Thursday June 28, 2012
I REFER to the news report “Don’t fear test, teachers told” (The Star, June 21). I fully support the Education Ministry’s long overdue move to assess the proficiency levels of English language teachers using the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT).
Rather than fearing or opposing such a move, schoolteachers should welcome the move to prove that the English language woes of students are not caused by their own lack of proficiency. The proficiency level of the teachers has long been in dispute, with some people likening the situation to a case of the blind leading the blind.
Those teachers who fail to achieve a minimum proficiency band of C1 should be asked to re-sit the test until they are able to achieve the required competence.
In fact, a higher band of proficiency should be imposed on those at teacher training institutes before they are allowed to qualify as TESL graduates. The same should apply to those who are taking the Bachelor of Education in TESL at various universities.
I am glad that in trying to improve the English proficiency levels of the students, the focus has shifted from seeking better pedagogy and improving the curriculum to addressing teacher inadequacy. Previously it was rather convenient to blame weak proficiency on the students’ lack of interest, and to attribute the cause of that to not having made a pass in English compulsory for the award of certificates.
Teachers who fail to make the minimum grade should be encouraged to take up reading for pleasure to make improvements. Students often do not have the reading habit, as they have not been encouraged by the teachers who, not having the reading habit themselves, fail to preach what they do not practise.