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Monday, April 25, 2011

ENGLISH - The Language of Science and Maths.

"If the language of Technology (Science and Maths) was Roman, parents must have sent their children for Roman classes..."
Thank you, Mr. Manvinder S. Bullar of Kuantan, for the beautiful phrase.... I love it.

Yes, I too, would have sent all my children for Roman classes. But it happens to be English..., and we, Malaysians have the edge because the language is already there since 1957. Why must we go against what is good for our future generations...
I've sent my eldest son for Mandarin classes when he was in Form 1 and 2. Actually, his school gave a choice between Mandarin and German. I asked him to take the Mandarin language. It paid off. He is currently studying Petroleum Engineering in Beijing...
My youngest daughter is currently following Mandarin classes in her primary school because I have the instinct that Mandarin will be very important in the near future.
I recently adopted a Chinese girl as my adopted daughter because I feel it is a good move to understand the Chinese culture and learn the Chinese language as well... My family have no problem with this.. She (the girl)  too, have no problem with this. In fact, this girl is comfortable calling me "abah" - the name used by my children to call me... I feel proud too...

You see, whatever it is - English is definitely the language for Technology, Science and Mathematics. The move by our beloved Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to introduce PPSMI was the turning point for our future generations since the a lot of our university graduates lose out when it comes to job hunting. The level of English competency among graduates was so poor that the former Prime Minister had to come out with the PPSMI. All went well until this shallow minded group of people who claimed to represent the Malaysian Linguistic Society (PLM) and 48 NGOs, came with barrels of blank bullets firing themselves.... What a joke !!   You can fool somebody but not everybody....

Let's see the two latest development on this issue today:

English: We risk losing technological edge

2011/04/25
MANVINDER S. BHULLAR, Kuantan, Pahang
letters@nst.com.my

I LOVE Bahasa Malaysia and many of my closest friends are Malays. There are some things better said in the Malay language than in any other language. The role of Bahasa Malaysia in nation-building is important and, largely, this goal has been met; the majority of Malay-sians are capable of communicating in Bahasa Malaysia.
That said, I must stress that I am a firm supporter of the English language, too.

I own an engineering company and it saddens me to see that the majority of young graduates from polytechnics and public universities are mediocre in performance.

Although they have the desire to succeed, they are held back by their lack of English competency. Even if they do get hired, they remain with poor promotional prospects.
Simple scientific terms in English are lost on them. They are unemployable, largely because they cannot work independently in the different fields of science.

We require innovation and creativity to progress as a nation, to build on existing technologies, which are expanded into new products and services.

However, these graduates are unable to contribute effectively because most of the knowledge base is in English.

Any country that is not technologically competent risks being left behind or, worse, would be at the mercy of technically superior countries.

It is funny that the people who oppose the policy of teaching Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI) are those who have little or nothing to do with technology. Most complaints come from non-technical groups.

I know that the industry captains will agree with me when I say that English is the way to go, but their silence is baffling.

Many of those who seek to abolish the PPSMI policy argue that if countries like Japan and Germany can succeed by using their national language, why can't we?

There's a simple answer. During the developing years of these countries, technology advanced gradually. Today's scenario is different; technology is expanding at a rapid pace.

A simple example: 30 years ago we were still using phones with rotary dials. Now, we are able to see, in colour, the person we are speaking to, who may be on the other side of the world.

To design this phone, a team of engineers who have to refer to technical manuals, almost all in English, is needed. If one is not proficient in English, it would be almost useless to be part of this team.

Those who champion the switch back to Bahasa Malaysia in the teaching of Mathematics and Science claim that people in support of PPSMI are unpatriotic.

But by being brave enough to speak up for PPSMI, we are really more patriotic than those who oppose it or, worse, choose to keep quiet about it.

I would like to see our country shine on the world stage and the fastest way to get there is through the use of English.

Much as we love Bahasa Malay-sia, we must accept that it will take a very long time for our national language to attain the same standard as English in the scientific world. In the time it takes to do so, Malaysia would be far behind others. How then can it be unpatriotic to plan for a better future for the children of our country?

