The way to go with English

THE recent statement by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is also the Education Minister, that he wants to know why students are unable to master English after 13 years in schools, should be taken seriously.

Amongst the factors that will be looked into are the curriculum, teachers’ proficiency and adequacy, and the textbooks used. We need to be mindful that the proposed approach is not one that is totally new. Over the last few decades, many curricular changes, pedagogical innovations, recruitment of more teachers (even native speakers of the language) and textbook overhauls had been implemented and executed.

Every one of the programmes was conceived by experts in the subject and carried out with single-mindedness, mainly to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and delivery of the teaching of English to students.

Why haven’t these programmes borne the desired fruits? Will another programme initiated with a similar objective make any significant difference?

I feel that the present practices are sufficiently adequate. We have been through “worst” pedagogical approaches in earlier years, and yet our students then had managed to master the language.

Perhaps, a key factor to look into is the “devotion” of students today in learning the language. How much time and “pain” are students today prepared to commit to learning English?

Learning the language demands persistence and hard work from the students themselves. It is not a matter of plain spoon-feeding.

Perhaps it is time for our students to know the ground rules and truly understand the simple axiom “no pain, no gain”.

The teachers, textbooks and the software before them (for those privileged to be learning in a language lab), are sufficient.

What needs to be intensified and improved upon is their commitment to master English.

by Liong Kam Cheong.

Read more @ http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2011/8/28/education/9346815&sec=education

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