‘Give English teachers a chance to practise’

  • Jalan Bukit Bintang stretch closed to traffic from today
    Jalan Bukit Bintang stretch closed to traffic from today

    The 500m stretch of Jalan Bukit Bintang between Chulan Square and Menara Worldwide will be closed to all traffic beginning today. Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp), in a statement today, said the closure was because of road rectification works following the detection of a depression beneath the pedestrian walkway in Jalan Bukit... …

  • KLIA2 found up to the mark, says Hisham

    The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has found the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) to be safe and that it meets international standards, says Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.   He said ICAO had prepared a preliminary technical audit report on April 18 and it had been tabled to the cabinet yesterday.   "I think we are on track and it makes me proud to say that what we have promised the public - that KLIA2 will open as scheduled - will happen," he said …

  • Dropping Tony Pua from forum will cost BN youth support, says former MCA veep
    Dropping Tony Pua from forum will cost BN youth support, says former MCA veep

    A former MCA vice-president has spoken out against the move by the Malaysia Summit Australia (MASA) Conference to drop opposition lawmaker Tony Pua from the forum, saying that it would cost Barisan Nasional crucial support from youths. In a series of tweets, Gan Ping Sieu (pic) said barring opposition leaders from the Pakatan Rakyat pact would... …

  • Search for MH370 looks set for next phase, says report
    Search for MH370 looks set for next phase, says report

    After almost seven fruitless week of searching for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, international agencies involved in the hunt are negotiating how to manage the next phase of the operation, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said in a report. Malaysian and Australian officials are said to be hammering out a new agreement that will set out critical... …

  • Anwar says court was biased in his sodomy appeal
    Anwar says court was biased in his sodomy appeal

    Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said his sodomy conviction by the Court of Appeal should be overturned as the bench was prejudiced and biased against him. This was among 35 grounds of appeal in the opposition leader’s petition of appeal against his sodomy conviction and five-year jail sentence, filed at the Federal Court registry this afternoon by... …

  • Doctors balk at 'surgeon-assisted' hudud plan

    The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has expressed "shock" over a report that the Kelantan government will order surgeons to conduct amputations of limbs if it succeeds in implementing hudud. Its president, Dr NKS Tharmaseelan ( right ), said that amputating the limbs of criminals convicted under hudud is "against medical ethics and practice". He said that doctors have also been advised by the World Health Organisation not to witness or certify caning or whipping of criminals, and …

PETALING JAYA (Dec 26): To train English language teachers effectively, the focus should shift from short, abrupt courses to increasing the teacher's proficiency in the language, a former education ministry official says.

The Education Ministry should concentrate on improving the support system for these teachers to practice the language in a school setting in their own local area, the educationist says.

Speaking to fz.com, Datuk Siti Zaleha Abdullah Sani, who has had 20 years experience in teaching and developing English language training courses for teachers, said that although English language teachers are very enthusiastic about improving their skills, there is not enough support for non-native speakers to improve their grasp of the language especially in the rural areas.

"Most of the English teachers we have today have gone through an education system where the medium of instruction was in Bahasa Melayu after the switch in 1970s. Unless they are in an environment where they use the language outside of the classroom, they will not be proficient in it. Many of them are not native speakers and only have

English language experience in the classroom and not much opportunity to practise it outside of the classroom," said Siti Zaleha, a senior fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia.

She said that anyone trying to improve the competency of English language teachers must understand this reality.

"After all when it comes to teaching English, one must be proficient enough to deliver. That is what teaching is about. It is to be able to stand and deliver, and you have to be comfortable in that language," she said. Placing the focus on increasing the personal capacity of the teacher will increase her proficiency in the classroom, said Siti Zaleha.

She said that the ministry must recognise that teachers who have low personal proficiency in English must have a local support system.

"The best way to learn a language is through practise. One strategy is for the ministry to arrange daily classes after school hours where the teachers can get together and just talk,” she said.

"Don't call teachers from Kuantan to come to KL. Just let them go to the nearest teacher centres that does not require two days’ travelling time,” said Siti Zaleha.

"Language has to be sustained continuously, so if teachers can go somewhere every afternoon and have these little, little classes to support them, it would be great practise,” she said.

"They can have a conversation about books while they have tea. They just need to talk. Teachers don't need any more input, they just need this support system," she said.

Chong (not his real name), who teaches English in a rural school in Johor, agreed with Siti Zaleha. He said that it was difficult to practise the language because other teachers and the students were not so proficient.

"Even if you have a good grasp of the language at the start of your posting, there is a chance that it may deteriorate solely due to the lack of practise," he said.

The former accountant has only been teaching English for two years but says that the lack of practise opportunities for the teachers in the rural areas are glaring.

"I practise with my colleague. We usually take our own initiative to make sure our personal standard of English does not deteriorate," he said.

It was not always true, Chong said, that the courses conducted by the ministry were not of use. Travelling time was also short as most of these courses conducted two or three times a year, were conducted at the district level,” he said.

"During the courses, although they were short, I did gain some new knowledge, so I wouldn't say that they are a complete waste of time," he said.

However, Chong agreed that the support system suggested by Siti Zaleha was important.

"But we must remember that most rural schools are located in isolated areas so transportation may be an issue," he said.

Mohamad (not his real name) said that the teacher's commitment is crucial if after school classes were to be effective.

"We don't want a scenario where at first many are enthusiastic, but then from 10, the attendance becomes five, then deteriorates  to two,"Mohamad, who has 35 years of experience as a teacher, said.

He said that in his experience, many teachers grew complacent over time despite the initial enthusiasm. At times, teachers found many after-school programmes cumbersome.

"They would always complain that they have a packed schedule with their family-related chores. At one point, we had a buddy system during the switch of Science and Mathematics to English. So the system was to coach the subject teachers to consult English language teachers.

"We gave them our handphone numbers so they could consult us on terms through calls or sms but none of them did so," he said.

He added that should after-school classes be effective, it should be made compulsory.

"When we have short courses, the proficiency and interest for the language is high but after that, when they go back to their schools, it’s back to square one," he said.

A continuous support system programme as suggested by Siti Zaleha is important but the ministry had to play a role in sustaining the teacher's interest in the courses, he added.

*Names have been changed at the request of the interviewees.

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily news updates.

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer The Malaysian Insider
    MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer

    The partner of an American passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has spoken about how a Fox executive who was recently sacked by the news station had contacted her offering to raise funds on her behalf. Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood is among the 239 people on board the missing plane, told the Sydney Morning Herald... …

  • My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh The Malaysian Insider
    My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh

    A week after the tragic crash that took the lives of veteran lawyer and politician Karpal Singh and his personal aide, Michael Cornelius, his son Ramkarpal recounts the final hours with his father that fateful day. This is his story, as told to V. Anbalagan, assistant news editor. “My parents (Karpal and Gurmit) had gone to Pantai Hospital... …

  • Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Dr Mahathir reminds current leaders The Malaysian Insider
    Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Dr Mahathir reminds current leaders

    Malaysian leaders have been reminded not to look down on the public’s capability to topple a corrupt government as what had happened in the Middle East during the Arab spring, warned Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic). In his latest blog posting today, the country’s longest serving prime minister said that monarchs and dictators in the Middle East... …