US teachers boost students’ English

SUCCESSFUL: Pahang schools benefit from Fulbright Programme.

Fulbright English teaching assistant Lauren Parson, 23, using the New Straits Times in lessons with students of SMK Teluk Chempedak in Kuantan. Pic by Afif Abd Halim

KUANTAN: THE command of English among students in Pahang has greatly improved thanks to the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) programme.

Pahang education director Rosdi Ismail said young American graduates from universities in the United States involved in the programme had been dedicated educators, who went the extra mile to help students improve their spoken and written English.

He also attributed the state’s increased passing rate for the English subject in major government examinations, to these teaching assistants.

Particularly evident, he added were the confidence exuding from students in rural districts, who now appeared more confident in speaking and writing in English.

“We have seen a marked improvement in the students’ grasp of English and we have also expanded this programme over last few years.

“Schools from other districts have also shown keen interest to participate in the ETA programme and we are trying to accommodate their request.

“The programme has had a positive impact on students as the ETAs help make learning English more interesting by organising outdoor camps, visiting Orang Asli settlements and allocating extra hours after school,” he said.

Former Pahang education department English language assistant director Faridah Abdul Rahman said the ETA programme had also helped create a close bond between the Americans and local students as the teaching assistants treated the students like their close friends.

“Students are no longer shy to participate in activities, including discussions and quizzes.

“I notice that every year, our students would be eager to welcome the ETAs while the teaching assistants themselves seem to enjoy their stint,” she said, adding that some of the ETAs had also applied to return for another teaching stint.

She said the ETAs also had mentors, most of whom were teachers from the same school.

“Their mentors play a crucial role in helping them adapt to the local culture and make their stay here more comfortable

“I was also informed that thanks to the ETA’s, not only are students from Orang Asli settlements picking up the language, their parents and siblings are also learning new English words.

“The lack of facilities at Orang Asli settlements and some schools has never dampened the spirits of the ETAs, as they always make the best of what they have to make teaching the subject interesting.”

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