Why we need to be proficient in English

MUCH has been said about the importance of English in our schools and here is another to add to the sum total.

There is a saying that if you have something the world wants, it will beat a path to your door wherever you may be; but if the world has something you want, then you have to go out to get it.

As of now, what we want from the outside world is the latest knowledge in all fields of human endeavour. Undeniably, most of these are couched in English and to acquire them we have to be proficient in the language.

Having acquired and returned with new knowledge, the need is to disseminate it through learning institutions for the benefit of the country. Teaching it to those proficient in English is straight forward. But to recipients who are monolingual in Bahasa Malaysia, translations will be required, and this can be slow and time-consuming. Depending on translations alone is hardly an efficient way to keep up with the latest advances.

Perhaps that is why our government is encouraging bilingualism – English and Bahasa Malaysia – in our national schools. But individual proficiency in English will differ and it may require enhancement depending on one’s career leanings.

If one wishes to engage in local business or to take up more mundane occupations, then perhaps knowing Bahasa Malaysia alone will be adequate, but of course, a smattering of English will always help. But if one aspires to be a diplomat, a scientist or to enrol in an English university, then a greater depth in English is required.

Since Bahasa Malaysia is the national language, it has to be taught in schools.

It is the glue that binds our people together for national betterment.

English, on the other hand is the currency for international discourse, without which we would be isolated.

Hence, until such time when we are an advanced country and our national language is brought to a wider and impeccable level and our people can invent things the world will want, then the world will indeed beat a path to our shores to learn from us and in our national language.

by C.P.B., Kuala Lumpur.

Read more @ http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/6/24/focus/6501952&sec=focus

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