Archive for the ‘English Medium Schools’ Category

Revert to English medium in schools, urges author

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
PENAMPANG: Our education system should revert to English medium of instruction to overcome the lack of command of the language amongst our young generation, for their future and the progress of our country.
This is the view of Bryan Paul Lai who launched his third book “Moving On” at Sabah Credit Building, Donggongon.
The importance of English is proven by parents sending their children to private schools and institutions when they can afford the cost, he said.
Bryan, the Deputy President of Sabah Government Pensioners Association, was formerly “Guru Besar” of SRK St Patrick Tawau. The term Principal was not used then, he said adding he started teaching at Semporna in 1969.

He maintained his excellent in spoken English by listening to Radio and TV programmes and reminded that learning is a continuous process even after retirement.

“Our brain is like the computer hard drive, it is full of data and some good data needs to be downloaded to other storage devices such as pendrives.  For me the pendrive is a book,” he said.
His latest book was written within a year after he moved to Kota Kinabalu from his hometown of Sandakan and contains historical informations of Penampang and Kota Kinabalu with the help of his many friends and acquaintances.
He had written two other books, “Joy of Life” and “Glance of Tawau in Sixties”.

The old books are only available at while the latest is available at bookstores of Wisma Merdeka, Airport and via the association.

Bryan was born in Sandakan in 1943 and survived the Japanese occupation of Sabah.
“My mum had to marry at 17 to dad who was 18 just to prevent being taken away by the Japanese soldiers, he said. My dad worked as a medical assistant under the British and was arrested by the Japanese for secretly giving medicine to the Australian Prisoners of War detained at the infamous Sandakan POW camp.
He survived being detained by the Japanese at Kuching because as a medical assistant, they also needed him Bryan added.

On hand to launch the book was Datuk Wilfred Lingham, the President of the Pensioners in the presence of many prominent members including Francis Ariffin, former Sabah MTUC Chairman.

By: Oswald Supi.

Parents support Johor Sultan’s call for English as a medium of instruction in schools

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: Parents have come out in support of the Sultan of Johor’s call for English to be made a medium of instruction in schools.

Shirley Tan said she was all for it.

“I’ve always believed in Singa­pore’s education system and we can’t deny that they are good,” said Tan, who is also an English teacher.

However, Tan, who teaches at SMK USJ 12 here, said Bahasa Mela­yu should also be given emphasis in schools as the language was “part of our national identity”.

On Thursday, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar told The Star that Malaysia should adopt Singapore’s education policy that used English as a medium of instruction as it had been effective in uniting people regardless of race or religion.

Another parent, Chanthra Bala­singam from Kuala Lumpur, said given the chance, she would “definitely send her children to English-medium national schools”.

“Now, everything is in English. Having subjects in English gives students more time to practise the language,” said Chanthra, an English lecturer in a Petaling Jaya college.

Kenneth Adrian Emuang, a father of seven, said introducing English medium schools would not be easy as there might be more work for the Education Ministry.

“But this is necessary and a way forward for our country,” said the 51-year-old businessman based in the Klang Valley.

Parent Action Group for English Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said having English medium schools was not impossible.

“If all teachers are prepared and trained for it before the plan is rolled out, having English as a medium of instruction in schools will not be a problem,” she said.

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Knowing English speaks volumes

Monday, June 15th, 2015

THE Sultan of Johor has made a strong case for English to be used as a medium of instruction in schools in our national education system.

In an exclusive interview with The Star published on Friday, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar spoke about the importance of the English language, which he described as “the universal currency – accepted everywhere and used everywhere, even in countries where the people don’t speak English well”.

Furthermore, it is a neutral language that can be used to unite the people regardless of race or religion.

Perhaps more revealing was the Ruler’s frank analysis of how the so-called politicians who champion nationalism as well as the vernacular language advocates actually send their own children to study in English schools overseas.

He also noted that the international and private schools in Malaysia, where English is the medium of instruction, are only available to those who can afford it.

These schools are set up to meet demand but are business entities that charge high fees, making them inaccessible to the ordinary Malaysians.

Interestingly enough, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday that while the Government was emphasising on upgrading the proficiency of English in schools, it had no plans yet to change the medium of instruction in national schools from Bahasa Malaysia to English.

The debate will go on.

As we have argued in this space many a time, our students need a language skill that will truly take them places. And there is no denying that it is the English language that holds the key.

