JOHOR BARU: Reintroducing English-medium government schools is a bold and timely move to stop the declining standard of English, said the Johor English Language Teaching Association (Jelta).
“It takes a lot of courage to move in this direction. Something urgent has to be done.
“This is not something totally new, as English used to be the medium of instruction in Malaysian schools in the 1950s and 1960s,” said Jelta president Vincent D’Silva yesterday.
He said it is the best possible move to ensure that the country keeps up as the world becomes more interconnected.
He also noted that learning a language is not a zero sum game, where mastering one language will threaten the other.
“Bahasa Malaysia is here to stay. What requires our attention is the need to master English,” he added.
It was reported that eight out of 10 Johoreans want the return of English-medium government schools and a one-school-for-all concept, according to a recent survey published by the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, in an exclusive interview with The Star in 2015, warned of the declining level of English among the people and said something needed to be done to stop the rot.
Asked if students and teachers would be able to cope with the change, D’Silva said students are much more resilient than they are given credit for.
“Appropriate methods have to be used. Teacher training will be critical in the move and the resources used to teach English must be able to motivate the students.
“The way English is taught is very important. It should be meaningful and fun,” he said.
He noted that English language conferences could also play a role because the teachers who attended such events would be exposed to more innovative methods of teaching and learning.