MISPLACED PRIORITIES

Instead of addressing the core issue, which is the wrong approach to teach and learn English in Malaysia, the Malaysian authorities in charge of education are deviating further and further in not helping the government of the day realise its ambition of turning the country into a developed nation.

A developed nation status can only be achieved when the nation is plugged into the socket of the world where English is the lingua franca.

Any attempts to improve the standard of English among young Malaysians in a serious manner are futile. Thus, the real standard of English in Malaysia will never improve. It will inevitably lead nowhere as it has for the past 46 years.

But economic events unfolding globally show a fearful picture of the immediate future to come. Job security is beginning to prove a myth as reality hits hard in the form of job cuts by major corporations around the world. These corporations are so hard hit that they are in dire need to raise cash to remain relevant in business. The economic scenario gets worse by the day.

Where does that lead Malaysia and its population?

The main priority for Malaysians right now is to place into the hands of their young the true capabilities of using English in all its four skills fit for the global stage. And this can be achieved by negating the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) Approach to teach and learn English that yielded nothing for young Malaysians to be proficient in the language. Without the proficiency in the English language in all its four skills possessed by its citizens, Malaysia’s progress on the world’s stage is going to be impossible.

The current standard of English among young Malaysians venturing into the working world is really appalling. Most Malaysians fear to learn English as the approach, the CLT Approach, used since 1970 has not empowered them to face the globalised world confidently. For 46 years, the CLT Approach to teach and learn English in Malaysia has delivered nothing but failures upon failures.

As such, the Barisan Nasional-led government has been receiving a lot of flak from ordinary Malaysians for failing to improve the standard of English among Malaysians all these years. The fault doesn’t lie with the Barisan Nasional-led government but with the teachers, lecturers and educationists who have been emphasising the wrong approach, the CLT Approach, to teach and learn English since 1970. The CLT practitioners in Malaysia have been misleading the Barisan Nasional-led government for 46 years and they are still at it.

All it takes is just to change the approach to teach and learn English in Malaysia to the Structural Approach that was widely used before 1970. Malaysians who taught and learned English via the Structural Approach before 1970 are proficient users of the language in all its four skills – listening, reading, speaking and writing.

The Structural Approach has been tested and proven to be successful in the Malaysian environment before 1970 and it can be successful in the same Malaysian environment now.

There is no need even for the Barisan Nasional-led government to introduce an English medium of instruction in the educational system at all.

With the Structural Approach to teach and learn English, Malaysians won’t be fearful to master the language for career advancement. In addition, this will help foreign investors to continue investing in Malaysia as they will be more confident of Malaysians’ proficiency and usage of English in all its four skills.

As events on the business and economic fronts get murkier in the form of shutdowns, layoffs and less profits for organisations around the world, organisations will naturally hire real talented people who can deliver the goods in the real world. And these real talented people are those who possess a good mastery of the English language in all its four skills apart from their expertise in the respective fields.

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