MOST parents are in favour of urgent calls made by several prominent figures for English language proficiency to be made a top priority in the country.
Those interviewed by MetroPerak are also taking extra measures to ensure their schoolchildren can master the global language.
Teacher D. Lin, 35, said she has been sending her nine-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter for English tuition since they started schooling.
“I think the Malaysian syllabus should include more grammar exercises and a larger vocabulary, so that they know how to write better essays.
“Since we cannot just rely on the textbooks right now, tuition is the best option so they can learn and practise to use the language more,” she said.
Recently, CIMB Group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak was quoted in The Star urging English to be made a top priority due to the language’s position as a global medium of communication.
Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar was also quoted in an exclusive interview, repeating his suggestion for Malaysia to emulate Singapore’s single-stream education system, which uses English as the medium of instruction.
Likewise, Lin said she thinks it is better if students can master the language since young, so that when they further their studies, it will be easier on them.
As a parent, she tries to encourage her children to read more English storybooks as well.
“I teach them to underline difficult words that they do not understand, so that they can learn to look it up in the dictionary on their own.
“Although they might not be using the new words now, they might come across the same thing again in the future, and they can recall the meaning.
“Parents must supervise them to do exercises like this since young, or else when they reach secondary school, they will find it difficult to improve their language skills,” she said, adding that mastering a language takes more than just a few years.
Businessman Cheong Chee Seng, 50, also echoed Lin’s sentiments, saying that English will become particularly important for fresh graduates when they come out to work.
“I am not proficient in English myself, and I do not want both of my daughters to miss out on better career opportunities because of their inability to speak and read the language,” he said.
To ensure better learning of English, Cheong sends his daughters, aged 15 and 17, to tuition classes once a week.
“I send them to tuition classes where they get the chance to learn more.
“I think they are doing very well as sometimes I hear them having a conversation with my English-speaking relatives in a confident manner,” he said.
Teacher Lee Sau Lan, 56, has also been sending her 15-year-old daughter for English tuition since she was young.
Although she did not expect her daughter to be perfect in English, Lee said it was fine as long as she could read and speak properly.
“To me, the most important part is her conversational English.
“She speaks mostly Chinese and English at home with my husband and I, and I think she’s doing okay,” she said.
Lee added that during her daughter’s pre-school days, she sent her to a kindergarten operated by an international school.
“I made sure that her basics in English is good.
“I also plan to send her overseas for her higher studies, and if she decides to go to an English-speaking country like Australia or New Zealand, then at least I know she’ll be well-prepared,” she said.