2012, Arkib Berita, Bahasa, Forum, Masalah Pelajar, Pembangunan Sekolah, Program, Rencana, Subjek, Surat

ENGLISH PROFICIENCY: Intensive course will help students

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

By Hussaini Abdul Karim, Shah Alam, Selangor 0 comments

IN my letter, “Easier to learn it at a young age” (NST, July 11), I wrote that learning a language is easier and better at a young age, when students are in primary school, rather than in university.

.Learning a language, especially a working language, is better conducted in primary schools than in universities.

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Also, it is more effective and economical if remedial programmes are done at primary and secondary school levels, and not at the tertiary level.

In the report “Undergrads to boost their English skills” (NST, June 18), it was stated that the Higher Education Ministry had come up with an English language programme for students entering university to meet the requirements of the working world. This is under a new system that classifies students according to their levels of competency.

The programme, known as “English for Specific Discipline”, will be conducted in three tiers: English for Employment, Intensive English (IE) and General English.

However, Higher Education Department Director-General Professor Datuk Dr Rujhan Mustafa said the system would not penalise those with a lower command of the language as the IE course was not part of the credit hours that determine their cumulative grade point average.

Based on that, I warned in my letter that many undergraduates in public universities would not give a hoot about that programme.

Checks carried out in community colleges to find out the number of students who had signed up for a two-month English language crash course confirmed my fears.

It was sad to note that the advice given by Rujhan to new university students with low English competency to enrol for crash courses in community colleges was not taken seriously. Some community colleges did not even get any response.

The Malaysian University English Test (MUET), an entrance requirement for public universities, will determine the classifications when this English learning and teaching system is implemented in September.

Those in bands 5 and 6 are considered competent and prepared for the working world, and are exempted from taking the course.

Students in bands 1 and 2 will attend the IE course to strengthen their basic command of the language. At the end of the course, the students’ competency is expected to jump to at least band 3.

Bands 3 and 4 achievers will take up General English to learn communication skills.

In another newspaper report, it was stated that proficiency in English was a prerequisite for enrolment at International Islamic University Malaysia. Many foreign students are taking two years to learn the language just to gain entry.

The IIUM Centre for Languages and Pre-University Academic Development dean Professor Nuraihan Mat Daud said: “Our debates and complaints over the use of English in the education system tend to be fiery and emotional, but take a step back and imagine what it’s like for a person with no English background to learn the language in under two years.”

This is the reality for foreign students who want to enrol at IIUM. They have up to two years to become competent in English before they can enrol for courses at the university. More importantly though, these students are proving that it can be done.

 

At the moment, students who sit for MUET, regardless of how well they perform, are considered “qualified” by all public universities and this may render MUET irrelevant.

While the initiative taken by the ministry is commendable, I believe it should only be a temporary measure. I would like to suggest a six-month intensive English language programme for students before they are sent to their respective faculties as an alternative to the English for Specific Discipline programme.

This programme can be conducted without extending the duration students would need to complete their first degrees. It just makes adjustments in the study programmes.

If planned properly, it may not require any additional budget. However, if the intensive programme is approved, there should be no problem in getting additional funds, logistical support or staff to run it.

Again, in this case, students in bands 5 and 6 passes are considered competent and exempted from attending the programme.

Students who go through the programme should be tested at the end of the course, and they must attain a minimum grade to be determined by the ministry and public universities before they are allowed to start their undergraduate courses.

To boost the learning and use of the language, regular English language workshops should be conducted two to four times a year throughout the students’ tenure in universities to check their progress.

Attendance in these workshops must be made compulsory.

Besides that, they must also be made to attend seminars, forums, conferences and dialogue sessions at least twice a year to make them use the language more often.

Workshop programmes should include public speaking, reading, play-acting, literature, writing (book reviews, summaries, précis and minutes), appreciation, creative writing, critical thinking and critical analysis.

Credits should be given to students for their attendance and this should contribute to their final cumulative grade point average (CGPA) grades. Students who fail to attend these workshops should be discredited and their final CGPA scores lowered.

When interviewing graduates for jobs, besides their poor oral skills, I find that many cannot even write a simple letter.

As this is the situation, letter and report writing should also be included in the course as well as re-teaching them the basics of the English language such as grammar, spelling and dictation, vocabulary and comprehension. This will boost their listening, reading, writing and understanding skills.

In the corporate world during the pre-Internet days, letters that were written by junior executives were checked by senior executives, assistant managers or managers before they were sent out.

Now, emails are used and, most often, they are not checked before they are sent out.

