Association keen to help students improve English proficiency

D’Silva says learning any language should be made fun as it attracts student participation

The Johor English Language Teaching Association (Jelta) lauds the RM1mil allocation for English language enrichment programmes in the state.

The money will be used for student development and English language enrichment programmes focused on soft skills development and communications.

Jelta president Vincent D’Silva said that although the association was a voluntary organisation that depended on sponsorship to conduct its programmes, it was willing to work closely with the state government.

“We have contributed towards improving English proficiency among students in Johor by organising programmes for them, ” he explained.

He said that among the programmes organised were workshops to improve language skills through word games, newspaper-reading activities and sketch performances.

He noted that learning any language in a classroom should be made fun as it could attract active participation from students.

“This will create a stress-free learning environment with lots of laughter and discussion, ’’ he added.

D’Silva said Jelta would be organising a free news report writing workshop for Form Four and Five students this year to familiarise them with news gathering and writing.

He said English language enrichment programmes would be more effective if students used the language more often in meaningful ways.

If there was a lack of opportunity to use the language, he said, then there should be more programmes where English was used actively for different purposes.

D’Silva reiterated that there should be more programmes and activities that promoted the learning of English in fun and meaningful ways to cater to the needs of the current generation.

“We should promote public speaking, choral speaking, dramas and debates, so students are given the opportunity to speak up more.”

He said it was difficult for students, especially in rural areas, to look for opportunities to use English and they depended too much on the limited English lessons in school to master the language.

D’Silva said the lessons were based on certain assumptions that the student was able to follow the lesson but the fact was, they were struggling with the basics of the language.

“Constructing a basic sentence is a challenge for some of them and there is always a lack of an English-speaking environment, ’’ he noted.

He said the current curricula and textbooks must be reviewed so that they catered to the needs of different groups of students.

He explained that the life experiences of indigenous students, for example, would be very different from an urban student from the upper socio-economic group.

He added that soft skills development and communication should not be seen as separate activities from the learning of English.

“Often, it is the soft skills inclusive of English communication skills that give a potential job seeker an advantage, ” said D’Silva.

He thinks the private sector can play an important role as the sector itself tends to be more bilingual and fully recognises the importance of English.

He said companies could help to sponsor English learning programmes, sponsor language experts to share their knowledge with teachers and adopt schools to support their English learning efforts.

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