Sadly, the English language has taken a back seat for far too long ever since English-medium schools were abolished in the early 1970s.

The Star Says,

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English – foundation of career

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

PETALING JAYA: English is integral to the field of architecture, said a husband-and-wife team who founded an architectural firm together.

“This begins in architectural school itself where students learn the philosophy and history of art,” said Zaiha Hamzah, who together with Abdul Khalid Johari, have been architects for the past 20 years.

“All the research material is in English, and there’s so much material that you simply won’t have the time to translate them all.

“Your understanding of the texts needs to be instant,” Zaiha emphasised.

“In architecture, we have crit sessions where we present our thesis to the class and lecturers.

“They are followed by question-and-answer sessions that are all in English,” she said, highlighting the importance of being able to interact well in English.

In addition to this, meetings with clients and contractors, as well as administering contracts, are all conducted in English.

“So you not only have to speak and write in English, you even have to think in English,” said Abdul Khalid.

by Luwita Hana Randhawa.

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Those were the days …

Friday, August 16th, 2013

An academic expounds the benefits of studying in an English-medium school saying how relevant it is in her current field of work and research.

PROF Dr Yang Farina Abdul Aziz is thankful for her schooling years at an English-medium school in a small town, where she not only gained knowlege but was nurtured by teachers who broadened her perspective of the world.

Her teachers at the Methodist English School in Tanjung Malim, Perak (now SMK Methodist, Tanjung Malim), were simply passionate about their jobs and did their best to teach and inculcate the right values to their charges.

“My teachers were great … they were full of dedication and initiative in class,” said Prof Yang Farina.

“At school, I had many good teachers one of whom was Mrs Jothy.

“She used to single-handedly take a class of about 40 students around the Tanjung Malim area on nature walks, or to visit temples and mosques.

“We had lots of fun on such trips,” said Prof Yang Farina who is senior professor of Inorganic Chemistry at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM),

While students were allowed to explore and gather facts on their own, her teachers were equally keen to explain the significance of the excursions, she said.

“Our teachers made sure that we did not get out of line. Teachers back then instilled a deep sense of discipline in each of us.

“If we did not do our homework, they would keep us at school until we completed it,” she said.

by Royce T. G. Tan.

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The world’s ‘lingua franca’

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

BAHASA MALAYSIA has been widely used over the last 40 years since it is the national language.

This has resulted in the English language moving several notches down as it has not been given the emphasis that it rightly deserves.

Many graduates are adept at typing SMS jargon in English, and as we all know, the language used may not be grammatically correct and is sometimes in abbreviated terms.

A vast majority of them do not express themselves in proper English.

We are now going global which is why Malaysians irrespective of race or creed, need to look beyond boundaries.

There is so much going on around the world that requires us to voice out our opinions and be heard.

We are living in a global world, and need to engage with individuals at different levels be it politically, socially or economically, which is why learing a universal language like English is so vital.

Employing native English speaking teachers to teach our students in national schools will not yield the desired results.

Various factors have been pointed out before and that includes the difficulties many students face in understanding their (native English teacher’s) accent.

It is a sheer waste of time and taxpayers’ money!

I think the immediate reintroduction of English medium schools will resolve the issue once and for all!

Once the English medium schools are in place, we will have a pool of graduates with employable attributes in about 15 years.

They will be able to teach and will certainly be understood by local pupils.

They will also be at par with graduates from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.

by  T. W. Loh, Kuala Lumpur.

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English matters

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Our writer examines various factors that could affect the national education landscape with regard to English-medium schools.

THERE has been an increased interest from certain quarters to allow the use of English as a medium of instruction in schools again.

Presently, English as a medium of instruction is already available but only in private and international schools. Only a small percentage of Malaysians can afford to go to such schools.

As there are Chinese and Tamil vernacular primary schools alongside national schools, some say that Malaysians should have the freedom for another option.

But if English medium-schools are given the green-light, what would be the possible challenges in setting them up, and how will the re-introduction of such schools affect the national education landscape?

Amidst talk over the medium of instruction in our schools, there seems to be some confusion over the law.

A former judge caused a stir last month when he said that vernacular schools “offended” the Federal Constitution, while a recent Bernama report on the brewing controversy over vernacular schools quoted a local academician as saying that the Government should not continue a “vernacular school system at the secondary level”.

