ENGLISH: You can begin with ‘Humpty Dumpty’

Friday, June 22, 2012, 9:12 AM

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I REFER to “Grads falter due to bad English” (NST, June 15). Linguist Datin Maimunah Abdul Rahman said at the 4th English Language Conference held in Johor Baru recently: “I have received graduates for job interviews. But many were not able to express themselves beyond giving us their names. They were not able to go beyond the script.”
Her comments and that of other panel members are nothing new. Given the present education system, surely we can’t expect the graduates to speak fluent English. Even some English teachers, trained locally and abroad, can’t speak proper English.
We cannot fault industries for rejecting those without English literacy as it is the language of business and finance. And whether we like it or not, English has been accepted as a universal language, notwithstanding nationalistic feelings.
The dilemma is how to ensure that graduates are proficient in English. The government has done everything possible to ensure graduates are not penalised due to lack of English proficiency.
Until a conducive environment is created in schools where English is used as the medium of instruction, the words of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Associate Professor Khairi Izwan Abdullah that “there were exemplary graduates who could not be employed due to their lack of command in the language (English)” will echo forever.
Two of our closest neighbours use English as the medium of instruction. Students at the primary and secondary school level are able to speak good English and can beat some of our graduates at job interviews.
Since they use the Cambridge syllabus, the general knowledge of these students is also far superior to that of some of our graduates.
Given the position we are in and knowing that there is no way the government will back-pedal, teachers must be creative in teaching English.
To quote moderator Lucille Dass, “we enter the class to cover the syllabus taught to the students. But the thing is, we need to uncover them”.
Since the students are too shy to speak in English, it will require all the patience in a teacher to really “uncover” them.
Even professionals with many years of experience are exasperated teaching English to adult learners, for it is not easy to teach English when one does not have a basic grounding in schools.
Some of them told me they don’t know where to begin and where to end. I suggest we begin with Humpty Dumpty and end with “I love you”.

Hassan Talib, Gombak, Selangor

Read more: ENGLISH: You can begin with ‘Humpty Dumpty’ – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/english-you-can-begin-with-humpty-dumpty-1.96849#ixzz1yTpU4DM1

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