So, it is important that emails are written properly to protect companies’ interests as these may be used as documents and evidence against them in case they get involved in legal cases.

It is, therefore, important that company executives are trained in letter writing and preparing other written documents.

Since it is accepted that reading is a practice that will improve one’s command of the language, students must be made to read at least four books a year, and at the end of every quarter, they should be required to write a review of the books.

This is to inculcate the reading habit in them, and this activity should also be conducted with the other important ingredient in improving one’s English, writing, and to make sure that students understand what they read.

The test to be conducted at the end of the course should be objective and subjective.

In addition, a practical test that includes an interview to assess their oral skills, reading, understanding and public speaking, for example, should also be conducted. Those who fail these tests must be compelled to re-sit the course and the tests until they attain the grade required.

Some may think that the programme I am proposing, plus the follow-up activities to be carried out in universities, are hard to implement.

However, to achieve the desired results, such a programme is necessary and all obstacles — physical, emotional and financial — that may hamper its implementation must be removed.

With regards to employability, which is a point emphasised by the ministry, the English training programme that I am proposing meets most of the requirements of the private sector and the corporate world.

Students in Malaysia go through 13 years of education before they enter university and they are taught the English language as a subject.

However, because of the poor syllabus, poor method of teaching and lack of good English language teachers — the complaints that we hear all the time since the education policy switched to the current policy since the 1970s — the general standard of English among our students is considered poor.

Now, it is universities that have to handle the problem and shoulder the burden, which should not be the case had the Education Ministry ensured that a better English language syllabus, sufficient qualified teachers and proper emphasis on English language were given in primary and secondary schools, very much like the earlier days when students’ command of the English language was on a par with the best in the world.

The programme that I am proposing is a temporary measure as the onus is on the ministry to come up with an English language syllabus for students from Year One to Form Five.

It is also its responsibility to prepare the infrastructure and make ready support systems required such as language laboratories, teaching aid and supply of qualified and experienced teachers.

When these are done and the “products” are seen, universities may do away with the six-month English language programme.

It may take between five and 15 years to achieve that, and the time taken will depend on how committed the ministries, public universities and students are.

Since learning a language, especially a working language, is better conducted in primary schools than in universities, the Higher Education Ministry, higher learning institutions and the schools division of the Education Ministry should look for a long-term solution by working together, and for the Education Ministry to start the English programme from Year One.

Finally, regardless of the scenario now, we need to check our students’ sliding command of English sooner or later, and it is better if it is done sooner.

Read more: ENGLISH PROFICIENCY: Intensive course will help students – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/english-proficiency-intensive-course-will-help-students-1.116646#ixzz229i6tcFK

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2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Subjek, Surat

Don’t be left behind

Tuesday July 31, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/7/31/focus/11716243&sec=focus

WE refer to the letter “Start at primary level” (The Star, July 21). We truly support and appreciate Datin Noor Azimah in championing the implementation, monitoring processes and even the appealing for the learning of Science and Mathematics in English to begin at primary level or even earlier.

As she mentioned, it cannot be denied that political parties and specific target groups had and still have a strong say in decisions made for Malaysian education. I do respect their intention to protect the National Language but they must be realistic and recognise the importance of being fluent in the English Language to be able to COPE and COMPETE with the ever progressing world out there.

We do not want our children to grow up to be second-class citizens and be left behind in so many scientific fields.

We cannot close our eyes any more and tell ourselves that we can compete internationally if our English Language proficiency is below par.

As a former educator, I strongly believe that is the main reason why there are less students registering for Mathematics and Science streams in schools.

I can still remember attending a meeting as part of a contingent of teachers at the Legends Hotel in the 1980s with a panel of the Wilayah Persekutuan Education Ministry officials. They supposedly wanted our views on an effective way of the teaching of the English Language but whatever we proposed as well as gave our views as senior teachers we were somehow shot down.

When we asked for an explanation, they just told us that we must not question them as it was a political issue.

After that, feeling that it was a pure waste of our time and effort to attend with our busy teaching schedule, we just got up and walked out. Are most of the outcomes of these meetings a foregone conclusion?

The specific target groups and the Education Minister must realise by now that there was never a time when the Bahasa Malaysia language was in danger of being sidelined or neglected even when Science and Mathematics were taught in English

Many Asian countries have recognised the importance of being fluent in English to enable their citizens to secure better and higher paid jobs and we Malaysians would not want to be taking a backward step when very often, we hear our Prime Minister talking about “transformation”.

I am sure that most parents and many individuals will not want their children to be in a situation compared to a Katak di bawah tempurung.

