Competition reveals students' atrocious English

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 19 Apr 2003


PENANG: A local government competition for ideas to revitalise Beach Street in George Town has attracted entries from local university and college students with grand ideas but atrocious English. 

The 17 individual and group submissions from Universiti Sains Malaysia (Penang), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (Johor) and a private college in Kuala Lumpur came mostly from students pursuing courses related to architecture or town planning. 

While some of their designs looked impressive, the mostly English text exhibited during the prize presentation yesterday gave a shocking revelation of the poor standard of English among tertiary-level students. 

One entry that describes Little India as “Litter India” and Esplanade as “Espanade” suggests to “unity these three spots with Beach Street to form a Pedestrian Mall,” adding, “The Point is well treat to be a cultural centre of races in Penang.” 

The summary in bad English on three short-listed entries from USM is available at the website www.beachstreet .org .my launched at the function at Komtar. 

The entry entitled “Heritage Trial” said “Building de art' decorated with canopies extending out, increases the mobility of flow and walk able, tolerated with tourist. 

“Traditional elements, arches and trishaw are largely rendering as streetscape tell derived crowd for crowded spots; requiring input from users and designer.” 

The entry entitled “Antispace Rehabilitation” said “existing public space, streets and parking lots that presently dysfunctional and incompatible with their context can be transformed into viable open spaces.” 

The entry “Authenticity Within The City” said “these potentials will 'rebirth' the area to a fascination destination of artistic, acoustic and touristic exploration.” 

Organised by the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) and the MPPP Beach Street Ad Hoc Committee, the competition was part of an effort to upgrade the street, with a RM2mil grant from the Federal Government.  

The committee's pro tem chairman Datuk Ong Gim Huat, who was one of the five judges, said they had to choose the best ideas despite noticing the bad English in most of the submitted designs and entry forms. 

“It is very important for those who are going to be professional consultants to be able to express and communicate well when presenting their designs,” said Ong, who is also Penang Real Estate and Housing Developers Association adviser. 

Although promotional brochures were usually made by advertising agencies, Ong said architects still needed good communication skills to explain their designs. 

“Although plans for submission to the authorities are usually in Bahasa Malaysia, English is important for communication,” he added.  

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