Last updated on 3 April 2019 at 12:13 pm
There is no doubt about it – the English language is the most utilized international language at the moment.
Knowing how to speak and write English is one of the most important skills you can have in today’s interconnected world.
From enhancing your education to increasing your value as an employee, from facilitating a smoother communication with foreigners to earning more money, knowing English is a valuable asset which will pay off huge dividends in your life and career.
The question is – how well is English taught in Malaysia? Are Malaysians offered access to good materials which can enhance their English skills?
Since the Malaysian declaration of independence in 1957, the debate on the presence of English language in schools has been going back and forth in various ways.
There are a handful of social studies which have been carried out which can help us better understand the situation . Let us explore them further…
For example, this study https://www.academia.edu/4275280/English_language_in_the_Malaysian_education_system_Its_existence_and_implications has shown that even though there are English teaching classes both in primary school and in university, the degree of proficiency of the students varies greatly.
One of the most impactful factors which influences this is the presence of what is called “language anxiety”. Language anxiety is defined as the feeling of tension and apprehension experienced by learners in the classroom.
Overcoming language anxiety is paramount to developing fluency, both in writing and in speaking. However, not all students are willing to fully engage in the learning process and overcome this obstacle because it involves maintaining a positive attitude in spite of occasional frustration and boredom.
Another study http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14664208.2011.584371?src=recsys&journalCode=rclp20& concluded that even if macro-level, national policies are enacted in order to improve overall English education in Malaysians, the most important factor remains the method of implementation of these macro-level measures at a micro-level.
In other words, even if the government adopts productive measures in order to increase the comprehension and fluency of English in schools, the micro-level implementation of these measures is where the real challenges and results lie.
This means that a more open and communicative collaboration is needed between the macro-level decision makers and the people who benefit from these measures (namely teachers and students) so that these policies will have the desired results.
Otherwise, there will be a growing gap between what “should” be implemented and what is really implemented, as well as a gap between the real needs and results of the educational process of learning English.
This study http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0033688217690936 reached some interesting conclusions as well. The English language was seen in a positive light by the students while proficiency and motivation did not present obvious barriers to developing social networks with the target language speakers.
However, the data from this study indicates that personal language learning goals may not have been met while it is important to notice that other goals were indeed achieved.
As a result, that article suggested that an increased explicit attention to language learning in the language teacher education program may facilitate English language proficiency development, as opposed to focusing on other activities.
In 2009, the Malaysian government decided to abandon a six-year experiment to teach math and science classes using English in state schools. The experiment was initiated with the hope that fluency would be attained in a more fluid manner and that there will be more Malaysian global communicators.
Many people protested on the streets against this measure and according to a poll posted hours after this measure was publicized, 84% of people who answered were against this measure. This shows that Malaysians want to at least be able to choose if they want to be taught in English or Bahasa Malay, as they seem to acknowledge the importance of the English language in their career.
The explosive rate at which information technology (IT) is growing and the speed of globalization process which Malaysia is also experiencing are two of the most important factors which argue for the importance of being fluent in English.
The economical and social development of Malaysia is also directly correlated to the number and fluency of its English speaking citizens. That is why it is becoming imperative that English is learned by as many Malaysians as possible, in order to secure a prosperous future and a fulfilling, well-paid career.
SOLS 24/7 is an Authorized Centre (MY498) for Cambridge English Language Assessments.