Teachers’ training just one part, say stakeholders

PETALING JAYA: Boosting the quality of the teaching of the English language would require more than just training teachers, say stakeholders.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Fouzi Singon said although existing teachers may be trained to improve their proficiency, it will not solve the problem at hand, which is the shortage of teachers.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) training offered previously was not very effective, he said.

“It was done online and it did not achieve the target,” he said when contacted.

Earlier yesterday, Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek said mastery of the English language is a key priority for her ministry, and it projected it would need 10,000 teachers trained in English within the next five years.

The ministry plans to train 8,000 English-option teachers this year.

Fouzi said it would be difficult to hit the target of 10,000 English teachers in the next five years given the number of graduates churned out by universities.

“This also very much depends on the availability of positions for government teachers, which come under the purview of the Public Service Department.

“If the quota for teachers is filled, the Education Ministry will not be able to hire more. Make sure there are enough positions,” he said.

Fouzi also recommended that only Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) graduates should be roped in to teach English instead of converting teachers from other disciplines to teach the subject.

“Our concern is that we do not want the government to move teachers to teach the English language simply based on a teacher’s ability to speak the language. With this, the skills of English teachers can never be improved.

“We want the quality of teachers to be taken care of, and the (the government) to ensure only those whose expertise is in TESL (are roped in to teach English),” he added.

Fouzi said that even after 11-13 years of schooling, many students cannot speak the language.

To address this, he said the syllabus must be revised.

“We have to see how we are (enhancing) communication skills through our syllabus. Are we too engrossed with writing, memorising and reading, and not placing enough emphasis on communication?” he said.

NUTP president Aminuddin Awang said to achieve the target of 10,000 English language teachers within five years, the ministry must ensure enough allocation is given to state Education Departments for training.

“NUTP hopes that a more effective measure will be taken to ensure students who have completed six years of primary education and five years of learning English in secondary school are able to communicate in English.

“Otherwise, it will be difficult for these students to enter the job market or further their studies in public or private tertiary education institutions,” he added.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said although training teachers is a good move, it will take time before these teachers can master the language.

“It will take time for them to qualify. How about the shortage now? Every school seems to be short of teachers now, and it is getting worse.

“What is the immediate solution?

“Also, why are countless good and healthy teachers retiring prematurely?” he said.

Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said students cannot wait for teachers to be trained when the dual language programme (DLP) is already a solution in place.

“The objectives of the DLP are also to gain scientific knowledge and enhance employability, which is why parents support it,” she said.

Noor Azimah said the Education Ministry should increase the number of DLP schools and classes, as well as encourage more students to enrol in DLP classes.

“The DLP, if guidelines are adhered to, is inclusive and unites students, a philosophy that the unity government firmly stands by,” she said.

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