PETALING JAYA: A shared passion of three childhood friends to help improve English communication skills among Malaysian students has brought them together into the world of education.
They decided to set up Guruu, an online English language tutoring service, where students can personally connect with tutors through Skype and learn more about the subject.
Hiu Chii Fen, Sara Irina Mohamed al-Amin and Kristyn Gan, all 26, noticed that while many students and job seekers had the relevant credentials, their poor ability to express themselves in proper English had led many being rejected by their prospective employers.
Chii Fen, who is pursuing her doctorate in “adolescent social development” at the University of Oxford, Britain, said she and her two friends are hoping to arrest the sharp decline in English proficiency among school leavers and job seekers.
The three friends also felt that many Malaysians wanted to improve their speaking capability, but had neither the time nor confidence to do so via conventional classes.
“To be an international player in any industry, you have to speak English.
“We have heard of a lot of employers complaining about candidates whose qualifications looked good on paper, but cannot present themselves well during job interviews.
“In Guruu, we want to focus on the practical usage of English.
“We don’t want Malaysians to learn about writing a good essay but are unable to pitch an idea to a client or do a presentation in front of a classroom,” said Chii Fen.
And while Guruu does charge for its lessons, with prices starting from RM79, Sara said they were now negotiating with other people to provide free and subsidised lessons for the less-fortunate students.
Guruu’s tutors are mostly British citizens with teaching backgrounds, and a few Malaysian tutors.
Their backgrounds and curriculum vitae are vetted before they are roped in as tutors.
Chii Fen said each student would work on a one-on-one basis via Skype with his tutor, creating a very personalised experience.
The subjects now on offer included public speaking skills, interview preparation and effective communication, with industry-relevant tutors heading each topic, from experienced debaters to linguistic experts.
“The aim is to take global standards of teaching and make them locally accessible, in a flexible and convenient manner,” said Chii Fen.