Don’t forget the rural kids

SJK (T) Simpang Lima pupils in the DLP class are all ears during a science lesson.

SJK (T) Simpang Lima pupils in the DLP class are all ears during a science lesson.

THE DLP ensures that children have access to the best learning experience, notes Universiti Malaya (UM) Faculty of Languages and Linguistics Assoc Prof Dr Jariah Mohd Jan, but it’s crucial that teachers – especially those in rural schools, are well-trained.

Advising teachers not to be discouraged if their students are more proficient than them in English, the deputy dean of undergraduate studies says there’s always room for improvement.

“There will be some students who think they’re smarter than you – especially those who are from top urban schools. It’s alright. Admit that you have limitations but show them that you’re trying your best to share your knowledge with them. Prove that you’ll go the extra mile for them.”

Teachers who aren’t up to par, however, must go for training. Schools are responsible for making sure that their teachers get the assistance they need to become educators who are abreast with the latest methodologies, and teaching aids.

“Rural students can excel with the DLP, but they need more encouragement and the opportunity to participate in the programme.

“In rural DLP schools, we need teachers who are better trained in dealing with students who may not be as proficient as their urban counterparts. Even if they have access to the Internet, they may need to learn how to use it.”

There have been cases, she shares, where rural teachers who speak good English find their command of the language deteriorating because they are using it less, and at a more basic level.

Highlighting how urban students benefit from exposure to workshops, talks, and interactions with industry people, she says these also help motivate them to speak English.

Exposure to the language is key to improving, she feels. The DLP gives students more opportunities to speak, she says, explaining why students in such classes are doing better in the language.

The DLP, she insists, doesn’t suppress or threaten other languages. It complements other language initiatives.

SMK (P) Sri Aman principal Misliah Kulop agrees.

Despite English being the main language of communication at her school, she stresses that school’s Bahasa Malaysia (BM) performance in the SPM is much higher than the ministry’s national target.

“Our students are more comfortable speaking in English but they are proficient in BM. All our formal events are in BM. It’s a compulsory pass in the SPM. We’ll never neglect it.

“But our vision is to be a high performance school of international standards. We want to mould leaders who can interact with the world confidently. We need English for that.”

Parent S. Easy, 48, says learning a language, and learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, which is based on theories, are two different things.

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