Friday, May 21, 2010


English Language: It's a shameful trend

DR M.A. NAIR, Kuantan, Pahang

THE majority of pupils are generally poor in English but this should not be exacerbated by taking a lackadaisical approach when setting exam papers. We have often seen glaring language errors in exam papers in the past -- both in English and Bahasa Malaysia -- at all levels. Unless this is tackled, we will make students more confused, and our education process a shame.

The exam process is in itself a learning process. A badly written exam paper reflects on the quality of our education.

The Science Paper (018) in the recent Ujian Pengesanan Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah Negeri Pahang is one example where those who set exam papers did not ensure that the questions prepared were in proper English.
The questions apparently confused many pupils sitting the exam.

Some of the questions taken from the exam paper are listed below:

- "The diagram shows three animals which have the difference way to survive of their species."

- "What is inference based on this investigation?"

- "Give observation to support the inference in (a)"

- "Predict what animal Q do if enemies disturb their eggs?"

- "What conclusion can be make from this investigation?"

- "They notes their investigation below. (Mereka mencatat penyiasatan seperti di bawah)"

- "One week life spent (Satu minggu jangkahayat)"

- "Tree days life spent (Tiga hari jangka hayat)"

- "What is observation from this investigation?"

- "Predict the distance of the ping pong balls move which on carpet surface."

- "The diagram shows the relationship between a distance of ball from the torch and the size of the shadow."

When there are errors in exam papers, the value is questionable.

Language teachers are emphasising correct language structures when teaching and the onus is on the school or Education Department to ensure that all question papers are written in proper English or Bahasa Malaysia.

Having an apathetic attitude towards this issue will not only confuse pupils but also affect the learning process and the quality of education.

Unfortunately, this laid-back attitude has crept into the education process at all levels. This, seemingly, can now be observed from primary to the tertiary level of the education process.

When we stress on quality education, we should equally stress on excellence when preparing exam papers. This is essentially taught in training modules for all teachers and is, at all times, emphasised in the education process in developed countries.

Browsing through any exam paper prepared by schools and colleges in developed countries will show how proper exam papers are set, specifically the language used. Many of these exam papers are compiled and sold to the public and can also be found on the Internet.

English language: Long way to mastery

SHAARI ISA, Kuala Lumpur
SHARE the concern expressed by Dr M.A. Nair about the apathetic attitude towards the preparation of examination question papers ("It's a shameful trend" -- NST, May 19). The errors, as given in his letter, are appalling and inexcusable. Nair, like most concerned parents, seems to believe that the crux of the problem lies in the way the question papers were prepared. The errors seem to have risen from a lack of proper checking before the papers went for printing. In other words, the errors reflect the indifferent attitude on the part of the authorities.
It is indeed a shameful thing. If it is due to indifference, the people responsible should be pulled up and dealt with appropriately.
But there may be another side to the story which is even more worrying, that is, proper procedures were adhered to and the people responsible did check the questions and believed that they were written in correct English.
I believe this is the situation. The standard of English is really poor not only among students, but also among teachers and civil servants. We have heard stories about Science and Mathematics teachers who have difficulty expressing themselves in English and have to interject their lessons with Bahasa Malaysia.
I have had occasion to read the foreword in a journal signed by a minister. The foreword, as drafted for the minister by an officer or officers, was written in Bahasa Malaysia using English words. So, too, were the examples given by Nair.
The crux of the problem facing the teaching and learning of English in Malaysia is the time constraint.
A similar problem was faced by students whose mother tongue was not Malay in the learning of Bahasa Malaysia when English was the medium of instruction years back.
English lessons based on repeated corrections in the classroom situation and in exercise books will not solve this problem, whether they are conducted by local or overseas experts, as long as the time constraints remain.
English teachers from overseas have been brought in before without much visible success.
The only way to solve the problem is to move on to a new teaching and learning paradigm.

English language: False confidence

Simple solution... Bring back the English Medium !!!!

Have a  NICE WEEKEND......

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