Monday, March 29, 2010

MBMMBI - More Woes From The Public....

Can't help it...but the public is getting restless on the MBMMBI isssue...
See it for yourself....

The Star...Monday 29th March 2010...N44..Views

Emphasis must be on how language is spoken

I REFER to the letters in The Star recently on whether the emphasis should be on grammar or phonetics in the learning of English.
The problem we face today is that a majority of our students are not able to speak English when they leave school.
Rather than stressing on grammar or phonics, the emphasis should be on spoken English.
I believe there is too much emphasis on grammar in the teaching of English in schools. Grammar is no doubt important but it should be taught in context.
For example, if we recall how we learnt to speak our mother tongue, did we learn grammar first or did we learn to speak first?
Most students come from homes where English is not spoken and when they start learning English in school, they are first taught to read and write, and taught grammar before they are taught to speak.
So when they start to speak English, they wonder if their grammar is correct or if their pronunciation is correct and finally they end up with no confidence to speak the language at all.
I also find that many students are taught grammar like a formula. This is especially so in Chinese medium schools.
Students need to think in English to speak the language fluently.
I find that most of our students think in their mother tongue when they try to speak English.
I am sure we all have come across people who can speak a language fluently without even knowing how to read in that language.
There are three ways to learn to speak good English:
> Grammar method – this is the old method which unfortunately is used in schools;
> Conversation method – this is the latest method used all over the world and by far the most effective. We should adopt this method in schools;
> Immersion method – this is the fastest way to learn a language. If we send someone who doesn’t know a word of English to Britain, they will speak fluent English in a year.
Has anyone wondered how the Bangladeshis who arrive at our shores can speak good Bahasa Malaysia after only six months?
Is anybody conducting classes in Bahasa Malaysia for them?

Vital to take a stand on English

MUCH has been written over the last couple of days as to whether grammar or phonetics is more important in teaching and learning the English language.
This really isn’t the issue when it comes to why the usage of English has deteriorated so drastically in Malaysia.
I hold a Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language and have been teaching students and working with English teachers in Nepal, China, Mongolia and Africa.
No matter what setting a teacher is in, the main duty of an English teacher is to teach skills that will enable students to communicate effectively in English.
This includes teaching grammar and writing, reading, speaking and listening skills.
It also includes teaching pronunciation and phonetics.
Hence, there is not one component that is more important than the other.
If grammar is lacking, the student will not be able to formulate a sentence correctly, much less speak it.
The same goes for phonetics – what’s the point of being able to pronounce a word correctly if the student is unable to string a sentence together? Hence, the issue is not whether there is a need to enlist help in the area of phonetics.
The issue is the confused state we are in when it comes to promoting the use of English, and our own attitudes toward learning the language.
I graduated 17 years ago. At that time, schools did not allow us to speak English in class.
Later on, Maths and Science were taught in English, and then, it was back to Malay and then to English.
We seem like victims of a hit-and-miss system and our children became guinea pigs as the Government deliberated on whether they liked English or Bahasa Malaysia better at any given time.
Our grave deterioration in the language is the result of our Government’s inability to take a stand on English.
Perhaps if they can sit down and clear the confusion, we may be able to finally embark on an effective system of teaching that will achieve the desired effects of improving the English speaking skills of Malaysians.
Another problem is our Malaysian attitude towards learning.
We learn enough just to get by and many of us do not see a need to strive to be the best.
We profess to speak at least two or three languages but the Chinese in China do no understand us, nor do citizens in English-speaking nations.
We take pride in the creation of our very own “Manglish,” which is fine if we never leave Malaysian soil, but once outside of Malaysia, we are lacking in so many ways.
Hence, the key to achieving a society that speaks English well is two-fold.
Firstly, there needs to be a clear indication from the Government on the importance of the language.
Once that is established, opportunities must be created for effective use of the language.
A language is dead if not utilised. Secondly, there must be a driving desire to learn among students.
If the desire to learn is not there, the Government can force all subjects to be taught in English and bring in one million teachers from Britain, and we will still not speak English with the dignity it should be accorded.
Petaling Jaya.

So..how do you feel???

Have a nice day....

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