The two core issues of Malaysians’ fear of learning English are COMMITMENT and ATTITUDE. Commitment and attitude are very much lacking among Malaysians when it comes to learning English.
As they say, when one is jolted out from his comfort zone, one is forced to think of a way not only to feed oneself but also to feed one’s family members. Nothing terrible has happened on the Malaysian economic front yet to impress upon most Malaysians the economic importance of English. Things are rosy on the economic front and there is no need to learn English at all. But things won’t remain rosy all the time. Competition is creeping in at a faster rate.
The attitude that Malaysians display towards learning English is also due to their ignorance and arrogance. Some of the reasons are:
1. In local and international examinations, one has to give the answers and facts only in bits and pieces. One doesn’t need to answer in clear and correct English sentences unless it is an English language examination. And even in English language examinations, their achievements are nothing to shout about.
2. Malaysians possess good brain work when it comes to memorising information in big chunks which they have to answer in examinations. As such, there is no need to understand the subject-matter. In the majority of cases, most Malaysians’ understanding of their subject-matters is severely lacking when they are called upon to articulate them in English. But they possess strings of qualifications in their respective subject-matters awarded by universities in English-speaking countries. Amazing, huh? What an antithesis! They possess qualifications delivered in the English language but they can’t express themselves in the English language, spoken and written, well. (Maybe, a Royal Commission of Inquiry needs to look into this. This could be a world discovery. It could even be dubbed ANTITHETICAL LEARNING.)
All the information above is based on the feedback given to me by students and working adults for more than a decade. I find it shocking that they can gain admission into universities in English-speaking nations. With all their AAH AAHs, OOR OORs, EE EEs, LAH LAHs and MAH MAHs, I can only pray for Malaysia’s future economic performance on the global stage.
Malaysia isn’t in a position to boast about its infrastructure alone to foreign investors any longer. Foreigners, who are long-time investors, look into other aspects that power an economy. And some of those aspects include good governance according to the rule of law practised by the ruling party, a transparent way of doing business in the country, tax breaks and incentives offered to foreigners to do business in Malaysia, an abundance of local talent nurtured in the highest academic standards through an English-medium education recognised globally, an availability of local talent that is easier to hire rather than foreign talent which adds to the cost of doing business in Malaysia, competition from other neighbours in the region and a host of other aspects.
If current economic and business news are to be believed, competition among neighbours in the region is picking up tremendously which translates into a race for talent to help propel those nations economically. Obviously, those nations will look towards talent that possesses a good command of spoken and written English which is definitely not Manglish. Catch my drift?
Therefore, the right approach to learn REAL English is also important. Just like any other subject, it requires a proper method to master it. It is a serious subject requiring serious study. Only then can a learner master it. Upon mastering it using the right approach, the learner is able to express himself clearly, correctly and confidently in the spoken and written forms.
Malaysia had that approach called The Structural Approach. Malaysians who were taught English using the Structural Approach before 1970 can express themselves well in the spoken and written forms of English at the local and international arenas.
In addition, a person’s intelligence and motives are judged by the way he or she makes a statement. People perceive us not only by our appearances alone but also by our statements, verbal and written. Therefore, it is very important how we carry ourselves in the public arena and debate with others. Malaysians who express themselves in Manglish are a nuisance. They repel others when they open their mouths to speak in English. Forget about written English.
REAL English is Standard English used among the educated people in English-speaking nations.
Commitment, attitude and the right approach to learn REAL English are what Malaysians truly require to achieve fluency in the language for practical purposes in the real working world.