English a link to new avenues of knowledge and builds confidence

Wednesday June 6, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/6/6/nation/11380857&sec=nation

By AMINUDDIN MOHSIN
educate@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: The English teacher’s bread and butter revolves around the language itself. It is the cornerstone of their profession, but what else does it do for them?

According to SMK Kota Masai 2, Johor, English teacher Vincent Tan, English does a whole lot more than give them a job.

“There is always room for self-development through the use of English,” said the young teacher who has reaped the benefits of fluent English.

He said the advantages of English were universal.

“English is a bridge of sorts. It not only helps you communicate, it links you to new avenues of knowledge and builds your confidence. You can’t go wrong improving your proficiency in the language,” he said.

He said teachers today needed to be savvy in many ways in order to carry out their duties and English is a versatile tool to help them do so.

“You have to be able to tell parents what the latest trends in education are, you also need to brief administrators on what you are doing, plus you have to be able to introduce new concepts and ideas to students,” he said.

He added that English made tasks easier by opening up new information sources.

“I am able to dig for information from a wider variety of sources, many of which are in English,” said Tan.

Tan said that helped him to gain the upper hand when teaching and dealing with parents and administrators.

“Exposure to current affairs is heightened if you understand English. Your self-esteem gets a boost at the same time because you will always have informed talking points,” he said.

Tan pointed out that just because English teachers teach English, it does not mean they do not need to continually improve their command of the language.

“There is always room for improvement. The trick to teaching is becoming a good learner first,” he said.

He related his experience with Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Shalene Gupta who is stationed at his school.

“The first thing I noticed when conversing with her is that I have to be selective with my words – no more Manglish,” he said.

He added that it was difficult at first but it was a turning point that led him to start reading again to improve his English.

“I’m glad my school has an ETA. It helps me reflect on my weaknesses through a simple conversation with a native speaker and from there I get to improve my English,” said Tan.

He commented that English has been a stalwart friend in helping him become a better teacher and overcoming the challenges he faces in the line of duty.

Note: English for More Oppor­tunities is part of The Star’s ongoing efforts to highlight the importance of the language in helping people get ahead in life.

To share your views and inspiring stories or give us feedback, e-mailenglishformore@thestar.com.my.