Just another bad idea..


Written on 3/12/2005 07:55:00 pm by sikapitan

I seriously doubt that anyone is still visiting this blog, what with me failing to write in for the past few weeks. It’s just been hectic at the faculty so close to my finals. And no, I haven’t started revisions yet. Work is finally letting up, but not yet complete. I guess by this weekend I’ll be free to loaf around. Oops. I forgot. The Finals is in a week. Yea yea, everyone goes through the same thing, but it still doesn’t make things better now does it? Maybe I should just watch TV instead of reading?

Yeap, you heard me right. Go tune in to your TV if you’re awfully short on motivation to study. I’m just extending what the Education Ministry is saying. Apparently if you’re finding it hard to cope with normal, rudimentary English, go watch television! It appears sound enough, because even I admit that television has taught me a lot, especially when it comes to colloquial English. I’m just questioning the intelligence of the Education Ministry to even suggest such a method as acceptable. The issue has cropped up because students are finding it hard to cope with learning Maths and whatever else they have to in English. Now, if you’ve ever studied Maths in English (I did- I had a great but impatient tutor during high-school), you would know that it doesn’t involve complicated English. Yes, they used scientific terms, but then everyone needs to learn it too. The problem they’re having is with communication English, and for Maths it must have involved nothing more that basic elementary English. My point is this: if they’re struggling with Maths in English, how are they coping with English subject itself? Don’t tell me they can handle English but not Maths? If that is the case, then the Education Ministry must take a serious look at our English language education.

The Education Ministry’s 3M policy should have dealt with this situation during primary school itself. “Membaca, mengira dan menulis”- in both BM and English. Of course it’s a fallacy to assume everyone will be able to by the time they reach secondary school. I know plenty of people who can’t speak or write in English. But then shouldn’t the responsibility of educating them lies in the hands of educators through a comprehensive and intellectualized syllabus? The Ministry must realize that when it comes to language and learning it, everyone has a different speed to learn. The syllabus and our school system must take this into consideration. Logic states you can’t pass someone who can’t even string proper sentences. But that’s exactly what’s going on in Malaysia. Some of my friends managed to enter University, doing law, but can’t even form a single proper sentence (syok ar lepak ngan korang!). I had to help him out time and again, and it amazes me how poor his Basic English really is. I’m even more amazed that he managed to get a B2 for English for his SPM. He said even he was surprised. And then they sent these kids to University where they will struggle, wasting precious time and effort.

Even learning through television is not proven to improve your mastery of the language. It does help, in some ways, but the negative impact relying on television is far greater. Take my little brother, the perfect example of a spoilt youngest sibling. He’s standard four now, and based on my rough estimation, he has spent double the time I spent at his age watching television. Yet, he is shy to speak in English, and his sentences are seldom proper, usually ending with the inevitable lah. It is apparent that besides the education system and television, the culture where your kids grow up in is pertinent to the issue of speaking English properly. And that’s another issue the government must look at. The racial polarization at school appears to be overblown, but the picture is far from rosy. Communication among races appears to be truly minimal. Even studying in a school smack in the middle of urbania cannot disguise the lack of mixed friendship. And even if you do mix around, it doesn’t mean you’ll learn how to speak English. You are better off than some, sure, but at the end of the day, you’ll be learning to speak improper English and the cycle goes on and on. Incomplete sentences, the “lah” syndrome, laughing when speaking English – these are all about attitude towards the language.

So how do we solve this? I don’t have the time to write more, or to even suggest that I have a solution, but I do know that relying on television is a bit of lazy way to learn something. I do know what they’re good for though- sex (or maybe not so good after all). Just kidding. Cheers.

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