KUANTAN: Speaking English does not mean we are forgetting our traditions, nor does it mean that we are leaving behind our identity, Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah said.
She said that one could still keep the important values and grow to be a global citizen that Malaysia could be proud of and at the same time be fluent in English.
Improving English proficiency would, said the Queen, also open up more opportunities in personal and professional life, which would enable a person to compete in this fast-changing global economy.
“For Malaysia to prosper, we must communicate and engage with our neighbours. We cannot be a closed society, nor would we ever want to be. We rightfully take enormous pride in our nation and our culture.
“It is our duty to share knowledge, customs and cultures with the wider global community. Learning and communicating in English enables us to do this, ” she said in her speech at the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Showcase 2019 here. Also gracing the event was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, whom Tunku Azizah described as very keen to meet with the talented students as well as to show his support to the efforts of enriching education among youths.
Other guests included the United States ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail and state Education director Datuk Dr Tajuddin Mohd Yunus.
While stressing the importance of English, Tunku Azizah noted that one should also master his or her own language because being bilingual would give the speaker the confidence to talk to other people from different races.
The Fulbright teaching programme, which began in 2012, is a joint collaboration between the Malaysian and the US governments with the aim of creating more opportunities for students to learn English in an exciting way.
A total of 14 secondary schools in the state participated in the programme.
Tunku Azizah noted that the presence of English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) had created a new way of learning, where students could no longer just sit at the back of the classroom pretending to pay attention and memorising a few words ahead of a test.
“Suddenly, there is this American who is forcing them to speak or think on their feet. ETAs also move classroom learning to a real-life situation through extracurricular activities and camps. It is putting that knowledge into practice that helps students make the most gains, ” she said.
Tunku Azizah reminded the students to study hard as all the efforts from the government, schools administration, teachers and ETAs would not make a difference without their own commitment.
“You must show up in school, pay attention to teachers, listen to your parents and most importantly, put in the hard work that it takes to make you a future leader of Malaysia, ” she added. — Bernama