Section 17 of the Education Act 1996, enacted under the auspices of the Constitution, plainly states that the national language is to be the main medium of instruction in all schools under the national education system except for vernacular schools.

by  Priya Kulasagaran.

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Bring back the English option

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Besides government and vernacular schools, giving students an additional mode of learning will help improve their command of the language and increase their standing in the future.

TAKING one step at a time, parents who support the reintroduction of English-medium schools are fighting to get their voices heard.

Monash University Sunway Campus Assoc Prof Dr Lan Boon Leong who founded the Parents for English-Medium National-Type Schools (PENS) group in 2011 has collected close to 1,600 votes in his online survey on this topic.

Among the questions asked in the survey include the first language of the children and their ethnicity.

“Ethnicity does not always play a part in the first language of a child. For instance, the first language of a child growing up in a Malay family can be English since it is the language the child has been exposed to since young.

“For this reason, I prefer to use the term ‘first language’ rather than ‘mother tongue’,” says Dr Lan.

He believes that mixed marriages and a variety of reasons have contributed to a growing number of children whose first language is English.

Just as other children are able to study in their first language — Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin and Tamil in national and vernacular schools — Dr Lan says children whose first language is English should be learning in English.

“The primary level is a very crucial period in the schooling years of a child,” he says.

He adds that children who have grown up speaking English will no doubt have problems understanding lessons in classes if they have to learn it in a new language that they are unfamiliar with.

“They may be able to memorise the phrases but they may not be as good when it comes to writing essays in a language that is not their first language.”

Going back to history, most English-medium primary schools in the country had changed to Malay-medium schools by 1975, while the conversion for the secondary level was completed by 1983.

Schools in Sabah and Sarawak meanwhile, only started the conversion process in the mid-1970s.

by Kang Soon Chen and Priya Kulasagaran.

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

THERE have been calls for the Government to allow the use of English as a medium of instruction in schools again. As there are Chinese and Tamil primary schools alongside national schools, Malaysians should have the freedom for another option. Presently, English as a medium of instruction is already available but only in private and international schools. Only a small percentage of Malaysians can afford to go to such schools.

I HAD my early education at a Chinese primary school in Bidor, Perak. Upon completing my Standard Six examination in the school, I moved on to the Government English Secondary School in Tapah, where I completed a year of Remove Class before going on to Form One.

I had my upper secondary education at Ipoh’s St Michael’s Institution (SMK St Michael Ipoh) and then pursued my tertiary studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia and later at Universiti Malaya.

I taught Mathematics and Physics in secondary schools for many years before being promoted to school prinicpal. I have now retired

Since I was in a Chinese school during my primary school years, I wasn’t at all good in the English language

However, in Remove Class, I knew that I had to brush up on the language if I were to move up and do well in my studies.

To improve my English, one of the first things I did as a teen, was to keep a diary to record the daily happenings in my life.

My daily jottings also included my thoughts on events and activities both at school and at home.

We used to live in a shophouse. My father used its front portion to run his his Chinese medicine shop. There was a counter from where he conducted his business and surrounding it, were shelves of medicine that we referred to as the “medicine house” in Chinese.

We also had a “money room” but contrary to what most people might think, we did not stash bundles of cash and coins there. In fact, it was a cubicle at the back of our shophouse where my father would count the day’s takings, keep his books and carry out some administrative tasks.

by Liong Kam Chong,

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A veteran speaks

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

BEING a proud “product” of an English-medium school, I am all for the recent call by various quarters to reintroduce English as the medium of instruction in schools.

We have paid a heavy price for not giving the language the priority it deserves over the last four decades, and the results are for all to see — the terrible decline in our written and spoken English.

It is pointless blaming the authorities concerned for the damage done, but the way forward is to bring back the language into our school system in a big way.

After all, English has always been and will continue to be the global language.

I am now in my 70s, and those of my generation not only speak the language well, but know its worth as a universal language of business and communication.

I am not ashamed to say that the language is so much a part of my system that I even dream in English!

While there should be no questions raised about Bahasa Malaysia being the foremost language in our beloved country, I am of the view that emphasis on English at both primary and secondary schools, should have been done years ago.

Many Malaysians who went through the local school system up to the late 70s, have a good command of English. They are the envy of foreigners and younger Malaysians, impressed with the confidence and ease with which they speak the language. However, over the years we have slowly “lost grasp” of the language.

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