Teachers churn out makeshift English books

  • Letters
  • Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003

FOUR weeks into the new school term, English Language teachers in Chinese schools have assumed the role of textbook writers and editors to come up with their own teaching material. 

This is because many schools have yet to receive the English textbooks for Year One from the Education Ministry, according to a Nanyang Siang Pau report.  

A random survey by the daily revealed that due to the absence of standardised English textbooks, many Chinese schools subscribe to self-developed materials, apart from re-copying the ministry’s multi-media teaching aids from its software programmes. 

Previously, Chinese schools only offered English lessons for pupils from Year Three onwards.  

Last year, however, the ministry decided that all Year One pupils would undergo 60 minutes of English lessons per week, beginning this year, in a move to boost the English proficiency level.  

The daily contacted schools in Selangor, Kedah, Pahang, Negri Sembilan and Johor, and raised concerns that self-developed teaching materials by English teachers could lead to problems of quality control. 

“We have to source for suitable materials to conduct classes, such as looking up for short texts, rhymes and songs.  

“We have also asked suppliers to suggest supplementary workbooks,” said an unnamed teacher from Johor, quoted by the daily.  

“During my teacher-training days, our lecturers prepared draft and edit materials based on books published by Ladybird. But due to my lack of experience, I have no guarantee over the quality of the materials I prepared,” said another teacher, from Negri Sembilan.  

A headmaster from Kedah told the daily that his school had been informed that textbooks would only be available in March.  

In the meantime, he said, the school was relying on self-developed syllabus and supplementary workbooks available in the market, based on requirements outlined by the Ministry. 

The same daily also front-paged a directive from the Education Ministry for all primary schools to observe a standard one-month timeframe to register pupils for Year One. 

The ministry decided on March 1 to March 31 as the registration period this year. 

Schools were asked to register in advance only children aged four and above and not two-year-olds and above as often requested by parents, said the report. 

A spokesman for the Perak branch of the National Union of Teaching Profession said the move (to register only those who have reached four years) was made following the implementation of six years of compulsory education for children aged above seven.  

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