TUARAN: Youths, especially those in the rural areas, should not be self-conscious when conversing in English, a senior Sabah minister said.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said there was a tendency among youths to avoid using English for fear of being ridiculed.
“I know you feel that people will think you are temberang (showing off) if you speak English.
“But using the language is how you can become proficient,” he said when representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the launching of the English Day, Every Tuesday campaign at SMK Sri Nangka here, about 45km from Kota Kinabalu.
He said the importance of English as an international language was reflected in the fact that 300 million people in China were learning or mastering the language.
Masidi said industrialised nations like Japan and South Korea had seen markets for their products grow in English-speaking countries.
In his speech, Musa said it was worrying that there were still students who thought that they could do well without mastering key competencies in the English language.
“It is estimated that the number of people worldwide who use English regularly is at least two billion, which is one third of the global population,” Musa said in his speech which was read out by Masidi.
He said English was not only a language for business and other transactions but would expose youths to a wealth of knowledge and entertainment.
“About half of the Internet content is in English. This translates to a huge volume of information that one could lose out on by ignoring the language,” Musa said.
He said learning English could be challenging and time-consuming but it was necessary to make the sacrifice as “it opens doors to many opportunities and boosts innovation”.
Musa said the Sabah Education Department’s English Day, Every Tuesday initiative was laudable as the programme was to get students, teachers and even department staff to converse in English at least once a week.