It’s better to develop our own English teachers

JOHOR BARU: More focus should be given to strengthening and improving the skills of local teachers in teaching English, say education groups.

They said such a move would be more sustainable in the long run rather than relying on foreign volunteers to teach the language in Malaysia.

Johor English Language Teaching Association president Vincent D’Silva said the proposal to bring in volunteers to teach Malaysian students could hinder the professional development of local educators.

“Developing and upskilling local teachers to teach English is essential for the development of the country.

“The Education Ministry already has the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC), which is well regarded in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.

“The ministry should use the ELTC and turn it into an English language powerhouse that could improve the education system instead of looking for volunteers from Singapore,” he said in an interview.

He added that local teachers should also be empowered to make full use of the Internet as a tool to improve the teaching of English.

Mohd Ridhwan Othman, chairman of the Malaysian Education Concorde Organisation, echoed similar sentiments.

“We should focus on capitalising on the unique capabilities and expertise of our Malaysian citizens who are proficient and exceptional in English.

“On top of that, we also have a significant number of retired teachers who are still eager to contribute their energy and knowledge, particularly in teaching English,” he said.

Mohd Ridhwan added that there are also teachers with excellent English language skills, including those from teachers’ training institutes and public universities across the country.

Meanwhile, Parents, Community and Private Sector’s Involvement national chairman Datuk Yahya Jaafar clarified that the proposal to bring in volunteers from Singapore was never meant to undermine the abilities of local teachers.

“This issue arose due to a misunderstanding of the Prime Minister’s statement. What was proposed was a voluntary scheme to teach in rural schools, very different from hiring them to work here.

“The statement was never about questioning the credibility or capability of our teachers, but it was meant to create a stronger bilateral relationship with Singapore,” he said.

Yahya added that the proposal was made so that students in rural areas would gain the upper hand in education, as Singapore’s National Institute of Education conducts an annual review of its education curriculum, whereas Malaysia only conducts a review every 10 years.

“The last time we did a review was back in 2017, and the next curriculum review is in 2027,” he said.

On Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim refuted claims that Malaysia is considering recruiting teachers from Singapore to teach English.

He clarified that the proposal, meant to be a volunteer programme, was aimed at boosting English proficiency and improving bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore.

“The assumption is that we are appointing English teachers from Singapore. That is wrong.

“Recently, I met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and discussed several matters.

“(These included the possibility of) establishing an aid scheme from Singapore or getting volunteers, fully paid by the Singaporean government, to go to rural areas, villages and the interior of Sabah and Sarawak to teach English,” said Anwar.

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skills , local teachers , teaching English


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