We must seriously prepare and arm our younger and future generations to face the many and difficult challenges that they will face in their future.

In cases where the parents do not live long enough to be there to guide and hold their hands when that time comes, at least they are rest assured that their children are equipped with the most important fundemental, that is fluency in the English Language.

On another important issue,as a young individual still in school, I used to enjoy eating with and mixing with my friends of all races and religions without arousing any qualms (worries) or suspicions concerning religions or customs.

We were a happy and united bunch of Malaysians respecting one another’s creed and race. At that time, in the 50s and 60s, we were already practising 1 Malaysia.

Not like what is happening at present where people of different faiths are ridiculing and criticising one another.

Why can’t we just learn to respect one another and live peacefully together.

I would like to thank Noor Azimah for her dedication and efforts.

LENA ABDULLAH / MAG LAI

Petaling Jaya

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Keibubapaan, Masalah Pelajar, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Surat

Parents must play important role in guiding their children

Tuesday July 31, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/7/31/focus/11747754&sec=focus

I REFER to the report “Experts: Proper guidance necessary” (The Star, July 23). Educational psychologist Kenneth Phun is right when he said “…not everyone who was exposed to violent media would become aggressive…the “nature” and “nurture” factors could cause a person to become violent…”.

Studies in America regarding the efffects of violence in cartoons on children have shown that there is no empirical evidence to relate it to child’s violence.

What is more important the researchers argued is that parents must play an important role in guiding their children.

But then how do we explain to the children that the violence in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry is purely for the children’s entertainment.

At the same time how do we explain that the comedy The Three Stoogesis purely play-acting and children should not behave like the rowdies in the films.

Whether a child is violent or not as Kenneth Phun said has more to do with nature vs nurture. Sociologists have argued that we are the creature of our environment.

Given the right upbringing a child exposed to violent films will not easily imitate what is shown on TV.

A violent child has nothing much to do with violence in films.

The child is violent due to a combination of nature vs nurture where the element of nurture is far more important.

Where nature is concerned, this is the question of a child born with certain violent traits. If not properly nurtured, the nature part of him will have control over him.

That is why some hardcore criminals do not understand why they commit murder or are easily agitated and resort to violence.

We cannot deny that hero-worshipping like imitating their favourite film character like the “Joker” had an influence on James Holmes, the suspect in the recent shooting in Colorado during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises.

Holmes is an exception to the rule. Many have seen Batman movies but not many have emulated the Joker’s evil ways.

Should we only watch family movies like Gone With The Wind and restrict children to watching Sesame Street?

HASSAN TALIB

Taman Melewar Indah, Selangor

2012, Arkib Berita, IPT, Program

UPM first to get AACSB recognition

Tuesday July 31, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/7/31/nation/11763695&sec=nation

By JEANNETTE GOON
educate@thestar.com.my

SERDANG: Universiti Putra Malaysia has become the first Malaysian higher education institution and the sixth in South-East Asia to receive the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation.

“We now have international recognition for our business, management and accounting programmes.

“Very few business schools in the world are given this accreditation,” its vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi said.

The AACSB International, according to its website, was founded in 1916 and is the longest-serving global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate degrees in business and accounting.

Dr Radin Umar said all the business programmes in UPM had to undergo scrutiny and to fulfil 21 criteria before it was given one of the “most prestigious recognitions”.

“The last audit by AACSB was in June,” he added.

He also said that this was part of the National Higher Education Strategic Plan, which is intended to improve the quality of Malaysian graduates by the year 2020.

Besides the Faculty of Economics and Management, UPM’s newly-formed Putra Business School (PBS) was also accreditated.

The PBS, Dr Radin Umar said, followed a similar concept as Harvard Business School.

He said the PBS was formed to speed up the process of developing autonomy for the university’s business programmes in order to fulfil one of the AACSB accreditation criteria.

With such stringent audit measures, he said it was not surprising that less than 5% of the world’s business programmes met the AACSB standard.

A statement from UPM quoted AACSB International president and chief executive officer John J. Fernandes as saying that the accreditation meant that an institution had achieved the highest honour in business school accreditation.

Newly-appointed president and CEO of PBS Prof Arfah Salleh said that this was a “homegrown business school” that would benefit Malaysian students.

