I REFER to your report, “Not many speak English after classes” (The Star, July 14).
As a university student overseas, I am concerned about the future of English in Malaysia.
English is not only important for a person's career and a unifying medium between Malaysia and its neighbours, but also helps maintain diplomatic and economic ties with its foreign partners.
Unless some action is taken, the standard of English will continue to drop.
We need to understand that learning English does not depend just on English classes or textbooks.
If we want students to improve their reading, listening, speaking and writing skills in English, we need to encourage them to use the language outside the school, for instance, in making enquiries through letters, e-mail, telephone and in face-to-face conversations.
School libraries should not only provide books but also newspapers and magazines in English for students to read during their spare time.
Students need to be encouraged to make reading newspapers and magazines at home a habit.
Numerous studies have shown that students who make reading magazines and newspapers in a second or foreign language as a hobby are likely to improve their use of the language.
Students should be encouraged to listen to local and international radio programmes, which expose them to English vocabulary and grammar.
These programmes will help students improve their speaking and listening skills.
S. YIN, Auckland, New Zealand.