Teacher-training crucial

TEACHERS must take the initiative to improve themselves.

Just because a teacher’s English is good, doesn’t mean he or she can teach math and science effectively, SMK (P) Sri Aman principal Misliah Kulop points out.

Misliah, who implements the teacher mentor system in her school, says students saw a drop in their math and science results when the senior teachers retired or were transferred out.

“That’s why I put the mentor system in place. It’s to ensure that new teachers who come in are properly guided. They’re only given the lower forms until they’re confident and effective enough to take on the upper forms. We need to make sure our new teachers can deliver.”

She says it’s crucial for teachers to be committed to improving themselves. Teachers, no matter where they’re posted, or what they’re asked to teach, must step up to the challenge.

“Yes, they may have to use their own money and spare time to do it, but it’s for their own personal and career growth. I tell my teachers the same thing. Next year, I want to introduce a special prize to acknowledge teachers who take the initiative to attend courses to improve their skills.”

She says schools with BM and English classes for math and science need more teachers. It’s too taxing to expect the same teacher to teach and prepare questions in two languages. The terminologies are very different, she opines.

Teacher training, and greater collaboration between subject and language teachers, will determine the DLP’s success, Universiti Malaya (UM) Language and Literacy Education department head Assoc Prof Dr Juliana Othman feels.

“You can have a good science teacher, but if the students are weak in English, how’s he going help them understand the lesson? A science teacher who speaks English may not have the skill to teach the language aspects. You need a language teacher for that.

“So, in a class where the students aren’t proficient in English, the science teacher and English teacher must work together to prepare materials for the class,” she suggests.

The training of teachers must also be improved. Existing online courses are insufficient, she thinks.

The DLP and its predecessor the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) are essentially similar, she says. Some of the teachers trained under the PPSMI are now teaching DLP. In 2012, some 1,125 primary teachers were trained in UM, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Sains Malaysia in collaboration with Teacher Education Institutes.

These teachers majored in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and minored in math or science.

“They’re now training their colleagues and teaching in the DLP. These teachers are proficient in English, and can teach math and science subjects. The ability to speak English alone isn’t enough. Teaching math and science subjects in English requires a specific approach and methodology. Otherwise, they won’t be able to teach the academic language aspects well.”

UM Faculty of Languages and Linguistics Assoc Prof Dr Jariah Mohd Jan stresses on the importance of parental involvement in creating an English proficient generation.

“DLP only gives students more exposure to English. You still need an ecosystem that supports it.

“Parents must participate. Help organise activities in schools. Be part of the programme. You cannot expect your child to improve just because he or she attends a DLP school.

“Those in rural areas may not be able to participate in their child’s academic journey the way urban parents can but that doesn’t mean they can’t play a role,” she suggests.

SMK (P) Sri Aman senior assistant Norliza Mustapa believes that parental participation is very important not only for DLP, but everything the school does.

Both parents and the school only want what’s best for the child but in the process, boundaries must be respected.

“A principal is given the mandate to run the school but we need both financial and moral support from the parents. We are lucky because the parents here are very involved. They’ve contributed generously to send our students for SPM and PT3 camps, and to help improve the infrastructure.”

Parent-Teacher Association vice chairman Leong Mun Yoong, whose three daughters attend SMK (P) Sri Aman, agrees.

“It’s not just money. We volunteer our expertise. For example, we’ve had an expert from UM who conducted talks for the students.”

Calling on the government to continue with the DLP, he says much thought has gone into developing the programme so it has to run it’s complete cycle.

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Education , DLP , Sri Aman , English


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