2012, Arkib Berita, Biasiswa/Pinjaman/Bantuan/Insentif, Forum, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Surat

iTR1M tepati pembelajaran alaf 21

30 Julai 2012, Isnin

http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/Pendidikan/20120730/pe_01/iTR1M-tepati-pembelajaran-alaf-21
Oleh AZMY MOHAMED
pendidikan@utusan.com.my

Interaktif Tuisyen Rakyat 1Malaysia (iTR1M) yang diberikan secara percuma kepada pelajar di Selangor yang bakal menduduki peperiksaan awam Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) dan Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) menunjukkan komitmen berterusan kerajaan dalam meningkatkan mutu pendidikan di negara ini.

Peruntukan sebanyak RM2 juta daripada dana khas bagi iTR1M juga mencerminkan keyakinan pembuat dasar kepada keupayaan teknologi komunikasi dan maklumat (ICT) untuk membantu murid mencapai kecemerlangan dalam bidang akademik di samping melengkapi mereka dengan prinsip pembelajaran alaf ke-21.

Penggunaan ICT ini menepati salah satu prinsip utama dalam pembelajaran pada alaf ke-21 kerana ia membolehkan murid membuat capaian kepada alat dan sumber pendidikan secara 24 jam sehari dan tujuh hari seminggu.

Hal ini dapat direalisasikan kerana bahan pengajaran dan pembelajaran (P&P) yang dibangunkan menggunakan ICT mudah diakses di mana-mana sahaja pada bila-bila masa asalkan ada capaian kepada Internet.

Kini capaian kepada Internet semakin mudah apatah lagi dengan adanya Inisiatif Jalur Lebar Kebangsaan dan pemberian Netbook 1Malaysia percuma kepada pelajar daripada golongan berpendapatan rendah.

Maka iTRIM yang dilaksanakan dalam dua bentuk iaitu secara tuisyen konvensional dan secara atas talian amat berfaedah dalam membantu meningkatkan prestasi akademik pelajar.

Malah, penggunaan ICT membolehkan perkembangan kemajuan pelajar dipantau dan direkodkan secara sistematik dengan pantas serta tepat.

Perilaku dan minat pelajar terhadap sesuatu mata pelajaran atau topik juga boleh dikenal pasti melalui pangkalan data yang dikumpulkan.

Apa pun, iTR1M dan penggunaan ICT dalam pendidikan pastinya bukan sebagai pengganti guru tetapi menjadi alat untuk memantapkan pemahaman serta persediaan murid menduduki peperiksaan.

Dari perspektif lain, iTR1M merupakan kesinambungan kepada aplikasi perdana sekolah bestari dalam Koridor Raya Multimedia (MSC) yang menjadikan ICT sebagai pemangkin kepada kecemerlangan akademik pelajar.

Inisiatif sekolah bestari menjadi pencetus kepada pembangunan perisian multimedia bahan P&P atau courseware yang dibekalkan menggunakan cakera padat (CD-ROM) dan digunakan secara off line.

Namun begitu, saiz perisian yang berat dan durasinya yang panjang menjadi kekangan dalam proses P&P di bilik darjah.

Kemudian, kemajuan teknologi telah membolehkan pembangunan bahan P&P berasaskan laman sesawang (web based) yang lebih interaktif dan mudah dikemas kini sekiranya terdapat perubahan pada isi kandungan atau dalam sukatan pelajaran.

Permintaan tinggi dan potensi pasaran yang besar menyebabkan banyak laman sesawang atau portal berkaitan pendidikan dibangunkan bak cendawan tumbuh pada musim hujan.

Ada yang percuma tetapi majoriti mengenakan caj langganan.

Sama ada berbayar atau tidak, penggunaan bahan P&P melalui Internet terus mendapat permintaan kerana ia menepati perilaku serta keperluan generasi murid masa kini.

Malah, pada masa yang sama, bahan P&P yang berbentuk multimedia interaktif ini turut membantu membudayakan kreativiti dan inovasi di kalangan pelajar yang juga salah satu ciri atau prinsip pembelajaran alaf baharu.

Kini, dengan teknologi mobile yang semakin canggih dan rata-rata murid mempunyai telefon bimbit, maka bahan P&P yang bersifat aplikasi mudah alih dijangka menjadi pilihan pada masa depan.

Dengan adanya pelbagai peranti mudah alih seperti telefon pintar dan tablet akan memudahkan pelajar membuat latih tubi dan mengulang kaji pelajaran.

Trend ini lebih menepati istilah sebenar ‘boleh digunakan di mana sahaja pada bila-bila masa’ berbanding penggunaan komputer riba.

Bagaimanapun, setakat ini, belum ada teknologi canggih yang boleh memeriksa jawapan soalan subjektif mengikut skema peperiksaan.