groomed from the get go.
If I can learn BM from scratch (I didn’t know what was Lengkapkan in my standard 1 maths book but I sure as hell knew what 2+3 would equal to.), I’m pretty sure the rural children will be able to adapt to English as well. ESPECIALLY if Maths and Science will continue to be thought in English. I really despise backward mentality.
I read an article where some big wig in the (i’m assuming) linguistic field was proposing plenty of radical views regarding the teaching of maths and science in english. He mentioned things like studying at your own pace and then going on to higher levels when you’re finally comfortable, scraping the SPM cert and reverting back to the teaching of the subjects in BM! Just because some teachers are indequate.
If I’m not mistaken, high school teachers are required to have a degree before they can teach. Furthermore, these are maths and science teachers we are talking about. Did they not learn it in English? Where were their Bachelor of Science degrees from?
I can just imagine a teacher in the front of the class going, “Ahh..so class, you see ah, velo-.. itu apa..velocity ..ah ya.. is ah…wait ah.. *takes out malay to english science dictionary*.”
if a teacher can’t even have a good grasp of the english language, this says a lot about the standard of teaching in Malaysia.
@Dr. M, your prophecy already happened.
There was a very good reason why plenty of us relied on tuition classes and skipped the time waster which we called school near exam time. Some school teachers can’t teach for nuts. There’s also a very good reason why my tuition teacher made almost RM50k aÂ month by running a tuition center. Don’t know if it was taxed though. :X I know nothing! Lalala.
And the textbooks that we were using back in school? INADEQUATE! They should just use the Fokus Pelangi series as our official textbooks.
As I have learned from wikipedia years ago, I am part of a small portion of chinese people in this country who speaks English at home. Okay lah fine, it’s manglish. Still english though. Some shell I was living in when I went to national service and university reeling in shock at the amount of people who prefer to speak in chinese. It should have been some indication to me that out of 13 classes in high school, 9 classes were for students who came from chinese schools.
Apparently the reason that I come from an English speaking family is because my parents, like a lot of people from their generation, went to english medium schools. So did my paternal grand parents. Maternal grandparents went to english schools AND had chinese tuition. My great grandparents didn’t go to school though.
In this country, there are people who come from families who speak in their mother tongue and get sent to schools which are conducted in their mother tongue such as indian and chinese national schools. There are also people who speak English at home and get sent to vernacular schools. Something I am planning for my future children because not knowing mandarin really sucks big time!!
Based on statistical studies (my friends wtf), those who speak English at home and go to chinese schools.. mostly.. get shitty results for their mother tongue language paper and ace the other subjects. Then there are those who are both excellent in english AND their mother tongue.. well, those are your typical JPA scholars who have no trouble learning maths, science, aeronautical science, actuarial science in english or malay or swahili. Don’t care about them lah.
For those of us who go to Malay schools, be it chinese or indian or lain-lain, your english is usually not that good if you don’t speak it at home. Every language needs practice to improve. Your mother tongue might be good communications wise but you won’t be able to read or write in that language because you didn’t learn it.
As I hardly have Indian friends who went to indian national schools, I can only speak about those who went to chinese national schools. I have been told that in chinese national schools, these students are very good in english theory wise but when it comes to speaking, so-so. This can also be applied to non-malay students studying at national schools.
In this sense, students with backgrounds like mine are very lucky and will benefit either way with english being included as a prerequisite to obtaining the ALL IMPORTANT SPM Cert or whatever they decide to do with english when it comes to teaching maths and science. Our thoughts are already in English to begin with.
To improve overall standard of English, we first need to standardize all schools. Why must language be used to separate schools? Can’t language exist as compulsory subjects?
I have to say the dreaded phrase……………
Look at Singapore. 😛
oh and p/s: No use lah learning maths and science in Malay. Totally forgot everything already. 🙂