Are those who seek to keep our children from such progress deemed more patriotic?

Being competent in English can only take the country forward. It is, therefore, hard to understand why these groups are opposed to the PPSMI policy?

Is the national language under threat? I doubt so. The importance given to Bahasa Malaysia is enshrined in our Federal Constitution. Nothing can change that.

What harm can come from being competent in another language?

Some argue that the rural folk are under threat as a result of the PPSMI policy because they are the ones with a weaker command of English and are unable to keep up. If that is the case, then teach them more English, not less.

If we are ready to accept the reality that English is the international de facto language of technology, and I don't see how anybody can argue with that, then we should do more to expose these rural folk to the language, thus ensuring their success in this world.

The truth is, those for the PPSMI policy are merely being practical and realistic, as what's most important is the future strength of our country.

We should not fall into the trap of these so-called "patriots". They may genuinely believe themselves to be right, given their limited exposure to the world of technology. But instead of quibbling over what's right or wrong, we need to consider our current status and where we are headed.

A brighter future lies in our technological competence, not in championing any particular language.

It does not matter what the international language of technology is. If the international language of technology was Roman, I would urge all to study Science and Mathematics in Roman. It just so happens that it is English.

We have a choice -- either succumb to the narrow viewpoints of some or make a bold choice for a brighter future in this era of globalisation.

It is not a question of how many million people or organisations that are supporting you. It is merely a question of using the de facto international language for Mathematics and Science in order to move forward and ensure a better future for all.

English: Professor's arguments flawed

2011/04/25
TOH BOO HUAT, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
letters@nst.com.my


HUSSAINI Abdul Karim, in his letter "They do us a disservice" (NST, April 21), has done a great job rebutting many flawed arguments presented by Prof Dr Norhashimah Jalaluddin ("BM is soul of the nation" -- NST, April 19).
Norhashimah is looking at the issue from the narrow band of academic language of instruction (I quote: "... easily the most comprehensible language for educational purposes in the country") while neglecting the wider scheme of things -- unemployment as a result of poor command of English, international language needs of certain professions as well as in the fields of business, science, technology and many others.

The good professor also said: "It is morally wrong for these individuals to insist that others conform to their demands."

Ironically, she is doing just that by saying, "PLM and its affiliates strongly condemn any suggestion to revive and re-implement the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI), be it fully or partially" and when she says that they demand to "hold to the education minister's promise to abolish PPSMI up to the tertiary level by reverting to the pre-2003 status quo".
Norhashimah mentioned that "they are spoilt for choice in choosing from private and international schools for their children's education". But I am unable to find one which families from the lower- and middle-income groups can afford, despite living in Petaling Jaya.

So much so...
I will keep writing and updating this PPSMI issue because I think it is the right choice. It is my personal view and I think a lot of open minded Malaysians are with me....

Have a nice day...

3 comments:

Lov3 Timor L3st3 said...

Timor Leste case is more complecate then Malaysia, we use 4 languages ( tetum and Portuguese as official languages and Indonesia and English as working languages. but personal opion better we adopt English..

DESS said...

Thank you for the important info from Timor Leste. I guess everybody's into English except those minority group in Malaysia (as stated in this post).
Thanks again, brother...

syazeleen said...

'Many of those who seek to abolish the PPSMI policy argue that if countries like Japan and Germany can succeed by using their national language, why can't we?

There's a simple answer. During the developing years of these countries, technology advanced gradually. '

Totally agree. The Japanese and Chinese don't just change spellings (karbohidrat comes to mind). It's not a matter of just translating textbooks. It has more to do with using their own language to describe scientific matters. They come up with their own vocabulary. Research and teaching goes hand in hand, but since the powers-that-be over here doesn't seem inclined to acknowledge this, we're doomed.

*A bit melodramatic at the end. But I'm just annoyed at these people. I wished I had my SPM Science and Math in English. Would've made my life a lot easier*

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