Muhyiddin listening to an explanation at the Turbo Charger Test Cell laboratory at the Imperial College in London. With him are High Commissioner to Britain Datuk Ahmad Rasidi Hazizi (second from right) and UTM vice-chancellor Prof Ir Dr Wahid Omar (left). — Bernama
LONDON: Preliminary results showing that 37% of English teachers in Malaysia achieve C1 and C2 levels in proficiency, which were very good, have come after a comprehensive study carried out by the Cambridge Language Assessment.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said based on international standards of the Common European Framework, most teachers in primary schools also had B2 level, which was good.
In the study, teachers and students in Malaysia were given examinations, questionnaires and even face-to-face interviews to gauge their English proficiency during the baseline project by the Cambridge group.
Its project director Martin Robinson said its team also sat through English lessons in classrooms to observe the quality of teaching and learning.
“It was a very comprehensive study. We tested teachers and students on all four skills – reading, speaking, listening and writing – while most other studies would just focus on reading and speaking.
“For teachers, they were also given additional testing on teaching knowledge as well as their practices,” he said here yesterday.
He was commenting on the announcement by Muhyiddin that preliminary results from the study had shown this to be “positive”.
Muhyiddin, also the Education Minister, added that 85% of students were interested in learning English while over 97% of English teachers were interested in their field.
The Baseline Project: Measuring the English Language Standard and Establishing an Evidence-based Baseline for Malaysian Schools involved 31,000 students in 943 classrooms in 476 schools across the country.
The five main research teams comprised two certified examiners, one trained observer, as well as officers from the district office and ministry.
The proficiency level of both teachers and students were then graded against the Cambridge’s Common European Framework Reference on standards ranging from A1 and A2 for basic users, B1 and B2 for independent users, and C1 and C2 for advanced users.
A B2 level in English will be required by employers while a C1 level is the minimum for acceptance into Cambridge and Oxford Universities.
Malaysia is the first country to have such a comprehensive study.
Robinson said once a baseline had been set, the creation of realistic targets for students and other smaller scale studies could be carried out for comparison.
“Malaysia is certainly heading in the right direction in English. It has a solid foundation to start with and the (National Education) Blueprint is spot on,” he said.
Robinson added that most English speakers in France and Spain only spoke the language at the A1 and A2 levels, while those in Holland and Sweden spoke at B1 and B2 levels.