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Friday August 30, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday August 30, 2013 MYT 7:13:20 AM
by luwita hana randhawa
Career woman: Almaz looking through some designs at her firm in Desa Sri Hartamas.
PETALING JAYA: One man’s decision to emphasise the learning of English in his household has left an impact on three generations.
Almaz Rahim said her grandfather, who was an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Kelantan at the time, made the decision to send his daughters to study in Kuala Lumpur so that they could study in English.
“My mother was seven and her sister was nine when their parents sent them off to Kuala Lumpur,” she said.
As an enduring mark of her grandfather’s legacy, Almaz and her siblings also attended English-medium schools and spoke English at home with their parents, dismissing the notion that speaking English makes her less of a Malay.
“That is a short-sighted and backward kind of mentality. Being Malay is not just about the language you speak.
“It is also about the food you eat, the clothes you wear and the songs you listen to.”
Almaz speaks English to her four children, but made sure they received a good foundation in Bahasa Malaysia and Islam in primary school.
She recites Malay pantuns to her one-year-old granddaughter, adding that she firmly believes the use of English and Bahasa Malaysia can co-exist.
The Kelantanese spent her secondary school years first at Sabah College in Kota Kinabalu and then at the Bukit Bintang Girls school in Kuala Lumpur.
Almaz studied architecture at University College London after finishing school and now manages her own firm, Almaz Architects, and explained how written proficiency in English is important in her profession.
“You can’t run away from the fact that in the private sector, letters, minutes and reports will all be in English.
“You have to be able to write and express yourself.
“The person who reads your writing needs to understand exactly what you are saying,” she added.
Spoken proficiency is equally important to Almaz.
“Meetings with clients are all conducted in English. As architects, we initiate designs and co-ordinate with consultants on how these designs should materialise. In the end, your job is to convince people to adopt your design.
“And if you yourself can’t communicate the attractiveness of your design, how will anyone else believe you?
“Your ideas are of no use if you can’t articulate them,” she said.
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Education, english for more opportunities; almaz rahim
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