Friday, March 20, 2009

English essential tool for progress

Master English to remain competitive

According to Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein the Cabinet will make a decision next month on the use of English in the teaching of Mathematics and Science in schools. Meanwhile the debate of whether to carry on teaching these subjects in English or revert to Bahasa Malaysia continues to be a main issue in our mainstream media.

According to Hishammuddin about RM2billion has been spent, 100,000 teachers involved and 6 million students have gone through the policy of using English since it was first introduced in 2003.After spending so much money, time and energy to implement the policy of using English for mathematics and science it would be unwise to discard it abruptly without careful consideration and in depth study.

Malaysians of all ethnicity are divided of this rather important issue that affects our children and thereby the future generation. Those who propagate the continual use of English argue that it is an international language of knowledge especially in science, technology and commerce and unless we are fluent in the language we will lose our competitiveness in the international arena.

In fact over the last two decades the standard of English in the country has been on the decline and we are already beginning to feel the effects of that today.Job opportunity for our young graduates are limited as they do not have a good command of English. If we do not check this decline and take proactive measures to improve the standard of the language very soon we may soon become irrelevant among the leading nations of the world.

Those who want to revert back to the use of Bahasa Malaysia,Mandarin or Tamil for the teaching of mathematics and science are of the opinion that continued use of English would soon erode our culture and the status of our national language and mother tongue. They are fearful that giving importance to English will undermine the importance of Malay as our national language which has been the medium instruction in all schools in accordance with the National Education Policy.

Those of us who have gone through the old system of English medium schools know for certain that these fears are unfounded. Although we were taught entirely in English, we were equally proficient in Malay and many of also in Mandarin and Tamil. In fact we had the added advantage of what English could bring us - an easy access into the world of science and technology.

At present we are teaching just two subjects, mathematics and science, in English with the general medium of instruction being maintained in Malay and the non-Malays free to learn their mother tongue. It is hard to understand how just learning mathematics and science in English can make one less Malay, Chinese or Indian. On the contrary gaining knowledge through English would make one a better Malaysian equipped to face the competitiveness in the global world.

Nationalism and patriotism to one’s race and country will only be meaningful if it leads to progress and prosperity. Unless we strive for such progress and prosperity and succeed in attaining them we will not command the respect of the international community. If we want to bring honor and glory to our race and nation we do not have any option but grasp all available means and opportunities that will bring progress and development. Under the prevailing conditions today, English is a vital tool in that pursuit of progress and unless we master it we will be final losers.

Dr.Chris Anthony

1 comment:

Brian Barker said...

I live in London and if anyone says to me "everyone speaks English" my answer is "Listen and look around you". If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

The promulgation of English as the World's "lingua franca" is unethical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

Unethical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is long overdue, An interesting video can be seen at Professor Piron was a former translator with the United Nations

A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at

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